The lands north of the Northern Province of the Great Kingdom would become known as the Bone March, but had been home to the Flan for over a thousand years before the Oeridians moved into the region around -400CY. The Flan tribes that lived the March were fiercely independent, and while they had contact with the great Flan kingdom of Ahlissa to the south, they never organized into settlements larger than villages. The Flan here, like many in the Flanaess, had strong connections to the old religion, in particular the Old Faith or the Green Religion. Devoted to the worship of nature itself but not tied to any one deity. To believers in the Old Faith, even the gods themselves are aspects of nature.
As the Oeridians moved into the March, many of them were also drawn to the rugged beauty they found there. These Oeridians, too, shunned the more organized kingdoms of their kin to the south, who eventually formed the Great Kingdom. The Flan they encountered were welcoming of these Oeridians as they were akin to themselves, and the two quickly melded into a single people. In addition to the Flan and Oeridians, Suel culture was introduced to the region through trading and raids with northen barbarians.
Central to the makeup of the March throughout these times was the Druidic Circle of the March. The highly centralized areas of natural magic and powerful leylines had drawn these druids to the March long before the Flan had settled there. These very same druids would be the saviors of the Marchlanders in the wake of the Cursed Invasion of 563. The Druids of the March seldom interfered in the affairs of other nations. Even when the Great Kingdom made headway into the region to turn it into a new province, they did not interfere. Aerdy was battling against their enemies, the northern barbarians, and then the humanoids. But with the defeat of the Aerdy army in the March, powerful tribes of humanoids flooded in intent on enslaving all they found.
The druids fearing for the common folk interceded by gathering up refugees from Spinecastle, Johnsport, and the small towns and villages scattered throughout the March. A hardy people Marchlanders still clung to a belief in the old faith. So, when the druids arrived to help shepherd them and keep them safe, the adaption to a nomadic way of life was quick and mostly successful.
The druids kept the people on the move, but they were barred from fleeing across the Teesar Torrent into the North Province by North Province military. Fleeing too far west was not an option as the Countess of Knurl was a well-known evil force that would also enslave them. Fortunately, the bulk of the humanoids were concentrated in the east around Spinecastle and Johnsport. This left a large portion of the southwest from Lurglen to the Blemu Hills, and all along the banks of the Harp river open to them. The humanoids did wander these lands as well but in far fewer numbers, making them easier to avoid. Eventually, the druids formed these refugees into five distinct tribes that soon centralized in different areas of the March.
These five tribes soon took on traits influenced by the druids that led them, warriors even took up the old custom of painting their faces with markings to signify which tribe they belonged to. Unique customs and traditions evolved until each of the tribes was significantly different from one another. Today many of the members have grown up knowing nothing else besides the nomadic lifestyle. Those with memories of living in towns and cities are dwindling fast as they grow old and pass on. Unfortunately for these new clans, there has never been any hope of unifying into a new nation. The stubborn personalities of the very druids that saved them, and their petty rivalries, being the chief reason why.
The Druids, Archdruids, and Great Druids had been leaderless since the disappearance of Kalamath, the Grand Druid of the Circle of the March. At the onset of the Cursed Invasion, Kalamath had mysteriously disappeared, leaving the circle without direction. The remaining members of the circle were far too busy saving the people of the land to undertake the ceremony to select a new Grand Druid. The circle has remained fractured since then, waiting for one of their order to send out a call for them to gather at the Mound of Spirits in the center of the March.
1. The Standing Stone Clan: The Standing Stone Clan is the smallest of the nomadic clans numbering just over a hundred members. They have stayed close to the great standing stones around the Mound of Spirits relying on the guardians of that place to help protect them from the humanoids. While the clan lives close to the Mound of Spirits, the tribe is careful to not wander too far into its sacred grove surrounded by massive stone monoliths. The protective spirits of the place only allow the members of the circle to pass within unmolested.
The clan was originally formed by Mossbeard, one of the Archdruids of the Circle of the March, but who has since passed. Taking Mossbeard's place as leader of the clan was Elmspur, Mossbeards handpicked successor.
2. The Two Moon Clan: The most hated and considered no better than the humanoids that infest the land are the Two Moon clan's nomads. Addercap, the druid that formed this clan, saw the Bone March invasion as an opportunity to settle old scores and had visions of returning the lands of the March to its Flan roots. Addercap's stance brought him into direct confrontation with his fellow druids of the circle and resulted in his expulsion.
