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Nkosi are a race of shapeshifting leonic catfolk from the Southlands of Midgard. They debuted in the original Southlands campaign splatbook for Pathfinder 1st edition, where they were one of the five major PC races native to the region, and also showed up as a monster entry in the Southlands Bestiary that accompanied it. They first debuted in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition has been as a monster in the Tome of Beasts, and were then given PC stats in the Southlands Player's Guide.

Denizens of the Southlands empire of Omphaya, the Nkosi were originally humans, but were warped by the magics of their former god-king, the titan Gamka, to bear a more leonic visage; writeups of the race describe them as resembling "bestial humans with large feline eyes, flat noses that give their face a leonic look, and a cat's eyes, teeth and fur", as well as noting that their modified jaw structure gives them a certain trouble with properly pronouncing human languages, leading to a tendency to double their vowels. Their mentality also has a strong leonic influence; they are naturally inclined towards teamwork, and also have a strong affinity for hunting: Nkosi tend to couch everything in terms of hunting prey. Even their social unit resembles a lion's pride, with an emphasis on close bonds and communal childcare.

Perhaps because of this, Nkosi are technically an Amazon race - oh, the males are kept around, and seen as useful when brute force is required, but the womenfolk are crucial to Nkosi society, and are its primary warriors and hunters.

Nkosi regard most other races neutrally, but have both an instinctive fondness for humans (due to their origins) and an inexplicable distrust of gnolls (who, remember, are NOT an Always Chaotic Evil race in Midgard).

The 5e Southlands Player's Guide retcons that the Nkosi are "siblings" in some nebulous way to the Basteti catfolk, the difference being that whilst Bastet and Gamka agreed they wanted their children to be feline humanoids, but Gamka wanted them to strictly resemble lions and Bastet wanted them to resemble all the cat species, so each entity went their own way and made their own take on the basic idea of the catfolk.

Pathfinder PC Stats[edit]

Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma
Type: Monstrous Humanoid (Shapechanger)
Size: Medium
Speed: 35 feet
Stalker: Perception and Stealth are always a Class Skill for an nkosi.
Hunter's Form (Su): As a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity, an nkosi can shift into the form of a zwana lion. This functions as Alter Self and Beast Shape I, except the nkosi doesn't adjust ability scores or base attack, loses any form-dependent class abilities and feats, gains the abilities of its new form, and doesn't heal damage. They can revert to normal form as a swift action that does not provoke AOO. In lion form, an nkosi gains a +10 racial bonus to Disguise checks to pass as a normal lion. An nkosi can use Hunter's FOrm 3 + (1/2 level) times per day.
Hunter's Maw (Ex): An nkosi has a natural bite attack that does 1d6 hit points of damage. This can be used as a primary attack, or as a secondary attack if the nkosi is using a weapon. As a natural shapechanger, the nkosi does not carry any sort of disease or therianthrope curse - biting a human will not turn them into an nkosi!

5e PC Stats[edit]

Technically, the 5e Nkosi is a Catfolk subrace whose unique traits are +1 Strength and the Form of the Lion racial trait.

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity, +1 Strength
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Darkvision: 60 feet
Cat's Claws: You can make unarmed strikes with your claws, dealing 1d4 + Str modifier Slashing daamge.
Hunter's Senses: You have Proficiency in Perception and Stealth.
Form of the Lion: As an action, you can assume leonine form or revert to normal form. In leonine form, you move on all fours, so your speed goes up by +10 feet but you can't use your hands for anything, you can't speak or cast spells, you gain Advantage on Perception checks based on smell, and you can make a Bite attack unarmed strike that does 1d6 + Str modifier Piercing damage. When you transform, your equipment falls to the ground, merges into your new form or is worn by it. Worn equipment functions as normal, but the GM decides whether it is practical for your lion form to wear a piece of equipment.