Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A First Look At The Longpaws

I've received several private inquiries as to how I plan to stat out humans and demihumans in Great & Small.  Here's a preliminary look.  These are only first drafts, and don't necessarily reflect what will end up in the final version of the rules.

“Longpaw” is a slang term for humanoid, believed to have been coined by the first dogs.  It is used when referring to any bipedal, mostly hairless, tool-using creature that does things like hunt with weapons, construct and live in buildings, wear clothing, practice agriculture, domesticate other species, and so on.  In some settings, humans will be the only species of longpaw.  In others, typically ones inspired by classic fantasy, the term will also refer to dwarfs, elves, halflings, orcs, goblins, and any number of other humanoid creatures.

Aside from dogs, farm creatures, horses, and small cats, most animals see few relevant distinctions between the different kinds of longpaws.  Nearly all of them are disruptive invaders or upstarts from animals’ point of view, best avoided or driven off when possible.  However, some smaller species – like mice, raccoons, rats, pigeons, and squirrels – have managed to make homes for themselves on the fringes of longpaw settlements, living off of the scraps that longpaws foolishly cast aside as waste.

Although Great & Small is not a game about longpaws, it can be useful to know their game stats anyway, as they make excellent antagonists. Also, some groups may prefer mixed games in the style of Russian fairy tales, Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar stories, or C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia, which often feature humans and talking animals adventuring alongside each other.

To that end, the four main longpaw races of the classic fantasy game – man, dwarf, elf, and halfling – are detailed below.

Unless otherwise noted, all longpaws have the following default game stats.

     AC: 9 or by armor type
     AT: Unarmed (1d2), or by weapon type
     Beginning HP: 7
     Habitat: Any
     MV: 8
     SZ: Medium 

Species Traits:
  • Bipedal:  Longpaws walk on their hind legs at all times, making them especially susceptible to trip attacks.  They receive no bonuses to resist such assaults.
  • Encumbered: Lacking naturally tough hides, longpaws have invented armor to protect themselves.  However, this slows them down in a fight.  Longpaws add their AC rather than their MV to Initiative rolls.
  • Tool Users:  Longpaws never have to make lore checks to understand or properly use levers, latches, doors, springs, or any other simple tools.  They automatically succeed at such tasks.
Humans like to think themselves the measure of all things, and the masters of all they survey.  Rarely considering other species, they will move into an area and struggle epically to master it by establishing settlements and farms.  This activity drives out some animals, but creates opportunities for others.  In some settings, animals are divided over the question of Man’s existence; those who travel and live alongside Men – notably, dogs, their most loyal companions – are set against those who are driven out by them.  Nearly all animals marvel that individual men are able to survive at all, lacking as they do any claws, teeth, or tough hides.  Weak though they may be compared to some other animals, though, men are nearly unstoppable in large numbers, as many great beasts have learned to their detriment.

Species Traits:
In addition to the standard longpaw traits above, men also possess the following abilities.
  • +2 on all lore checks to interact with dogs, even feral ones.
  • +1 on all lore checks to interact with small cats, even feral ones.
  • +1 on all lore checks to interact with horses and farm creatures.
  • Versatility: Men have a permanent +2 bonus on all lore checks with a single lore of their choice outside their niche, chosen at 1st level and remaining the same throughout their life.
  • Suitable Niches: Any.  
Dwarfs are a longpaw race only found in fantasy worlds where magic and monsters are real.  In such worlds, they are a race of miners who prefer to live underground, and value gold, gems, and mineral wealth above almost all other things (such is their reputation among fellow longpaws, anyway).  They are gruff, surly, and stocky of build, average about 4 ft. tall, and weigh about 150 lbs. as adults.  Their males prefer to grow and decorate their beards.  They tend to have hostile relations, often unintentionally, with subterranean animals, but are not especially cruel towards them when encountered. 

Species Traits:
In addition to the standard longpaw traits above, dwarfs also possess the following abilities.
  • Darkvision:  Dwarfs can see without the aid of any light at all, out to a range of 60 ft.  This vision is black & white only.
  • Tunnel sense: Thanks to their long experience living underground, dwarfs get a +2 bonus on all lore checks to notice unusual earthenworks, such as traps, recent mining, unsafe tunnels, and so forth.
  • +4 bonus on all saves vs. magical effects.
  • +1 bonus on all lore checks to interact with burrowing animals.
  • Suitable Niches:  All dwarfs are trained as Warriors at 1st level.  They make take levels in other lores after this, but Warrior remains their niche.
Like dwarfs and halflings, elves are a longpaw race usually only found in settings where magic and monsters are real.  They fancy themselves a people of the forests and woodlands, self-appointed “protectors” of such realms.  And to be fair, many animals feel that elves are less bad than other longpaws when it comes to respecting other species’s territory… but not by much.  Like all longpaws, elves have certain animal species they like more than others, and will alter their forest homes to favor such species.  They are nearly as tall as men, on average, and have long, pointed ears and slender, graceful frames.

Species Traits:
In addition to the standard longpaw traits above, elves also possess the following abilities.
  • Darkvision:  Elves can see without the aid of any light at all, out to a range of 60 ft.  This vision is black & white only.
  • Fey Magic:  Every elf knows one 1st level magic-user spell of her choice.
  • Ghoulbane:  Elves are immune to the touch attacks of ghouls.
  • +2 bonus on Scout lore checks to spot secret doors; merely passing near such a door entitles an elf to an unmodified Scout lore check to spot it, as though she had been looking the entire time.  The bonus applies if she is actually actively searching.
  • +1 on attack rolls made with long bows or swords
  • +1 on all lore checks to interact with forest or woodland animals
  • Suitable Niches: Familiar, Magic-User, Scout, Trickster, Warrior.
This race of small longpaws is usually only found in classic fantasy settings, where magic and monsters are real.  They resemble men in their proportions, but are notably shorter as adults, average about 3 ft tall in maturity.  They are known for their love of fine food and drink, their gentle disposition, and their adeptness with slight-of-hand tricks.  Notably for longpaws, they often do not cover their feet in shoes or boots, unless it is exceptionally cold.  They normally burrow their homes into the sides of hills, which sometimes causes them to disrupt communities of burrowing animals.

     AC 7 (or by armor type)
     Beginning HP: 5
     MV: 6
     SZ: Small

Species Traits:
In addition to the longpaw traits above, halflings also possess the following abilities.
  •  Darkvision:  Halflings can see without the aid of any light at all, out to a range of 60 ft.  This vision is black & white only.
  • +4 bonus to saves vs. magical effects
  • +2 bonus on Trickster lore checks to climb walls, hide in shadows, and move silently
  • +1 on all attack rolls using missile weapons
  • +1 on all lore checks to interact with burrowing mammals
  • Suitable Niches: Herbalist, Scout, Storyteller, Trickster, Warrior.

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