Biblyon the Great

This zine is dedicated to articles about the fantasy role-playing game Gods & Monsters, and other random musings.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Spotlight on: The Saurian

Jerry Stratton, August 10, 2022

Isle of Mordol Pylon control panel

If you’ve seen Land of the Lost, this is obviously a simplified version of a pylon control panel. I wanted something that the players could actually use.

You’re eight feet tall. Your tongue forks in and out as your bulbous eyes dart left and right behind translucent membranes. Your scales reflect aquamarine in the sunlight as you drop to all fours…

I’ve been a fan of the saurian ever since Land of the Lost in the seventies. If you look at my first “dungeon”, The Isle of Mordol, there’s an entire sublevel devoted to dinosaurs and dimensional-portal pylons.

My Yellow Forest from Fight On 9 is also heavily influenced by that show. I described saurians in the Yellow Forest encounter list as:

…bipedal lizards with long forking tongues, bulbous eyes, and ears behind eye-lid-like membranes. Their iridescent scales shine green and blue in sunlight, making them appear wet or slimy even when dry. They eat plants and animals, but insects are a delicacy. They farm them in their swampy lairs or hunt giant ones. They can see in the dark, regrow lost arms, legs, and tails, and can move on all fours at movement 15.

The Yellow Forest is part of The Road, and we used the saurians far more extensively than that little blurb would imply. It’s a player character race in Gods & Monsters.1 Some of them are chameleon, and some have prehensile tails—both specialties open only to the Saurian. Disease Immunity is also open to the Saurian.

The saurians of the Yellow Forest live in Angkor-like ruins. The cities of the Angwat are described in detail in The Road.

Isle of Mordol Pylon dimensional map

It may be deliberate that this looks like something out of Copernicus’s manuscript; it’s possible that I’d already bought the biography at a library book sale.

The saurian is tall to humans, and to any other “official” player character species. It’s actually a large creature, the only large creature in the list of player character species. Saurians literally look down on all of the player character races.

But the race thinks itself small because it lives in a world of real giants. Like the Sleestak, it lives amidst the ruins of its ancient civilization’s great buildings, and it both hunts and fears the remnant races of ancient dinosaurs. Everything important has already been built and abandoned. The past weighs heavily on the saurian; humans are a young race, tiny and squirrel-like nuisances always chittering and darting pointlessly about.

Saurians have a lot in common with humans, however. Like humans, they have no tendency toward any particular moral code. Also like humans, at least those humans who know of apes, saurians who know of tyrannosaurs or the like will see them as a symbol of racial vigor. And the tyrannosaur always trumps the ape, no matter what Carl Denham claims to have seen on some remote isle imagined in a drunken stupor.

Of course, those are cultural traits and may vary from group to group or from individual to individual. But there are also structural benefits to the saurian. As the writeup in Arcane Lore implies, the saurian doesn’t make a great Thief if you want to hide, pick locks, or move silently. Their height and bulk does them in. But the saurian does make a great Thief if you want to climb walls and balance across unsteady surfaces. They can also move more quickly, especially on all fours.

Their constitution bonus and their large size make them great Warriors. A higher constitution means more survival points, and being large makes them harder to knock unconscious, harder to kill, and gives them more fortitude. And also because they’re large, bulks are all halved if they’re using a weapon (or anything else) sized for humans; or damages are increased if they’re using a weapon sized for saurians. This lets them either do more damage, or use with one hand what would be two-handed weapons for humans of the same strength.

Temple of the Angwat

That they can regenerate arms, legs, and tails gives them a bonus both as Thieves, poking into things they shouldn’t, and as Warriors, able to sacrifice a body part to otherwise deadly wounds.

As a much more alien species than the more standard fantasy races, they have access to weirder specialties. A prehensile tail helps them climb and gives them greater stability over less stable surfaces. And they can gain the benefit of having what are basically three arms, front and back. They can use two-handed weapons and a shield, they can use their two arms normally while, say, picking someone’s pocket with their tail.

Even more strange, the chameleon specialty doesn’t just allow them to blend in with their surroundings. It allows them to understand and to communicate via chameleon color-talk. While it requires the ability to change color to speak this language, it can be seen by anyone who can see color. This potentially makes the saurian a long-distance communicator for the party.

The saurian Warrior is big, and fights with big weapons. The saurian Thief is agile, and can penetrate across unsteady surfaces and can potentially misdirect with their three prehensile limbs.

The saurian Prophet draws upon their ancient lineage and mysterious primordial religion; the saurian Sorceror upon the antediluvian magics of an alien culture. The saurian Monk, similarly, draws upon the mystic secrets of a once-advanced race. In each case, the saurian is very much aware that their ancestors were more powerful prophets, more powerful magicians, more powerful psychics. The evidence is all around them, and any adventurer worthy of the name uncovers new evidence in every secret valley and every jungle-hidden temple they explore.

  1. The first player character saurian was Eddie Izzard.

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