Saturday, September 1, 2018

Lizardmen PCs for Holmes Basic

Illustration by Greg Bell from Greyhawk (1975)

     Lizardmen --- are swamp-dwelling saurianoids about seven feet in height when fully grown. Members of the more advanced hut-dwelling tribes can speak a hissing version of Common in addition to their own tongue, and occasionally seek out employment as muscle in more civilized areas. A character should have a 13 or greater strength in order to be a lizardman. They progress as members of the fighting class, but due to their size and strength gain a bonus hit point at first level and attack on the Monster Table for 1 to 8 points of damage when employing a weapon. Claws and teeth also allow them to attack for 1 to 6 points of damage without weaponry. Their scaly hide affords protection equivalent to chainmail (armor class 5) but due to their affinity for swimming they shun metal armor of any type other than a shield. They move at twice normal rate in water.

---Adapted from comments I first left to a post in the Holmes G+ group, with some changes on further reflection.

---Holmes has lizardman guards in two Boinger & Zereth stories, The Sorceror's Jewel and In the Bag. One speaks with a hiss and the other wields a halberd (much like the image above). Holmes uses the term "saurianoid" in In the Bag, and "saurian" in the other story.

---The height of seven feet, and the concept of more advanced hut-dwelling tribes, comes from the Monster Manual.

---The stat details comes from the Holmes Basic entry: AC 5, HD 2+1, AT 1, D 1-8 with spear or club. The bonus hit point at first level leads to a total HD of 2+1 at second level, meaning a 2nd level lizardman fighter here is equivalent to the monster version.

---Compared to a first level human fighter they get +1 HP and +1 damage, but with a loss of 2 points of AC (no plate mail). If using variable damage for weapons, you can give them a +1 to damage or step the dice up one notch (d8 to d10, etc). Using the Monster Table (which varies slightly between OD&D and different printings of Holmes) for attacks means a lizardman fighter will generally attack better than a human fighter of equivalent level, but their AC will remain much worse without magic armor (e.g., no plate mail +2). In addition to shunning metal armor, magic armor would generally not be available that fits their size and proportions.


  1. I was always taken with the lizardman concept, especially the DAT illustration in the MM.
    Even before I was reading this article, the post on G+ got me to thinking of character concepts for OD&D, Holmes, AD&D, and even 5e.
    I always thought it would be cool to have a lizardman character. My brother didn't want people playing non-standard characters, and I never brought it up with others. I guess, I forgot about it until today, which is odd, as we have a lizardman henchman in the Wed. Night game on Roll20.
    In my AD&D campaign, I have wet and dry lizardmen. Wet ones live in swamps and wet places, and dry ones are a desert variety. Both are the remnants of an ancient civilization. Time for a blog post, LOL.

    1. Sounds great and look forward to reading more. I have a desert-dwelling "Regal Lizardman" inspired by Sutherland's art at the top of this blog. They are based on the Regal Horned Toad of the American Southwest (which is really a lizard) and thus can shoot blood from their eyes when distressed. A writeup can be found in the first issue of the Fantastic! Exciting! Imaginative! zine. I would allow them to be magic-users as well.

  2. Thanks Zach. This seems like a great character class. I would give them penalties vs.cold. Also I don't think horses or dogs would work with them.

  3. Thanks! I've always liked lizardman PCs. Although my last one Ssrog, probably got on everyone's nerves with is constant used of Sssss in place of a aignle S. :-)

  4. This looks great. I know Holmes only goes to level 3, but if you were to expand the levels, what level limit (if any) would you suggest for this? It also evokes the idea of a Lizardman Shaman...

    1. In my comments on G+, I initially suggested Fighter and Cleric as classes, with level limits as a Dwarf. I dropped the Cleric from the write-up above because (1) it doesn't really fit with the "hired as guard", and (2) the cleric spell lists in Holmes don't necessarily fit that well with a shaman. I think using the Druid spell list might be better.

  5. I would think same as OD&D fighting man.