The tlincalli are a little understood race, due to their lack of written records of their past. Their nomadic lifestyle in an extreme environment has resulted in them not taking much time to delve into their own pasts, instead focusing on the present. They rarely dwell on the past for long; the very ideas of grudges and debts are quite foreign to them, as it based on things that have been and gone, not what is or will be.

Tlincalli live in desert regions, where they are forced to be active at dawn at dusk- they are one of the few crepuscular beastfolk races. Tlincalli burrow beneath the sand or seek other forms of shelter during the day, then seek warmth at night as the temperatures drop below freezing. Because of this short timespan of activity, tlincalli are both long lived, quick to make use of what little time they have, and very opportunistic.

Their traditional religion sees the sun and the moon as two monsters, both opposing one another, with the tlincalli stuck in the middle of their fighting. The sun rises when it has the upper hand, and lashes at the moon with its burning hair (the tlincalli know of hair from camels and other mammals, though they lack hair themselves). The moon then comes and cools the land with its white eye, searching for the sun. The moon searches in a circular motion, explaining the lunar cycle. These beings are not worshiped, but instead respected for their immense power and control over the land.

Tlincalli from Volo’s Guide to Monsters

Physically, the tlincalli are semi-humanoid, with everything from the ‘waist’ downwards being more akin to a scorpion, with eight walking legs and a stinging tail. Whilst artistic depictions often show them with a human upper half, the reality is that it is more insectoid: the entire upper half is covered in chitinous plates, with no hair present. The arms end in clawed hands, which can be used to hold and manipulate simple tools. The head possesses a pair of sheltered eyes (to protect them from the rays of the sun), and multiple pairs of small, limb-like appendages used for eating and communication. By modifying the placement of these appendages and blowing air out of their mouths, tlincalli can mimic the speech of other races with a strong, sharp accent.

Colours very from light brown to black. This coloration, unbeknownst to the Tlincalli, affects their behaviour to an extent. Black individuals find it easier to absorb heat, and as such are more active in cooler weather but overheat faster. The opposite is true for lighter individuals.

Traditionally, tlincalli are nomadic. They travel after food and water sources, drain them, then move to the next. They often target other nomads for their livestock, waterskins, and the nomads themselves. Whilst they see this- raiding, stealing, the consumption of sentient beings- as an essential part of survival, other races view it as barbaric. Tlincalli that take the time to ponder this often wonder how long it would take for other races to resort to the same methods if they were in the same situation. Tlincalli are omnivorous, but prefer to feed on meat. Their young are almost solely carnivorous, making hatching season the most active raiding season of all. Some tlincalli tribes in more resource abundant areas may travel with livestock and practice a small form of farming.

The tlincalli only stay in one place if they come across an oasis. If one is found, they will remain there and allow food to come to them. Tlincalli can become highly protective of these oases, defending them from other tribes and taxing travelers that wish to use them.

Tlincalli don’t make shelters, or many other forms of equipment. Settlements are dug a few feet into the ground, or they are taken from old settlements and camps. Typically they either buy, trade, or steal items from other races, such as baskets, rope, and weapons. During hatching season, they will trade some of these tools for livestock to feed their young. Tlincalli are proud of their weapons, and treat them with the same respect that a person may treat their child with. During hunting, they prefer nets and spears, whilst for fighting each other they tend to go for larger, crushing weapons, designed to smash the exoskeleton and hopefully stab their enemies with their own chitin. The stingers of tlincalli contain a mild toxin, which can temporarily paralyze warm blooded creatures. This isn’t really used in combat, but can be used to paralyze food items before slaughtering them.

Artwork by Victor Guerr

The Tlincalli culture favors those who are independent, forward thinking, and enduring. Each individual takes their own life in their own hands, including how they punish those that wrong them. No formal law or government system is universally found amongst their people, with each individual deciding if they will pursue justice, and what punishment they believe is reasonable. There is little shame in not pursuing justice; instead, shame is seen in those who dwell on the past for too long. Justice should be made within a day, otherwise there is no use pondering on it any longer. This is partially due to tlincalli having limited long term memory, meaning that they are very selective about what information they choose to maintain. Pathways, navigation, traditions, and some relationships are kept, but other memories must be maintained on a regular basis. This results in the morning ritual known as “the reaffirmation of the two suns”; individuals greet each other, remind each other that they are allies, and promise to retain this friendship until the next sunrise. Should a friendship end, this meeting will not be enacted, reaffirming to the individuals- and to the rest of the tribe- who is not on good terms with who.

Mating pairs typically don’t last long, with polyandrous relationships being common. A female will give lay eggs of multiple fathers, so all members of a traveling group care for the infants, allowing them to ride on their backs until they can walk. When a Tlincalli dies, the body is eaten and their resources given to either their wife or their favoured husband. If they had no partner, the resources are divided amongst the group. If the tlincalli was expecting a hatching day soon, the body will be presented to the young as food. In this way, no meat is thrown away.

Tlincalli have little time to pursue arts, but they are fond of ritualized dancing and group storytelling. These dances often require two people; one represents the sun, the other the moon. Any other individuals will represent other symbols, such as sand, storms, or water. Tlincalli do not depict living things in their art, as it is seen as taking someone’s identity from them- not in a literal sense, it’s better better equated to identity theft than becoming that person. These dances centre around a single object, such as a fire, a carcass, or a pile made of their few possessions. Recreational drugs may be taken in the form of inhaled substances, which the tlincalli are quite fond of. Instruments are usually traded from other races, or sounds will be made through singing, stomping, and clapping.

Tlincalli have varying relationships with outsiders. Most of the time they view them as liabilities, either because they consume too much food or are too slow to travel with them. Those that prove themselves to be neither of these are welcomed into the group, and unless they wrong the group they will likely find themselves in good company. On the other hand, those that insult them, wrong them, or take their resources will find themselves cast out and left to fend for themselves. These grudges will soon be forgotten however, meaning that an individual can always try again after a week or so to befriend them. At the same time, friendships can be easily forgotten, meaning that friendships are short lived and must be reaffirmed after departures.

Members of the tlincalli are neither encouraged nor discouraged to go and interact with other races. Their lack of presence means more food to go around, and more tlincalli can always be hatched next season to take their place. They are not a normal sight in mixed race settlements, and their presence usually leads to some degree of confusion and miscommunication on both sides. The most common source of these disputes comes in the form of explaining law to the tlincalli, who may simply wonder why the wronged person doesn’t just find the criminal and deal with the issue themselves.

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Apologies on the lack of images for this one- not many people have depicted scorpion centaurs the way I portrayed them in this, and I didn’t want to go for half humans as an alternative. Hopefully we will see more artistic interpretations of them as time passes!