06 December 2013

Poor Man's Feast; A Mystaran Magic Item

Whatever poor soul first kept his share of the day's hunt too close to the campfire and happily discovered that putting a char to a piece of meat vastly improves its taste is sadly lost to the fog of prehistory, but in the Shirelands, every Hin worth his (or her!) toehair knows the name Blossom Goldenspoon.

Long ago, in the days when the Hin folk first learned to tend their fields and keep pantries, cooking became the high art that it is today. One of the earliest, and still most revered Hin cooks of this time was Blossom Goldenspoon. A creative genious in her kitchen, Blossom is still credited with first creating most of the foundations of every Hin's recipe collection, and in fact, telling a Hin that her dish "could've come straight from Blossom's hearth" is considered a compliment of the highest order.

With success often comes the envy of others, and such was the case for Blossom. Many of her peers sought to outdo her skill, and at least one stooped to magical cheating to help, but as the Hin like to say "ye eat what ye cook"...

Cotter Bramblepatch was a well intentioned apprentice cook, at first desiring only to win the praise of his clan by feeding them the best meals he could muster, but he had the misfortune of living in the same town as Blossom, and grew weary of hearing his dishes compared to hers, never favorably, mind you. Frustrated, he traveled east, to visit the Traaldara folk and hoped to learn new culinary secrets that would impress his kinfolk.

Cotter was quickly dismayed at the fact that Human cookery was far inferior to that of the Hin. He had almost given up on his quest when he met a a young Traladaran magic user who promised to help him achieve his goal in exchange for 10 years of service as the magician's personal cook. You see, although Cotter's skills in the kitchen didn't wow his peers, to a human, his dishes were divine. He faithfully completed his decade of service, at the end of which, his master presented him with a fine silver soup bowl, "Cotter, my lad" the old magician said, "any you serve from this vessel will find it the grandest meal they've ever eaten." Cotter took the bowl skeptically and returned home to the Shires.

The grandest meals ever, indeed. Hin flocked from miles around to have a taste from the table of Cotter Bramblepatch! Word around Eastshire, and beyond, spoke of meals fit for the Immortals themselves, selflessly offered to any who came asking. Cotter reveled in his newfound fame.



Cotter's soup bowl, enchanted by his Traladaran friend, whose name is not known in these tales, did exactly as promised, every meal served from it was thought to be the finest that diner had ever tasted! So great was its power that even burnt, spoiled and rotten dishes were greedily slurped up, to the very last drop or scrap. The bowl's power proved to be Cotter's downfall in the end.

Cotter was very generous, far preferring fame and praise to coin, but after a while, his money purse ran low and he could no longer afford fresh, wholesome ingredients for his recipes. You probably see the bowl's folly already. Although a dish served from it tastes like the finest fare one has ever eaten, the actual quality of the food is not affected at all. Thus, a meal that is burnt, undercooked, spoiled, or even poisoned will still cause heartburn, sickness or even death to those consuming such tainted fare.

Thus it was that Cotter's peers began to question his methods, despite enjoying his meals as usual, and continuing to praise his skill, quiet doubts began to accompany the cramps and achy bellies that were sure to follow. Colter himself eventually used the bowl to liven up some improperly preserved salted pork loin one lonely and hungry afternoon, and lacking a competent healer nearby, died from food poisoning the very next day.

Poor Man's Feast (aka Cotter's Bowl)
Cotter's bowl is a footed soup bowl crafted from fine silver beaten into a pattern of flowers and knotwork. The dish always feels comfortably warm to the touch, with a faint aroma that most who have examined it describe as fondly reminiscent of "mum's own kitchen".

Any food or drink placed into the dish and then served will taste to those eating or drinking like the single greatest thing they've ever had the luck to experience. Even the coldest campfire gruel will seem to be a meal fit for a king, and the foul tastes of minor spoilage, weevil infestations and the like will become undetectable.

The downside of using the bowl is obvious from Cotter's tale. Poisons in the food or drink in the bowl become extremely difficult to detect, gaining a 50% chance (1 or 2 on a d4 roll) of evading notice by magics intended to detect poison.

Also, because the user is so fooled by the pleasant taste of the fare from the bowl, he will tend to gobble or slurp up the very last bit, making it more difficult to avoid the ill effects of a poison one would normally spit out due to the foul taste. All creatures poisoned by fare from the bowl receive a -2 penalty to their saving throw against that poison.

