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The Essence of Small Towns in Dungeons and Dragons | DnD Corner

A small town differs from a village not only in size, but also in feel and scope. Whereas a village will have but a few houses and perhaps an inn or one shop or irregular market, a small town will have greater organization.
Some of the houses will at least look permanent. There will probably be at least three or four places of business. Some degree of trade will have been established with both larger and smaller towns, cities and villages in the area.
For the designer this means a couple of things. First it means that there will be more NPC’s. This also means that the players will have more options. There will also be more buildings. This could mean that you have to go through a ton more work than you would in order to design a village, but in truth you don’t have to do that much more work.
In order to avoid going through a lot of work that is never used, plan the approach and exit of the PC’s. Are they going to be doing a lot of clue hunting or adventuring in the town? If not, why not? What is going to motivate them to move on? If they are going to stay, why? Where will the action take place?
via The Essence of Small Towns in Dungeons and Dragons | DnD Corner.

DDO: Stormreach Chronicle is Live

Welcome to the Chronicle - a weekly look at what's happening around the forums! Read on for tips, community spotlights, Turbine info, and more!
Letter from the Editors
"People have been very creative this week! From awesome videos to festive cookies, we're very pleased to see so many wonderful creations by our DDO players. Starting with next week's Chronicle, we'll be featuring these great player efforts in a new segment called "Community Spotlight". Additionally, the Chronicle will be getting a face lift, so get ready for a new look for the new year!"
- The DDO Community Team
Guild Hall
The following guilds are looking for more adventurers. Learn more about them here!
Shriners Anonymous, of the Argonnessen server
Compendium Page:
"Small guild with many oldstyle D&D players from the "Chainmail" era of D&D. Low-drama, fun-loving, mature, cooperative gaming. Shriners Anonymous is not particularly end-game or raid-oriented (well, except for a couple of us. They are allied with The Order of the Silver Dragons)."
Lifetakers and Heartbreakers, of the Ghallanda server
Compendium Page:
"Fun: We like getting experience points and quality loot as much as the next player, but the enjoyment of playing the game and the camaraderie it brings remain our primary goals.
Reality: We know that real life comes first. If your spouse/kids need you, work calls or you need to drop off in the middle of an adventure due to a real-life crisis, we understand. We'll wait if necessary. We have grown to be such a close-knit group of friends that we'll have plenty to talk about in the meantime... "
Fallen Heroes, of the Khyber server
Compendium Page:
"The heroes are a guild of young yet mature players. Born on the server Reidra, it comprises a mix of frequent/casual seasoned veterans and new gamers with it's primary role of people come first and a focus on fun for all. "
Inmates of Stormreach, of the Sarlona server
Recruitment Thread:
"we're not the uberist of the uber, but when it comes to having fun, i think we're among the top tier we are the lightning 2's of the fun crowd.
so, if you are looking for just a fun loving guild, or just something new to try out... feel free to come on over, or bring an alt in to test the waters..."
The Order of the Sword and Rose, of the Thelanis server
Compendium Page:
"A guild for mature roleplaying gamers and storytellers!"
Over 500 guilds have pages available in the Compendium! Read more about guilds in the Compendium by clicking here!
Looking for a guild? Looking for recruits? Be sure to visit the Guild Matchup forum!
Have a guild you want featured? Send Tolero and Tarrant a PM with a short description of your guild and a link to your recruitment thread or Compendium page!

Game On - How the fringe went mainstream

By Jonathan 'Killstring' Herzberger

"Sorry, our Princess is in another castle." It was in the fall of 1985 that those iconic words first blazed across television screens around the world. After a surge of popularity in the 80's, video games seemed primed to stand beside the Pet Rock, Pogs and (with any luck) Disney's singer-actors as forgotten fads.
But despite the millions of unsold Atari cartridges buried in the Nevada desert, the bankruptcy of virtually (unfortunate pun not intended) every video game company at the time, and the advent of Personal Computers, Nintendo's N.E.S. Console rekindled the embers of the industry, and the rest is history.
Now, some 24 years later, even as gaming becomes a more prevalent part of our culture, many stereotypes remain. Myths of The Gamer still persist - he is male, socially underdeveloped, unemployed, possessed of poor hygiene, and likely lives in his parent's basement. But are these preconceptions based on facts, or are these stereotypes the lingering ghosts of misconceptions long since unproven?
To find out, we conducted interviews around the campus, speaking to Professors and students alike - and some of the answers may surprise you. When asked, Professor Paul Skalski said, "The 'official' reason I game now is because it's part of my job, as a video game scholar... But in truth, I also game because it's fun. I grew up with games and have been a huge fan my whole life. I don't know what I'd do or where I'd be with(out) video games... I'm proud to be a gamer."
Graduate student Pete Lindmark agrees, saying that he "plays to relieve stress," even after studying video games for work on his thesis.
And according to Jamie, a sophomore here at CSU, the perception of gamers being holed up in their rooms, cloistered from society simply isn't true. "(Gaming is) social," she said. "Even a when playing a single player game I compare how I'm doing with friends or talk about how good or bad a game is. Before gaming, I didn't really fit into a social group, and after I started I found people I was comfortable with."
The various facets of gaming, whether they be digital, or more traditional board or improv-based, have long been victims of unfair characterizations, but Skalski thinks that is changing.
"There are some stereotypes associated with players of online games like World of Warcraft that are kind of amusing," says Skalski, "but even those gamers shouldn't be embarrassed. We live in a tech-fueled society and dorks, nerds, and geeks are taking over!"
And according to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the 12-17 age bracket seems to gel with Prof. Skalski's forecast, with 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls actively gaming. Their tastes run the gamut, with Activision's wildly successful Guitar Hero being the most popular, closely followed by Halo 3, and the various iterations of Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution.
Roughly two-thirds play with family or friends, and about 25 percent socialize online. Quite frankly, the next generation looks to be saturated with gamers of all stripes. But in regards to the populations as a whole, a similar study by NPD found that over 63 percent of the United States population plays video games. Sixty- Three Percent. That's a healthy majority. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg. As mentioned earlier, Of course, all this discourse is ignoring one of the more enduring facets of Gamer Culture - that is to say, that the term has enveloped 'hobby' gamers since long before Mario took that first fateful jump.
While many assume that 'pen and paper' role playing games (RPG's for short) began in the 1970's with Dungeons and Dragons, tabletop gaming can trace its roots back as far as 1824, where Otto Von Bismark's General Staff would play Kriegsspiel - a game which introduced conventions such as red and blue representing different armies, complex mathematical rules for movement and combat, adjudication of said rules by independent umpires, and the use of dice to simulate randomizing factors. 184 years later, the innovations of Kriegsspiel persist.
However, strategy gaming would not be forever the domain of armies and the independently wealthy. Like so many contributions to 'geek' culture, it would take a Science Fiction author - noted pacifist H.G. Wells - to move the concept of wargames into the commercial market, with the publishing of Little Wars: A Game for Boys from Twelve Years to One Hundred and Fifty and for that More Intelligent Sort of Girl Who Likes Games and Books.
Despite the fact that this is essentially the greatest title ever, the name was truncated to the much tidier moniker Little Wars. Within its pages, Wells argues for gaming- as-catharsis: "Here is a homeopathic remedy for the imaginative strategist. Here is the premeditation, the thrill, the strain of accumulating victory or disaster - and no smashed bodies, no shattered fine buildings nor devastated country sides, no petty cruelties ...that we who are old enough to remember a real modern war know to be the reality of belligerence."
However, classical Gaming - if such a phrase could be coined - was by no means confined to the table. In a sense, the roots of 'roleplaying' date back to 16th century Commedia dell'arte - an energetic brand of Theatre with predetermined characters, and 'set pieces', but was otherwise improvised. 19th century parlour games, Mock trials, murder mystery dinner Theatre, and Viola Spolin's Theatre Games all carry the same traits of predetermined characters, a set of rules, and improvised interactions. Even the legendary comedian Harpo Marx talked about live-action gaming during the 1920's in his autobiography, Harpo Speaks! - and while the subculture of live-action role playing games or LARP's is a topic that reaches far beyond the scope of this article, students have no shortage of commentary on both the hobby, and social element of the Role playing subculture.
Jessica - a biology major in her junior year at CSU, games in large part due to this social aspect. "(Gaming's) pretty much the only social experience I have. I am trying to prepare for Medical School, I study all the time, and sometimes I just need a break, go and pretend I'm someone else for a while... but in all honesty, the friends I've made gaming are the nicest people I have ever met. I am not embarrassed to say I am a gamer." CSU Art professor Peter Wells echoes the sentiment.
"Think of it like softball -" he said, granting an interview in the middle of that most hallowed post-game ritual, breakfast in a 24-hour diner. "You play softball, or go to a LARP - that's about 40 people, most of whom you might not know otherwise. You've got things in common - Softball or Gaming as the case may be, and you're going to meet people who share other interestsl, sporty things in one case, nerdy things in another. It's social networking - only difference is nobody gets hurt LARPing, and the government will provide you with a place to play softball."
But large gatherings of adults in costumes ranging from Mad Max to Victorian waistcoats isn't the sort of thing one can do without a building. Many groups have solved this problem by renting halls at party centers, but for the average college student, this can get expensive quickly. In response to this situation, Wells sought an unorthodox solution, and in 2003, with cooperation from a few other Cleveland area Gamers, founded Undead Ltd, a partnership of Role-players turned real estate investors. Purchasing a set of three properties in the West 25th neighborhood, the group proceeded to renovate and rent out two of them. The third property, however was in complete disrepair.
"We got the property stupidly cheap," says Wells, "because nobody wanted to touch that house - it was a wreck." Nevertheless, gamers from all around the Greater Cleveland area embraced Wells' vision, and beginning in the summer - when the unfinished walls, and drafty roof posed less of a problem, groups began hosting their games at the house, asking for donations of $2 to go towards renovations. Today, the so-called "Vega House" stands as the only building of its kind in the entire world - a site dedicated exclusively to gaming, and financed entirely by donation. "If this was going to happen anywhere in the world," said Wells, "it was going to be Cleveland."
As studies suggest, and our interviewees echoed, many gamers play as a form of stress relief. And while many have been quick to blame crimes that are difficult to understand on a subculture that has proved just as elusive, in his book Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games As Social Worlds, Sociologist Gary Fine finds that Suicide, violent crimes, and many of the other negative behaviors attributed to gaming are not caused by fighting imaginary goblins today, anymore than they were by listening to Elvis in the 50's. Fine found that Suicide is caused by depression and feelings of isolation - and social networks, the kind that gaming subculture can provide - are the best way to address and support these individuals. Like rock-n'-roll before it, the subculture of Gaming is migrating from a marginalized and often misunderstood cultural phenomenon, to an accepted and integral facet of modern life. So game on, my friends - in a very real sense, the world games with you.

