Building Bhakashal - Prominent NPCs, Amankal “Carver” Tivorin - 7th level House Himmenghost Mercenary
The last few NPCs have been spell casters, time for a martial class. Bhakashal fighters are called mercenaries, and have several routes to advancement in the setting. The NPCs are meant as exemplars for the PCs, in this case, if you follow the NPCs entry, you see one way that a PC mercenary could advance in level within the setting. Bhakashal is a martial setting, the rulers are either warlocks or lords, so the goal of a PC warrior can be anything from being a simple soldier who also adventures outside their “job” to one day being a House Lord.
As with other NPCs, the entry will suggest how the PCs could interact with them.
Amankal Tivorin - “Carver”
Human - Mercenary – 7th level - House Himmenghost (Crest: White unicorn/red)
S-15, I-12, W-9, D-15, C-17, C-10
HP: 36, MV: 12", AC: 2 (banded mail)
Saving Throws: PPDM: 11, PP: 12, RSW: 13, BW: 13, SP: 14 [+2 on physical saves]
Attacks: (3/2 attack/rd) - THACO: 15
Grappling: 2d6+15 [+2(STR)+2(DEX)+11(LEV+1/2LEV)]
Broadsword [+4hit/+4dam] 2-8/2-7, WS: 2 [-2 Metal/+1 Leather/+2 No Armor][Critical:Cleave]
(2) War Hammers [+3hit/+3dam] 2-5/1-4, WS: 2 [+1 Metal][Critical: Bludgeon/Dual Wield]
Crossbow [+1hit/+1dam] 2-5/2-5, WS: 4, R: S6 M12 L18 [-1Metal/+2Leather/+3 No Armor][Critical: Remain]
Dagger [+2hit/+2dam] 1-4/1-3, WS: 1 [-2 Metal/+3 No Armor][Critical:Dual Wield/Remain/Stab]
+2 Banded Mail
+1 broadsword “Krpa”
Boots of Striding and Springing
Potion of Undead Control
Amankal Timorin, known to most as “Carver”, started out his career in the city Arena. After a few fights he caught the attention of Lord Raglak of House Himmenghost, and was offered a place in the House Himmenghost regulars. He was assigned to a post as a crossbowman for the Long Glass network (the network of viewing towers that spiderwebs each Ward) and worked there for several months before being transferred to a House Himmenghost Ward patrol.
Lord Raglak called on Amankal several times in this period, the mercenary was loyal to the House Lord, grateful for the opportunity he had given him, Lord Raglak sensed that loyalty and used him as a personal bodyguard for special functions. He quickly gained a reputation for being handy with blades, broadsword and dagger. After several seasons on regular ward patrol he was promoted to the rank of patrol commander, and spent a year working the Ward and honing his skills, working for Lord Raglak when needed on the side.
His sword, “Krpa”, was taken from an enemy defeated in the Arena, and his magic boots were taken from a warrior of House Liat who, along with a group of House Liat regulars, tried to ambush Lord Raglak, Amankal and a group of House Himmenghost soldiers when they were exploring a sunken temple in the marshes. The House Liat party had trailed Amankal and Raglak with the intent of letting them fight the denizens of the temple and retrieve items of power then ambushing them on their exit. When the fight was over Amankal, Raglak and two House Himmenghost soldiers were the only people left standing, and Amankal’s reward for the victory was the boots. He found the armor on an adventure in the marshes outside of his House Himmegost duties.
Amankal is 6’ tall and 200lbs, with black hair and grey eyes. He is clean shaven and keeps his hair short. He rarely gets sick. He can travel for days with little sleep and can stay up and alert for many hours. Amankal also likes to gamble, but only does so when he’s flush. Amankal has an easy disposition, he avoids quarrels and intrigues for the most part, hewing to his alliance with Lord Raglak rather than jockeying for position in the House hierarchy or succumbing to the temptation of betraying his Lord for power. He has an easy humor and appreciation for intelligent conversation, as well as a love of music.
