Thursday, March 3, 2011

Armored beetle-cowboys of the wastelands

Here is a preliminary write-up of the rangadillos, the beetle-herding, beer-swilling, unpredictable denizens of the barren lands near the strange village of Cho-Shen. Since the principal crop of Cho-Shen is a honey-like sap harvested from desert-growing cane, the potential for disputes and even violence between the two communities is obvious. How exactly it will play into the adventure isn't yet clear. I'm seeing a battle in the village with the characters defending a honey-warehouse from rangadillo desert-raiders, but that's still only a visual image.

Obviously, the backbone of this module is to create a spaghetti-western type of conflict without actually crossing the genres. The weird Vance-like culture of Cho-Shen, plus the R.E. Howard pict, will hopefully turn the adventure into something that's merely bizarre rather than "a Western with swords and armadillos." Unless that's what the referee wants.

The stats below are arranged for Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules, or for the Core/Freestyle rules. I was going to post some WhiteBox stats, but I realized that the only difference here would be that the rangadillos would have 1 attack for 1d6 damage instead of two. I'll write up the giant armadillo and the giant beer-beetles at some point, but that's not done yet.


Hit Dice: 3

Armor Class: 3 [16]

Attacks: 2 claws (1d6)

Saving Throw: 14

Special: Burrow

Move: 9

Alignment: Neutrality

Challenge Level/XP: 3/60

Rangadillos are related to armadillos, but they are as large and as intelligent as humans, living in extensive, far-flung burrow complexes dug into the soil or bedrock of barren wastelands and deserts. Although they are not bipedal, rangadillos can stand on their hind legs for long periods of time when they need to use tools or reach things on tall shelves. Although rangadillos are highly independent and individualistic, their social organization follows the same pattern in virtually every settlement, evidencing the fact that at some point in time this race was tampered with in some way - or even bred into existence - by a powerful wizard or mad experimenter.

Rangadillo towns are generally isolated in wasteland areas, where the creatures maintain herds of giant fermentation beetles that produce beer in a somewhat unmentionable way. The beer – beer of any kind – is vitally important to the health of the rangadillos, for it staves off leprosy in the same way that fruit staves off scurvy in human beings. Without a supply of some sort of fermented drink, a rangadillo community will begin to contract leprosy, and eventually become a diseased, insane blight in the area, their contagious warriors raiding viciously and indiscriminately into nearby lands, seeking beer.

A rangadillo community generally consists of 4d10+10 “citizens.” The community will be led by a “Revenuer” with 5HD, and 1 or 2 “Preachers.” Rangadillo preachers have the spell-casting ability of a cleric with as many levels as the preacher has hit dice. The lead preacher of a settlement will have 1HD per 5 rangadillo citizens in the settlement, and the second preacher (if one is present) will have 1HD fewer than the lead preacher. Thus, a rangadillo town with 10-14 citizens would have a lead preacher with 2HD and a secondary preacher – again, if one is present – with 1HD. A rangadillo town with 45-49 citizens would have a lead preacher with 9HD, and a rangadillo town with maximum population would have a preacher with 10HD.

Rangadillo lairs will also contain 1d4 giant armadillos, and will have 3d10 of the giant beer-producing beetles grazing on the surface unless these have been brought into belowground stables for protection from rustlers, raiders, or bad weather.

Rangadillos are not enemies of humanity or human civilization per se, but they are inveterate raiders. Their beetle-produced beer, while it is necessary to their survival, is not particularly palatable. In consequence, they are often tempted to raid human settlements for beer, ale, mead, or the grains (or honey) required to brew these drinks. In some cases they will trade for such items, but they consider this to be unduly expensive. In general, they consider their raids to be more in the nature of a tithe or tax levied upon nearby settlements, which is the reason why their leaders bear the title of “Revenuer.”

Most rangadillo settlements will include at least one alchemist skilled in brewing beer, who will also have the ability to produce the occasional magic potion if the ingredients are available. Brewers are no different from ordinary rangadillo citizens in terms of hit dice or fighting skill.


  1. Just wanna say I like this stuff. Has a gamma world feel. Maybe after you have enough entries, you can do a book for it.

  2. You're not crossing genres as such. The Seven Samurai came out first before being remade into the Magnificent Seven.

    I will definitely be looking for a place to drop these guys in my world.

  3. I so need to find a place to put these in one of my campaigns. Perhaps in my developing Traveller Hero campaign:

    "Welcome to Texahol 4, strangers! Mind your beer around the rangadillos and you should do fine."

    Yes, that should get an interesting response from the players.