Addercap recruited as many able-bodied warriors as he could. Addercap cared little if they were bandits or mercenaries; he simply wanted the numbers and would worry about converting them into loyal followers later. Because of this, the Two Moon Clan is the largest with well over a thousand members. To this day, they raid other clans taking captives, forcing them to swear allegiance to the Two Moon Clan. Those who refuse to are sacrificed or sold into slavery. Addercap's only requirement to swear allegiance to the Two Moon Clan is that they have some Flan blood. Addercap has even taken to selective breeding those with the most robust Flan bloodlines within the tribe through arranged marriages.
While Addercap is still alive and quite robust for a human of his advanced years, he rarely takes to the field when his clan raids. In his place, Addercap relies on his two lieutenants, a warlord named Kardal, and a druid named Oaktalon.
3. The Great Cat Clan: The druid named Roak, who founded the Great Cat Clan, still leads it to this day and looks only slightly older than a man in his mid-thirties. Roak is fond of taking the shape of a large mountain lion and living like a wild beast, taking his human form only when interacting with his tribe and for ceremonies. The clan currently lives on the Harp river western bank, even traveling west across the river as the Flinty Hills before returning to the lands around the Harpo river.
Another small clan they number just over two hundred members, but they are very deadly. Roak has trained everyone, even children starting at age 8, how to kill. Despite this fierceness, Roak realizes they need allies and has begun talks with the new Count of Knurl, Count Kargus. Roak believes the new Count has shown himself to be far different and more trustworthy than ruler than his predecessors. Roak cares little for the old Circle of the March but does not wish his contemporary's ill, excluding those of the Two Moon Clan, which they will attack on sight.
4. The Serpent Clan: The serpent clan is the second-largest clan of nomads with nearly a thousand members and has been a thorn in the side of the humanoids that conquered the Bone March since 563. Lead by a druid named Thorntrunk, who looks more like a wild barbarian instead of a druid. Thorntrunk did not organize the clan in 563, that honor belongs to Sharpstone, who died fifteen years after the clan's formation fighting orcs. When Sharpstone organized the Serpent Clan, he did so not to keep the people safe and build a community, but instead to continue the battle against the invaders. But as the ranks of Sharpstone's rebels grew many warriors came to him with the added baggage of families in tow. Knowing that if he wanted to keep the warriors, he would have to keep the families, and Sharpstone made them into the Serpent Clan.
The Serpent Clan became masters at ambush and stealth, and despite having much larger numbers of civilians with them, the whole tribe moves quickly and with purpose. The Serpents have traditionally been closest to the epicenter of the humanoids control in the Bone March, ranging mostly out of the Blemu Uplands and even passing through the outskirts of the Lands of the Dread Lord Monduiz Dephaar.
Thorntrunk is on good terms with Count Kargus of Knurl, whereas before, Sharpstone despised the Counts and Countess of Knurl for their wickedness. Thorntrunk recognizes that Kargus is not like his ancestors and admires his stance of changing his land for the better. There has been much talk of an alliance between them, but nothing has taken hold yet. If Thorntrunk would slow down her constant guerilla war against the humanoids, maybe a deal could be worked out.
5. The Two Rivers Clan: The Two Rivers Clan ranges the Blemu Hills and the lands around the confluence of the Harp and Teesar Torrent rivers. Besides moving into one of the most defendable areas in the March, the Two Rivers Clan also has a reputation for being the most accommodating of the clans. The clan numbers around nine hundred members but was once much larger. Still, over the years, many have moved to other lands, especially the County of Knurl since Count Kargus took control of the land.
Two Rivers Clan is led by the most powerful of the druids from the Circle of the March, Thistlehand. Thistlehand has a powerful connection to the land and has an uncanny way of knowing when danger to the clan is near. Many think it is through her countless animal spies, but many believe he has an unnatural ability to hear through the earth itself.
With Count Kargus taking control of the County of Knurl, things have changed much in the region. Thistlehand is aware of this but has not decided to ally herself openly with the new Count despite receiving emissaries from him in the hopes of strengthening their relationship.
Many great monsters created in the earlier days of the D&D game have never made it through the various editions to today. The Huntsmen, from Dragon magazine #40 1980 by Lewis Pulsiper is one of those monsters.
In this article, I give the monster a 5th edition overhaul and expand upon its limited Backstory.
Huntsmen are created in laboratories through alchemical means. Initially created by a wizard that wanted a way to guard the forest where his wizard's tower stood, he began looking into possible servants. The Wizard wanted something more intelligent than a construct, or undead. He also their loyalty to be unwavering. The Wizard also enjoyed the beauty of his forest and didn't want his minions ruining it in his service. While the Wizard was searching for these perfect guardians, he ran into a bit of trouble with a migrating band of wood elves. The elves had encroached upon his lands and began hunting his game, which made him angry. Seeing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, the wizard invited the elves to a feast at his tower. The Wood Elves not wishing to offend the wizard accepted the invitation, but only a band of their bravest warriors attended. During the festivities, the Wizard unleashed a particularly wicked Cloud Kill spell that slew the elves giving the wizard the raw materials for his experiment. Depositing their corpses into a vat of thick alchemical sludge, he began imbuing them with a mixture of magical enchantments to create what would become Huntsmen.
