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How can we balance non-armour cultures in OD&D Hollow World

by John Walter Biles

I haven't used OD&D since the mid-80s, except for stealing the dominion rules for everything, so my sense of mechanical balance may be insane here, but here's my suggestion of a class to take the 'fighter' role for most of the low-metal use cultures of the Hollow World.

The Tribal Warrior

Many Hollow World societies put an emphasis on speed and stealth for fighting rather than relying on armour, simply because they are rather lacking in heavy metal armour. Many of them live under conditions which would reduce the utility of heavy armour anyway. Further, in many of these societies, most men are expected to know how to fight, but also how to hunt and track and to use stealth in both warfare and hunting. Conventional Thieves are usually rare in many of these societies as well, so this class combines some of the functions of both.

Prime Requisite: Dexterity
Experience Bonus: 5% for Dexterity 13-15; 10% for Dexterity 16-18
Hit Dice: 1d8 per level up to 9th level. Starting with 10th level, they get only 2 HP per level and Constitution Adjustments no longer apply.
Maximum Level: 36th
Experience Table Used: Fighter
To-Hit Table Used: Fighter
Saving Throw Table Used: Rogue
Armour: Leather or Hide only, Shields allowed
Weapons: By culture.
Weapon Mastery: As per Fighters
Special Abilities:

Tribal Warriors Gain the Following special Abilities at First Level:

Long Runner: Tribal Warriors add 30 yards to their base move outdoors and 30' to their base move indoors. (So they get +10' effectively to their encounter speed)
Hunter: Tribal Warriors gain the Tracking and Hunting Skills in addition to the 4 + Intelligence Bonus skills everyone gets.
Stealth: Tribal Warriors may Move Silently and Hide in Shadows as a Thief of the same level.
Wolf Pack Tactics: Tribal Warriors learn to work together to harass foes and bring them down. Upon hitting a foe, a Tribal warrior may choose to inflict no damage, instead reducing the foe's AC by 1 for the rest of the round. The foe may save vs. Death Magic to avoid this penalty. This penalty is cumulative with multiple blows by different tribal warriors, to a maximum of 2+ 1/6th the level of the striking warrior, rounded up. (So a 7th level Tribal Warrior could not use this manoeuvre on a foe who already had -4 to his AC or higher).

At first level, Tribal Warriors choose one of three options which will continue to improve as they rise in level:

Far Thrower: These tribal warriors are expert throwers. They add 10' to the range of any thrown weapon for every 6 levels they have. (+10' at 1-6th, +20' at 7-12th, etc). If attacking a foe by surprise with a ranged throwing weapon, they inflict double damage on a successful blow. They may use their dex bonus to add to damage with thrown weapons if it is higher than their strength bonus.
Skirmisher: If some of the tribal warrior's movement remains after making an attack, they may use it to move immediately. Skirmishers add +10' to their encounter speed for every 6 levels they have. (In addition to the Long Runner bonus everyone gets).
Impaler: Impalers learn how to stick their weapons into foes so they remain stuck, hampering the foe's movements and actions. Upon striking a foe, they may choose to roll to hit a second time. If they succeed, the foe is impaled by the weapon and suffers a penalty to all actions equal to the Impaler's Level/6, rounded up. This does, however, leave them unarmed until they have the chance to pull another weapon. Intelligent creatures may remove the weapon by making a strength check, but this inflicts damage equal to the Impaler's Dex bonus + 1/6th his level (rounded up), unless done slowly outside combat.

At Ninth Level, they gain the Parry and Disarm Combat Manoeuvres. Ninth level tribal warriors may establish their own clan. They may alternately choose to become a Beastfriend (see below).
At Twelfth Level, they gain the Multiple Attacks Combat Manoeuvre.


Some Tribal Warriors feel the call of the wild, leaving their clans and tribes and befriending animal allies in the Wilderness. They may befriend and communicate with creatures whose combined HD is equal to their level. (Any given creature can have up to half their level worth of Hit Dice. Treat * as additional hit dice) If they are not already at full hit dice worth of companions, they can befriend an animal or magical creature as an action equivalent to casting a spell; the creature receives a save vs. Rod/Staff/Spell to throw off the effect. They may talk to animals at will, though many animals won't have much to say.

Befriended animals will accompany and assist the Beastfriend, though they act in accordance with their nature-- a befriended chipmunk might steal something for you or scout, but won't charge into battle. They are neutral towards anyone clearly a friend of the Beastfriend and won't eat their normal prey if it is befriended by the Beastfriend.

If one of your animal allies is slain, the Beastfriend suffers a -2 penalty to any action from depression until the next time he sleeps and wakes.