29 August 2013

A note about the revised and updated Product info pages.

You might notice that the product info pages have undergone a major update and revision. Beyond just adding (finally) the Accessories page, fixing some typos and formatting errors, restoring all the missing cover photos and adding a couple "new" products to the list, I also decided to reflect on this site's focus on the BECMI edition of the game. That's why those box sets now retain their own page, while the rest of the compatible systems (Original D&D, Holmes Basic, Moldvay/Cook B/X, Rules Cyclopedia and the misc. Challenger edition sets) were combined into one page, titled "rule sets and books - other". I'm working on adding the Adventure Modules page and sections for the Mystara (Known World, Red Steel, etc), Thunder Rift and Pelinore Campaign settings, but these are far more involved projects and will take a little while to complete.

I do want to mention that these guides are presented as a reference for people who play the game, not really those who are hardcore collectors. Odds and ends like TSR produced hex paper, dice, graph paper, etc have been skipped. Why? They are extremely hard to find and pricey these days, and to be honest, except from a collector's point of view, they are not necessary to play the game. Plenty of fine vendors produce dice these days, and in this era of Office Depot and Staples superstores, hex and graph paper pads are easy to find and pretty cheap. I focus only on material that actively enhances or facilitates play that cannot be reproduced legally by other publishers today (unless they get a license from WotC, that is).

Sure, some things like character sheets and dungeon geomorph maps can be "cloned", as the OSR community likes to call it. Many great bloggers regularly offer up dungeon geomorph files. In this time of easy printing and downloading at home, geomorphs may finally get the credit they deserve, I certainly feel less guilty chopping up a page I just printed (and still have a pdf or jpg backup copy of) that I do about taking scissors to the copy of Dungeon Geomorphs set 1-3 compilation I paid a hefty sum for on eBay!

For the hardcore collector, I heartily recommend a visit to The Acaeum : Dungeons & Dragons Product Knowledge Database. Their product indices, fully illustrated and footnoted, along with the helpful users on their Q&A forum can help you find just about any answers you need to questions regarding collecting Classic D&D or AD&D 1st edition.

Also, don't forget Drive Thru RPG's D&D Classics web store, the only legally licensed vendor for pdf copies of out of print D&D material on the interent. They're constantly expanding their catalog, so if you want something they haven't added yet, just let them know and be patient!

28 August 2013

An update to the Product Information pages archive

I've completed the product info page for classic D&D non-mystara specific, non-adventure module accessory products, and added it to my blog along with the restored and updated rule sets info pages. Mystara stuff and adventures coming soon

Please let me know if I've missed anything!

All the existing product information pages are listed in the links right there on the right hand side of this page, with the Dungeon & Dragon magazine adventure indices.

01 May 2013

Keeping an old school game fresh

Not to brag, guys, but over the last few years, I've collected a pretty impressive library of old school RPG products. Most of my focus has been on Classic D&D (OD&D, BX, BECM, etc) and some related AD&D stuff, but I've come across plenty of interesting OSR stuff too.

My taste in modern-retro OSR products leans toward the really creative and innovative; games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess , Carcosa , Adventurer Conqueror King (ACKS) , and Dungeon Crawl Classics . Although none of these really does it for me in whole, tempting me to give up BECM D&D entirely, each offers some new and unique material and approaches to the old school D&D system that can make great additions to an existing game.

Now, I have nothing against the more straightforward "retro-clones" like Swords & Wizardry , Labyrinth Lord , Dark Dungeons and others. I love these for keeping the old rules alive for new players, as well as showing off the various ways the rules can be tweaked this way or that to customize the game engine to any particular taste.

The thing is, there is/was far more to old school gaming than just D&D! Some of the other offerings of the late 70s and early 80s were essentially custom D&D builds tailored to the author's campaign and setting, Arduin was a good example of this. Other games, like Tunnels & Trolls, Runequest, The Fantasy Trip and many others, started from scratch, borrowing ideas from other games of the time but creating all new rule sets.

All these games, D&D "knockoff" or otherwise (though, to be fair, some elitists and originalists might call all those games D&D knockoffs) are ripe for the picking! Need interesting new monsters, magic and treasures? Just crack open an old school rpg and have a look, you're certain to find something weird (and sometimes wacky) that D&D never thought of.

