The following is my review of and commentary on the Third Edition 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 3E Wemic Rules
from Monsters of Faerun
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.
Note that I often refer, in the analysis below, to the rules for centaurs. These rules, given on page 33-34 of the 3E Monster Manual, are, in my opinion, carefully considered and balanced, and I use them for comparison with the rules for wemics.
Monsters of Faerun is a Monsterous Compendium supplement to the Third Edition Monster Manual. It was written by James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo. The work includes, on page 84, an entry for Wemic. That entry begins (as all do) with a statistics block.
Large Monsterous Humanoid
Note that the official 3E books include the following rules for Large creatures: AC: -1; To Hit: -1; Hide: -4; Carrying capacity is doubled; Armor weighs double and costs quadruple; Medium weapons are light weapons; Large weapons are one-handed weapons; Huge weapons are two-handed (Note that though no Huge weapons are listed in the Player's Handbook, the Monster Manual and the DM Guide have ideas on how to create stats for them, and see below). According to the glossary in the Player's Handbook, a Large creature is "typically between 8 and 16 feet in height or length and weighs between 500 and 4,000 pounds" (page 279).
I do not think that a wemic is a "person," using the D&D definition, that is. Spells such as Hold Person and Charm Person target "one humanoid of Medium-size or smaller" -- the size rules out wemics for these spells, and, in any case, wemics are Monsterous Humanoids, not Humanoids (these are two different classifications in the Monster Manual). Should wemic spell casters have access to "Person" spells? Or should we invent a category, such as, say, "Mixling," for creatures that are human-like from the waist up and something else from the waist down? Spell casters in this category would get spells like "Charm Mixling" and "Hold Mixling," which would affect centaurs, wemics, lamia (which, IMNSHO, should be Monsterous Humanoids and not Magical Beasts), grigs, hybsil, driders, satyrs, stingers, harpies, certain yuan-ti, and so on. Minotaurs might fit in this category as well.
Hit Dice: 5d8+5 (27 hp)
Five hit dice sound about right to me, considering that centaurs have four and lions have five. Eight-sided dice is also right, since all Monsterous Humans have 8-sided hit dice (Monster Manual, page 13). The "+5" comes from adding one hit point per die, based on a Constitution of 12; that would change if a wemic's Con were higher or lower. The 27 hit points comes from 4.5 hp per die: 4.5 times 5 is 22.5, rounded down to 22, plus 5 from Con, gives 27.
Initiative: +1 (Dex)
This could change with a different Dexterity and/or the Improved Initiative feat.
Speed: 40 feet
Centaurs move 50 and lions, 40 -- this seems right to me.
AC: 15 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +4 natural, +1 small wooden shield)
Wemics are big -- why would they carry small shields? Here is the first of several indications that authors Wyatt and Heinsoo don't have an appreciation for wemics and have chosen poorly for them. Centaurs, who are as large as wemics, carry large shields. I would give wemics large shields.
The +4 natural AC also seems an ill-considered ruling. Horses are +3 natural, centaurs are +2 natural; lions are +3 natural, so wemics should be +2 natural. Why should wemics be +4 natural, as given in Monsters of Faerun? If it were a game balance issue, why give better natural AC and a tiny shield? It would have been better to give the bigger shield and a lower, more logical natural AC.
Attacks: Club +8 melee; 2 claws +3 melee
Damage: Club 1d8+4; claw 1d6+2
Again we see a poor choice and ill-considered rules. First, what club does 1d8 base damage? In the Player's Handbook (page 98), a club does 1d6 and a greatclub does 1d10. And a club is a Medium-size weapon -- a wemic, being Large, can use a Large-size weapon in one hand. Wemics who want shields should use greatclubs, for a base damage of 1d10. Note that centaurs use greatclubs, showing once again that the Monster Manual rules are better considered than the ones Wyatt and Heinsoo wrote for wemics in Monsters of Faerun.
While we're on the topic of weapons, it should be noted that the second edition D&D rules suggested short swords and clubs as favored weapons. But the obvious choice for a wemic is a greatsword! It can be used one-handed and delivers 2d6 base damage. In my opinion, no wemic who had a choice would use a club -- however, isolated wemics far from trade routes might not have a choice; with no access to blades, a greatclub would be the next best low-tech option.
And two more notes on weapons. First, a wemic who did not want a shield could use a Huge greatclub, doing 2d6 damage, or a Huge greatsword, doing 2d8 (I derived these damages from the table in the Monster Manual, page 14). Second, another option for shieldless wemics, especially rangers, is the use of two weapons. To minimize penalties, the off weapon should be a light weapon, which for wemics would be Medium-size or smaller. The obvious choice is bastard sword, which Large creatures can use one handed as a martial weapon (Player's Handbook, page 103). In fact, the power gamer might choose to play a wemic with a bastard sword in each hand, the better to maximize the cost-effectiveness of feats such as Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, and Improved Critical. But the greatsword and longsword option is also a good one, and longswords are easier to find than bastard swords. Finally, a wemic ranger who didn't mind the -4/-4 attack penalty would make a fearsome opponent while using a greatsword in each hand! Ouch!
