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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Steppe Warrior Class

The Steppe Warrior is a hardy nomad from one of the tribes that range across the steppes from the taiga in the north to the deserts and mountains of the south, they are the bane of more settled, civilized lands when they are united and a scourge to each other when they are not. They live by following their herds, hunting wild game, gathering wild fruits and vegetables and by raiding their neighbors. I introduce this class as the warrior elite of their society. I might have picked the Scythians, the Turks, or the Huns as my model, and there are a great many similarities among steppe peoples, but I chose the Mongols, because it's Mongol Month. Feel free to give me feedback and/or use this class as you will- I present it as a gift to the OSR community in baroque AD&D 1st edition format; absolutely unplaytested because I have been beating my head against a brick wall with this class for the better part of a month.


The Steppe Warrior is a sub-class of Fighter. Steppe Warriors have no Prime Requisite and therefore receive no bonuses for high Ability Scores. In order to become a Steppe Warrior a character must have 12 Strength, 12 Wisdom, 15 Dexterity and 14 Constitution. Steppe Warriors are born horsemen, as such they receive no penalties for shooting from horseback and have a number of advantages to being mounted as they level up. They may be of any Alignment, but only Humans, Half-Elves and Half-Orcs may become Steppe Warriors. Half-Elves are limited to 8th level as a Steppe Warrior, Half-Orcs are limited to level 10. The Steppe Warrior receives 1d10 per level gained for hit points plus 2 hit points for every point of Constitution they have above 14. Steppe Warriors make Saving Throws as a Fighter of the same level.

A single classed Steppe Warrior may Specialize in one of the following weapons-
Composite Short Bow
Horseman's Mace
Light Lance

Experience                              Level               Hit Dice                       Title
0-3000                                      1                        1                            Khazak
3001-6000                                2                        2                            Nokhor
6001-12000                              3                        3                            Ba'atur
12001- 20000                           4                        4                            Noyen
20001-40000                            5                        5                            Orlok
40001-80000                            6                        6                            Darugha
80001-145000                          7                        7                            Taishi
145001-225000                        8                        8                            Gurkhan
225001-310000                        9                        9                            Khan
310001-625000                       10                     9+3                   Khan (10th Level)
625001-950000                       11                     9+6                   Khan (11th Level)
950001-1250000                     12                     9+9                   Khan (12th Level)

All Steppe Warriors are virtually born in the saddle; riding and mounted combat are their birthright, as such attacks made from the saddle are made as though they were one level higher. They are unlikely to ever be thrown from their mount (85%) and if they are they are equally unlikely to be injured, this percentage increases every level by 1%. Furthermore, as mounted archery is integral to their mode of warfare, they suffer no penalties for firing while mounted, even while moving, and may fire at any point during their move in any direction.

All Steppe Warriors also have the following abilities-
-Hide in Natural Surroundings: with the same percentage chance as a Thief of the same level using his Hide in Shadows ability.
-Surprise: In Natural Surroundings a Steppe Warrior can Surprise an opponent on a 3 in 6 and is only surprised 10% of the time. This only applies in natural surroundings.
-Leadership: When dealing with other Steppe Warriors a Steppe Warrior adds his experience level to his Charisma score to get an effective Charisma with other Steppe Warriors.
-Survival: a Steppe Warrior can effectively survive in the wild by hunting and gathering, he can build shelter and make fire.
Tracking- A Steppe Warrior can track as a Ranger of equivalent level, but only outdoors.

The Steppe Warrior only continues to improve in horsemanship throughout his career-
-At 3rd level they can vault into the saddle, regardless of how heavily armored they are, and have their mount underway in a single segment.
-At 4th level a Good Aligned female Steppe Warrior may handle and ride a Unicorn as a steed.
-At 5th level a Steppe Warrior can urge his mount to greater speeds than normal, adding 2" to the movement rate for up to 6 turns. This causes no damage to the mount.
-At 7th level a Steppe Warrior can urge his mount to jump further than normal.
-At 9th level the Steppe Warrior can ride Pegasi, Hippogriffs, Griffons or other flying horselike creatures at the DM's discretion.

