Race or Monster: Saurkur?

Welcome to my recurring blog series: “Race or Monster”. In these posts I try to uncover whether a particular humanoid or creature is best left as a “monster” or used as a race suitable for a player character. Of course, the individual GM is the final arbiter in their campaign, so I also want to examine whether a particular creature is even Shadow World “canon”. (see my most recent Race or Monster discussing the Droloi). Today I wanted to dive into the Saurkur.

So, unlike the Droloi which appeared much later in the Rolemaster supplement “Races & Cultures”, the Saurkur first appeared in “Island of the Oracles“, the 11th SW product printed in 1990. Like many non-canon modules, one gets the impression that IotOs was material that was retrofitted into the SW series. I had a copy at one point, but remember little about the book. I did think that the archipelago setting was very Shadow World, given the geography of many small land masses and island chains separated by the Flow of Essence.

From Terry’s comments on the development of Shadow World, there was certainly an internal tension between Terry’s creative vision and others at ICE that wanted SW to be a more generic setting that would appeal to a larger customer base. The inclusion of standard fantasy tropes was common in many of the SW non-canon books. But should the Saurkur be considered canon? Here is the few mentions (excluding the racial charts where they are classified as an “Alien Race”

General Info: 5’8″-7′ tall, 250-350 lbs, no professional limitations

Description: tall, thin, bipedal lizards.
dark green to brown in color, hands
have four digits, posses an uncanny strength
for their build, and move very quickly, have long, thin tails


The Saurkur are a race of warm-blooded reptilian people that make up the bulk of the population of the Abarquan Islands (about 700 miles
south of Kelestia). Loremasters believe them to be
the descendants of a space-faring race
that came
to Kulthea on a colony ship which crash landed
on the islands.


The K’ta’viiri begin experimenting……Masters of genetics, the Lords of Essænce alter plants, animals,and races to suit their whim. These unusual races
include the Krylites, the Saurkur, and the Kuluku

Master Atlas:

.Abarquan Islands: [Tropical/Humid] Saurkur
(Mixed economies/Oligarchy/TL:4).
Home of the Lizard-men described in the ICE
SW module Islands of the Oracle.

That’s not much to go on, so unless you have Islands of the Oracle you may not have ever used or encountered the Saurkur in SW. As humanoid creatures, they may either be descendants of a seafaring race or a Ka’ta’viir experiment, but they are at least Tech lvl 4, have a organized culture and no professional limitations. There doesn’t seem to be any issues around breathing air, keeping their skin wet or any limitation on adventuring. In fact, they have unusual strength (+20 str bonus!!) and speed (although no Qu bonus) that should make solid warriors/tanks. They appear to be “Medium” size so they don’t have issues that might arise by playing a Troll or similar larger race. Of course there would be cultural issues assimilating into a human or Elvish community, but Shadow World does have alien-like canon races (Hirazi).

What are your thoughts? Are Saurkur Shadow World “Canon”? Have you had a PC play one?

11 Replies to “Race or Monster: Saurkur?”

  1. Might want to note that they have been included in the RMU Core books, with stats toned down a bit to make them more balanced.

      1. Indeed.
        In the course of discussion, several of us players asked for a wider range of more diverse races, and JDale has expanded it considerably. Of course, this was made easier by the design of RMU itself, which has rules for creating (and balancing) races and professions. So the list of playable races in the core book is the largest it has been for any edition of RM (I am pretty sure).

        1. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a menagerie of the strange and bizarre. One thing that’s always been a primary sell for me wrt RM and Shadow World is the thoughtful balance of realistic and fantasy. I’m a big fan of PF2, but the surfeit of playable ‘non-human’ races is a real turn off, and my primary complaint of the otherwise well developed ‘Lost Omens’ setting. Rhinoceros playable races was ‘beyond the pale’ for me. =)

          I’m not opposed to non-human; I think there’s always been a fair appreciation of it in the setting (Kaeden, Krylites, etc..). It’s just that they need to be thoughtful and rational with respect to why they are there, and the impact of those creatures on their surroundings (places and people).

          1. Looking through the list, it doesn’t seem that far out there. Some of the races are Shadow World races, such as Saurkur and Sea Kralls. Others are different races of men, which were present in earlier RM supplements. Still others are drawn from the Creatures and Treasures books. So you will be familiar with most of them. The only one I think that is entirely new is the Hvastonn, based on the giants of Norse legend, but about the size of Goliaths in DnD (so they can be a playable race of the ‘Big’ size).

  2. I’ve never had a Saurkur PC, and never encouraged it, since they would be too alien in an cosmopolitan environment.
    I’ve always considered them “cannon” but I think my players never encountered any. There are only 2 or 3 groups, the one closest to most campaign would be in the Spine of Emer if I’m not mistaken.
    If at some point I introduce them to my players, even as an NPC, that would surely derail the official timeline from whatever ends up happening in those adventures.

    1. Do you remember where the Saurkur are mentioned as being in the Spine of Jaiman? The only specific reference I’ve seen is the ones in the Abarqan Isles in the module, Islands of the Oracle.

      1. I did a keyword PDF search through all the books prior to writing this post and only found the mention of Saurkur in Abarqan. The Spine reference (of Emer not Jaiman) might have been re: Krylites?

        I don’t believe Terry used Saurkur in his writings; they were a product of Islands by a third party.

        1. No, damn, I got confused, those are Krylites!
          So, what are we talking about? I think I’m not considering Saurkur cannon, they only appear in that non-cannon book, my mistake.

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