Thursday, October 24, 2013

Soldier Bears: A B/X or LL Monster

Painfully silly Google Plus tangent riffing is a powerful force in my psyche these days. As inspired by a tangent there about today's earlier post
Soldier Bears
No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic (Good)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 2+2
Attacks: 2 (claws) or 1 (polearm)
Damage: 1d4 or 1d10+1
Save: F3
Morale: 9
XP: 60

The creeping influence of the Weird has made the border cantons of the Overkingdom world-famous for their quirks and eccentricities. The chilly northern Marches of Nur are no exception and one of their sharper peculiarities is an undue fondness for military companies entirely staffed by anthropomorphic bears.

Nurian Soldier Bears are direct descendents of the mad experiments of that sadly misguided naturalist and wizard Tredvell Muyr. That he was ultimately mauled and eaten by the beast-kin he so lovingly raised from animal brutality failed to dissuade the Nurians from keeping them in service. For sure only a heart made black by jaded calcification can not be moved to great sentiment by a lumbering column of these creatures drawn up in tight parade ranks.

Soldier Bears, when the pre-hibernation wanderlust is on them, will often part from their barracks-dens for tours and adventures of the Hill Cantons. As such they can be encountered paw-fishing in local mountain creeks or taking hireling odd-job positions in the Guild of Condottieri, Linkboys,Roustabouts and Stevedores.

Though considerably smaller than their feral counterparts, Soldier Bears are fierce fighters with their much-beloved polearms, gaining a +1 to damage when employing them.

More Slavic Art Inspiration

In the 1990s, saddled with a somewhat useless journalism degree I zig-zagged into teaching English at a state-run school in what was then Czechoslovakia (thanks to the Velvet Divorce I ended up on the “wrong” side of the new border). 

One of the things I took out of that experience—other than a whipped liver—was an obsession in collecting Slavic folk art books dumped in the millions by the exiting Russians.

If anything starting to run the Hill Cantons, which has one big foot in the dark, moody fairy tales and pagan/syncretistic mythology of pan-Slavdom, has given me an opportunity to rekindle that monomania and put it to at least some inspirational use. 

Big and little early 20th century names like Bilibin, Roerich, Mucha, Repin, Orinyasky and others have graced many of the posts here and many of the published arcana.

Beyond my silly and transparent aesthetic pretensions, they serve a practical purpose of generally helping me visualize in my mind's eye what the hell the HC looks like. And even on occasion a whole encounter, NPC, adventure site etc may get jostled out of digging on a certain picture (like the downright weird neo-paganism of this guy).

Recently I have been tracking down the lovely illustrations of Ukrainian artist Heorhiy/George Narbut (note to self: “add more bears with polearms”). A taste...

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Amazon Class

For Barbarella the one and only amazon of my heart.

Requirements: STR 11 (Western), DEX 11 (Eastern)
Prime Requisite: STR or DEX
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: 12

Zem, the turtle-borne world of the Hill Cantons, bears not one but two great nations of what are ham-fistedly called “Amazons” by the weak of imagination. 

Both tribes claim a common founding (and likely apocryphal) figure the great Queen Dwar Kin and a similar martial and matriarchal bent to their cultural ethos, and despite their differences in psycho-geography and language, they exhibit a rather remarkably consistent culture.

Those of Oiorpata, that distant and exotic isle near the resting point of the Sun Lord's daily ride, are a fine, strong-boned, if verbally assertive race noted for their love of high-crested, baroque helmets, polished armor, and knitting circles. World famous is their biennial Ebon Festival of the Pearls, a soiree that marks both the climax of the black pearl harvest from the swamp-polyps and the victory of that muscle-bounded race of maidens against the invading forces of the Overkingdom in the Twicefold Battle of Vague Suggestiveness, now some 112 years ago. It is said that the high-point of the festivities is the public bathing and drinking by their much-feared, rubenesque queen of the blood of 12 male lovers.