The claw attacks are also ill-considered. A heavy horse's hoof does 1d6, a centaur's hoof does 1d6; a lion's claw does 1d4, so a wemic's claw should do 1d4. Why the 1d6 assigned by Wyatt and Heinsoo? It makes no sense. Wemic rules have dictated 1d4 damage since First Edition D&D -- why change now?
The base attack bonuses (BABs) are fine. Five hit dice give a base +5 to hit. Size gives a -1 adjustment. And 18 Str gives a +4. That yields the BAB +8 listed; the primary attack also gains the full +4 strength damage bonus. The claws, used as secondary attacks, suffer the standard -5 penalty, yielding the given +3 BAB; the secondary attacks gain only half the usual Str damage bonus, so they are only +2.
There are other interesting options for wemics, though. They can attack with only claws, both at the base +8 BAB and +4 damage. And a game master might allow the claws to be the primary attack, with a weapon as the secondary attack at +3 BAB and +2 damage.
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 10 ft./5 ft.
Just as one would expect.
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +4
As per the Monster Manual, page 13, Monsterous Humanoids have good reflex and will saving throws. Con 12 gives +1 fort, and Dex 12 gives +1 Ref, so this works out as one would expect.
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 9.
While these ability scores do not match my own personal vision of wemics, I'll leave that for another debate.
Skills: Hide +2, Jump +11, Listen +8, Move Silently +6, Spot +8, Wilderness Lore +4
Let's try to break down where these numbers came from.
HIDE (6 ranks spent): Large creatures have a -4 Hide penalty, a small shield gives a -1 penalty, and Dex 12 gives a +1 bonus; to get Hide +2 requires spending 6 ranks on Hide.
JUMP (0 ranks): The text gives a +8 Jump bonus to wemics, which I presume is factored in above (as the rules in the Monster Manual require). So that gives a +8 racial bonus, Str 18 gives a +4 bonus, a small shield gives a -1 penalty; to get Jump +11 requires spending 0 ranks on Jump.
LISTEN (6 ranks): Wis 11 gives no bonus here; Alertness gives a +2 bonus, so 6 is spent in ranks.
MOVE SILENTLY (6 ranks): Dex 12 gives a +1 bonus here; a small shield gives a -1 penalty, so 6 ranks are spent on this.
SPOT (6 ranks): Wis 11 gives no bonus here; Alertness gives a +2 bonus, so 6 is spent in ranks.
WILDERNESS LORE (4 ranks): Wis 11 gives no bonus here, so the entire +4 is given in ranks.
Total ranks spent (as calculated above) is 28 ranks. On page 11, the Monster Manual says that a Monsterous Humanoid should have base ranks of 2 x Int score, plus an extra 2 per hit die (except that a large creature doesn't count the first 2 hit dice). So a centaur should have 2x8 + 2x2 = 20 ranks to spend. And sure enough, if you do the math, they do. Wemics, by the same calculation, should have 2x11 + 2x3 = 28 ranks. Which works out just fine.
Now, as to my opinion about these allocations, I must say that I agree in general. Hide, Jump, Listen, Spot, and Wilderness Lore are all suited to hunters. But I do think that a race of hunters should have a higher Wilderness Lore. And Craft (primitive tools and weapons) would have been a nice touch.
Once again, Alertness is a reasonable choice for hunters. But Track would have made more sense. You could get around Track as the obvious choice, however, if Ranger were the favored class instead of Barbarian -- but more on that later. Other logical choices for hunter Feats could include Run, Endurance, Weapon Focus/Finesse(claws), and Improved Initiative.
SECONDARY STAT BLOCK
Climate/Terrain: Temperate and warm plains
Lions are native to warm plains only. Finding wemics in temperate plains makes sense, since wemics are smart enough to use fire and clothing in cooler areas. Note that warmer plains are often referred to as savanna; cooler plains, as prairie and pampas.
Organization: Solitary, pride (2-16), or tribe (20-200, including 2-8 subchiefs of 2nd-5th level, and adept of 4th-7th level, and a chief of 5th-8th level)
To me, this seems limiting. I would have liked a mention of wemic bards, especially. And there is no word of wemic nations, as there was in both First and Second Edition D&D rules -- but in fairness, the idea of larger groupings is mentioned in the text (see below).
Challenge Rating: 3
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: By character class
These seem reasonable to me. I personally might have preferred "Often neutral," but that is a quibble.
Fierce hunters that roam the plains, wemics are masters of ambushes and strategy.
This sounds very nice, but aside from Move Silently and Hide skills, how are wemics as described supposed to fulfill this statement? Moreover, this idea of ambushes and strategy clashes with the image of wemics as Barbarians (the favored class) -- A raging barbarian cannot use cautious skills like Move Silently and Hide, and they are certainly not pondering strategy and planning ambushes as they rage!
