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About Doderman Defense Network

A toilsome homebrew-smith, working the game forge with honest sweat across my brow and true passion for the Game in my heart. Hail Gygax!

Warhammer 40k Imports: Some More Of The Ork Stuff (WAAAGH!!!)

This edition of Warhammer 40k Imports brings you all the stuff I decided wasn’t going to fit in the first article about orks. What can I say? I love orks.

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Anyway, let’s get on with it.


Orks in Your Fantasy Game

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As promised, here’s my version of how marauding space orks can make it planet-side in your campaign.

Orks terrorize the space-lanes in massive ships; great cobbled-together affairs, composed of derelict satellites, space junk and many smaller ships. They brim with weapons and offensive measures, sometimes in dizzying layers of redundancy. These terrifying ‘space-hulks’ do not hesitate to open fire upon or even ram any ships they encounter, and they have been known to continue operating even after enduring blows that would annihilate other ships. Except for the ease of avoiding them, the orcish space-hulks are a true menace.

Grutmagg was a warboss of exceptional power, who had laid waste to a number of human-populated worlds before consolidating his amassed plunder in the construction of a space hulk. As large as a city, he named his terrible creation “Wrath of Grutmagg” and set out across the stars in search of a target worthy of his immense warship.

He found that and more in a chance encounter with a human battle group out on training maneuvers at the edge of an asteroid belt. To their great surprise, in the middle of their war-games, the Wrath of Grutmagg exploded into their midst, illuminating the human fleet with her myriad guns and smashing into -and through- several ships.

The battle that ensued was more glorious and brutal than Grutmagg could have hoped for. His boys fought hard and true, and the bewildered humans quickly rallied and met them with admirable ferocity. During the course of the battle, the Wrath of Grutmagg had endured the human fleet’s full strength for several days, destroying nearly a dozen warships and countless hundreds of smaller ships.

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But the human flagship, The Invulnerable, and her escort, withstood the fearsome space-hulk and matched her blow-for-blow. In the end, reduced to a quarter of their original strength, the human fleet, led by the Invulnerable, turned the tide and forced a broken and burning Wrath of Grutmagg into retreat.

Satisfied that he had wrought significant destruction in the universe, Grutmagg selected a random populated world, set a collision course and made his way to the gunnery decks. He sealed the bridge behind him, joining his boys for a final lash of weapons fire against the Invulnerable. They say Gork and Mork personally blessed that final volley, which breached the reactor of the Invulnerable.

A blazing-white sphere of uncontrolled anti-matter reaction completely vaporized the Invulnerable and scattered the remnants of the human fleet. The Wrath of Grutmagg tumbled towards the planet to the laughter of Grutmagg and the cheers of his horde. Those orks not killed in the battle, or incinerated as the space-hulk burned and broke apart during re-entry, were killed in the extinction-level impact that the Wrath of Grutmagg made during landfall.

Satisfied that the orks had been slain to the last, and that the primitive world would surely soon recover, the human fleet limped home, salvaging what they could and setting the rest into an impact course with the local star.

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When the crater left by the Wrath of Grutmagg was finally still, and the dust had settled, the innumerable million spores created by Grutmagg and his horde had been spread far and wide across the planet’s surface.

That planet was the one upon which your campaign takes place. And from that point, the orks grew and spread and warred until they eventually achieved their current status in your campaign, whatever that might be.


Ork Squigs, AKA Squiggly Beasts

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This approximately dog-sized creature is almost all mouth. It supports itself on 2 clawed reptilian legs, and balances with a stout tail. Squigs have a seemingly random number and arrangement of eyes, scales and horns, and ambulate by hopping about erratically.

Squig
Small Aberration
Hit Dice: 1d8+2 (6 HP)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 15 (+1 Size, +2 Dexterity, +2 Natural), touch 13, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +0/-4
Attack: Bite +0 melee (1d4)
Full Attack: Bite +0 melee (1d4)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: CHARGE!
Special Qualities: Dark Vision 60′, Fearless
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +3
Abilities: Strength 10 (0); Dexterity 15 (+2); Constitution 15 (+2); Intelligence 2 (-4); Wisdom 12 (+1); Charisma 6 (-2)
Skills: Listen +2, Spot +2, Survival +3
Feats: –
Environment: Any where there are orks
Organization: Squigs are (technically) domesticated, and never encountered without their orkish masters
Challenge Rating: 1/2
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always Neutral
Advancement: 2 HD (Small) or Special, see below
Level Adjustment: —

Squiggly Beasts, more commonly known as Squigs, are the among the simplest forms of Ork life.

Squigs may serve ork Rangers and Druids as Animal Companions.

CHARGE! (Ex): Squigs attacks are always resolved as though they had charged, even if they have not moved. Declaring an actual charge has no benefit for a squig, and they never provoke attacks of opportunity for charging.

Fearless (Ex): squig mutation eliminates the part of the brain that processes emotions like fear. They are completely immune to fear and any mind-influencing effect that would not work on an Animal.

There are many types of squig, each generally filling some functionary role in the Ork ecosystem, from food stock to guard dog to dray creature to war beast (some of them are even bred as tools or ammunition). There is a great diversity among the war beast variety, some of them truly terrifying.

The stats given above reflect the standard, ‘basic’ variety of squig. By adding the various templates given below, you can create other types of squig.


Squig Templates

Using a crude version of alchemy, the orks have developed ‘formulae’ for creating squigs with certain attributes. A squig may benefit from multiple squig templates. See the description of the Squig Breeder feat (below) for details.

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Attack Template

Attacks squigs are bigger, meaner and nastier than their ‘normal’ counterparts. A squig with this template gains 2 HD and a +1 racial bonus on all Attack rolls and Damage rolls.


Horn Template

A squig with this template grows a prominent horn (or set of horns), granting it a gore attack (1d6 piercing) and a +1 racial bonus on all Attack rolls and Damage rolls.


Armor Template

Armor squigs are bred with the intrinsic knowledge of how to benefit from armor. They are favored by those orks who also don heavy armor in combat. Squigs with this template are proficient in the use of all types of armor except powered armor.

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Face-Eater Template

Face-Eater squigs play an important role in ork culture as the centerpiece of squig-eating contests, where the object is to emerge from eating a squig with the least amount of physical harm. A squig with this template deals x3 damage on a Critical Hit with its natural weapons.


Flesh-Eater Template

Flesh-Eater squigs have enormous mouths and teeth of sufficient quality to be Teef. Increase their bite damage from 1d4 to 1d6. Additionally, they produce Teef at a rate comparable to that of an average ork.

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Growler Template

Growler squigs are another variety bred as pets and companions among orks. A squig with this template gains 2 HD and a +1 racial bonus on all skill checks.

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Herd Template

Herd squigs are sniffers and trackers, often seeing use as bloodhounds. Squigs with this template gain Scent and Track as a bonus feat.


Targeting Template

Targeting squigs develop large dominant single eyes and anomalous brains which can tap into the psychic energy field known as the WAAAGH. While an ork remains in physical contact with a targeting squig, he makes ranged attacks at a +1 insight bonus.

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Squigs as Tools

Many squigs are bred to serve as tools. This variety are physically pathetic (having statistics, biological demands, and life-spans comparable to toads) but serve some useful, often novel, purpose.


Syringe Squig

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This bizarre squig mutant looks like a furry cross between a syringe and a turkey baster. They have clawed feet, not unlike those of a parrot, and large buggy eyes.

Because they are completely immune to all poisons (including drugs), these squigs can be used to administer medicine and tattoos. They are popular with pain boys and few others.

Price: 5 Teef/5gp


Swab Squig

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At first glance, these puff-balls with rat-like tails do not appear to be squigs at all. Though painful, their bites are harmless, and usually reserved for snotlings and small grots.

Aside from use in pranks, and to clean up messes, these squig mutants rarely avoid the cook-pot for long. Grots may keep them as pets, until they grow hungry.

Price: 2 Teef/2gp


Oily/Paint Squig

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This wretched creature resembles a rat with an elephant-like trunk and a hugely bloated belly. It’s skin is always covered in a sheen of natural oil that smells strongly.

An oil or paint squig produces about 1 gallon of the indicated substance every day, secreting it through the trunk when squeezed.

The oil is identical to lamp oil. The paint is identical to normal (very strong) pigments. A given squig produces oil or paint (never both) and paint squigs only produce a single color.

Price: 10 Teef/10gp


Parasite-Hunting “Baff-Squig”

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Baff squigs look like tiny fleas with squig faces. They address the issue of personal hygiene with a typically ork solution; send meaner bugs after the annoying bugs.

Baff squigs form infestations in non-orks that mimic the effects of the disease slimy doom. Those who succeed on their Fortitude save starve the baff squigs to death and need not worry about them again.

An ork with a baff squig infestation gains a +1 on all Fortitude saves.

Once infested, baff squigs can only be removed by cure or similar magic. These squig mutants are considered a fine luxury item among orks, and only the wealthy few can afford them.

Price: 100 Teef/100gp – for a jar large enough to infest a single creature, around 1,000 individuals in a small (1lb) jar.


Hairy Squig

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This long-haired worm is bred as a cosmetic item among orks. Hairy squigs vary in length from a few inches to a few feet. Unlike most other squigs, they have a bizaree, 4-way beak for a mouth.

Bald orks (which are common) who can afford them use hairy squigs to approximate hair. Technically they are parasites which are harmful to non-orks. They attach and begin siphoning nourishment from their host, providing them with flowing hair that can be styled to their liking.

Non-orks who attach hairy squigs to themselves lose 1HP from their total HP which can only be recovered by removing it. Removing a hairy squig kills it.

Price: 25 Teef/25gp


Gob Squig

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This squig might be mistaken for a large lump of chewed pink bubble gum. It has a dopey-looking face and a long, probing tongue that usually hangs from it’s crooked mouth.

Orks place these bizarre creatures in their mouths, allowing them to feed on the bits of leftover food and damaged Teef in an effort at dental hygiene. Those orks who regularly use a gob squig produce 2d4 additional Teef whenever they produce Teef.

Non-orks who use gob squigs gain all the benefits of brushing their teeth.

Price: 25 Teef/25gp


Eating Squig

Squig-eating

This fat wad of meat has no teeth and limbs barely long enough for it to drag itself about. It’s vacant eyes are spaced widely on it’s squarish head. They rarely do more than wriggle in place and belch.

Orks find this variety of squig to be choice eating; a typical specimen yields 1d4 x 100lbs of bloody, protein-rich, red meat. Most races are put off by the plentiful vascular tracts found in squig meat, but eating squigs are edible by all.

Price: 50 Teef/50gp


Squigs as Ammunition

Around the size of a baseball, these squig mutants have statistics, biological requirements, and life spans comparable to mouse-sized lizards. They are completely helpless creatures, relying on their ork masters for every need.

Orks use them as thrown weapons, or as sling or catapult ammunition.


Bile/Barf Squig– 3 varieties of these abominations exist, each conveying a different effect when thrown or launched (which also kills the poor things).

