Gnolls have slaughtered their way to gaming infamy, and they are a favorite of gamemasters (GMs) and players alike. This article can be used by GMs to round out this age-old monster, or players can use it to create new characters. The following gnoll variant is formatted for AGE—though you can convert the material to your preferred system easily enough—and is specific to the Midgard campaign world.
Tribal cultures sometimes have a different leader in war then when in peace. The tribal chieftain template I discussed last week was for a chieftain who mostly leads primarily by speaking. The tribal hero, or war chief if you prefer, leads by action.
You can represent this by simply applying the advanced template if you want fast, easy, and boring. If, instead, you’d like to challenge your players with a template designed for guerilla warfare tactics, join me after the jump for the tribal hero (CR +2).
“Master! Look what I’ve found in the dungeon.”
“Ah, my old adventurer’s tent. How much I miss the days of my youth when I’d gad about the countryside, chasing this purple temple or that magenta stronghold. How my young limbs used to love a stop in the dangerous wilderness and break my fast with spring water and berries.”
“Whereas now your regal buttocks become inflamed unless they are warm and cozy on your mighty mattress.”
“True, slug-mother, true. Now get my warming pan ready and boil me some frothy milk for my supper or I’ll have you lashed.”
Last fall Christina Stiles approached me about participating in an event she was organizing for MACE 2012 entitled Midgard Mayhem. The event was designed to showcase the just released campaign setting of Midgard by Wolfgang Baur by running adventures set in it. The idea sounded cool and I agreed to run a couple of adventures for the event.
The first scenario I ran was The Forgotten King’s Tomb by Mike Franke adapted to Green Ronin’s excellent AGE system. The premise of the adventure is that the adventurers are members of an elite cadre of kobold irregulars sent to seek a tomb with supposedly enchanted writing that their Akinji (dragonkin lord) Shard had discovered during an expedition into the Sands of Sorrows many years prior.
“The sight of it made the earth seem unearthly. They were accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there—there you could look at a thing monstrous, beautiful, and free.” —Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.
My first Old Hat Monster article was about breathing new life into the classic monster races with my civilized template. The idea plays off a common assumption that the monstrous humanoids are generally going to be unintelligent savages. This assumption is often reinforced by game mechanics and fantasy tradition. Breaking that mold always seems to work—the players always take the “civilized” monster a little more seriously.
The quandary, of course, is that this should be the very opposite. As the player characters explore uncharted territory, there should be a sense of unease . . . a fear of the unknown. Taming the wilds should be a frightening concept. The civilized urbane citizens of your favorite Pathfinder setting should be a little softer than those who still live off hunting and gathering.
Once again, game mechanics are to blame. Proceed cautiously after the jump as I present the first in a small series of tribal templates, starting with the tribal chieftain template (CR +1).