Monday, 27 August 2012

Dogs in Balazar

Balazarings love their dogs, they regard them as brothers. Every Balzaring camp is awash with scavenging pups, every foraging group has guard dogs, small hunts have dogs for chasing and treeing game and major hunts use large packs to herd antelope and larger game into traps.

They keep several different breeds; small brown furred general purpose hunters are the most common, but big wolfhounds and mastiffs are also kept. Lopers are much prized bloodhounds that will keep following a trail to the ends of the earth if need be, and possibly beyond if they have been blessed by Brother Dog.

The Balazarings have many stories and legends about dogs; Brother Dog's conflicts with Telmor the werewolf are an epic, and all famous and heroic hunters have had a heroic dog at their side. Balazar's own dog, Redfang, struggled all the way back from the apocalyptic Dragonkill War to tell his master's sons of his death, then died at their feet.

Any Balazaring character can learn Train Dog as an advanced skill at POW+CHA. If they roll this skill or under they start the game with one ordinary hunting dog. Otherwise dogs can be bought or traded for at 50L for a hunter, 100L for a mastiff, 250L for a Black Loper and 300L for a Red Mastiff.

                Hunter     Mastiff       Black Loper       Red Mastiff

STR         1d6+3     2d4+2       1d6+4                2d6+2
CON        3d6         3d6            2d6+6                3d6
SIZ           1d3+2    1d3+4        1d4+3                1d4+4
INT           1d3+3    1d3+2        1d3+4                1d3+4
POW       1d6+6    1d6+6        1d6+10              1d6+6
DEX         2d6+6    2d6+3        2d6+6                2d6+6
CHA        1d6         1d6+1        1d6+3                1d6+3

Dogs can have a cultural background and a profession; after all a primitive hunters dog is not going to have the same skills as a noblewoman's lapdog.

All Balazaring dogs are Primitive, giving them +15% in Athletics, Perception, Resilience and Stealth, and +10% in Bite, and learn the advanced skills Survival and Tracking. Hunters and Lopers get an additional +5% Track and Resilience, while Mastiffs and Red Mastiffs get +5% Bite and Brawn.

Hunting dogs get +10% Resilience, +10% Stealth and +10% Track

Guard dogs get +10% Perception, +10% Insight and +10% Evade

Fighting dogs get +10% Bite, +10% Resilience and +10% Brawn

Herding dogs (only used by the White Goat clan) get +10% Perception and Obey Command

The owner can also train his dog up to 100 extra skill points, but no more than 30% in any one skill initially. Almost all learn the Follow Command advanced skill at INT+POW, and many Balazaring dog also learn Spirit Walk, to enable them to detect marauding spirits as well as physical threats.

Dogs gain advancement points and hero points just like humans, but can only use advancement points during downtime if their owner successfully makes one Train Dog roll per point.

A dog has 1 point natural armour.

A Legend Dog Character Sheet can be found HERE

Commanding a Dog

Dogs may learn one command plus one per 2 points of intelligence. Possible commands are Attack, Track, Hide, Come With Me, Silence, Fetch, Run Away, Hold Him, Go Home and Cast Spell.

To get the dog to obey a known command the trainer must roll his Train Dog skill plus the dogs Obey Command skill. If the dog has not been trained in the command the roll is half the owners Train Dog.

A dog which embodies a fetch or other spirit become fully awakened and is treated just like any other NPC follower. Such a dog may even learn human languages (limited to a max of 50% due to physical limitations of the larynx).

Disobedient Dogs

All dogs have their own personality and interesting or annoying quirks. Roll once on the table below.

1-2 Hates cats. Will have +10% to track them and will automatically attack any cat less than 2x their SIZ and may have a go at cats up to 4x SIZ if they make a Persistence roll. This dog is daft enough to take on a Sabre Tooth.

3 Gormless. This is not a clever or obedient dog. Int is reduced by 3 and any Obey Command skill is halved and any skill gains through Improvement are also halved.

4 Aggressive. This dog is a little bastard and will bite anyone who gets near unless specifically told not to. When out hunting it will attack prey when it is supposed to be keeping them at bay or just following them, if it is a guard dog it will go for friends as well as foes. Roll vs Persistence or bark and threaten, then attack. +10% Bite.

