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Vaults Note: The Guadalante referred to here is from the adventure Fortune Favors the Dead in Dungeon #80 by Lance Hawvermale, not the Estado de Guadalante.

Good afternoon, and thanks for the message! "Fortune Favors the Dead" was my second professional publication and helped me get into the writing business, so I will always cherish it. Trivia: the NPC depicted on the magazine's cover, Tonja, was named after my girlfriend at the time. The direct inspiration for the adventure was the Emilio Estevez western, "Dollar For the Dead," which in turn was inspired by the spaghetti westerns of Clint Eastwood; basically I wanted to write a D&D western. But if you see echoes of "The Savage Coast" in there, it's probably not coincidence. When I first started playing D&D in the early 80s, I owned only the PHB, DMG, and two modules: "When A Star Falls" and "X9: The Savage Coast," by Merle and Jackie Rasmussen. I'd love to hear about your experience in playing the adventure!

inspired by the spaghetti westerns of Clint Eastwood; basically I wanted to write a D&D western. But if you see echoes of "The Savage Coast" in there, it's probably not coincidence. When I first started playing D&D in the early 80s, I owned only the PHB, DMG, and two modules: "When A Star Falls" and "X9: The Savage Coast," by Merle and Jackie Rasmussen. I'd love to hear about your experience in playing the adventure!


by Lance Hawvermale

The Matador is the bullfighter of Guadalante, part showman and part fearless warrior. Though Matadors are primarily entertainers, they are also skilled technicians and redoubtable artists. The Matador might be considered the gladiator of Guadalante, although he depends less upon brute force and more upon sheer agility. A successful Matador can achieve great fame and wealth. In social circles a popular Matador stands on equal footing with clergymen and lesser nobles. Many of them are also renowned for their skills at dance. Both males and females may be Matadors.

Role: In Guadalante the bullfight is known as la fiesta brava (“the brave festival”) or la corrida de toros (“the running of the bulls”). The corrida, as it is popularly known, takes place before crowds of enthusiasts, often numbering many thousands. Traditionally, the bullfight is a combination of ritual and mortal combat, with an attempt to maneuver a bull gracefully and kill it in a manner both courageous and aesthetically unrepugnant.

Six bulls, to be killed by three Matadors, are usually required for one afternoon’s corrida, and each encounter lasts about fifteen rounds. At the appointed time, the three Matadors, each followed by their assistants—the banderilleros and the picadors—march into the ring to the accompaniment of traditional paso doble (“march rhythm”) music. The Matadors wear a distinctive costume, consisting of a silk jacket heavily embroidered in gold, skintight pants, and a montera (a bicorne hat). A traje de luces(“suit of lights”), as it is known, can cost several thousand pieces of gold; a high-ranking Matador must have at least six of them a season.

When a bull first comes into the arena out of the toril, or bull pen gate, the Matador greets it with a series of maneuvers, or passes, with a large cape; these passes are usually veronicas, the basic cape maneuver (named for the woman who held out a cup to St. Santiago of Ciban on his way to his execution).

The amount of applause the Matador receives is based on his proximity to the horns of the bull, his tranquility in the face of danger, and his grace in swinging the cape in front of an infuriated animal weighing more than a thousand pounds. The bull instinctively goes for the cloth because it is a large, moving target, not because of its color; bulls are color-blind and charge just as readily at the inside of the cape, which is yellow.

Fighting bulls charge instantly at anything that moves because of their natural instinct and centuries of special breeding. Unlike domestic bulls, they do not have to be trained to charge, nor are they starved or tortured to make them savage. Those animals selected for the corrida are allowed to live a year longer than those assigned to the slaughter house. Bulls to be fought by novilleros (“beginners”) are supposed to be three years old, and those fought by full Matadors are supposed to be at least four.

The second part of the corrida consists of the work of the picadors, bearing lances and mounted on horses. The picadors wear flat-brimmed, beige felt hats, silver-embroidered jackets, chamois trousers, and steel leg armor. After three lancings or less, depending on the judgment of the president of the corrida for that day, a trumpet blows, and the banderilleros, working on foot, advance to place their banderillas (brightly adorned, barbed sticks) in the bull’s shoulders in order to lower its head for the eventual kill. They wear costumes similar to those of their Matadors, but their jackets and pants are embroidered in silver.

After the placing of the banderillas, a trumpet sounds, signaling the last phase of the fight. Although the bull has been weakened and slowed, it has also become warier during the course of the fight, sensing that behind the cape is its true enemy; most gorings occur at this time. The muleta (a small, more easily wielded cape) is draped over the estoque (a sword much like a rapier), and the Matador begins what is called the faena, the last act of the bullfight. The aficionados study the Matador’s every move, the ballet-like passes practiced since childhood. (Most Matadors come from bullfighting families and learn their art when very young.) As with every maneuver in the ring, the emphasis is on the ability to increase but control the personal danger, maintaining the balance between suicide and mere survival. In other words, the real contest is not between the Matador and an animal; it is the Matador’s internal struggle.

The kill, properly done by aiming straight over the bull’s horns and plunging the sword between its withers into the aorta region, requires discipline, training, and raw courage; for this reason it is known as the “moment of truth.” Bullfighters generally expect to receive at least one goring a season.

Weapon Proficiencies: The Matador must become proficient in the estoque, a specialized rapier. By 3rd level he must also select the shield proficiency and apply it to the bullfighting cape. This permits the cape to be used to gain a +1 bonus to the warrior’s AC.

Bonus Proficiencies: Tumbling, and one of the following: Arena Acting, Etiquette, Crowd Working, or Dancing.

Special Benefits: The Matador receives a +4 or +20% to any check involved with bullfighting. The Matadors also benefit from love of the people. All bullfighters, regardless of their success, are adored and honored by the folk, both commoners and noblemen alike. They can request boarding and food from almost anyone of any social class, so long as the Matador is either in his hometown or in a town where his fame has preceded him. Matadors of high esteem are frequently the distinguished guests of nobility. Their way in life is often paved for them, and their nights are full of secret trysts, clandestine arrangements, political conspiracies, and adventuresome liaisons. Matadors are romantic figures, and as such lead a singularly intriguing life.

Special Hindrances: Matadors usually spend at least four days a week in practice. Only during performances do they don their finery and hear the roar of the crowd; the rest of the time they’re working with their assistants to the point of exhaustion. PC Matadors, being active individuals honing their talents in the field, can often get away with only two days of practice each week, but if this practice time is ignored, the Matador loses all bonuses to his bullfighting ability until he practices for a solid, uninterrupted week.

The Matador might be called upon any time by a member of the nobility, for any variety of reasons. It is unwise to turn a deaf ear to a nobleman. Matadors must strive to always stay on the good side of the noble families, as their livelihood depends upon the good graces of such patrons.