We don't have to limit ourselves to OSR games or more modern versions of D&D (and their OGL and GSL knockoffs), nor be forced to do all the work ourselves with homebrew material. Even if you enjoy doing homebrew, some fresh inspiration now and then is never a bad thing.

What are your experiences and opinions of the non-D&D old school games?

10 January 2013

(Hinuary 2013) Holy Halflings, Batman, it's the Hin Cleric class!

From a campaign setting development standpoint, one of the great improvements that D&D 3rd edition made over its predecessors was to allow full advancement clerics of any and all races. Sure, AD&D 1e (in Unearthed Arcana) and AD&D 2e allowed the major PC races to take the cleric class, but for the demihumans, level limits in the rules prevented them from accessing the high level spells. In a setting like Mystara, where all the major PC races have their own nations and cultures, it is a little awkward that the demihuman classes lack religious leaders and the ability to ask their gods for the same favors humans can.

We can assume, as the game always did, that these personages exist, but are left to the NPCs of the world, but I've always disliked the idea that NPCs get options that are not there for the PCs. That is why we're presenting this optional class for Hin “clerics”., The Hin Friar, an optional halfling "cleric" class for Classic D&D and compatible OSR games!

The Hin Friar (236kb PDF)

Please feel free to redistribute the complete, unaltered PDF file as you wish.

As a bonus, for those of you who like to tinker with the files, here are links to the source file in Open Office/Libre Office ODT and Microsoft Word DOC formats.

The Hin Friar (226kb ODT)
The Hin Friar (275kb DOC)

These files are provided for your private use. Please do not redistribute them, or any derivative files of your creation, without discussing it with Darva or me (dire rodent) beforehand. Thanks!

(Hinuary 2013) Finally! The Sneak Class (an optional Hin Thief class for Classic D&D)

 Edit 1/10/2013 - The revised files, with all known errors corrected, are now uploaded, the links have been modifed below to point to these corrected files.

Sorry for the delay, the class table was too large to display correctly here on the blog, so we had to format everything into a PDF for you to download. So without further delay, here it is, The Hin Sneak, an optional halfling "thief" class for Classic D&D and compatible OSR games!

The Hin Sneak (150kb PDF)

Please feel free to redistribute the complete, unaltered PDF file as you wish.

As a bonus, for those of you who like to tinker with the files, here are links to the source file in Open Office/Libre Office ODT and Microsoft Word DOC formats.

The Hin Sneak (68kb ODT)
The Hin Sneak (84kb DOC)

These files are provided for your private use. Please do not redistribute them, or any derivative files of your creation, without discussing it with me (Darva) or Rich (dire rodent) beforehand. Thanks!

09 January 2013

(Hinuary 2013) Other related "hin-ternet" resources.

 Sorry to keep you waiting on the next Hinuary article, which is an optional "thief" type class for Hin PCs, by the way. I'll have it posted soon, but in the meantime, here's a few links to Hin and Five Shires related material around the 'net that you might find interesting.


Thorn's Chronicle - The Hinlands (Thanks to author Robert Nuttman for supporting Hinuary!)
http://thornschronicle.blogspot.com/2012/07/reblog-hinlands.html
A darker, grittier version of the Shires, with a demonic twist!

The Dark Shire by Geoff Gander
http://pandius.com/drkshire.html
An interesting look at the dark side of the Hin, complete with "monster" stats for some of the little villains the PCs might encounter.

The Mystaran (fan) Almanacs by various
http://pandius.com/alm.html
The AC 1015, 1016, 1017, 1018 and 1019 Almanacs feature write ups of the Five Shires, keeping with the basic format and style of the "Official" TSR published Almanacs. All of the Almanacs, including the one for 1014, continue the "in character" author/editorship of Joshuan Gallidux, Hin explorer extraordinaire, and are sprinkled with fun material applicable to any campaign.

The Newbies Guide to Mystara by various
http://pandius.com/guide/
The newbies guide is a great resource for bringing in new players, as well as providing some basic details on areas you might not have the Gazetteer for. The Five Shires entry, by Eyal Fleminger is top notch.

The Piazza forums - Mystara section
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewforum.php?f=3
No link list would be complete without mentioning the Piazza, which has become the go to place to discuss the setting, no matter which version of D&D you use. Hin and Shires topics abound, and the regulars are always friendly and welcoming to newcomers and new topics.