The amazons styled as the Bila-Urkithians are a semi-nomadic race who ride the eastern reaches of the Sea of Grass. The “White” Urkithians favor wildly-stripped, baggy trousers in defiance of their more patriarchical neighbors, the Pantless Barbarians, gaily-colored tassels, and phyrgian hats or helmets. Though thinner-boned then their western sisters, they are of a durable and fierce nature, particularly hating all forms of the romanticized Amazonomachy so beloved by Overkingdom court painters. They are ruled by a council of elected Hetwimmin who meet annually to organize a massive, and mostly peaceful demonstrative march through the Hill Cantons.

Western Amazons by way of their life-long training and aesthetic choice are masters (mistresses?) thrown or hurled weapons, most notably the pilum (a heavy javelin delivering d6+1 damage), lasso or atlatl, gaining a +1 to hit and an incredible extra 30 feet of range with such weapons. They also deal +1 in damage in melee when striking with a spear.

Eastern Amazons gain a +1 to hit when on horseback and a +1 to hit with their beloved composite bows or darts. They also receive a +1 to hit with the gracefully-styled hand-axes they prefer.

Amazons as a willful race save as Dwarves.

They so despise those weak-willed men who encase themselves in gothic-plated cocoons of steel that they may only wear armor of chain (or half-plate) and under.

Amazon Level Progression
Experience Level Hit Dice (1d8)
0 1 1
2,101 2 2
4,201 3 3
8,401 4 4
16,801 5 5
33,601 6 6
70,001 7 7
140,001 8 8
280,001 9 9
400,001 10 +3 hp only *
540,001 11 +6 hp only *
660,001 12 +9 hp only *
*Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bottom-Up Worldbuilding and Pantless Barbarians

I have mentioned several times that I consciously set out to build the eponymous campaign up from a very limited, easy-lifting, world-agnostic base. (I mean, hell, for three and a half years no party ever ventured out of the 30-by-30 mile starting map).

With the six-year anniversary of the campaign coming in a month's time, that steady accretion has created a surprisingly large amount of setting whoha. The process has seemed to run along a predictable routines by this point: the players get curious and start investigating a certain myth, rumored site, or lost artifact—and then almost like clockwork get a wave of inspiration (often a mix of the serious and weird/goofy) and start filling in the big blanks from the broad outlines I already have established.

Quite often this process continues on for a while dialectically, with a player asking, teasing or pushing on one tangent or the other. Case in point would be a recent reveal of the crappy ethnocentric players maps of the larger world (down at the bottom of the post) following some explorations. A imminently silly little in-joke about the classical Greek view of barbarians got picked up by Mike D who immediately stated that he wanted to play one.

Long story short, behold the Pantless Barbarian class.

Pantless Barbarians
Requirements: CON 11
Prime Requisite: CON
Hit Dice: 1d10
Maximum Level: 12

For centuries the barbarian hordes that inhabit the northeastern most point of the southwestern most continent of the Hill Cantons world were riven by two great tribal divisions: that of the shirtless, trouser-wearing followers of the Triple Goddess and that of the tattooed—and wholly pantless--barbarians who follow an aspect of the Sun Lord.

A rough balance of power prevailed on the forests and plains of that land until an enterprising, wily pantless hetman, Vermurmur A-Khan, diplomatically prevailed upon his co-religiousists in the Overkingdom to send landsknechts in a great crusade. Over a fast and furious decade the Goddess worshipers were decimated and retreated into the forbidden reaches of the (perhaps euphemistically-named) Fields of Paradise, leaving the pantless in control of most of the region.

Religious taboos mandate that their privates must be close at hand to the divine rays of the sun.  Even when wearing heavy upper garments like bear skins or armor, this strange tribe is barred from the wearing of pants (a short, revealing kilt is acceptable in colder months). As a result of this predilection, the poor savage has a penalty of -1 from AC and may only wear armor of chain (or half-plate) or weaker.

When striking with a preferred tribal weapons--tridents, bolas, atlatls, and falchions—the barbarian receives a +1 to hit. Every other level the pantless barbarian can also take a +1 to a LotFP-like d6 skill in either Tracking or Wilderness Survival.

Barbarian Level Progression

Hit Dice (1d10)
Skill Progression




+3 hp only *

+6 hp only *
+9 hp only *

*Hit point modifiers from constitution are ignored

Click to Enlarge