He is interested in the different forms of music practiced by different groups in Bhakashal, he has a fondness for the layered music written for the Chitin Umarak and the deep resonance of the Garudin Kraik. He is currently trading swordfighting lessons for Kraik lessons from a Garudin soldier at House Himmenghost, Oiyos Tharcen. Amankal worships Bhamal, god of music and beauty, he has a tattoo of Bhamal on his back (humanoid with an orange body and black armor, boar’s head, carrying a hammer and riding a giant peacock) and uses a hammer in Bhamal’s honor.
Though he occasionally joins the House Himmenghost hunt, Amankal primarily works as a trainer at House Himmenghost, he may be met in this capacity by PCs looking for level training. Amankal trains in broadsword, war hammer, crossbow and dagger. He specializes in long distance crossbow training and two-handed fighting with broadsword and dagger, broadsword and hammer, hammer and dagger, dagger and dagger, and hammer and hammer.
He is called “Carver” by all but his superiors in House Himmenghost and those under his command.
One of the challenges of creating NPCs for Bhakashal, and for that matter for any D&D system, is that the advantages of being a fighter/martial class are tied up in mechanics that you don’t notice when you look at the character sheet. When you ‘stat’ a magic using PC or one with many abilities (like a spartan(monk)) you have a list of things for the character sheet, fighters get better at fighting, everyone fights, so that’s a bit harder to show on paper.
It’s all there of course, and given the randomization inherent in combat, it means that you notice it at the table in terms of outcomes… for the most part. As with any other game that involves chance, sometimes you have a bad streak. Combine that with things that are not amenable to melee damage, and players can find fighters underwhelming.
However, there are ways to make the player more engaged with the mechanics, so they can see just what advantages they have. What I will do here is go through the class as I would with a player asking me about this stuff. It’s good to peel back the layers, show the benefits and the costs, so the player can decide if this will be a fun character. Fighters grow slowly, but once they are mature they are formidable.
Bhakashal spreads around the bonuses, 1e spiked it at high and low ranges, which just led to stat inflation. This spreads it out so any above average score gets some sort of a bonus, so there is still value in having a less than maximized stat. The trade off is no “exceptional strength” for fighters, but the “+” to hit and “+” to damage are as listed, so at a DEX of 14 you get a +2 to hit with missile weapons and a 2 point bonus to your AC, whereas A STR of 14 gives you a +2 to hit and damage.
For Charisma use +1=5%
Bhakashal also nixes the “mook rule”, e.g. fighter’s one attack per round against 0 HD opponents.
Finally, though mercenaries have the most HP, they have a fixed system, 12hp at first level, then 4hp per level thereafter until 10th. So they will have just below average HP compared to a 1st edition fighter.
Those are the drawbacks.
Here are the benefits.
Bhakashal puts a lot of the benefits into weapons, every class can use them, but fighters get the most weapons, have the smallest non-proficiency penalties with weapons, and are most likely to trigger a critical hit effect with the weapon (more on that later). So while everyone gets access to weapons, mercenaries (and Spartans) are the best with them in combat. Bhakashal models skilled proficiency with weapons for the mercenary.
Let’s start with his melee weapon
Broadsword [+4/+4] 2-8/2-7, WS: 2 [-2 M/+1 L/+2 N][Cleave]
The +4/+4 comes from the magic weapon (+1/+1 worth), his strength (+2/+2) and +1/+1 comes from the proficiency bonus.
Proficiency Bonus: for any class, weapon proficiency slots can get you either a new weapon, or a +1/+1 with an existing one. Only mercenaries can stack these bonuses, though not at 1st level.
So Amankal took the broadsword, crossbow, dagger and war hammer to start (mercenaries start with 4 weapons), and when he hit 3rd level he took a proficiency bonus with his crossbow rather than a new weapon. At level 5 he took a +1/+1 with his broadsword rather than a new weapon, then found Krpa boosting it to +4/+4 when added to his strength bonus.