5 Greedy. Will steal rations and eat small game rather than fetch it back to its master. If put in a situation where stealing food is an option roll vs Persistence x 2 or the dog will succumb to temptation. +1 SIZ

6 Alert. Gets +POW to Perception and Spirit Walk if it knows the skill. On a Perception roll of 91+ will start barking at nothing and will be hard to stop.

7 Soppy. The opposite of aggressive, this over friendly dog licks people it is supposed to be biting. -10% Bite, -10% Insight, +5% Influence, half obedience roll when being commanded to Attack.

8 Clever. This dog is uncannily smart for an ordinary dog and has +10% Insight. If it is in a situation not covered by a command, roll Insight skill for the dog to come up with its own solution.

9 Squirrels! This dog loves nothing more than to pursue squirrels and other small game. If in a wood there is a 10% chance per hour of the dog picking up a scent and following it, with half normal obedience chances of getting it to stop and come back.

10 Hates... This dog is a smart one, but mean. Can be trained to attack one particular type of intelligent prey or human on sight. Choose one target (Lunars, your tribes worst enemy, worshippers of Issaries, people with red hair, Trolls) and the dog will get +20% Perception to spot them and raise the alarm and +10% Bite attack against them.

11 Top Dog. Gets +1 CHA and will establish itself as leader of any dog pack if it has the highest CHA. If its CHA is equal to or one less than the current top dog it will fight for leadership (winner of such fights gains a CHA point, loser loses one). If its CHA is higher than its masters then half the Obey Command skill as it looks on its supposed boss with lordly disdain.

12 Scavenger. This dog can find food anywhere and will eat all kinds of carrion. +10% Survival, but don't let it breathe on you.

13 Stinky. This dog is exceptionally 'doggy', -1d4x5% Stealth and Influence.

14 Handsome. A dog with fine bearing, sleek fur and if the Balazarings went in for such inane vanities as dog shows would probably win 'Best in Breed', +1d3 CHA

15 Mongrel. A gawky, scruffy mutt that doesn't look like his breed ought to. -1d3 CHA but +1d3 points in other characteristics.

16 Heroic Lineage. This dog's ancestors were well known as skilled hunters or guards. +1d3 POW and +5% to 1d3 skills.

17 Puppy Dog eyes. A dog which knows how to get round its owner even when it knows it deserves a good kick, +10% Influence.

18 Half Wolf. A dog with too much wolf in him is a fine vicious looking beast (+10% Bite, +10% Resilience, +1 STR, +1 CON) but hard to control, halving any obedience rolls and if the Train Dog roll is ever fumbled it will turn on its owner.

19 Wet dog. Has +10% swim and can has +10% tracking to find downed waterfowl, and will even hunt frogs and fish.

20 Two traits as above. If roll 20 again three traits and so on.


Dogs are not daft, they won't go attacking anything too large and too heavily armoured however loyal they are. They will fight in packs, one dog leaping in to bite then retreating while the disoriented target is attacked from another angle (-5% Evade or parry per dog attacking). Dogs can be taught to Hold, biting and holding on using the Grip combat manoeuvre. They can also use Unarmed Combat to bash a target rather than bite him, though they will only use this on a target no more than 2 times their size.

Magic and Religion

Dogs in Balazar are automatically followers of the Brother Dog spirit, and can advance in this religion independently of their owner. Votaries of Brother Dog can be taught common magic and spirit binding by a human Brother Dog Shaman and can carry dog spirit fetishes. A shaman's own dog will be used to embody Guardian spirits or even fetches, so the dog is pretty much a small-time shaman itself. Dogs can also follow the Black Dog and Two Stone spirits, but in Elkoi the lowland dog-god Jajagappa and Lunar hero-cult of Cwurl Toran are slowly gaining ground as more settlers move in from Holay and beyond.

Dog Equipment

Balazaring dogs usually only have a collar made of braided leather with a bone, wood or stone charm or two, but in Elkoi and nearby bronze studded collars with buckles are bought by chiefs and hunters, and even dog armour (leather harnesses for forebody or the head) as used by the Lunar military. Queen Jocestis of Elkoi even has plumed helmets and chainmail for her dog guards, and a red silk waistcoat for her 'dog vizier', a fat and supercilious looking lapdog that can allegedly cast curses.