The experiment was successful, and after depriving the Wood Elf tribe of their most potent warriors, the remaining tribe members fled in fear. The stats and abilities of the Huntsmen listed below are from the wizard's original formula using Wood Elves. Still, in theory, other races could be used in the same process producing different results.
Huntsmen will retain a semblance of their original form before the transformation. However, there are several distinct changes to their physical form. All Huntsmen have a sickly green hue to their skin, and their hair turns a dark green. Their eyes also turn green with dark green irises. The transformation also makes their frames leaner than average, giving them a skinny appearance. Despite this leaner form, they do not appear to suffer any loss of strength.
Huntsmen retain a semblance of intelligence and are not stupid. While they have no verbal language, they communicate with each other through a complex mixture of sign and pantomime. They care for gear and equipment and can craft traps for use in defending territory. Despite these skills, Huntsmen lack passion and a sense of individuality. Huntsmen do not create works of art, play instruments, or indulge in any type of recreative activities.
Despite their manufactured loyalty, Huntsmen do not tolerate mistreatment from their masters. They will leave in mass if they are not being mistreated or even rebel and attempt to kill their master. If this is a holdover from their former lives is unknown. Huntsmen are blindly loyal to their batch mates; other Huntsmen created in the same batch as themselves. This loyalty does not extend to other Huntsmen if they were created later in a different batch. They will however, work in tandem with other Huntsmen that are not their batch mates according to their master's directions.
Huntsmen are proficient with the same weapons and armor they used before becoming Huntsmen and can be trained in the use of others. Whether a holdover from their Wood Elf heritage or something brought about from the transformation, Huntsmen prefer to use stealth and ambush tactics when confronting foes. Huntsmen also prefer to fight in a group alongside their fellow batch mates.
Huntsmen have little in the way of society outside their direction to carrying out orders given to them by their master. When given time to themselves, they will use it preparing to carry out their orders, by constructing crude armor and weapons or making components for traps. If tasked with guarding a place or area, they will work tirelessly to ensure that all buildings in that area are well-tended and cared for. They seem to perform these tasks instinctively, and while their work is crude, it is always highly functional.
Huntsmen always care for any fellow batch mates that are wounded and have a basic understanding of the binding and cleaning of wounds. If the master that created the huntsmen ever dies, they spend their time carrying out the last orders they received until none of them exists to perform the task anymore. This can be for centuries or more as it appears that Huntsmen do not age.
As noted earlier, Huntsmen do not speak or have a verbal form of communication. Despite this, they do communicate through an intricate form of pantomime, which quickly evolves into its own sign language. This lack of verbal communication is the only real drawback of HUntsmen as their master will be forced to learn it from them.
Huntsmen, while being alchemically created monstrosities, still consume food and water to sustain their physical forms. Mostly herbivores, Huntsmen are not picky about what they consume and do little in the way of preparing what they consume. They do, however, cook meat that they eat when possible.
While it appears that some of the traits, and abilities, of a Huntsmen carry over from their lives as Wood Elves, several abilities are a direct result of the alchemical process that created them.
Poison Immunity: Huntsmen are immune to all forms of natural poison.
Charm Immunity: While a huntsman is within 30ft of one of their batch mates, they are immune to all forms of charm and dominate spells.
Communal Health: Huntsmen have a special bond with all their fellow batch mates. Because of this, it is suggested that when a wizard creates them to do so in batches of four or more. The max number that can be created in one batch is ten.
Each Huntsmen has their own hit point total, but if a Huntsmen from their batch dies within 30ft of them, some of the manufactured lifeforce within them passes to their remaining batch mates. In-game terms, this means that those Huntsmen within 30ft of one of their dying batch mates will receive 1d8 temporary hit points. These temporary hit points can stack with additional temporary hit points gained from the death of other batch mates. These temporary hit points will last for one day after received before the Huntsmen's hit point total returns to normal.
Adaptive weapons were created by a wizard to find a way to create a magical weapon that works with all monster types. The design works well when fighting against creatures that work in larger numbers but can be less effective against solitary opponents. Secondly, there are few non-sentient types of monsters that the weapons also do not work on. There are two types of Adaptive weapons, lesser and greater outlined below.