Open Grave Brings Creepy Undead and Sexy Vampires To 4E

January 16th, 2009 by Ed Grabianowski
"The hillllllllllls are alive...with the sound of muuuuusic."

"The hillllllllllls are alive...with the sound of muuuuusic."

The long tradition of Dungeons & Dragons bestiaries continues with next week’s release of Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead. Surprise appearances by old favorites and new twists make this a great way to add some maggoty, rotting evil to your game world.

I’ve always loved these types of sourcebooks, whether it was the 3.5 Libris Mortis, the old van Richten’s guides, or two binders stuffed with Monstrous Compendium sheets. Open Grave doesn’t disappoint - it is a worthy addition to the Fourth Edition lineup. The book starts out with a healthy dose of fluff, explaining the difference between soulless undead, and undead with souls (something called “the animus” gives soulless undead their get-up-and-go). There’s a lengthy and thoroughly creepy chapter on undead anatomy. Did you ever wonder whether ghouls enjoy the taste when they devour flesh? Open Grave has the answer. The chapter has some interesting talk on the moral implications of slaying undead with souls - does some part of the formerly good being survive in that rotting shell?

That's so wrong.

That's so wrong.

The Dungeon master’s section takes up the bulk of the book, and it has lots of crunchy new rules. A host of new shambling, rotting, dripping, reeking creatures are waiting to gnaw upon your players. The Bonewretch Skeleton is singularly disturbing. Though only a level 4 creature, it’s…the animated skeleton of a child. Dude. There are some really cool ideas for undead encounters that don’t involve combat, such as using undead as traps or skill challenges. It’s a nice touch that should give creative DMs lots of new, diabolical ways to challenge PCs. Open Grave also has a small selection of boss-type high-level villains. I was happily surprised to find 4E stats for Strahd Von Zarovich, along with Vecna, Kyuss and a few demi-liches. Noice!

From the Victoria's Secret Boiled Leather Collection - lingerie that will stop an axe blow.

From the Victoria's Secret Boiled Leather Collection - lingerie that will stop an axe blow.

The book is more than just a DM’s toolbox, though. It presents undead lairs in a wide range of levels for players to explore (and loot). One intriguing section offers some long-term campaign arcs that allow undead critters to plague PCs (literally, in one case) throughout their careers. The political machinations of a suave vampire, the predations of a lich or an actual plague of undeath are great ideas for recurring villains and truly epic storytelling.

If your 4E campaign is lacking life, maybe it just needs more undead. There isn’t a problem in the world that a few dozen zombies can’t fix.

Wizards of the Coast returns to NYCC!

Jacob K. Javits Center, Manhattan

Are you a D&D fan? Stop by booth 1629 to see the latest offerings from Dungeons & Dragons.
Demos of the new RPG starter game will also be going on all weekend.
While you are in the booth, demo and then purchase a subscription to D&D Insider. New customers signing up on-site at the Wizards of the Coast booth will each receive a D&D backpack*! D&D Insider gives you instant access to exclusive content from the online magazines Dungeon and Dragon, previews of upcoming D&D Insider content and D&D products, as well as opportunities to experience new features, such as the Beta test of the new D&D Character Builder. Along with D&D Insider, preview the new D&DPlayer's Handbook 2 and D&D Miniatures Accessories.
Wizards of the Coast has a full schedule of gaming planned for New York Comic Con 2009. Stop by to participate in the Convention Delve and preview new character classes and races from D&D Player's Handbook 2 or enter the expanded 2009 D&D adventure content. Additional fees may apply for some events.
For those players only interested in playing D&D all weekend, New York Comic Con and Wizards have teamed up in 2009 to bring you a $15 3-day gaming badge that allows you entrance to the gaming area and the Javits Galleria**. For more information, visit

Dungeons & Dragons New York Comic Con Events

Friday, February 6
1 PM, D&D Convention Delve --Siege of Blood and Shadow: A terrible gloom has descended upon a town overrun with denizens of dark and evil, the streets awash with blood. You are the last hope for the remnants of the besieged townfolk. Do you have what it takes to be a hero, or will you be lost in blood and shadow? A D&D Delve for 3rd level characters -- get as far as you can in 45 minutes. Play as often as you like and earn prizes! Runs all weekend.
2 PM, D&D Convention Special --Beyond the Door: In a dark corner of the elemental chaos a strange, stone obelisk marks the location of a plain, iron trap door. No lock, ward, or curse guards this portal, yet none who have passed through it have returned to speak of what rests beyond. Some claim that the mortal corpse of Vecna, guarded by undead horrors beyond reckoning, rots away beyond it. Others whisper that the door leads to the black heart of the Chained God, the last physical shard of that dread being. The advice of the wisest sages has led you to this place. You seek the wand of Tzunk. Every sage agrees that the wand was last seen in the hands of Darvek Hahn, and Darvek was last seen passing through the door before you. Can you avoid whatever terrors have claimed so many lives? A 4-hour D&D adventure for 15th-level characters, written by Mike Mearls. Create your own character by downloading character creation rules on or play a pregenerated character provided.
7 PM Three-Dragon Ante Tournament -- Show you're the best of the best by outwitting your opponents in this fun card game! Top 2-3 players from each table advance to play at a final table. Compete for the final prize -- a big stack of Wizards products!
Saturday, February 7
10AM, D&D Convention Delve --Siege of Blood and Shadow
11 AM, D&D Convention Special --Beyond the Door
4 PM, 2009 D&D Product Preview and Q&A -- Learn what's in store for Dungeons & Dragons in 2009, including a summary of all the hot upcoming releases. In addition, ask your questions about current and upcoming D&D products after the preview presentation. A 2-hour presentation and seminar.
7 PM, D&D Mystery Dungeon Challenge -- What evils lurk in the dank corridors and sinister shadows? Come and play in a unique adventure created by DMs that have taken the Mystery Dungeon Challenge. Each DM has created their own dungeon using a set of guidelines we've provided, and they're here to show off their best 4th Edition adventures! A four- to six-hour 4th Edition adventure for 3rd-level characters. Create your own character by downloading character creation rules on or play a pregenerated character provided. If you're interested in creating an adventure for this event, go to for more information on how you can take the challenge!
Sunday, February 8
10 AM, D&D Convention Delve --Siege of Blood and Shadow
11 AM, D&D Convention Special --Beyond the Door
* Limit one per participant, while supplies last.
** The gaming badge will grant you 3-day admission to the Javits Galleria, the Galleria gaming area, and all external areas outside of the main Exhibit Hall. Additional fees for individual events may apply.

