Freeform Fantasy Races

Before I started writing this blog or publishing, I did a fair amount of writing for myself and the people with whom I gamed. I recently came across some files I’d stashed away, including the “original” NOD RPG, which was really just a mash-up of Swords & Wizardry and Castles & Crusades, with art from Wayne Reynolds, and this little ditty about racial archetypes.

The idea was to swap out the common fantasy races for these archetypes, with options chosen by the players so that they could, in essence, build their own “race” for their character. I used some of these idea later in Space Princess for those races, and a few ideas have probably filtered into Blood & Treasure, but I thought people might enjoy seeing the original, with only a little editing for spelling. Again – assume these were for some unholy mash-up of S&W, C&C and 3rd edition.

These rules are designed to let you model races not found in the Player’s Handbook.

Attribute Modifiers
All of the archetypes in this document except Aliens, Dynamics, and Natives are allowed one attribute modifier from the following list.

• +1 Cha, -1 Wis.
• +1 Dex, -1 Con.
• +1 Int, -1 Str.
• +1 Str, -1 Int and -1 penalty to one ability score of your choice.
• +1 Con, -1 Dex.
• +1 Wis, -1 Cha.

Dynamic Characters
Dynamics are the most common form of adventurer. They rely on training and luck to win the day, not innate powers.

Senses: Normal.

Prime Attributes: Dynamic characters may choose three prime attributes instead of the usual two.

Alien Characters
Aliens are defined by strange physical and mental powers. They are probably the most versatile type of hero, after the dynamic. Virtually any kind of “super powered” hero can be realized with the alien type.

Senses: Normal – but see below.

Powers: Aliens can choose three powers from the following list.

Mental Powers
All mental powers that are derived from Jason Vey’s psionics rules follow those rules normally. The alien should be treated as a 1st level psionicist for the purpose of using the ability. If an alien takes a psionic mental power multiple times, he increases his effective level for using that power by 1. Thus, an alien that took metabolic control three times would use the power as a 3rd level psionicist.

  • Alien Mind: Creatures that try to read or control your mind must make an Intelligence save or be confused for 1 round.
  • Clairaudience: See psionics rules.
  • Clairvoyance: See psionics rules.
  • Dual-Mind: You are capable of engaging in two mental tasks at once, making an attribute check for each at -2. You cannot cast two spells or use to psionic powers simultaneously with this power. In addition, you also get to make two saving throws against mental effects. As long as one mind makes it save, you can ignore the effect, though you suffer a -2 penalty to all actions.
  • Empathy: See psionics rules.
  • Heightened Mentality: Increase one of your mental attributes (Int, Wis, or Cha) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Metabolic Control: See psionics rules.
  • Obfuscation: See psionics rules.
  • Psionically Gifted: You gain a +1 bonus to all psionic power checks.
  • Psychic Defense: See psionics rules.
  • Spell Resistance: You gain spell resistance 1. Each additional time you take this ability you increase your spell resistance by +1.
  • Telepathic Communication (Wisdom): See psionics rules.

Physical Powers

  • Chameleon: This is the ability to change the body’s colors (though not the color of items worn or carried) to match the environment. Generally it should give a bonus of +1 to +5 on hide checks.
  • Energy Resistance: You gain resistance to one energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This can be power can taken more than once, but it applies to a different energy form each time you take it.
  • Extra Arms: When using two-weapon fighting, you may make two off-hand attacks instead of one. Alternatively, you may wield an additional shield in combat.
  • Extra Legs: You are a quadruped – you gain a +4 bonus to avoid being knocked over. In addition, your carrying capacity is increased by 10%.
  • Heightened Physique: Increase one of your physical attributes (Str, Con, or Dex) by +1. This can be taken more than once, but no attribute can be increased beyond a score of 20.
  • Heightened Senses: You gain twilight vision, an enhanced sense of smell, and a +2 bonus to all listen checks.
  • Improved Speed: Your base land movement is increased by +5 ft. This can be taken more than once, and its benefits stack.
  • Natural Armor: You have scales, thick fur, or thick skin of some kind that give you a natural AC 12. Each additional time that you take this power you increase your natural armor by +2.
  • Natural Weapons: You either gain a bite, claw, gore, slam, slap, sting, talon, or tentacle attack that deals 1d4 damage. This attack can be used in addition to weapon attacks at no penalty. Each additional time you take this power you can either gain an additional attack form, or increase the damage of an existing attack form by one dice size.
  • Poison: You are poisonous – either through bite, skin contact, or writhing snakes on your head. Opponents who are stricken must succeed at a Constitution save or suffer 1d6 points of damage.
  • Quills/Spikes: Your outer arms, back, head, legs, etc are covered in quills or spikes. You gain a +1 bonus to AC, and can inflict 1d4 points of bonus damage when grappling or grappled. Opponents that strike you without using weapons suffer this damage automatically.
  • Regeneration: Gains fast healing 1.
  • Spider Climb: You can use spider climb, as the spell, at will.
  • Stretch: You can increase your reach by 5 ft (at the cost of 2 points of strength), and squeeze into small spaces with a dexterity check.
  • Tentacles: Tentacles emerge from some portion of your body – they may replace your arms or legs, or jut out from your chin. They grant you a slam attack that deals 1d4 damage, and grant you a +2 bonus to grappling attacks and climbing.

Sample Alien: Githyanki

The githyanki are descended from human slaves kept by the mind flayers. Ages ago they rebelled and escaped to the Astral Plane, where they now dwell. Githyankis have three mental powers: Alien mind, heightened mentality (+1 Int), and psionically gifted.

Beaste Characters
A concept drawn from folklore, beastes are shape shifting magical animals.

Senses: Twilight vision, enhanced sense of smell.

Alternate Form: Beastes can alternate their form between that of an animal, a humanoid, and a hybrid form. Changing form requires one complete round during which the character can do nothing else. Armor and equipment do not change form along with the beaste. In each form the character’s level and attribute scores are unchanged.

Animal Form: When in animal form the beaste is virtually undetectable from a normal animal. Beastes gain the ability to speak with normal animals when in their animal form. While in animal form, a beaste cannot use any weapons, armor, or equipment, nor can they cast spells. They can understand any language they know, but may not be able to reply.

Humanoid Form: When in humanoid form, beastes looks like a normal humanoid of a type chosen during character creation (i.e. elf, dwarf, human, orc, etc). Whatever their chosen humanoid guise, they always retain some distinctive feature of their beaste form. The choice is up to the player. In humanoid form, the beaste loses its twilight vision and enhanced sense of smell.

Hybrid Form: A beaste in hybrid form appears as a combination of animal and humanoid – their exact appearance is up to the player. In this form, they retain the special attacks and qualities of their animal form, but also have working humanoid hands, and can speak humanoid languages.

Speak To Animals: In all forms, a beaste can speak to animals at will.

Sample Beaste: Kitsune

Kitsune are fox beastes of Japanese folklore. They are capable of taking the form of a human, fox, or human-fox hybrid. They gain a +1 bonus to charisma and a -1 penalty to wisdom.

Elemental Characters
Elementals carry the blood of elementals in their veins. All elementals show this heritage in their physical appearance.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Energy Resistance: All elementals have 50% resistance to one energy type based on their elemental heritage:

Air 50% resistance to electricity
Earth 50% resistance to acid
Fire 50% resistance to fire
Water 50% resistance to cold

Elemental Power: Elementals have special abilities based on their elemental heritage.

Air: Reduce falling damage by 50%, double jump distance.
Earth: +2 AC vs. overbearing attacks, +1 natural AC
Fire: Deal 1 point of fire damage with all melee attacks.
Water: Breathe underwater, gain swim speed equal to land speed.

Sample Elemental: Fire Gnome
The fire gnomes are gnomes that dwell near volcanoes. They have 50% resistance to fire and can deal 1 extra point of damage with their melee attacks. In addition, they have the small subtype, giving them a +2 bonus to dexterity and a -2 penalty to strength. They have a +1 bonus to intelligence and a -1 penalty to strength (making a total -3 penalty to strength).

Macabre Characters
Macabres are either born from the undead (i.e. their parents were made undead while they were in the womb, or they were sired by a vampire, or there was a strange ritual involved), the result of botched resurrections on their pregnant mothers, or maybe they are actually sentient undead. Macabres can choose to be intangibles (like ghosts, shadows, or wraiths) or corporeals (like zombies, ghouls or vampires). They can be small, medium, or large.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Macabres are damaged by positive energy and healed by negative energy. Thus cure light wounds will inflict 1d8 points of damage on a macabre, while inflict light wounds will cure 1d8 points of damage.

