Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Barbarian tribes of Arizona Adventures - the Dineh

I must admit, I am a bit philosophically ambivalent about Unearthed Arcana, the last of the 1e rule books. Seems to me that Unearthed Arcana is definitely a significant jumping off point into the rules-complex environment of later editions. But there are a few excellent contributions that U.A. makes, one of which is the Barbarian class.

In Arizona Adventures, the milieu is roughly dawn of civilization. A couple of "civilized" (magic-using and iron-using) groups, the Aryans and the Monmores, are in the process of colonizing the area. However, a native group of humans do exist in the area, loosely organized but collectively known as the Dineh. The Barbarian class perfectly describes the skills and attributes of the Dineh.

Background and Origins

The Dineh themselves are acknowledged to be a colonizing group, but from a much more ancient migration. Their legends tell of their origins in a lower plane of existence. Their gods led them up from the "lower world" to this world, which they call the "upper world".

Scholars note, however, that by "lower world", they do not mean anything subterranean as we think of it. The Dineh have no interest in tunnel digging or anything underground. Their "lower world" was a world just like ours, a world in the open air, with sun and stars shining in the sky above them.

In order to escape from a massive flood in their world, brought about by their gods as a punishment for general wickedness and evil, they fled upwards, through an opening in the dome of their sky. Traveling through that opening in the sky, they emerged from an underground cave into our world, which they call the "upper world". Dwarves and other creatures have dug deep into the earth, but never have they reached a bottom which gives them access to the dome of the sky of some world below us. Thus, the Dineh "lower world", we may note, was most likely on some other plane of existence.

Dineh Religion

Their religious rituals today embody this origin in the "lower world". Their sacred temples are called kivas, and take the shape of large circular pits dug into the ground, covered up with a ceiling at ground level. They descend into these kivas via ladders to commune with their gods. Their actual living quarters are usually built into cliff-sides, but these kiva temples are always built into the ground.

Their priests are called shamans, and seem to be called by their gods into their divine profession from childhood. Their shamans seem to function somewhat as a mix between the Celtic druids and our Aryan priests, the main differences being that shamans don't cure wounds or create holy water. They can, however, heal via their sand painting rituals in their kivas. They view raising, reincarnating, or resurrecting the dead as blasphemous.

In contrast to the holy cross of our Lord, or the holy leaves of the Druids, the holy power of the Dineh shamans comes from a small leather pouch they wear. The contents of their pouches are kept secret, but seem to be a collection of some sort of magic stones and plants.

Their religion lacks any hierarchical organization as we know it. They do however, have four paths, one of which their shamans follow. The paths are based on their gods of the four directions, which also correspond to the four elements: devotees to either Earth, Sky, Fire, or Water. Shamans of all types seem to be gifted with control over animals, and higher level [7th] shamans can shape shift into animal form, seemingly at will.

Power over the Undead

Dineh shamans do not turn or destroy the undead, as our priests do, channeling the power of our Lord. Rather, their sacred pouches seem to give them some special power to combat the forces of darkness. All Dineh warriors wear a sacred pouch prepared for them by a shaman, and while wearing their sacred pouches, they simply hack and crush the undead with their regular weapons.

Using nothing more than plain wooden and stone weapons, Dineh warrior chiefs have been seen fighting off powerful undead and demonic creatures, creatures which can only be hurt by magic weapons when battling with anyone else. These Dineh warrior chiefs seem to have this power to combat the undead even if they lose their sacred pouches. Clearly, there is powerful magic at work in the Dineh kiva rituals.

Avoidance of Magic

While Dineh shamans perform the traditional roles of priests everywhere, the Dineh have no class of magic users, and in fact, object to magic in all its modern forms. They consider our magical practices to be a blasphemous exploitation of the magical powers inherent in the natural world, which they hold in high reverence.

They absolutely reject the killing of magical creatures to harvest their magical properties, a practice that lies at the base of so much of our modern magical formulae. On principle, and, one suspects, out of superstition, they refuse to handle or utilize any magical objects. In fact, they will actually destroy any magical objects that come into their possession.

Their hatred of exploitative magic is especially focused upon any unfortunate magic user they happen to meet. Wizards who fall under their power usually end up tortured and sacrificed to their gods. No amount of bribery has every persuaded them to postpone the sacrifice of a magic user, whom they view as the chief perpetrators of heinous crimes against nature.

Dineh Warriors

All adult males of their tribes, except those who become shamans, are raised as hunters and warriors. All of them are tough, strong, fast, and generally fearless. They rush to the attack in masses, with seemingly no regard for their personal safety, and they are never found wearing any armor. All of them are armed with a spear-throwing sling-like device (called that atlatl) with which they are excellent marksmen and hunters. But they prefer to kill their enemies by hand, launching one spear attack then rushing forward to attack with hand axes and clubs. The use of the metal knife seems to be spreading slowly, although their use is still viewed as blasphemous by most of them. The avoid riding on any animal, preferring to run.

Dineh Society and Culture

The women of their tribes are in charge of all domestic activities and handicrafts. They will usually be found sequestered away from danger, weaving, sewing, grinding, or tending children. Some Dineh tribes, mainly in the lower elevations, cultivate grains to supplement their hunting diets. Their living quarters are usually found in caves carved into the cliffsides, which they access by climbing up ladders. Some Dineh tribes in the lower deserts construct adobe-brick buildings, the largest of which is their "Big House" on the Gila River, called Casa Grande.

