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[Note: There are certainly revisions I could make to this page, consisting of comments from others and my own evolving thoughts since I first wrote it. I could comment (negatively!) on the Complete Book of Humanoids, for example. But with Third Edition rules now in use, updating this page is low on my to-do list. If you want more info, write to me.]

The following is my review of and commentary on the Second Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules pertaining to Wemics. I have excerpted from those rules below as part of my commentary. Any text on this page that is indented and looks like this is such an excerpt. The text that is blue is my commentary.

Review of Wemic Rules
from 2E Skills and Powers

I have yet to find any information on the origin of the Wemic concept. Did some creative TSR person invent the Wemic? Or is there a fantastical, mythological, or literary source for the race? If anyone has any information, please contact me.

Wemics are part human and part lion, combining the two as centaurs combine human and horse. The wemic's leonine body has a human torso where the lion's neck and head would be.

If you check out the fan art around the Web (see my links page), you will note that there is significant variation in depicting the actual body form of the Wemic. Some Wemics are very cat-like -- crouching, posing in trees, etc. Others are more like Centaurs with paws.

The leonine body is covered with dusky golden fur, with a white underbelly, while the human half tends toward a tawny skin tone and a slight catlike cast to the face and eyes.

Note that there is no actual fur on the human half of the body. This is one of the differences between the Wemic and the Chakat. It is interesting that the Wemic face has a "slight catlike cast." What does that mean? Do they have cat noses? Cat muzzles or snouts? Cat ears? Whiskers? The Dragon Magazine article "Ecology of the Wemic" (hereafter referred to as the Ecology Article) says, "Their faces are basically human, but with forward-thrust jaws, pointed ears (placed high on the head) that can move like those of a cat, and sharp feline teeth. Their eyes are feline as well."

Well, I personally think this description in the Ecology Article is much more than simply a "slight catlike cast." I personally envision the Wemic face as basically human, with cat eyes, a short upturned nose (like a human asian person might have), and slightly sharper teeth. Maybe somewhat pointed ears. That's it.

Wemics are aboriginal nomads who live through hunting -- they use fire and craft weapons and tools, but rarely build any kind of permanent dwelling.

In my Wemic Priest option I suggest that Wemics might build permanent dwellings near sacred places, dwelling there to protect these places from desecration. I also think that Wemics might well build long-lasting non-dwelling structures, such as hide drying racks, pottery workshops and kilns, and workshops near flint outcrops. Nomadic Wemics might return to these places year after year.

Wemics believe that everything in the world is a living thing, from the skies to the sun or earth, and they are very superstitious.

I have made extensive commentary on Wemic theology and "superstition" in my Wemic Priest option. Let it suffice to add here that in a magical world, "superstition" may well be based in reality!

Wemics are playful and curious as cubs, and a small number never grow out of this stage. Wemic adventurers are most often characters of this sort, although other wemics may choose to trade with humans or sell their services as guides, and come into contact with a player character party in that fashion.

This is a variation on the Curious Cat archetype -- interesting because the authors of this rule felt the need to justify the concept of an Adventurer Wemic. Why not also mention the curiosity of individual elves, dwarves, and humans? Perhaps we can justify this by saying that Wemics generally, or at least Adventurer Wemics, are notably more curious than Adventurer Elves.

Of course, player characters are free to play their Wemics as cautious and uninquisitive (a Scaredy Cat archetype!). So this reference to Curious Wemics really applies to NPC Wemics.

Wemic Racial Ability Scores

Race Adjustments
Wemic +1 Strength,-1 Dexterity

Race Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
Wemic 10/17 7/18 11/18 3/18 3/18 3/18

Together, these two rules are quite interesting! Wemics gain +1 Strength but are limited to 17! They lose -1 Dexterity but their racial max is 18!.

Why the Strength limit? I believe this rule (17 max Strength) is justified by game balance considerations. Take this example.

A first-level Wemic fighter specializes in two-handed sword. He uses it in one hand because he is large in size. (Since it is a one-handed sword to a Wemic, let us refer to the weapon hereafter as a greatsword.) He uses a smaller weapon, a conventional long sword, in the other hand. Since he is a specialist, every other round he attacks twice with it. On those rounds he swings twice with greatsword and once with long sword. Three attacks. Of course, being a Wemic, he also has two paw attacks each round. Still with me? That's two greatsword swings, a long sword swing, and two paws -- five attacks in the round!