  • The poison variety spews DC 13 contact poison all over those struck by it, Initial damage 1d3 Strength, Secondary damage 1d4 Strength.
  • The acid variety spews acid (1d4) all over those struck by it.
  • The combustible variety spews a sticky fluid that ignites on contact with air all over those struck by it, dealing damage as burning lamp oil.

Price: 10 Teef/10gp (each, of any variety)


Biting/Spiky Squig– these malevolent balls of teeth and blades exert themselves in gnashing, clawing death throes when launched, dealing and extra 1d4 piercing and slashing damage.

Price: 7 Teef/7gp each


Exploding/Boom Squig– these horrible creations explode seemingly at the slightest provocation, but also when thrown, dealing 2d6 fire damage in a 5ft. burst (Reflex DC 13 for half).

Whenever you use a squig of this variety, roll a d%; on a 01-10, it explodes in your hand.

Price: 20 Teef/20gp each


varioussquigs


Creating Squigs (The Meta For DMs)

Each template added to a squig increases it’s CR by 1. Any number of templates may be assigned to a squig. Neither ammunition squigs nor tool squigs can have templates.

Attack squigs are bought and sold in ork society as often as any other commodity, commanding a base price of 100 Teef (for the “standard model”) +100 Teef per template


Ork Equipment

The Orkish Toof– Any discussion of ork equipment first requires a discussion of ork currency. Among orks, gold (or whatever standard currency) is usually accepted, but they also accept prefer Teef.

Teef (singular Toof), as the name implies, are the teeth of orks (grots, boys, even some squigs). In order to pass as currency, a given tooth must be of a certain quality; assuming it is, 1 Toof has about the spending power of 1gp (or $1, or whatever your standard currency is). A truly exceptional Toof might be worth as much as 10 or more GP.

The average ork produces a full set (8d4) of new Teef every 1d4 weeks, though plucking one’s own Teef prematurely (or having them knocked out by others) is common. Some clans naturally produce more Teef than others.

Those other than orks, or who do not have regular dealings with orks, seldom place any value on Teef.

Though rare, orks who become merchants (and those who sell things in general) are only 50% likely to accept gold coin/standard currency from a non-ork. This increases to 75% for fellow orks, and is determined per merchant, per purchase. Orks are fickle about their greed.


That’s it for this installment, but don’t worry, the grand finale is just around the corner.

Enjoy, everybody! And don’t forget; Ork Lives Matter.

-L. Doderman and G. P. Humongous (WAAAGH!!!)

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Warhammer 40k Imports: Introducing The Orks (WAAAAAGH!!!)

I’ve been tossing around ideas for how I plan to handle this for a while now and I think I’ve finally figured it out.

It’s been a long time coming, too, so I’m glad to finally get this one out there.

Without further ado, enjoy my version of the ork from Warhammer 40,000.


The Ork

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The orks are a savage species of green-skinned humanoids. They are highly self-sufficient, aggressive, tough and inventive. Left with nothing but scrap and their own bizarre biological cycle, orks can nonetheless become threats of immeasurable danger.

Orks do not normally learn as other creatures do, instead being ‘born’ with a kind of ancestral memory that contains the secrets of all that they need to know. This includes everything from the knowledge of basic tactics and warfare, the construction of weapons and equipment, tapping into the WAAAGH, speaking their language and ‘breeding’ their terrifying war beasts known as squigs.

Orks diversify within their own genome into species genetically disposed to their roles in ork society. They even produce food stock in this way, as well as mounts and dray creatures.

The orks generate a strange psionic field which they can learn to unleash; the larger and more powerful a given group of orks is, the greater the power of this energy field. They call this energy the WAAAGH, which is also their word for their zealous pursuit of warfare, and the war-cry they use when committing acts of violence.

Unknown to even the orks, they originated as a powerful biological weapon, unleashed by one immeasurably ancient star-empire upon another. Were it not for their constant internal strife, orks would have long ago overrun the galaxy.


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Physical description: orks strongly resemble orcs. They are muscular, pot-bellied, broad-shouldered and have skin in a wide range of green shades. Long black hair is styled into top-knots, mohawks and the like, though bald orks are very common. Their eyes burn the same shades of white, yellow, orange or red, and they favor similar dress and personal styling; looted armor, ragged clothing, blood stains and vibrant, ugly, clan-related colors are all high fashion.

Unlike orcs, orks have no gender, and they all have the same ‘masculine’ body build. They grow tusks, and will shed and grow many sets of pointy, fang-like teeth over their brief, violent lives. Additionally, they can vary greatly in appearance, as follows.

Grots- as juveniles, orks more strongly resemble goblins than orcs (or even juvenile orcs). In fact, some of them reach this life-stage and never advance beyond it.

Boys- an obvious misnomer, the average ork is of this most basic and populous variety. This variety also shares the greatest number of commonalities with orcs, regarding size and overall physical appearance. They typically stand a stooping 6-7ft. tall, and easily eclipse 250lbs.

Nobs- as an ork grows, becoming stronger and more capable of subjugating it’s peers, it may become a Nob. Orks who become Nobs are not only bigger, falling somewhere between the size of a very big orc and a very small ogre, they are also feared and respected sub-leaders in their society. The average nob is around 8 or 9ft tall, weighing in excess of 500lbs.

Bosses- when a Nob becomes so large and powerful that it subjugate groups of other Nobs, it may rise to this station, the equivalent of royalty among orks. These beastly creatures are the size of ogres and at least as strong, commanding great hordes of warriors through fear and oppression, as well as the promise of a good fight. Bosses can stand over 10ft tall, weighing as much as 1,000lbs.


Ecology: the life cycle of the orks has more in common with fungi than it does with animals. All orks shed spores in response to environmental stressors. These spores are the first stage of the ork life cycle. They are microscopic, carried far and wide on the wind where they settle on nearly any surface and begin to divide.

Unlike most fungi, orks are photosynthetic; with only sunlight and water they rapidly divide and grow into stout, hearty mushrooms with brown-white stalks and caps which indicate the color the orks’ skin will be. When these mushrooms reach about 1 foot or so in height, they begin to reach out with root-like growths and consume protein; often from the sap of nearby plants, but just as often from one another. After only a few days of this behavior, a mushroom’s stalk bulges and swells; it’s cap withers and falls off, and eventually it bursts open in a smelly, slimy display that produces what is known as a snotling.

The orks have learned an alchemy-like process by which they can corrupt and mutate a developing Ork-shroom. This causes it to yield a horrible, piranha-like creature known as a squig (SEE BELOW).

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Snotlings are essentially juvenile grots, though social pressure provides for a certain number of them to remain snotlings their whole lives. These are pathetic, sniveling creatures, barely smarter than rats and prone to acts of outrageous wickedness. They gather in swarms in defense of their mushroom garden homes, which they cultivate as food. Some of them come to dominate the others, becoming larger and stronger until they start seeking sources of protein. Within a few days of eating their first meat, snotlings become grots.

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Grots, also known as gretchin, are a great deal larger than snotlings, reach 3-5ft. in height and weighing around 120lbs. Though they could be thought of as juvenile orcs, social pressure (and sometimes other factors) prevent an ork from advancing beyond the grot stage. Grots are the first life stage of ork with fully humanoid intelligence levels, and some are quite cunning. Most grots grow larger and stronger, dominating larger and larger groups of their peers until they become boys.

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Ork boys have reached the first stage of life where they are considered to be “true” orks; fully matured adults, able to handily subjugate the lower castes on a bad day, and several peers on a good day. At this point, increasing size and physical power go hand-in-hand among the orcs, and truly horrible individuals may achieve truly absurd sizes.

While they prefer raw, bloody meat, and can consume as much of the stuff as a human might consume ‘standard’ fare, they remain partially photosynthetic throughout their lives. Because they are also cannibalistic, there are no known accounts of an ork starving to death.


Society: the best word for what passes as ork society is ‘simple.’ Size and might make right, and generally anything goes as long as you can back it up with a strong right hook. Orks make threats as a matter of course, and war and fighting permeate all layers of ork society. They admire bravery, audacity, strength, martial prowess, and above all, winners.

Beyond these basic measures, ork society is further divided by clan affiliation, and by social caste.

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The clans- Death Skulls are the thieves and sneaks among orks. They’re also looters, salvagers, and builders, with a penchant for sabotage and infiltration.

Bad Moons are rich on account of their biology. Because orks use their teeth (known as “Teef” among their own kind) as currency, and because Bad Moons grow teeth more rapidly than the other clans, they have more money and they love to spend it on ever more and better weapons.

Blood Axes are the most mercenary clan, sometimes found in the employ of non-orks who can tolerate their shit. They prefer ambush and under-handed tactics, but like all orks, relish the chance to engage in any fight.

Goffs are the melee bruisers among the clans, known for their size (even among other orks) and their insane devotion to their god. They produce peerless hand-to-hand combatants, and average several inches taller and a couple dozen pounds heavier than other orks.

Evil Sunz are the speed freaks and stunt junkies among orks, preferring to go as loud and fast as possible, mounted whenever possible, as often as they possibly can. They live for the adrenaline rush, and their pursuit of it is almost cult-like.

Snakebites are thought of as an old clan, if not the oldest clan. They are the finest ‘breeders’ of squigs, living closely with these creatures in the most ‘tribal’ existence among orks.


The castes- snotlings occupy the lowest caste, and even the grots regard them as occasional food stock. Lower than slaves and only slightly above animal intelligence, it is their lot to tend to mushroom patches and endure abuse from the entire rest of ork society. Among snotlings, survival can be an hourly proposition.

Slaves (when orks bother to keep them) occupy the next lowest station, which is ostensibly the same as that of the squigs. In practice, however, few squigs have ever been punished for eating a slave.

Gretchin are above slaves, and some exceptional grots rise to the status of a boy, but it is only by establishing themselves through merit, usually on the battlefield. Though they are ostensibly denied most social privileges due to a boy, it is an open secret that they steal what they need to survive, and orks do try to leave extra in their larders for this purpose.

Boys are the vast middle class among orks, though they are sometimes out-numbered by gretchin on a 2-to-1 basis (as a minimum, this ratio can be much greater). They are generally allowed to simply take what they want, provided they can either intimidate it’s owner or beat them in a fight. Posturing resolves most issues among them, though sudden explosive outbursts are common. Orks think nothing of killing; one another or other creatures. For the ork, it is simply extending one’s dominance and increasing one’s strength in order to grow.

Mek boys are engineers and tinkers among the orks, those who maintain the clearest ancestral memories of weapons construction and the use of tools and equipment. They enjoy special privilege in ork society, not quite as great as that of a nob, but their specialty can earn them the favor of many of their peers. Nobs often seek the council of talented mek boys, installing them as part of their personal entourage. Mek boys at the right hand of a nob enjoy many privileges not due to normal orks.