Stunning Touch: Macabres have a touch attack that stuns living creatures for 1d4 rounds if they fail a constitution saving throw. They can use this once per day.

Intangibles: Intangible macabres can use ethereal jaunt once per day.

Corporeals: Corporeal macabres have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits.

Sample Macabre: True Ghoul
The true ghouls are a race of undead that haunts the deepest reaches of the Underworld. Unlike normal ghouls ,they are intelligent and more-or-less civilized. A true ghoul has the normal resistance to positive and negative energy and stunning touch of a macabre. As corporeal macabres, they have a 50% chance to ignore extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits. They have a +1 bonus to constitution and a -1 penalty to dexterity.

Magical Characters
Magical characters have magical power flowing through their veins. This is usually due to a fey, planar, or draconic heritage.

Senses: Twilight vision.

Resistance: Magicals can choose to have 25% resistance to any three energy types of their choice, 90% resistance to sleep and charm effects, or a flat magic resistance of 10%.

Spells: Magicals can choose four 0-level spells, two 1st level spells, or one 2nd level spell to cast as spell-like abilities once per day. The magical character has a caster level of 1 with his spell-like abilities.

The list a magical character chooses his spell-like abilities from often corresponds to his heritage: wizard for draconics, illusionist or druid for feys, and cleric for planars.

The spells chosen must be approved by the CK.

Sample Magical: Tiefling
Tieflings have fiendish blood in their veins. They have 25% resistance to cold, fire and poison damage, and can cast darkness once per day. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Native Characters
The native is tied to where he has grown to adulthood, whether he is a barbarian of the forests or a city slicker.

Senses: Normal.

Native Environment: Natives must designate one “environment” as their native environment. A native can choose from the following environments: Aquatic, Arctic, Desert, Forest, Jungle, Hills, Marsh, Mountains, Plains, Underground, and Urban. Man-made dungeons do not count as an urban or underground environment.

All natives receive a +1 bonus to initiative, attribute checks that would benefit from familiarity with an area, and +10 ft to movement when in their native environment.

In addition, natives can choose to get either a +1 bonus to hit three traditional enemies of their people (chosen with CK’s approval), or a +1 bonus to hit with a traditional weapon of their people.

Finally, natives get a +2 bonus to AC when fighting large creatures native to their native environment.

Sample Native: Cimmerian
The Cimmerians of Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian tales are native to a land of steep, rugged hills. In such environments they gain a +1 bonus to initiative and attribute checks, a +10’ to their movement. Their traditional enemies are the Picts, Vanir, and Hyperboreans, against whom they are +1 to hit. Against large creatures native to Cimmeria they have a +2 bonus to AC.

Promethean Characters

Monkbot, from HERE

Note: I think I snagged this from somewhere else – maybe Jason Vey – if anyone knows, let me know

Prometheans are creatures that are manufactured by other creatures. They are sentient, and as capable of emotion as their player wishes them to be. Prometheans can be built from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, stone, clay, porcelain, or even unliving flesh.

Constructed: Prometheans are immune to any effect that requires a constitution save that doesn’t normally affect objects. They do not need to eat, sleep, or breath, although they can benefit from imbibing a magical potion.

Outer Shell: Prometheans gains special abilities based on the composition of their outer shell. Choose one.

Ceramic: +2 to charisma checks
Cloth: +2 to dexterity checks
Metal: Natural AC 12
Wax: Change self once per day, vulnerable to fire
Wood: Natural AC 11, swim speed equal to half their land speed

Innards: Prometheans gain special abilities based on their innards. Choose one.

Clockwork: +2 to grapple attacks and to disarm AC due to the ability to lock their grasp
Cotton: Cold resistance equal to 25%
Hollow: Conceal objects one size category smaller within its body
Sand: Fire resistance equal to 25%
Sawdust: Acid resistance equal to 25%
Solid: 25% chance to negate extra damage from sneak attacks, back attacks, and critical hits

Sample Promethean: Karakuri
In real life, karakuri are primitive Japanese clockwork automatons. In a fantasy game they can be prometheans of ceramic composition and clockwork innards. This gives them a +2 to charisma checks, a +2 bonus to grapple attacks, and a +2 bonus to AC vs. disarming attacks. Since they are constructs, they need not eat, sleep, or breath. They have a +1 bonus to dexterity and a -1 penalty to constitution.

Racial Subtypes
The following subtypes can be added to any racial type.

Aquatic: Aquatic creatures can breath underwater and gain a swim speed equal to their land speed. They must immerse their bodies in water at least once per day or lose 1 point of Constitution to dehydration.

Avian: Avian creatures have working wings; they gain a fly speed equal to their land speed, but suffer a -2 penalty to Constitution due to their hollow bones.

Insectoid: An insectoid’s antenna give it the ability to fight without the benefit of sight. They suffer half the normal penalty when fighting blind.

Subterranean: Subterranean creatures have darkvision to 60 feet, but are -1 to hit in bright light. Alternatively, they can have deepvision to 120 feet, but suffer a -3 penalty to hit in bright light.

Size: A creature’s size is assumed to be Medium, i.e. between 5 and 7 feet in height. Optionally, it can be Tiny, Small, or Large.

  • Tiny (1-2 ft): +4 Dex, -4 Str, 50% reduced carrying capacity
  • Small (3-4 ft): +2 Dex, -2 Str, 25% reduced carrying capacity
  • Large (8-12 ft): +2 Str, -2 Dex, 25% increased carrying capacity

Of Pixies and Proboscis Monkeys

Because you demanded it (well, two of you), I now proudly present the proboscis monkey (or bekantan) and pixie as playable races for Blood & Treasure. I will expect to see many bekantan and pixie characters popping up in the next few months to reward me for my toil.


Found HERE; modified by yours truly

The life of a bekantan is boring. They dwell in the treetops, grazing on leaves. Because the leaves contain toxins, they only eat young leaves, and they only eat a few leaves from each tree, to avoid too big a build-up of that tree’s particular toxins in their system. Tree to tree, leaf after leaf. Boring.

A rare bekantan is born a little smarter than its kin, and wants a little more out of life. These bekantan become adventurers.

Bekantan have reddish-orange fur and pink-orange faces. They are notable for their large noses (especially on the males) and pot bellies.

Bekantan are not particularly violent, and couple with their small size makes them relatively poor warriors. They usually are not intelligent enough to become magic-users, and few enter the priestly ranks. This makes most bekantans thieves (or Jimmy Durante impersonators, but I haven’t written that class yet, so we’ll let it lie).

Bekantan modify their starting ability scores as follows: Str -1, Dex +2, Int -2, Wis +1, Cha -1

Bekantan have a base movement rate of 30′ per round and a climb speed of 20’ per round. They have a knack for climbing sheer surfaces, jumping and swimming (they have webbed toes). Bekantan enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. poison. They can make a bite attack for 1d3 damage in place of a weapon attack.

Bekantan can multi-class as fighter/thieves, magic-user/thieves or cleric/thieves if they can meet the requirements.


Pixies are fey kin to halflings, though far less likely to mingle with humanoids than their portly, burrowing cousins. Most live a carefree existence in the woods, doing fey stuff and ignoring the world of men and dwarves (and elves and half-elves and half-orcs and … you get the idea). A few are bold enough to step out of the woods and become adventurers.

Pixies modify their starting ability scores as follows: Str -3, Dex +3, Int +2, Wis +1

Pixies are small creatures with a base movement rate of 20’ per round. They can also fly at a speed of 60’ per round if they do not wear armor heavier than padded or leather and if they are not encumbered.

Pixies have numerous magical abilities. They can become invisible, at will, for up to 1 minute per day per level (per the invisibility spell). They also enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. magic.

Pixies with a Charisma score of at least 11 can cast the following spells, each once per day: Detect thoughts (ESP), detect evil and dancing lights.

Pixies can multi-class as fighter/sorcerers and sorcerer/thieves if they can meet the requirements.

All pixies suffer a -20% penalty to earned experience, due to their numerous special abilities. Pixies cannot advance beyond 8th level as sorcerers or warlocks (alternate sorcerer class), or 7th level in other classes.

Dragon by Dragon – September 1979 (29)

September of 1979, and lots of kids were getting ready to go back to school (and lots of parents were thanking God the kids were going back to school). Maybe the mail brought a few of those kids one last bit of fun before the learning began – Dragon #29.

Note on the cover – not terribly impressive to me, except for that little bit in the lower right-hand corner. Woimy’s back!

What does the “premier magazine of games and gaming” have for us this month?

Kask has a few things about subscriptions to discuss in the opening. First, make sure you address things to TSR Periodicals to get things moving fast. Second, let them know when you’re moving. Finally, when you resubcribe, do it before your subscription ends to make sure you don’t miss an issue. All of these things – almost completely moot in the modern world.