Summon Horde- Starting at 8th level the Steppe Warrior gains the ability to summon a Horde of his people, he is a recognized leader among them. Take his experience point total and divide it by five to get the size of the horde. Therefore an 8th level Steppe Warrior could summon between 290-550 men to his side, while a 12th level Steppe Warrior could summon between 1900-2500 men, this horde is in addition to their normal followers.

The Horde must have a stated purpose for gathering, (plunder the wealthy city of Kashgar, rescue the Great Khan's Daughter, etc) and it will take a week to gather in the Steppe Warrior's home territory. A Horde will disband after a number of weeks equal to the summoner's level. A Horde may be held together for an additional 1-2 weeks if there are exceptional circumstances (23 or higher effective Charisma, massive plunder distributed to the Horde, stated goal within easy reach, etc), but never longer and if a Steppe Warrior has a Horde disband under him, he is disgraced in his homeland and may never raise another Horde.

The Horde will also have two aides equal to 1/2 the level (rounded down) of the character summoning it and those aides will each have two assistants each equal to half their level (rounded down), thus a 9th level Steppe Warrior summoning a horde will have two 4th level Steppe Warrior Aides and four 2nd level Steppe Warrior assistants. Clerics, Shamans or Witch-Doctors (depending on the nature of the Steppe Warrior's tribal religion) may also be present at the DM's discretion.

Multiclassing- Steppe Warrior/Cleric 1/2E, 1/2O; Steppe Warrior/Druid- 1/2E; Steppe Warrior/Magic-User 1/2E; Steppe Warrior/Thief 1/2E, 1/2O; Steppe Warrior/Assassin 1/2E, 1/2O; Cleric/Steppe Warrior/Magic-User 1/2E; Cleric/Steppe Warrior/Assassin 1/2O

Optional Starting Money Table-
To show just how cash poor the steppe is and to reflect the normal equipment found there I came up with this-

Roll 1d6x10 for starting gold- buy anything with that. For interesting, exotic fun let them buy stuff from the Oriental Adventures book too. Currency exchange rates are on page 38.

New items-
Dried Meat- 1GP/Week
Koumiss- 1SP/Gallon
Ger, Small- 150GP

Dried meat could be mutton, beef, camel, horse or some variety of wild game, it is typically placed under the saddle when riding so the horse sweat and crushing action can soften it enough to eat. Koumiss is a drink made from fermented mare's milk. A Ger, also known as a Yurt, is either a very sophisticated tent or an easily dismantled and moved cloth covered house used by nomadic and semi-nomadic people throughout Eurasia, depending on who you ask.

Roll 1d6 on this table for an armor, weapon and horses package.
Assume everyone starts with one set of clothes which includes a furry hat, if they have a bow, it is a Composite Shortbow and that they have a quiver for the arrows. They also start with a saddle, bit and bridle.

1- Leather Armor, Light Lance, Dagger, 1d4 Steppe Ponies*
2- Padded Armor, Bow, 12 Arrows, Hand Axe, 2d4 Steppe Ponies
3- Shield, Light Lance, Scimitar, Bow, 12 Arrows, 2d4 Steppe Ponies
4-Leather Armor, Shield, Dagger, Hand Axe, Bow, 12 arrows, 2d4 Steppe Ponies
5-Chainmail, Shield, Scimitar, Bow, 12+2d6 Arrows, 4+2d4 Steppe Ponies
6- Lamellar**, Hand Axe, Light Lance, Bow, 12+2d6 Arrows, 4+2d4 Steppe Ponies

DM's should, of course, feel free to adjust this table to their needs, there are way more combinations of armor, weapons and horses that I could have done, I just wanted to keep it simple. The Steppe Ponies are pretty essential though, even a poor Steppe Warrior should have at least one horse.

*Steppe Ponies should be treated as Light Warhorses, but with better morale and AC 6, they also forage on their own and thus do not require fodder and are hardier than most horses with better endurance, they almost never come up lame.