And last but not least, an honorable mention for the Facebook group, Mystara Reborn. With Bruce Heard and Frank Mentzer involved, you can't find a better facebook hangout for fans of Mystara!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/mystara.reborn/
You'll obviously need a facebook account to view or participate, but this group alone is worth the signup!

Did I miss anything worthwhile? Please add your related links, either your own material or your favorites, in the comments below! Thanks!

07 January 2013

(Hinuary 2013) Sunday Bonus Post: Hin-specific level titles

This post is going to be short, that's why I'm releasing it as a bonus companion piece to today's earlier article: the Compiled Halfling Class XP chart, instead of waiting till tomorrow and calling it its own piece.

The demihumans of the Classic D&D game kind of get cheated in regard to their level titles. Generally, the game just takes the fighter class titles and adds a "dwarf/halfling" modifier, or with the elves, just compounds the fighter and magic user titles. Using the same logic as we did in our Hin Sized Weapons article, I decided that the Hin of Mystara are common enough, and established enough in their own homeland that their culture should assign its own titles to its heroes. Here's what I came up with:


Level

Standard D&D Title

Five Shires Hin Title

1

Halfling Veteran

Gaffer (m) / Gammer (f)

2

Halfling Warrior

Slinger

3

Halfling Swordmaster

Protector (of the Five Shires)

4

Halfling Hero

Hero (m) / Heroine (f) (of the Five Shires)

5

Halfling Swashbuckler

Buccaneer

6

Halfling Myrmidon

Cohort (of the Five Shires)

7

Hafling Champion

Advocate (of the Five Shires)

8

Sheriff

Marshall

Inside the borders of the Five Shires, the "of the Five Shires" formality of some of the titles is rarely used, other Hin know what you are a protector, hero, cohort or advocate of with you telling them. Most Hin characters only use the full, formal titles when travelling abroad and introducing themselves to folk who might not know of their homeland.

Direrodent's notes, in the previous article, about the use of the term sheriff still applies, it is a word often used informally to show respect to accomplished militia or military servicemen, retired or otherwise. I just wanted to remove the official confusion between actual Five Shires sheriffs and other high level Hin characters.

Similar to the generic use of Sheriff to show respect to an accomplished warrior, some Hin use a generic form of the term Gaffer/Gammer to honor non-combatant neighbors (Hin consider everyone living in their city or town to be a neighbor, and all the natives of the Shires to be almost-neighbors, be they fellow Hin or otherwise) of fame and accomplishment in their profession.

Example: Miija Copperkettle, a renowned Hin baker, owns and runs a small shop in the city of Portown on the isle of A'val in Seashire. It is the custom of most Hin in Portown to refer to her (directly) as Gammer, and indirectly as Gammer Copperkettle.

(Hinuary 2013) Compiled Halfling Class Experience Chart

One "feature" of the BECMI book format that I have often lamented is the lack of "compiled" class experience charts, with XP, Level Titles, Hit Dice, THAC0, Saving Throws and misc. notes gathered together in one chart for each class. I put this together with that in mind, mostly for my own reference, but decided to share it in the spirit of Hinuary, especially before we go on to introduce a handful of optional Hin classes as the month rolls on. So here it is, the Stocking the Dungeon Compiled Halfling Class Experience Chart.



