Today's lycanthropic template actually comes about
because my first idea for sample
werewolves could be summed up in two words: "Giant
Werewolves". But when I poked around at the idea for a bit, I realized
that it was kind of unsatisfying for giant werewolf hybrids to shrink
down into perfectly ordinary wolves. Clearly dire werewolves were
these templates are designed to streamline and simplify the process of
creating lycanthropes for 3.5:
stat block for the base
lycanthrope template in order
create the stat block for the humanoid form.
hybrid template to the
in order to create the stat block for the hybrid form.
animal form template to the
form in order to create the stat block for the animal form
DIRE WEREWOLF TEMPLATE Apply this template
base creature to create the werewolf's humanoid form. This template can
be added to any humanoid or giant.
and Type: Creature gains the "shapechanger" subtype. Hit
Dice and Hit Points: Add 6d8 to the base creature. Armor
Class: +2 bonus to natural armor Base
Attack: +4 BAB
form, low-light vision, lycanthropic empathy, scent
Save Bonuses: Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +5 Abilities:
Wis +2, may gain an ability score increase due to additional hit dice Skills:
+2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot checks. Gains
(2 + Int modifier) x 6 skill points, treating Hide, Listen, Move
Silently, Spot, and Survival as class skills. Feats:
Alertness, Run, Track, Weapon Focus (bite)
DIRE WEREWOLF HYBRID TEMPLATE
Apply this template to the werewolf's humanoid form to create the stat
block for its hybrid form.
and Type: Large or the size of the base creature,
whichever is larger. Armor
Class: +5 natural armor (if better than the humanoid
form's natural armor) Attacks:
Gains 2 claw attacks and 1 bite attack as a secondary attack (-5
of lycanthropy (Fort DC 15); cannot cast spells with
verbal components Special
Qualities: DR 5/silver for afflicted lycanthropes; DR
10/silver for natural lycanthropes
Str +14, Dex +4, Con +6
DIRE WEREWOLF ANIMAL FORM TEMPLATE
Apply this template to the werewolf's humanoid form to create the stat
block for its animal form.
and Type: Large Speed:
50 ft. Armor
Class: +3 natural armor Attacks:
Replace all base attacks with a bite attack (1d8 and lycanthropy).
Attacks: Replace base creature's special attacks with trip
of lycanthropy (Fort DC 15). Cannot cast spells with
verbal, somatic, or material components Special
Qualities: DR 5/silver for afflicted lycanthropes; DR
10/silver for natural lycanthropes
+14, Dex +4, Con +6 Skills: +4
racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent.
The clans of the totem giants can trace their blood back to Uru-Rukk,
the Wolf Father. Their religious practices revolve around
blood-bonding, ancestral offerings, and trance-rituals designed to
evoke past life experiences passed through their bloodlines. The coming
of age ritual for a wolf-giant involves the donning of their
grandfather's pelt (which may require the youngster to hunt and kill
the old wolf... if they can).
GIANT DIRE WEREWOLF GIANT
FORM (CR 11)
CE Large Giant
DEFENSES AC 23 (-1
size, +1 Dex, +11 natural, +3
hide armor), touch 9, flat-footed 22; hp 207
10/silver; Special rock catching
ACTIONS Spd 30 ft.
(base 40 ft.); Melee 2
claws +26 (1d6+14) and bite +22 (2d6+14 and lycanthropy); Ranged
+15 (2d6+14); Space 10 ft.; Reach
10 ft.; Base Atk +13; Grapple
+27; SA curse of lycanthropy, rock throwing; Combat
Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Run, Weapon Focus
SQ alternate form, low-light vision,
lycanthropic empathy, rock catching,
Alternate Form (Su): Switch forms as a standard action. Curse
Communicate with wolves
and dire wolves; +4 bonus on Charisma-based checks against them. Rock
Reflex save as free action to
(DC 15), Medium (DC 20), or Large (DC 25) rocks (or similar
Up to 5 range increments of 120
racial bonus to throw rocks. Scent
presence within 30 feet (60 feet upwind, 15 feet downwind). Strong
double that range; overpowering at triple. Detect direction as move
Pinpoint within 5 feet. *Skills: In dire wolf form, gains +4
racial bonus on
Survival checks when tracking by scent.
Successful superhero film franchises have
to follow the same pattern since Superman 2:
The first movie is a tightly-focused origin story with a thematically
cohesive script, strong arcs of character development, and a satisfying
totality. Then the second movie, bred out of the success and excitement
of the first film, throws it all away by trying to cram everything cool
about the hero into a single film -- you end up with a smorgasboard of
villains, a half dozen half-finished character arcs, and a completely
unfocused grab-bag of special effects.