Pain boys, like mek boys, maintain clearer ancestral memories. They differ in that their memories focus on medicine, drugs and physiology. The are the equivalent of doctors among orcs, though to human eyes they more closely resemble a combination of combat medic, tattoo artist and tribal plastic surgeon. Their bed-side manner may leave something to be desired (they are called pain boys for a reason) but their esoteric methods are lethally effective.

Weird boys open their minds to the WAAAGH, the strange psychic energy field which all orks exude. They become spellcasters and (more often) psionic manifesters, earning the mistrust of other orks as well as their grudging respect. In fact, some orks are even fearful of weird boys and will not willingly approach them. Despite these taboos, they may join pain boys and mek boys as part of the entourage of a nob; when this is the case, they enjoy as mush special treatment and deference as their privileged peers.

Nobs & bosses occupy the highest stations in ork society, with the former ruling as the latter in their stead. Indeed, bosses and war bosses are simply those nobs who have become large enough to dominate other nobs and other bosses, respectively. They live -to human eyes- like god-kings, doing as they please and speaking with near-divine authority until some ambitious and powerful peer (or some skilled enemy) slays them. Power struggles are fierce, brief and (for a time) final; winners may rely on simple posturing for some time before a defeated rival gains enough favor to make another attempt at a coup.


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Personality: a human who behaved like an ork would be regarded as a violent sociopath. The ork is nothing if not aggressive, violent at every opportunity, and cunning, usually aimed at personal advancement. They act and think in simple ways and favor simple solutions to problems, like breaking things. Orks only respect those who have intimidated them or beaten them in a fight.

A drunk ork is a friendly ork, and few other conditions aside from winning a fight can bring out this behavior in them. An ork’s ambition knows no bounds, however, and if pursuing that ambition means trampling others, so be it. A victorious ork owes no apology, and an ork who loses is a dead ork anyway.

With almost no fear of death and a bloodlust that borders on insanity, orks have a capacity for violence most would find disturbing.


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History: the secrets of the true origins of the orks are ancient and largely forgotten ones, relegated to aging inscriptions upon temple stone.

In a time beyond remembering, a powerful race begat the orks, or perhaps a proto-species very much like them, and unleashed these ‘first-orks’ upon their enemies. In a cruel twist of history, both the orks and the enemies upon whom they had been unleashed out-lived their powerful creators, spreading like a plague from one star system to the next, made ‘feral’ by the absence of their original masters.

In a fantasy game- orks arrive via crashed space-craft. Though none of those aboard the ship actually survived, their spores eventually perpetuated a whole population. That population eventually grew and divided into the clans, who go one to occupy whatever station you need them to in your game.

In a sci-fi game- these violent aliens are thought of as a kind of plague, and some xeno-biologists have begun to theorize that they may have an engineered origin. They have destroyed entire worlds, and it is largely their in-fighting that prevents their total galactic domination. Occasionally, truly abominable orks gather exceptionally vast hordes; when they do, whole star systems can be threatened.


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Alignment and Religion: almost incapable of Lawful behavior, orks are overwhelmingly Chaotic, and their selfish, brutal society usually produces Evil alignments. Neutral alignments are not unheard-of, but Good alignments are. The ork is simply not disposed towards goodwill or altruism, and they view kindness as weakness.

Orks worship one (or both) of two deities believed to be aspects of Gruumsh (or some other deity in the Orcish pantheon), though this is little more than informed speculation. In any case, they keep their worship simple, and even pious orks simply lead shouted prayers or battle hymns and slaughter still-screaming sacrifices at crude altars.

Gork and Mork demand brutality and cunning from the orks, and that as a people the orks constantly seek self-perfection through warfare. Battles are like baptisms to orks, and war-cries like prayers.


Relations and Adventures: orks who embark on adventures are most often grots rejected by their society, though some orks simply choose to wander off and make their own way. They often struggle in civilized lands, but have been known to find occasional respect and tolerance among small groups.

In a fantasy game-

On a larger scale, most creatures cannot distinguish them from orcs, and the ork’s word for themselves lends no clarity to the matter. That said, those who do realize the differences tend to hate orks by their own merit, rather than assigning ancestral hatred to them that is properly attributed to orcs. Few are capable of peaceful or cooperative relations with orks; even when they do, these relationships tend to be short-lived.

Whether orcs view orks with awe, respect, contempt or some mixture is up to you. It’s your campaign world. Likewise, the opinion of orks towards orcs is up to your DM to decide.

In a sci-fi game-

As dangerous, space-faring, marauding sociopaths, orks are unpopular. Many worlds have shoot-on-sight orders for orks, and they are generally wise orders. A world infested with orks is one likely to be reduced to an apocalyptic wasteland.


Typical ork names: Braggrak, Giggabrozz, Bazlugg, Blizrogga, Garzulk, Gurshagg, Karsnikt, Daggsnar, Urugg, Thraka, Uggnar, Gurmak, Shakmar, Glotzgit, Zaggnash, Zurgagg, Wulfragg, Zogbarth


Orks as Player Characters

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Ork Traits (Ex): Orks possess the following racial traits.

  • +4 Strength, –2 Intelligence, –2 Charisma.
  • Fungoid ecology (Ex): orks are Humanoid Plant-type creatures.
  • Medium Size
  • An ork’s base land speed is 30ft. (6 squares)
  • Low-light Vision
  • Scent
  • Fast Healing (Ex): orks recover 2 HP/round from fast-healing.
  • +2 racial bonus on all Fortitude saves
  • Automatic Languages: Ork; Bonus Languages: Common, Dwarven, Giant, Gnoll, Goblin, Orc, Undercommon (fantasy)/go with what makes the most sense in your sci-fi game, but orks do not gain any automatic languages other than their own.
  • Favored Class: Barbarian (fantasy)/Strong Hero (Sci-fi)
  • Level Adjustment: +2

Gretchin (Or Grots) as Player Characters

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Gretchin characters possess the following racial traits.

  • –2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, –2 Charisma.
  • Small size: +1 bonus to Armor Class, +1 bonus on attack rolls, +4 bonus on Hide checks, –4 penalty on grapple checks, lifting and carrying limits 3/4 those of Medium characters.
  • Fungoid ecology (Ex): grots are Humanoid Plant-type creatures.
  • A grot’s base land speed is 30 feet.
  • Low-light Vision
  • +4 racial bonus on Move Silently and Hide checks.
  • Automatic Languages: Ork. Bonus Languages: Common, Draconic, Elven, Giant, Gnoll, Orc.
  • Favored Class: Rogue.
  • Level adjustment: +1

Ork Mushrooms, Cleverly Called “Ork-shrooms”

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It should come as no surprise that these malevolent-looking mushrooms are highly toxic. They feature ork-skin-colored caps and ork-tooth-colored stalks, as well as a web of veiny roots plunged aggressively into neighboring foliage; even others of their own kind. A patch of these mushrooms is almost invariably inhabited by a gibbering swarm of snotlings, and where they occur, orks and getchin are never far.

These disgusting toadstools grow to a little over 1ft. in height, weighing 2 to 3lbs.; harvested and dried, they weight about a pound each.

Ork-shrooms are highly nourishing (1lb. is a equal to a day’s rations) to orks, but highly toxic to non-orks. 1oz. (a bite) is enough to be considered a dose. No amount of cooking or preparation (aside from magic) can neutralize this poison, which is ineffective administered any way other than ingestion.

Ingested, DC 18; Initial damage: 2d6 Constitution; Secondary damage: 2d6 Strength

Price: 300gp (per 1oz.)


Ork Snotlings

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These twisted little green-skinned creatures resemble miniature goblins. They stand about to the waist of a halfling, impossibly skinny and usually naked or tied about with rags. Occasionally, they wield crude stabbers and choppers, but they are just as happy to hurl stones and bite with murderous abandon.

Snotling
Size/Type: Tiny Humanoid (Plant)
Hit Dice: 1d8 (4 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 16 (+2 size, +1 Dexterity, +1 natural, +2 leather), touch 13, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/–8
Attack: Bite +0 melee (1d4–1/x3) or rock +4 ranged (1d2-1)
Full Attack: Bite +0 melee (1d6–1/x3) or rock +4 ranged (1d3)
Space/Reach: 2.5ft./0ft.
Special Attacks: —
Special Qualities: Lowlight vision, Plant traits
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +1, Will –1
Ability Scores: Strength: 9; Dexterity: 13; Constitution: 10; Intelligence: 6; Wisdom: 9; Charisma: 8
Skills: Survival +2, Hide +10, Listen +2, Move Silently +2, Profession (gardener) +2, Search +2, Spot +2
Feats: Alertness
Environment: any which features Ork-shroom patches
Challenge Rating: 1/4
Treasure: N/A
Alignment: Usually chaotic evil
Advancement: to grot
Level Adjustment: +0

Snotling tactics involve a few rounds of shrieking and posturing, followed by a brief volley of thrown rocks and punctuated by a fierce, swarming, mindless charge. Being cowardly, they break and flee often, only to rally and attack again moments later. They are incredibly persistent, and only slaying them puts and end to their harassment.

Typical Ork-shroom patch: these slimy fixtures are detectable by smell from a hundred feet or more; on a warm day, much farther. Approximately the size of a suburban back yard, the average Ork-shroom patch contains thousands of individual Ork-shrooms (4d4 x 1,000) in various stages of development, and around 100 or so (20d10) resident snotlings. At any time, 2 or 3 dozen of the wretches are aggressively patrolling the ‘garden,’ while the others stay hidden, squabble among themselves, sharpen crude weapons or construct rotten mounds out of dead Ork-shroom remains. Snotlings live inside these structures, and there exists as many as 1 per dozen snotlings in an Ork-shroom patch.


Ork Squigs

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In the hallowed ancient past, we posted a brief little blurb about squigs. Keep your eyes peeled for an up-and-coming expose on these hideous adorable little monsters angels.

They deserve more than I could reasonably cram into this article.


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I have around 10,000 points of orks that I run in various configurations against Space Wolves, Catachans, Tyranids and Drukhari. You may have gathered from my posting history that I am impartial to orks (and also orcs) and I hope I can share with you a tiny sample of that love (or at least explain it to you). Ain’t orks great?

I need to whip up my (much longer, more detailed) back-story for orks in a fantasy game. In fact, I think this article just earned a sequel.

So what do you think? Love it, hate it, use it or not, you’re only doing wrong if you’re not having fun.

-L. Doderman, in association with G. P. Humongous

Stolen Magic Items (In Association With Hammer Time) Made Off With The Whole Set

Got this from some guy in an alley.

You know how it goes, stealing magic items. This particular set was basically crippled when I found them. Took me days to nurse them back to health… they don’t look like they used to anymore, but if you ask me, they’re much better off.

Poor little things were living in 5th Edition. Yuck.


Regalia of Thunderclese, Awesome Warmonger

We do not speak this tale often, for the elder people warn that it is bad luck to invoke the name of Thunderclese…

In the days when the father of the king was just a young boy, and the wilds stretched longer and farther than the king’s men will ride, there lived a wicked and terrible bear of a man named Thunderclese.

