Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grognard's Grimoire: Knocker

The text in the quote box below is hereby designated Open Game Content via the Open Game License.

Dwarf, Knocker

No Enc.: 2d6
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 1+2
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: As weapon
Save: D1
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: VI, XX
XP: 27

Knockers are aberrant, insane beings accidentally created through an error in the carving process by which dwarves propagate their kind. They are wild-eyed, almost feral demihumans of similar stature to their dwarven kin but much thinner and with somewhat sharper features. Their skin is pale and they favor unkempt clothing and armor that weirdly enables them to blend in with stone, granting them the ability to hide in shadows in such surroundings on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6 (and surprising opponents with the same probability).

Consumed with a lust for gold, gems, and precious metals, knockers hate other dwarves, against whom they wage constant guerrilla warfare. Fortunately, they similarly hate most other creatures, which means they rarely have allies in their war against their kin. Foolhardy and mad, most knockers do not have a long life expectancy. Those that do survive grow more powerful as a result. Consequently, 50% of all knockers encountered with be 2nd-level Dwarves and, in a group of 10 or more, there will always be a 4th or 5th-level Dwarf amongst them. Knockers favor the use of polearms and axes and rarely use missile weapons. All knockers radiate an aura of confusion (as per the 4th-level magic-user spell of the same name) and anyone who comes within its 30' radius must save vs. spells or suffer its ill effects for 12 rounds.

By all rights, there should be no more knockers than there are gnomes -- likely fewer given the lives these savage beings lead. Yet, somehow, there are more. Indeed, in some subterranean areas, knockers inexplicably exist in very large numbers, suggesting that either there are other means of creating these beings than through an error in carving or they have a means to reproduce themselves. There are longstanding rumors that knockers steal inert dwarves and transform them into more knockers, but no evidence of its truth has ever been found.

13 comments:

  1. I like the description for these guys a lot, it's swimming in plot hooks.

    This series of posts has been really enjoyable. Looking forward to further insights into the setting that's emerged from your Dwimmermount game.

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  2. Great stuff. Put together all your posts on Dwarfs and their kin, and there's enough material here for an all-Dwarfs campaign.

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  3. Have you thought about putting together a PDF campaign guide with all these fun things in it? Especially with the more recent things with dwarves is really great.

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  4. Good stuff. I like the idea that they steal inert dwarven sons and somehow wake them up and corrupt them. It reminds me of the rumor that elves steal human children in order to replenish their numbers.

    It also makes me think of what one your suggested- that there me be whole sleeping clans of of semi-inert dwarves out there. When that was first suggested, I thought it would make an interesting thing to do- save the sleeping dwarves from orcs or goblins who want to kill them unawakened.

    But it would be a lot cooler to protect the unawakened clan not from death but from the knocker perversion. The knocker who planned to pull this off might make a pretty cool NPC, a madman with real vision and connections to a wider world of villainy, not just a nut living in a hole.

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  5. Chalk: What did you see down there?
    Koram: A pair of knockers!
    Chalk: Hey, my turn!


    A great critter, by the way.

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  6. Another thing about you're dwarves that reminds me of Warcraft's. First the reference to the Makers reminds me of Warcraft's Titans, which created the dwarves and several other races. In Warcraft dwarves were originally earth-like creatures called earthen, but were subjected to the "Curse of the Flesh" by the Old Gods, which resulted in not only modern dwarves, but also troggs, beings very similar to you're knockers.

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  7. Have you thought about putting together a PDF campaign guide with all these fun things in it?

    Some of this stuff will make its way into the Dwimmermount book I have planned for the Fall.

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  8. Another thing about you're dwarves that reminds me of Warcraft's.

    I'm familiar with Warcraft's dwarves, so I wouldn't be surprised if they'd influenced me a little, much in the same way that those of Norse/Germanic legend, fairy tales, Disney movies, and of course D&D itself have also influenced me. Disentangling the strands of influence and inspiration is a tough business.

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  9. This is the stuff that I read for.

    I live for other stuff, but I read in order to keep bumping into neat little twists on our collective subconscious. Like your take on dwarves, gnomes, and knockers (aka kobolds in Central Europe).

    ingirboo: good name for a knocker.

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  10. Between this and the massive ancient dwarven strongholds, I wonder if it's not even more sinister than stolen children. Perhaps all dwarves become knockers at some point after death, and the millions-strong population of ancient days has become a vast horde of horrors. (Which would make the carved knockers a different kind of stillbirth, actually.)

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  11. I'm really enjoying the dwarves and their kin. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I really like the stuff you've done with the dwarves. It's a really refreshing take on a tired fantasy trope. Great work!

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  13. Perhaps all dwarves become knockers at some point after death, and the millions-strong population of ancient days has become a vast horde of horrors. (Which would make the carved knockers a different kind of stillbirth, actually.)

    There are some sages who've postulated just this -- without much evidence, of course, but that doesn't mean it's untrue :)

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