Alternative Spellcasting rules

I've started out with the Unearthed Arcana (UA) Spell Point System, but I've modified it for my games.

First, determine daily spells normally, including bonus spells. Then calculate the spell point allotment for 24 hours from this. Each slot is converted to spell points per the spell point cost table in UA (1st-level spells are worth 1 point, 2nd-level spells are worth 3 point, then 5, 7 and so on).

The daily spell point allotment isn't calculated per the UA method because that would leave many new classes unspecified.

UA specifies a separate per day allotment of 0-level spells. In 3.5, I've added the rule that you can also cast a 0-level spell from 1 spell point (so if you run out of 0-level spells, you can still cast them from spell points). In Pathfinder RPG, 0-level spells can be cast at will (as spell-like abilities, if I remember correctly), which applies since I've switched (mostly) to PRPG in campaigns I run. We may want to adopt this rule too. Or we might even want to adopt more of Pathfinder RPG, but that's another topic.

Spell points aren't recovered in one burst per day, instead they charge continuously. From the 24h allotment we calculate how many rounds elapse for 1 spell point to be recharged: (24*60*60/6)/(daily allotment) = 14400/(daily allotment)

To determine the number of spell points regained over a specific interval, we can calculate that similarly: (daily allotment)*(rounds of time)/14400

Obviously if the daily allotment of spell points reaches 14400, we calculate spell points regained per round instead. This probably won't happen until well into epic levels.

In my current campaign, due to complaints from the players, I've added that while resting (sleeping, trance, etc.) the rate is increased threefold, (the time to recharge a spell point is divided by 3) so that the full allotment is recharged in 8 hours, but this is so far untested.

Bonus slots that change their level (for example, a bonus slot at the highest spell level you can cast) result in changing spell point values, as opposed to the original version in UA, which specifies a fixed value.

Metamagic feats can be applied spontaneously and the spell point cost is calculated from the increased cost normally. Spontaneous spellcasters probably shouldn't have their casting time increased when using metamagic.

A summary of the rest of the rules from UA:

Spellcasters who prepare spells can prepare spells after 8 hours of resting. They can choose spells for spell points up to their daily limit. (Obviously, there's no point in choosing the same spell multiple times.) They can cast any of their prepared spells for spell points at any time. Spontaneous casters can cast any spell they know for spell points at any time.

Spells that deal damage of a number of dice depending on their caster level use the minimal caster level necessary to cast that spell for determining damage. Spending extra spell points increases the caster level for this purpose by 1 for each spell point added, up to the full caster level.

.: Mincer Lightbringer :.
.: addicted to perfection :.

Freshly Dug Up

Feast your eyes on the new D&D 4.0 book from Wizards of the Coast! Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead is a tremendous sourcebook filled with tons of fresh meat for your Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Now up on the shelf and ready for exhumation…

From the back of the book:

Whispered tales speak of an eldritch tome crafted by necromancers and filled with spine-chilling facts about a vile menagerie of undead horrors - unnatural things known to haunt the gloom-filled corners of the world and beyond. Bewars! THIS is that tome!

This supplement for the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game explores the origins, tactics, myths, and lairs of undead creatures. Along with encounters and hooks for your campaign, it presents a host of undead threats, including new varieties of ghouls, skeletons, vampires, wraiths, and zombies. It also introduces new kinds of undead and provides statistics for unique undead villains such as Acererak and Vecna.

Dragon Age

Ferelden. A dark and foreboding place, where death and violence lurks in every shadow. A troubled world, where even the brightest light can often find itself extinguished by the ever encroaching darkness.
Civilization has fought for many centuries to hold the shadows at bay, but even now the mighty walls of Ostagar are beginning to crumble against the onslaught of an ancient threat. The darkspawn have returned again to bring their taint to the land, and this time, their ancient adversary, the Grey Wardens, have been left neglected by a complacent world that felt they no longer needed them. The fate of the world hangs in the balance, as these mighty warriors again take their place on the front lines against the Blight. But powerful as they are, their numbers have dwindled, and the time is near that a champion needs to step forward from their ranks and lead them to victory. But will the success of this Grey Warden ensure a new, brighter future for Ferelden, or be the first bloody step into a more perilous future?



Representing the furthest point of encroachment by the ancient Tevinter Imperium into the barbarian lands of the southeast, the fortress of Ostagar was once one of the most important defensive Imperial holdings south of the Waking Sea. It stood at the edge of the Korcari Wilds and watched for any signs of invasion by the barbarians today known as the Chasind wilders. Straddling a narrow pass in the hills, the fortress needed to be by-passed in order for the WIlders to reach the fertile lowlands to the north and proved to be exceedingly difficult for the Wilders to attack due to its naturally defensible position. Like most Imperial holdings in the south, Ostagar was abandoned after Tevinter's collapse during the First Blight. It was successfully sacked by the Chasind wilders and then, as the Chasind threat dwindled following the creation of the modern Ferelden nation, fell to ruin completely.
It has remained unmanned for four centuries, though most of the walls still stand -- as does the tall Tower of Ishal, named after the great Archon that ordered its construction -- and Ostagar remains a testament to the magical power of the Imperium that created it.

The Blight

The Chantry teaches that it is the hubris of men that brought the darkspawn into our world. Mages sought to usurp Heaven, but were cast out, twisted by their own corruption, only to return as monsters--the first of the darkspawn. They plague the underground caverns and tunnels once inhabited by the dwarven kingdoms. When they discover one of the Old Gods, ancient dragons slumbering in the depths of the earth, it rises as an archdemon to lead the darkspawn as they spread like locusts across the surface lands, destroying all in their path: a Blight. It has been four centuries since the last Blight, but the darkspawn are amassing once again.

Grey Wardens

They are the most elite and feared of warriors, dedicated to the destruction of darkspawn in all human lands. The centuries of peace have left them all but forgotten. The Grey Wardens have kept watch through the ages, well aware that peace is fleeting, and that their enemy will never truly be defeated until the last of the Old Gods has been slain.

RPG Toolkit

The RPG Toolkit is a free, open source project delivering a simple, flexible and powerful tool for the creation of role-playing games on your personal computer.

The Toolkit has various easy to use tools that allow you to put together enemies, special moves and much more with a few clicks of the button.

With its own programming language, RPG Code, you can build unique and personalised game features that make your game stand out.

Toolkit Zone is the official home of the RPG Toolkit, a completely free and open source software that lets you create role-playing games on your PC. The website doesn't just play host to the software but also the warm and active community that uses it.


4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Character generator

I just had a new link submitted for and it was interesting enough to warrant a post. “Chaotic Shiny” has a web-based 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Character generator up and running. Here is a screenshot:

Chaotic Shiny Character Generator Screenshot

Chaotic Shiny Character Generator Screenshot (click for larger image)

It looks like a great tool to really crank out quick NPCs for 4e.

A Brief History of Orcus

A Scholarly Study of the First and Second Edition Canon

by Shane O’Connor

Orcus began his life as a mortal man, just like the rest of us. The details of his mortal life are unknown, save that he was bloated even then, and was some sort of spellcaster. Eventually, he died, as all mortals do. After his death, he passed on to the outer planes, becoming a loathsome larva, and then working his way up through the tanar’ric hierarchy


Winter in the Forest - Steal This Hook

Imposing trees on all sides, the sounds of wind rushing through the leaves, the driving snow in your face as you seek cover. This is harsh winter in the forest, a place for only the most hardy… or the most foolhardy, into which category usually fall adventurers. After the dangers of fire in our last column, we now introduce these quite different dilemmas to your players.

These hooks are very easy to fit into any world, so they are not written for a particular campaign setting. Just add them wherever you have a forest in need of additional challenge.