So note that by level 5, he has a +4/+4 with his primary weapon, but only a +1 sword. Adding a proficiency bonus and spreading around STR bonuses allows mercenaries to get decent bonuses without magic. So it doesn’t just apply to luckily getting magic items.
At level 7 he took a proficiency bonus with his hammer, adding to his STR bonus it was now +3/+3. His dagger only gets the STR bonus of +2/+2.
So that’s the first good news.
The second is that Bhakashal uses individual initiative, so faster weapons strike first more often, if Carver wields his magical Krpa, it is faster than a regular broadsword by 1, so he rolls a d6 and adds a 2 to the dice. A regular longsword is WS 3 and a battle axe WS 4.
The point is that mercenaries get the most weapons, so they can take some fast and slower weapons (with higher damage spreads) depending on who they are fighting. Tactical choices matter a lot in Bhakashal, in combat who strikes first isn’t always decisive, but it can matter a lot in certain circumstances.
Another benefit, Bhakashal uses a simplified WvrsAC system, in short, everything you fight is classified into one of three categories:
Metal armor covers things like plate mail, chain mail and dragon scale. A dragon turtle’s shell would be classified as metal, as would the side of an Xorn, or a stone or iron golem.
Leather armor covers hard skinned or carapaced creatures that don’t have “metal equivalent” outsides, e.g. giant crabs, umber hulks, stone giants, purple worms.
No armor covers everything else that has some sort of skin or surface, so animals, plants, manticores, perytons, dire wolves, giant lizards, giant spiders, people, etc.
Gaseous forms, air elementals, etc. have no WvrsAC adjustments.
Several important qualifiers, if you look at Amankal’s modifiers for his broadsword
-2 M/+1 L/+2 N
That tells you that it is less effective against metal armor, but so are his dagger and crossbow bolts.
He gets a +1 to hit against opponents in leather armor or the equivalent, none of his other weapons get a bonus against leather, so this weapon has the best bonus against these foes.
But the real seismic difference is the bonus against “no armor”. In 1e this only included humanoid opponents, Bhakashal expands this to most of the game world, people, animals, and many monsters, have a “no armor” classification. Obviously this is up to the referee to adjudicate, but snakes, spiders, wolves, lizards and boars, and their giant cousins, all very common low level monsters to throw at a party, all have “no armor” for these purposes.
This makes bladed weapons VERY deadly against many things. Carver using his broadsword against a giant spider would get a +2 bonus on top of his existing +4 bonus. At 1st level Carver would get a +2 bonus against that giant snake, adding to his strength bonus for +4 to hit, +2 to damage.
Because mercenaries get more weapons than other classes, they can be strategic in their choices to make sure they have a spread of bonuses against all kinds of opponents. In traditional AD&D low level fighters are “veterans” with “many years experience” but are no more likely to hit than a 1st level priest. In Bhakashal even a 1st level fighter has some bonuses with respect to combat. If they take less than 4 weapons at first level they can start with a small bonus on top of an existing STR bonus.
The combination of more spread out bonuses, WvrsAC bonuses and proficiency bonus means that even low level fighters can have some extra punch, and that you don’t have to give out magic weapons like a drunken sailor to reward melee fighters. Levelling up brings more of everything, more proficiency slots, more weapons, more WvrsAC bonuses and more proficiency bonuses.
But that’s not all!
Mercenaries progress on the “to hit” table faster than all other classes, that’s baked into the game. This matters as they trigger “critical hits” with a natural roll 5 or more over the required to hit. To give some perspective, Carver has a THACO of 15, say he ran afoul of a city guard. Say the guard was in leather armor and carrying a longsword and a long spear.
The guard tries to keep Carver at bay with a 6 foot long spear. They roll initiative, Carver rolls a 3 with a modifier of 2 for his broadsword, the guard rolls a 2 with a modifier of 4, for a total of 6. The guard gets a 1 point AC bonus for the spear, for an AC of 4. Carver dodges to the side of the spear thrust and moves in for a sword strike, he needs to roll an 11 to hit AC 4, but he gets a +1 against leather, so he needs a 10, and he gets +4 to hit with his sword, so that’s a 7 or higher.