So far so good. Let's say our first level Wemic also has a 17 Strength. If all attacks hit, that's +5 points of damage in the round. Fine. But if our Wemic had Exceptional Strength, the potential damage bonus is +15 (18/01) to +30 (18/00). That potential extra damage is just too much. Limiting Strength to 17 is good because it keeps the damage down.

What about Dexterity? Once again, I like the Dex penalty for game balance reasons -- if Wemics tend to have lower Dexterities, then they will be less likely to attack with two weapons.

But why a racial max of 18 Dexterity? The only way to achieve it, given the initial -1 penalty, is through Wish-level magic. I believe it is a mistake. Wemic Dexterity should also be limited to 17.

Wemic Character Level Limits by Class

Race Fighter Ranger Priest Wizard Thief Bard
Wemic 12 - 7 - - 10

Given their nature orientation, the Wemic Ranger would seem a natural combination. But I am glad it is not allowed, simply because a Wemic Ranger fighting with two weapons and no penalty would be too powerful.

Since the Monstrous Manual talks about Witch Doctors, why no Wemic Mages? Even if limited to fourth level? I think the rulemakers deemed fourth level as too limiting for mage play, and simply eliminated the option.

But the addition of Bard, potentially rising to a decently high level, is a master-stroke! It allows the minor magery potentially implied by the Witch Doctor reference. And it allows a sneaky/scouty Wemic without adding the thief class, a decision I applaud. And most of all, the cultural implications are wonderful. Wemics are a pre-literate people, and they rely heavily on oral tradition and long memory for history, legend, law, and tradition. The Wemic Bard fills the vital role of historian., messenger, judge, and storyteller. The Wemic Bard is not a mere entertainer. Wemic bards often wander from pride to pride, and they keep Wemic nations linked together with a common culture and language.

One paradox remains, however: Since there is no Wemic alphabet and since almost all Wemics are illiterate, how do Wemic Bards use spell books and memorize spells?

I intend to put together a Wemic Bard kit/variant to answer this question and to more fully flesh out my ideas on the role and rules for Wemic Bards -- Coming soon to a Web page near you!

Exceeding These Limits

The Dungeon Master Guide includes an optional rule where demihuman characters could exceed level limits if they possessed high prime-requisite ability scores. See the chart below for bonus levels granted to those characters with high scores in their class prime requisites.

Table 17: Prime Requisite Bonuses

Ability Score Bonus Levels
14-15 +1
16-17 +2
18 +3
19 +4
20+ +5

The bonus levels are added to the character's maximum experience level shown in the Racial Level Limits table.

Here the Wemic's racial ability score limits impose a major penalty, but given the power of the race, I think it is not unwarranted. Besides, these rules still allow characters to attain decently high levels, in my opinion.

Wemic Special Abilities

Race AC HP MV Natural Atts Characteristics
Wemic 6 +5 12 1d4/1d4 (claws) g (50'), z, ff

AC is the creature's natural Armor Class. If the creature wears armor that is superior to its natural defenses, it may use the better value as its AC. If the creature wears armor that is inferior to its natural AC, its AC improves by only 1 place. For example, a lizard man (AC 5) in leather armor (AC 8) is actually AC 4, since the leather armor provides a small measure of extra protection. However, a lizard man in plate mail (AC 3) is AC 3.

Although it is not mentioned in any of the rules explicitly, I feel strongly that commonly available Wemic technology allows the local manufacture of leather armor. And given that it boosts a Wemic's AC by one (to AC5), I see no reason for any Warrior or Priest Wemic to stay out of leather armor. Of course, leather is as good as all other armors to a Wemic, at least armors up to and including chain mail. So although I think many Wemics would wear leather, none would wear anything else until you get to banded, splint, plate, and up. And of course, those metal armors are prohibitively expensive for almost every Wemic -- and my Priest option forbids metal armor anyway.

Note that as per the Player's Handbook, Wemic armor weighs half again the weight of regular armor, because of their large size.