War of the Flyers

The PCs happen to be on the road, in a rural area with mountains visible in the distance and a great forest within a day’s ride (not too uncommon in most settings). In the distance they see figures swooping through the air over ranch lands; as they get closer, they see that these figures are some kind of humanoids vaguely resembling elves.

This is the scene they come upon:

The humanoids swoop overhead with great bows in their hands, while below cattle and farmers alike show great alarm. One young woman runs from the house with a bow and begins firing at the creatures. Their response is not to return fire, however, but to take aim at the cattle and begin firing. Interestingly, most of them use their feet to assist in firing the bows. A couple keep harrying the farmers, while one shouts in anger at his fellow creatures. Clearly he is trying to get them to stop, even as they down two more cows. Their communication is in a language you don’t know. Throughout the attack, they don’t directly attack the farmers, but use their flying skill to evade attacks and keep the farmers off balance.

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. These creatures are raptorans (see Races of the Wild for the 3E version). Treat them mechanically as winged elves (fly 6). They have been driven from their normal hunting grounds in the mountains in the distance by a green dragon. They are desperate, and this group has resorted to rustling.

2. The one who is opposing the attack is a ranger who would rather see his people return to their homeland. The only problem is getting rid of the dragon, and he would be interested in the PCs offering to help with that task.

3. There are groups of raptorans all over the area, since a whole tribe of the creatures was driven away by the dragon. Operating in small groups, some are responsible for attacks on other ranches and farms, while others are reported as helping villages and trying to make friends with the locals.

4. The raptorans live high up in the mountains, in caves above the tree line. The dragon has taken over their largest community cave complex, and claims the entire forest area around the old raptoran settlement. Some of the monstrous locals accept this new master and will hinder the PCs, while others rebel and could be potential allies.

5. On the other hand, if you like twists, the dragon could be a prisoner of the raptorans and an excuse for the raiding. In this case, the ranger is a renegade from his people and somehow allied with the dragon. Everyone is probably evil, so choosing which side to work for might become an interesting challenge.

6. The raptorans were in fact slain by the dragon, and raised as undead servants by a necromancer ally of the dragon. Now the undead flyers hunt for the dragon. The ranger who is opposing the hunt thinks it is still alive (and does not see the other raptorans for the undead that they are), and fights the control of the necromancer subconsciously. He may succumb once he has gotten the PCs interested, and his betrayal later could be a big complication.

War of the Upright Walkers

The refugees slip quietly from the woods and onto the road ahead of the adventurers. All told, there are more than 200 of the poor souls, most of whom look like they’ve been attacked by animals. The tale they tell is a sad one, too—and strange. They have been driven from their homes without even their possessions. All they have are the clothes on their backs.

More details follow. The people are from a village deep in the nearby woods. A couple of days ago, they were attacked by what they describe as a horde of woodland animals, creatures that normally leave them well alone: comprised of a pack of wolves, some bears, wolverines, and even deer. The creatures did not let up until everyone had either abandoned the village or been killed. It seemed no matter how many animals were killed, there were always more waves of creatures. Finally, after about fifty of their people were slain, and more than twice that many animals, they had to flee… and have been harassed all the way here.

A couple people in this group heard about an attack on an elven settlement about two days’ travel north of their village, but assumed it was raiders. They have no other information about what happened at that settlement.

Sefton, the village ranger, does not think the animal attack was natural at all (how could he possibly?), but did not have time to think much through it during their escape. He’d like to go back and investigate, but feels he has a duty to get the villagers to safety. He asks the PCs to investigate for him. As payment, he tells them that he left a magical device in his home and they are welcome to it if they find out what motivated the attack. (Treat this as a single parcel for a quest reward, choosing an item 4 levels above the PCs’ level).

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. A band of druids has vowed to rid the forests of all creatures that walk on two legs. They are controlling or allying with the animals to drive out other humans. The fact that the druids are also humanoids, and whether they will leave or become the masters of the whole forest to “protect it” is yet to be determined.

2. The animals are themselves being driven from their homes by a forest monster(s) of epic ferocity, such as a green dragon or an enclave of mad treants that don’t even want animals around.

3. The elven settlement mentioned above was likewise attacked and everyone in it slaughtered. Evidence can show claw and teeth marks, or the PCs could find faint evidence of weaponry. The PCs may even come upon this settlement first, adding to the mystery, before meeting the villagers.

4. The animals are mere biological tools used by elf-hating drow to drive the elves from the forest or slay them all. The attacks on human and other humanoid villages is accidental in that it is not planned. The drow don’t mind at all that these other humanoids are killed; it’s just not part of their original plan.

5. The druids behind the animal attacks are not druids, but rather werewolves or other lycanthropes. Or perhaps they are lycanthrope druids. They are driving everyone out because they are afraid of being hunted themselves and killed.

6. Whatever party is behind the attacks has a band of dryads, hags, satyrs, cyclopses, and even banshrae allied with it or enslaved to it, and these are used to assess the threat that the PCs possess.

7. For a really bizarre twist, you could have the spirit of the forest itself responsible for driving out anything that is parasitical on the trees and animals of the forest. The spirit of the forest does not assume that living in the forest does not make one “of the forest,” and has its own ideas about what belongs and what does not.

War of the Diggers

The adventurers are traveling through a wilderness area that has become the home for some hardy gnomes. It is near an old and dark forest, but the gnomes live in the plains outside the forest tending sheep and building villages. They hope to secure the wilderness right around themselves and create a safe town for their kind to live in.

As the PCs travel, they come across a field with a herd of sheep standing quietly. What makes the scene odd is that there are four visible areas of ground eruption around the sheep. The crater-like areas look like places where some creature emerged from the ground and then went back under the earth. Near each one, the PCs find personal belongings (what the gnome shepherds would possess). If the PCs search the area, they find some tracks about 100 yards away from the sheep heading toward the forest. There are more craters nearby, and then the tracks of a four-legged clawed creature. The tracks lead into the forest, and from time to time a dropped piece of clothing (such as a hat or scarf) indicates the presence of missing shepherds as well as the creatures.

There is no one here to outright hire the PCs, but if the PCs take their information back to the gnome village (either they know of it already, or might come upon it later if they do not immediately investigate)—about 2 hours from the forest, they will find concerned gnomes who do ask them to look into the matter. Of course, it’s more mysterious if you just leave it at the strange scene with the sheep and the craters, and let the PCs get hooked from there.

(Note: This one might be a tougher sell, and you might have to have the PCs or the sheep suddenly attacked by a bulette or elemental… or else something burrowing, to get them interested).

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. Fey creatures that live in the forest are hostile to the settlement of the gnomes so close to their own “territory,” and have conjured these earth-burrowing creatures to remove or scare away the gnomes. The creatures could be bulettes, some new kind of elemental, or even something like a purple worm.

2. A group of adventurers penetrated the forest to find and explore an old ruin. In the process of doing so, they released some magically bound creatures that are looking for the ancient wizards who captured them (to take revenge, of course). The adventurers are dead at the ruins, but the creatures are kidnapping the shepherds to collect information in an ever widening search for the ancient wizards. In the Forgotten Realms, these might be ancient Netherese wizards or even more ancient elves.

3. The burrowing creatures have a base in the forest, and that is where they take the gnome shepherds (and eat them soon after, poor guys). The base is either at the ruins or at some site held by the fey masters, but either way the creatures may abandon it soon to move their attack further out.

4. The burrowing creatures come from a realm deep underneath the forest. They are taking the gnomes as slaves.

5. If you like twists, you might make one of the gnomes in the village (or a whole cadre of them) allied with the parties responsible. Their interest is to get their comrades to move back to a safer location. They have tried normal channels, and are known for their opposition to this settlement; however, because relatives are here who won’t go back, they don’t leave. Their allies are using their plan as an opportunity to advance their own agenda. Thus, there could be two courses of investigation that confuse the issue.

About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.


