Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Monster: Merochi


AC: 6 (+4 if using ascending AC) for males, 8 (+2) for females
Hit Dice: 3
Move: 120’
Attacks: 1
Damage: by weapon type, or 1-3 for claws and 1d6 for bite
Number Appearing: special
Save As: Fighter 3 or as a witch, when applicable
Morale: special
Treasure Type: A
Alignment: Neutral

Merochi are lion-like humanoids who inhabit tropical and sub-tropical plains and jungles, though some prides have been known to stake claim to lands in more temperate zones. The males stand near 7’ tall with the females rarely more than half-a-foot shorter.

The leonine merochi lay claim to broad territories far beyond what would normally be expected of their limited numbers. This is largely due to the structure of their civilization. With an economy based heavily on hunting, and only supplemented by agriculture and herds, the merochi require large territories which are jealously guarded. Poaching on merochi territory carries the most severe penalties, especially if those poachers are male.

Gender roles are strictly observed among the merochi. The principal, some say singular, duty of the males is warfare. There are only three acceptable professions for males: warriors, sorcerers, and the craftsmen who make weapons and armor. They'll spend the majority of their time training, caring for the youngest cubs, teaching the next generation of males, and overseeing the slaves that care for their fields and herds. When necessary, they also spend a considerable amount of time patrolling the borders of the territories claimed by their pride.

The duties of the female are to hunt and bear young. Indeed, they are even expected to do both at once; until the final stages of her pregnancy, females continue to bring in their share of the meat. Females may also be priestesses or witches, overseeing and caring for those spots within their territory deemed sacred.

This is probably due in large part to the fact that only females may own land. The males patrol and defend it, but it actually belongs to the females of the pride. Females born into a pride tend to stay with the pride their entire lives, and so inherit their land from their mothers and bequeath it to their daughters. Hunting grounds, fields, water, and the structures built upon the land remain the property of the pride, for as many generations as the pride lasts. The only thing a male may bequeath to his sons, and very few do even this much, is his weapons.

Young males who survive the arduous rites of passage to adulthood are ceremonially ejected from the pride. Those who would not live as landless brigands or mercenaries in distant lands must claim a pride for their own. The traditional method for doing this is to drive or slay current males of an existing pride. Warfare among the merochi is in the heroic style. The only ranged weapon allowed is the spear and the javelin. Indeed, so strict is the adherence to gender roles, the male will not touch bows, arrows or slings, since those are traditionally weapons of the females. Likewise, the female will not touch a shield or a sword as those are strictly weapons of war. The favored weapon of the merochi warrior is the spear. They usually also carry a shield, and will often wear breastplates of hide sometimes reinforced with metal. Ambushes and subterfuge are allowed, as are potions and spells to increase the vigor and strength of a warrior, but poison is forbidden. Among wealthier warriors, chariots are common, but only to transport the warrior to the battle. Once he has arrived, the warrior dismounts and fights on foot.

Poaching in the pride’s territory is seen as a challenge to their control of it. It is also seen as a direct challenge to the males whose duty it is to protect these territories. For their part, females rarely involve themselves beyond tracking poachers and pointing them out to the males. Should the males in the pride be slain the females will engage in the traditional three-day period of mourning, after which they will engage in a traditional seven-day period of celebration and revelry, welcoming the victors as the new males of the pride. Even though they may not be able to mate successfully with victorious males who are not of their race, they will still expect such males to take up the traditional duties, since "furless" protectors are better than none at all. Males who refuse will be viciously hunted by the females, and if caught, will be butchered and their meat spoiled and ruined, then scattered along the edge of their border as a warning to others.

Merochi align themselves into loose nations based around large ceremonial sites. These religious complexes are dominated by ziggurats and pyramids and include broad courtyards, arenas for sporting events, granaries and storehouses, and long, low dwellings. Most of these latter remain empty for most of the year, but fill up during important religious festivals. Males are forbidden to linger longer than a week in these places; those who remain longer will have their manes shorn, and may even be castrated or have their thumbs cut off.
Merochi huntresses encountered in the wild will almost certainly be hunting. Roll a d6 to see how many are encountered; if a 6 is rolled, roll the d6 one more time and add the two rolls together to see how many are encountered. A group of eight or more will include two young huntresses recently elevated to adulthood who have but two hit dice. A group of ten or more will include one witch between 3rd and 6th level. There is a 1-in-20 chance that any group of huntresses encountered will include an apprentice witch (2nd level), though there will never be more than one any group of huntresses encountered.

Huntresses hunting for game have a morale of 6 when facing organized opponents. However, they will never flee when defending their homes and sacred sites, and all fight as if one hit die higher when defending their young.

Merochi males on patrol are encountered in small groups of one or two, but will be accompanied by a slave shieldbearer (who does not fight) 25% of the time. There’s a 1-in-10 chance that the merochi will be mounted on chariots, in which case the chance of a slave to drive the chariot is 75%. Merochi warriors have a morale of 8 which rises to 10 if their females are in sight.

A merochi warband includes 2-8 individuals. In groups larger than four, half of them will have 1-2 healing potions, and two will possess potions that provide +2 on attack and damage rolls due to strength enhancement.

Art by Wilhelm Kuhnert and Johann Jakob Frey.


migellito said...

Very cool! I always like the 'Aslan' in Traveller, though I insisted on changing the name of their species. The cultural detail is extremely well done.

One question.. are they bipedal or centaurian?

trollsmyth said...

I see them as bipedal, primarily because I really like the wemic and will probably have both in my games.

Oddysey said...

What do they hunt? Or would that be campaign-dependent?

trollsmyth said...

Oddysey: It's largely going to be campaign specific, but I largely see them hunting African herd animals: gazelle, wildebeest, zebra (though I could see them domesticating zebra as well to pull their chariots), rhinoceros, hippopotamus, crocodile, elephant, and monkeys.

I don't think the eat other sentients (who are more useful as slaves most of the time).