Despite their savage nature and hatred of magic, the Dineh are basically a good people [chaotic good alignment]. They view dishonesty and cowardice as religious taboos. They are savage to enemies, but fiercely loyal in friendship. They have been known to adopt Aryans into their tribes, both children and like-minded adult men who demonstrate sufficient bravery and toughness. Their most persistent cause of conflict with Aryan society (aside from magic) comes from their practice of kidnapping girls to be adopted into their tribe as wives, which they apparently view as a normal and accepted cultural exchange. Wives of their fallen warriors will be adopted and taken care of by the brothers of the deceased.

Statistical Information

Random warrior or shaman level distribution (d100):
1st -- 01-10
2nd -- 11-24
3rd -- 25-44
4th -- 45-64
5th -- 65-79
6th -- 80-89
7th -- 90-94
8th -- 95-97
9th -- 98-99
00 --> roll d4: 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th

Hit points per level: d12, plus CON bonus

CON score with hit die bonus (d4):
15-->+2, 16-->+4, 17-->+6, 18-->+8

DEX scores with armor class (d4):
15-->8AC, 16-->6AC, 17-->4AC, 18-->2AC

STR scores with to hit & damage bonuses (d6)
14-->0/0, 15-->0/0, 16-->0/+1, 17--> +1/+1, 18--> +1/+2, 18/%% --> roll d100

Base movement: 15", with special long distance running ability, see below

Saving throw bonuses
+4 vs poison
+3 vs paralyzation, death magic, petrification, polymorph
+2 vs rod/staff/wand & breath weapon
vs magic: by level --> 4-7th +1, 8-11th +2, 12th +3

Ability to hit magical creatures by level:
+1 creatures --> 4th
+2 creatures --> 6th
+3 creatures --> 8th
+4 creatures --> 10th
+5 creatures --> 12th

Other features:
--Climb cliffs and trees: as thief of same level
--Hide in natural surroundings: as thief three levels higher hide in shadows
--Surprise: 3 in 6, 4 in 6 in familiar territory
--Surprised: 1 in 10, 1 in 20 in familiar territory
--Avoid backstab: 5% per level of detection & counter
--Detect Illusion: 5% per level
--Detect Magic: 25% + 5% per level
--First Aid: immediate 1hp, then 2hp per day resting, 1hp per day active
--Tracking: outdoors, as ranger of same level
--Running: full speed for 3 days
--Leaping/Springing: 10' forward/ 3' up from standing, or 16-21' forward, 4'-7' up when running
--Barbarian Hoarde: a temporary army of 1000-2000 warriors will be assembled if any severe danger presents itself to their existence or way of life, led by 12th level war chief

Shaman spells available by level (spell chart as druids):
1st --> animal friendship, bless, ceremony, detect balance, detect snares and pits, detect evil, detect magic, detect poison, endure cold/heat, feign death, locate animals, pass without trace, protection from evil, remove fear, speak with animals, sanctuary
2nd --> aid, augury, chant, charm person or mammal, detect charm, find traps, hold person, messenger, slow poison, snake charm, wyvern watch
3rd --> death's door, dispel magic, hold animal, neutralize poison, prayer, remove curse, remove/cause paralysis, sand painting - cure disease, speak with dead, snare, summon insects
4th --> animal summoning 1, cloak of fear, detect lie, divination, exorcise, giant insect, repel insects, sticks to snakes
5th --> animal growth, animal summoning 2, commune, commune with nature, dispel evil, insect plague, quest, true seeing
6th --> animal summoning 3, anti-animal shell, conjure animal, find the path, forbiddance, speak with monsters, sand painting - heal
7th --> exaction, confusion, creeping doom, finger of death, fire storm, restoration, sunray, wind walk

Earth path spells (including level):
entangle (1), locate plants (2), warp wood (2), plant growth (3), meld into stone (3), stone shape (3), tree (3), hold plant (4), plant door (4), speak with plants (4), spike growth (4), spike stones (5), transmute rock to mud (5), stone tell (6), earthquake (7), animate rock (7), conjure earth elemental (7)

Sky path spells (including level):
precipitation (1), predict weather (1), dust devil (2), call lightning (3), cloudburst (3), protection from lightning (4), air walk (5), control winds (5), weather summoning (6), conjure air elemental (7), control weather (7)

Fire path spells (including level):
resist cold (1), flame blade (2), heat metal (2), produce flame (2), resist fire (2), flame walk (3), protection from fire (3), pyrotechnics (3), produce fire (4), wall of fire (5), conjure fire elemental (7), chariot of sustarre (7), fire storm (7)

Water path spells (including level):
create water (1), purify food & drink (1), reflecting pool (2), create food & water (3), water breathing (3), water walk (3), lower water (4), magic font (5), rainbow (5), conjure water elemental (6), heroes feast (6), part water (6), transmute water to dust (6), tidal wave (7)


John Stephens said...

If you're going to do Fantasy Navajos you can't leave out Skinwalkers, the evil lycanthropic sorcerors responsible for their holy horror of magic-users.

Justin said...

Thanks for idea, John. I tend to think of them more as evil shamans, but a new monster class is possible too.

You can detect the obvious Navajo references, but I actually wrote it up as a melange of Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Hohokam traits and legends.

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