By Kristan Wheaton
Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons are two of the most exciting games on the market. Unlike “normal” games, D&D and AD&D provide opportunities for not only roleplaying, but creative, original thought as well. If one considers all of the possible scenarios and character reactions, then the game itself becomes the basis for original and unique plans of action.
However, this aspect of the game is not always emphasized when one sits down to a session of D&D or AD&D. All too often, Dungeon Masters spend their time dictating to players and forcing them into situations which cause them to “strike first and ask questions later.” Surely, this limits the game in an area that should be exploited to both the player’s and the DM’s advantage.
This article will attempt to describe some exciting, inventive and creative methods of handling various monsters. These ideas are not meant to be idealized into Napoleonic-like strategies. On the contrary, it is hoped that these methods will simply stimulate creative and unusual play in the reader’s future sessions.
With all monsters, the first thing to consider, once battle is inevitable, is “How do I attack it?” Is the creature prone to spells? Does it have a low intelligence (confusion-type attacks work well here) or a high intelligence (insanity, paradoxes and the like are most effective under these circumstances)? What are its weaknesses and what are its strengths?
Basically, unless one can go in for a quick kill, then an attack on the monster’s strongest weapon is in order. By all means, do not necessarily attack the monster’s strongest attribute. This is foolish and could cost you the battle. Disarmament, however, usually leads to quick capitulation. Render useless a giant’s arm so that he cannot heave boulders at you, or silence a harpy, and both become much more easily defeated. If you cannot destroy the weapon, then at least protect yourself from it. Use a mirror on a medusa or put wax in your ears to help against a banshee’s scream.
Terrain can be the all-important factor in determining the outcome of battle. Remember that you are fighting in three dimensions, not just two. If possible, use your Levitate or Fly spells to advantage. A Magic-User in the air can see better and is also protected from hand-to-hand combat. Characters in danger of dying can be levitated out of melee. Always consider the third dimension (and possibly the fourth) as possible routes of escape or means to an advantage. Remember that D&D and AD&D are medieval-based games. Tactics that were feasible for that period in history are some of the best available when playing the game; i.e., armor tactics do not work unless you have tanks.
All creatures have a weakness. This is a key to remember in fighting a monster. Each monster, in its turn, must have an Achilles’ heel or it would surely dominate the world of mortal men. For example, creatures with magic resistance seem very frustrating to the average player. However, it must be realized that magic resistance gives no benefit against physical forces. An earthquake is just as liable to swallow an orc as a demon. Creative thought along these lines leads to the concept of “indirect attack.” Strike at those objects around you, in hopes that they will do damage for you. Use your lightning bolt to snap off a stalactite, or strike the ground to send a shower of rock chips toward the abdomen of whatever is attacking you. Knock down a tree; turn a ceiling to mud and let it collapse on the hapless attackers; these are the methods to deal with magic-resistant creatures, instead of striking at them and hoping the die roll will penetrate that magic resistance.
As a case study in “creative attack,” consider dragons. For example, it is possible to generate a small boiler explosion in the stomach of a red dragon by forcing cold water down its throat. This is a simple, if not always a readily accessible, means of incapacitating the beast. However, what does one do if the brand of super- lizard one is facing does not happen to have a carmine tinge to its scales? The answer really depends on how deeply your DM has contemplated dragon physiology. A good guess, however, would be that a reasonable argument would prevail.
If we say, for example, that a blue dragon discharges a bolt of electricity, then we could assume that it must build up this highly positive charge within its mouth and then release it when its mouth is opened. If this is the case, then a large piece of metal within its mouth would serve to short-circuit the process. If it did not incapacitate the lizard, at least it would give it a splitting headache. One may not always have a large hunk of iron ore hanging around (or a man with sufficient strength to throw it), and so one must come up with an alternate means of gaining the advantage. One method of doing this is to simply take the high ground on the beast. If the beleaguered party can get above the head of the blue dragon, then the ground itself will act as a draw on the bolt of electricity. While you may not be able to convince your DM that this action will negate the effects of the breath weapon, it should be reasonable to assume a plus to the saving throw.
More about specific dragons later, but now, a few words about dragons in general. The dragon is a cowardly, solitary beast. If this were not so then they would most surely rule the world. This dictates repartee and palaver as the first line of defense (if the dragon can speak). While a dragon is not likely to be pleased at an intrusion into its privacy, it is also not likely to attack until it has determined the nature and strength of the party. Only the oldest and most confident of dragons should attack without thinking about it first. Remember, also, that it is hard to tell a first-level character from a tenth- level, if the first-level is a good enough actor. During this first, or “negotiation:’ phase, the player should attempt to gain whatever concessions that he or she can. Terrain advantages, as well as strategic placement of party members, should be accomplished in this first stage. Always try to get above a dragon’s head. Most things fall, including lightning (attracted by the ground), chlorine gas (it is heavier than air), acid (a little thing called gravity), and cold (cold air falls). Always spread out so that the breath weapon cannot demolish the entire party. Try to encircle the beast and get him before he can get you.
Despite all this, a major tactical advantage can be achieved by shutting down the breath weapon before it can be expelled. This is the most powerful of the dragon’s weapons and should be the first thing to be dealt with. A large rock heaved in the general direction of the dragon’s face should do the trick. If not that, then try a Web spell. Both of these would give some advantage to the party. If one can ruin the mouth, then one not only shuts down the breath weapon but can also put the second major weapon (disregarding spell-casting ability) out of commission, the bite. In other words, don’t try to absorb the power of the breath weapon until the dragon runs out of charges; do something about it immediately; in the long run, you will be glad that you did.
Now, for some more dragons in specific. For a green dragon, a good plan is to acquire some sodium-tipped arrows. Store them in oil, since they will bum (slowly) in air. However, if one is shot into the mouth of a green dragon it will then react violently with the chlorine gas. This will surely leave the head of the dragon spinning for a few moments, and he should gag on all of the salt that you have just put in his throat.
Black dragons spit acid. Packets of lime (a strong alkaline) will at least neutralize the acid, if not get rid of the ability altogether. A gust of wind or a sudden downpour of created water would serve to disperse poisonous clouds (timing, of course, is very important here). This list is by no means exhaustive, and many more methods can be developed by the creative mind.
This article has expressed, through theory and case study, some of the principles of battle that are necessary for creative play of D&D and AD&D. As stated earlier, this article does not attempt to be the ultimate source of battle tactics, but is only provided as a guide towards better, more enjoyable, and more creative play.