Apparently, this was an issue for clarifications – they had to reprint the image of the Slinger from last month’s Bestiary – they apparently should have told the printer to increase the screen density by 20%. Here’s Mary Lynn’s little masterpiece:

The first article is missing a title, but the TOC calls it “Of the Gods”. Whatever it’s called, its by Craig Bakey and concerns the idea of “campaign gods”. The argument by Bakey is that every campaign should have its own gods and goddesses, rather than just using the mythos in “Gods, Demi-gods and Heroes”. What follows are some guidelines on how to create an original pantheon for your game. A couple points:

1. The power of the gods runs in cycles, so different pantheons can hold sway over the Prime Material Plane at different times, though the other gods are by no means powerless. This is actually a cool idea – different gangs of gods rising and falling in power.

2. Beyond the gods are forces of immeasurable power who have long since lost interest in the universe – i.e. The Old Gods. According to Bakey, there are 24 hyper-physical padrones which manifest themselves as colored jewels of six different disciplines. The concepts of Law and Chaos, and the gods themselves, originated in these jewels.

Note – I love how in the old days, an article that seemed like it was going to be campaign neutral suddenly decides on pretty campaign specific stuff that everyone should use. It’s as though there was still an idea that all D&D campaigns really should be linked with each other, and therefore needed to have a solid foundation underpinning them.

The aforementioned disciplines are:

I – blue gems – abstract religion

II – purple gems – space, dimensions, form, motion

III – green gems – matter

IV – yellow gems – intellect

V – orange gems – individual and intersocial volitions

VI – red gems – affections, personal, moral, religious, etc.

He goes on to describe the basic characteristics all deities should have, and other statistics to define them. Then come the random tables for generating deities – this I like. The main table has a weird entry on it that might come from the digitizing of the magazines, but it covers the basic power level of the deity – from demi-god to “gods of the inner circle” to banished gods and rogue gods. There are tables for determining Armor Class and Hit Points, relations between the gods, alignment, gender, their portfolio, and extraordinary abilities and fantastic possessions. He goes on to present some sample pantheons, which appear to have an alignment factor to them (makes the whole rotating pantheons in power make more sense).

I dig that he includes “Dormamnu” as the god of paradoxes and energy. Ardnha, the “presence of swords and machines” and Quasiman, the goddess of black sorcerers sounds pretty cool as well.

Next is a variant on the Source of the Nile game by the authors, Dave Weseley and Ross Maker (I think). It’s a collection of flow charts that are pretty meaningless without the game rules. Or maybe not – here’s a sample:

Now that I look at them, they might be useful to somebody running a wilderness adventure. In fact, designing some flow charts of my own might be useful.

In the “Fantasy Smith’s Notebook” we have “An Ounce of Preparation is Worth a Ton of Paint”. I always found this to be true when I painted minitures (Warhammer, mostly). A nice primer coat was a must, especially since I sucked at painting a good black undercoat really helped make my minis look way better than they would have otherwise. The article is a good guide to prepping miniatures, using dowels to hold them (wish I’d thought of that), filing them to correct problems with the casting, etc.

An interesting thing that was either an advertisement or a tiny article comes at the end of the previous article, for the Order of the Indian Wars (PO Box 7401, AC 501-225-3996, Little Rock, Arkansas 72217), a group dedicated to studying the American Indian Wars.

The coolest thing – still around! OIW’s website is HERE.

Gary Gygax is up next with “From the Sorcerer’s Scroll”. Here, he introduces “The Half-Ogre, Smiting Him Hip and Thigh”. Here, EGG mentions that he has seen many treatments of the idea, and now he’s wading in with something official – and a warning.

“The character races in AD&D were selected with care. They give variety of approach, but any player selecting a non-human (part- or demi-human) character does not have any real advantage.”

“Consider the various factors which must be taken into account when designing a race for game purposes. Remember that last part, game purposes; AD&D is, first and foremost, a game. Races, just as with classes, must be in relative balance with each other, as well as with the game as a whole.”

Dear old dad

He actually gives some nice design advice on creating character races, and also on why he made the rules he made in AD&D to keep things balanced.

Time to roll up a half-ogre. Half-ogres have the following ability scores: Str 14-18 (use d6, with 5 and 5 equaling 18), Int 3-12 (3d4), Wis 2-12 (2d6), Dex 3-12 (3d4), Con 14-18 (as Str above) and Cha 2-8 (2d4).

Note – I suddenly love the idea of each race rolling different dice for its ability scores, instead of just using bonuses and penalties.

I roll up the following: Str 16, Int 7, Wis 7, Dex 7, Con 17, Cha 3 (or 6 with ogres and half-ogres … so even my own people find me distasteful).

Half-ogres can be fighters (unlimited advancement) or clerics. I don’t qualify as a cleric, so I guess my half-ogre, Zapp Smashigan, will be a fighter. As a half-ogre, I get infravision to 60′, speak ogre, orc and troll (if raised by my ogre parent), a swarthy and dull complexion, dark and lank hair, an average height of 7.5 feet, roll two Hit Dice at 1st level, and then regular progression thereafter. So, as a first level fighter, I roll 15 hit points, plus 3 per hit dice for my high Con, so 21 hit points at first level. Not too shabby, actually. If the others chip in and get me a decent weapon and armor, I can really kick some tail and let the clerics focus on healing the other fighters in the group.

Next, Harold Pitt gives us “Curses: Never Get Even – Get Ahead”. From the second paragraph:

“The curses spoken of here are the ones that the Dungeon Master may lay onto his players as a matter of the course of play, a penalty for acting out of character (alignment), or just as an equalizer for someone who has been exceptionally successful. Or for that character that has just succeeded in demolishing the trap you spent hours agonizing over (frustrating, isn’t it?) and feel that perhaps, somehow, he shouldn’t get away scot free. Remember: never get even—get ahead!”

Harold sounds like a fun DM to play with. “Hmm, Pete’s thief has done pretty well this adventure, even got past that killer trap I set up. Guess it’s time to curse him.”

The advice in the article is sound and common sense – I use it when designing curses in my hex crawls. Basically – figure out what will really challenge a character, and use it. Curses really should be about challenging the players and making the game more interesting. As Harold puts it:

“In conclusion, cursing can be fun. It can become a battle of wits and resources between DM and player.”

Still, I can’t endorse the idea that the DM needs revenge on successful players. No good will come from that attitude.

Time for “Out on a Limb” and some thoughtful letters to the editor. I actually liked this bit in a letter from Marc Jacobs of Allentown, PA:

“Obviously, the feudal class structure of Europe will not work for D&D the way it is usually played. First, ruined castles and dungeons would probably be the property of someone, and adventuring in them would be akin to poaching in the king’s forest. In a magic-intensive world, it would be hard to hide the origins of your wealth.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see this as a bug, but rather as a feature.

Dig this from the editor:

“To my knowledge, and I’ve been here since there has been a TSR Hobbies, Inc., there has never been an “enemies list” or black list. Not that we don’t take note of who the most vociferous critics are, naturally we do.

I don’t have a bad side; my answers are very much the product of the mood I’m in or how the particular letter struck me at the time. There are dozens of different ways to humiliate people in print that I would never stoop to using.”

Good times. Good times.

Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay now come waltzing in with another “Giants in the Earth”. This month, we get Roger Zelazny’s Shadowjack, a 25th level thief, 9th (18th) level fighter and 9th (18th) level magic-user. Also, Jack Vance’s Iucounu, the Laughing Magician, a 20th level magic-user. Along with Iucounu, you get a bevy of Vancian spells: The Charm of Forlorn Encystment, The Charm of Untiring Nourishment, The Excellent Prismatic Spray, Felojun’s Second Hypnotic Spell, etc. I’ll reproduce one of these spells:

Thasdrubel’s Laganetic Transfer or the Agency of Far Despatch: when this spell is uttered, the recipient is bound as if by a hold person spell. A nycadaemon appears (i.e., is gated in), grasps the held recipient and flies him or her either to a point designated by the caster or 10-100 miles in a random direction. Range: 3”. Area of effect: 1 creature. Casting time: 1 round. Saving throw: none.

Idea – everybody picks a character from “GitE” and we hold a Google+ fight club using AD&D rules.

In the “Design Forum”, Doug Green presents “Rewarding Heroism in D&D”. It comes down like so: If a player or a couple players want to act for the entire group in situations where the life or freedom of the entire party is on the line, they attack as though twice their normal level (or apply spell rules as though double level, though they don’t get additional spells), and take half-damage from attacks. All other abilities are +20%.

