Monday, April 8, 2013

Serendipity, sort of

The first thing one of my players asked me about after I published my February 7th post Kicking My Imagination in the Butt (or Ask and Ye Shall Receive) was “Can I play one of these guys?”

And I was all like, “What?  No, these are the perpetually restless natives that are going to make your adventuring lives a living heck!”, but then I thought about it.  I have these tribes of Aztecosaurs living all throughout my map so inevitably some of them are likely to prove friendly to the player-characters and humanity and demi-humanity in general (random rolls on the Monster Reaction table ensure that!).  So okay, “Yes,” the possibility of an Aztecosaur (really have got to come up with my own name for these guys as I’d hate to end up forcing the nice people over at Kingsisle Entertainment to sue me for copyright infringement) player-character is no longer out of the question.  But how should they be perceived by their human and demi-human friends?  In other words, what 'race-as-class' should they be?

I’d already planned on my Avemetatarsalia inspired tribesmen being ‘Hunter/Gatherers.’  So naturally, my savage dino-men would best be represented as Huntsmen!  Happy accident indeed, most of the hard work is already done!  So how are my dino-sapiens different from human Huntsmen?  Dino-men?  Sauro-sapiens?  Sauro-men (no! no Tolkien puns!)?  I guess dino-sapiens will do as a general term but I think I’ll take my cue from the creative people at Kingsisle for the more specific names…

Anyway, let’s look at the stat blocks I came up with for them and work from there, just like I did with the Goblins.  Only, wait.  I haven’t come up with any stat blocks or I’d have posted ‘em here already, right?  So much for the work being already done!  But I’ll need the stat blocks sooner or later anyway so let’s cobble ‘em together, shall I?

Based on the original illustration (above) and Mr. Stater’s article on the LAND OF NOD site different types of dinosaurs equate to different (in my case) tribes of dino-sapiens.  So looking at the original art from Kingsisle starting on the left we have an obvious carnivore or raptor inspired tribe; being meat-eaters and knowing that their dinosaur equivalents ate other dinosaurs they will serve as my ‘bad’ tribesmen, filling the role of headhunters, cannibals and such.  Clearly Chaotic.  Now I need to name them.

A quick review of ancient Mesoamerican cultures via Google turns up a number of possible name sources.  In no particular order I have the Aztecs (unavailable), Olmecs, Toltecs, Zapotecs, Incas and Mayas; remember I’m not trying to be exhaustive about this or anything, just looking for some good names.  For our carnosaurs I’m liking Toltecosaur, no particular reason; though the word Toltec does put me in mind of the German word for the dead, Tote.  Anyway, these mobs should be fast, relatively protected and their natural attack is clearly a nasty bite.

Next up is what looks like a Hadrosaur inspired tribesman.  I’m thinking they should be slower than the dino-sapien norm and rather hardy.  A tail sweep melee attack seems in order to help them survive.  All mobs in melee range should save vs. Dragon Breath or be knocked off their feet.  As for a name, I’d like to differentiate this vegetarian race from the Toltecosaurs so I’ll steer away from the –ec ending names and I think I like Mayasaur for these gentler dino-sapiens.

Thirdly, we have a beefy looking tribesman apparently inspired by Styracosaurus, at least if I'm reading that head frill correctly.  Again I’m thinking he should be slower than your average dino-sapien, but tougher too.  A good fighter.  Maybe a charge or a gore attack?  Might as well make it a gore attack, what’s that horn for otherwise?  As for their name, I like Olmecosaur, puts them on equal footing with the Toltecosaurs.

Because I could easily see Mayasaurs and Olmecosaurs banding together for mutual protection and greater numbers, I believe that they both should be Lawful in alignment.

Finally (sorry, no undead dino-sapiens, at least not yet!) we have the pterosaur inspired tribesmen.  Fast, even light on their feet (hollow bones, you know) but not as hardy as the other types.  The pterosaur appears to be another meat-eater from the looks of those teeth, likely fish and other small game that they swoop down upon, so their attack will be a bite as well.  As these pterosaurs don’t have the plant-eaters’ herding instints nor the carnosaurs aggressiveness I’m thinking their alignment should be Neutral.  As I don’t much care for the alternative, I’ll call the pterosaurs Incasaurs.