By Robert Plamondon
Festus the Dwarf kicks open the wide door of the bandits’ dungeon home and throws in two Molotov cocktails, burning one of the twelve bandits to death and wounding two more. Right behind come Rangers Smith and Jones and Cleric Lucretia, who each lob two smoking oil flasks. Before the bandits can react, over half receive serious bums and several are dead. The pools of flaming oil prevent them from regrouping. With sword and bow, the invaders pick off the survivors and take the room. None of the adventurers has taken a hit.
Many players, like those mentioned above, have realized that flaming oil is the most powerful weapon available to a low-level player in AD&D. A flask of oil burning on a monster (or player) does 3-18 points of damage in the space of two rounds, and can be used by all character classes except Monks. Compare this to a “paltry” 1-10 points of damage done by each hit of a two-handed sword.
Because the players in my dungeon were using so much oil and frying monsters so consistently, I decided to investigate the use of oil in AD&D. I wanted to simplify the combat system for oil, and I wanted to “burn” my players a little.
A common technique for using burning oil is to first toss an oil flask onto the target, then light it with a torch. This method is useful when you need a wall of flame between you and the monsters, but takes a long time to set up—grab oil, throw it, grab a torch, throw it-and requires two hits to torch one target.
Molotov cocktails are a more elegant method of creature crisping. In its simplest form, a Molotov cocktail is an oil flask with a rag stuffed in the mouth. The rag is lit before the oil is thrown, and the rag lights the oil when the flask breaks. Instant monster flambee!
The stout-hearted can manufacture Molotov cocktails during melee by opening oil flasks and stuffing rags into them. Those with more foresight will have some made in advance. Preassembled Molotov cocktails can be used more quickly, but tend to soak their immediate surroundings with oil, endangering whomever carries them.
Classier models have a cap over the wick which prevents oil leakage. These caps can be of metal, which can be pulled off or unscrewed, or of waxed paper or parchment, which can be burned or torn off. Molotov cocktails assembled with wicks going into the oil are preferred because they can burn for hours and be used as lamps or incorporated in a delayed-action booby trap.
The best Molotov cocktais have their paper caps and wicks impregnated with saltpeter, so they will light from a spark or a hot coal. Saltpeter is what makes gunpowder burn faster than other smelly charcoal fires. It can be obtained from nitrate deposits in caves; alchemists use lots of it. Molotov cocktails of the most elaborate sort will cost from thirty to forty silver pieces.
If your players are suicidal or use lots of traps, they’ll love self-igniting oil flasks. Alchemists in most universes (including this one) discover phosphorus at one time or other. White phosphorus has the charming property of burning spontaneously in air but not in oil. Thus, when a flask of oil and phosphorus breaks, the phosphorus is exposed to air and everything bursts into flame.
These devices are extremely dangerous. A fall, a fumble, or an attack can break the flask and torch the user. This danger makes alchemists reluctant to make phosphorus-oil flasks. Those who agree to make them will charge from twenty to fifty gold pieces each. Torches, the most common source of flame, will quickly light even a reluctant wick. They are, however, bulky and almost impossible to shield, hindering weapon readiness and stealth.
Lanterns can be used to light wicks if plenty of time is available. In melee it is more practical to use the lantern itself as a Molotov cocktail rather than trying to light things from it.
Two non-bulky, easily concealed fire sources are punk and slow match. Punk is fungus-decayed wood; slow match is specially treated rope or cord. Both smolder without flame at the rate of thirty inches per hour (five inches per turn).
Saltpeter-impregnated wicks light immediately from smoldering material; lanterns and simple Molotov cocktails will light after a few seconds of blowing on the match or punk to heat it up.
Various sorts of shields and holders can be made for punk and slow match to hide their glow and leave both hands free. Wind does not blow out the burning ends, but care must be taken to shield them from dampness.
Punk is available everywhere, but slow match is used mostly in cities to light street lamps. Both are cheap, about one copper piece per foot.
The number of oil grenades that a character can throw in a round depends on the complexity of the operation. Thus, oil flasks, self-igniting flasks, and lit Molotov cocktails can be thrown at the rate of three per round. Unlit Molotov cocktails can be lit and thrown at the rate of two per round. Stuffing a rag into a flask, lighting and throwing it can only be done once a round, as is also the case for throwing a flask and then throwing a torch.
These rates of fire assume that the oil grenades are thrown singly at a distinct target and that the grenades are close at hand. Obviously, dumping a backpack full of oil flasks down a stairway will dispose of more than three flasks in a round, while groping through loot and laundry for a flask will slow the rate of fire.
Combat using flaming oil as given in the DMG is unnecessarily complicated. Here is a simplified system:
First, roll the usual d20 “to hit.” If the grenade misses, pick a convenient direction as “12 o’clock” and roll a d12 for the direction of the miss, counting clockwise from “12 o’clock,” in relation to the target. Then roll a d6 for short range, d12 for medium range or 2d12 for long range to find the distance from the target of the point of impact.
Second, roll another d20. A “1” means the flask didn’t break, a “2” means the flask broke but didn’t light (for Molotov cocktails and oil-phosphorus flasks). Any other result means the grenade did what it was supposed to. Unbroken grenades can be thrown again; broken ones can, of course, be lit later on.
A direct hit with any oil grenade does 2-12 points of damage the first round and 1-6 the next round, provided it gets lit.
Splash hits occur when a creature is within three feet of the point of impact of the grenade, and the creature misses its saving throw vs. poison. Splash hits do 3 points of damage (the DMG spreads this out as one point per segment for 1-3 segments, but it can be applied all at once for simplicity).
Armor doesn’t help reduce damage, because although platemail, for instance, would keep most of the oil out, what did get through would be where the character couldn’t reach, so it couldn’t be smothered or scraped off.
When a successful attack is made on a person holding an oil flask, there is a one-in-six chance that the flask will be dropped and broken. A person rendered unconscious or killed while holding a flask has a two-in-six chance of dropping and breaking it.
Falling into a pit or down an incline will cause flasks located between the person and the point of impact to break 95% of the time. Flasks located elsewhere will be unharmed. For instance, a flask in a backpack would remain intact if a character fell forward onto his chest or face.
Although flaming oil is a very potent weapon, it is not appropriate in all dungeon situations, some of which are examined below:
Some dungeons have wooden floors, thick carpets, layers of straw, or other flammable surfaces. Using oil under these circumstances can cause a party to bum important treasure, block off their only escape route, or even destroy whole sections of a dungeon.
Destroying the dungeon is not a very bright plan, since the area around the fire will suddenly be filled with monsters. Some of these will be trying to escape the blaze, some hoping to scavenge a hot meal, and a few will try to fight the fire. None of these creatures will be well disposed towards the arsonists.
Additionally, rumor has it that pyromaniac players are sometimes attacked by a huge bear in a flat-brim hat who fights with a +6 shovel.
Using oil in poorly ventilated areas can kill everyone involved because of heat, smoke inhalation, and/or lack of oxygen.

Use of oil in well-ventilated areas will bring the aroma of roasting meat to creatures in rooms connected to the same air shaft, thus attracting scavengers.
Relatively intelligent monsters will learn from experience with oil. Although ogres, lizard men and trolls dislike using flame weapons, orcs, goblins, hobgoblins and kobolds will gleefully use flaming oil on adventurers once they learn how potent a weapon it is.
Players should try not to educate the opposition.


By Kyle Gray
As a female player of Dungeons & Dragons, there is one thing that never fails to annoy me: the underestimation of the abilities of female Fighters. At times I have found it necessary to assume the role of a male character because if I chose to be female, my strength would be limited by the game rules, and thus my character would be generally less effective than a male. There are no compensations to the female for this limiting of strength, making it seem as though women warriors are being discriminated against.
There are many literary and historical examples of female fighters, the most well-known being the Amazons. The Aethiopia, an ancient continuation of the Iliad, tells of Penthesilea, the beautiful Amazon queen who stood up and fought Achilles, greatest of all the Argive warriors. Also, when Theseus carried off the Amazon Antiope, her sister, Oreithyia led an army of Amazon warriors into Attica, and it took the entire Athenian army four months to defeat them. And who could forget Camilla, the Volscian warrior maiden of Virgil’s Aeneid? She killed many Trojans, fighting with both arrows and battle-axe, and was easily one of the best warriors in the battle, male or female.
The Greek and Roman mythos are not alone in containing stories of women warriors. Brunhild and the Valkyries are major elements in the Germanic sagas, and warriors in their own rights. The Celts had their War Queens, and there are historical references of those women fighting right alongside their male counterparts. In fact, some sources say that the women were the most vicious and warlike of all the Celtic warriors. Even Christianity, which is responsible for most of the Western World myths of the inherent weaknesses of women, has Joan of Arc.
Heroic fantasy, the main influence of Dungeons & Dragons, though dominated by male characters, has also produced its share of female warriors. One of the earliest and the best of these is C. L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry, the fierce woman fighter who has no problems competing with her male counterparts. Surprisingly, some of the best female characters have emerged from the stories of male authors writing in the best macho traditions. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Deja Thoris, while too dependent on John Carter, is still an excellent warrior, and there are many examples of women who, when forced to defend themselves, are quite capable fighters.
Undoubtedly the best creator of female warriors was Robert E. Howard. Known best for his Conan and Kull tales, Howard also created an impressive array of women warriors. Everyone’s favorite Male Chauvinist Barbarian, Conan, meets his match in Valeria of the Red Brotherhood, and serves under another female fighter, his lover, Belit, a bloodthirsty pirate. Howard even wrote a series of tales about Dark Agnes, his Sword-Woman, who could outfight and outdrink any man.
Probably the most famous of Howard’s women warriors, thanks to Marvel Comics, is Red Sonja. Red Sonja of Rogantino, a redhaired warrior, appeared in the Howard story “Shadow of the Vulture,” which took place during the Crusades. Many years later Roy Thomas, writer of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian, used this story as the basis for a Conan tale, and Red Sonja, warrior woman of Hyrkania, was born. During her career, Sonja has outsmarted and outfought Conan and many other men, and is undoubtedly the epitome of a female warrior.
Recently, more and more women warriors have seen print, and some, like Roland Green’s Gwyanna of his Wandor series, are quite excellent. So, fellow female players, if you run into a MCDM (Male Chauvinist Dungeon Master), get him to read some of the above mentioned stories, and maybe he will agree that the women warriors are discriminated against. The next step is to get him to follow the guidelines below.
The Advanced D&D Players Handbook only takes female attributes into account for one ability, that of Strength. Females of all the character races are allowed a maximum Strength score which is lower than the males’ maximum. Men tend to have a more massive musculature, and for this reason can perform feats of brute strength usually beyond the capabilities of women. This physical difference is taken into account, but other, more beneficial differences are ignored. Women have smaller, less bulky muscles, and as such, are generally more agile than men. Also, women are able to withstand Vol.V.No.1 higher levels of mental and physical stress than the average male. Given those facts, it is obvious that while it may be logical to penalize women in terms of sheer strength, it is equally logical to reward them for better Dexterity and hardier Constitution.
It is a medical fact that the average female can withstand more mental stress than the average male. Because of that, females in D&D should be rewarded with a +1 in Wisdom for magical attack adjustment only. This would give women a better chance to resist mental attack forms involving will force, as described in the Players Handbook.
Also, since women have smaller, more compact muscles, they are less bulky than men, and are naturally more agile. Therefore women warriors, who would logically be trained to take advantage of this, should receive a + 1 on their roll for Dexterity.
It has also been shown that women are able to tolerate pain better than men, and when raised under the same conditions, are generally hardier. Women generally live longer than men, barring disease or accidental death. For those reasons, female characters should receive a +1 on their rolls for Constitution.
The above-mentioned adjustments should make up for the lower maximum strength score for women. While they will still have a relatively rougher time breaking down doors and bending bars, women warriors will no longer be discriminated against. Men and women are physically different, but this does not mean that women are necessarily deficient when it comes to fighting. What it does mean is that women, precisely because they are not as strong as men, would use their natural abilities and adopt a different fighting style, more “slash and run” than “stand and swing.” The +l in Dexterity would merely reflect this style, and should apply only to female Fighters rather than female characters in general, because it would be an extension of warrior training. Given this +1 in Dexterity, and also a +1 in Constitution and magical attack adjustment that should apply to all women characters, women warriors in D&D can now become formidable Fighters and compete on an equal basis with the men.