The Dark Knight made itself the major exception to this trend by relentlessly paring itself down
into a thematically, dramatically, and cinematically cohesive and
focused whole. The result is the best
superhero movie ever made,
and I'm hoping the example it set will improve future superhero
franchises (in a genre where copy-cat approaches seem ridiculously
popular). (Ironically, Batman
the film that suffered from the "we need to cram everything cool from
the comic book into one movie!" problem as it groped its way towards
rebooting the franchise.)
At first glance it seems as if Iron Man 2
doesn't learn the lesson The
has to teach. At first glance it seems plagued with all the symptoms of
superhero sequel-itis: Lots of villains. Lots of different plot
threads. Lots of sound and fury.
upon reflection, I think this is because Iron Man 2 is
pursuing a separate solution to the same problem.
superhero movies pursue a conflict structure of Man vs. Man (a natural
consequence of the superhero vs. supervillain archetype). This is why
the "let's have eight different super-villains!" sequels
don't work: They're eight different movies all competing for the same
And if you attempt to analyze Iron Man 2
through that lens, it seems to fall prey to the same problem: In
looking for a Man vs. Man conflict, the eye is inexorably drawn towards
Whiplash. And the "Whiplash as antagonist" story is deeply flawed:
Stark think he's dead less than halfway through the film and isn't
disllusioned until the final act. Which means that for most of the
film, there isn't
a Whiplash vs. Iron Man conflict.
the movie works because it isn't Iron Man vs. Whiplash; or Iron Man vs.
Justin Hammer; or Iron Man vs. Senator Stern; or Iron Man vs. War
Machine; or Iron Man vs. Poisonous Palladium.
Instead, the film's structure is Tony Stark
The difference in structure is subtle, but
makes all the difference in the world.
isn't to say that the film's narrative structure is flawless. The movie
has particular problems when it's being saddled with handling
exposition for the upcoming Marvel films. And although the novelty of
seeing this kind of tight cross-continuity being brought to
kind of exciting, I suspect the value of this novelty will quickly wear
thin (much like it's worn thin in the comic books themselves).
At the moment, I would say that Iron Man 2 isn't
quite as good as Iron
Man. But it's a pretty close match. And given the
high quality of Iron Man,
that's entirely to Iron
Man 2's credit.
I found Burton's decision to film a sequel while advertising it
entirely as an adaptation to be brilliant, disorienting, and surreal --
much like the film itself. It also gave Burton the freedom to make Tim
Burton's Alice in Wonderland,
which, ultimately, is what I wanted to see. The Alice in Wonderland
story has achieved the status of modern myth, in my opinion, and that
makes it fair game for creators looking to express their own vision
through its form.
FOREVER AFTER: I found the original Shrekto
be a merely passable film with a charm that was largely negated by its
creators scrawling "I HATE DISNEY" over it in large, crude letters. On
the other hand, Shrek 2
capitalized on the strengths of the original, resulting in a film that
was superior to it in every way and exceedingly enjoyable in its own
right. On the third hand, Shrek 3
was so incredibly bad that I literally can't remember anything about
it. And on the increasingly improbable fourth hand, I enjoyed Shrek 4
quite a bit. It was a well made and funny film. Not as good as Shrek 2, but as
good as Shrek
would have been if it wasn't for Dreamworks settling personal grudges.
TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: On the other hand, this is the movie
that makes it clear that Dreamworks Animation is on the right track.
It's tight and it's fun.
You know how awesome you always thought dragonriding would be? How to Train Your Dragon
shows it to you.
STORY 3: Pixar once again proves that they are masters of
subtle, powerful, profound, and joyous
storytelling. I think you could make a very strong case that this is
now the best trilogy of films ever made.
question now isn't, "Will there be a fourth?" The record-breaking box
office assures us that there will be. The question is, "Can they find a
new story to tell?" It seems to me that the films have exhausted the
potential experiences of a toy, but I'm willing to be pleasantly
I received an interesting e-mail this
morning from Tabletop Adventures:
[W]e also have other news about the
Dungeon Codex: you now have an
opportunity to get this great product in print! Tabletop Adventures and
Philippe-Antoine Mιnard, the Chatty DM, have jointly set up a project
on the website KickStarter.
This is a site that assists people with
creative projects to raise funds to make their plans a reality. We are
using KickStarter to gather support for a small print run of the
Dungeon Codex 2009 contains the winning entries from the
One-Page Duneon Contest, including my own Halls of the Mad Mage
(Best Geometry). I wasn't getting this e-mail because of my
contributions to the book, however. I was getting it because I'd
downloaded a copy of the PDF.