Compiled Halfling Class Experience Chart.
Level Experience Points Title Hit Dice THAC0 Saves Notes
1 0 Hin Veteran 1d6
+Con. Adj.
19 DRP 8, MW 9, PTS 10, DB 13, RSS 12 May use the “set spear/polearm against charge” attack option, as the Fighter class ability. (Expert Rules)
2 2,000 Hin Warrior +1d6 +CA 19 DRP 8, MW 9, PTS 10, DB 13, RSS 12
3 4,000 Hin Swordmaster +1d6 +CA 19 DRP 8, MW 9, PTS 10, DB 13, RSS 12
4 8,000 Hin Hero +1d6 +CA 17 DRP 5, MW 6, PTS 7, DB 9, RSS 8
5 16,000 Hin Swashbuckler +1d6 +CA 17 DRP 5, MW 6, PTS 7, DB 9, RSS 8
6 32,000 Hin Myrmidon +1d6 +CA 17 DRP 5, MW 6, PTS 7, DB 9, RSS 8
7 64,000 Hin Champion +1d6 +CA 15 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
8 128,000 Sheriff +1d6 +CA 15 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
9 (a) 300,000 Sheriff +2 15 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4 Automatically takes ½ damage from direct damage causing spells & spell like effects. Additional successful save drops this damage to ¼ , not 0.
10 (b) 600,000 Sheriff +2 14 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4 May use the Multiple Attack (2), Smash, Parry and Disarm combat options, as the Fighter class ability (Companion Rules)
11 (c) 900,000 Sheriff +2 13 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
12 (d) 1,200,000 Sheriff +2 12 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
13 (e) 1,500,000 Sheriff +2 11 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
14 (f) 1,800,000 Sheriff +2 10 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
15 (g) 2,100,000 Sheriff +2 9 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4 Automatically takes ½ damage from breath weapon attacks. Additional successful save drops this damage to ¼ , not 0.
16 (h) 2,400,000 Sheriff +2 8 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
17 (i) 2,700,000 Sheriff +2 7 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4
18 (j) 3,000,000 Sheriff +2 6 DRP 2, MW 3, PTS 4, DB 5, RSS 4 May use the Multiple Attack (3) combat option, as the Fighter class ability (Companion Rules)


A couple quick notes:  

Level 12 Hin? What are you smokin, direrodent?
While the basic idea of Attack Ranks to grant the demihuman classes some of the perks of the fighter class at high level can help to keep the classes relevant in higher level games, I just dislike the terminology. I keep with the level scheme, referring to the characters, in this case, as level 9 to 18, instead of the corresponding Attack Ranks. Nothing has been changed here mechanics wise, just a minor tweak to keep the game terms consistent.

The Level Titles
I seriously dislike the introduction of things like level and other "out of character" game terms into "in character" material like level titles. No PC knows what a level is, that's the reason for having level titles in the first place! Otho Nimbletoes would never call himself a 2nd level halfling, he'd proudly announce that he is a "warrior".

Notice that a Hin never uses the "hin" part of his level title, it is, quite frankly, obvious and needless. Other races might use the whole title, "there you will meet Otho Nimbletoes, a Hin Warrior." for example, but even they would never use it to Otho's face. Conversely, when referring to a human fighter, the Hin might add a racial notifier to the title (but, once again, not to the human's face), speaking of the Human (or Traladara/Karameikan) Hero Bronhurst, just so other Hin know they are referring to a Human, not another Hin.

 Lastly, among Hin, the term Sheriff has two meanings. When used to refer to the actual official legal authority of a region, a Hin will usually say "my sheriff" or "the sheriff", depending on whether he's in his home region or not. In the case of referring to high level Hin warrior types, sheriff takes on a meaning similar to the human custom of addressing a worthy person as "my lord" or "my lady", regardless of the person's actually legal status over the one addressing them. Calling a heroic, famous fellow Hin sheriff (or shuriff, as the Hin tend to actually pronounce the word) is simply a sign of respect and endearment, not any implication of legal authority or status.  

Hit Point accumulation after level 8
I've taken a small liberty with the rules here, and allowed Hin characters to accumulate a couple hit points per level after "name level" as they progress through the attack ranks. The official rules don't really support this, but it's really a small perk, and I don't think it unbalances things all that much.

Is 18th Level the end?
By the books, yes, advancement for Hin characters ends after they attain level 18 (Attack Rank J). If you wish, though, you can simply extrapolate the XP requirements and allow further "levels" to be gained every 300,000 XP. I would not improve saving throws or grant the Multiple Attack (4) combat option, however. Just give them 2 more HP and subtract 1 from the THAC0 for every 300,000 XP they gather, until they top out at "level 36" at 8,400,000 XP.

06 January 2013

(hinuary 2013) Hin sized weapons

Mystara holds a bit of a distinction among the major D&D campaign settings; it's the only one with a detailed, developed Halfling homeland central to the campaign world. Sure, Forgotten Realms has a Halfling nation, but it's way off the beaten path in a corner of Faerun pretty much ignored by the setting material. Other worlds, like Greyhawk, just throw Halflings in as an afterthought, giving little or no thought to where they came from.

