Sunday, September 19, 2021

Lizardmen of the Eastern Satrapies

 In ancient days, when the Reptile Tyrants, those Dinosaur Kings, ruled petty kingdoms in the East, they kept the lizardmen in chains and in pens, and cooked them up for lunch, for dinner, and for supper (rarely was their flesh eaten for breakfast, though their leathery eggs were cooked up for such occasions).

Courtesy Locheil (this is from a session from a while ago)

A Fine Recipe for Roasted Lank-Lizard Flank
(Sourced from On Cookery Both High and Low and of the Uses of Spices, a manuscript written on orders from the Dinosaur King Kalanna in what is now western Numistan, transcribed on a scroll made of sewn together shed skin)
Take the flanks of the lizard which walks like a man. Create mixture of yogurt, onion, and garlic, and the juice of a lemon, and pepper, cardamom, salt, cumin, and turmeric in equal part. Lighten the mixture with water and sunflower oil. Slather it on the flanks, and roast over a fire until the flesh resists not the blade.

Using the framework of Skerples' Monster Menu-All, lizardman flesh is a rare normal meat that tastes like a cross between chicken and fish (leaning more toward chicken) with no unusual effects.

When the Conquering King came on in with his armies that filled the horizon, he destroyed the citadels of the Dinosaur Kings and laid waste to their cities. To the princelings of the scaly ones, this was a terror of apocalyptic proportions, the end of their civilization, the final hurrah of the apes over the reptiles. They receded into the far valleys, into the countryside, into the foothills of the mountains that loom to the east; they ensconced themselves in secrecy, or hid their visages behind sorcery. They feared that what they had done to the kings that came before them would be done to them. For the Conquering King, it was the tail end of a long campaign, his soldiers tired and weary after years away from home. It was nothing special to him; he had conquered many a land before it. He barely even thought anything special of knocking down statues of the ancient kings of the Thunder Lizards and putting their viziers and generals to the sword. Armageddon for dinosaur princes was more of the same for the Conqueror.

And just as in all other lands that he subjugated, the Conquering King sought to win the support of the oppressed and downtrodden segments of the population, so that his rule would be upheld without even a second thought. In other lands it was he who rebuilt destroyed temples and liberated slaves (whilst enslaving others); in the lands of the Dinosaur Kings, he empowered the local human population by giving them most of the local administration, and he freed what he thought were the dinosaurs' slaves: the lizardmen. 

Courtesy myself

In this Green Land, the Green Men which dwell here, the Lizard Men, once Enslaved now Free, redeemed by My Hand, by My prophesied Hand. In the name of the King of the Gods, my Father, the Bondage of these Scaled Men shall Forever be ended. Their Tyrants vanquished, just as My Forefathers did, so that all men in the world can forever be free!
-Inscribed on the Orders of the Conqueror-

In truth, however, the lizardmen were not men at all; they were beasts! Despite their humanoid appearances, the lizardmen have none of the emotional nor cognitive abilities of human beings. In the words of many a thinker in the east since the days of the Conquering King, the lizardmen are without a soul. The Conqueror's "liberation" of what were little more than cattle was entirely due to a misunderstanding and miscommunication on his part. He was under the impression that they truly were men, a race of men entirely enslaved at that, and thus were in needing of redemption. And so, with the chisel in the hands of a hundred artisans, this foreigner singlehandedly put a breed of unintelligent meat-beast on the same level as humanity. He even appointed a lizardman as vizier to the local governor! (That eternally controversial move has left a lasting impact in the mythology and art of the region, such as the comedic poem The Appeal of Dosthenes, about a foreigner attempting to lobby the vizier for access to the satrap but having to contend with the vizier's inability to speak or comprehend what he says.)

And so was born the scourge of the wild lizardman. For as long as the Conquering King and his appointed satrap lived, it was punishable by death to put a lizardman in bondage. What was once a domesticated species went completely feral in one human generation. And with the Dinosaur Kings having receded away, those who had domesticated them in the first place were no longer able to, not on any large scale. By the present day, the lizardmen are at best an exotic pet, and much more commonly packs of feral things crawling around the forests, hills, and swamps of the eastern Satrapies.

One of the distinctive features of the lizardmen is their very matriarchal relationships. They form packs, sometimes called nests, headed by the lizardmothers, the venerable female progenitors of the rest of the pack. This is not a eusocial system a la those of bees, ants, wasps, or termites, but rather a loose hierarchy with the oldest, largest, most ravenous females at the top. Most packs only have a small number of lizardmothers, for they are very competitive, typically only between one and five; it is not uncommon for a female to leave their pack to establish their own. Oftentimes the lizardmothers also control reproduction, being the primary target of mating for most males in their pack. The quickest way to destroy a nest of lizardmen is to kill their lizardmother(s).

(I'm going to be using a smaller more generic statblock format for this post. Its something I've been using in my notes/documents for a while, it should still be usable with just about all of whatever OSR type RPGs one may need it for)

Number Encountered: 1d6 (Almost always encountered with lizardmen)
Hit Dice: 3+2
Attacks: 2 claws (1d6+1) or 1 tail swipe (see below)
Armor: as chain
Morale: 8
Cold Blooded: All lizardmen are cold blooded. They must sun themselves regularly to not become sluggish. If conditions are cold or the lizardmother has been kept from sunlight for an extended period, they make all rolls with disadvantage.
Commanding Presence: Lizardmen of the same nest as the lizardmother will go to defend her. When defending her, they make morale checks as if they had the same morale as the lizardmother.
Tail Swipe: Instead of making her normal two attacks, the lizardmother can choose to perform a tail swipe. Any within melee or reach range must make a saving throw or take 1d4 damage and be knocked to the ground.

(note: In OSE (and in B/X), lizardmen have perfect morale (12). I kind of hate overusing things that don't make morale checks because, as I may have said before, I really like morale rules. Assume that when I mention lizardman morale, they have a morale of like 6 or 7. I'm just mentioning this because of the above mentions of it.)

A nice little boy!

Some distant ancestors of the lizardmen, perhaps coming from the same time as the first progenitor population to be domesticated, escaped into the caves and crevices of the mountains. After generations beneath the surface of the world, they have become pale, blind, emaciated, and sluggish. Cold blooded like their surface brethren, they subsist on the most meager of food in the depths. Unlike some other creatures adapted for the depths, these troglodytic beasts only really live in some of the more wide open caverns, around bodies of water although they are not able to breathe underwater. The men of the deluge often hunt the subterranean lizardmen.

Pale Blind Cave Lizardman
Number Encountered: 1d8+1
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 claws (1d6) and 1 bite (1d6)
Armor: as leather
Morale: 7
Blind: Pale blind cave lizardmen are not affected by bright lights or visual effects. They can only effectively target someone for an attack if they are making noise; if all is silent, they will not know that you are there.
Sluggish: Despite their lithe appearances, pale blind cave lizardmen are very sluggish owing to their dark dank environs. They make saving throws to dodge out of the way of something with disadvantage.
Swimming: Despite their sluggishness, pale blind cave lizardmen are avid swimmers.
Vice Grip Bite: If a target is hit by the pale blind cave lizardman's bite attack and both claw attacks, then the lizardman bites down with such force that the target cannot remove them. They deal 1d6 damage to the target every round and make them unable to move, as well as still being able to defend themselves with their claw attacks.

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