HP is the creature's bonus hit points at first level. After the character determines his hit points normally for his class and level, he may add this number to his hit point total.

Although the Wemic's +5 hit points is on the high end for non-standard races, it is still the equivalent of adding just one extra hit die (for a fighter).

MV is the creature's normal movement rate while unencumbered. Several monstrous character races allow flying or swimming as alternative means of movement.

The Wemic's movement rate of 12 seems too slow to me. It also seemed slow to J.F. Keeping, the author of the Ecology Article. He says, "They can run at up to four times their normal speed for bursts of two minutes or less." Of course, any character can do the same under the rules in the Player's Handbook, if they make the right Strength and Constitution rolls. I like using this rule for Wemics, but I would say that Wemics do not have to make any rolls to run up to quadruple speed for the first two minutes of a run.

Natural attacks describe any natural attacks the character can make without any weapons. Generally, a character must choose to either use his natural attacks or fight with a weapon in a round, but there are three exceptions: centaurs and wemics can attack with a weapon and use their natural attacks at the same time, and thri-kreen can attack with a weapon and use their bite at the same time.

This attack with paws is one of the major benefits of being a Wemic. The damage is only 1d4, but it is all gravy on top of normal attacks. But the Ecology Article goes too far, in my opinion, when it recommends leaping attacks with all four paw strikes and a weapon.

Characteristics

g. Leap: The character's powerful leg muscles enable him to make astounding leaps, bounding up to 50 feet forward or 10 feet into the air. Leaping to close with an enemy is considered a charge attack, and the character suffers double damage if he lands on a spear or similar weapon set against a charge.

The Wemic's leap is another big benefit. But is it 50 feet, as it says here, or 30, as reported in the Monstrous Manual? The Ecology Article offers an interesting compromise: 10 feet up and 30 feet forward as a standing jump; up to 50 feet with a running start. This seems reasonable to me.

z. Size: A number of monstrous characters enjoy the mixed blessings of being a Size Large (L) creature. While this permits them to wield large weapons in a single hand, or even use huge weapons with both hands, it also means that they suffer damage as large creatures.

The ability to use large weapons in one hand is another real benefit that is not taken advantage of by the official rules. I think Wemics would use greatswords wherever they were available. In other areas, giant war clubs, which humans would need two hands to use, would be manufactured by Wemics to use in one hand.

But do not miss the other facet of this rule. Wemics can use in two hands weapons that humans cannot use at all! A Wemic's two-handed sword would be a marvel indeed! But outside lands where metalworking giants dwell, where would a Wemic get such a huge sword? A human or dwarven weaponsmith might try to make one to order, but the Wemic would have to teach and train himself or herself to use it -- if it were even balanced properly.

It seems possible that a Wemic club-maker could fashion a truly huge war club that would need two hands to be wielded by a Wemic. But I leave the creation of such a weapon to the imagination of other.

ff. Inhuman form: Some monstrous characters are restricted from wearing armor or some magical items by their body form. For example, thri-kreen and alaghi cannot wear armor; centaurs, wemics, or bullywugs can't wear magical boots or magical armor due to their unusual shapes; and so on. In a questionable case, the DM should decide if a character can use a piece of equipment or not using his best judgment of the situation.

Since Wemic-shaped magic armor has got to be scarce as magic hens' teeth, and since even normal armor for Wemics better than leather is quite rare, Wemics will tend to rely primarily on shields for protection. If the GM allows it, Wemic characters will tend to take extra proficiencies (or spend character points) in Shield, as per the Combat and Tactics book. This is not a bad thing from a game balance point of view, since a Wemic with a shield is a Wemic using only one weapon!


Review of Wemic Rules
from the 2E Monstrous Manual

The rules that follow from the Monstrous Manual for using Wemics as monsters differ in important ways from the rules for using Wemics as player characters. The notes on Witch Doctor / Wizard Wemics and on leaping are just two examples of this.

I propose that there are two subraces of Wemics: Wild Wemics, who follow the Monstrous Manual and are not available for use as player characters, and Peaceable Wemics, who follow the rules for characters. The primary differences are that Wild Wemics have many more hit dice (5+8) and much better attacks than Tame Wemics, who have fewer hit dice (1+5) and worse attacks on average. I'll elaborate on this proposal below.

CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Temperate plains
FREQUENCY: Very Rare
ORGANIZATION: Prides
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Day
DIET: Carnivore
INTELLIGENCE: Average (8-10)
TREASURE: B
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
NO. APPEARING: 2-16
ARMOR CLASS: Males 6(5), females 7
MOVEMENT: 12
HIT DICE: 5+8
THAC0: 15
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2 or 3
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4/1-4 and weapon
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Nil
SPECIAL DEFENSES: -2 initiative modifier
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: L (7')
MORALE: Steady (11-12)
XP VALUE: Normal: 270
Chief/Chieftain: 420
Witch Doctor/King: 975

CLIMATE: Both Wild and Tame Wemics live in plains, although I see no reason that Wemics of both sorts couldn't extend their range into colder and warmer types of plains. But Tame Wemics tend to live nearer human populations, and in wide plains where many of their kind can spread out. Wild wemics tend to live in dangerous, far places where monsters abound. They are less likely to form into nations.

ALIGNMENT: The Neutral here is just a tendency for both types. Wild Wemics tend to be more chaotic; Tame Wemics tend to be more lawful. Good and Evil occur in all sorts, as with humans. My Wemic Priests are Neutral in the same way that Druids are Neutral.

NUMBER APPEARING: The numbers given here and below suggest interesting things about population dynamics.

SPECIAL DEFENSE: This -2 initiative bonus is unique to Wild Wemics. But if you use the rules for Fighting Styles, I think it would be interesting to create a "Wemic Style" for character Wemics which would grant initiative bonuses as an echo of the Wild Wemic defense.

Wemics are leonine counterparts to centaurs.

A wemic's body consists of a leonine body with a humanoid torso extending from what would be a lion's neck. The typical wemic measures ten feet from head to rump. When standing erect in centaurian posture, the wemic stands 6 to 7 feet tall.

Wemic weight is more of a mystery. The Ecology Article says males are up to 600 lb., and females, 450 lb. The Character Height/Weight System for AD&D article (see link on my Wemic link page) suggests males average 736 lb. and females, 639 -- and using those tables, a slightly taller than average male Wemic can push past 800 lb.

Most of the body is covered in dusky golden fur. The tail is tipped by a brush of long, black hair. Adult males also have a mane of long black hair; the mane covers the top and back of the head and extends to the neck and shoulders. Male cubs develop this mane in their third year. The underbelly is covered in short, white fur. The nose may be black or russet. The eyes are gold with vertically slit pupils. The digits on all limbs end in claws. The claws on the forelegs are retractable.

I think that if Wemics had "forward-thrust jaws, pointed ears (placed high on the head) that can move like those of a cat, and sharp feline teeth," it would be mentioned here. The note on nose color suggests, however, that the Wemic's nose is more catlike. At least it is for Wild Wemics.

Speaking of manes, one thing from the Ecology Article really hits the mark -- appearance and grooming. I agree that Wemics pay a lot of attention to their appearance. They brush their hair, fur, and manes often. Some might use beads and other adornment. Wemics are careful not to get too smelly, since that would alert prey.

Wemics speak their own leonine language and a highly accented dialect of the common tongue.

Does the Wemic accent come from an unfamiliarity with common or from anatomical mouth and throat variations from human norms? If the former, the accent can be unlearned. If the latter, not. This brings into play the argument on the forward-thrust jaws and sharp teeth.

Combat: Wemics use forepaws and weapons to attack. A claw delivers a vicious swipe that inflicts 1d4 points of damage. Normally the wemic uses his forelegs to claw and employs his hands to wield a weapon.

Wemic males carry javelins and either a stone club or short sword.

Short sword?!? Why a short sword, when a Wemic can use a greatsword in one hand? I believe that Wild Wemics, who do not have close contacts with humans, use whatever they can get their hands on. Usually this is knives, daggers, short swords, broad swords, and long swords. Average all those out and you can generally say all Wild Wemics have short swords. But they are happy to use better weapons when they can get them!