The guard, attacking Carver in metal armor, would need to roll a 19 to hit +1 for the armor, so only on a 20 would he hit. Carver is by comparison hitting 70% of the time to the guard’s 5%. And of course he gets 3 attacks every 2 rounds, so on the second round, fourth, etc. he gets an extra attack.
And, Carver rolls a critical against our poor fellow on a roll of 11 (natural “to hit”) +5, 16 or higher, with no bonuses. So 25% of the time Carver gets a critical effect.
Bhakashal has two kinds of criticals, weapon specific, and general. Carver, as a mercenary, triggers more general criticals, and has access to more weapon criticals than any other class.
What criticals does Carver have access to? First, general combat criticals, these can be used by anyone in combat, but are triggered most often by mercenaries, as they have the best “to hit” table.
Combat Effects Table
1. Opponent’s Weapon/Attack Parried/Blocked - next attack against them is neutralized/parried
2. Opponent’s Weapon/Attack Jammed/Stuck - one action to remove/fix, +2 to hit them while doing so
3. Numbing Blow - to the opponent's attacking limb - lose the next two actions with that limb
4. Opponent Disarmed - weapon knocked out of melee range, 1 action to retrieve
5. Opponent’s Weapon Snatched - get a bonus attack/action with the weapon
6. Opponent Object Snatched - object from opponent removed (purse, potion bottle, etc.)
7. Knock Down Opponent - opponent -2 to hit, 2 point AC, 1 action to get back on feet
8. Opponent Dodged on Lunge - attack of opportunity at opponent’s back as they pass, +2 to hit
9. Knock Back Opponent - attacker may break off with no attack of opportunity against them
10. Knock Back Opponent Into Surface / Object - 2-4 hp additional damage
11. Blow Exposes Weak Spot - Next attack against target ignores armor
12. Opponent Temporarily Blinded - next two attacks are randomized btw all in melee range
13. Opponent Temporarily Winded - next two attacks do half damage if successful
14. Opponent Disoriented By Blow - opponent loses next attack
15. Opponent Stunned - Opponent is AC 10 against next attack
16. Opponent Knocked Into Another Combatant - both have 4 point initiative penalty on next attack
17. Extra Unarmed Attack - Opponent set up for free punch/kick/head butt attack
18. Set-Up Ally - next attack against opponent from an ally is +4 to hit
19. Extra Attack - attacker gets one extra attack that round
20. Extra Damage - attacker’s base damage doubled
So Amankal could trigger extra attacks, and depending on his rolls could simulate the multiple attacks against 0-levels of 1e’s “mook rule”. He can do everything from parry, stun, blind, disarm or set up his targets, as well as just doubling damage.
And Carver also gets weapon specific criticals.
His broadsword has Cleave - Weapon does full dice damage, so on any critical the broadsword does 8 hp of damage (before modifiers).
His war hammers have two critical effects, Bludgeon and Dual Wield.
For Bludgeon - Weapon knocks opponent prone or back 10’
For Dual Wield – On a critical hit the second weapon also strikes, otherwise it is assumed to be blocking (gives one point AC bonus)
When fighting targets in metal armor, carver dual wields his war hammers, they get a +1 to hit against metal armor, drop his AC to 1, and gives a total of +4 to hit and +3 to damage with both hammers.
His dagger has three possible criticals
Dual Wield – Used with hammer or broadsword as above, on a critical hit the dagger also strikes, otherwise block for 1 point AC bonus. He can dual wield two daggers, a dagger and a hammer, a dagger and broadsword, a broadsword and a hammer, or two hammers.
Stab - Deep wound, damages muscles, target is -2 to hit for remainder of combat, several of these in a row can be debilitating, simulating the ability of a dagger to mess you up good.
Remain – Weapon stays imbedded in opponent, does minimum dice damage each round until removed. So if the dagger is left in the target they take 1 hp of damage per round until it is taken out, which is an action, if they want to remove it without taking an action they will bleed 1 hp per turn thereafter.