By Lewis Bryson

Four of us went down, but only one hundred and four of us came back. How did that happen, you ask? A good question, and I feel like telling a story . . .
We were an optimistic party. The four of us were young, maybe a little lacking in experience, but well armed, intelligent, and overflowing with enthusiasm. There were two Magi, the sorcerer Soregit and the wizard Emanon, and two warriors, Tork and myself, Nissleyn the One-handed.
We had been charged with penetrating the Pyromancer’s Guild to bring back artifacts for our benefactor, the great magician and charlatan, Edgh. Intent upon our mission, we found a member of the Guild at a local tavern, in a rather pitiful state. There was a little overeagerness on my part and I hit him on the head and, well, I, uh . . . knocked him out.
Gosh, I was really sorry that it had happened, but since it had, everyone figured that we should take advantage of it. So we grabbed his copper ring, had copies made of it, and, armed with the rings and a Polymorph Others spell, we entered the Guildhall.
It was easy enough, smooth sailing for quite a while, as we twisted, turned, and slew a few fairly harmless monsters, the usual stuff. The first really tough thing we ran into was a Clay Golem. Thinking quickly, I told Soregit to throw a Darkness, 15ft. radius spell, and with a natural ability of infravision, I waded in with a giant’s club I had picked up somewhere, and belted him in the back of the head, wiping him out. We felt that this was an augur of things to come, and we were very optimistic. Ha!
The next door we opened presented us with a pair of eleven- foot-tall, fair-haired giants in mithril mail. A fast Legend Lore spell told us that they were Sidhe, lawful gargantuans, extremely strong, intelligent, and dexterous. We quickly convinced them we wanted, very badly, to be their friends. Luckily, they trusted our then-honest intentions.

They joined us, and we went through a few more rooms and corridors, and were going down a flight of stairs, when I suddenly realized that they had usurped my position as leader of the expedition, had been very deprecatory about all of our abilities, and had not yet done a bit of fighting! I contacted Tork with an artifact-related telepathic message, and we jumped them from behind.
My first shot with the club split my Sidhe’s head open like a ripe melon, and there was one left. Tork went for him as I hurried to aid him, while Emanon threw Magic Missiles. Tork was doing a pretty good job on the remaining Sidhe, and I had just joined the fray, when the giant speared Tork through the left eye with an immense enchanted sword. I was a bit taken aback, and Tork, well, he was dead. He had, though, damaged the Sidhe to a point where he was almost tottering, and I quickly sent him to discuss life with his ancestors face to face.
I mourned the death of Tork, while the Magi looked on rather coolly, not understanding the sorrow of a Warrior. I resolved to have him restored to my side as soon as possible, because he was a brother Warrior, and also because I didn’t relish facing the remaining depths with just myself to battle with the terrors that lay there.
Packing his dead body on my back with a quick-release knot on him, we pushed on. The door at the bottom of the stairs opened onto a corridor, and at the end was an unfamiliar shape. A noise from the wizard roused the thing, and suddenly it was flying at us. A winged ape with huge claws, hurtling down the narrow corridor.
‘A Clakar!’ screamed the wizard, and cowered beneath his cloak. I nailed the beast with a lightning javelin in midair, but it didn’t quite do the job, only searing a hole in his abdomen. Then he was upon me, doing horrendous damage with one swipe of his claws. Luckily for all of us, I dispatched him with a blow to his already damaged abdomen. The wizard healed my wounds and we moved on.
The next room held only an orc and a bowl of liquid. The orc turned and ran out a door in the back of the room. Soregit walked up to the table and inspected the bowl. He saw a ring in the bowl, and grabbed it. He put it on, and began dancing around without realizing that he was shrinking at a tremendous rate. He fell into the bowl, and would have drowned and I not knocked over the bowl and moved him away from the liquid with the point of my dagger.
Our spirits were at a new low. Tork was dead, and getting to be a pain in the back. Soregit was two inches tall, and practically useless. We would probably have given up, but the next room presented a puzzle. It was some kind of a device, and I could not discern its operation. The door was open, and maybe we should have closed it to keep out wandering monsters, but we were in a sad state. Anyway, what should wander in but a 12th-circle Cleric of neutrality. With a little monetary temptation, we convinced him to resurrect Tork, but nothing could be done for poor Soregit.
Tork and I began to celebrate and, in the illuminated state of mind that the wine brought about, we divined the function of the machine. It moved the entire room to small, independent planes of existence! We finally realized this by observing that after we pressed different buttons, different things were behind those doors! In our condition, we found this highly amusing, much to Emanon’s consternation. We finally decided that we would tackle the Clakar that we had seen, and, pushing the right button, we rushed in and romped on the poor animal.
There was a shrouded object in the back of the room and we were suspicious. So with the genius of Dionysius, Tork and I forced Soregit to take a look under the shroud. A good thing we did so, for under there was a Mirror of Opposition! We heard a small shriek, and lifted a small section of the shroud to see two Soregits throwing daggers at each other. Luckily, the duplicate was as lousy a shot as the original, and neither was hurt.
Inspired again, we emptied another wine sack, and began creating more and more miniature Magi, or gits, as we soon began calling them. Eventually we had fifty of the opposing gits, and fifty of the old-type gits, and of course, the original Soregit. We separated the plus and minus gits into two wine sacks of squirming sorcerers.

* * *

Now, of course, Tork and I are rich men, the owners of Miniature Mage, Inc. We decided to market the gits, and made our fortunes. We found an alchemist, went into large-scale production of growth potion and the super shrink stuff. Then we got a cleric, threw us a lot of Geas spells, and marketed the result as ‘Gits! pint-size power for the fighting man!! The next time you have a problem that you just can’t handle, you won’t worry, because you have a miniature Mage at your belt!!’
Soregit is happy as a little clam lolling around in his miniature apartment with his miniature wine cellar, miniature elf-maidens, etc. The mirror is in full, assembly line-type use down in the factory.
And Emanon? He’s still adventuring, poor soul, thinks he’s going to make his fortune that way, I guess. Ha! And yet, sometimes I look across the board room at my old weapons hanging on the wall, and the Sidhe’s dried blood still on the club, and I feel a twinge of the old wanderlust. . .


By E. Gary Gygax

The Schick-Moldvay treatments of fictional characters from heroic fantasy and swords & sorcery have interested quite a number of adventure gaming enthusiasts, including this one. Having picked up a batch of new “Conan” books recently, I could not resist rating this “Giant in the Earth” in the same manner (or nearly so anyway) that Messrs. Schick and Moldvay have treated like characters.

