December 29, 2012

Custom Class: Naked Mole Ratling

The first new class I've made for my Death to Humans! campaign.  I'm using race as class in my heavily house-ruled Franken-clone, but to each their own.  As always, feel free to use or improve upon my ideas for your own games.

Naked Mole Ratling
Requirements:  Comeliness 5 or less
Prime Requisite:  Constitution
Hit Dice:  d6
Max Level:  12th
Hit Progression:  Fighter
Saves as:  Dwarf/Halfling
Armor Allowed:  Any
Weapon Restrictions:  None
Magic Item Restrictions:  No wands, cleric scrolls, or magic-user scrolls
Racial Abilities:  Tremorsense 60' and Heightened Smell 

*Tremorsense:  Automatically detects any footsteps or burrowing within 60'.  This can detect invisible creatures, but not thieves who succeed in moving silently.  A slowly slithering snake might go unnoticed, but a small hopping frog would not.  Naked mole ratlings detect these vibrations with the whiskers sprouting here and there from all over their body, but usually it is their bare feet or tail which is touching the ground.  These sensitive hairs make wearing clothing and armor uncomfortable, but they can become acclimated over time.

*Heightened Smell:  Can sniff into passages or under doors to get a whiff of what lies beyond.  Roll as a thief of the same level using the Hear Noise skill.  This may also detect strong emotions and/or the stench of evil, at the DM's discretion.  A strong overpowering scent can mask more subtle odors.

Society and Culture
Naked mole ratlings are almost always considered repulsive and disgusting by other sentient species.  A few caring people will do their best to be accommodating and accepting of these "poor unfortunates" and tell others that "underneath it all they really do have a great personality", but even these gentle souls find it difficult to eat a meal with a naked mole ratling sitting next to them.  It isn't only their wrinkled visage that hinders social interactions, but also the rampant rumors of incest (mostly false) and stories of daily baths in their communal cesspits (mostly true).

Naked mole ratlings typically live in large underground colonies dominated by a single reproductive queen.  These colonies are rather similar to some insect colonies, such as ants and bees.  Each queen can choose to rule her colony/family a bit differently, but most will conform to normal standards presented below.

Queens are well fed, rarely moving from the raised platform deep in the center of the colony.  Below the queen is the communal cesspit where others of the colony bathe daily in order to cover themselves with the scent of the queen.  Within their dark tunnels it is this scent that helps them to determine friend from foe.

The queen's carnal needs are tended to by her harem of males.  The males are typically uneducated, lazy, hedonists.  Their only other responsibility is to feed and care for of all the queen's babies for the first few years of life.  In lean times males will occasionally eat one of the young.  Neglect and incompetence also takes a toll.  Almost half of the young survive to adolescence.  Adolescent males are typically sold to neighboring colonies as love slaves; a queen has little use for her own lazy sons.  Adolescent females are given over to the care of the sterile female soldiers for training and work duties.

The sterile female worker/soldiers are responsible for bringing food to the royal chambers and nursery, and for the defending and expanding the colonies tunnels.  These females are often referred to as amazons.  They are tough as nails and usually follow a rigid military hierarchy.  They are expected to show fanatical devotion to their "Great Mother", the queen.  As these females prove themselves by gathering resources and defending the colony, they are given higher rank and allowed greater autonomy.  Besides the males, only the highest ranking amazons are allowed to speak directly with the queen.  Most of the higher ranking females will train and command groups of lower ranking amazons, but a few will take it upon themselves to learn crafts and trade skills for the good of the colony.  Most colonies produce only primitive weapons and armor, but they are great scavengers and will make use of any arms they find.  Larger colonies may even have a blacksmith's forge in a well defended outpost upon the surface.

A few of the young amazons (1%) are reproductive females.  Usually these are quickly discovered and the queen will challenge these rivals to single combat, killing them before they can become a threat to her.  If the old mother is killed, then the young reproductive female will become the new queen.  Some few reproductive females are able to flee the colony to take their chances up in the outside world.  These "Amazon Queens" can start a colony from scratch (once they acquire a male), or can take control of any existing colony by defeating it's queen mother.

Rival colonies and their queens are always a threat, but without neighboring colonies there would be no source of new young males... except for their own sons.  Often there will be a cluster of colonies in the same region who are constantly feuding over bits of land and food, but also trading males and other resources.  The established queens will usually stop short of killing each other, preferring instead to demand tribute from weaker colonies.  Rogue upstart queens are afforded no such courtesy, unless the males they'll produce are a much needed commodity.

In the border regions between two colonies one will sometimes find one of the famous "Mud Pits of Love".  The mud collected at these sites fetch a high price in human (and other) communities because it is said to remove wrinkles, restore youth, and cure impotence.  Naked mole ratlings know their value and guard these sites viciously.  The mud is sometimes collected for trade with outsiders, but they know enough to trade it sparingly in order to drive up the price.  Some mad hermits claim to have seen naked mole ratling males and amazons from different colonies come together on certain nights to bathe in these mud pits, wash off the scent of their colony, and have huge orgies in the mud.  Any naked mole ratling who hears such rumors will become angry and offended, demand that such things are never repeated, and then quickly change the subject. 

