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Friday, November 9, 2012

Sub-Human (LL Class)

I'm currently reading Where The Summer Ends, a collection of short stories by Karl Edward Wagner. One tale that caught my fancy was ".220 Swift", which features an albino protagonist whose family history can be traced back to the people beneath the hills. The protagonist, Brandon, is set upon by visions when injured deep underground:

Again and again Brandon's dreams were red with visions of stealthy ambush and lurid slaughter of those who trespassed upon their hidden domain, of those who walked mountain trails upon nights when the stars were swallowed in cloud. He saw children snatched from their blankets, women set upon in lonely places. For the most part, these were nightmares from previous centuries, although there was a recurring dream in a which a vapid-faced girl gave herself over willingly to their obscene lusts, until the coming of men with flashlights and shotguns drove them from her cackling embrace.


Dad?


By the end of the story, Brandon has embraced his history and joins the degenerate morlocks underground. Now, this is to be expected in a tale like this, but Wagner's genius is that Brandon has not been dragged down in defeat - he quests to restore their lost glory:

Fantastic cities reeled and shattered as the earth tore itself apart, thrusting new mountains toward the blazing heavens, opening vast chasms that swallowed rivers and spat them forth as shrieking steam. Oceans of flame melted continents into leaden seas, wherein charred fragments of a world spun frenziedly upon chaotic tides and whirlpools, riven by enormous bolts of raw energy that coursed like fiery cobwebs from the cyclopean orb that filled the sky.

Deep within the earth, fortress cities were shaken and smashed by the Hell that reigned miles above. From out of the ruins, survivors crept to attempt to salvage some of the wonders of the age that had died and left them exiles in a strange world. Darkness dwellers from even great depths of the earth drove them from their buried cities and upward through caverns that opened onto an alien surface. In the silent halls of vanished greatness, nightmarish shapes crawled like maggots, while the knowledge of that godlike age was a fading memory to the degenerate descendents of those who had fled.

That's right, an albino hero that gathers together the disparate morlock tribes to reclaim a megadungeon claimed by Lovecraftian beasts. If that isn't D&D as shit, I don't know what is.

So, as a replacement of the Dwarf class, here is the half-morlock Sub-Human:

This Could Be You!


Sub-Human
Requisites: DEX 9
Prime Requisite: CON
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: 12

Sub-Humans appear to be human albinos, but are in fact the product of the unholy union of man and the half-ape creatures that dwell beneath the earth. Although half-morlocks may pass unmolested in the cities of man, their blood calls for the deep places among their kin. Due to their sensitive eyes and pale skin, half-morlocks suffer a -1 penalty to attacks while in direct sunlight.

From generations spent beneath the ground, the sub-human's eyes have adjusted to the darkness, allowing them to see in the dark with infravision up to 60 feet. Their thin frames and malleable bones allow them to slip through spaces far too small for a normal man, and sub-humans may save vs. Petrify or Paralyze to escape bonds or fit through thin passages. In addition to these abilities, sub-humans have adjusted to the high-magic environment of the underworld (which is reflected in their high savings throws). Perhaps the greatest gift of the sub-human, however, is their inherited racial memory. Once per day, a sub-human, when faced with a mystery of the underworld, may enter a dream state lasting 1d4 turns which may (LL's discretion) provide additional clues as to the nature of the mystery.

Reaching 5th Level: When a Sub-Human reaches level 5, he has the option of building an underground stronghold atop the ruins of a fallen morlock city that will attract nearby tribes of the creatures. The wretched morlocks are naturally drawn to sub-human leaders that occasionally emerge, recalling dimly their once-great history. Due to their antipathy towards other races, only morlocks will join the sub-human stronghold.

Sub-Humans use the Dwarf Attack Values, XP Chart, and Savings Throws.

"I still sometimes wonder if it isn't all part of my dreams. There's gold down there - more gold than the conquistadors ever dreamed - and hoards of every precious stone these mountains hold. But there's far greater treasure than any of this. There's a lost civilization buried down below, its ruined guarded by entities that transcend any apocalyptic vision of Hell's demons. It's been ages since any of my people have dared to enter the hidden strongholds -but I've dared to enter there, and I've returned."

-- Brandon, from ".220 Swift"

Also, special thanks to Evan Elkins for the suggesting the name "Sub-Humans".
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