As some of you may recall, I introduced a character into my Dwimmermount campaign called the King of the Cats. I created the King as an improvisation through play, after the characters encountered a cat (later dubbed Dusty) deep in the depths of the megadungeon and Brother Candor got the idea of using his speak with animals spell in order to pump him for information about the ancient Thulian mountain citadel.
In general, I don't like to stall my players, preferring to come up with answers -- any answers -- to their queries on the spot, even if, in retrospect, they seems less clever than they might have been if I'd have taken the time to think up "good" ones later. My feeling is that the speed of a referee's replies is more vital to the continued success of a campaign than their "rightness," which is to say, I'd rather offer a mediocre answer now and expand upon its meaning later than slow down a session by agonizing over a reply -- or, worse still, defer an answer till another session. In my opinion, nothing undermines the "reality" of a setting than a referee dumbfounded by his players' unexpected questions.
Still, there are times when stalling of a sort might be appropriate and Brother Candor's intention to use speak with animals to converse with Dusty -- a very clever plan and one that shows just how useful supposedly useless spells can be if you're, you know, imaginative -- seemed like an appropriate time. So, I made mention of the Kings of the Cats and how all the information his subjects know is really his "property" and one must make an entreaty to him for permission to learn it. This gave me some breathing room to figure just what Dusty knew and, at the same time, it gave me the chance to introduce something unexpected of my own to the campaign.
The King of the Cats is my own invention but I drew on a lot of different sources, chiefly Moorcock's notion of the Beast Lords and Lovecraft's "The Cats of Ulthar," along with innumerable mythological tales about intelligent animals. I also probably remembered Gygax's Cat Lord, Rexfelis, whose name I almost stole for the King of the Cats before I thought better of it. While I'm not above swiping names and ideas from my inspirations, I prefer to do so only when they're sufficiently obscure and, given the prominence of Rexfelis in Gary's later fiction, I didn't think he qualified as obscure.
In meeting the King of the Cats, the characters learned that there were other Animal Kings -- or rather, it was strongly implied by reference to an ongoing war with the Rat King in Adamas and a snide comment about most humans being "stupidly in the thrall of the King of the Dogs." Through further play, I've fleshed out the cosmology of the setting a bit more and the players have begun to learn some details of how magic works and its relationship to gods and other supernatural entities. There's still a lot they don't know and probably never will (and not just because I haven't worked it all out yet). But one thing I am certain of: there are many Animal Kings and, like all "gods," they have clerics devoted to them and their clerics can cast spells.
Here are some rough guidelines for handling clerics of the Animal Kings:
The Animal Kings have very few clerics. Anytime an animal is encountered, there is a 1% chance that it is actually a cleric of an appropriate Animal King. The spells available to these clerics are listed below. Animal clerics cannot read scrolls and generally cannot use other clerical magic items unless it is feasible for them to be able to do so based on their physiology. Animal clerics gain 1 additional hit point per full hit die for each clerical level they possess. Thus, a 3rd-level cat cleric (which normally has 1d2 hit points) gains +3 hit points to its total, whereas a wolf cleric (2+2 hit dice) of the same level would gain +6 hit points to its total.
Spells Usable by Animal Clerics by Level
1-Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Protection from Evil
2-Bless, Find Traps, Hold Person, Speak with Humans
3-Cure Disease, Locate Object, Remove Curse, Speak with Dead
4-Cure Serious Wounds, Neutralize Poison, Protection from Evil 10' Radius, Speak with Plants
If druids exist in the campaign, referees may substitute spells from that class's list for those cited above.
Level Limits of Common Animal Clerics by Species
Ape - Gorilla (3), Chimp (5), Orangutan (7)
Badger - 3
Bat - 3
Bear - Black (5), Brown (3), Cave (4), Polar (4)
Boar - 3
Cat - 8
Cattle - 4
Crocodile - 5
Dog - 5
Elephant - 7
Frog - 3
Horse - 4
Hyena - 3
Jackal - 3
Lion - 6
Rat - 4
Shark - 5
Tiger - 6
Turtle - 7
Weasel - 5
Wolf - 5
Whale - 7
Clerics of the Animal Kings rarely reveal themselves to humans, let alone use their spells for their benefit. However, if their trust is gained, they can prove invaluable allies.