Following the link to KickStarter, I found a
pledge system: For $3 you'd get an acknowledgment in the book. For $30
you get a printed copy. For $300 you get 10 copies.
What's a little hazy, however, is exactly
where this money is going. The project promises that the PDF will
"become available as a special printed product", but what does that
Are they just talking about the copies being
provided to pledgers? While they're charging about $30, a quick
investigation at Lulu reveals that you could print up a color copy of
the book for about half that. That's a pretty awesome profit margin for
(And if they're not using Lulu, then they're
using a service like it. The minimum pledge threshold for this
KickStarter project isn't sufficient for anything larger than that.)
Are the pledges being used to fund a larger
print run? Which they will then sell? If so, that's an awfully
one-sided business model they're pitching to you. They're basically
asking you to provide the investment capital and then they'll pocket
all the profit.
Despite what you may be thinking, this post
isn't about freelancer rage. By submitting the Halls of the Mad Mage
to the contest I released it under the Creative Commons license.
They're free to do whatever they want to with the module (along with
everyone else in the world) and I'm not entitled to see a single penny
of they money they make along the way. (Although the fact that they've
turned a fun little community contest into a profit-generating
enterprise will certainly influence my decision on participating in
future versions of this contest.)
What I'm warning you about is a company
trying to rip you
off as a consumer.
So if you want a printed copy of the One-Page Dungeon Codex,
here's what you want to do:
Download the free PDF.
(2) Go to
the PDF as a personal print job.
(4) Buy a
copy for yourself.
This, it should be noted is perfectly legal:
You have a copy of the work you are legally entitled to own (the PDF).
Making additional copies of that work for your own personal use (even
using third-party services like Kinko's or Lulu) is legal. What you
can't do is distribute additional copies of that work to other people.
(So don't do that.)
And you'll pay about half the price that
Tabletop Adventures is looking for. Heck, you could even print up a
hardcover edition of the book and still end up paying less.
Not so long ago I wrote some essays in
Ron Rosenbaum's The Shakespeare Wars,
leading off with one entitled "Thus Diest
Now I find myself writing a reaction to another recent book about
Shakespeare, and once again common sense has found its way into the
In this case I've been reading Contested Will: Who Wrote
This is a rather excellent piece of work by James Shapiro which
explores the totality of the "authorship question" (the conspiracy
theory which claims that Shaksepeare didn't write Shakespeare) from a
refreshing angle: Instead of merely exploring the idea itself, Shapiro
explores the history of
idea -- the ways in which literary criticism, Shakespeare studies, and
the "anti-Stratfordians" have evolved over the past four centuries. The
result is a compelling and intriguing narrative in which Shapiro aptly
makes the case that the "authorship question" is the natural reaction
to the excesses of Shakespearean scholarship: If you raise Shakespeare
to the level of a deity, it's little wonder that people will have
difficulty seeing the mortal man of William Shakespeare as being a
suitable candidate for godhood. And if you insist on trying to patch
the holes in Shakespeare's biography by forcefully extracing
autobiography from his plays and poems, then you open the doors for
people to say, "Shakespeare can't have written these plays because
somebody else has a biography which has more in common with Romeo or
Prospero or Hamlet." (Or whoever the subjective critic chooses to pick
as the "most autobiographical" of Shakespeare's infinite variety of
Along the way, Shapiro deftly deflates one
"anti-Stratfordian" claim after another with a mixture of rigorous,
thorough, and essentially irrefutable scholarship. The result is
extremely entertaining, and I recommend the book highly.
the book is not without flaw. Shapiro occasionally falls into the same
traps of fallacy and assumption which plague the pseudo-scholarship of
the Oxfordians, Baconians, and Marlovians. For example, on page 177 he
incidents in Oxford's life uncannily corresponded to events in the
plays to support Looney's claims that the plays were barely veiled
autobiography. Like Hamlet, Oxford's father died young and his mother
remarried. Like Lear, he had three daughters -- and his first wife was
the same age as Juliet when they married. [...]
critics had failed to identify these "cunning disguises" because they
had the wrong man. Oxford's authorship, Looney was convinced, made
everything clear. Hamlet
offered the best example, and Looney matches its cast of characters
with those in Oxford's courtly circle: Polonius is Lord Burleigh,
Laertes is his son Thomas Cecil, Hamlet is Oxford himself, and Ophelia
is Oxford's wife, Anne. But such claims about representing on the
public stage some of the most powerful figures in the realm betray a
shallow grasp of Elizabethan dramatic censorship. Looney didn't
understand that Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, whose job it
was to read and approve all dramatic scripts before they were publicly
performed, would have lost his job -- and most likely his nose and
ears, if not his head -- had he approved a play that so transparently
ridiculed privy councillors past an present. Looney's scheme
defies common sense, for Lord Burleigh was dead by the time Hamlet
was written, and nothing could have been in poorer taste, or more
dangerous, than mocking Elizabeth's most beloved councillor soon after
his death, onstage or in print.
general point is true: If the play was actually written as allegory in
the way that Looney described, then it would be politically dangerous
to have written it.