Taking that into consideration, it makes sense that Mystara's Hin, and their nation, militias and "military" (as it were, limited as it is) would craft weapons of their own, rather than just borrow from their human neighbors. With that in mind, I put together the following chart, modified from the D&D Basic Set:

Weapon Damage 1/2 Hand Price Notes
Hand Axe 1d4 1 Hand 3 gp
Battle Axe 1d6 2 Hands 5gp
Hin Crossbow 1d4 2 Hands 20gp May be used 1 handed by larger creatures, Known as a "hand crossbow" to humans and dwarves. Ammo cost is 6gp for 30 quarrels.
Short Bow 1d6 2 hands 25gp
Hin Bow 1d4 2 Hands 18gp Too small for use by larger creatures. Ammo cost is 3gp for 20 arrows.
Hin Dagger 1d2 1 hand 2gp Silvered version costs 20gp
Hin Greatblade 1d8 2 hands 15gp Basically the same thing as a human normal sword
Hin Sword 1d6 1 Hand 10gp Basically the same thing as a human Short Sword
Hin Smallblade 1d4 1 Hand 5gp Basically the same thing as a human Dagger.
Hin Mace 1d4 1 Hand 3gp Usable by Clerics
Light Club 1d2 1 Hand 1gp Usable by Clerics
Hin Halberd 1d8 2 Hands 4gp
Sling 1d4 1 Hand 2gp Same as human version. Ammo cost is 1gp for 30 stones, or they may be foraged (DM discretion on availability) at the rate of 1d20 per hour.
Short Spear 1d4 1 hand 2gp Also known, among humans, as a javelin
Hin Battlehammer 1d4 1 Hand 3gp Usable by Cleric
Hin Smallspear 1d2 1 Hand 1gp Too small to be used as a missile weapon by larger creatures, may be used by those folk as an improvised stabbing weapon though. Human original is found in the Expert Set.
Shortstaff 1d4 2 Hands 1gp The Shortstaff is about 3.5 to 4 feet long. Human original is found in the Expert Set.
Hin Hilt-and-a-half Sword (aka Hin Bastard Sword) 1d4+1 (one Handed)

1d6+1 (two Handed)
1 or 2 Hands 8gp Human original is found in the Companion Set.
Hin Fork (Hin Trident, among mariners) 1d4 2 Hands 2gp Human original is found in the Companion Set.

The Hin versions of the Bola, Blackjack, Net and Whip, from the Companion set are effectively the same weapons as their Human counterparts.

There are no Hin versions of the Blowgun or Heavy Crossbow, from the Companion set. In addition, the Hin are a little less deviously innovative with weapon variants than their Human neighbors, and the only common Pole Arm type found in the Shires is the Hin Halbard, listed above.

Likewise, the Hin are not common practitioners of artillery or siege warfare, and these machines are not usually found within the Shires. Where Catapults and Ballistas are found, they are identical to their Human equivalents, except that when the crew is made up only of Hin, one extra crewman is required per machine.

The basic rule, derived from the D&D 3rd edition Arms & Equipment Guide supplement, is, take the normal, human version (aka "medium sized weapon"), decrease the range by 1/2, rounded up, and drop the damage down to the next lower die type (so 1d6 damage becomes 1d4, etc). Price is roughly 1/2 of the human version, rounded up. This should suffice for a quick conversion of any nonstandard weapons you've added to the lists in the rulebooks.

02 January 2013

(Hinuary 2013) Five Shirefolk

Good D&D campaigns always need interesting NPCs, and Classic D&D caters to this need with the excellent Shady Dragon Inn supplement, a collection of myriad pregenerated characters with thumbnail sketches of their personality and background to get the DM's imagination going. For those who lack access to that book, or who want some NPCs tied a little closer to the Mystara setting, I present the first in a (I hope) ongoing series of articles introducing a handful of Mystaran personalities to use in a game. Whether they act as contacts, hirelings, villains, or even replacement PCs for players whose luck is less than ideal is up to you.

Keeping with this month's "Hinuary" theme, here are 5 Hin from around the Five Shires to add to any campaign.


Liam "Bearclaw" Longbuck
3rd level Lawful Halfling, male, age 35; ST 13, DE 13, CO 12, IN 9, WI 10, CH 14; HP 12; AC 5 (Chain Mail); Money: 43 GP; Items: Sling +1

Liam is short, even for a Hin, standing just an inch under 3 feet, but he makes up in spirit what he lacks in stature. Always a gung-ho soul with little thought of fear, he's a hero of sorts in Ober's Mimbur, having once killed a large brown bear that had wandered into the field behind the Grinning Elf tavern single handedly by perching atop the tavern's roof and pelting the beast with sling stones. He collected one of the bear's paws and had it turned into a necklace that looks comical on him given his small size, thus gaining the nickname Bearclaw among the town's residents.