**Treat as Scale armor, I threw it in for flavor and accuracy. Truth be told they had leather lamellar too, but I didn't want to be confusing.

Roll 1d6 on this table for extra stuff.

1. Horseman's Mace, Winter Blanket, Small Iron Pot
2. Guard Dog, bone whistle, Large Sack
3. Pack Camel, Pack Saddle made for said Camel, 25lb sack of rice flour
4. 1d6+2 Sheep, Sheep Dog, Iron Shears
5. 1d4 Yaks, Wagon, Small Ger (12')
6. Helmet, Horseman's Mace, Dagger

Obviously, this was just off the top of my head and DM's should feel completely free to adjust the "extra stuff" as they see fit. My intention here was to throw the Horseman's mace into some starting kits and add some more culturally fitting, but not necessarily of obvious immediate use, items into the mix. "What am I going to do with 4 Sheep?" a player might ask, I say think outside the usual box. Sheep are walking provisions, trade goods and a bit of an early warning system, although the dog that comes with them is better at that.

Common Medieval Mongol Names-

Mongol Female-
Altani, Bargujin, Borte, Chabi, Chagur, Chakha, Checheyigen, Chotan, Doregene, Ebegei, Gurbesu, Ibakha, Khadagan, Khogaghchin, Khojin, Khorijin, Khugurjin, Khulan, Nomolun, Onggur, Sokhatai, Sorghaghatani, Tekine, Temulun, Yesugun, Yesui

Mongol Male-

Abagha, Aguchu, Ajinai, Akutai, Alagh, Alchi, Altan, Bögen, Babür, Bagaridai, Bala, Barlas, Bartan, Batu, Baykara, Begter, Berke, Chagatai, Chanai, Chigu, Chilagun, Chiledu, Dagun, Daritai, Djebe, Dodai, Esen-Buga, Günkan, Ghazan, Gughlug, Harghasun, Horkhudagh, Hulegu, Husun, Inalchi, Inancha, Iturgen, Jurchedei, Khachi, Khachigun, Khagatai, Khogaghchin, Khudu, Khuyildar, Kokochu, Koksegu, Kubilai, Megetu, Morokha, Mungke, Munglig, Nakhu, Nayaga, Nogay, Noyan, Ogodei, Okhotur, Oljaitu, Oronartai, Sahruh, Sencer, Shiragul, Shirgugetu, Soyurgatmis, Subotei, Suyiketu, Taghai, Tamachi, Temuge, Temujin, Temur, Toghoril, Toghtoga, Toktamis, Tolui, Torolchi, Turgay, Ukhuna, Ulugh, Utudai, Yegu, Yesunge, Yokhunan

OK, so, I pretty much adapted this from the Unearthed Arcana Cavalier and Barbarian classes and toned their abilities down for the most part, so they wouldn't be overpowering, but like I stated above, this is all completely untested. I had a bunch of other ideas for them and I really wanted to include some stuff I cut, but when I thought about it I kept thinking that "This is like the Cavalier's whatever" or the "Barbarian's Horde summoning ability is important"; and it is, the English word "horde" comes from the Mongolian "ordu". So in the end I decided to default to Gygax and mix and match and alter most of the stuff I wanted from those two classes with a few of my own ideas and cut a bunch of stuff out. I guess in the end you know it's done when you can't cut anything else, right?

Questions, comments and criticisms are welcomed, particularly if there is something glaringly obvious that I left out.


  1. That's an excellent write-up. Having a list of names is fantastic. It can be quite a problem coming up with some names on the spur of the moment and I always put these lists to good use.

  2. I always keep name lists handy too. When I don't my exquisitely crafted Celtic campaign world suddenly sprouts a henchman named Lorenzo or Hakim.

  3. Will,
    I like what you've done here. I'd like to take my particular skills and whack away at this to refine it a bit with your permission...

    1. Feel free, I like your editing work. I'll repost the refined version.