Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dogs of Dolmenwood (Part 1 of 2) - Some Unofficial Homebrew Canine Companions

Dogs of the Dolmenwood
This is an entirely unapproved fan material supplement, created due to the old religious fairy-tale feel of the Dolmenwood, my own player’s obsessions with animal companions, and my own personal appreciation for random tables and charts. What follows are ten breeds of dogs, the native breeds having mated with others with similar traits long enough to pass off abilities in the grand fashion of the fittest being deigned to survive; while those from more civilized areas are beasts who have been bred for more specific purposes by the careful hands of monks and animal trainers. As I've written this, my shoulder has gotten horribly kinked up due to dog-sitting for a week. As such, only 6 dogs are presented below. What makes them useful is indicated in bold. In parenthetical next to their name is what you should sort of be picturing.

1. The Shuckdog (Wolfish Body, Pit Bull head, Affenpinscher coat)
The Shuckdog is a powerful wolfhound with wiry black fur and a boxy snout, their eyes are almost universally a jaundiced yellow but sometimes they are red. Their paws are large and they enjoy slapping things with them when they are younger, and their tails is rat-thin. Depending on where you are in the wold you’ll encounter the polarizing attitudes towards this breed. The howl of a Shuckdog is a loud, haunting thing that carries on the winds and echoes in strange ways. Some say that the Shuckdog is just a lesser herald of misfortune due to this ability, while others say this howl scares off foul things and give the dog an extra bit of worth.

Shuckdogs themselves are highly intelligent hunters who appreciate the company of humanoids, with many in their old age becoming layabout hounds which like to warm their bellies at the hearth in your home. They do not bark but rather “boof” and yodel, and they are playful when they’re younger but seem to become more of their own dog when they advance from pups, oftentimes hunting small game for the family as a way to gain respect.

Shuckdogs are a Large Breed (HD d8) who are good at hunting gamefowl (5-in-6 chance if you encounter fowl that your Shuckdog can catch one, 3-in-6 if you just sent it into the wild for hunting). Shuckdogs who you allow to howl at night have a 40% chance of scaring away supernatural entities with less than 1d4 HD who fear that they might’ve stumbled across Black Shuck. Shuckdogs have a powerful locking jaw, and upon biting they will only release if they take more than 1d4 damage or fail a Morale check.

2. The Loomenhound (Tawny Bully Whippet + Lurcher)
The illuminated city of Loom is filled with the pious and influential, and among the vaunted noble class the Loomenhound is seen as a mark of prominence. This breed is lithe but thickly muscled, almost more of a lioness than a canine. Its coat is generally tawny, with plumes of hair on the back of its pate and streaming off its whip of a tail. The Loomenhound’s teeth are razor sharp and they line its narrow mouth in perfect symmetry, the front fangs are curved for ripping while the back teeth are what they do the bulk of their chewing with.

Loomenhound are not the most intelligent dogs, but once they have been raised in a set regiment or schedule they will follow it as best they can. They are powerful and fast, being used for racing around gardens and petty gambling in Loom, as well as on fox or elk hunts on the fringe of the woodlands. They enjoy “singing” as a breed but those of superior training refuse to bark unless it is part of one of their orders.

Loomenhounds are a Large Breed (HD d8) who are obscenely fast (Advantage on any Dexterity rolls or Reflex saves, can run 60 feet per second and can sprint 40mph but are Fatigued afterwards). Loomenhound are easy to train if kept on a schedule, and learn new tricks with a 4-in-6 chance if you keep to a schedule for a week of training. Their teeth are built for ripping flesh and bleeding animals (Victim must make a Constitution save when bit or Bleed 1HP per round until unconscious).

3. Guillee Drowse (Husky Fur + St. Bernard Face + Bull Terrier Everything Else)
Originally bred to be watchdogs by the pilgrims at the Hall of Sleep, the Guillee Drowse have long been a companion of the pilgrim and the pious who wander the wild walks of the world. They are of a squat body, smaller than a wolf but large enough to still hunt fox. Their chests are barrels of muscle and sturdy ribs, with a low but bristly coat of brindled black and white fur. Their eyes are a beautiful coastal sea blue with pronounced drooping haws, which is where their name of drowse originates from. The chosen canine companion of the Hall of Sleep appear to be eternally exhausted.

A Guillee Drowse is a sociable and unintelligent animal, which makes it kind but easy to deceive. Many a would-be thief has been happily greeted by Guillee Drowse in rectories and left without a scratch on their person. What gives these creatures worth as guard dogs is their ability to see that which dwells between the veil of this world and the next. A Guillee Drowse is vigilant and paranoid of the undead and the phantom shade, knowing how to point and bark at such creatures until a monk or priest may arrive. They are an otherwise quiet breed, who yip when playing and save their alarmful barks only for the damned.

Guillee Drowse are a Medium Breed (HD d4) which see ghosts, spirits, and spectral entities on a 5-in-6. They are sociable and any damage to their morale can be repaired quickly with a meal and some positive attention. They are reliable hiking companions and do not easily tired, despite all outward experiences, granting them Advantage on Constitution saves they might need to make to avoid fatigue. The Guillee Drowse does not enjoy fighting but are vicious when fighting the undead, ignoring any morale penalties or fear effects that are supernatural in origin.