Liam will gladly join an adventuring party, given that he sees enough risk in their endeavor to make it "fun". He's loyal and enthusiastic, not given to complaining about long marches or sitting watch at camp, but his penchant for gambling and tendency to react to encounters with a volley of sling stones, even when a more subtle approach might be better, may cause the party some minor headaches now and then.

Liam owns a small cottage in Ober's Mimbur, and will gladly offer it to PCs who enlist him in their party or befriend him in town, since lately he's taken to camping in the hills around town, searching for Ober's lost treasures (see D&D Gazetteer 8: The Five Shires for details on this lost treasure hoard), a place that most other folk in town are terrified to even approach given the tales of ghost sightings near the ruin. Liam is eager to find the treasure, and the dungeon rumored to contain it, and has started trying to encourage adventurers who pass through town to join him in "poking around a bit," but so far, he hasn't succeeded in rallying help.

If encountered outside Ober's Mimbur, Liam will generally be on his way home, fresh with stories of his latest adventure, or may be in the company of other NPCs, eager to enlist the party in aiding in whatever quest they are off to undertake.


Sherl Watcheye
2nd level Lawful Halfling, female, age 30; ST 17, DE 14, CO 14, IN 7, WI 9, CH 11; HP 9; AC 7 (Leather); Money: 5; GP Items: Dagger +1, +2 vs. Kobolds

Sherl's an imposing Hin, with a fully 4 feet tall and well muscled build, reflecting her early life as a mason's daughter. Although her first couple adventures, exploring caves in the Achelos Woods with some other adventurers from Wereskalot, went well, earning her the magic dagger she readily brags about to anyone who will listen, she hasn't had any luck joining a real adventuring party, and is eager to do so. For now, she's reluctantly helping her father (Rand Watcheye) with his masonry business and tending to her young brother, since their mother passed away 3 summers ago from a nasty bout of the flu. In Wereskalot, she'll be encountered mostly at night, frittering away the meager pay her father gives her on Rockhome mead, which she has a notable weakness for, and attempting to latch on to any adventuring party she comes across. During the day, she might be found at her father's workshop (which doubles as the family home) or out running errands.

Outside of Wereskalot, Sherl will be encountered with her father and kid brother, attending a fair or festival around the Shires or Karameikos, or meeting with miners about new supply contracts. Rand will be annoyed at seeing her run off with adventurers, and although he's no more than a nuisance, he'll hold a lengthy grudge against the PCs if they recruit her, hassling them a bit whenever they visit Wereskalot, even if she eventually moves on or goes home.

Sherl is a capable fighter and stalwart companion though, if perhaps not the brightest girl the PCs might meet. She dreams of a heroic career adventuring, and longs to visit Shireton one day to see the "big city". She then hopes to settle back in Wereskalot with a wealthy husband, as long as he isn't a mason, she resents that life.

Ronwyn "Fish" Idelwise
5th level Chaotic Halfling, male, age 48; ST 12, DE 11, CO 13, IN 10, WI 12, CH 10; HP 22; AC 3 (Leather +1); Money: 37 GP; Items: Leather Armor +1

Ronwyn is a quiet, grim fellow, unhappy with his life as a guard on Tothmeer's docks, but lacking the ambition to do much of anything else with his life. He's known around town as one of the few Fangs (Militiamen) assigned to dock duty that can't swim, and jokingly called Fish by those who know him.

Adventurers who try, for some reason, to recruit Ronywn will be met with a doomsday speech about the futility of trying to do good in the world, and only the most outrageous offers of pay will give him the inclination to run off on an adventure. He's grudgingly friendly with his fellow Fangs, but few who know him really trust him. When not on duty or at the dockside Fang station sleeping, he can usually be found at the Riverwalk tavern nearby, playing in a quiet game of dice with other Fangs, or just drowning his sorrows in a glass of brandy. He's somewhat of an oddity in the Shires, proclaiming an intense dislike of beer and ale.