His crossbow also has remain, but a crossbow bolt left in will do 2 hp damage per round until removed.
Amonkal triggers a critical 25% of the time against this 0-level guard, or a soldier, or a bandit, or pirate, etc, etc, etc. So one out of every four hits could be double damage, easily enough to slay, or any extra effect.
Against a more formidable opponent, say an Umber Hulk with AC 2 and classified as “leather”, Carver hits that opponent best with his broadsword, with WvrsAC bonuses he gets +5 to hit with his broadsword against the Umber Hulk, and +3 to hit with the crossbow, criticals are triggered on natural to hits, so these bonuses don’t trigger criticals, but the do trigger hits for damage.
Carver hits an Umber Hulk on a 13, with his broadsword that means an 8, if he dual wields with his hammer for example, the war hammer hits on a 10, and on rounds when it doesn’t roll to hit it provides an AC bonus.
Note also that Carver gets 3/2 attacks per round as he is 7th level, so on the two attack rounds if he rolls a critical on the first he can parry the next attack against him, and the second attack can be directed at the target, allowing unanswered damage.
His weak spot is distance, as the damage from a crossbow is low, but it is important to calibrate things properly, against the BULK OF THE GAME WORLD, 0-level creatures, which includes city guards, bandits, pirates, raiders, soldiers, mililtia, etc, etc, even a 1st level fighter is formidable, and a 3rd or 4th level fighter is deadly.
Carver’s minimum damage with his broadsword, 5hp, is over the HP of a 0-level in Bhakashal, and for comparison in 1e AD&D a 0 level has 1-6 hp. So Carver pretty much one shots 0-level targets, and triggers criticals pretty often against the most common forms of armor. The extra attacks and lower rolled criticals make a big difference.
Finally, Carver can engage in unarmed combat, his basic stats are:
Grappling: 2d6+15 [+2(STR)+2(DEX)+11(LEV+1/2LEV)]
1. 3/2 attacks per round
2. Exceed 'to hit' by 5 for a combat critical from the Combat Effects Table
4. 1-3 HP damage +2 for STR
So in combat with a regular soldier or guard, Carver hits for min 2, max 5 hp damage, that’s enough to kill in many cases, and there is the possibility of blocking with a combat critical (e.g. parrying).
Grappling in Bhakashal works as follows
1. A maximum of 4 opponents can grapple one target the same size or larger, a larger grappler can grapple only one target a size category smaller than them. If the target to be grappled has a weapon, they get one free attack with that weapon before grappling can begin.
2. Each side rolls a base 2d6.
3. Modifiers for STR, DEX and level/HD are added to base rolls for all participants.
4. Size S monsters get a +2 DEX bonus, strong size M monsters get a +1 STR bonus, fast size M monsters get a +1 DEX bonus, L monsters get a +2 STR bonus.
5. Mercenaries, Chitin and Yalan add their level/HD + 1/2 (round up) to any grappling attempt, e.g. a 4th level mercenary would add 6 to the roll for their level bonus, Spartans double their level bonus for any grappling attempt, e.g. a 7th level Spartan adds 14 as their level bonus
6. High roll for attacker grapples, high roll for defender successfully fends off grapple
7. Subsequent rounds roll again to maintain or break hold
8.. When held, the victim may be hit at +4 until the hold is broken, if the grappler rolls a successful BBLG roll they can shift the grapple to hold the target with one hand and strike with a small weapon for +4 to hit.
So for example, Carver a +15 bonus grapples with a pair of 2HD Saan, say they are strong, +1 for STR they have a total modifier of +6 (+1 STR, +2 HD each). Against 3 of them the bonus would be +9, against 4 +12.
However on round two Carver gets two attacks, so that means two rolls at the 2d6, and has a better chance of breaking a hold or making one. So high level mercenaries can take on large swarms until their base HD gets higher. Note that after taking lasting damage (when Carver is say between ½ and ¼ hp), the bonuses will be reduced, simulating the ability of large swarms to bring you down when weakened.