4. Shagga Dog (Irish Wolf Hound with fox tail/ears, naturally matty fur.)
One of the naturally occurring breeds of the great forest, untouched by the manipulating hand of man, is what the moss dwarves the woodsfolk call the Shagga Dog. The Shagga Dog is large, about the size of a dwarf pony but far more limber and lithe. Its hair is shaggy and rough, and the Shagga knows how to mat their hair to prevent a cloth-like block from the many ticks and parasites of the forest. Their serrated lips are black and drooling, and their tongues are often splotched. They can move their ears independently of one another in order to better orient itself to sounds.

Shagga Dogs are quality companions who both woodsmen and moss dwarves love for vastly different reasons. The woodsmen of the Dolmenwood appreciate the dog for its hunting contribution, lacking any negative supernatural connotation, and for their skill at snuffing out truffles and other mushrooms of great taste. Moss dwarves love and appreciate the Shagga Dog for distributing seeds and spores across the woods, as well as for how Shagga Dogs are useful for finding other moss dwarves with their sensitive noses. Shagga Dogs never seem to be put off by the appearance of moss dwarves, let alone their stench.

Shagga Dogs are a Large Breed (d8 HD) who are smart enough to prevent catching parasites (Advantage on saves to prevent parasitic attachment). They are adequate hunters (3-in-6 chance when with a hunter) but excel at finding mushrooms and tubers (5-in-6 chance when they catch the scent).

5. Nag Hound (Chaos Mutt, think naked cats but dogs with horns and goat eyes)
Ever since the arrival of the Nag Lord to the Dolmenwood things have gotten stranger. While many are displeased that such a creature lurks the wild, Lord Malbeat certainly appreciates that it has allowed for the creation of the Nag Hound. This breed appears unfortunately brutish and bloodthirsty, feral beyond reason. Their fur is mangey and it grows long and wild in places while the dog itself remains naked elsewhere without reason. Its flesh is a foul mottled grey and pink affair, often with tumors and lumps. Their eyes are like those of their goat-like patrons, though they are firmly on the sides of the beast’s head, forcing it to tilt its head to get a good look at what is around it. Their teeth are truly horrible, a set of serrated knife-and-needly snaggled fangs in the front and two big crushing teeth on either side on the back.

Nag Hounds are not evil or wicked by nature, they just look that way. They can, and are, often dolled up by their richer goatman owners who wish to show off their sophistication to lesser goatmen. They love fish, preferring it to any other source of food, and cinnamon is their favorite spice which they will gladly lick for hours and hours. They are primarily dogs that exist for companionship purposes, but they are scrappy and able to hurt someone in a fight even if that is generally the last thing they’d like to do.

Nag Hounds are a Medium Breed (d4 HD), which are to all but Goatmen considered to be blasphemously ugly (reactions of disgust, disinterest or avoidance by non-Goatman is assumed). They have dangerous and wretched fangs (two attacks when biting, d4 on first bite, d2 on the second where they leave a tooth behind in the flesh; all Nag Hounds have 3d10 teeth they can lose which regrow in 1d4 weeks). Nag Hounds are aligned to Chaos by their very existence, enjoying anything that might benefit Chaos. Nag Hounds are also immutable due to their bizarre breeding, they cannot suffer from shape changing magic unless cast by another creature aligned to Chaos.

6. Druneswolf, also known as Domestic Lilytail (Rat Terrier + Corgi Mix).
Known elsewhere in the world as the domesticate Lilytail, the Druneswolf is an eclectic and strange breed that serve a purpose to their hooded masters. While elsewhere in the world the Lilytail is loved for how it lilts its tail up and dances and spins at random times to the amusement of their owners, the Druneswolf is known by its masters to be skilled at indicating places where leylines cross or where spiritual entities have entered into the mortal world. As is their nature, the Drune do not tell anyone why these dogs do what it is they do, but they always take umbrage at them being called a domestic Lilytail.

These dogs are always of two colors, their head being one and their body being the other. They have small, narrow legs, and with age they often become fat to the point that they can seldom walk at all. The fur on their back clumps into a “faerie saddle” in the center, and folklore suggests these creatures were once warbeasts for little pixies. The Drune will not speak the horrible truth of the matter, but one can assume there is some fact to these stories and that fact would turn your hair white.

Druneswolf have bulbous eyes and small tails, their ears are large and perky with flowing fur that runs off the fringe of the earlobe. When they sense magic, faeries, or leylines they will perform a series of strange circular dances which only those who are among the Drune or very observant will discern the truth of.

The Druneswolf (or domestic Lilytail) is a Small Breed (d4/2 HD) that can Sense Magic. They will spin in counterclockwise circles and shake their head from side to side when in the presence of faeries. They will roll on their back and slam their back feet on the ground when they are in the presence of magical items, and they will chomp at the air for each item they can sense; only stopping if the item has been acknowledged by their owner.  They will run their forehead on the ground and move in a clockwise circle when they are atop a leyline or a font of magical power. These traits can be discovered by characters who observe this 1d4 times and pass a 2-in-6 chance Intelligence check, though the Drune may simply be informed of this by their superiors. Druneswolf can easily learn on a 4-in-6 new ways to explain specific magical encounters (such as to bark twice when it smells a grig, or to bite at its fur when a demon is near).

Next Up: The Boardog, the Warty Addler, the Rectory Pug (Or Saint's Snorker), and Hameth's Otterhound. Plus a d30 list of Dog Eccentricities and a d20 of Personalities (aka, Morale and other behavior), and potentially a punnett square deal if you want to science class your players when they get into trying to breed the perfect dog---because I know my group will do this.

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