Full disclosure; I’ve never actually watched Street Sharks.
Fuller disclosure; originally I was going to use Maui’s half-shark form from Moana for the featured image, but decided that was a bit too silly. I am probably wrong.
The inspiration to design a “sharkman” race for 5e didn’t originally come from me; it came from my good friend Dan, who wanted to play such a race in a future campaign. I’ve mentioned Dan in my podcast before, though unfortunately anyone who listened to it never got to meet him; Dan was the one who designed and “played” Woadmane, the oddly-attired dwarf barbarian who joined the “Legends from Aeramis” party as an NPC. What’s really unfortunate, is that Dan has joined the group officially as a player, and played the first time with the rest of the group during the Siege of Crosswarren episode which never aired.
But enough about that; the past is the past.
Dan is at the forefront of this race. He spent some time looking through Volo’s guide and decided he wanted to combine some elements of the Lizardfolk with elements of the Triton to make a beastly shark-person race. Afterwards he went to me asking for advice and suggestions, and we banged out what I currently feel is a decently-balanced race that ends up being more unique than a slightly-more oceanic Lizardfolk.
Sharkfolk aren’t completely new to D&D; Pathfinder had a wereshark race, for example. And the concept of a sharkman is one that’s relatively well represented in culture; there are quite a few movies, books, and TV shows which feature half man/half shark individuals in some capacity; even Harry Potter has a nod toward the trope when Viktor Krum half-transfigured himself into a shark in the 4th book.
Calling themselves the Carchari, sharkfolk spend much of their lives as loners. They rarely come together in groups, usually only to tackle obstacles too large for a single individual to overcome. The other races of the world consider them to be pirates and raiders, violent beasts who kill on sight and come onto land only to plunder. While many Carchari do find themselves venturing down this path, the race as a whole simply yearns for adventure and excitement, and pirating often provides those in spades.
Sharkfolk make great barbarians; their increased strength and constitution lend to the class well, and their blood frenzy ability is not only flavorful (BLOOD RAGE), but mechanically useful for any kind of striker class such as fighter or monk. Assassin rogue sharkfolk are also mechanically useful, owing again to their blood frenzy which can give them much-needed advantage for a single attack.
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Version 2.0 11-13-2017
- With the release of Xanathar’s, the PDF has been updated with a sharkfolk racial feat. The aim is to make the sharkfolk even more of a watery predator, adding an increased swimming speed, blindsight while underwater, and an increased use of Blood Frenzy (which is something you may want even while landlocked). These new traits are based on earlier designs for the race that were cut or removed, but felt appropriately sharky.
Version 1.2 10-31-2017
- Land ho! (sorry)