Friday, January 29, 2010

LL at DH's: The Quickening

And so it's time once again to speak of my weekly Labyrinth Lord game, when a couple of days have passed and the expired cheese that passes for my memory is already beginning to dissipate. That being said, I've finally gotten to the point where I remember the entire party's names, if not exact spellings, and I can tell you that the name of the town we have been bumming about in is known as Westenford.

So. When we left off, the party was just finishing up a lovely dinner with the parents of a young half elf named Amos. Since we had worked a deal with the local constabulary to roust the ghouls from the tunnel complex under the old burned out guard post, we decided to go out and hire some help. We decided to form a fund for hirlings, each chipping in a gold crown to get some backup.

We went first to the "Dying Minotaur", but since most of the clientele of that establishment was working stiffs, we didn't find any takers for our job posting. (Which initially was our stalwart paladin standing impressively on a chair and calling all in earshot to come and fight evil with him...) Asking discreetly at the bar, we were directed to go to a dive in the rougher part of town known as the "Red Keg", and so off we went. When the group got there, we found a crowd gathered around a game of darts with bets being laid. The strong contender was a dwarf named Gap (named after the huge gap in his front teeth) who seemed to play for the sheer love of the game. The challenger was handily beaten (losing Liam the Elf Ranger and Kooda Dood the Mage a couple of crowns in the process) and soon the crowd was dispersing, while the gap toothed dwarf called for a new challenger.

Desiring to make some friends, and perhaps initiate some business, Deacon Silver stepped up and accepted the dwarf's exhortation to a game. Taking three darts in hand, the contest began. The deacon had a really good first shot, and managed to beat Gap in a narrow game. (I'm not sure I remember, but I hope at this point I won back some of my comrades' money.)

The Deacon offered to buy Gap a drink, so we went to the bar, where it turned out that the dart playing dwarf was the younger brother of the bar's owner and actually worked there. When I asked Gap about who might be interested in joining us on a dangerous expedition, and he referred us to his brother (name forgotten, sorry DH), who was much cannier and businesslike. He in turn pointed out a hard bitten looking fellow wearing a wolf skin cloak and armed with a mace, a fighter who went by the name of Three Fingered Melkior. He was missing two fingers on his left hand, which he'd lost to a wolf in the forest after poverty had forced him to sleep there rather than in the town. He was so poor, that he'd had to pawn his sword and settle for using a mace as a weapon. After a bit of haggling, both with our potential hireling and among ourselves, we signed him on for the price of four crowns a month, plus a promise to buy his sword back from the pawnbroker for him. With that done we headed back to the Dying Minotaur to sleep and rest up for our expedition the next day.

The following morning, we got up, geared up, and went to gather Lieutenant Webber, the town guard who would accompany us down to witness our slaying of the undead so that we could collect bounties on them.

The group decended into the dismal hole and set out searching, checking in the various rooms we'd discovered to make sure nothing was lurking there. The only change since our last foray was the mysterious chest that had dissolved into a cloud of smoke had reverted to its solid state and crashed to the floor, shattering into splinters. Among the wreckage we found some old clothes and an ornate dagger, which Kooda claimed for himself.

We finally found our undead quarry, three ghouls and two skeletons, lurking at the end of the main corridor. Our plan was for the Deacon to turn them, and then only attack one at a time so that we could slay them piecemeal. Of course, the plan being a plan, this didn't survive contact with the enemy. My roll wasn't good enough to turn the ghouls, who charged us, although thankfully the skeletons were turned and stayed out of the fight. If they hadn't, I think we would have been overwhelmed.

The fighters, Melkior and Früdje, took the front, with Deacon Silver standing ready to either cure wounds or paralysis should that become necessary, since to step forward with his quarterstaff would have widened the fight from two on two to three on three. Liam the Elf took a shot with his longbow, but sadly only managed to hit the Paladin squarely in the back, forcing him to use his laying on of hands on friendly fire. Klint the thief attempted to sneak up for a backstab, but was noticed and got pulled into the fighting.

