Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Great Cats

NOTE: These stats have been edited to conform to the rules revisions posted on 9/8/15.
The world mourned the loss of Cecil the lion this week, and in his honor, I'm skipping ahead in the OSR material on animals to cover lions and tigers, the great cats.

Cat, Great
Among the most adored, feared, loved, and respected animals in the natural world, great cats are living symbols of power, nobility, and savagery.

One of them, the lion, is widely known as the "king of the beasts," and typically acts like it in the worst possible way.  Despite their reputation among longpaws, most male lions are lazy bullies who spend their day lounging about their prides' lair while the females do most of the hunting.  Male lions are polygamists with a tendency to murder the children of their wives' previous mates, but some stray from this behavior and strive to live up to their species' noble reputation.  Female lions, as noted, do most of the hunting and child-rearing among their kind, and are thus far more gregarious towards outsiders, often of necessity.  Indeed, lions are unique among cats in being group hunters.

Tigers, like lions, are polygamous, though far less social.  They possess such fearsome reputations that many longpaw communities actually worship them as minor deities and offer them sacrifices in the hopes of avoiding the tigers' wrath.  Sometimes, this works.  But other times, it feeds the tiger's ego and leads her to expect more from her subjects, which only makes them more terrified.

In spite of these fearsome traits, however, great cats, like their smaller kin, are highly curious and playful.  They will often track or follow a group of other animals just to see what they are up to, and this sometimes creates a sense of responsibility for these animals in the cat's mind.  They are also quite stealthy and shy, and when not hunting for food, great cats prefer to avoid confrontation even with obviously weaker foes.  If startled or attacked, they will just as often flee the area as stand and fight, particularly when they are alone.

Great cats possess amplified versions of the game traits of small cats, as noted below.

AC: 6
AT (Dam): 1 bite (1d7 [1d8]), 2 claws (1d5 [1d6]) 
Beginning HP: 9 [10]
Habitat: Tropical to temperate forest, grasslands, savannah.
MV: 10
SZ: Small

Species Traits:
  • Growth Spurt: Lions go up a Size category to Medium at 3rd Total Level, and then to Large at 5th Total Level.  Tigers go up to Medium at 3rd Total Level, as well, but do not achieve Large Size until 6th Total Levels.
  • Low-Light Vision
  • Nine Lives:  Cats can re-roll nine critical failures over the course of their career.  Often, this will mean the difference between life and death; hence, the name nine lives.  Once these “lives” are used up, they cannot be restored.
  • Scent
  • Special Maneuvers: Claw/Claw, Bite/Claw/Claw, Grapple, Pounce, Rake
  • Ultravision
  • +2 bonus on all lore checks to climb, hide in shadows, and move silently. The bonus is +4 in tall grass or other thick foliage.
  • +3 on all Warrior lore checks involving feats of strength.
  • Suitable Niches: Guardian, Runner, Scout, Trickster, Warrior 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

In Honor Of Cecil the Lion #RIPCecil


In honor of Cecil's memory, I'll be writing up character stats for the big cats this week.

If you're interested in direct action against poachers, please visit and make a donation to the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and/or Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Featured Creature: Monkey

NOTE: These stats have been edited to conform to the rules revisions posted on 9/8/15.
The next entry in the old Rules Cyclopedia is "Baboon, Rock"... also not actually a real animal.  However, it's a great occasion of serendipity, since the previous entry detailed apes, and this one gives me the opportunity to stat out their cousins, the monkeys (yes, baboons are a type of monkey!).

There are two broad groups of monkeys: the platyrrhines, or "New World  monkeys"; and the catarrhines, or "Old World monkeys."  The differences between them are quite distinct (at least in terms of their game stats), but some players and BMs won't care about these distinctions.  In high-fantasy campaigns, it shouldn't matter; in more "realistic" campaigns, the two types of monkeys probably occupy different continents, and will have a fierce rivalry with one another.
A flat-nose monkey

Most monkeys are prideful, curious, and extremely intelligent.  Beyond this, they do not have a recognizable stock personality; their temperaments range from meek to aggressive, dependent on species.

The following game rules reflect the traits common to the "default" monkey.  Variations on these stats are found in the individual entries that follow.

     AC: 5
     AT (Dam.): bite (1d3)
     Beginning HP: 3 [4]
     Habitat: Tropical to temperate forest, savannah, or woodlands 
     MV: 6; climb
     SZ:  Tiny 

Species Traits:
  • Brachiation
  • Hands: Unlike most other species, monkeys have true hands, very similar to those of longpaws.  They a get +2 bonus on all Scout and Trickster lore checks to manipulate fine tools, spring traps, perform "sleight of paw" tricks, and other activities that mimic the use of human hands.
  • Low-Light Vision
  • Scent
  • +4 bonus on all lore checks that involve climbing, jumping, or swinging from the canopy or similar environments (like the sails and netting of a human ship, for instance).
  • -3 penalty on all lore checks involving feats of strength
  • Suitable Niches: Guardian, Healer, Herbalist, Runner, Scout, Seer, Trickster.
Down-Noses ("Old World monkeys," "Catarrhines")
As their name implies, the down-noses are classified by the shape of their nose: long and thin, with downward-facing nostrils.  Their ranks contain some of the most well-known types of monkey, such as the baboon and the macaque.  

Down-noses take pride in their long matrilineages, and young males are usually the only troop members who leave to seek adventure (females tend to stay with their mothers, or with their mate as part of a "harem").  A typical down-nose community will feature a large female population with one or a handful of males who have multiple mates.  In their own eyes, this makes them more enlightened than their prudish flat-nose cousins.
A baboon, one of the most famous of the down-noses.

Among the most distinctive of the down-nose monkeys is the baboon, often mistaken for a type of ape by non-monkeys and non-apes.  However, it is unwise to make this comparison to the face of a baboon or a true ape; both find it highly insulting.

Species Traits:
Baboons possess all the standard monkey traits, except as noted below:

     AT (Dam.): bite (1d5 [1d6])
     Beginning HP: 5 [6] 
     SZ: Small

Species Traits:
  • Growth Spurt:  At 2nd Total Level, a baboon's size increases from Small to Medium.
  • Poor Swimmers:  Baboons automatically fail all lore checks that involve swimming, unless they have been specifically trained in the skill by a member of another species. 
    Even then, they suffer a -4 on all lore checks involving swimming.
  • -1 penalty on all lore checks involving feats of strength.
Flat-Noses ("New World monkeys," "Platyrrhines")
The flat noses are easily distinguished by their noses, as well: flatter than those of most other primates, with sideways-facing nostrils.  Their numbers also include the smallest monkey species in existence, the pygmy marmoset (always Size Diminutive).

However, what truly sets them apart -- or at least the trait of which they are most proud -- is their prehensile tails.  Unlike the catarrhines, flat-noses can use their long tails almost as a fifth limb.  They also tend to form monogamous life bonds, which gives them a sense of moral superiority over their down-nose kin.

Species Traits:
Flat-noses have all the standard monkey traits, except as noted below.
  • Prehensile Tail

Cleaning up the cage...

I'm putting myself on a schedule: one new game element and one new Featured Creature completed each week.

I've actually got quite a bit in the works off-line, that I won't be publicly sharing until I'm ready to start finding artists and playtesters... including some rules tweaks that change what's in the Quick Start version.  I'll maintain this blog to post stuff that's compatible with the Quick Start rules, or that is rules-neutral.

Thanks again to all who have been reading a supporting me.