As Doug puts it, “This rule simulates the effect of adrenalin on a person in a life or death situation and the natural law present in most fantasy stories that good will triumph over evil.”

Doug also gives the point man in the party +20% XP, and anyone praying after sacrificing himself has a percent chance equal to his level of getting a reaction from the gods. Also, heroic acts are worth 1,000 to 5,000 XP.

Not sure who wrote this next one, but it’s called Inns and Taverns, and the art is groovy:

The article gives a nice guide to what inns and taverns are (or were), along with percent chance to find on in different sized communities (75% chance in a community with 150 people or less) and what to do without one (beg for lodgings). He notes that in 1453, Paris consisted of three square miles, within which lived 150,000 people and 5,000 inns and taverns.

He also covers prices (5 cp to 5 gp per night – quite a spread), what you get for your money, etc. Good, solid article. I have to reproduce the food prices:

Check out this little inclusion:

So now you know.

I also enjoyed this ad from Nimrod Games:

A couple links for you – Knights & Knaves and Surigao Strait.

J. D. Webster now gives us a variant – “Air War North Vietnam”. It presents some new scenarios for the game, which I know little about. I do know that my favorite fighter plane when I was a kid was the F-4 Phantom II.

Thomas Holsinger now gives us “Smaller Than Man-Sized Weapons Table”. Simple little article showing weapon damage for weapons as used by gnomes or goblins. Useful table back in the day, probably not as much now.

For those who like costumes and hitting people with sticks, Allen Hammack writes “Anatomy of an S.C.A. Battle – The Sleep War”. This article introduces the ways and means of the Society for Creative Anachronism in terms of their battles.

Paul Karlsson Johnstone now tells us of the “Origins of the Norse Pantheon”. Nice article about where it came from, what it meant, the cults. A good introduction to the topic.

Jerome Arkenberg gives us “The Mythos of Oceania in Dungeons & Dragons”, with sections for Micronesia and Melanesia. I dig the Porpoise Girls (AC 2, HP 50, fight as 1st level fighters). Their ogres can also shapechange into giants, crocodiles, snakes, ospreys, fish, hawks and bears. That’s actually a nice little variation.

How good were these miniatures? FIND OUT HERE!

“Strain and Spell Casting” is a nice article by Kevin Thompson. The editor notes that this is the first “spell point” system he has ever liked, possibly because it makes magic-users weaker. It is based on the idea that each spell cast causes strain on the magic-user. The magic-user’s Constitution score determines their “strain multiplier”.

You multiply this by his level to get his total strain points for the game. So, a 5th level magic-user with a 8 constitution has 2 strain points. When a spell is cast, the spell level is deducted from the strain points. Spells from magical implements cause half-strain, while potions cause no strain.

The magic-user can go over his normal daily strain total by consulting the Effectiveness Chart and roll D6.

You also have to roll on the Overstrain Chart:

I dig the system for the most part. It’s pretty similar to what I did in Pars Fortuna. It does seem a bit severe, though, for mid-level magic-users who don’t have great Constitutions.

I have a feeling this is my new half-ogre character

Now we get a few quick, short articles (often the best kind) –

“Trained Animals in Dungeons & Dragons” by Robert Greayer. It deals with using wild dogs, war dogs, wolves, dire wolves, winter wolves, worgs, pigeons, ravens, hawks, falcons, golden eagles and bald eagles as henchmen. I would give Zapp Smashigan a bald eagle for a pet, but I think his Charisma is too low. Poor Zapp.

Mike Crane gives us “Aging in D&D”. He has a neat little chart of the percentile chance, at different ages, that a character keeps his Str, Dex or Con as-is, instead of losing a point or two. Simple and clean – I like it.

“Adventures in the Improbable” by Richard Dienst is a weird little story about using the thieves’ guild charts in Greyhawk. I really don’t know what to do with it.

Rick Krebs tells us “Non-Player Characters Have Feelings Too”, a set of random tables to generate personalities for NPC’s.

“Bazaar of the Bizarre” this month is the “Ring of the Necromancer” by Bill Howell and “A Working Design for Heward’s Mystical Organ” by Steven Widerhoft.

The Dragon’s Augury reviews dice by The Armory in Baltimore, new water-based paints (also by The Armory), Reich: The Iron Dream of German Unification by Chaosium, Raiders and Traders by Chaosium, a couple books on tanks and The Tolkien Quiz Book by Bart Andrews (love the cover).

The Dragon’s Bestiary presents “Whiz-Bang Beetles (Coleoptera Conflagratio Amotensia) by John Hageman. These are tiny beetles that are like living bullets. They attack fire sources, and in their hives there is a 75% chance of finding 1d6 ounces of “whiz-bang honey” that might give people heightened speed (like a potion). I like these guys – they would make a good swarm creature in modern versions of the game.

In Wormy by Tramp, we get a nice summing up of what has happened up to this point, including Wormy stomping on dwarves, the arrival of the blue demon from the 8-ball, etc. I would super love to play a game set in the Wormy world – anyone out there game?

And this ends #29! Lots of interesting little articles in this one, and noticeably less war game-oriented than some of the recent issues. Hope you enjoyed it – have a groovy Sunday and an efficient week ahead.

Elemental Racial Variations

I’ve always enjoyed coming with variations on a theme, or variations on existing things in games. Of late, I’ve thought about doing themed variations on some of the existing races in Blood & Treasure – themes like the elements, or insects or animals.

For my first theme, I choose elemental earth. These races could work well in a specialty campaign, especially one set underground or on the elemental plane of earth, or can be used in an exotic section of an existing campaign world.

I’m not sure how well balanced these races would be, but you know – sometimes it just doesn’t matter. If they look like fun, use them!

Coal gnomes look generally like normal gnomes, save their flesh is composed of a substance not unlike coal. They have pitch black skin and beady eyes that glow like embers. These eyes give them darkvision to a range of 120 feet. Coal gnomes are not immune to fire, but they do have a strange resistance to it.

When a coal gnome is struck by fire, it ignites and smolders. The coal gnome suffers one point of fire damage per round, and no more. While they smolder, they can score +1 point of fire damage with each successful melee attack.

Coal gnomes have the same alterations to their ability scores as normal gnomes, the same knacks and the same ability to multi-class. They do not have any Spellcasting ability.

Granite dwarves are stoic and seemingly emotionless; at least, they do not often show emotion. Logical and resolute, they look like dwarves carved from granite.

Granite dwarves have the same ability score modifications as normal dwarves, and the same knacks. Their skin gives them a natural AC of 12, and they have the ability to freeze as do gargoyles, for a maximum of 10 minutes. Granite dwarves have darkvision to a range of 60 feet.

Granite dwarves cannot multi-class, for their minds are too focused.

Crystal elves are as graceful and lithe as normal elves. Their bodies are seemingly composed of living crystal, in various colors and hues. They rarely wear clothing, but do adorn themselves with jewelry and sometimes capes or cloaks.

A crystal elf’s skin reflects and refracts light, depending on the angle at which it is struck. When fighting in moderate illumination, all opponents engaged in melee combat with the crystal elf must pass a Reflex saving throw when they miss the elf in combat by more than 3 points, or be blinded for one round. In strong illumination, creatures locked in melee combat must pass this save each round, and creatures within 20 feet must do so when they miss the elf in ranged combat as above.

The crystal elf’s body gives them a +2 bonus to save vs. rays. They suffer double damage from sonic attacks.

Crystal elves have the normal ability score modifications and knacks, darkvision to a range of 30 feet, and they cannot multi-class.

Sandlings look like normal halflings composed of sand. They are quick and curious and have more abrasive personalities than normal halflings.

Sandlings ignore one point of damage per hit from physical damage, but water and wind deals +1 point of damage per dice (or 1 point of damage if the attack doesn’t normally deal damage) to them. They have the same ability score modifications as normal halflings, the same knacks, and they gain a knack at escape attempts.

When a sandling is struck for full damage by a physical blow (minimum 5 points of damage), they split into two tiny versions of themselves, splitting the damage as well. They must also split their equipment when they split, and their hit point total, but each of these twins retains its normal level, ability scores and special abilities. The personalities of each twin can vary, based on the original’s alignment:

Lawful = Lawful and Neutral
Chaotic = Chaotic and Neutral
Neutral = Chaotic and Lawful

Lawful Good = Lawful Neutral and Neutral Good
Lawful Neutral = Lawful Neutral and Neutral
Lawful Evil = Lawful Neutral and Neutral Evil

Neutral Good = Neutral Good and Neutral
Neutral = Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral
Neutral Evil = Neutral Evil and Neutral

Chaotic Good = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Good
Chaotic Neutral = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral
Chaotic Evil = Chaotic Neutral and Neutral Evil

The twins cannot re-merge until they get a full night’s sleep. If that sleep is interrupted, they split apart and must remain apart until they get another chance at 8 hours of rest.