Eventually, the front line managed to take out one of the ghouls, so that the Deacon and could step up, but in response the ghouls managed to grieviously wound both Melkior, Früdje, and Klint, and leave the thief, the paladin, and Deacon Silver paralysed from the horrible touch of their claws. DH's critical wound table was rolled for all characters whod been reduced to zero, leaving Melkior with a shattered knee, our paladin with a hand so wounded he couldn't hold his sword, and Klint with a dislocated shoulder. It was Liam with his sword, Kooda with thrown daggers, and the intervention of Webber the town guard, who had merely been guarding the rear and observing, that finally finished off the scaberous undead corpse beasts. By that time, the skeletons were beginning to shake off the effect of the Deacon's silver mandolin strings, and were approaching with rusty swords in their bony hands, so the able bodied remainder of the party hefted the inert bodies of their comrades and beat a hasty retreat back to the first room, where they barricaded the door and waited for the ghoul's uncanny paralysis to wear off.

It was decided that we would leave Klint and Melkior here as their injuries made them incapable of continuing. (This was fine with Klint because his player was absent, so he was in henchman mode for this session.) Früdje was well enough to wield his sword in his off hand, merely losing the 1 point AC benefit of his shield. I think the Deacon used his cure light wounds on the paladin to give him a better lead on his hit points. Our main purpose in going back was to retrieve the ghouls' heads for the bounties, as well as the skulls of the skeletons, which being the weakest form of undead would be easy enough for us to kill even weakened as we were. We negotiated with Webber about bearing witness on the skeleton and ghoul heads we'd fought a few days ago, even if he hadn't been there to see them animate, and he agreed on condition that he got a share of the bounty. Grudgingly, the party agreed, and off we went.

Thus fortified, the group set out again and charged the skeletons, quickly reducing them to clattering bones with sword and staff blows. We then took a quick jaunt into the gambling den area where we found the re-killed skeleton and ghoul where we'd left them. Hastily taking the heads and popping them into Webber's notarized bag (I love that we brought a notary public down into a dungeon delve.), we went back to collect our comrades and got the h-e-double quarterstaffs out of there.

From there, we hied ourselves back to the Dying Minotaur and holed up for a few more days, allowing the Deacon time to accumulate enough Cure Light Wounds spells to set everybody's really bad injuries, and to let natural healing take its course as well. (As we were doing this, we'd quite forgotten that Amos' father had agreed to let us use his magic pool of healing if we needed it, a fact the young half elf reminded us of when we encountered him a couple days into our convalescence. D'oh! as the bard would say... Ah well, doesn't hurt not to abuse a privilege like that.)

Once we were back in fighting trim, we decided to go back down into the catacombs and check out some of the corridors we hadn't when we were fighting for our lives against the ghouls. We dragooned Webber into bringing his notary bag and coming with us, and also brought along Melkior, with his newly de-hocked sword. Thus far, the abomination slaying business had netted us 230 (by my estimation, we were getting 50 crowns per ghoul and 10 per skelly, and had killed four of the former and two of the latter. Or re-killed, anyway.)

The first place we checked when we went back down was the end of the corridor where the ghouls had been hiding, where a few chairs and a hearth occupied the end wall. After a brief search, we found a hidden door in the fireplace that led through to a small chamber whos' only feature was a small wooden box on the floor. Inside the box we found a velvet lining cushioning a potion of some sort, which we gave to Kooda to hold on to.

We then searched the chamber, and found another secret door across from the door in the fireplace. Feeling a bit edgy, we left the task of opening it and checking for traps to Klint, and all vacated the small chamber after tying our rope around his waist to pull him (or enough of a buriable corpse) out of danger should he be caught in the trap's area of effect. The thief did indeed detect a trap, but as he tried to disarm it he set it off, flooding the room beyond with some kind of gas. Not wanting to find out firsthand what the gas did, he turned on his heel and ran, and we slammed the fireplace door and left the area, hoping that time would dissipate the gas and give us a chance to go back there.

The group then proceeded to the gambling den, where we followed the corridor we had ignored in our fight with the ghoul and skeleton two sessions ago. As we headed back the tunnel, we found a crossroads, where the corpse of a huge, dog sized rat lay. Delving deeper, we found more and more sign of an infestation of the foul megarodents. We encountered a room full of baby rats, pinkies, the size of guinea pigs.