Lesser Adaptive Weapon: Lesser adaptive weapons can change their properties depending on what enemy they are fighting. The weapons come in all forms, but swords are the most common. Normally, a lesser adaptive weapon is only a +1 weapon, but once used to defeat a foe, the weapon becomes attuned to that type of creature. Once attuned, an adaptive weapon will become a +2 weapon. Afterward, if an additional monster of the same creature type is killed the weapons will continue to increase in potency. After 2 foes of the same creature type are defeated the weapon will also gain the ability to do an additional 2d4 of the weapons damage type to that creature type when struck. All damage done by an adaptive weapon after it has been attuned to the creature type, will bypass any damage reduction and immunities the monster has.
Greater Adaptive Weapon: Greater adaptive weapons operate the same way that the lesser ones do with only some slight alterations. First, the weapon usually is just a +2 magical weapon, which becomes a +3 weapon once attuned to the type of creature it first defeats. Also, the additional damage type is 2d8 instead of 2d4.
Duration of the Adaptive Effects: The effects gained by the adaptive weapons from defeating certain creature types only lasts for an additional five minutes once the last creature of the same creature type the sword is attuned to has been defeated.
Changing Creature Type during combat: After an adaptive weapon has become attuned to a specific creature type and is then used to attack a different type, the weapon resets and starts the progression over.
From the annals of one of Greyhawk’s most mysterious and least know Archmages, Asenneas, the Alchemist, we delve into his research and creation of Dragonlings. Dragonlings are a hybrid mix of kobolds with dragon materials to give us a new species of small draconic influenced creatures.
Asenneas' fondness for dragons is reflected in many of his creations, but none as obvious as Dragonlings. Asenneas used kobolds in his tower and dungeons as a cheap and inexpensive workforce. However, their volatile nature and general disdain for nearly all other races made them hard to work with. To remedy this, Asenneas decided to try and merge the kobolds with certain aspects of dragons to make them more manageable.
After several failed batches he eventually found the right combination of ground-up dragon scales, percolated dragon’s blood, and magic that when infused into a kobolds system brought about a stable transformation. Of course, Asenneas did not settle on creating just one type of Dragonling as his curiosity wouldn’t allow him to stop at just one successful experiment. Unfortunately, he concluded that his process was only successful when using chromatic dragon ingredients. He hypothesized that the genetic material from metallic dragons was rejected by the kobold genes, while the chromatic for some reason was not.
Eventually, after testing his new creations, Asenneas settled on blue Dragonlings as his new workforce and sold off the others or set them free into the world. Asenneas often as a final test of his subject’s releases some into the wild if he considers them successful to watch them and record how they fare in the real world.
Personality: One of the biggest reasons Asenneas decided to produce the Dragonlings was because of his trouble with the kobold’s lousy temperament. While they followed orders without question from Asenneas, they would continuously quarrel with his other minions. By infusing them with the draconic materials, they took on specific aspects of dragons.
Red dragonlings proved to be too headstrong and nearly as unwilling as regular kobolds to work with others. They also became highly overconfident, thinking that they could defeat any foe. This overconfidence did not manifest into outright stupidity, at least not in all of them, but as a replacement for his current kobold workforce, the red Dragonlings were a failure.
Black Dragonlings became even more cruel and ill-tempered than the original kobolds, proving that they were also a poor replacement for regular kobolds. While they retained their abilities to work in a group while amongst themselves, they still despised all other forms of creatures besides other black Dragonlings.
Blue Dragonlings lost much of the latent kobold cruelness, but it was replaced by a desire to try and manipulate and deceive others. While they might not openly attack or disobey others, they will look for loopholes in orders and agreements that they can bend to their favor.
Green Dragonlings lost most of the kobold cruelness as well, but it was replaced with a deceptive and highly territorial nature. This territorialness also made it hard for them to work with other minions in or out of their perceived territory. This fact, along with a general fondness for intrigue led to infighting amongst them.
White Dragonlings are savage little creatures that are the only version of the Dragonlings that hated other creatures even more than the kobolds did. While other Dragonlings will tolerate ones of different colors, white Dragonlings despise them the most. This inability to work with others at all found they booted out into the wild first among the Dragonlings.
Combat: Dragonlings, for the most part, excluding white Dragonlings who will simply attempt to mob their enemies, and red Dragonlings that sometimes succumb to their overconfidence, prefer to ambush their prey and enemies. They use bows and spears, preferring to stay at a distance in combat, especially against larger foes. If they begin to lose a battle, Dragonlings are not so proud that they won't flee in the hopes of surviving to fight another day or to prepare an ambush for their enemies. The exception to this rule is, of course, the white Dragonlings that work themselves up into such a frenzy that they don't even realize they are losing an engagement.
