Ursai, Bears of the North

“The captain of evil discovered himself
in a handgrip harder than anything
he had ever encountered in any man
on the face of the earth. Every bone in his body
quailed and recoiled, but he could not escape.
He was desperate to flee to his den and hide
with the devil’s litter, for in all his days
he had never been clamped or cornered like this.”


Playtest Version

This material is still in the process of being playtested. It is fully usable as written, but may be refined or changed in later versions. As always, this content should only be used with GM permission.

The Ursai

Rumors from northmen occasionally tell of how even further to the north than their homelands, dwell enormous, stocky folk who resemble humanoid bears with brown, black or sometimes even pure white fur. The territory of the ursai is vast and sparsely populated, since it consists largely of tundra, boreal forests, and ice floes, so even those who pass through it would likely not come across any sign of these seasonally nomadic people. Mysteriously, though, the barbarians who encounter them often describe them as having exceptionally crafted weapons and armor, and these barbarians sometimes dub their own mightiest combatants “bear warriors” or “berserkers” in honor of these mighty neighbors.

Dwellers of the Arctic

The ursai live in conditions humans would find extremely inhospitable even for the well prepared. Insulated by dense fat and thick fur, they can not only live in intense cold, but can even swim in half-frozen rivers and seas without discomfort to catch fish and other prey. While favoring protein, they are very flexible omnivores and can live just as well off of berries, roots, and seeds. Their culture and religion strongly emphasize the importance of banding together for survival, as even for folk as well adapted to the region as they, a solitary existence is exceedingly difficult, as strange monsters, giants, and dragons sometimes prowl these areas.

Dwarven Trade

Sheltered from the extreme cold by living in the roots of the mountains or deep underground, the ursai have another neighbor, the dwarves. The far northern dwarven holds have a thriving trade for the resources ursai can gather from the surface, such as massive barrels full of frozen fish or oddities like sky-iron, and in return sell exceptionally crafted equipment to the bear folk. Most ursai who travel to more populated climes do so not by passing south through barbarian lands, but by traveling with a subterranean dwarven caravan to another hold, and then out to the surface from there.

Ursai Names

Ursai have a given name (and sometimes a middle name) and one or more parental names, which consist of a parent’s name appended with a suffix such as -son, -arson, -uson, -sson (son of); -dottir, or -sdottir (daughter of); or -barn or -sbarn (child of).

Masculine Names: Adalbert, Bothvar, Draupnir, Einar, Gunnar, Hrimnir, Jon, Karl, Laevateinn, Narfi, Ragnar, Skorfnung, Thorbjorn, Tyrving, Vidar, Ymir

Feminine Names: Aesa, Asleif, Berglind, Eirika, Freydis, Geirrithur, Hella, Judit, Kristborg, Mjoll, Nina, Olga, Reynhildur, Sigurdora, Steinlaug, Triggvina, Valkyrja

Ursai Traits

Your ursai character has a number of abilities from their bear-like form.
    Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Strength score increases by 1.
    Age. An ursai reaches physical maturity at about age 20, and can live to be 150 years old.
    Alignment. The home territory of the ursai is a cold, unforgiving land, so its inhabitants have long learned to depend on one another and to show hospitality to strangers, so they tend towards good alignments. Balancing between relying on the vast, open wilderness and on tight-nit communities, they do not often favor either law or chaos too strongly.
    Size. Ursai vary dramatically in size. The smallest may be the size of a big human, and the largest are well over 7 feet tall and may weigh nearly 500 pounds. Your size is medium.
    Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet, and you have a swimming speed of 30 feet. Your speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor.
    Boreal Denizen. You are resistant to cold damage and are adapted to extreme cold and frigid water.
    Heavyweight. When determining your carrying capacity, as well as the weight you can push, drag, or lift, you are considered to be one size category larger.
    Expert Forager. You are considered to be proficient when making Nature or Survival ability checks to determine if food is safe to eat, and when you make such checks, you add double your proficiency bonus to the check instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Dwarvish.

Random Height and Weight

Base Height Base Weight Height Modifier Weight Modifier
5’6″ 185 lbs +2d12 x(2d6)

New Feat

Resilient Protector

You know how to use your own defenses to help protect those around you. You gain the following benefits:

  • Your Constitution score increases by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • When a creature within 5 feet of you that you can see takes damage of a type that you have resistance or immunity to, you may use a reaction to grant that creature resistance to that instance of the damage.

Legal Appendix

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All material in this document following the Playtest Version sidebar and prior to the Legal Appendix that is not otherwise designated as Product Identity is Open Game Content.



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System Reference Document 5.1 Copyright 2016, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Chris Perkins, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee, James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, Bruce R. Cordell, Chris Sims, and Steve Townshend, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Ursai, Bears of the North Copyright 2019, Malachite Idol; Author Patrick Johnson.