Monday, July 21, 2014

Ready Reference: Mix-and-Match Humanoids

I've gone back and forth a lot about humanoids in D&D. The cursus honorum of kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, gnolls and bugbears is a tired set of clich├ęs. On the other hand, D&D has a lot of resources dedicated to them and they are an archetypal part of the game. Demihuman bonus languages are based on the whole list of humanoids, and default encounter charts pretty much assume them. AD&D makes it even more severe; not having the humanoids basically eliminates the ranger's biggest bonus.

But they are still entirely too predictable. In the interest of alleviating that, here's a table that can give them a bit of variety. Any time there is a need for a low hit dice human-shaped creature in your games, use the table below to create a quick, appropriate humanoid.

1d6 HD AC Move Morale Language Height Damage Special
1 1/2 7 60' 6 Kobold 3' Weapon-1 Small; hate gnomes
2 1-1 6 60' 7 Goblin 4' 6" Weapon -1 to hit in daylight
3 1 6 120' 8 Orc 6' Weapon -1 to hit in daylight
4 1+1 5 90' 8 Hobgoblin 6' 6" Weapon +1 to hit if chief present
5 2 5 90' 8 Gnoll 7' Weapon+1 Wield 2-handed weapons
6 3 5 90' 9 Bugbear 8' Weapon+1 Surprise on 1-3

The table above might produce odd results if you run too literally with it; you could easily have a 1/2 HD creature 8' tall. This would probably be a thin, wispy type of humanoid. Likewise, a 3' type with 3 HD could be stocky almost to the point of being barrel-shaped.

Of course, older D&D never had monster types without some kind of leaders. Only 3 HD humanoids should be considered truly independent. For the remainder, the following chart should be used.

1d4 Leader Bodyguards
1 9 HP / 2 hit dice 1-6: 6 HP / 1+1 hit dice
2 15 HP / 4 hit dice, +2 to damage 1/group: 8 HP, +1 to damage
3 22 HP / 5 hit dice, +2 to damage 1-4: 3d6 HP / 4 hit dice
4 16 HP / 3 hit dice N/A

If the above tables give "bodyguards" more powerful than the leader, this may call for a "Klingon promotion" for one of them.

Because I like you, here's another chart to determine how your new humanoids look.

1d6 Skin Pattern Coloration Head Shape
1 Smooth skin Solid (1 color) Red Human
2 Hairy skin Striped (2 colors) Orange Canine
3 Completely furred Mottled (2 colors) Yellow Feline
4 Scaled Different torso (2 colors) Green Porcine
5 Feathered Multi-hued (3 colors) Brown Serpentine
6 Exoskeleton Iridescent (2 colors) Grey Avian

So there you have it: quick replacements for humanoids that still fit in most OD&D, classic and advanced old-school games.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for the table. I like to think of goblinoids as a race unto themselves with a variety of shapes and sizes. Just as goblins and orcs and uruk-hai are all sort of the same creature in Tolkien (some are just bigger and meaner), I like this idea that greenskins are all from the same family. Thanks!

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  2. I often re-skin goblins/orcs/hobgoblins/etc. as other races. Recently, I had my players fight a tribe of "ratlings" in the sewers under a city. The ratlings were just re-skinned goblins because, really, what's the difference mechanically?

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  3. I made some similar tables for generating random "goblins" (i.e., everything from kobold-like to ogre mage-equivalent) in my Ruins of Ebidoria campaign, currently languishing unloved in boxes stuffed with maps and notes. I'm going to steal your "appearance" chart, because I like the idea of "goblins" resembling Hieronymus Bosch devils. Thanks!

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  4. These are funny tables. I would add one more column to appearance;
    Fiddly Bits
    1-tailed, 2-horned, 3-fanged, 4-clawed, 5- nothing, 6-roll 2 more times and combine

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