Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Humanoid character expansion for Holmes D&D

One of my many uncompleted projects for the Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures computer game was designing a reverse-Keep-type adventure.  In this design, instead of playing the usual character races of human, elf, dwarf, and so on, the player could create orcs, goblins, kobolds, and the like, ultimately invading the titular keep on the borderlands.

While that computer D&D adventure still languishes unfinished on my hard drive, remembering it did get me thinking about how such a game might look using the Holmes basic rules.  I approached this project similar to how I did my expanded wandering monster tables: extrapolating from just the information in that blue Dungeons & Dragons rulebook, supplemented by Gygax's work in module B2, The Keep on the Borderlands.

Without further ado, here's the supplemental rules for playing humanoid characters using the Holmes rulebook:


KOBOLDS (1-4 damage)
Level                        Points       Hit Dice        Notes
1 (Kobold)                   0                 ½              +3 save (except vs. dragon)
2 (Guard)                  600             1+1            +3 save (except vs. dragon), can have 1-4 gt rats
3 (Chieftain)           2400              2               +3 save (except vs. dragon), bodyguard of 1-6

GOBLINS (1-6 damage)
1 (Goblin)                    0                1-1             -1 to hit in daylight, can see in the dark
2 (Guard)                  750             1+1            -1 to hit in daylight, can see in the dark
3 (Chieftain)           3000            2+1            can see in the dark
4 (King)                    12000           2+1            can see in the dark; bodyguard of 5-30

ORCS (1-6 damage)
1 (Orc)                          0                  1               -1 to hit in daylight        
2 (Guard)                 1000            1+1            -1 to hit in daylight
3 (Chieftain)           4000              3               -1 to hit in daylight; bodyguard of 1-8
HOBGOBLINS (1-8 damage; min 14 strength)
1 (Hobgoblin)             0               1+1            +1 morale (including save vs. fear)
2 (Guard)                 2000            2+1            +1 morale (including save vs. fear)
3 (Chieftain)           4000            3+1            +1 morale (including save vs. fear)
4 (King)                    16000           4+1            +1 morale (incl. save vs. fear); bodyguard of 1-4

GNOLLS (2-8 damage; min 16 strength; max 9 intelligence)
1 (Gnoll)                       0                  2              
2 (Guard)                 1250            2+1           
3 (Leader)               5000              3               bodyguard of 1-6
BUGBEARS (2-8 damage; min 17 strength and min 15 dexterity)
1 (Bugbear)                0               3+1            surprise on 1-3               
2 (Guard)                 5000            3+1            surprise on 1-3
3 (Chieftain)          20000           4+1            surprise on 1-3; bodyguard of 1-4

A player can adjust any humanoid character’s strength score in the same manner as fighting men.  Bugbear characters may also alter their dexterity the same way as thieves.
All humanoids do the indicated damage, regardless of weapon type.  If a humanoid character acquires a magical weapon, the appropriate bonuses will, of course, apply.
Humanoid characters begin play with the armor typical for their kind (leather for orcs and kobolds, leather & shield for goblins and hobgoblins, chainmail for gnolls and bugbears) and may wear other types of armor, if they can find any of the right size.  Kobolds can use armor suitable for halflings, goblins may wear armor sized for dwarves, and all others except bugbears are able to fit into man-sized armor.  Bugbears will have difficulty finding new armor large enough to fit their giant frames.
When gaining a level, humanoids reroll their hit points using the new hit dice number (instead of rolling one die and adding it to the current total like other characters).  If the new number is greater than the previous hit point total, use the new amount.  If the new roll is less than or equal to the previous amount of hit points, just add 1 to the previous total and use that as the character’s new hit point amount instead.
In order to become a chieftain or king, in addition to gaining the required amount of experience points, the character must defeat the current occupant of that position in the tribe.  While players are free to challenge a leader to single combat in order to accomplish this, nonplayer humanoids are under no such delusion, and will not hesitate to sic their bodyguards on any challenger!

OK, I'm ready to roll up some humanoids and take on the Castellan and his men!  Who's with me?


Eric Campbell said...


I love the title names!

Zenopus Archives said...

Nice work! Lots of great little touches, like the giant rats for Kobolds. Coincidentally this past week I've been working on "Monster Races" for Holmes Ref.

Michael Thomas said...

Cool - my BLUEHOLME™ Compleat Rules are going to open up all races to players, so this is a topic close to my heart. Have you thought about actually allowing humanoids to take classes?

Desert Scribe said...

Thanks, everyone! Between Gygax's Keep and Holmes's blue book, I had a lot to work with.

I briefly thought about character classes for humanoids, but since I wasn't using any other material as inspiration for this, I decided to go with Holmes's implied race as class. If referees are feeling generous, they could allow humanoids to attempt to use magic items like scrolls or wands. I'm sure much hilarity would ensue.

Zenopus Archives said...

Shamans (Clerics) and Witch-Doctors (MU) would be a neat addition. I wonder if you could handle them as an alternate "career" path for 3rd/4th level?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Eric, an excellent post DS.

John Adams said...

Very Nice!