As we were surveying this horror, Webber cried out from the rear that he was being attacked, and sure enough he was being rushed by five giant rats, who leapt upon him and bit at him savagely with their sharp, chisel teeth. We encouraged Kooda to use his Sleep spell on the brutes, even though Webber was in the area effect. The spell was successful, and we simply woke the guardsman up, and then finished off the rats and popped their heads into the Lieutenant's notary sack, in case the town was paying a bounty on giant rats. (If they weren't, maybe we could sell 'em as bait to the fishermen for a couple pence at least.) We hadn't the heart to kill off the pinkies, so we simply pressed on.

We came to a crossroads, and decided to head straight, and eventually came to a large chamber where five of the giant rats had built a large nest out of branches and trash. The creatures charged us, hissing and biting. This time, we improved our tactics somewhat, letting Liam and Kooda attack with missiles (bow and thrown daggers) before laying into them with sword and staff. It was a rough fight that left us with a few rat bites (none of which, mercifully, left us infected with plague, a very real danger with such beasts) and five more rat heads in the bag. We searched the nest, and turned up a gold ring and a small red gem among the trash.

From there we went deeper into the maze, and found more rats, who fled into a rat sized hole in the wall after arrow fire killed one of their number. We stuffed the corpse into the hole to kind of block it, and then retraced our steps back to the crossroads, following another branch.

This led to another room with a rat's nest and several more of the beasts, which we dispatched fairly handily, although the details of it elude me. I do remember we found another dagger or something in the nest. There was an escape hole in this area too, which Liam decided to crawl down and explore with his elven ability to see in the dark. We tied the rope around his waist and sent him on his way, until the rope went taut with the tunnel stretching away ahead of him. He backed out finding nothing, and we went on our way.

I'm not remembering much more than that. I think the order of events and the battles with the rats are a little garbled in my memory. We threw a flask of oil and chased a bunch off at some point as well, maybe in the room with the pinkies, I'm not sure.

I do recall we searched behind another door in the gambling den room, and found a small chamber with a table, a rack of age warped spears, and a dartboard that had a mysterious map of some wizard's living quarters with directions to a stash of magic items behind a picture on the wall. It was as old as the complex, so we were unsure as to when and if the raid the map was a part of had long since been carried out. I'm not sure if we searched this room before or after the tunnel complex with the giant rats, I'm thinking after since I think it was about this time we knocked off.

All told, another good session. It's amazing how much you can get done in old school play. All of this activity, a bit of roleplay, some hiring negotiation, and at least four fights, all in the span of three hours or less. Compared to the slog of 3rd. edition play, it's really refreshing. I'm really looking forward to next week, and also to get some of my own DM'ing projects off the ground.

Other take aways: Our tactics are improving. We're learning how to co-ordinate our attacks and coming up with plans, which is a good deal. Also, once again ghouls are proving to be an alpha predator for first level parties. They're modest enough by way of attacks, damage, and AC, but that paralysing touch is n-n-nasty. Plus they've got 2 hit dice, which means they have a bit of staying power if your dice aren't hot. Long story short, I hates me some ghouls. Lookin' forward to the day when I get a D (for instant DESTROY) on the turning table. For now, though, I'm content to scare 'em off with my mandolin and whack 'em with my stick. Varmints...

Anyhow, thanks again, DH, and all my fellow players in the 10d Gamers group for another enjoyable session.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More LL at DH's

Okay, time to give the rundown on this week's session, before it totally ablates from my brain. We played on Wednesday, which also happened to be my birthday, and gaming on one's birthday is a fine thing indeed.

When last we left our heroes, we were about to venture down into a cavern beneath the burned out guard house that the party had discovered underneath a trapdoor. Liam the Elf and Yøgen Früdje the Paladin* led, followed by Deacon Silver, our mage (who's name again eludes me, sorry) and Klint the thief. When the elf and paladin reached the bottom of the rungs set in the earthen wall, they found a twisting passage lined with shelves that seemed to have been used a long time ago as a pantry, due to the rotting foodstuffs and crockery in evidence.

