Saturday, March 21, 2009

Artesia and Half-ogres

Can't sleep. So a little tea, a little fudge, and a little inspiration, and we have a blog post.

First, I should have been reading Mark Smylie's “Artesia” years ago. A healthy helping of Greek myth and John Keegan's The Face of Battle (a book I cannot recommend highly enough for anyone interested in military history) sprinkled liberally with Joseph Campbell and the gorgeous world building of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel novels make for a mighty fine tale. Yeah, it's got a pinch of “Women = Good; Man = Bad” in it, but so far nothing quite as obnoxious as other stuff I've read.

And that prods me to make a hierodule class for my Labyrinth Lord game. But I'm not quite up to the creative challenge tonight, in my sleep-addled state. However, Mike D. recently posted his version of a half-ogre class for Swords & Wizardry. I could just adopt his and drop it in as-is, but I'd rather take my own whack at it, especially since I think some of my hacks to the Labyrinth Lord rules will work very well for something like this.

I've long had a fondness for half-ogres. I really can't say why. I ran one in a 2e game a few years back. The most important lesson I think we took away from that game was, never assist a half-ogre engaged in magical research.

It is said that Tiamat favors the orcs and their kin the ogres more than almost all of her children, save the dragons. Whether or not this is true, they certainly rank among the most numerous of her offspring. Both races are so fecund it is said that they can successfully mate with nearly every mammalian humanoid species. Whatever the species of the mother, such children almost always favor their orcish or ogreish parent in looks and demeanor.

Half-ogres grow quickly to massive proportions. Adults range in height from 6 to 8 feet tall weigh in around 300 pounds. They tend to be temperamental, sadistic, and aggressive. Most assume they are slow-witted, but many possess a sly, bestial cunning that makes them dangerous foes.

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

RESTRICTIONS: Half-ogres role six-sided dice to determine their hit points. However, do note that a first level half-ogre rolls 2d6 for starting hit points. (And in my game, that means a half-ogre's hit points at first level are 12 plus any Constitution bonus.) Half-ogres my use any shield and any armour. However, this armour costs 150% of the normal prices due to the half-ogre's massive size. They may wield any weapon. Any normal-sized weapon that usually requires two hands can be wielded by a half-ogre in just one, and they still do 2d4 damage. In addition, massive weapons that require even a half-ogre to use both hands can be fashioned. These cost 150% the price of normal-sized weapons of the same type, may not be fashioned from bronze, and do 2d6 damage. Most normal mounts are not strong enough to carry a half-ogre character very far, if at all. A character must have a Strength of 11 or better to be a half-ogre.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Half-ogres have infravision and can see 60 feet in the dark. The use the same saving throws as dwarves. They may eat almost anything that isn't outright poisonous without ill effect, no matter how spoiled, moldy, or rotten. If a half-ogre slays a foe, and there is another foe also actively attacking the half-ogre, the half-ogre player gets an immediate attack on this second foe. Rinse and repeat until the half-ogre fails to slay or runs out of foes.


Natalie said...

Yum. Fudge.

You planning on adding new classes to the game continuously, as it strikes you fancy? I've never had a DM do that before, but it's kind of cool.

trollsmyth said...

The fudge is excellent. My mother has this wonderful habit of bringing some every time she visits. Ain't moms great?

You planning on adding new classes to the game continuously, as it strikes you fancy?

Plan? You think there's a plan?!? ;)

Seriously, I didn't plan to, but it's so much fun to make them I'm fairly sure it will happen again. I have this itch to make a hierodule class as a sort of cleric of Tiamat whose special abilities center around influencing morale. But I'm not sure I want them to use the same spell list as the clerics of the gods, and I really don't want to craft a new spell list from whole cloth. I suppose I could dip into the AD&D lists again, but...

And normally, I wouldn't do this. But the system is so simple, and the classes so basic, that it's an easy thing to do. If we were playing even 1e, I probably wouldn't indulge like this. But back in the day, just about every issue of Dragon included a new class or two, though most of those were meant for use only as NPCs. Houserules, new classes, and new races are all part of the old school experience.

And in case you haven't guessed yet, a lot of the campaign is being built this way. I have vague ideas about the world's geography, but you haven't seen a map of it because I haven't drawn it yet. If y'all decide you want to head back north to explore the more civilized lands or push the tottering lizard folk empire into the dustbin of history, we can do that and I'll make that map. If you decide never to leave the island you're on, that's cool too, as there's lots of room to adventure there. Since you've expressed some interest in the anthropological aspects of the game, I'm more than happy to indulge my interest in that sort of thing. If someone decides their character is going to express themselves through elvish fashion, we can add a more detailed sartorial element to the game.

To make an already too long story short, if there's something y'all or your characters are interested in, let me know. I can't guarantee I'll toss anything in (I do prefer not to threaten the verisimilitude too much), but one of the joys of old school games is their flexibility. Yes, I have some ideas for future adventures, for mysteries for you to stumble over and explore, and for villains who even now may be plotting against you. But its your game too, and if you decide you're not interested in any of that, the world rolls on, with our without your active involvement.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. Like you, I've always been a fan of the half-ogre and I love the fact that others use them in their games as well. Any plans to add the half-orc as well?

trollsmyth said...

Thanks, tim. As I told Oddysey, no real plans. Oddysey's character has run into a half-orc, so I've laid the groundwork for such a class, but I've not had any real bolts of inspiration as to what I can do to make them really pop off the page. I like the half-ogre because he conjures up images of the trolls from the LotR movies, a massive, armoured brute who wades into mobs of smaller foes, mowing them down like a farmer scything wheat. I don't have the same sort of cool image to work with on the half-orc yet. And I don't want to fall back on the stoic, misunderstood warrior (aka Worf from "The Next Generation") cliche.