Thunderclese was a savage barbarian but also a peerless warrior among his tribe, and his terrible might brought all the tribes together in war against the kingdom in the time of the king’s grandfather.

thunderclese

Thunderclese cut a swathe of destruction across the land which lasted many years, always besting and then brutally slaying the king’s men to the last. They say Thunderclese bloodlust was so great that he spared neither woman nor child nor beast. All that was left in his wake was ash and destruction.

At long last, the father of the king came of age and raised his army. He met the hordes of Thunderclese at the banks of a mighty river, and there, he took the head of Thunderclese in a battle for the ages.

Though the king’s father had claimed his trophy and the honor that day, some barbarian wretch looted the armaments of mighty Thunderclese, and they have circulated among the feral peoples of this land ever since.


As long as you possess all of the items of this set, you gain the following benefits:

  • All Confirmed Critical Hits also knock the target prone unless they Fortitude save (DC=10 + 1/2 your HD + your Strength bonus)
  • Affinity +4 with all barbarian tribes familiar with the story of Thunderclese
  • Intimidate +4 against all ‘civilized’ peoples familiar with the story of Thunderclese

New Specific Shield: Shield of the Horde-Master

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This crude wooden shield is set with a number of over-sized spikes, and darkened with the blood-stains of many creatures. The well-worn leather straps of this shield are apparently made from the hide of some monster.

This +2 spiked heavy wooden shield deals an additional 1d6 piercing damage when used to make a shield bash.

Price: 12,000gp; Moderate Conjuration; CL 15; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Intimidate 4 ranks


Hammer of Bloody Brawling

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It’s hard to believe such a humble-looking weapon could have claimed so many souls. At some point, this hand sledge might have been a farmer’s tool. Now, it resonates an aura of evil that is palpable within a few feet.

This +3 hammer deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage when wielded by a creature of Evil alignment. On a confirmed Critical Hit, it inflicts x3 damage (instead of x2).

Price: 25,000gp; Strong Evil; CL 15; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, creator must be Evil


Bow of the Cold Hunter

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After careful inspection, you are certain this bow began life as the limb of some great insect or spider though the donor’s exact identity remains elusive.

While wielding this +1 Mighty (STR +4) Composite Longbow, you may cast poison 1x/day on a target who you have dealt damage with the bow. This functions exactly like the spell, CL 15.

Price: 15,000gp; Strong Necromancy, CL 15; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, poison, animate dead


This Thunderclese guy sounds like an NPC waiting to happen. Maybe you could have your party plunder the vast gilded tomb of Thunderclese, and throw down with the big guy himself at the end.

Whatever you do, have fun with it, it’s your game!

-L. Doderman (I bet Thunderclese would have been a great Space Ghost villain)

Get Wet With Zelda Imports 11-1: Zora Stuff

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Bring a towel, because this installment of Zelda Imports takes us deep into the realm of Hyrule’s bizarre fish people. Whatever your preferred method for dealing with the hell that is the water level, this assortment of Zora stuff should help you figure it out.

And now, without further ado…


Zora Ring

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This beautiful piece of jewelry reflects the elegance and shapelessness of the sea itself. It’s three sparkling sapphires are set in lustrous white-gold.

This ring grants the wearer water breathing, as the spell, as long as it is worn.

Price: 18,000gp; Strong Transmutation; CL 12; Forge Ring, water breathing


Zora’s Flippers

Flippers

These seal-skin flippers are designed to be worn over the feet. They have been dyed blue, and their rubbery nature makes them stretch to fit nearly any foot.

Wearing these flippers has 2 effects. 1st, you gain a swim speed equal to your Base Speed +10ft. (2 squares); you gain a +8 bonus on all Swim checks and can choose to take 10 even when threatened or distracted.

However, your Base Speed is reduced by 50%, and you suffer a -4 penalty on all movement-related maneuvers.

Price: 24,000gp; Moderate Abjuration; CL 3; Craft Wondrous Item, freedom of movementSwim 4 ranks


Zora Scale

Hyrule_Warriors_Zora_Scale_Silver_Scale_(Level_1_Zora_Scale)

This bracelet is obviously magical. It is a silvery scaled bracer with a simple golden hoop and a gem dangling from it. When viewed closely, the gem reveals itself as no gem at all, but gently swirling water with a silvery scale inside it, held into the shape of a perfect sphere by magic.

While wearing a Zora scale, you can hold your breath twice as long before you risk drowning.

Price: 2,000gp; Faint Transmutation; CL 3; Craft Wondrous Item, creator must be a Zora


Zora Armor; Helm, Greaves and Cuirass

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While wearing this suit of silver and blue scale mail, the wearer closely resembles a Zora. It even features a head-tail and flippers.

In addition to functioning as a normal suit of +1 scale mail, the wearer of this special suit also gains water breathing and Lowlight Vision. Additionally, you gain a Swim Speed, equal to your Base Speed +10ft. (2 squares). You gain a +10 enhancement bonus on all Swim checks and may take 10 on Swim checks even if threatened, rushed or distracted.

However, you suffer a -4 on all saves vs fire- or cold-based effects, and your Base Speed is reduced by 50%. In order to be effective, the entire suit must be worn together; if any piece is removed, all bonuses disappear until it is replaced.

Price: 55,000gp; Moderate Transmutation and Abjuration; CL 10; Craft Wondrous Item, water breathing, freedom of movement, Swim 8 ranks


Zora Mask

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This silvery-blue mask has an almost alien quality about it, though careful study reveals it to be more piscine. It mimics the face of a Zora, an elegant water-dwelling race.

While wearing the mask, you may transform into a Zora at will, gaining all of the physical attributes and extraordinary abilities of a member of their race. You lose access to all of your normal physical attributes and extraordinary abilities, but retain your class levels And mental attributes and abilities. This ability in all ways mimics the effects of polymorph, except that the only possible form is Zora.

Removing or donning the mask is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

Price: 75,000gp; Strong Transmutation; CL 16; Craft Wondrous Item, polymorph, creator must be Zora


All this talk about Zora and I realize I haven’t produced my own version of Zora stats for 3.5. How embarrassing! Guess you better hold off on using that mask for now. My apologies!

I guess you know what’s coming next! Until then, enjoy!

-L. Doderman (knew there was something fishy here… get it?)

Arduin Imports: Character Options From Hell

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You might regret using these tables, because they’re kind of really crazy. Hargrave had a penchant for making tables that were simultaneously darling and despicable. He produced one of them for each of the basic D&D archetypes, and an ‘everything else’ catch-all.

They strike me as being like Flaws or Perks, because some of them come with a benefit and a drawback. Some are pure drawback (ouch) others are pure benefit (well then) and some are total insanity (go on) aside from fitting the generic feel of the archetype to which they’re assigned, there’s not a lot of rhyme or reason.

Found the original Arduin Grimoire Volume I over here. The original text is a dense read, but it’s a window into a whole world of amazing. It’s there you can find the original tables I used to create the shenanigans that follow.

What I really want to convey is the feeling of the way these tables were actually used in most games. You’re almost done rolling up your character, it’s taken a while but you’ve got a good one and you’re ready to play, and suddenly, the DM starts snickering and shaking a handful of dice.

‘What the fuck,’ you think to yourself, ‘we haven’t even started playing yet, why is he rolling?’ when the DM announces you’ve got one more thing to do before you’re done.

‘Fine. What?’

“Roll.” He hands you the dice like he just handed you a gun and asked you to shoot yourself in the leg, and you’re about to do it because you don’t realize what’s going on. You roll, and he busts out this ridiculous table, and you watch in horror as that die roll drives a truck through your character. Or gives you some huge bonus. Or pitches you a curve-ball. Or has almost no change at all. If you suffer from anxiety, I’ll give you a moment to calm down. Go ahead and breathe for a minute.

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That’s the kind of feel I want these tables to convey. Maybe your DM will let you choose, maybe he’ll make you roll, maybe he’ll devise some twisted caveat like each random roll earns you 1 preferential choice. Whatever is cool, just make sure you have fun with it.


knightORpaladinORfighter maybe

For Fighters, Warriors, Barbarians, Rangers, Paladins, Samurai, Monks and Other Such Martial Types

  • Select 3 weapons with which you are proficient; you receive a -1 penalty to Attack rolls and Damage rolls with two of them, and a +1 bonus to Attack rolls and Damage rolls with the other
  • Select 3 weapons with which you are proficient; you receive a -2 penalty to Attack rolls and Damage rolls with two of them, and a +2 bonus to Attack rolls and Damage rolls with the other
  • Select 3 weapons with which you are proficient; you receive a -3 penalty to Attack rolls and Damage rolls with two of them, and a +3 bonus to Attack rolls and Damage rolls with the other
  • You taste awful; when a creature attempts to swallow you, it must Fortitude save DC (your character level) or become Nauseated as long as you are in their mouth/stomach. You also smell awful; -4 on all Charisma-based skill checks made to influence those who can smell, -8 with those who have Scent. When being tracked by sense of smell, opponents receive a +5 circumstance bonus against you.
  • Undead friend; an undead creature (N Medium Zombie, Intelligence 6, 1/2 as many HD as you, your choice of humanoid) considers you to be it’s good friend. It is unclear to even the most powerful divinations how this came to be, but your undead friend is an utterly loyal and steadfast companion, who always takes (what it perceives) to be the most beneficial action for you (to the best of it’s ability), or no action. Whether you like your undead friend back is irrelevant (it’s love is unconditional), and you can only rid yourself of it by destroying it. Note that most creatures are disgusted and repelled by undead.
  • Select a humanoid creature type; you absolutely HATE that type of creature, gaining a +1 bonus on all rolls, which would benefit a Ranger opposing her favored enemy, against them. The feeling is mutual; the type of creature you selected have heard about you (you racist asshole) and receive the same bonus against you that you receive against them.
  • Total idiot: you are too stupid to be affected by mind-affecting spells and effects. So stupid in fact, you cannot use any skill which requires thought or concentration, or which is not totally reflexive or physical in nature. Should you ever increase your Intelligence score, you lose all of these benefits and penalties.
  • Scary looking: you cut an imposing profile. Babies look at you and they cry. When you Take 10 on an Intimidate check, you are considered to have rolled a 15 (instead of a 10). Initial attitudes against you are always 1 step worse, and you have a 1% cumulative chance per day spent in a city of being arrested in a case of mistaken identity. Leaving and then returning re-sets this counter, and has no bearing on whether the authorities pursue you for legitimate reasons as well.
  • Full of fear and hate: you gain a +2 on all Attack rolls and Damage rolls against your choice from the following list; arcane spell-casters, divine spell-casters, Evil Outsiders, Good Outsiders, Dragons, Elementals, Undead; you suffer a -2 on all saves against any effects they generate, spells they cast and extraordinary or spell-like abilities they use.
  • Beefcake: you gain a +1 bonus to all Melee Attack rolls and Damage rolls, and are considered Large for the purpose of determining encumbrance, but are so big and bulky that armor, clothing and worn items cost 2x as much in order to accommodate your huge frame. Additionally, you require 2x as much food and water as a non-beefcake of your type.

