The Pliv are a dimunitive humanoid rodent race that live in caverns and tunnels both natural and artificial. They have eyes, and see in the infrared range, but they mainly rely on hearing and sonar.

They have to be careful about flames in the caverns, as they tend to use up all the oxygen in a cavern. Only caverns with strong drafts get enough fresh air to support many Pliv living in them, and it takes an even stronger draft if one is going to use flame.

There are a lot of smiths, miners, engineers, inventors and such-like among them and some cavemoss-farmers as well. Many Pliv have never been above ground, and some who go Up Top for the first time are traumatized and never go back again. This is not, as some think, because they cannot stand the bright light (hot iron in a forge is much brighter, in the range of frequencies they see, than anything seen aboveground other than a direct look at the sun), but because they get no feedback from their sonar sense in the direction of the sky. Some Pliv adjust by carrying broad parasols to protect themselves from agoraphobia. In cities built near or above Pliv caverns, such as in Vislond in Torodoth, Pliv are often seen aboveground, but rarely out of doors.


Pliv reach puberty about 15-20, are considered mature adults at around 25 in most Caligoi, and die of old age around 100. Pregnancy lasts about a year; multiple births are rare.

Pliv have eight ears: one on either side of their heads, in the usual place for mammals, and three pairs along the sides of their torso. The neural signals from the lower tympana take slightly longer to reach the brain than those from the upper, but most Pliv rarely notice this, as humans rarely notice double images of objects they aren't focusing on. ... about sonar ...

The Pliv wake and sleep by their internal biological clocks, never adjusted by the sun. Two gregarious instincts keep members of families and communities in synch with one another; one is a strong tendency to yelp uncontrollably during the fuzzy transition from sleep to waking, and the other -- well, yawns are VERY contagious. Different communities are rarely in synch with one another.

Pliv GURPS notes

The Pliv have a basic or average ST of 8 (-15 pts) and DX of 11 (+10 pts).

The Pliv have the disadvantages Bad Sight (-25 pts) and Albinism (-10 pts), and the advantages Infravision (15 pts), Sonar Vision (50 pts), Acute Hearing (3 levels, +6) and limited Absolute Direction (only works underground: +3 pts).

A Pliv needs some time alone every day in order to maintain his sanity. (He cannot relax if he knows or suspects there are telepaths (all Jhotha or Jhray, some Wexivinov) in the vicinity.) After any day in which a Pliv is unable to find any time alone in which to order his thoughts, he will be at -1 on all IQ rolls. This is cumulative if he loses private time for several days in succession. After each five days he must make an IQ roll (with the accumulated minuses); on a failure, he acquires an appropriate mental disadvantage worth -5 points; on a critical failure, one worth -10 to -15 points. Phobias (demophobia and psi-phobia, for instance), paranoia, and similar mental imbalances would be appropriate. If he later gets plenty of time alone, he might be able buy off these acquired disadvantages with accumulated character points; GM's discretion. This psychological need is a disadvantage worth -15 points.

All Pliv get Spelunking at IQ (4 points).

It costs --- points to be a Pliv.

In Caligo Rectek, all Pliv take the Enemy disadvantage for the Krinth. This is worth -20 points; a very large group, but they have enmity toward Pliv in general, not necessarily you in particular. An encounter with a Krinth will not necessarily result in battle if it takes place amongst aliens whom neither of you wants to antagonize.

In those Caligoi where Jhotha also live, it is common to take the Intolerance disadvantage for Jhotha at -5 points. (Because of their love of privacy and secrecy, they strongly disapprove of psi.) They may also be intolerant of Jhray, but the Jhray are much more easily avoided, especially since their leaves and wood are not needed for the earth-magic that the Pliv practice, so this is normally worth no disadvantage points. If a campaign is likely to involve some contact with Jhray, the GM may wish to allow it as a -1 or -5 point disadvantage, depending on how necessary the contact is likely to be.

Common but not universal disadvantages among the Pliv are Agoraphobia (-10 pts) and Truthfulness (-5 pts).


The Pliv (in Rectek and Kreis) have three names; the first is their given name, the second is the given name of their most recent distinguished ancestor, the third is the name of their home cavern. Many proper names start with a consonant-L combination. Some legendary and historical Pliv modern characters might be descended from are Glafnastri, Plantazgor, Klandoz, Vlignorf, and Tlombrankh. Some of the largest caverns are Kletok, Tlegnek, Blechnonstri, and Dlenecvlin.

I used to have much more extensive notes on the language spoken by the Pliv of Rektek, but I think they were all lost in a hard drive crash. Maybe a copy will turn up on a diskette someday, but I doubt it.


The Pliv poetic tradition is mainly alliterative verse (rather like Icelandic and Old English alliterative verse). Here is a translation of one of their work songs:

The Chisel

From darkest deeps   there comes a draft
It fans the forge,   the flames leap lively.
The craftsman carefully   shapes the steel,
He's making a chisel   that's fit for a chief.

His tip is of diamond,   tunnels to dig;
His handle is steel,   how it fitteth the hand!
Sir Chisel shall channel   a passage to plunder
Silver and sapphire,   riches to raid.