Mythic Races IV – The Primordials

The primordials are an ancient collection of dinosauroid species native to the jungles of Hybrasil. All are based on a pairing of an Aztec deity with a dinosaur, with a little magic thrown in.


The quetzal are high-flying, arrogant pteranodons, the size of humans, who consider themselves the natural ruling class of the primordials. The others do not share this belief, but they are often content to ignore the quetzals rather than argue the point. They look like flying reptiles with rainbow-colored plumage. They have thin, long faces and rather impressive azure eyes.

Quetzals are medium creatures with a movement rate of 30 feet per round on land and a fly speed of 30 feet per round. Because their bones are hollow, they count as small creatures in combat, in regards to tactical advantage and their ability to wield weapons. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet.

Quetzals fragile bodies impose a 2 point penalty to their starting constitution scores, but they enjoy a 1 point bonus to starting intelligence and wisdom. It’s not for nothing that they believe themselves the most fit for leadership among the primordials. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Quetzals are as magically inclined as the other primordials. A quetzal with an intelligence of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: dancing lights, flare and color spray.

Quetzals speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Couatl, Dragon, Lizardman, Sylvan, Troglodyte or Celestial.

Quetzals may multi-class as cleric/fighters, cleric/sorcerers and cleric/thieves.

The coyol are fearsome and frightening primordials. They have the appearance of velociraptors with milky white scales and pitch black feathers on their arms and tails. They have toothy grins and unwavering eyes that can bore a hole through a person’s skull (not literally).

Coyols are small creatures with a movement rate of 40 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 120 feet. They have a bite attack that deals 1d4 points of damage.

The coyols are like forces of nature, with boundless personalities. Their natural propensity to lead and their constant drive to get what they want gives them a +1 bonus to starting charisma, but this focus on ego also gives them a -1 penalty to starting wisdom. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Coyols have magic in their blood, though this magic changes with the phases of the moon. When the moon is waxing and when it is full, a coyol with a charisma of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: daze, light and hypnotism. When the moon is waning or new, they can cast darkness once per day.

Coyols speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Dragon, Kobold, Lizardman, Sylvan, Troglodyte or Fiendish.

Coyols may multi-class as druid/sorcerers, fighter/sorcerers and sorcerer/thieves.

Tezcats are large primordials, with scaly skin that forms a sort of armor plating on their backs, chests, faces and arms. They have squat legs, thick, armored tails and are almost as wide as they are tall. Their scales are turquoise in color and their faces have the appearance of turquoise skulls. Tezcats are warriors born, and relish taking the front line in any fight.

Tezcats are large creatures with a movement rate of 20 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet and have a knack for breaking down doors. A tlaloc can make a tail attack in combat for 1d4 points of damage. Their armor plating gives them a natural AC 12.

Tezcats are brutes, adding one point to their starting strength score. Their tiny heads and brains, however, don’t lend themselves to brilliance, so they lose one point from their starting intelligence score. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Once per day, a tezcat can unleash a deep, long bellow that acts as a gust of wind spell.

Tezcats speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Dragon, Lizardman, Troglodyte, Troll or Air Elemental

Tezcats may multi-class as cleric/fighters, fighter/sorcerers and fighter/thieves.


Tlalocs look like humanoid toads with glistening, bright green hides and needle-like spikes running up their arms and down their backs. They have large, golden eyes that can show an incredible cunning when their owner wishes them to, but otherwise look blank and inscrutable. Two long fangs jut from their thin, crooked lips. Tlalocs stand about as tall as dwarves, though this is partially because of their hunched postures.

Tlalocs are medium creatures with a movement rate of 30 feet per round on land and a swim speed of 20 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet and have a knack for jumping and leaping. Tlalocs can hold their breath for a full minute before needing to breath. A tlaloc can make a bite attack in combat for 1d4 points of damage.

Tlalocs are quick and cunning, adding one point to their starting dexterity score. Their foul personal habits and monstrous appearance gives them a one point penalty to their starting charisma score. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

As a primordial species, Tlalocs have a natural affinity for and control over water. A tlaloc with a wisdom score of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: acid splash, ray of frost and obscuring mist.

Tlalocs speak Common and Primordial. They might also speak Dragon, Fiendish, Lizardman, Mugwump, Troglodyte, or Water Elemental

Tlalocs may multi-class as cleric/thieves, fighter/thieves and sorcerer/thieves.

Mythic Races III – The Vedans

From the jungles and deserts of the south come four new mythic races, collectively the vedans.

While the vedans share many traits, the most important is the unique way they multi-class. All vedans are capable of advancing in three classes simultaneously. Unlike most races, though, they only operate under the rules of a single class at a time. A fighter/magic-user/thief, for example, can choose to be a fighter one day, a magic-user the next, and a thief on another day. The choice must be made that night before the vedan sleeps, and it is the vedans heroic dreams that night that align their thinking that they may be born the next morning in their chosen class. Because they act in only one class at a time, they advance using the XP chart of their most expensive class.

Yamarans are green-skinned humanoids associated by other vedans with death. While they have their morbid sides, most cultivate an image of decadent lethargy, lounging about, taking it all in and only acting when it is most advantageous to do so. Yamarans have grim senses of humor, and some hide rather potent tempers beneath their disinterested facades. Yamarans are never Lawful (Good), but they need not be Chaotic (Evil).

Yamarans stand about as tall as human beings. Other than their green skin (and sometimes oversized canine teeth), they generally look like human beings save that their arms fork at the elbow into two separate forearms – they have four hands, but only two arms emerging from their shoulders. Because of this anatomical oddity, armor costs are 10% greater for yamarans than for other humanoids. Because of their multiple hands, they can wield two bucklers in addition to wielding one or two weapons. Generally, their multiple hands are two closely spaced to allow them to wield more than two weapons at a time effectively.

Yamarans may multi-class as assassin/barbarian/cleric, using the rules mentioned above, or as assassin/clerics, assassin/magic-users or assassin/fighters using the normal multi-classing rules. A yamaran that awakens as an assassin finds that his skin has turned a deep blue color, giving him a +2 bonus to hide in shadows. A yamaran that awakens as a barbarian, he finds his skin as become blood red, and his lower canines have grown into tusks, giving him a bite attack that deals 1d3 points of damage. A yamaran who awakens as a cleric retains his green skin, and gains the ability to cast deathwatch once per day as a bonus spell.

Yamarans speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak Goblin, Ogre, Ogre Mage, Sylvan or Fiendish.

Rudrana are vedans of the mountains, storm chasers who thrill to the crack of thunder and flash of lightning. They are outdoorsmen with fiery tempers and an enormous hunger for life and experience. The rudrana become bored easily, and they delight in all the new fads and fashions.

Rudrana stand slightly taller than human beings. They have ruddy skin, three heads and four arms, all based on the human pattern. Because of their strange anatomies, armor costs are 50% greater for rudrana than for other humanoids. Due to their four arms, they can wield up to four weapons (with the normal rules applied for wielding multiple weapons), or replace additional weapons with bucklers.

Rudrana enjoy a +2 bonus to save vs. electricity damage, so in tune are they with lightning. Once per day, they can use the spell shout. Because of their multiple heads, rudrana are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8. Unfortunately, three minds are often distracting, and rudrana suffer a -1 penalty to initiative rolls.

Rudrana may multi-class as druid/ranger/magic-users, using the rules mentioned above, or as ranger/druids or ranger/magic-users using the normal multi-classing rules.

Rudrana speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak Dwarf, Hobgoblin, Storm Giant or Sylvan.

Vishnaru are the holy vedans, wise and philosophical preservers of cosmic order. They are intellectual and tend to be very beautiful. Vishnaru are often Lawful (Good), but are never Chaotic (Evil).

Vishnaru stand slightly taller than human beings. They have light blue skin and four arms. Because of their strange anatomies, armor costs are 50% greater for vishnaru than for other humanoids. Due to their four arms, they can wield up to four weapons (with the normal rules applied for wielding multiple weapons), or replace additional weapons with bucklers.

All Vishnaru are surrounded by a halo of light as bright as a torch. They can willingly suppress this halo.

