2/16/2012

The Riding-Men of Rhadamanthus





The insular and autarchical old Easterling colony of Rhadamanthus is known for its mounted warriors - not its cavalry, for they eschew the horse. Instead, they breed their mounts from human stock. These riding-men are larger and stronger than their masters, essentially horse-sized, and go on all fours. These brutes are no more intelligent than a horse, and have come to feed on grass and other fodder. Their call is an idiot moan, and they go unclothed and unaware of their nakedness. Generally, only males are used as mounts; females are smaller and reserved for breeding. Rhadamanthine etiquette considers the riding of a female to be extremely uncouth. Usually they are groomed to have long, flowing hair and full beards; occasionally a riding-man's hair will be braided, especially if he is a military mount.

A riding man functions similarly to a horse in most respects, though they are better climbers and navigators of rocky terrain than a horse, if somewhat worse jumpers. Though there are numerous varieties, outsiders are most likely to encounter the quick-footed Jeroboam, bred for travel, or a mighty Nebuchadnezzar, bred and trained for war.

Jeroboam
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Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Move: 240'(80')
Attacks: 2 fists
Damage: 1-4/1-4
No. Appearing: 1
Save as: Fighter: 1
Morale: 7
Treasure: Nil
Alignment: Neutral

Jeroboam: The Jeroboam is bred to carry a rider quickly and over a long distance. He can carry up to 300lb. and move at normal speed, or up to 600lb at half speed.

Nebuchadnezzar
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Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Move: 120'(40')
Attacks: 2 fists
Damage: 1-6/1-6
No. Appearing: 1
Save as: Fighter:2
Morale: 9
Treasure: Nil
Alignment: Neutral

The Nebuchadnezzar is a warrior's mount and popularly held to share a warrior's disposition. The Nebuchadnezzar's rider, if wielding a lance, can score double damage on a successful charge attack. During subsequent rounds, the trained Nebuchadnezzar can attack along with his rider, striking out with his massive fists. Carrying capacity is 400lb. (full movement) or 800lb. (half movement.)



A Knight of Rhadamanthus


Riding-men are an uncommon livestock in the Abraxas region, but traveling merchants sometimes can be found selling the beasts at a premium. Price, if available, will usually be about twice that of a comparable horse (Jeroboam 150 GP, Nebuchadnezzar 500 GP). Most riding-men available for sale will conform to the statistics above, but there is a 10% chance of an unusual specimen:


Roll d6 (Jeroboam) / d10 (Nebuchadnezzar)

1 Strider : This strong-backed specimen is capable of walking bipedally for 1d6 hours per day before tiring (Roll each day). While upright, he can bear a rider on his shoulders, and cradle objects with his forearms. Carrying capacity is 10% more than normal.

2 Wall-Crawler : This remarkable riding-man is a gifted climber and, while unburdened by a rider, can Climb Sheer Surfaces as a thief of a level equal to his hit dice. Uneven terrain is trivial to this riding-man. However, he is high-strung and his morale is 1 worse than normal.

3 Swimmer : This lean and muscular riding-man appears, unusually, to bear traits similar to natives of the continent. He is capable of swimming at 90'(30') for up to 1d6 hours per day, and can carry a rider while doing so. He swims in a front-crawl style, so the ride is not leisurely for the rider and a drenching is inevitable.

4 Hermaphrodite : This strange individual reproduces parthenogenetically. Hardy, +1 to saves.Each month of the summer, roll d6. On a 1, it is on its way to being a proud father/mother. Foaling follows 9 months later in the spring. All foals are male. A Jeroboam will produce more Jeroboams, a Nebuchadnezzar will produce (d6) 1-4 Runtish, effectively a Jeroboam 5-6 Full Nebuchadnezzar. There may be a 2% chance of twins at the discretion of the DM.

5 Scent-Man : This riding-man has an exceptional sense of smell and tracks as well as a hound. He has an incorrigible digging habit and is easily distracted by truffles. Willful, but bold; Morale is 1 better than normal.