SORCERER

For Wizards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, Wu-Jen, Bards, Warmages and Other Such Arcane Types

  • Select 3 spells or powers which you know; 2 of them you prepare and cast as 1 level higher than they are, the other is prepared and cast 1 level lower. The actual strength of the spells is unaffected.
  • Wasteful: you blow through spell components in sloppy and wasteful execution; you consume 1d4 additional uses of a spell components pouch with every spell you cast (in addition to the normal usage), because of this, the DC for attempting to identify a spell you cast is increased by 2.
  • Cult affiliation: the bizarre local cult (have fun creating it, DM) considers you a friend (if not member in good standing); they are highly tolerant and helpful towards you, but their reputation is questionable at best. While you maintain relations with your cult, you receive a -4 penalty on all Charisma-based skill checks with non cult-members aware of your relations, and a +4 on all similar checks with cult members. Should you sever your relations with the cult, they become hated enemies, attacking you and harrying you at their convenience.
  • Demanding tutor: the master to which you apprenticed was a real asshole, but she knew her stuff. You must pay this NPC (your job to create them, DM) 1,000 x your HD in GP every time you level up, or they send thugs and assassins after you. Only slaying your former master (an Arch Mage or equivalent, level 20) frees you from this obligation. However, you gain 1 additional spell per day of every level of spell you can cast.
  • Glass cannon: you can dish it out, but you can’t take it. Damage-dealing spells you cast deal +1 Damage, but your Base AC drops from 10 to 9.
  • Way flashy: spells you cast come with fireworks; you create brilliant flashes of multi-colored light when casting any spell, varying in brightness from daylight (higher level spells) to candlelight (lower level spells). These flashes of light make it impossible for you to hide in a round during which you also cast a spell, and your hands and eyes glow as brightly as candles for 1d4 rounds after casting a spell, +1 round per spell level. However, save DCs for spells you cast are increased by 2.
  • Outsider ‘friend’: this outsider is of opposite alignment to you (or as close as it can possibly be) and always appears as an (Angel/Archon/Demon/Devil) of the appropriate type (to be as shitty as possible to you, per the DM), with as many HD as you. It apparently exists to tempt you with power, usually in the form of rare new spells and the locations of magic items. While this Outsider would rather destroy you by corrupting you, it will fight if pressed, and slaying it is the only way to be rid of it. You are aware that, through some bizarre twist of cosmic chaos theory, accepting help from the Outsider advances it’s cause.
  • Pothead: you have figured out a way to smoke your spell components to get high. It takes 1 minute to smoke 1 spell level’s worth of components, after which time you take all rolls at a variable bonus of -1 to -4 (determined as each roll is made by d4 roll) for the next 1d3 hours. While under the drug’s effect, you cast all spells at +1 CL.
  • Spell addict: you are literally addicted to casting spells, but that’s only because doing it feels so good. Every time you cast a spell, you achieve a state of Zen relaxation that confers a +2 to AC and all saves which lasts for 1 round per spell level.
  • Worthless familiar: your familiar refuses to do much beyond nap inside one of your pockets or pouches, accepting your commands only 50% of the time. Because it is so lazy and inattentive, you can use your empathic link with it and it’s unused brain-space to maintain concentration on 2 spells at once. This ability is only accessible when your familiar is refusing commands, and has a 50% chance of waking your familiar each round (ending the second on-going spell).

ASSASSIN

For Rogues, Rangers, Scouts, Ninjas, Bards, Factotums, Experts and Other Such Stealthy and Skilled Types

  • Dumb luck: select a skill in which you have ranks; you may roll 2d20 and discard the lower result when making skill checks with the selected skill, but you acquire additional ranks in the selected skill as though it were a cross-class skill. Max ranks are unaffected.
  • Select a drug or a poison and a skill in which you have ranks. You are addicted to the drug or poison, but while you experience it’s effects, you gain a bonus on the skill you selected equal to your character level. You suffer from a -2 on all saves to resist the effects of the poison or drug you selected.
  • Gang member: you are a member of a notorious street gang (go ahead and whip that up fur us, DMs). All of the privilege and obligations of membership are yours, and only death releases you from your gang. Leaving them or betraying them makes them deadly enemies, who attack or harass you at their convenience.
  • Drug dealer: while not actively pursued by authorities, you are a known distributor of illicit substances, and they will treat you as such. Select a number of drugs or poisons equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1); you have a black market contact who will sell you these substances at their listed price (it’s up to the DM to generate stats for your supplier).
  • Escaped convict: you’ve done some time, but the lure of freedom was too sweet so you busted out. You are a career criminal facing a lengthy sentence, and you are wanted by the authorities in most civilized lands. Where guards won’t pursue you, bounty hunters will (go ahead and roll those bounty hunters up, DMs). However, your time behind bars was formative. You gain the benefits of the Criminal, Drifter, Outcast, or Scavenger Occupation.
  • Troubadour: as long as you speak in nothing but rhymes, spells you cast and magic items you activate are +1 CL.
  • Trained professional: select either Academic, Adventurer, Apothecary, or Entrepreneur Occupation; you gain the benefits of this Occupation. You also gain a high-profile professional rival (DMs are to generate this NPC) who is happy to destroy you in whatever civil way they can, resorting to violence only if pressed. Though slaying your rival will end their harassment, you would also be the prime suspect in the investigation that follows.
  • Night person: +1 on all skill checks attempted under cover of night (you still require light to see what you’re doing) in exchange for a -1 on all skill checks attempted during day.
  • Select a level 1 arcane spell, which you may cast 1x/day at a CL equal to your character level; you suffer from a -1 on all saves vs spells (but not spell-like effects).
  • Select a skill and a weapon; while wielding the selected weapon, you gain a bonus to the selected skill equal to your HD; all other times, you suffer from a penalty of equal value.

CLERIC

For Clerics, Paladins, Favored Souls, Adepts, Witches and Other Such Divine and Priestly Types

  • Obnoxious proselyte: you loudly proclaim your patron (or matron) deity wherever you go, earning you a +1 divine (or profane) bonus on saving throw DCs for spells you cast. However, starting attitudes towards you are 1 step worse for all but those who share your faith.
  • Divergent sect: you worship an alternate aspect of your god, one which chafes the orthodox clergy. You may select an additional Domain not normally accessible to clerics of your god. Unfortunately, you are not welcome in temples associated with your god’s orthodox clergy.
  • Flagellant: You must inflict 1d6 damage to yourself per level per day in order to receive your daily spells and other granted divine (or profane) powers. In return, you god protects you with an insight bonus to your AC equal to your CL until the self-inflicted damage has healed.
  • Convert: You originally followed another deity, but have switched faiths. You are pursued by the angry, jealous clergy of your former faith, who ambush you frequently and fight to the death in zealous attacks. Your new god rewards you by allowing you to keep your old domain powers and granting theirs in addition.
  • Favored by your god: your deity grants you a +2 on all d20 rolls, but you are regularly targeted (at least 1x/character level) by Outsiders in the service of your deity’s enemies. Additionally, clergy in the service of a god opposed to yours gain bonuses against you as though you were their favored enemy.
  • You gain a +1 on Attack rolls and +2 on Damage rolls with your deity’s favored weapon, but suffer a -1 penalty on Attack rolls and -1 on Damage rolls with all other weapons.
  • You gain a +2 on Attack rolls and +2 on Damage rolls with your deity’s favored weapon, but cannot channel divine energy or cast divine spells in the same 24-hour period during which you used any other weapon in combat.
  • You gain a +3 on Attack rolls and +3 on Damage rolls with your deity’s favored weapon, but using another weapon in combat cuts you off from your deity completely until you can atone.
  • Your holy symbol is a tattoo that covers your chest; if you cover it (wear armor or shirts of any kind), you cannot channel divine (or profane) energy. However, when you do channel, you gain a +8 bonus, and are considered 2 levels higher.
  • Zealot: as long as you make a suitable offering of blood (DM gets to decide what that is) on regular intervals (DM gets to decide how often that is), you may make a special attack against enemies of your god 1x/day that works just like a Paladin’s Smite.

barbarianonemoreagain

For Rangers, Druids, Barbarians, Scouts, Witches, Adepts and Other Such Nature-Based Types

  • You do not heal naturally, and healing magic is only half as effective on you, unless you are in a natural environment; you gain an additional daily casting of a spell of each level you can cast; non-casters gain Spell Resistance equal to 5+ your character level.
  • If you do not prepare them by moonlight, you lose access to your spells, but you are never the victim of an unprovoked attack by animals. Additionally, there is a 50% chance that animals come to your aid in a fight (DMs must rule whether this is possible, given your current location; a bear will not charge 3 floors down into a dungeon for you).
  • You are constantly accompanied by an entourage of a dozen or so non-combatant animals (no larger than Small size) of a type appropriate to your environment, making you repellent in civilized settings; few buildings (if any) allow you inside with your animals (who behave like animals) and they make it impossible to Hide or Move Silently in urban or non-natural settings. However, they grant you a +4 bonus to Hide, Move Silently and Survival checks made in natural settings. Additionally, they grant you heightened alertness; whenever you roll a perception-based skill check, roll 2d20 and discard the lower result. If your entourage of animals should be slain, they are replaced by new animals in 1d6 minutes. Should you ever betray the trusty of one of these animals, they all leave and no not return for 1 year.
  • You become ill if you consume cooked or prepared foods, effectively contracting Filth Fever (and facing comparable saves), but your Animal Companions always have 2 additional HD.
  • Select an animal into which you can transform; this animal has a mate. This mate is a fit specimen of equal HD to you (despite what it’s normal stats would indicate) that fights alongside you and serves you to the best of it’s ability, regardless of what form you take. It’s only motivation beyond serving you is producing offspring; if denied this for too long (DM decides how long), your mate leaves and never returns, and you must wait a year to acquire a new one. The process of producing offspring differs wildly from animal to animal, meaning this falls into the realm of Player-DM compromise for specifics. Should your mate ever die, a new one turns up to replace it in 1d6 days. Most people find your relationship with this animal to be disturbing.
  • You can speak with animals or speak with plants at will, but your accent is very heavy when speaking humanoid languages, resulting in a -4 penalty on all Charisma-based skill checks made to interact with creatures other than Animals or Plants.
  • You love destroying (Undead, Aberrations, Outsiders or Constructs) and the feeling is mutual; you each gain a +2 on Attack rolls and Damage rolls against the other
  • You gain a +1 on Attack rolls and a +1 on Damage rolls with weapons made of natural materials like horn, bone, stone and wood, and a -1 on Attack rolls and a -1 on Damage rolls with all other weapons.
  • You gain a +2 on Attack rolls and a +2 on Damage rolls with weapons made of natural materials like horn, bone, stone and wood, but cannot cast divine spells in the same 24-hour period during which you used weapons made of non-natural materials.
  • You gain a +3 on Attack rolls and a +3 on Damage rolls, but you cannot cast divine spells or use class abilities in the same 24-hour period during which you use weapons other than natural weapons.

