Friday, April 24, 2015

T is for the Universal Tribesman

One of my goals when putting together my homebrew AD&D 2e game was to make kits more universally useful, while also eliminating duplicates. For instance, every 2nd edition class book included a "Noble" kit (noble warrior, noble priest, patrician wizard, highborn dwarf, etc.), these got collapsed into a single "Noble" kit which was made available to characters of all races and classes. Other broadly represented archetypes were similarly easy to universalize: Peasant, Savage, and Outlaw all had representative kits in pretty much every splat-book.

Of course, I was not just pulling from the "core" Complete series of books, so some kits were less easily adapted to this universal concept. One kit which I thought was interesting (especially given the campaign's emphasis on tribal relations between various humanoids) was the Tribal Defender kit from the Complete Book of Humanoids. This was originally presented as a warrior kit, but I saw no reason that a humanoid tribe (particularly for magically-inclined creatures like Ogre Magi or stealth-focused creatures like goblins) would not have magic users or rogues as their champions.

Luckily, looking more broadly afield, I found the Tribal Wizard kit (in the Dark Sun supplement Defilers and Preservers: The Wizards of Athas) and the Tribal Priest kit in Dragon Magazine #194. Which gave enough of a view into how similar concepts might work with non-warrior classes. 


Tribal Defender

Base Requirements
  • Races: Any
  • Sub-Classes: Any class
  • Ability Requirements: Con 13, Wis 14
  • Alignments: Non-Chaotic
  • Starting Cash: 2d8 x5gp
Weapon Proficiencies
  • Weapon Slots: By class
  • Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Required Weapon Proficiencies: none
  • Allowed Weapons: See below
  • Allowed Armors: By class
Non-Weapon Proficiencies:
  • Non-weapon Slots: By class
  • Available Categories: By class
  • Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Heat Protection, Mediation, Survival, Water Finding
  • Required Proficiencies: Hunting or Agriculture
  • Recommended Proficiencies: Animal Lore, Animal Noise, Animal Training, Bargain, Blacksmithing, Bowyer/Fletcher, Brewing, Direction Sense, Endurance, Fire-Building, Fishing, Gaming, Healing, Herbalism, Information Gathering, Intimidation, Leatherworking, Local History, Mental Armor, Mining, Modern Languages (tribal neighbors), Natural Fighting, Observation, Set Snares, Spellweaving, Teaching, Tracking, Weaponsmithing, Weather Sense
  • Forbidden Proficiencies: Somatic Concealment, Wild Fighting
The struggle for survival is fierce and terrible. Thousands of tribes wander the wastes; each year hundreds of these are slaughtered, enslaved, or simply starve. Every humanoid tribe, settlement, clan, and family group must be protected from the dangers of the world, and these proud warriors are the backbone of every tribe’s defense. One of the most vital edges a tribe can possess over its competitors is access to the magic of a wizard or priest, whose spells can mean the difference between life and death for the tribesmen. Some humanoid races organize true armies or militias, but most simply place their safety in the hands of the strongest most able-bodied tribe members.
Nomadic human and humanoid tribes can be found throughout Faerun, but are especially common in the wastes of Anauroch, the Cold Lands, the Barbarian Kingdoms of the Savage North, The Ride, Rashamen, Impiltur, and the wilds beyond Tethyr and Calimshan. Player character tribal defenders have left their tribes for some reason (usually the character’s primary motivation). They take with them whatever skills they learned while protecting their tribes, but now they use these skills to ensure their own survival.
Tribal defenders dress in a manner appropriate to their tribe.
The tribal defender is a character with a heavy burden to bear-the survival of his family and friends. Within their communities, tribal defenders are both respected and feared. The well-being of the tribe or village is the most important thing to a tribal defender. Those who are in need go to the tribal defender for assistance or advice. Tribal defenders usually have some standing within the community, whether as war-leaders, advisers, or council members.
If the tribal defender is also a priest, or if there are no clerics within the community, he or she acts as a sort of medicine man to the group. In this capacity the tribal defender may give advice and counsel, oversee the training of children, act as a community healer, keep the tribe’s lore, cast needed spells to help the group, and perform any rituals the tribe may have evolved for daily and special ceremonies. They may participate in negotiations with traders, using their spells to gauge how far and how long haggling will be of use. They may arrange marriages and perform rites of birth, death, and fertility to benefit the community. Tribal defenders plan raids against caravans and use their spells to assist the raiders when they attack. In general, anything that requires Intelligence and Wisdom is within their sphere of interest.
All tribe members who are not restricted by sexual bias or relegated to other tasks (because of abilities or circumstances) are taught to fight for the tribe. Some tribal defenders are full-time soldiers who protect the tribe and territory. Others are part-time warriors who take up club and spear when danger threatens. The more organized the race, the better trained the defender is. A rare few develop heroic abilities after long years of warfare or constant training, as dictated by the character’s background history.
As an adventurer, the tribal defender travels to aid his tribe in some fashion, whether to obtain a needed ingredient to cure a tribal epidemic or to arrange a trade agreement for his community. Some tribal defenders adventure because they’ve lost their tribes to disease or raiders or some other calamity. These tribal defenders are usually somewhat distant and seem lost at first. It is usual for such tribal defenders to eventually adopt their adventuring party as their new tribe. Though they then travel with their new tribe, they often just go along with whatever adventure their fellows engage in simply to remain with them. After some time, however, they begin reasserting themselves, seeking to reclaim their old position of respect within the group. Tribal defenders who do not receive the respect of their traveling companions may attempt to intimidate their fellows with knowledge of their potential powers. If this fails to impress the group, the tribal defender usually leaves them as soon as he has the chance and seeks out more worthy companions.

