The Ur-Thief

Image by Sidney Sime, found HERE

One of the fun things about exploring old D&D is the search for the origins of its many elements. Rangers are Aragorns, rust monsters came in a pack of Japanese dinosaur toys, etc. The thief has often been linked to the Leiber’s Grey Mouser and Vance’s Cugel, but I would propose a different Ur-Thief … Thangobrind the Jeweller.

I’ve been boning up on my Dunsany lately, to help me apply the finishing touches to Bloody Basic – Weird Fantasy Edition, and last night read through the “Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller” in his Book of Wonder. I draw your attention to the following passages, which seem very thiefy to me:

HIDE IN SHADOWS

“O, but he loved shadows! Once the moon peeping out unexpectedly from a tempest had betrayed an ordinary jeweller; not so did it undo Thangobrind: the watchman only saw a crouching shape that snarled and laughed: “‘Tis but a hyena,” they said.”

MOVE SILENTLY

“Once in the city of Ag one of the guardians seized him, but Thangobrind was oiled and slipped from his hand; you scarcely heard his bare feet patter away.”

“At night they shoot by the sound of the strangers’ feet. O, Thangobrind, Thangobrind, was ever a jeweller like you! He dragged two stones behind him by long cords, and at these the archers shot.”

FIND TRAPS

“… but Thangobrind discerned the golden cord that climbed the wall from each [of the emeralds] and the weights that would topple upon him if he touched one …”

LISTEN AT DOORS

“Though when a soft pittering as of velvet feet arose behind him he refused to acknowledge that it might be what he feared …”

Okay, not at a door, but keen listening nonetheless.

OTHER SKILLS

“… – now like a botanist, scrutinising the ground; now like a dancer, leaping from crumbling edges.”

 

“Oh, he was cunning! When the priests stole out of the darkness to lap up the honey they were stretched senseless on the temple floor, for there was a drug in the honey that was offered to Hlo-Hlo.”

Which, of course, means the Thief needs to be reintroduced as a class in its own right into the Weird Fantasy edition, sending the vagabond back to the “subclass” category. This thief will likely have a couple different skills to bring to the table, though.

Mu-Pan – Hermit of Yarni-Zai

Man I love writing this stuff – just letting my mind wander, maybe feeding it with a few random seeds. Here’s another one from the mountains around Tsanjan …

0937. A small village of fishermen live in this hex in a gorge with steep, 90-foot tall sides. A river moves slowly through the hex on its way to the Tsanjani Plateau. The fishermen dwell in something that resembles a Chinese lantern composed of rattan and attached to the walls of the gorge with iron spikes. Each lantern-house measures about 6 to 9 feet in diameter and houses three or four villagers. The fishermen can be seen at odd intervals dangling their feet out their front doors casting long lines into the river below. Hatches in the tops of the lantern-houses lead to ladders composed of iron spikes, allowing the villagers to climb to other lantern-houses or to the top of the gorge.

Below the lantern-houses an idol of Yarni-Zai has been carved into the gorge wall. The grave creator of beasts and men broods over the slow river, which the villagers believe was originally a beautiful maiden that won the heart of the deity but refused him. A hermit priest sits in the lap of the graven image, meditating, answering the questions of the villagers and curing their ills as best he can. The hermit has no name, and asks nothing but an offering of rice or fish in his begging bowl.

The villagers are armed with yami and haikyu, though their lack of money keeps the bandits away and their somber attitude and resignation to the indignities of the world make them unlikely targets even for chaotic adventurers.

| Hermit, Druid Lvl 6: HP 12 [23]; AC 9 [10]; Save 9; CL/XP 7/600; Special: Spells (3rd), speak to animals, plants and monsters, shapechange. Begging bowl, prayer beads.

Image from HERE.

Mu-Pan – Lord of Arising Smoke

Two more for wondrous Mu-Pan. I have decided to use the Gods of Pegana as the Gods of Mu-Pan. Should be fun. One of those Pegana gods also shows up in Hexcrawl Classics #1.

0232. A sect of lawful sohei dedicated to Kilooloogung, the Lord of Arising Smoke, has been established here in a deep valley rich in iron deposits. The mines are now worked by the lay brothers of the fortress monastery. The monastery is constructed of fired bricks. Each brick is stamped with a holy symbol and glazed red. A slow fire fed by fragrant herbs and woods is maintained at all times in the center of the monastery, the smoke escaping into the sky via three towering bronze chimneys made to look like dragons.

The abbot is called Jeneozen, a charming fanatic with dark yellow-brown skin and blue-gray eyes. Jeneozen is suffering under a curse that forces him to eat almost constantly, but still he loses weight. Once healthy and hale, he has become drawn and weak. The only cure for his condition, he believes, is a bitter, Y-shaped root from the Shadow Hills. Jeneozen commands ten lesser sohei.

Despite the dedication of the ten sohei of Kilooloogung to Law, the lay brothers of the monastery are a shifty lot – smugglers of dangerous narcotics from the high plateau of Tsanjan into the Celestial Hills. The lay brothers of the temple serve a hanu naga called Sebuthop of the Golden Scales (HD 6). She dwells in one of the abandoned iron mines, one that connects to a deep thermal vent, making it steamy and choked with fungal vines.

The monastery treasure horde consists of 19,300 sp, 730 gp.

| Sohei of Kilooloogong, Lvl 2: HP 2d6 [2d6+2]; AC 6 [13]; Save 13 (11 vs death & poisons); CL/XP 3/60; Special: Banish undead, spells (1st). Haramaki-do, sode, tetsubo (1d6), 3 darts, prayer beads.

| Jeneozen, Sohei Lvl 10: HP 8d6+2; AC 5 [14]; Save 5 (3 vs death & poisons); CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Banish undead, spells (5th). Haramaki-do (made of shark skin), sode, suneate, tetsubo (1d6), 3 darts, prayer beads.

0307. The mountains here are lightly forested with black alders. The slopes are home to thousands of locusts. A river of acid spills from a weird cave and down a series of waterfalls into a hole in the earth. Weathered granite pillars rise from the acid river at odd intervals. Above the cave from whence the river flows there is a small, shallow cave. Some ninjas of the Black Dragon Kingdom are trained here. The ninjas must leap from pillar to pillar, making their way up the river to the shallow cave to claim a random object. The object must be returned to the Black Dragon Chan within 3 months of the beginning of the test to pass. Those who fall into the river are either disintegrated by the acid or fall into the bowels of the earth. Those who fail to return to the Black Dragon Chan are hunted down and killed.

The cave and river are always watched by a dozen shadows, the souls of deceased ninja. Intruders into the gorge are attacked by these shadows at dusk or night, but not in the daytime. There is also a 1 in 6 chance that a band of 1d6 ninja are encountered in the gorge. If there is a single ninja, you can assume they are taking the test.

Image from Stravag via DeviantArt.