As soon as they stepped into the passage, they were jumped from out of the pitch blackness by a pair of skeletons led by a ghoul. The paladin was struck several times by the ghoul's scaberous claws, but managed to make his saves vs. paralysis and not fall victim to its touch. The elf was also struck, I think (my memory is unclear a bit to the sequence of events) which while he was immune to the ghoul's touch, still took him down to 0 hp. At this point, DH rolled on his special critical chart that he's using for this campaign, and determined that the damage didn't incapacitate Liam, but his broken ribs caused him penalties to hit. If he took another hit he'd be dead.

Finally, Deacon Silver made it to the bottom of the shaft and unlimbered his silver stringed mandolin. The sound of his playing caused the undead monsters to turn and flee back down the passage, allowing the rest of the party to make it down. (Most important to our purposes was the mage, who carried our only light source, a lantern, slung on his belt.) The paladin then used his healing ability on himself while the Deacon cast "Cure Light Wounds" on Liam, restoring his hit points but not removing the broken ribs (which would require a second Cure spell. Alas for being a 1st. level cleric.)

A little way in the passage we found a room with a hexagonal table and a hexagonal bed, as well as an iron bound chest in one corner. The party set about checking out the furniture, finding it old and dusty. When we checked out the chest, we found we couldn't get it unlocked, so the paladin struck the lid with his sword hoping to break it. This shattered something inside the lid which caused the chest to dissipate into a cloud of smoke which floated toward the roof and hung there. Puzzled by this, we decided to explore deeper into the tunnel.

We found another room that was unremarkable save for the advanced decay of the furnishings, and a chest containing another false bottom that hid a small amount of treasure. When we came out of that room, the undead returned, having bolstered their number with another ghoul. The Deacon's silver strings sang again and chased the monsters off a second time to the far end of the winding corridor, where they huddled in fear for the rest of the night. The party decided to leave them be, and explore another room we found.

In this room, we found what we presume to be the remains of a gambling den, with another hexagonal table with moldy cards and copper coins strewn across it. As we entered, another undead ambush awaited, a ghoul and a skeleton. Deacon Silver turned the monsters (I was on fire with my turn undead rolls that evening.), forcing them back into their alcove. The party decided to destroy these ones, so the archers started firing their bows as the paladin charged in swinging his sword.

This is where things got kind of hairy.

Once attacked the undead broke out of their turning and fought back, the ghoul clawing and the skeleton swinging a rusty sword. Früdje was struck so badly by the ghoul's claws that he failed his saving throw against the paralysis effect and fell back stiff as a board. Complicating this, he also was reduced to 0 hit points, and rolled on the critical table, the result being as he fell back stiffened by the ghoul's clammy touch, he fell on his leg at an awkward angle and broke it pretty heniously. (Like, Joe Thiesman heinous... Ngghh...)

With the paladin down, it fell to Deacon Silver and Klint to take the monsters out, as Liam the elf was still one hit away from doom and the mage wouldn't last long at all against the creatures. The undead managed to whittle the Deacon down point by point but he managed to avoid being paralysed by the ghoul. He got a good hit in on the creature with his quarterstaff, and I think managed to take down the skeleton, while Klint attempted to flank the monsters and backstab the ghoul. He failed to surprise the monster, but he hit with his shortsword anyway and finished the horrible corpse beast off. With that we decided to beat a hasty retreat, strapping the Paladin's rigid body to the Deacon's back as we high tailed it out of the tunnel and up the ladder.

It was just breaking dawn as we made it to the surface, and presently the paralysis wore off and the Paladin started screaming in pain as we carried him through town. We finally got him quieted down enough when we got back to the Dying Minotaur, where it was quiet in the early morning. We settled in and bought breakfast, and endeavored to get Früdje as drunk as possible so he could bear the pain of his shattered leg.

We carried him up the hill to the local temple to see if we could get him healed, but found the price for their mystical healing a bit steep at 100 gold for Cure Light Wounds. We were also a bit diplomatically challenged at the time, with our paladin being thoroughly hammered, and the rest of the party being rather antisocial in nature. We managed to get out of the temple without anybody stealing anything or angering the priests, so we decided to just go back and wait out the couple of days it would take for the Deacon to be able to heal everybody's damage at the tavern.

While the Deacon whiled away the hours playing his mandolin and keeping Früdje company while he sobered up, the other party members pursued various agendas about town. We spent three days at the inn, sharing a room and resting. We also got a little more info from Loretta the barmaid about the history of the burned down guardhouse. She mentioned that a prisoner had been kept there, who'd been just barely rescued when the place burned down. We flagged this as potentially significant, and went about our business.