Please be aware, gentle reader, that this rating is strictly subjective and done to the best of my current recollection; I have not gone back through all of the “Conan” books and re-read them to prove my accuracy. Nonetheless, I feel that the parameters are correct, and I hope you will be satisfied after reading them. Please let me know if you detect any glaring errors—and notice I emphasize the word glaring; I don’t particularly care if you rate him as a 14th-level Thief or a 22nd-level Fighter, for there is no profit in quibbling over this sort of detail. For example, if Conan used a sling with skill in a story, and I have, in fact, omitted this weapon from the list of those he uses with proficiency, that is a glaring error! Read on and enjoy!

Notes Regarding Ability Statistics:
Strength shown indicates Conan’s development from early manhood through old age. The transitions are, of course, gradual over the years shown.
Intelligence shown is that developed and used, the figure in parentheses is the potential, and until later life it was used only insofar as linguistic ability was concerned.
Dexterity is indicated at a peak during the earlier years when Conan exercised his thieving ability more frequently.
Constitution shown reflects only additional hit points; see also the section hereafter dealing with Saving Throws.
Charisma, being a reflection of personality and other factors in addition to physical appearance, often shows two ratings: The first of a dual rating is Conan’s charisma effect upon males, the second shows his effect upon females. All ability statistics are based on the assumption that Conan was a prime example of the physically and mentally superior individual, maturing late, retaining peak form for a long period, and living longer than average as well. (Although REH never said anything about Conan’s lifespan, I cannot conceive of it being under a minimum of 100 years—barring something untimely, shall we say . . .)
Fighting Ability: The skill levels shown are matched, more or less, to the adventures Conan had during the period. He gained expertise more slowly between 20 and 30 years of age because of his practice in thievery at that time. The drop-off in level in later years is meant to reflect the effects of advancing age, and while hit points might drop off more, skill level would not drop below 9th level—say until 100 years of age, perhaps, and possibly not even then.
Weapons Proficiency: Conan’s weapons are:
UP TO AGE 20 —axe, battle; axe, hand; dagger; spear; sword, long
20 TO 24 —add bow, long; sword, broad
25 TO 29 —add bow, composite; scimitar
30 TO 39 —add javelin; sword, short
40 & after —add flail; lance; mace
Thieving Ability: Conan has the climbing and moving silently abilities of a 10th-level Thief at age 15. As soon as he attains 1st level of thieving ability, the climbing ability increases by 1 level (to 11th) and so on until attaining 17th level of climbing ability (at 7th level of thieving ability); this skill is never lost. Conan’s penchant for fighting and weapons prevents him from picking pockets and opening locks. His high dexterity gives him +10% additional bonus per point of dexterity over 18, however, for moving silently and hiding in shadows. (See Special Abilities notes below for additional details.)
Armor Class: Until his later years, Conan scorned body armor and shield most of the time. However, in battle or perilous situations where protection was available, he would usually don some simple protection such as leather armor or a chainmail shirt. Conan would wear “Elfin Chain,” but he would scorn wearing magic armor. In his Aquilonian period, Conan certainly wears full plate armor and uses a shield as well.
Number of Attacks: Conan’s native ability and barbarian upbringing give him a great edge in combat, and this is reflected in the number of attacks per round he receives. He will always attack first in a melee round, and, if applicable, at the mid-point and end of the round as well.
Damage Per Attack: In addition to the damage shown (the standard strength bonus), Conan’s swordsmanship enables him to wield a sword as if it were magic, even though he never willingly uses a magic sword. Below 8th level, the sword is treated as +1 for bonuses to hit and damage, from 8th to 12th levels it is treated as +2, and at 13th and above it is treated as +3. (This includes ability to hit those creatures subject only to magic weapons. ) See also Special Attacks below.
Special Attacks: Gaining experience rapidly, Conan becomes a deadly opponent—well beyond the average Fighter of the same level. Therefore, if he scores a hit which totals 21 or better after adjustment, he scores double weapon damage. Note that this does not apply to a blow struck from behind (which is unlikely for Conan, of course). Also, due to his early training and experience, Conan is able to hide so as to be 75% undetectable in underbrush or woodlands. Indoors or in the dungeon or similar setting he operates as a 4th-level Thief, even before becoming one, with respect to hiding in shadows. (See Thieving Ability above.) Due to all of this, Conan will surprise opponents 50% of the time, when such determination is necessary.
Special Defenses: There is only a 1 in 20 chance (50%) that Conan will be surprised, even by creatures normally having a much higher probability for surprise (see Psionics below). Conan’s saving throws are always made at +4 on the die, and poison cannot kill him, even if he fails the saving throw—he will take damage to within 1 hit point of death and fall unconscious. Finally, Conan regains hit points at twice the normal rate, with 10 hit points being recovered after a single day of rest. He is also able to regain lost hit points without rest, but he does so only at the normal rate, not double normal with a first-day bonus.
Magic Resistance: See Special Defenses above and Psionics below. If Conan is aware of magic being used against him, he gains a 25% magic resistance. He will always move to slay the foul mage daring to try such witchery against him!
Psionics: All of Conan’s psionic abilities are latent. He does not understand he has them, and he never consciously attempts to use them. They only operate in stress situations or when he is in danger. Animal telepathy operates at 14th level of mastery, but it actually allows Conan to at best sense the emotions of the creature concerned, so it is more an empathy. He can, in turn, send his own emotions back to the creature 50% of the time. Detection of magic does not determine the type of spell. Precognition operates only in a “sixth sense” feeling of unease when something threatens Conan’s life or freedom. Mind bar functions only against spell attacks. He cannot be attacked psionically, as the talent is latent. Conan can not expend more than 30 psionic strength points per day.
Special Abilities: Besides those noted heretofore, Conan has the special ability of being able to fight equally well with either hand. He seldom uses two weapons at once, but if he does, this does not increase the number of attacks per round; it simply allows him to parry one opponent attack per round. It does not reduce his attacks per round. Conan can move at a trot all day long without becoming tired. In woodlands, Conan is able to conceal his trail so that it is 75% undetectable to the average woodsman (use 50% of normal Ranger chance and adjust accordingly). His vision and hearing are 50% above normal.
Secondary Skills: Hunter/fisher (at age 15); navigator (after age 25), sailor (after age 20); shipwright, boats (after age 25); teamster (after age 20). Conan can also determine the relative worth of any weapon by age 20 and the relative value of gems and jewely by age 25.
Pummeling, Grappling, etal.: Conan always gets a score of 6 on his variable die. Other differences are:
Pummeling: Conan’s power and ability are such that any opponent is treated as slowed and a 10% bonus is always applicable. Conan’s fist is treated as mailed when bare, as a metal pommel when mailed or using a wooden butt, and if actually using a metal pommel, he receives a 15% bonus. Conan can choose to make his pummeling attacks cause full damage.
Grappling: Bonuses for slowed do not apply here, unless the condition actually exists. Treat Conan’s effective height as 7’, and his effective weight as 350#. When at 19 strength, he receives a 10% strength addition. All grappling damage scored on the opponent is normal damage.
Overbearing: Conan is always considered to be rushing leaping to attack (15% bonus). At 19 strength level the 10% additional strength bonus applies. Effective height and weight are the same as for grappling. All overbearing damage scores is normal.
Weaponless Combat: Conan may elect to attack any opponent his with bare hands. Hits are scored as if he were attacking with a club, and damage is likewise determined, adding the appropriate strength bonus to each successful hit in any given round. In such cases, there is no option as to whether damage stuns or is normal.
I do not recommend that you rush to include Conan in your campaign for whatever reason—except, perhaps, to slay one or two brash characters who are too far out of line to accept gentle reproof. NPCs such as this are nice, though, for occasional encounters and as “heavy artillery” in case of extraordinary need.
As a word of further caution, remember that Conan will surely be greatly displeased if anything should happen to his star pupil, and then perhaps a Conan from a parallel world would have to be brought into yours-for real. (If you can swallow that, you probably play D&D!)
* * *
The hardcore Robert E. Howard buffs will probably blast me for saying this, but the new series of Conan books (Bantam) is well worth reading. The books are not REH, but they have sufficient flavor to be “Conan stories.” After all, we all have slightly different personalities at times-as Conan does in these works. There are at least four titles available now, all prominently displaying the name, CONAN, in bold letters, so you can’t miss them. Seeing as how I had to buy my copies, I won’t give their titles and so on (if Bantam wants reviews in The Dragon they can ship freebies to us!).