... which would rather neatly explain why
Oxford would choose to write it under a pseudonym, right? Rather than
"defying common sense", the scenario makes perfect sense.
Shapiro is also pulling another fast one
claims that "Lord Burleigh was dead by the time Hamlet
was written" because the Oxfordians re-date the composition and
performances of all the plays to support earlier dates. (They have to.
Oxford died in 1604 and Shakespeare kept writing plays until at least
1613.) Now, it's absolutely true that the Oxfordian efforts to re-date
the plays contradict the existing historical record and, frequently,
the texts of the plays themselves. But it's not fair to simply ignore the totality
of the Oxfordian theory while you cherry pick bits of it out of context.
Does that mean that I think Shakespeare
not be ridiculous. Even if Shapiro, upon rare occasion, fails to
provide the best possible rebuttal of the Oxfordian's claims, it
doesn't change the fact that the theories of the Oxfordians (and
Baconians and Marlovians) are complete nonsense.
For example, one
of the favorite Oxfordian claims is that there's no contemporary
evidence identifying William Shakespeare as the guy who wrote
plays by William Shakespeare. This is absolutely true... as long as you
ignore the dozens of published plays bearing his name on the title
page; the contemporary references to Shakespeare writing the plays by
critics, fellow authors, and members of the public; Master of the
Revels accounts referring to Shakespeare's authorship; and the effusive
memorials and eulogies dedicated to Shakespeare's memory and his work
shortly after his death.
As long as you ignore all of that evidence,
it's true that there's absolutely no such evidence.
truth is that we have more historical evidence of William Shakespeare
writing the plays bearing his name than we do for virtually any other
Elizabethan playwright. (The exception would be Ben Jonson, who had the
advantages of being a tireless self-promoter, living an extra twenty
years, and becoming England's first Poet Laureate.)
The truth is, this whole
"anti-Stratfordian" nonsense should be dumped into the same bucket of
nonsense in which we find flat-earthers, creationists, 9/11 conspiracy
nuts, and people who think we faked the moon landings.
If you happen to find yourself in a
debate with an "anti-Stratfordian", here's what you do:
(1) Ask them exactly what sort of objective evidence
would convince them that William Shakespeare wrote the plays of William
Then ask them to provide such evidence for
you might find one of them trying to pull a fast one on you. For
example, they might say, "Proof that Shakespeare owned a book." You
might point to the contemporary references to Shakespeare's literacy.
Or you might point out that the entire argument that Shakespeare didn't
own any books is predicated on the fact that his will doesn't itemize
them... but his will doesn't itemize a lot of stuff. It doesn't mention
tables or chairs, but that doesn't mean his family ate off the floor.
The books would have been either given to his sister Joan (who got the
house she was living in and everything in it) or to his daughter (who
received another batch sum of property).
But Oxfordians are
likely to be impervious to such arguments, so you may need to fall back
on Plan B: "Oh? Really? Anyone who can be demonstrated to own a book in
Elizabethan or Jacobean England should be considered a viable candidate
for writing Shakespeare's plays? That's going to be a mighty long list!"
This is why most Oxfordians prefer not to deal with objective evidence.
Instead, they found their theory on a close reading of the plays: By
insisting that the author of the plays must have been basing them on
autobiographical details, they can "demonstrate" that Oxford (who had
three daughters) is more likely to have written King Lear (who
also had three daughters) than Shakespeare (who only had two).
Such a claim is, of course, completely
But let's run with it: Oxford didn't have
sons. Ergo, he couldn't have written the character of Kent in King Lear,
so those sections of the play must have been written by somebody else.
We have no evidence that Oxford was ever a woman who dressed up like a
man and ran away to the forest with her cousin, so obviously he can't
be responsible for Rosalind in As You Like It. I
think it safe to say that Oxford never even met a Fairy Queen or a
Fairy King, so A
Midsummer Night's Dream is right out.
This isn't particularly informative, but it
is a lot of fun!