Special Abilities:
  • After long years defending a particular territory, the character is intimately familiar with it. The player and his DM should determine where the character’s original territory is located, and any proficiency checks made in the area in regards to interacting with the area and its inhabitants receive a +2 bonus.
  • Tribal defenders can always find food, water, and assistance with their tribe, no matter what the circumstances. The tribal defender can also arrange for up to one guest per level to receive similar aid. Note that while a tribe can always accommodate the tribal defender himself, a large number of guests may severely strain the tribe’s resources, and the tribal defender should never bring more guests than the tribe can support.
  • Because the tribal defender is intimately concerned with the activities of the tribe members and expends much effort in keeping track of their thoughts and desires, he can cast the ESP spell once per day. This is an innate spell-like ability--the tribal defender doesn’t need to have the spell prepared, nor does he need to have it in his spell book or spell list. He must, however, have a material component for the spell which either belongs to the subject of the spell or which is associated with the subject. He thus keeps relics belonging to each tribe member for such purposes.
  • Tribal defenders are recognized throughout the wilderlands as important people. When dealing with any nomad, raider, tribe, or herdsman, the tribal defender gains a +3 on his reaction check. This can be a disadvantage, as an outside tribe desperately in need of a new tribal defender may be inclined to seize the PC tribal defender for their own if he impresses them too much.

Special Disadvantages:
  • Members of this kit must spend all of their initial weapon proficiency slots on weapons typically available to their race (see below). The tribal defender may become proficient with these weapons regardless of his class. After first level, the tribal defender may learn to use any weapon normally allowed by his class.
  • Suspicious of strangers, tribal defenders are originally stand-offish and difficult to get to know. They suffer a -2 penalty to reaction when meeting strangers. This penalty is reduced to a -1 if they are meeting strangers in some official capacity as a representative of their community.
  • The tribal defender is tied to his tribe. Although it is assumed that he can occasionally leave the tribe to go adventuring, there are times when he is needed by his people. There is a 30% chance that the tribal defender is required by his tribe anytime he considers undertaking an adventure that would take him away for a long time. The DM should enforce this rigidly for a character that tends to neglect his background, and be more generous with players who are role-playing their characters well.
  • Another hindrance lies in the fact that the tribe’s enemies are the character’s enemies as well. The character must select three distinct groups to become his tribe’s enemies. Whenever the character encounters these enemies, he suffers a -4 penalty on his reaction check with them, since his tribal markings and attitudes clearly mark him as a potential foe.

Tribal Weapons by Race
  • Human: Knife, Dagger, Shortbow, Spear, Quarterstaff, Sling
  • Dwarf: Two-handed Axe, Chain Flail, Knee Spike, Elbow Spike, Head Spike, Glove Nail, Warhammer
  • Elf: Bows group (any), Shortsword, Longsword
  • Gnome: Crossbows group (any), Dart, Knife, Picks group (any)
  • Half-Elf: As Human or Elf (pick one set)
  • Halfling: Dagger, Dart, Handaxe, Sling, Shortsword, Shortbow
  • Bugbear: Footman's Mace, Goblin Stick, Hand Axe, Morningstar, Great Club, Spear, Warhammer
  • Satyr: Dagger, Javelin, Longsword, Shortsword, Shortbow, Spear
  • Firbolg: Club, Halberd, Two-handed Sword
  • Gnoll: Club, Flindbar, Glaive, Longbow, Longsword
  • Goblin: Hand Axe, Footman's Pick, Morningstar, Sling, Shortsword, Spear
  • Hobgoblin: Composite Longbow, Morningstar, Scimitar, Spear, Whip
  • Kobold: Club, Spiked Club, Hand Axe, Javelin, Shortsword, Spear
  • Lizard Man: Battleaxe, Great Club, Barbed Dart, Javelin
  • Minotaur: Footman's Flail, Two-handed Axe, Great Club
  • Mongrelman: Broadsword, Club, Longsword, Shortsword, Morningstar, Quarterstaff, Blowgun
  • Half-Ogre: Club, Goblin Stick, Halberd, Spear, Two-handed Sword, Voulge
  • Ogre Mage: Composite Longbow, Katana, Naginata, Scimitar, Tetsubo, Wakizashi, Whip
  • Orc: Battleaxe, Heavy Crossbow, Light Crossbow, Footman's Flail, Hand Axe, Spear
  • Half-Orc: As Orc or Human (pick one set)
  • Tiefling: As Human
† The should feel free GM to add to this list to reflect the nature of specific tribes. For instance, the Eraka nomads of The Ride are known for their use of the broadsword.