Liam went hunting in the forest for food (preferring wild game to paying money for cooked food), and met a young half elf hunter named Amon whom he befreinded. They arranged for Liam to meet with the lad's parents to speak of recruiting him as a henchman in our adventuring.

Our mage went to speak to the senior wizard in the area in hopes the elder mage taking him on as an apprentice. The meeting was short and cordial, and the mage agreed to take him on if he could bring him the head of an ogre who'd been terrorizing the north hills with a party of gnolls at his side.

Liam, the mage, and Klint went to the captain of the guard and informed him about the nest of undead we found, and managed to wrangle a contract for us to clear out the dungeon, although we would require a witness to accompany us from the town guard, because it's easy to fake a bounty trophy with undead after a few hours digging in a graveyard.

Finally, once everyone's wounds had healed and bones had been set, the party went around to the home of Amon's parents to speak with them of recruiting the young half elf. They weren't willing to allow this, as Amon was quite busy running messages to their elvish kin to the West, who had recently been having problems with the incursion of savage wolves from the deep forests. We spoke of possibly being able to help with that problem, and so parted on friendly terms.

That was pretty much the extent of the evening. We had a little bit of diplomacy and role play, some action, some injuries, and we made a lot of contacts in the local area with potential for further adventure. All in all a good session. I look forward to next week.

*I'm not quite sure I'm spelling this right, I'm sorry to say. All I managed to retain thus far is our paladin has a high concentration of umlauts in his name.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Labyrinth Lord at DH's

Well, seeing as this is a gaming blog I s'pose I oughta talk about the gaming I do. Last night I just started playing in a new Labyrinth Lord campaign with my good buddy DH. Not a whole lot got done besides character creation, but even with a truncated session we got a decent start on things.

We rolled characters up using straight up 3d6's as they land (with one swap of stats if y'wanna be all namby pamby about it). My dice landed with some pretty average stats, with 13's on Wisdom and Constitution, so I was looking at either a Dwarf or a Cleric. As much as I love relentlessly speaking in a Scottish accent (it just happens with dwarves, can't be helped...) I decided to try my hand at a cleric. It was then I had the idea to pattern the character after Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John character, so I fixed him up with a silver stringed mandolin as his holy symbol, described him as a sandy haired Johnny Cash in chainmail, and set Deacon Django Silver loose on DH's world. I'll probably make a mini of him sooner or later, but being as this is no holds barred, full contact Labyrinth Lord, I'll probably hold off on that 'til he hits 3rd level at least.

The rest of the party consisted of an elf ranger, a paladin (both of which used expanded Labyrinth Lord classes that DH had downloaded, as well as a rule variant for demihuman classes that DH had cooked up.), a magic user, and a thief. Sadly, right now I can only remember the theif's name, which is because his player declared he was "The Man With No Name", although folks could call him Clint if they wanted. I'll try to rectify this lack of memorization skills in further sessions, but again, this being old school, I might not need to remember these names too long.

Anyway, the story began with the party trudging down a road along a river heading for a town on the sea coast. As the party neared a bridge, we narrowly avoided being waylaid by a quartet of pig faced orcs. Our paladin detected evil lurking nearby, and my character used his quarterstaff to tap out an approximation of footfalls on the bridge, luring the creatures out and surprising them. The party fired bows at them and the paladin charged in with his sword, mercifully shrugging off friendly fire from both the archers as well as a sleep spell from our mage. He got 3 hd worth of sleep out, and affected 2 orcs and the paladin, who thankfully made his save. Deacon Silver ran up to support the paladin if he needed it, which also put him in the line of fire from the rest of the party. We finished off the remaining orcs with sword blows and quarterstaff hits, coup de graced the unconscious ones, and rolled their carcass' into the river, where they sank out of sight due to their chainmail.

From there, we headed into town, pausing at a small guardhouse to speak to the town guardsmen who met us, mostly getting info about who the Captain of the Guard was, whether there was any evil afoot in town, and where we could get A: a good meal and B: a quiet place to sleep for the night. It turned out those would be in separate places. The fare at "The Dying Minotaur" was supposed to be good, but the place was reputed to be noisy, while the "Tavern of the West Wind" was supposed to be nice and quiet.