thUD7N98UC

For Everybody Else and Those of the ‘Anybody’ Type

  • You have attracted the attention of a vampire, who wishes to groom and eventually sire you. This vampire is evil beyond imagining, but devilishly benevolent. It plans to use you as the centerpiece in it’s plan to violently oust the local government and install itself as despotic overlord. Crossing this vampire turns it against you instantly.
  • The dragon which terrorized your home-town now expects to receive it’s regular (every few months, per the DM) tribute (your level x 1,000GP minimum) from you. As long as you are punctual, the dragon is content with you and eventually even reluctantly benevolent. Failure to deliver your tribute sends the dragon after your home-town, and then you.
  • An aberrant entity from the Far Realm whispers mad ancient truths to you from across the void. You gain the benefits of permanent comprehend languages, CL 20; 1x/month, you must Will save (DC=your HD) or suffer an alignment shift 1 step (on either axis) towards Chaotic Evil.
  • You are nobility (if not royalty), immediately gaining 1 free level of the Aristocrat class, and inheriting all the enemies and obligations of your noble court. Provided you see to these duties in a timely and noble manner, and do not break with their code of behavior, your court can be quite benevolent. Gross failure in your duties or openly opposing your court will cause them to strip you of title and rank (and gold, and reputation…) and send knights to mete out ‘justice.’
  • You inherit a small fortune (10,000GP), which comes with the thief (DM’s design, but 3/4 your HD minimum) who’s been trying to steal that fortune for years. If you spend the money before the thief can steal it, they instead target you with their larceny. The only way to be rid of this thief is to slay them or allow them to take what they want (everything); they will break out of almost any captivity and cannot (short of magical compulsion) be convinced to abandon their mark.
  • Select a skill in which you have no ranks; you gain 4 free ranks in the selected skill, which becomes a class skill; you take twice as long to perform a skill check with the selected skill.
  • You gain a +1 proficiency bonus to all skills in which you have ranks, but offer no bonus when you attempt to aid another, and gain no bonus when you are aided by others.
  • You require twice as much sleep or rest as normal members of your race in order to avoid Fatigue and Exhaustion, but recover 50% more HP when you rest.
  • You gain a +1 bonus to all Attack rolls and Damage rolls, but you are Fatigued for 1d6 minutes after every combat encounter, no matter how brief.
  • You are immune to all types of poison and disease, but you are also unaffected by potions.

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For Those Who Dare, Audentis Fortuna Iuvat, and may Hargrave have mercy on your soul

  • You cannot turn both directions; either only left or only right, but you gain a +1 bonus on all movement-related skill checks.
  • Animals attack you on sight 75% of the time, but you gain a +1 to hit with all bows.
  • You have contracted lycanthropy, but have thus far been able to stave off the onset of the disease. Aside from you, only the werewolf who inflicted this condition upon you is aware of it. This werewolf (created by the DM, HD equal to yours) is harsh but benevolent, provided you embrace what it considers to be a gift. Rejecting his ‘gift’ or crossing him turns him openly hostile.
  • Due to a freak magical accident, you are some unnatural color for your race; you may select a level 1 spell that you can cast 1x/day as a spell-like ability at CL=your HD, but others find you bizarre and unnatural
  • Raised by (insert animal here): you are helpless and bewildered among civilized people, but gain the skills of your adoptive animal parents as class skills, lowlight vision, Affinity (adoptive parent’s type) +8, and Alertness or Stealthy and Self-Sufficient or Track as a bonus feats. You may speak with animals of the same type as your adoptive parents at will (as though by the spell, CL=your HD), but you can speak no other languages and are totally illiterate.
  • Metal objects in your possession rust rapidly, becoming useless lumps of corrosion in 2 weeks (Fortitude save negates, DC 15), however, you gain a +1 bonus to any 2 of your physical stats.
  • Compulsive gambler; +4 on Gamble checks, but Will DC 15 (+1 per previous successful save, failure resets this DC) or spend 1d6 minutes gambling.
  • Compulsive liar; +4 on Bluff checks, but -4 on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks
  • You sink like a stone in water, but gain a +4 bonus on Climb checks
  • Select a common substance; you are allergic to this substance, but you gain a +4 on Fortitude saves vs poison

That’s a whole ridiculous mess of character options. Better get right into trying them out, or changing them up, or designing your own. whatever you do, enjoy!

-L. Doderman (feel free to hit me up with feedback on this and any of the offerings here on the DDN)

Ask A Nerd: What Do You Think Of Kender?

I promise to keep this one brief, because it’s going to be a rant, based on nothing but my own opinions, and I really don’t want to just roast you guys with that.

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But I feel like I need to get this one off of my chest. I hate kender. They deserve at least serious consideration for the Dumbest Shit Ever Award, and there’s a whole mess of reasons why. In fact, let’s do it that way; let’s make a list. Lists are cool.

  1. Creativity: for a creature that was created with the express intent of being different from halflings, these guys really aren’t too different from halflings. I mean, make a hobbit homeless and you’ve got a kender.
  2. Trying way too hard: in the various attempts at establishing the firm differentness of kender, no real consistency has ever been established beyond, “like a halfling, but not,” and it’s such a tired line.
  3. Existential crisis: I seriously can’t think of one reason why kender should exist, other than so they can exist. Narratively speaking, they fill the exact same ecological niche as halflings, they just suck at it. And instead of reminding us of a favorite novel (hail Tolkien), it reminds us of a nerd who didn’t want to be reminded of Tolkien but couldn’t think of anything cool.
  4. Get over yourself: you want to play a small guy, but you want him to be spunky, scrappy and kender-like. Ok, get over yourself and play a halfling with a rough upbringing. Not everybody gets to grow up in the shire, put pen to paper, fire up those brain cells and make a cool story. Don’t resort to try-hard edge lord tactics.
  5. Narrative strain: playing a kender character is demanding that the DM work your stupid half-assed race choice into the narrative of the entire world. Part of the whole point of kender is that there aren’t any halflings around to drive them extinct by being better at literally everything they do.
  6. Asshole factor: kender are unique among fantasy race choices because they deny other players the possibility of playing a halfling. Kind of a dick move, shutting doors on people like that. Of course, the DM could simply say that both kender and halflings exist in the campaign world, but that would likely chafe the kender player, since the whole point of the race is that they exist when halflings don’t. Because halflings don’t.
  7. Not a cool idea, a tool idea: the guy who thought up kender didn’t have a cool idea for a new PC trace and then create that, he was shitting on somebody else’s cool idea for a PC race, and that’s just lame.

So yeah, fuck kender. Because they’re the worst choice ever.

-H&S

Ask A Nerd: So You’re Immortal, So What?

In a previous article, we got onto the subject of exceptionally long-lived characters. Immortals, if you will. We touched on the fact that probably, you’re not playing some old fossil, you’re probably playing some starry-eyed youngster who just stepped off for the first time.

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We also mentioned the idea of playing a much older character. The PHB lays out how to play old characters, the effects of aging, and even helps us wank by saying that it takes the longer-lived races proportionately longer to experience the effects of aging.

We get to that point, and I’m like, ‘Hah! Yeah, no. Not even close.’ I’m not prepared to go into the idea of humans learning things about 100 times faster than elves. If that was the case, then humans should also gain levels faster… and what about dwarves, for that matter? Or gnomes? Since orcs accrue the bonuses (and penalties) for aging fastest, are we to assume that they are the fastest-learning race? That orcs pick up subjects hundreds of times faster than elves?

Let me take a moment to say that scaling the physical penalties of aging to the proportionate longevity of the races does make sense. Bodies are more susceptible to biology, and organisms have a certain biological rhythm that governs the cycles of their lives.

But bonuses to your mental stats should be a function of years experiencing the mortal condition, not the proportional life stage you’ve reached. Something like…

Starting with your 2nd century of life, you gain a +1 bonus to your Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma for every 100 years of age until you reach 500. Thereafter, you gain a +1 bonus to your Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma for every 1,000 years of life.

  • At age 101, you gain +1 to all mental attributes
  • At age 201, it increases to +2
  • At age 301, it increases to +3
  • At age 401, it increases to +4
  • At age 501, it increases to +5
  • At age 1,001, it increases to +6
  • At age 2,001, it increases to +7
  • At age 3,001, it increases to +8
  • At age 4,001, it increases to +9
  • At age 5,001, it increases to +10: at this point you have reached the full extent of mortal capacity and cannot further increase your mental attributes except by level increase or magical enhancement.

Why the slow-down after 500 years?

Because the things you remember become less and less relevant as time goes on. Technology, language, even the very foundations of society can be severely rattled over even a few centuries. The things you know still do you credit, still add wrinkles to your grey walnut, they just provide less benefit in day-to-day life. At a certain point, it’s not what you know, it’s that you know so many different things.

Why put a limit on it at all? Does my character stop growing?

Firstly, there had to be some kind of limit. We needed a number, and I picked one that seemed to me to be outside of the range of about 90% or so of characters.

Secondly, yes. Your character does stop growing, if by growing you mean gaining increasingly large bonuses to mental attributes due to aging. At a certain point, there has to be and end. This works out for the meta, so you don’t end up with a lumpy ridiculous unplayable situation, and this works out for the narrative as long as you have an ounce of creativity. Maybe only gods can gain higher bonuses. Maybe it’s part of the essential nature or mortal creatures Whatever.

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But my character is immortal. She’s an angel. Or a demon. Or a 25,000 year-old vampire. Or a…

So, you want the bonuses to your mental attributes without the penalties for aging. That’s some bold entitlement, there, and frankly, not the kind I’m likely to allow without a dope back-story. Then again, I want a dope back-story for Bob the Fighter from Townsville, too, so don’t be shy about shooting for the moon. I’m sure your DM can handle it.

At any rate, the kinds of creatures that can be immortal are not susceptible to the ‘human(oid) condition,’ meaning they don’t have the capacity for the growth like we mere mortals do. Isn’t that why they envy us? There might be some anthropological thing going on with the idea that they envy our capacity for growth and we envy their power and timelessness… but whatever.

The point is, immortal creatures don’t age and develop like that. They don’t even have biology, and some of them barely even have ecology. They don’t change or grow at all due to the passage of time, and many of them don’t even experience it when they’re on their home plane.

But I’m playing like, a Highlander or an elf that lives forever or something. Basically I’m trying as hard as I can to poke a hole in your rules.

Ok, time for a discussion of fundamentals. When you’re playing a character that ancient, you’ve got a laundry list of considerations to make, and they are rightly difficult.

  • What has your character been doing all that time, that their still level 1? Or for that matter, not level 20+?
  • What incentive does such a PC have to live a long full life and then suddenly change? It’s kind of difficult to rationalize. It should be difficult, because there’s a million ways that being that old could be an advantage.
  • How has the character been involved (or not involved) in history up to that point? Be ready to listen intently while the DM explains the entire campaign setting if you’re going to do this part right.
  • How has the character handled social expectations like having a career and a family? For that matter, how have they lived for all that time?