They often carry a tough leather shield (AC 5) for protection. Females are AC 7 and do not use weapons; however, they gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls if their cubs are attacked. Cubs under 2 years do not attack.

here we see a very major difference between Wild Wemics and Tame Wemics -- gender differentiation. In Wild Wemic culture, clearly defined roles based on sex and actual physical dimorphism create real differences between males and females. Not so with Tame Wemics, the rules for which make no distinction between male and female.

Wemics possess keen senses. They are masters of ambushes and hunting strategy. If they cannot surprise an intended victim, 1-3 wemics move to outflank prey.

Player character Wemics can echo this through the use of kits, as in my Wemic Priest option.

Wemics possess powerful leg muscles. They can leap 10 feet upward or 30 feet forward.

See my notes above on Wemic leaping.

Habitat/Society: Wemic society is a blend of leonine and aboriginal human cultures. They live in groups called prides. A typical pride consists of 4d4 adult males, 2d12 adult females, and 1d12 cubs.

Since we know that Wemic cubs mature in just three years, we can use this info to determine birth rates and other demographic info. My crude calculations suggest that to keep a steady population, mortality is high and life expectency is low. That's why my Wemic Priest has no access to the Necromancy sphere -- access to Cure Disease doesn't make sense given the death rate I think Wemics must have.

I'll do the math and present my thoughts on all this on another Web page in the near future.

Up to 3d10 prides often band together into a tribe that is led by a chief. The chief has an Armor Class of 5, 6+4 Hit Dice, and its claws inflict 1d6 points of damage. It gains a +1 bonus to its attack rolls with any weapon.

Sometimes 2d4 tribes join together into a clan or nation. Such a grand gathering is led by a king and 2d4 chieftains. The king has an Armor Class of 3, 9 Hit Dice, and claws that inflict 1d8 points of damage. It has a +2 bonus to its attack rolls with any weapon.

As I mentioned, I think it is more likely that Tame Wemics band together in this way than Wild Wemics. For one thing, I envision larger Tame populations. Also, Tame Wemics have Bards to help bind them together and foster loyalty to a Chief or King. Of course, in Tame clans and nations, Chiefs and Kings are described using standard rules for higher level characters.

Some wemics are able to use magic. There is a 70% chance that any tribe includes a witch doctor. Such wemics may attain a maximum level of 7th-level priest and 4th-level wizard.

See my notes above on Tame Wemics as Wizards and bards, above.

Mating occurs at any time of year. The female bears a litter of one to three cubs in ten months. The cubs are born with a camouflage pattern of black spots; these fade within two months. Wemic cubs are playful and curious; they possess few instincts and thus must learn everything. Cubs are born with 1 HD and gain 2 HD each year. They reach maturity at age 3.

This is that demographic info I was talking about. If there are about six cubs and 12 females in a pride at any given time, and if cubs mature in three years, then at any given time a typical pride has two infant cubs, two yearling cubs, and two two-year-old cubs. That means two births a year among 12 females -- assuming all newborns survive to maturity. If infant mortality is 50 percent, say, then each female gets pregnant every three years.

If anyone wants more of my thoughts on wemic populations, just ask me.

Wemics have human-level intelligence. They possess a Stone age culture, using fire and possessing modest manufacturing skills with which they can create stone weaponry, pottery, and ornaments. They can be taught more complex skills. They are excellent trackers and guides. They may hire out their services in exchange for treasure and tools, such as weapons and magical items. They may also charge travelers a toll for safe passage through their nation's territory.

This begs the question, why don't Wemics evolve out of the Stone Age? The Native Americans quickly adopted European technology or died. The rules say that Wemics can be taught complex skills -- why not metalworking?

Ecology: Wemic cubs are worth 500 gp. They can be trained as servants or allies.

And how is "Ecology" related to slavery? How absurd. But this does open up the prospect for player characters of playing Wemics who were captured as cubs or have been freed from slavery.


Copyright and Trademark Information

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, AD&D, Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, and Monstrous Manual are trademarks of TSR Inc.
TSR Inc. is a subsidiary of Wizards of the Coast Inc.

Excerpts from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons® 2nd Edition Monstrous Manual™ and the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons® Player’s Option™: Skills & Powers Book are © Wizards of the Coast Inc. All rights reserved.
Excerpts from these works are here used for fair-use non-profit review and commentary purposes.

Review and commentary on this page are © 1999 by Cayzle.


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