Vishnaru may multi-class as cleric/magic-user/fighters, using the rules mentioned above, or as cleric/magic-users or cleric/fighters using the normal multi-classing rules. Vishnaru that multi-class using the special rules gain the following benefits: In the cleric form, a vishnaru’s halo acts as a paladin’s protection from evil aura. In the fighter form, the vishnaru’s halo grants him extra-sensory powers, denying his opponent’s any bonuses from outnumbering him or attacking from behind. In the magic-user form, the vishnaru’s halo grants him a +2 bonus to Will saving throws vs. spells and spell-like effects.

Vishnaru speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak Elf, Gnome, Celestial, Dragon or Sylvan.

Agniri are born of flame, and enjoy deep passions and a preternatural ability to communicate with others. They are bright and engaging folk, rarely materialistic, who enjoy visiting and experiencing strange cultures. Despite their propensity for travel, agniri always seem to be at home, and they have a knack for making others feel at home.

Agniri stand as tall as human beings. They have bright red skin, two heads and four arms. Because of their strange anatomies, armor costs are 50% greater for agniri than for other humanoids. Due to their four arms, they can wield up to four weapons (with the normal rules applied for wielding multiple weapons), or replace additional weapons with bucklers.

Agniri enjoy resistance to fire and a +2 bonus to save vs. non-damaging fire effects. They have a knack for communicating (treat this as a task roll modified by charisma, allowing them to communicate in very simple terms in languages they do not already know).

Agniri may multi-class as bard/magic-user/fighters, using the rules mentioned above, or as bard/clerics, bard/magic-users or bard/fighters using the normal multi-classing rules.

Agniri speak Common and Vedan. They might also speak any other language they wish, though most learn Dragon, Fire Giant and/or Fire Elemental.

Demi-Humans Inspired by the Norse Mythos

This idea came to me a few days ago. There is a tradition in RPG’s of turning unique monsters from mythology and turning them into “species of monsters”, Medusa and Pegasus being but two examples. The other day, I was thinking about using the gods of various pantheons as inspiration for designing demi-human races for RPG’s.

This first go at the concept draws inspiration from Norse mythology.

The thunors are tall humanoids with ruddy skin, copious manes of hair in various shades of red (and, very rarely, blond) and eyes that range from blue to grey. They are usually quite strong, with large, meaty hands and faces that suggest an angry Neanderthal. Thunors are good-hearted and hate bullies, but they are also boisterous, assertive, aggressive, stubborn, and prone to solving problems with brute force. Most thunors are aligned with Law.

Despite averaging about 7 feet tall and built like brick houses, thunors are only medium-sized creatures. Their powerful shanks propel them forward at a speed of 30 feet per round. They can see in the dark up to 60 feet. This “darkvision” is in black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight.

Thunors are built like oxen and add one point to their starting strength and constitution scores. They are not, however, known for their brain power or self-control, and so must deduct one point from their starting intelligence and wisdom scores. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it a score below 3.

Thunors enjoy a +3 bonus on saving throws against electricity and sonic attacks, as well as a +3 bonus on Will saves against magic unless they themselves are spellcasters. Thunor spellcasters lose this bonus to save vs. magic.

Thunors have a mystic connection to both the earth and sky. They are capable of treating half of the damage from their melee attacks with metal weapons as electricity or sonic damage. This is useful for overcoming some creatures’ resistance to weapon damage. When a thunor scores electricity damage, his weapon is surrounded in crackling electricity, and when he scores sonic damage, his hits are accompanied by a thunderous boom.

Thunors are +1 to hit giants, ettins and ogres in combat.

While they do not care much for magic or magic items other than magic weapons and armor, they will deign to use gauntlets of ogre strength and belts of giant strength. Thunor are also capable of using dwarven throwers.

Thunors speak Common and Thunor. They might also speak Dwarf, Elf, Ettin, Kobold and the various languages of the giants.

Thunors can multi-class as barbarian/clerics, barbarian/druids and barbarian/thieves. See Multi-Classing below for how this works.


The freylings are lithe, comely folk with large, violet eyes, alabaster skin and hair of copper, silver or gold. Freylings stand about 4 to 5 feet tall, and their narrow frames make them look very fragile. They delight in the sensuous, and have a bad habit of charming people of the opposite sex just for the fun of doing; the feelings of others rarely enter into their calculations.

Because of their height and slender frames, freylings count as small creatures with a base speed of 30 feet.

Freylings tend to be beautiful and vivacious, allowing them to add one to their starting charisma score. Their slight frames tend to be on the weak side, though, so they must deduct one point from their starting strength scores. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it a score below 3.

Freylings have darkvision to a range of 120 feet. They can make their bodies glow (per the light spell) for up to a total of 10 minutes. In addition, once per day they can assume the shape of a falcon, cat or boar for 1 round + 1 round per character level. When in this form, they retain their attack bonus and mental ability scores and abilities, but use the attack forms and damage of their new form. They also have any physical abilities of their new form.

Freylings speak Common and Freyr. They might also speak Elf, Gnome, Goblin, Kobold and Sylvan.

Freylings may multi-class as bard/druids, bard/duelists and bard/thieves.

The wotani are a strange, reclusive race of humanoids. They have a slightly simian appearance, their bodies covered with taupe colored hair (it turns white as they age), with only the burgundy colored skin of their faces, palms and the bottom of their feet showing. Wotani walk with a hunch. They have one golden eye, and one eye of pure black.

Wotani are small creatures with a movement rate of 20 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet and have a knack for finding secret doors.

The wotani are wise souls, and add one point to their starting wisdom score. Their propensity to speak in riddles and manipulate people makes them unpopular with folks, and so they deduct one from their starting charisma score. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Wotani have a natural affinity for divination spells. A wotani with a wisdom score of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: Augury, detect evil and detect magic. Wotani receive a +2 bonus on Will saving throws against divination spells.

Wotani speak Common and Wotan. They might also speak Celestial, the Elemental tongues, Fiendish and Sylvan.

Wotani may multi-class as cleric/diviners, diviner/fighters and diviner thieves. The diviner is a specialist type of magic-user.

Lokais are nimble little bastards, thoroughly untrusthworthy and always scheming. They have swarthy skin, eyes that burn like hot coals (usually red, but intensifying to white and blue when the lokai is scheming) and their hair is actually a flickering flame (bright as a lantern, but they can dim it to a very dim radiance).

The lokai are graceful and slim, and stand about 5 to 6 feet tall. They count as medium-sized creatures and have a base movement rate of 40 feet per round. They have darkvision to a range of 120 feet and have a knack for picking pockets and trickery.

A lokai’s lithe form gives it a bonus of one point to its starting dexterity score. Their silver tongues also give them a one point bonus to their starting charisma score. Unfortunately, they lack in muscle mass and must deduct one point from their starting strength score. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

Lokai enjoy a +3 save vs. fire and fire spells. They have a +2 bonus to save vs. magic, and can see magical auras (per the detect magic spell). They enjoy a +1 bonus to hit with daggers and darts.

Lokai speak Loki and Common. They might also speak Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Goblin, Kobold, the various Giant tongues and the secret language of reptiles.

Lokais can multi-class as assassin/enchanters, enchanter/thieves or enchanter/fighters. The enchanter is a specialist type of magic-user.

A World With Multiple Sentient Races?

I was reading an article about primitive humans gettin’ busy (yeah, I’m street like that) with Neanderthals. Apparently, we did share the planet with a few other homo sapiens – maybe not as exotic as sharing it with elves, dwarves and halflings (well, maybe halflings), but it makes me think again about the fun of running a game with neanderthals and other “humanoids”, especially if you smash it together with an REH-style Atlantean age of fantastic adventures and ancient civilizations. Imagine an ancient, pre-ice age Europe swarming with prehistoric beasts and powerful stone age (maybe even Flintstone-style) civilizations that are antecedents to the known ancient civilizations of Europe. Naturally, we’re going to bend reality a bit to make this work.

First, let’s look at our players:


You probably know these guys. Just use whatever rules you would normally use for humans in your favorite system.

For our purposes, we’ll say the humans are the new kids on the block, moving in from Africa, so they’re going to take the roll of nomadic raiders and conquerors, a’ la the Huns or Mongols. Maybe they ride swift hill ponies, and use stone-tipped spears and arrows and stone axes in combat. Assume that stone weapons do one dice-type less of damage than metal versions – so spears do 1d6, hand axes 1d4 and short bows/arrows 1d4.

Armor in this setting is simple enough anyhow, but for humans it probably consists of furs (AC +1) or cured hide armor (AC +2). Maybe they use wicker shields as well.

If you use something like “favored classes”, maybe these humans favor the barbarian class.