Okay, time for the stat blocks:


                                   Toltecosaur            Mayasaur    Olmecosaur           Incasaur

Armor Class:         6                                   7                        5                                  7

Hit Dice:                  1                                   1+1                    2                                  1-1

Move:                        120' (40')                   90’ (30’)          90’ (30’)                    120’ (40’)

   Flying:                   --                                  --                       --                                 180’ (60’)

   In water:              --                                  120' (40')         --                                 --

Attacks:                   1 bite or                      1 tail sweep      1 gore or                    1 bite or
                                     weapon                      or weapon        weapon                      weapon
Damage:                  2-7 or                          special or         2-7 or                         2-7 or
                                     weapon + 1                weapon + 1     weapon + 1                weapon + 1
No. Appearing:                 -----------------           2-8 (6-36)      -----------------

Save As:                   Fighter: 1                   Fighter: 1         Fighter: 2                  Fighter: 1

Morale:                    10                                7                        12                                8

Treasure Type:     D                                D                        D                                 D

Alignment:             Chaotic                      Lawful              Lawful                        Neutral     

Dino-sapiens are a varied race of intelligent humanoid reptiles with many characteristics common to dinosaurs.  Dino-sapiens are tribal, living in small, extended family groups.  Because of their reptilian strength, all dino-sapiens gain a bonus of + 1 on damage rolls.

The Toltecs are meat-eaters and aggressive, with a reputation for cruelty and savagery.

The Mayasaurs eat plants and are by far the friendliest of the dino-sapien species.  Mayasaurs enjoy swimming and are quite good at it.  A Mayasaur’s tail sweep inflicts no damage but requires everyone in melee range to save against Dragon Breath or be knocked prone.  Mayasaurs can be found in larger villages living with Olmecosaurs.

The Olmecosaurs are also plant-eaters but tend to be more assertive than their Mayasaurian cousins, with whom they often live.

Incasaurs eat meat but are not as aggressive as the Toltecosaurs.  Incasaurs can fly under their own power and can hunt while doing so.

Okay, stat blocks are done.  Good work everybody!  Now let’s take a look at the huntsman class in light of this new information.  Hmm, Hit Dice and Armor Class are the two points at which we have issues.  I can increase the Hit Dice for the dino-sapiens but that’ll mean a big bump in current XP requirements.  Also, looks like our dino-sapien hunters may be foregoing any non-magical armor as their natural Armor Classes are equal to or better than most leather armor!

Okay, finally, back to the original point of this post; I present:

The Dino-Sapien Class

Dino-sapiens are a varied species of intelligent humanoid reptiles with many characteristics common to dinosaurs.  They live primitively because their civilization is nearing the end of its decline, though the ruins of their former greatness dot the verdant landside.  Like human Huntsmen, the dino-sapiens are prized for their wilderness survival skills and the additional combat power of their animal companions.  Dino-sapiens are often hired out as local guides or even porters for their familiarity with the wilderness.  Players must specify which particular race of Dino-sapien their character is from and gain that race’s specific natural attack for d6 damage plus any Strength bonuses.

The prime requisites for a dino-sapien character are Strength and Intelligence.  If a dino-sapien has scores of 13 or better in both Strength and Constitution, the character will gain a 5% bonus to earned experience.  If the dino-sapien's Strength is 13 or better and his or her Intelligence is 16 or better, the character will earn a 10% bonus on earned experience.

RESTRICTIONS: Dino-sapiens use eight-sided dice (d8) to determine their hit points. They may wear nothing more protective than leather armor, and may not use a shield. They may, however, use any type of weapon.  A dino-sapien’s combat ability progresses as a Cleric.  A dino-sapien character must have a minimum Intelligence score of 9.  Dino-sapiens make their saving throws as a Thief of equivalent level.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: If a dino-sapien surprises a target, usually by making a successful Move Silently or Hide in Terrain roll, he gains a +4 bonus to hit and inflicts double damage with any ranged weapon during the surprise round.  At 3rd level huntsmen may tame and train an animal companion who will fight for and beside them.  Only normal or giant animals can be tamed and the animal’s hit dice cannot be greater than the dino-sapien’s level.  A dino-sapien's skills includes learning how to plan ambushes and set snares, survive in specific environments, move silently in natural settings, hide in terrain, read tracks, remove snares, pitfalls and other natural traps and spot ambushes, and how to hear noises in the wild better than other humans.  As a Dino-sapien progresses in level, he or she becomes more proficient in these wilderness skills.  Use the same table as huntsmen for determining a Dino-sapien's success in each category (depending on his or her level of experience). 


A Dino-sapien may only advance up to 9th level (Master Dino-Huntsman). However, this is balanced by the dino-sapien's special abilities, especially their combination of strong natural and regular weapon attacks, natural armor class, animal companion and wilderness skills.  Dino-sapiens may still found a lodge, which might well become the center of a new village!


 Master Dino-Huntsman

Just to show how out off-base I was with my dino-NPCs only plan, while I was writing this post one of my other players got in touch with me and when I told him about the contents of this post he was all over me saying he’d assumed that the dino-sapiens would be a player character option from the moment he read the first post and what the heck was I thinkin’ thinking otherwise!

Regretfully, I can see it now, an all dino PC group bent on fighting the incursion of the humans and demi-humans into their tribal lands and not at all in favor of desecrating the final resting places of their ancient ancestors!

Not at all the D&D campaign I was setting out to make…