Asking about the fine leather armor Ronwyn wears is a quick way to earn his (brief) admiration, since he is extremely proud of it. The story around town is that when Lora, the now teenaged niece of Sheriff Sildil Seaeyes, was a youngster, she was accosted by thugs while playing on the docks with some friends. Despite being outnumbered and unarmed (he was on the way home from the tavern and out of uniform), Ronwyn lept to the rescue, leaving the troublemakers clinging to a small raft floating in the harbor. As a reward for his courage, Sheriff Sildil held a feast in Ronwyn's honor, and presented him with the handsome suit of leather armor. Ronwyn loves to brag about this, and PCs trying to get in his good graces will go far by flattering him on this, as well as buying a round of drinks or two "to toast the hero".

Ronwyn's secret
Fish isn't above being bribed, in fact, it's one of the few things in his miserable life that makes him feel important. PCs up to shady business on the docks would do well to get to know Ronwyn for this reason alone.

Caution is wise though, Fish is only loyal to hard coin, and rivals, or authorities, willing to beat the PC's bribe will find themselves quickly betrayed by the dour little Hin.

Giana "Gee" (as in "Gee Whiz!") Hairytoes
4th level Chaotic Halfling, female, age 41; ST 11, DE 18, CO 11, IN 13, WI 8, CH 14; HP 22; AC 4 (Leather); Money: 1570 GP; Items: Avrine's Lockpicks (click to visit that item's article page). Rope of climbing, Elven Cloak

Giana is a self proclaimed master burglar, usually found around the shadier taverns in Sateeka, selling her pilfering skills to the highest bidder. While generally friendly and easy going, she is pretty cocky about her abilities (unaware that her "lucky lock picks" are enchanted to give her the exceptional ability she possesses) and stubbornly overconfident, often accepting jobs she is under-qualified for and getting herself into a world of trouble. She's been lucky so far though, escaping harm's way and landing only short stints in the jails of Karameikos and the Shires.

Giana will gladly join a party that can meet her price (left up to the DM to reflect the economics of the individual campaign), but she bores easily, and if there isn't enough action and danger, she's likely to wander off in search of thrills elsewhere.

Gee is pretty good at what she does, but she's got a little history that her new friends will have to contend with sooner or later. About a year ago, she took a job looting some artifacts from a College of Magic in Specularum for the infamous magic users Bargle, in the Black Eagle Barony. Although she successfully retrieved the books she was hired to, she decided the Baron wasn't paying her enough, and sold them to a rival buyer (an anonymous magic user in Luln) for 3 times the price. She is hunted by agents of Bargle (usually magic-users, devise them to rival, but not overpower, the party), who are fairly nasty folk and have no qualms about roughing up the party to get at Giana.

Gerro Weefoot
8th level Neutral Halfling, Male, age 84; ST 14, DE 12, CO 18, IN 10, WI 9, CH 15; HP 52; AC 5 (Chainmail); Money: 10 GP; Items: Short Bow +4

Gerro is a little old for a vigilante, but he's still spry and crafty, and spends his days patrolling the streets of Shireton with his merry band of fellows, which he has affectionately dubbed "The Defenders". For many years, banditry in the city was a major problem, with roving bands of troublemakers hassling and robbing merchants and travelers, and despite a recent muster of Fangs by Sheriff Jaervosz Dustyboots, there's still a few bands of hoodlums out making mischief. Gerro, a veteran of the Fangs, has decided to continue his patrols, and has attracted a band of 15 to 20 (the number varies as members come and go, or perish in their "duties") to help him.

PCs will likely first meet Gerro and his band if they are accosted along in town. Within 1d4+2 rounds of combat ensuing with bandits, Gerro and 1d6 of his men (err, Hin...) will charge into the battle, aiding the PCs (unless of course, they are the bandits...) Goodly PCs will find Gerro to be a gruff but useful ally, devout in his self imposed duty to protect the people of Shireton from villainy.

Gerro is a grizzled veteran of many adventures in and around Shireton, and knows the city well. He'll be reluctant to leave his Defenders alone for long, and wont actually join the party for any missions away from the city, but he can serve as a handy contact when the party is in that area, being well aware of pretty much every rumor that spreads on the streets and alleys of the town..

Gerro's also a close personal friend of Sheriff Jaervosz, and will gladly send a letter to him vouching for them if they are acting in what he sees as the best interest of the city and the Shires and need his assistance.