I made the xp chart by using my (overly?) intricate Custom Classes for B/X guidelines.

Naked Mole Ratling
100 Base
70   Hit Dice: d6
70   Hit Table: Fighter (+2hp after L9)
25   Max Level: 12th
55   Dwarf/Halfling Saves
60   Armor: Any
90   Weapons: Any
30   Magic: no wands, no spell scrolls

15   Sensitive to Vibrations 
(can detect footsteps/burrowing within 60')
20   Heightened Smell (can smell the emotions of those nearby)
0      Immune to pain from hot peppers and acid (but take damage as normal)
Total = 535% (of standard base xp)

Level 1 --------------- 0
Level 2 ---------  2140
Level 3 ---------  4280
Level 4 --------   8560
Level 5 --------  17120
Level 6 -------  34240
Level 7 -------  68480
Level 8 -----  136960
Level 9 -----  273920 

_____ Level 10+ _____
2hp/Level = +120,000 each

Level 10 ---- 393920
Level 11 ---- 513920

Level 12 ---- 633920

December 15, 2012

Death to Humans!

I've started running a new campaign designed especially for my wife.  She's always had an interest in playing, but usually declines my invitations to play when other people are involved.  She's always been a bit shy, and I suspect that she doesn't want to appear silly while playing pretend with other adults watching.

Running solo adventures is not my favorite (I prefer groups of around five players), but at least I get to play some D&D with my special lady.  Who knows, she might even get comfortable enough with it that she'll want other people to join in the fun.

Our first session did not go well.  It was something of a fiasco honestly, as I was totally unprepared to accommodate her style of play.  I'm used to characters who are greedy murder-hobos descending into the mythic underworld to kill monsters and loot their treasures.  This time it was very different.  She's not motivated by treasure, at least not enough to risk entering a dungeon.  She doesn't want to attack any wild animals, she seems to prefer trying to cuddle them as they try to eat her.  When her NPC henchmen attacked the creature biting her, she turned her blade on her allies for harming the poor misunderstood beast.  Legendary and magical creatures are even more precious to her.  For a moment I became very irritated with her for playing the game wrong, but that quickly turned to shame as I realized that it was my responsibility to adapt to her playstyle and make the game fun for her.

I stopped the session mid-combat by saying "I'm sorry.  This sucks and it's my fault.  Can we try again once I put together something new?".  She agreed and we talked for bit about what kinds of things her character might like to do.  I asked quite a few questions, but the responses were mostly "I dunno" and "whatever you think would be fun".  Not real informative.  Luckily though, this is my wife, and I already know enough about her to make informed design decisions.  So then I went back to the drawing board and tried to design a campaign that we both would love to play.

It seems so obvious to me now.  I was trying to force her to fight on the wrong side.  Humans are definitely her prey of choice.  I toyed with the idea of having her play a druid who protects the wilderness from hunters and the slow creep of civilization, but then I thought "No, she should play as a monster".  And so, the Death to Humans! campaign was born.

The first order of business was to roll up a monster character.  I had her roll 3d6 for each of the seven ability scores (Comeliness being the seventh).  No rerolls or moving points.  The default monster race is Andorian (medieval technology, and at war with humans).  There are many other monster species to choose from, but all of the others have ability score requirements.  These requirements are not ability score minimums, but rather ability score maximums.  Rolling low ability scores opens up new choices.  Here's the chart we're currently working with.

Artwork by Leonard O'Grady

No Requirements - Andorian
8 or less............. 5 or less ...................3
Str  | Halfling -------- Frogling ------------ Ghost
Int  | Pakuni ------------ Sleestak ------------ Troll Runt
Wis | Gnome --------------- Satyr ----- Psychic Jester Psycho
Dex | Dwarf ------------ Serpentaur ----------- Zombie
Con | Elf ------------------- Muppet ------------ Robogolem
Cha | Tiefling ---------- The Cloven ------------- Haniver
Com | Goblin ----- Naked Mole Ratling ------- Mutant

So, for example; rolling a bunch of 9's, a Wisdom 5, and Constitution 8 would allow you to choose from Andorian, Gnome, Satyr, and Elf.

The wife rolled some decent ability scores, but there was a Dexterity 8 and a Comeliness 5 in there.  Bless her heart, she willingly chose to play a Naked Mole Ratling.  Mechanically I'm using race as class, but the character sheet I gave her had separate spaces for race and class, so when she asked I told her that Naked Mole Ratling was her race and Amazon Queen was her class.  She seems quite pleased at that.  We're already having more fun than last time.

The setting is going to be a Land of the Lost/Middle Earth mash-up.  Honestly that's probably an accurate description of most of my D&D settings.  I am taking something from the Land of the Lost TV show that I've never tried before...  Exiting one side of the map will bring you to the opposite side.  Travel in a straight line and you'll eventually (5-8 days later) end up back where you started.  Conveniently, my world map fits on a single page (20x32 hexes).
I hope she likes it.