Wemics have the body of a lion with a humanoid torso extending from what would be the lion's neck. From head to rump, they are 10 to 12 feet long, while they are 6 to 7 feet tall when standing erect. Their entire bodies are covered in dusky golden fur, and the tail is tipped with a brush of black hair. Adult males have a mane of long black hair that covers the top and back of the head and extends down to the neck and shoulders. Their underbellies are white. A wemic's face is a mixture of human and leonine features, with a black or russet nose, gold eyes with catlike pupils, and high-set ears. All six limbs end in claws; the claws on the humanoid arms and leonine forelimbs are retractable.
Here we see several significant departures from tradition, and, in my opinion, these departures are not improvements! The traditional representation of wemics (going back to the First Edition D&D rules) is that they are leonine analogs to centaurs -- just as centaurs are fully human above the waist and fully horse below, wemics too were depicted as fully human from the waist up. The Second Edition rules departed from this standard slightly, suggesting that "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." In this edition of the rules, Wyatt and Heinsoo go another step towards the beastial, which I think is too bad.
Now, "Their entire bodies are covered in dusky golden fur" -- what, even their chests, faces, and palms? But it gets even more absurd: wemics also have "a black or russet nose" -- just like a cat's! Of course, the low quality of the Monsters of Faerun is seen in the artwork that goes with the text -- in the drawing, the wemic has a bare (non-furry) chest and a human nose. Moreover, in the Monster Manual, lions have the special quality of Scent; if the authors saw fit to give wemics lion noses, at least they could have given wemics lion Scent as well! In my opinion, wemics should have human scent and human noses.
And here's the most offensive part of all: "All six limbs end in claws; the claws on the humanoid arms and leonine forelimbs are retractable." I have to say that the idea of wemics with claws in their fingertips offends me. Now, here's what the Second Edition rules say: "The digits on all limbs end in claws. The claws on the forelegs are retractable." I think the clear interpretation of "limbs" here is "legs" -- the Second Edition authors didn't mean to imply that a wemic's fingers ended in non-retractable claws! Wyatt and Heinsoo seem to have misread the Second Edition rules. But if wemics have claws on their hands, how much damage do these claws inflict in combat? This is just another sign that Wyatt and Heinsoo think of wemics more as beasts than anything else. In my opinion, wemics have human hands, with human nails.
Wemics speak Sylvan and Common.
Here is another place where the authors and I part company -- these 3E rules strip wemics of their native tongue and put Sylvan in their mouths. The Player's Handbook says that Sylvan is the language of dryads, brownies, and leprechauns (page 74). From the Monster Manual, we learn that aranea, treants, unicorns, nymphs, titans, and, yes, centaurs all speak Sylvan (surprisingly, no language is listed for creatures you woud expect to speak Sylvan -- like satyrs and sprites). But all of these, except nymphs and titans, live in woods. But nymphs are very nature oriented, and titans speak lots of languages. On the other hand, blink dogs, who live in plains, not woods, speak their own language. So do sphinxes, who are part lion. In my opinion, wemics should speak only their own language and Common. And I favor the addition that wemics speak a heavily accented Common, as well.
Wemics attack using their forepaws and a weapon, using the off hand to carry a shield (usually made of tough leather).
I've discussed combat and weapons at length above.
Skills: Wemics have a +8 racial bonus on Jump checks.
Also note that it is a wemic's length (about 10 feet) that determines maximum jumping distance, not height.
Wemic tribes often include an adept or druid; the creatures have no other spellcasters. A wemic's favored class is barbarian.
I disagree here. I think that wemic clerics are reasonable choices, with spheres such as travel, war, and animals being most appropriate. Being non-literate, wemics are seldom wizards; on the other hand, the sorceror and bard classes seem ideal for wemics. I've already offered my objections above to the idea of barbarian as favored class -- I think ranger is a much better choice.
Wemics live and hunt in groups called prides, which include 1-4 males and 1-12 females plus 1-6 noncombatant cubs. A number of prides often band together into a tribe that is led by a chief, though this is more of a diplomatic alliance that a true union of the prides. Larger alliances of tribes are not unknown, but are usually formed only in the face of a great external threat.
Both First and Second Edition rules mention wemic nations. I think the ommission here is too bad.
Wemics sometimes hire out their services as trackers or guides to adventurers or others who travel through their territory, demanding tools or magic items (particularly weapons) as payment. They may also charge travelers a toll for safe passage through their lands.
This is all fine, so far as it goes, but the Second Edition rules were much more rich and detailed -- nothing is said here about wemics as a stone-age tech folk, nor about their belief in superstition, not about the practive of enslaving wemics and selling cubs, nor their playful and curious nature.
[There is then a section on wemics in the Forgotten Realms, which I choose not to review here.]
The authors of the wemic rules in Monsters of Faerun did not do a very good job. Their rulings on weapons and armor are poorly considered. Their ideas on classes are limiting. And worst of all, their concept of the race is beastial. There is nothing new or original here, compared with the Second Edition rules. These rules are an improvement only in that the 3E D&D rules are vastly superior to 2E rules in general.
In my opinion, James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo don't love wemics and didn't even think deeply about them for their book -- and it shows.
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Review and commentary on this page are © 2001 by Cayzle.