If you haven’t got at least 5 or 6 sentences worth of good answer for each of these questions, then I wouldn’t even consider allowing the character. Frankly, characters that old should be deeply tied up in history, if nothing else than in knowing about it, having experienced it first hand.

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Consider the following…

  • Over 100 years, humans went from horse-drawn carriage to spacewalking. Truly ancient PCs will have seen even more profound changes, and should be awarded proficiency with at least a few exotic ancient weapons. They should also be acquainted with the proficient use of ancient technology, and likely not just their own, but those from neighboring cultures as well.
  • Over millennia, you’ve got the chance to learn lots of languages simply by exposure. I think it’s fair to allow PCs to select an additional bonus language every time they gain a mental attribute increase due to aging. However, language is an evolving proposition, and the forms of language spoken change over time. Your familiarity with ancient dialects and languages might warrant bonuses to certain Decipher Script checks.
  • Ancient PCs have an understanding of history that transcends the human condition. They see the big picture, watching over life-times as cities and empires come and go, generations of people live and die, and entire paradigms shift. Most would consider that a lonely (even maddening) existence, and whether it drives you mad or not, it would have a profound impact on your mentality. Ancient PCs might have a hard time not ignoring those who are not as old as they. They know the old names for everything, and they might have a view of change that is dismissive or aloof.
  • Ancient PCs should be more patient than the 10 most patient humans combined, without even trying to be. When you live 1,000 years, waiting for 10 is the blink of an eye. Even the passage of a century flies by immortal or ancient characters, so getting them to do anything quickly or with urgency should be maddeningly difficult. Further, they have lived beyond multiple disasters, maybe even apocalypses, and are not likely to be overly worried by what others consider the ‘end of the world.’ It’s ended before, after all; probably more than once.

Time for Some More Crunch

So I’m looking at my notes and I’m thinking we can go a little farther with the benefits of aging. The following are some options your DM might decide to make available instead of or in addition to the standard aging progression. To use this chart, simply pick one of the abilities every time your character advances in age category. Alternatively, your DM may decide to assign them at random, or at their discretion. Whatever works. You old fart.

  • select a number of bonus languages equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1)
  • gain a +1 proficiency bonus on a number of mental attribute-based skills equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1)
  • gain proficiency with a number of individual non-exotic weapons equal to your character level/3
  • gain an armor proficiency you do not have, or shield proficiency
  • select a non-class skill; this skill becomes a class skill
  • gain a number of bonus skill points equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum 1)
  • gain a +1 proficiency bonus on all Knowledge skills in which you have ranks
  • gain Skill Focus (any mental attribute-based skill) as a bonus feat
  • remove any 1 feat and replace it with another; you must still meet any prerequisites
  • remove up to 4 ranks in any skill in which you have 4 or more ranks and transfer them to any other skill in which you have ranks. You may remove ranks from any skill, but you may only transfer ranks to mental attribute-based skills
  • select any level 0 spell, which you may cast 1x/day with a CL equal to your character level
  • gain a +1 on all saves against mundane effects

With the weal comes the woe. There are just as many way more drawbacks to aging than advantages, so it’s only fair to go over those possibilities as well.

  • you have an old injury which did not heal properly. Your HP total drops by 1d8 (minimum 1)
  • poor vision has left you with a -2 penalty on Spot checks
  • poor hearing has left you with a -2 penalty on Listen checks
  • forgetfulness weakens your resolve for a -2 on all Will saves
  • a bad knee reduces your speed by 10ft. (2 squares)
  • you have slowed down in your age for a -2 on all Reflex saves
  • your immune system isn’t what it once was; -2 on all Fortitude saves
  • select 1 spell; you have forgotten this spell and must re-learn it in order to cast it
  • select 1 skill, in which you ain’t as good as you once were; you suffer a -4 on all related skill checks
  • you require 2 additional hours of rest per night in order to avoid the effects of fatigue
  • your alignment shifts any 1 step on either axis
  • you suffer a -1 on all Attack rolls and Damage rolls

So there we go, I feel pretty good about that. Well, I at least feel like I covered most of the bases.

So have fun rolling up truly ancient old fossils!

-L. Doderman (respect your elders)

Arduin Imports: Hargravian Sub-Races

David A. Hargrave was a gods damned genius, rest his soul. I’d give a lot for about 5 minutes inside that wild imagination of his. I only hope he smiles down from nerd Valhalla on the liberties I’ve taken with his Arduin setting.

In this installment of Arduin Imports, I wanted to dissect some of the differences between the ‘Hargravian’ and ‘Gygaxian’ (some would say ‘Tolkienian’) standard fantasy races, and provide pointers on getting Hargravian choices into Gygaxian games.

And I’d also like to cry out across the multiverse, to that alternate version of myself who lives in a reality just like mine, except that instead of suing Hargrave, Gygax hired him. I want that version of me to feel my autistic shriek of jealousy so deeply that he assumes wherever he’s at is haunted. Surely, that guy has access to WAY crazier D&D materials. No offense to Gygax (I practically worship him), it’s just that Hargrave was totally unafraid. He created anything he thought was cool. I think that’s the coolest thing a person can do.

*sigh* What might have been…

Anyway, here’s my thing.


Urruks and Lesser Orcs

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Big guy on the left is an Urruk. Also a samurai. Who keeps strange company.

Let me start by saying that as far as I’m concerned, all orcs are awesome and there’s no such thing as a ‘lesser’ orc. That’s just a term used by other races to hold my green-skinned brethren down. Orc lives matter!

Alright, I’m done with my soap box.

The only real difference between the 2 camps of orcs is the Urruks, and even calling that a difference is a stretch; the differences between Urruks and the so-called ‘lesser’ orcs are almost totally superficial and story-based. If you’re familiar with standard Gygaxian orcs, and also with the Uruk-Hai from Tolkien, then you’re basically already familiar with Hargrave’s Urruks.

They tend (perhaps ironically) towards Lawfulness; at least to the extent that it applies to steadfastness in battle and adherence to one’s orders. They can breed with ‘lesser orcs’ but such pairings tend to result in progeny that favors the lesser parent, so Urruks hate it. They’re harsh, they’re physical, and they care more about martial matters than pretty much everything else. In short, orc super-soldiers.

Hargrave points out that lesser orcs stink, but I think we all knew that already. In short, Hargrave and Gygax (and Tolkien, for that matter) had pretty much the same ideas about orcs.

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I mean, I’m not really sure what else there is to say. I could split hairs with Urruks, and I’m definitely tempted to do so, but after due consideration I can’t justify it. Simply put, everything you need to create both varieties of Hargravian orc is already available.

Like, widely, easily, conveniently available.


The Varying Tribes of Centaurs

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Let me start by saying I love centaurs. Long time fan, played more than one over the years, and a few even survived their ridiculous adventuring careers. Yay me!

Hargrave gives us a total of 3 fairly distinct options, which can be accurately represented in the RAW of D&D 3.5. Much like with the orc, the material is not only widely available, it doesn’t even take many keystrokes to unlock a veritable of forest of centaur errata. Just follow Hargrave’s narrative distinctions and you can be the proud player of a new Hargravian centaur.

Tar-Khai: The arboreal variety. They’re unreliable soldiers who favor weapons of bronze and who suffer from crippling claustrophobia. These guys bring the berserkers (Barbarians?) and seem to be the most ‘tribal’ variety.

Gara-Khai: The grasslands variety; probably meant to be the ‘normal’ ones. Making use of armor and benefitting from a more civilized existence, these guys are smaller than the Tar-Khai but not by much. They make premier cavalry, a role they relish.

Shinda-Khai: The desert variety. Also the smallest, so they shun heavy armor and shields in favor of lighter weapons that emphasize their mobility. They make good scouts, and a lot of them find mercenary work of that nature. ‘Not as civilized as Gara-Khai, but more civilized than Tar-Khai, whatever that means.

No centaurs can bear riders according to Hargrave, being no more capable of bearing a load than a human (that’s stupid) and they get along with Amazons, because both groups are kind of backwards anachronisms. Also, they don’t like how civilization at large is going. Frankly, I relate to that sentiment.

I hesitated before relegating Hargrave’s centaur’s here, but like with the orcs, I just couldn’t justify it in the face of so much ready-made stuff. At the end of the day, I’m an enthusiastic amateur, and we’re talking about ground well-covered by professional writers.


The City Elf and Elven Immortality

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I’m not normally huge on elves. I’ve used various breeds of elves as the primary antagonists in some of my games, and I’m not just talking drow. I once used psionic grey elves that were from an asshole, basically-Romulan kingdom. They were haughty, Altmer-type elves, and killing them was always a pleasure.

But some of my best buddies are really into elves, and my wife plays one, so I keep a soft spot for them. You know they’d complain if it wasn’t soft. Heh. Elves.

Anyways…

The City Elf

A breed of elves not generally liked by other elves is one that generally catches my eye. Hargrave’s city elves are one such option. They call their more traditional kin “old kind” out of spite, and they respond in kind by calling city elves, “house mice.” Not a bad start.

City elves only live to be 5,000 years, instead of the 10,000 their generic brethren can expect, and they mature much more rapidly; adulthood is -I shit you not- 20 years.

Imagine reaching adulthood at 20 and living to be 5,000. Your “20’s” would last for CENTURIES. Ahem. Moving on.

So city elves live among other races (especially humans), they’re pretty defensive about it, they die much younger (not that it’s going to make a huge difference for the players) and they mature much faster. They’re also streetwise, savvy, and capable… provided they’re in an urban environment.

City elves are tuned into the living, breathing pulse of the city the way ‘normal’ elves are hip to the forest. I actually really liked this concept for a lot of reasons. It’s believable, cities are just as good a terrain type as deserts or forests (except better because they have WAY MORE money), cities are just as dangerous as volcanoes or oceans (except more dangerous because they have WAY MORE NPCs), and cities are the one place nearly every PC group regularly visits, regardless of the theme or feel or style of play.

Sadly, city elves join the likes of centaurs and Urruks on the list of PC races I really strongly considered doing more stuff with, but didn’t. The amount of ready-made material that can be easily used to create city elves and to approximate their abilities exist, and they exist in spades. We’re talking about elves here. They’re experiencing no shortage of popularity, I assure you.

Elven Immortality

Hargrave’s elves can live up to like, 10,000 years or something, which on the one hand is ridiculous, but on the other hand brings to light the narrative function of age.