Neanderthals are close kin to human beings. In our setting, they are the high tech stone users, building cities of stone (again, Flintstone-style) and building primordial empires (maybe on the bones of pre-human civilizations like those of the ophidians and elder things). Since we’re used to Neanderthals being depicted as the “dumb cousins”, I like the idea of them being the most civilized people in the game, with a well-organized chieftain system, armies, organized religion (probably druids, but clerics would be cool as well), etc. Of course, the greatest of the Neanderthal kingdoms should be in the Neander valley – this is their Carolingian Empire – imagine how cool their Roland would be!

(Oh – what about theme-ing the Neanderthal city-states off of different stones – the Sapphire City, the Emerald City (well, maybe not that one), the Obsidian City, etc.)

You can probably use the dwarf racial abilities for your Neanderthals, making them tough guys who are hard to kill and who have expertise when working with stone and delving into cave systems. Neanderthal males stand 5.5 feet tall, females 5 feet tall.

Neanderthals have the same basic weapons as human beings, but also have armor that uses horn and bone in its construction (AC +3).

If you use favored classes, neanderthals probably favor the fighter class.

Homo Erectus

Homo erectus appear to have been slightly more primitive hominids than the early humans and Neanderthals. They are hunter-gatherers who use primitive tools and rely more on brawn than brains, and could therefore be an analog for half-orcs in the game (without the mixed parentage). Since homo erectus is more primitive and “close to nature”, you could use the druid as their favored class.

Otherwise, they might make good brigands and pirates, sniping at the edges of Neanderthal civilization without any real ability to conquer it. Heck, maybe the Neanderthal legions use homo erectus and hobbit (see below) auxiliaries as scouts and light infantry in their battles with the orcs and hobgoblins.

Flores Man (‘hobbits’)

So they weren’t discovered in Europe – how do you do cave man fantasy gaming without including the recently discovered ‘hobbits’? And I’d call them hobbits too! The hobbits are small humanoids, maybe a bit harrier than the humans and neanderthals, who dwell in thick woodlands in burrows. You can use the traditional halfling racial abilities for the the hobbits. They stood about 3 to 4 feet tall and used stone tools – probably on par with the humans.

The hobbits (well, as near as they can figure – remember, they might not really be a separate species) lived on an island with giant rats, Komodo dragons, elephants (stegodons) and giant lizards – they’re totally D&D, and must have been pretty slick little operators to survive. You might want to change their favored class, if you use such things, to ranger.


Indonesia produces all the best hominid fossils! Meganthropus is the opposite of the hobbits – giant humanoids who were probably also related to homo erectus. Since we don’t have elves in this setting (unless we do – see below), they might make a good additional race. Meganthropus stood about 8 feet tall and is probably best represented with the half-ogre race (whichever version you prefer). They would be about as advanced as homo erectus and the hobbits, and probably rely on their great strength more than tools. If you use favored classes in your game, fighter or barbarian probably works for meganthropus.

Other Notions

If you really need to have “elves” in your game, I’d suggest replacing them with ophidians, or even just using them as-is – beautiful fey creatures who are shepherding the humanoids on their way to civilization.

Weapons do a bit less damage in this campaign, but there is less Armor to go around, so things should probably even out in that regard. To keep fighters and clerics (and paladins and whatever else you use) the “most armored” classes in the game, maybe restrict the other classes that can use armor to nothing more than furs (AC +1), no shields.

Spellbooks might not make sense, though scrolls consisting of stone tablets or animal hides are fine. In place of spellbooks, you could equip the magic-users with the aforementioned animal hides (one hide per spell, regardless of the spell’s level) or they could carve runes into staves and use them for memorization. Really, as long as the possibility of magic-users being without one’s source of spells is still present, you’re probably okay.

If you’re feeling gonzo, insert dinosaurs along with the prehistoric mammals, and of course use all of them as mounts.

Now – evil humanoids. They’re still there, of course. Gnolls and their hyaenodons, kobolds worming their way through the earth, goblins hiding in the woods, orcs and hobgoblins giving the early humans a run for their money. Do I even need to mention the lizard men and troglodytes? (And yeah, if your lizard men don’t look a lot like Sleestaks, you’re just not getting the point!) Heck, maybe you could re-cast all of the “evil humanoids” as having dinosaur features – T-Rex hobgoblins, triceratops orcs, ‘raptor goblins, etc.

Most of the mythological creatures are appropriate – after all, many were born from the blood of the “mother of monsters”. Dragons are great, bulettes and ankhegs are perfect, and a setting like this just begs for packs of blink dogs and worgs. A few metal-based monsters – rust monsters, iron golems, giant robots – should be avoided unless they are remnants of the ancient ophidians found in the mega-dungeons they have left behind.

Oh, and also this …

So, find your inner Frazetta and get primitive!

A Gaggle of Random Races

First – a commercial message

If you’ve been waiting for a Lulu sale to buy Blood & Treasure, wait no longer

Now then … random races. When I’m stuck for something to write, either for the blog or a hexcrawl, I often venture into one of the many fine random generators floating around the internet. Thus – some random races. All of these races were generated at Abulafia, a site I highly recommend for referees and writers.

In each of these cases, I’ll present the product of the generator, and then some notes on how I would interpret this, along with a race write-up for Blood & Treasure.


“This culture is made up of Gnomes, they are known for their long, white hair and long beards. They are known for their feistyness, they are usually considered to have minds that are practically non-existent and in battle they are known to untrustful of officers, their favored tactic is destruction by plague. They are organized into towns lead by a king who takes his place by being elected. The race worships the death god, they make weekly sacrifices to their god(s). They are known to possess magic including clerical magic and sorcery.”

Sounds like these gnomes are morons, and a bit on the chaotic side. They are almost like the anti-gnomes – death worshipers, and with some spell casting ability.

White gnomes are abysmal little creatures, members of the unseelie court who resemble their normal kin save that they are hairy little brutes with long white hair and long white beards on the males. White gnomes have very dark, macabre senses of humor, and they seem to take a grim satisfaction in the misfortunes of others.

White gnomes are small creatures with a base speed of 20 feet. They have darkvision to a range of 60 feet and have a knack for listening at doors.

White gnomes are as rugged little folk, but a bit short on brains. They add one point to their starting constitution scores, but lose one point of their starting intelligence score. These ability modifications cannot increase a score above 18 or reduce it below 3.

White gnomes have a natural affinity for death and death magic. A white gnome with a charisma score of 10 or higher can cast the following spells, each once per day: Inflict minor wounds, bane and doom.

White gnomes speak Common and Gnome. They might also speak Dwarf, Goblin, Hill Giant, Orc, Sylvan and the language of nocturnal mammals.

White gnomes can multi-class as cleric/fighters, cleric/magic-users or cleric/thieves.


“This culture is made up of Half-Orcs, they are known for their long, golden hair and nonexistent beards. They are known for their acceptance, they are usually considered to have minds that are practically non-existent and in battle they are known to mutinous , their favored tactic is a slow artillery supported advance. They are organized into republics lead by a council who takes his place by killing his predecessors. The race worships the gods of war, they make offerings of food on mondays to their god(s). They are known to possess magic including battle magic and wild magic.”

Half-orcs with golden hair. First thing that came to my mind was gullinbursti, the golden boar from Norse mythology.

Gullinbursti are half-orcs with a strong strain of elf blood (so it’s no surprise they are outcasts and loners). They have the faces of orcs with long, golden hair on their heads, and shorter fur on the rest of their body. Gullinsbursti have a more intelligent look in their eyes than most half-orcs.

Gullinbursti are medium-sized creatures with a base speed of 30 feet. Their mix of orc and elf blood grants them a one point bonus to their starting strength score, and though they are more urbane than the average half-orc, their piggish faces leave them with a one point penalty to their starting charisma score. These modifications cannot put a score above 18 or below 3.
Gullinbursti have darkvision to 60 feet. They have a 30% magic resistance to sleep and enchantment spells, and are immune to the paralyzing touch of ghouls.

Gullinbursti speak Common. They might also speak Elf, Orc, Gnoll, Goblin, Hill Giant, Ogre or Dragon.

Gullinbursti can multi-class as cleric/fighters, fighter/magic-user and fighter/thief at fist level. If they choose not to multi-class at first level, they can change careers as humans.


“This culture is made up of Catmen, they are known for their short, orange hair and long beards. They are known for their acceptance, they are usually considered to be dumb as a box of rocks and in battle they are known to disciplined, their favored tactic is a head-on charge. They are organized into bands lead by a warleader who takes his place by being chosen by his predecessor. The race worships a pantheon of gods, they make offerings of food on mondays to their god(s). They are known to possess magic including prayer magic and clerical magic.”

There are plenty of what you might call stereo-typical catmen out there – high dexterity, etc. I’m picturing something more akin to Garfield – lazy, stout bastards who enjoy killing things smaller than they.