Dragonlings prefer to set traps and ambush when they can, and if encountered in their lair, they will have several traps set throughout it. Another favorite tactic of Dragonlings is using the elements that they are naturally immune to in battle. Red Dragonlings will throw firebombs even amongst their own troops, and usually unleash a salvo of them before they charge an enemy. Another trick is to use some of their kind as bait to lure unsuspecting adventurers into an oil-soaked room only to set it ablaze and then rush in. Green Dragonlings use poison gas bombs and gas-filled pit traps. Blue Dragonlings have invented ways of electrifying floors, and white Dragonlings are known to fight in freezing water.
Society: Dragonlings are tribal, and much like their kobold forebears are industrious creatures. They prefer to spend their time living beneath ground mining and constructing surprisingly high-quality goods. While nowhere near the quality of craftsmanship that one finds produced by dwarves and gnomes, their wares are superior to those crafted by most other humanoid races.
This desire to craft and create is visible in their homes as the lairs. Dragonlings lairs are well-constructed networks of tunnels and rooms all painstakingly trapped and designed to help them defend themselves against invaders, usually other humanoids, looking to plunder their goods and treasure. One common denominator found in all dragonling lairs is the fact that the ceilings are rarely over 5' in height. This height restriction comfortably accommodates the tallest of the Dragonlings and hinders larger adventurers and humanoids that seek to raid them.
Dragonlings are drawn to live in regions similar to those preferred by the dragons they share a color with. Blue Dragonlings preferring arid and desert-like locations, reds migrate to mountainous areas, Black Dragonlings to swamps, green Dragonlings to thick forests, and white Dragonlings to colder climes. Green Dragonlings can be found either in tunnel complexes below the forest or high in the trees themselves with huts tucked into the branches of them. Black Dragonlings tend to always live above ground in dens that are constructed much like beaver lodges.
Dragonling society, like kobolds, is based on the might makes right philosophy with the strongest of their kind taking up the position of chief of the tribe.
Dragonlings, like kobolds, are not fond of other creatures, except dragons, and will fiercely defend, and eliminate any opposition that they feel interferes with the welfare of the tribe. Dragonlings hate kobolds most and will attack them on sight and capture them to be slaves when they can. The exception to this rule is where white Dragonlings are concerned as they hate other Dragonlings slightly more than kobolds.
Where dragons of their same color are concerned, Dragonlings will seek out to serve them, provided they are adult dragons. To Dragonlings, the chromatic wyrms of Greyhawk are to be revered as the mighty beasts that they are.
The ambitions of Dragonlings are simple, gain power and influence within their tribe and try as hard as they can to retain it. They respect the authority of those that have proven to be their betters, however white and red Dragonlings will only acknowledge other Dragonlings or dragons themselves in this regard.
Language: Dragonlings speak draconic as their primary language, but they also understand the kobold tongue. Speaking in the kobold language to another Dragonling is a high insult, and Dragonlings will only talk in kobold to non-dragonlings.
Religion: Upon the Dragonlings release from Asenneas' dungeon, they quickly converted to the worship of draconic gods, and chief among them was Tiamat. The Dragon Queen is held in the highest regard, and each Dragonling type depicts her differently, with the head of their color being the center and most dominant one.
Diet: While dragonlings will eat most animals and intelligent beings such as humans, goblins, or even lizardmen, they refuse to eat kobolds, and while they can eat most animals, dragonlings prefer to catch fish and tend herds of domestic animals.
Special Traits and Abilities:
Red dragonlings are, on average, the largest of the Dragonlings growing to heights of 3.5' to 4' tall and are slightly more robust than other Dragonlings. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical fire damage and resistant to magical fire damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
Black Dragonlings are at home in the water and have a natural swim speed and are amphibious. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical acid damage and resistant to magical acid damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
Blue Dragonlings have an innate sense of detecting illusions and have advantage when it comes to saving throws regarding them. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical lightning damage and resistant to magical lightning damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
Green Dragonlings are very sneaky, and while ambushing is a favorite tactic of all Dragonlings, they have mastered the craft. Green dragonlings are proficient in stealth and have advantage on all stealth checks. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical poison damage and resistant to magical poison damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
White dragonlings are, on average, the smallest of the Dragonlings growing to heights of only 2.5' to 3' tall and are slightly weaker than other Dragonlings. They, however, make up for this with their tenacity when fighting in groups gaining the pack tactic trait. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical cold damage and resistant to magical cold damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.