We went to the tavern and got a meal, some of us having the roast and others having fish stew, but all of us complaining about how much it cost. The tavern had a painting of a bull's head on the sign, and a bull's head mounted over the bar. We figured it'd probably go smoother for us if we referred to it as a "minotaur's" head, but we really had no way of knowing whether the proprietor had gotten it from an adventure or from the local butcher.

In the midst of our dinner, there was a really cool game mechanics thing that happened that I'd recommend to everybody running Old School editions. Our thief used his Listen ability to see if he overheard any interesting conversations around the tavern. This was essentially a B/X version of 3+ edition's "Gather Information" and I thought it was a really cool house rule for thieves, who'd naturally be tuned in to picking up tidbits of info while eavesdropping. I'm definitely gonna use it as a house rule when I get around to running some Labyrinth Lord.

So anyway, it paid off to, as "Clint" overheard a couple of fishermen arguing about one of them seeing a skeleton walking around in a burned out guardhouse on the other end of town. This made the paladin's ears prick up, so we found out the location and set out after settling our bill.

We found a building gutted by fire in the slummier part of town. Undaunted by its eerie appearance, we went in, scanning for evil from the paladin, using the ranger's tracking skills and elfish ability to spot secret doors, and otherwise just poking around. We didn't really find too much in the front rooms except wreckage and ashes, but the group decided to bed down for the night in the building due to a combination of cheapness, and certain members' preference to sleep out of doors. Since I'd bought a Camping Kit I unrolled my bedroll and we took turns keeping watch.

The night passed fairly un-eventfully, until the mage's turn came up. He heard something moving outside a large hole in the building's wall, and woke the paladin to investigate. Still groggy, the paladin encountered a giant rat sniffing around the perimeter, and ran it through with his sword. While fighting the beast, he spotted another back entrance to the building that we hadn't explored, so he and the mage went back and woke up the party. It was way too early to be awake, but we figured we might as well start the new day early, and went back to check it out.

The door opened into a small bedroom with a mouldy carpet on the floor, and a chest in one corner. The theif investigated the chest, and failed to notice a poison needle trap, which hit him. Now right then I figured "The Man With No Name" would become "The Man With No Heartbeat", joining the late, lamented Black Dougal in thief Valhalla, but mercifully the poison had long since dried and flaked off. (This, as DH said, was his single missed trap freebie, which is cool since the player was new to old school style play.) The party then proceeded to bust open the chest, finding nothing but mouldy old clothes inside. This aroused Deacon Silver's suspicion. Why potentially kill a feller over a pile o' cheap shirts? So I took my quarterstaff and busted out what turned out to be a false bottom, which contained a bag holding 15 gold crowns, which we split up among us right away.

Further searching of the room revealed a trapdoor hidden under the rug. We pried it open, and the paladin sensed a strong evil presence underneath. And it was there, with adventure beckoning, that we closed out the session.

All in all, a pretty good start. We're probably gonna need to work a little on party cohesion if we want our characters to make it out of rookie status, there were a lot of arrows flying at the backs of party members, although for a paladin this is a pretty common occurence. (I once had a paladin character who went through most of the campaign wearing a set of Armor of Arrow Attraction. Didn't really notice, 'cos he was a frontline guy and such a tank.)

I'm looking forward eagerly to the next session.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Class: The Handsman

Now is the time for punching!

The following is an attempt to create an unarmed fighting class for Labyrith Lord with a more Western flavor. I envision them more as pugilists, wrestlers, and overall tough guys than as Shaolin style aescetics dropped into Medieval fantasy settings. Think Samson, Hercules, Little John, Popeye, Asterix, or any character Brian Blessed ever played, and you're pretty much thinking of these guys.

This is a conversion from the Handsmen that appeared in the Fort Standish sandbox campaign using the 3rd. Edition D&D Monk rules.