Mogs are big-boned cat people with long, orange fur and black tabby markings. They have long “beards” on their chins and narrow eyes that never betray their emotions. Mogs have a penchant for cruelty and bullying, and most people have a tough time trusting them.

Mogs are medium-sized humanoids with a movement rate of 30. They are a sluggish folk, and suffer a one point penalty to their starting dexterity score. Although they prefer to save their energy, they are always on the alert, and enjoy a one point bonus on their starting wisdom score. These modifications cannot put a score above 18 or below 3.

Mogs have darkvision to 60 feet. They are only surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8 and have a knack for finding secret doors and listening at doors. Mogs become excited when they know a foe is on the ropes, getting a +1 bonus to hit and damage against creatures with fewer than half their starting hit points.

Mogs speak Common and their own tongue. They might also speak Dwarf, Elf, Gnoll, Goblin and Halfling.

Mogs cannot multi-class, as they are simply too lazy to be bothered.


“This culture is made up of Hoborks, they are known for their short, red hair and short beards. They are known for their generosity, they are usually considered genius and in battle they are known to attack at the right moment, their favored tactic is an ambush. They are organized into bands lead by a warleader who takes his place by being elected. The race worships Order Gods, they make offerings of weapons to their god(s). They are known to possess no magic.”

Illustration by the great Tony DiTerlizzi

This one works based on the word “hoborks” alone. It could be interpreted as hobgoblin-orc crossbreeds, but hobbit-orc crossbreeds would be pretty kick ass as well. For this one, I wanted to base it on a halfling made big and stupid with orc blood.

Hoborks look like large, ugly halflings with black, bristly hair on their heads, feet and hands. They have lank legs and arms and big hands (known for their iron grips) and feet. Hoborks are pig-headed, hamfisted bullies who love a good fight (but not a fair fight).

Hoborks are medium-sized creatures with a movement rate of 20 (due to their bow legs) and darkvision to a range of 120 feet. Hoborks are as tough as nails, and loathe to succumb to pain, so they enjoy a one point bonus to starting constitution. This same pig-headed-ness and “full speed ahead” sort of thinking deprives them of one point of their starting wisdom score. These modifications cannot put a score above 18 or below 3.

Hoborks have a knack for moving silently, for they prefer to surprise foes from behind. Their large hands grant them a +1 bonus on grapple attacks – they are born stranglers.

Hoborks speak Common and Halfling. They might also speak Dwarf, Orc, Goblin, Kobold, or Ogre.

Hoborks can multi-class as cleric/thieves, fighter/thieves and magic-user/thieves at fist level.

Mother Goose is my Dungeon Master!

I was watching Babes in Toyland the other day (like you do), mostly because the daughter and I had a hankerin’ for Laurel and Hardy, and while viewing it, a strange thought popped into my head.

“If Mother Goose wrote D&D, little pigs would be a playable race.”

Naturally, one thing led to another …

Mother Goose & Goblins

The basic rules here are B/X D&D (or Labyrinth Lord, if you please). I’m not going to repeat everything in the rules (for now …), so if I don’t mention it, it works like B/X. The concept here is “what if Gygax was inspired more by nursery rhymes and fairy tales than swords & sorcery”. The game is still meant to be about exploration, treasure hunting (with some good deeds thrown in, of course) and fighting monsters, just with a veneer of (slightly tongue-in-cheek) Mother Goose-isms.

MG&G has seven classes, as follows:

The prince works essentially like the fighter – can use any weapon or armor, d8 for hit points, etc. Princes are young, handsome men, and are always the children of one king or another (kings are as copious in fairy tales as grains of sand on a beach).

A prince with a 17 Charisma who has reached at least 4th level can elect to become a Prince Charming. A Prince Charming must serve either the King of Hearts or the King of Diamonds. His kiss can dispel any magical effect, he enjoys a +2 bonus to saving throws against evil magic, and he is bound to fight evil dragons, rescue helpless damsels and give generously to the needy.

JOAN OF ARC RULE: A female character with a Strength of 12 or higher can become a Princess (i.e. a female version of the Prince).

Fairy Godmothers are always elderly women of an elfin demeanor. They fill the roll of the magic-user and generally follow the rules for that class, save that a fairy godmother knows all the spells (assuming you’re just using the spells in B/X) of a level she learns to cast (much as a cleric), and must possess her magic wand to cast any spell. If a knave is adventuring with a fairy godmother, the fairy godmother must adopt them as a godchild and do their best to teach and protect them.

Knaves are boys and girls of common ancestry (1% chance of being the child of a king and queen who was hidden away with a peasant family to avoid a terrible curse). They fill the role of the thief, with the same skills and abilities, though some skills are renamed slightly for flavor:

Ask/Solve Riddle (replaces find/remove trap)*

Climb Beanstalk (i.e. climb walls)
Hear NoiseHide in Shadows
Creep Quietly
Steal Tarts (i.e. pick pockets)

* Traps do not play a big part in fairy tales and nursery rhymes, but the idea of confusing an opponent with a riddle, or needing to solve a riddle to get past a problem does crop up now and again. Naturally, players can still have their characters look for traps, and can devise ways to get past them without rolling dice; now they can instead roll dice to get past riddles or stun a foolish opponent (for 1d6 rounds) by asking them a real puzzler (the victim gets a saving throw even if the “ask riddle” roll is successful).

Each naughty or wicked act of a knave carries with it a cumulative 1% chance that they will be given a conscience (in the form of a talking cricket or something similar) to attempt to guide them into a more law-abiding and honorable way of life.


Curtal Friars are men with tonsured scalps who cultivate a healthy paunch (in order to demonstrate the great abundance of the Lord), wear simple robes (with a mail coat beneath, usually) and wield a club or mace in the name of God Almighty. They are, essentially, clerics in terms of rules, though their ability to “turn undead” works on a slightly different set of monsters (as not all of the B/X monsters appear in fairy tales or nursery rhymes).

Pixie/Leprechaun (replaces skeletons)
Revenants (i.e. zombies)
Devil (i.e. imp – replaces ghoul)
Changeling (i.e. doppelganger – replaces wight)
Ghost (i.e. wraith)
Troll (replaces mummy)

Naturally, one can play a Nun instead of a Friar, though warrior nuns are generally pretty scarce in fairy tales.

One of a group of seven who left his brothers to see the world. Dwarfs conform to the Dwarf class in B/X D&D. Each has a particular physical or personality trait that dominates their character, and for which they are named.

The Little Pig replaces the Halfling in MG&G. Little pigs have a +2 bonus to save vs. fear (“who’s afraid,” they inquire, “by the Big Bad Wolf?”) and a particular skill at building houses and at setting traps (for wolves or others).

The fairy knight (or fairy dame) replaces the Elf class in B/X. They are permitted to wear up to mail, and though beautiful, they have no souls and thus are not to be completely trusted.

Whereas B/X has three alignments, Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic, MG&G has four alignment which correspond with four royal houses in fairy tale land. A character must pledge his or her troth to one of these alignment (though they need not always cleave faithfully to that faction – unless somebody is watching).

Hearts: The character is pledged to the ideal of Love. He or she gets a +1 bonus to hit when defending this ideal (i.e. defending a loved one), but must pass a save vs. magic when confronted with the temptation of Lust.

Diamonds: The character is pledged to the ideals of Truth and Beauty. He or she gets a +1 to hit when defending beauty or seeking out the truth, but must pass a save vs. magic when confronted with the temptations of Envy and Avarice.

Spades: The character is pledged to the ideal of Judgment. He or she gets a +1 bonus to hit when fighting against outlaws and other evils, but must pass a save vs. magic when confronted with the temptation of Vengeance.

Clubs: The character is pledged to the ideal of Mirth and Merriment. He or she gets a +1 bonus when fighting spoil sports and bullies, but must pass a save vs. magic when confronted with the temptation of Cruelty.

Next installment will cover Grimm Tales (i.e. monsters & treasure)

APPENDIX N (A brief version, anyways)

Snow White
Beauty and the Beast
Little Mermaid
Three Little Pigs
Three Billy Goats Gruff
Hansel & Gretel
Red Riding Hood
Rose RedBlue Beard
Puss in Boots
Gingerbread Man
Jack and the Beanstalk (Jack the Giant Killer)
Humpty Dumpty
Cat and the Fiddle
Tom Thumb/Thumbellina
Princess and the Pea
Frog Prince
Little Boy Blue
Simple Simon
Pied Piper
Tom Tom the Piper’s Son
Old Woman in a Shoe
Old Mother Hubbard
Old King Cole
Little Jack Horner

Supplement I – Wonderland
Supplement II – Oz