  1. Most characters die young. Adventurers live dangerous lives, and few are likely to die of a ripe old age. Does it matter if your race can live to be 1 billion years old? Kind of no, if you die 6 months after adulthood on some adventure.
  2. Gygaxian elves live (narratively speaking) just as long as Hargravian elves. That is to say, so much longer than the characters are going to live it doesn’t matter. True, the stated values themselves are lower, but at the end of the day, the numbers are pretty much arbitrary. The values are so far beyond human lifespans that it kind of doesn’t even compute.
  3. Tolkien’s elves have comparable longevity to Hargrave’s. Does it need more justification than that?
  4. PCs have a way of achieving magical means of extending their lives, for those few cases that don’t meet the usual grisly end in the jaws of a monster. Beyond the classic choices of lich-dom and god-hood, you might stumble across the right magic item or make use of wish spells. At any rate, for those few characters where age does become a consideration, they generally have the means to live as long as they want.

So I encourage you to allow whatever you like! Just don’t be surprised when a savvy player decides he wants to play a 10,000-year-old immortal elf with some ludicrous back-story about working out for literally the entire time.

In fact…

Keep your eyes peeled for an article about immortality and the character sheet impacts that can have.


Ferengi Masquerading as Gnomes

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Ok, so, not everything Hargrave ever did was wonderful and great. His version of the lovable obnoxious (your adjective here) gnome is kind of… well, it’s awful.

They’re super-greedy. Like, that’s pretty much the singular gnomish trait. They’re short, they have big noses, and they’re unbelievably, obnoxiously greedy. Ahem.

Firstly, I’ll just go ahead and be the one to call out the blatant anti-Semitic overtones here. Racism doesn’t strike me as Hargravian, so I’m guessing this is just a ‘sign of the times’ type thing. Maybe he thought it was funny. I don’t.

Not only is it tasteless, but it’s a setup for some role-play that can get tired and obnoxious really fast if it’s not handled well. Could you imagine adventuring with Quark from DS9? If that doesn’t sound like a great time to you, and especially if -like most humans- you think that kind of a character could lead to a fight at your game, then maybe leave your gnomes the way they are.

Most of the abilities ascribed to them in Hargrave’s work are better applied (or made available, what have you) to halflings. Your call, though. It’s your game.


Kleptomaniac Dwarves

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I love a good dwarf rogue as much as the next guy, but Hargrave made an interesting call with his (99% Gygaxian) version of dwarves.

That 1% is the percentage chance they have of snatching valuables without thinking. Per the words of the text.

I think that’s better used as a Flaw than a racial trait for the honorable, finely groomed dwellers under the mountains. But hey, do you. Maybe your gaming group would get a great laugh about a dwarf paladin snatching a gilded candelabra in the middle of temple services.


Hobbits vs Halflings

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So Tolkien’s estate either hadn’t yet sued the shit out of everyone when Arduin was published, or Arduin was so obscure that they missed it. In either case, Shire-folk are Shire-folk; another point on which Hargrave and Gygax agreed.

Each version is basically interchangeable with the other, and the changes the D&D halflings have endured over the years are probably exactly what would have happened to Hargrave’s hobbits.

Fortunately for us, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; whether halfling rogue or hobbit thief, she’s already got your coin-purse.


So there you have it, folks, my take on some of the facets of the huge, wonderful, imperfect, strange gem that is David A. Hargrave’s Arduin.

Enjoy!

-H&S

Stolen Magic Items That Were Actually Rescued

Sometimes, you didn’t mean to adopt a little lost puppy, but it happens. That’s kind of what happened here. They were originally designed as humorous items. I decided to take a little more serious approach

Xepphy is responsible for these, but to be honest, the overhaul this time was EXTENSIVE. I’m not sure even they would recognize them if I hadn’t said anything.

Here‘s where Xepphy lives.

And here’s what I did with the stuff I found.


Extradimensional Paint

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The pigment contained in this simple-looking pot is so black it seems to be without dimension.

This bizarre paint only functions once it has been used to paint a bag of holding. Despite the paint’s color, your bag is turned whichever color you like. Once painted, your bag is keyed to that pot of Extradimensional Paint.

Once keyed to a bag of holding, painting a surface with extradimensional paint creates a new opening into the keyed bag, which persists until the paint dries (1d6 minutes or less in windy or dry environments). This in no way increases the storage capacity of a bag of holding, but it does allow remote access and may allow awkwardly-shaped objects to be placed inside a bag of holding more easily.

Creating a new access point in this way is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. A newly-made pot of extradimensional paint comes with enough of the stuff for 11 total uses; 1 to key it to a bag of holding and 10 earnest uses of it’s magic. After the last use is consumed, your bag of holding returns to it’s normal color.

Price: 1,000gp; Moderate Conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Wondrous Item, secret chest.


Take a deep breath, and here we go, on to the next item.


Eternal Candle

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This humble-looking taper is set in a plain brass candle-stick. Though it obviously has melted a bit, it does so at an impercievably slow rate.

This candle burns for 100 years, becoming keyed to the first person to light it. This person can control it with a thought, causing it to burn brightly, dimly, or not at all. Commanding an eternal candle is a swift action that can only be done 1x/turn.

  • Burn brightly: As the spell, light, but limited in duration to the life-time of the candle. This causes the candle to melt at a rate of 1 year/minute.
  • Burn dimly: Sheds light as a normal candle, except that it’s magical nature prevents it from being extinguished by mundane sources. At this brightness, a full eternal candle could burn for a century.
  • Not at all: An eternal candle cannot be lit by mundane means. Any amount of magical fire damage lights it and melts away 1 year’s worth of wax per point of damage.
  • Minor tricks: You may command the candle flame to perform minor tricks, as per prestidigitation, 1x/round, but doing do sonsumes 1 year’s worth of wax.

Once it has become keyed to a user, an eternal candle never responds to anyone else (though it can be destroyed as easily as a normal candle).

Price: 2,000gp; Faint Conjuration; CL 7; Craft Wondrous Item, light, prestidigitation


Helm of the Willing Martyr

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This battered and rugged steel helmet has clearly seen many battles. It affords a great deal of protection, completely encasing the wearer’s head and face in tough steel plates.

In addition to granting you a +1 equipment bonus to AC, every time a Ranged Attack is made against an adjacent ally, as long as you have not yet acted in the Initiative count, you can sacrifice your move action that round in order to leap in front of the attack; if you do, the attack is considered a Critical Threat and resolved against you instead of the original target. You may only use this ability 1x/turn.

Price: 2,000gp; Moderate Abjuration; CL 8; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, shield of faith


Gravity Stone

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The simple and unassuming look of this stone belies it’s true potential.

When you hold this rock in your hand, you can let it go to detect if gravity is active in your location, and if so, which way it goes. This ability is a move-equivalent action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Once released, the Gravity Stone immediately drops in the direction of gravitational influence, at a speed which indicates the relative strength of that gravitational influence.

Confounding even the brightest sages and scholars, this potent item works even in the presence of Antimagic Fields.

Additionally, the Gravity Stone can be used as a weapon. It is considered a tiny improvised object for this purpose.

Price: N/A; No Magical Aura???; CL 0; Weight: 1lb.


Pebbles of Darkness

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These polished black stones are about the size of a sling bullet. They have an almost musical quality when shaken, draining the light from around them.

When you shake those rocks, they swallow all light around them in a 10-foot radius for 1d6 rounds as the spell darkness.

They may also be used as sling ammunition; in this case, they are considered masterwork quality, and impart the darkness effect on whatever they strike for 1 round.

A new bag of pebbles of darkness contains 2d6 pebbles. Once used, they become regular rocks.

Price: 100gp/pebble; Faint Illusion; CL 8; Craft Magical Arms and Armor, darkness


That’s all we got for this edition of Stolen Magic Items, everybody!

Enjoy!

-L. Doderman

The Sensible Barbarian 2-1: Specific to Tribe of Porcupine

spirit quest

 

Tribe of Porcupine– These are a desert and badlands-dwelling orc tribe. They use a tradition known as warming and smoking to go on spirit quests. All members of the tribe are taught this ritual; they endure it once to gain adulthood (and no other benefit) and again later on in life to become recognized as a warrior (and gain no other benefit). Only warriors among Tribe of Porcupine are permitted to undergo additional spirit quests, but nearly every member of the tribe is a warrior (in addition to whatever other role).

Build a special hut, called a smokehouse.

When seeking a spirit quest, they first construct a smokehouse; a claustrophobic hut with a low ceiling and chimney. This requires a Tribalism check DC: 15 and 1d4 hours of work. A smokehouse must be constructed of bones and hides from predatory creatures within 4 HD of the builder. The smokehouse itself is considered useless after the ritual, and is either discarded, broken down and repurposed, or simply abandoned. A new one must be constructed for each ritual.

Acquire special incense, called breath of the gods.

One must also obtain a large amount of porcupine tree resin incense. A single block weighs about 1oz and costs 1 gold. However, no shaman would ever trade this special incense for gold; far more likely, the shaman demands an object of equal gold piece value be sacrificed to the Orcish gods as compensation.

Alternatively, you may create breath of the gods, yourself. This involves harvesting the resin of the porcupine tree (Tribalism or Survival check, DC: 12; on a failure, you take 1d6 piercing damage) and then shaping and baking it (Tribalism or Craft: Cooking check, DC: 15; failure ruins the resin and you must start over). This process yields 1d4 x 1d6 blocks of breath of the gods, requires the use of a campfire and takes 1d4 hours.

In any case, your first spirit quest requires 100 gold’s worth of breath of the gods; every subsequent spirit quest requires 100 gold’s worth of breath of the gods more than the last.

Obtain your special concoction, called false water.

In addition to breath of the gods, you also require false water. False water is a special kind of extremely salty water gathered during a spirit quest. Because false water can only be created during a spirit quest, and it requires the use of false water to begin a spirit quest, Tribe of Porcupine maintains that the Orcish gods themselves gave the first false water to the first generation of the tribe, beginning a cycle that continues to this day. As long as you are a member of the tribe in good standing, the shaman rarely deny it simply for the asking. If you are in poor standing, or if the shaman doesn’t like you, they will likely force you to fight one of their apprentices (to the death) for false water.

Nextyou enter the smokehouse and stoke a low fire. You throw your breath of the gods into the fire all at once, wrap yourself in hides and drink the false water.

Begin to endure your trial.

At this point, you expend your Rage (as described earlier) and begin making Fortitude saves as necessary against the incredibly hostile environment you have created. Once you succeed on a total of 3 of these Fortitude saves, your spirit quest begins in earnest, and you gain all the associated benefits and penalties.


The ritual described here for spirit questing among the Tribe of Porcupine was the first exploration into advanced applications of the brand-new Tribalism skill. It emerged from some really good roleplaying involving an orc that had been exiled from his tribe; unable to return, he turned to his tribe’s spiritual practices in consolation.

We ended up developing so much detail that we decided it could be some alternate rules. I seriously doubt that a less-well played character would have prompted anything similar. At any rate, I was satisfied with the amount of risk the rituals involved and the fact that few (if any) of the perks outweigh those available through the rules as written. It also gives strong incentive for the classic bruiser character to do something other than swing an axe, which in my experience, strongly enriches the game.


-L. Doderman (it goes without saying that trying this IRL would be stupid, and might kill you. It’s a ritual for orcs, not humans. Duh.)