The creation

The Great One, Dlarbrandok, made the Inside, and set bounds to it and called the boundaries the Surface. Then he made all the sentient races and the animals and the plants. Each one he made was better than the last, and at last he made the Pliv, who struck his fancy so that he arranged that they would be privileged to live Inside the earth, and most of the others would have to live in the less spacious Surface.

When he had made all creatures and put them where they belonged, he went about giving them their instructions. He said to the dwixiv, "Tunnel and Dig", and they tunneled and dug. He said to the Krinth, "Possess the Air, second most favored of all my creations, second only in spaciousness to the Inside where are the Pliv." Then at last he came to the Pliv and told them their work and their play.

Dlarbrandok decreed first that no Pliv's privacy must ever be violated. To help the Pliv maintain their privacy, he arranged that dark places should never be hard to find. Light could be introduced temporarily when it was convenient.

Then he decreed that the Pliv should labor honorably in working the stone and metals of the earth into ingenious contrivances, and should never cease to seek for new ways to work them and new things to make of them.

Then he decreed that the Pliv that they should work with the Krinth to finish the great work that Dlarbrandok himself had started. "I have set you partners with one another, and watchmen against one another," he said. "You two are the most powerful for good or ill of all my creations. Protect my other creations from one another, and from the Krinth if they should cease to do right, as I have told the Krinth that they must protect the Surface from you if you should cease to do right. Your elements are dependent on one another. The Air is needful to you for breathing, and the Earth is needful to them for a resting-place. The Surface, where the two meet, is the least spacious and most crowded part of my creation, but do not despise it, for thence must come your food and your air."

[The ending of this story, which tells how the Sundering occurred, is different in each Caligo where Pliv are found.]

The Edicts of Dlarbrandok

1. You shall respect your neighbour's Privacy; you shall not enter his house without his permission, nor shall you read over his shoulder as he is writing, nor shall you read in his books without permission, nor shall you demand an answer to your question, nor shall you in any way violate his Privacy.

2. When your neighbour asks you a question, you shall tell him the Truth if you elect to answer; you can tell him it is not his business to know, but you must not pervert the Truth.

3. You shall not kill any other Pliv, except in defending yourself or another Pliv; nor shall you kill any Krinth, Yith, Zun, TTambroc, Glaethryn, Slithu, Briacite, Toaliralolo, Jhotha, Llegesia, Wexivanov, Guerrothak, or Guerrothon, except they be threatening the life of another of these creatures.

4. You shall not dispossess any Pliv of his cavern-holding; no, not even if you once lived there yourself.

5. You shall not prevent your neighbour from going about his business.


In each of the Caligoi where there are Pliv, there is a single temple to Dlarbrandok. Once, legends say, there was a single temple for the whole world; but it was whelmed by the coming of the Mists. The temples of Dlarbrandok are deep underground, below most of the inhabited caverns. At the center of each lies the dlakladj, a sealed, seamless box, old beyond memory, containing none knows what. This is an image of the privacy of Dlarbrandok. There is no priesthood; young Pliv take turns guarding the dlakladj.

Pliv come to the temple to worship before commencing a work, starting a family, or beginning a journey. They meet at local shrines (dlaretivar) more often.

Social System

"Land" (actually "space") in the caverns is priced and sold by volume rather than by area as surface-dwellers do. The measure for cavern space is a krokt (1.4 cubic meters).

Large caverns are public places, for religious and business and political commerce. Small caverns, with secret and well-guarded entrances, are homes of families and individuals. No cavern subsystem may house more Pliv than it has separable rooms, as each Pliv needs a klabedjiv (dark place) for some time alone regularly.

Both private (residential) and public (business) caverns have wells or tunnels nearby through which come drafts of oxygen produced by tlargontrag activity (see Caverns: animals). Caverns which lack such a steady air supply are not used except for long-term storage.


Criminal and Civil Justice

The Pliv in most places are organized in clans; the chief of a clan judges disputes among the members of his own clan, and disputes between members of different clans are argued out between the chiefs of each clan, final arbitration being made by the chief of a third clan (or, in more serious criminal cases, by a jury of three leaders from clans unrelated to those involved in the dispute). Judgment is carried out on the party adjudged guilty by the leader of his own clan. The most serious penalty (for murder and crippling assault) is exile (aboveground, or to the deeps where there are no organized Pliv communities, usually at the discretion of the exile); the death penalty is unheard of except for unlawfully returning exiles. Penultimate penalties, for rape, non-crippling assault, grand privacy violation, and grand theft, are maiming (hand, eye, tympanum, or genitals according to the nature of the crime) and exposure (being chained in a public cavern for several days, without any solitary time). Lesser penaltes for lesser crimes include whipping and fines of labor or goods.


The main feature of Pliv culture is its emphasis on privacy and truth. The Pliv value science and invention highly, but because of the tendency of Pliv scientists to remain secretive until they have impressive results to publish, their rate of progress in most times and places is not what one might hope. However, in Torodoth, the Pliv were largely responsible for a scientific revolution which eventually led to the restoration of travel and communication between the Caligoi.

Last updated August 2011.
To the top of this page.
Main Caligo page
Back to Jim Henry's home page.
Email me:

Get a GoStats hit counter