Hit Dice: d10

Across the land, there have been despotic overlords who have decreed that certain fractious villages were no longer permitted to arm themselves. Being, as they were, fractious, these communities chose to obey the letter of these laws, but not the spirit, electing to strengthen their bodies and train in the art of fighting with bare hands or whatever weapons could be improvised, and thus the Handsmen were founded. From Clobberton and Musseldorf, Donnybrook and Greater Fracas, legends have grown of the feats of strength and daring these hearty folk were capable of.

Handsmen (and Handswomen) of different areas have taken to traveling to other villages to test their mettle with other schools, usually in contests of strength (such as hurling stones, wrestling bears, bending bars, or hurling bears) or, more commonly, public brawls. When two Handsmen from different villiages meet while travelling, it is not uncommon for them to enter into a challenge right on the spot. The loser of these challenges is often compelled to undergo an embarrassing punishment, or if they fought well and the winner likes the cut of their jib, to owe the victor a favor to be collected later.

Handsmen of certain traditions are known to cultivate impressive mustaches and/or beards (the Handswomen of these villiages respond to this with heavy pigtails that can often be used as weapons in their own right). Handsmen from the hamlet of Lucalibra fashion colorful masks that they never remove except in defeat. Handsmen live large and boisterously, and are prone to great joy, great rage, great melancholy, and great adventure.

Handsmen are rigorously trained to fight unarmed, and have a higher damage when they do so. Starting at 1d4 at first level (plus Str. Bonus), at certain levels they gain the ability to hit for even higher damage.
Handsmen may only use clubs, flails, hammers, and quarterstaffs as weapons, and have an uncanny ability to create these weapons out of any furniture or foliage that comes to hand. (Hercules Haas, the strongest man in Musseldorf, once beat an entire garrison of the Duke Sable's elite guards senseless with a milking stool.) There comes a point in a Handsman's development, however, where such weapons are merely ways to offer themselves a challenge, simply because they can do equal or greater damage barehanded. (Proud Molly Stubbett, a Handswoman from the coastal villiage of Garsmack, once wielded a rowboat as a weapon for an entire year on a bet.) Handsmen fight using the Fighter's to hit progression.

Handsmen also have a special ability in combat, known as the Clobber. When a Handsman declares they are Clobbering a foe, they roll a d20 normally to hit, and then roll a d20 to see if they have knocked their foe unconscious for 1d4 turns. Their chance to Clobber is equal to their level, so a 1st. Level Handsman clobbers on a 1 in 1d20, while a 12th. level Handswoman, for example, would clobber on 1-12 on a d20. A failed clobber attempt only does 1d4 damage if it doesn't knock the foe out. Undead and constructed beings like golems are immune to this power, while large creatures like giants and dragons gain a save vs. Paralysis to avoid this effect. (Ugly Stan Bransson from Plugville once punched out a black dragon that had been devouring his cattle, then he decked one of his prize bulls for leading the herd into the swamp in the first place...)

Handsmen also train to increase their strength, although there are rumors that they enhance their prodigious abilities with magic potions brewed by local druids, or diets rich in leafy green vegetables. They gain a strength bonus at certain levels in addition to whatever strength bonus may come from their STR. stat, due to their knowledge of leverage and pressure. This bonus only applies to feats of strength such as forcing doors, bending bars, and lifting gates.

Finally, Handsmen disdain the use of armor (It is often difficult to get them to
even wear a shirt.) Instead, they toughen themselves through exercise and mortification regimes, like frequent dips in frozen streams or sleeping in wolverines' burrows. At certain levels, the Handsman's armor class gains a natural bonus. They also do not use shields, but can benefit from protective magic items like Bracers of Armor if they can get them. (Although they risk derision from their fellow Handsmen for being pantywaists...)

Their abilities improve according to the following chart:

Upon reaching 9th. level, a Handsman may choose to found a school to train others in the unique fighting style they have developed. These schools take the form of a fortified building, and may be built anywhere, from large cities to remote wilderness locations. Upon doing so, 3d6 1st. level Handsmen (and Handswomen) will come to study under the school master's tutelage. Once they hit 5th level, these students will strike out on their own, to be replaced by 1d6 new 1st. level apprentices. If any students are killed in the course of their studies, they will not be replaced.

Handsmen use the Dwarf saving throw chart and advance using a Magic User's level advancement.

"C'mon boys, lets go beat up some ogres..."

This class is hereby designated as Open Game Content via the Open Game License.