6 Atavism : This melancholy-looking beast bares a faint ancestral memory of his human ancestors. He has an effective Intelligence of 3. May conceal his primal and rebellious intellect from his master. (50% chance)

7 Bellower : This barrel-chested riding-man is gifted with immensely powerful lungs and vocal cords. His stark basso calls may be heard up to 5 miles away. Enemies shouted at in a 45 degree cone up to 30 feet away must save vs. dragon breath or suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls and armor class for 1 round. Foes of animal intelligence may be subject to a morale check at the DM's discretion.

8 Fearless : This clear-eyed and handsome riding-man never checks morale and is immune to magical fear.

9 Grappler : This burly and stout-limbed individual (+1 HP/die) is both unusually flexible and unfortunately temperamental. He will attempt to wrestle a creature that attacks him, unless he makes a morale check. +1 bonus to grappling. His rider is almost certain to be thrown, calling for a Dexterity check to avoid d6 damage from the fall. May be trained to grapple on command as a trick.

10 Cannibal : This rangy and gangrel-looking riding-man has an unsettling habit of making eye-contact with you. He prefers a diet of meat and becomes willful if given only fodder (-2 morale.) In combat he will bite, with w
icked teeth, of his own accord (d8 damage). Unintelligent foes in melee with him are at -1 morale, horses and other riding-men are at -2. Prefers horse or human meat.

16 comments:

  1. I dig it, bro! Looking forward to more awesome stuff to come.

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  2. I'm psyched that you're doing this. Very disturbing first post. Especially #10 above.

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  3. Very cool stuff man. Congrats on the blog, I'm looking forward to more stuff.

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  4. I... don't know what to say.

    Asside from, obviously,, that this is awesome, and is getting used in my next game.

    But still. You're weird. I like you.

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  5. Excellent. Glad to see you finally listened to us.

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  6. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I've recently put out an ebook of my writing, called The New Death and others. It's mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard's King Kull story The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune and HP Lovecraft's Under the Pyramids.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog (either a normal book review, or a review of its suitability as gaming inspiration).

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy. You can email me (news@apolitical.info) or reply to this thread.

    You can download a sample from Smashwords:

    http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/92126

    I'll also link to your review from my blog.

    Yours,
    James.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I've recently put out an ebook of my writing, called The New Death and others. It's mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard's King Kull story The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune and HP Lovecraft's Under the Pyramids.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog (either a normal book review, or a review of its suitability as gaming inspiration).

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy. You can email me (news@apolitical.info) or reply to this thread.

    You can download a sample from Smashwords:

    http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/92126

    I'll also link to your review from my blog.

    Yours,
    James.

    ReplyDelete
  8. James - I think it would be a while before I got around to reading the ebook but once I have gotten some more posts up and have an good open weekend I'll get back in touch with you about it. I'm a fan of your Age of Fable game and tables, and the Telelili blog. Good to see you drop by.

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  9. Very nice indeed. Subscribed!

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  10. Awesome! I've been wanting to see you do a blog, of course. Great inaugural post :)

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  11. This is amazing. I love your representation of the absolute amorality that would have to go into breeding, buying, and using riding-men. I love your use of the art. I know nothing else about Rhadmanthus, but I can already imagine the feel of the place, and the kind of absolute power the strong must have over the weak there.

    I feel like this rivals anything in Carcosa for its cynical view of humanity, especially since you wouldn't encounter riding-men as part of some kind of rare and forbidden ritual. They'd be right there, in the most banal pre-adventure experience, buying animals and hiring henchmen.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, glad you like it.

      I think that in Rhadamanthus the natives would not consider their society to be one wherein "the kind of absolute power the strong must have over the weak " is apparent; of course it's implicit but they'd consider themselves perfectly civilized. It certainly must have taken that attitude to develop the riding-men but by now it's merely "at it has always been" and they are but animals to the Rhadamanthines. But it is a clue to the "national character" of their society.

      Delete