Monday, December 4, 2023

Slaine and Ukko for Basic games.

Massimo Bellardinelli

Stats for the duo up to about Dragonheist (before the time-travel and mysticism kicks in). The system is approximately BX/OSE.

Slaine Mac Roth.

Black-haired warped warrior, exile, adventurer, time-traveller, hero, thief, king; analogue of Conan, Cu Cuhlainn, and the Eternal Champion. Celtic barbarian in the time before the Deluge.

Charisma 15, Constitution 18, Dexterity 18, Intelligence 9, Wisdom 11, Strength 18

Fighter 4/ Thief 4 (4d12)

Brainbiter: a stone- or metal-bladed battle- or great-axe. It is Slaine's favoured/ signature/ specialist weapon. It is not a specific axe, except that it's the one he's using.

Wielded one- or two-handed, or thrown - all without penalty. Damage die can be d8, d10 or d12.

Other Weapons: sword, spear, gae bolga, bow and arrow, tathlum. Anything he likes, really - he's strong, skilled and adaptable.

He can dual-wield without penalty. He can also use the Fighter options in the BECMI Companion set, if you like.

He wears a sword in his early career, but always prefers Brainbiter. 

Unarmoured Fighter: does not wear armour or carry a shield; sometimes fights naked. 

Slaine gets +8 AC bonus for his Dexterity. He can still benefit from a shield and/or cover.

At this stage of his life, he will punch you if you even suggest he wears a helmet.

Salmon Leap: Slaine can do a standing jump as high as his own forehead.

Whether he uses it to strike over an opponent's shield (+2 attack bonus), or to dodge an attack (+2 AC/relevant save), he needs to make a successful Dexterity check. 

Usable once per encounter.

Spear Catch: Slaine can pluck a spear from the air and throw it back at his attacker if he has not already made an attack that round. Needs a successful Dexterity check.

Usable once per encounter.

Thief Skills: rarely uses them, except for climbing. 

Slaine probably has no Open Locks or Find/Remove Traps ability, these mechanisms not being part of his cultural background.

His code of honour does not stop him using Backstab/Sneak Attack, Move Silently or Hide in Shadows, but his warrior outlook means he rarely does.

He is illiterate and cannot Read Languages.

Warp Spasm: once per day, at will, for 8 rounds; +4d12 temporary hit points and double-damage.

Treat as ogre-sized.

If 3 HD/3rd level or less, make a Morale Check when being attacked by Slaine during a warp-spasm. 

Bellardinelli again. The first warp-spasm I was to see.

Saving Throws: Slaine saves as a 4th level Fighter normally and as an 8th level Fighter during a warp-spasm.

As a brutal and unimaginative barbarian, he receives a bonus of +4 to saves vs. illusion, fear, madness etc.


Dermot Power.

Slaine's larcenous sidekick, future royal parasite and immortal, companion in adventure and adversity.

His astute mind and artistic talent are keenly focussed on lechery and greed.

Surprisingly courageous for a coward.

Charisma 8 (16), Constitution 13, Dexterity 18, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 8, Strength 8

Dwarf/Thief 5 (5d8)

Non-combatant: except for the odd Backstab/Sneak Attack, Ukko will not engage with enemies and will retreat to a safe distance or cower behind Slaine.

Unarmoured: he gets a +4 AC bonus for his Dexterity.

He also gets a +2 AC bonus vs. adult human-sized (or larger) opponents, as long as he does not make an attack in the same round.

Can still benefit from a shield and/or cover; frequently does.

Thief Skills: Ukko is an especially accomplished Thief, and has higher skill % because of this.

  • Climb Walls 91%
  • Find/Remove Treasure Traps 50%
  • Hear Noise 1-3 on d6
  • Hide in Shadows 45%
  • Move Silently 60%
  • Open Locks 60%
  • Pick Pockets 60%

Dwarf Abilities: Ukko has the Basic Dwarf abilities of detecting construction tricks, detecting room traps, and listening at doors (1-2 on d6).

Dwarves in Slaine's world don't have infravision.

Ukko after using his Charisma/ Mike McMahon.

Charisma: as a Dwarf, Thief, sidekick and known con-artist, Ukko is viewed with contempt and suspicion wherever he goes.

He uses the higher Charisma value when dealing with Dwarves, Thieves, drunkards and rubes.

Saving Throws: Ukko always use the most advantageous saving throws of Dwarf or Thief.

He gets a +2 save vs. curses, taunts and humiliation.

Further Complexity.

Ba5ec Slaine: You will need to look up some 5e D&D, where you start out as heroes not zeroes.

Give Slaine the following Fighter abilities: Great Weapon Fighting, Second Wind, Action Surge (which he can use to have a warp-spasm), Martial Archetype - Champion with Improved Critical and Remarkable Athlete.

He also gets the following Barbarian abilities: Unarmoured Defence (CON bonus added to AC), Danger Sense, Reckless Attack, Path of the Berserker (bonus attack when warp-spasming).

Only comparable heroic characters get these extras - everyone else has to stick to the rules. Ignore anything that's incompatible with the target system.

(Slaine already has some benefits of the 1e AD&D Barbarian)

Slaine the King: He's now a 9th level Fighter and he can use his warp-spasm twice a day, for a total of 18 rounds.

If he's also Ba5ec Slaine, he gets additional abilities as a 9th level Fighter and Barbarian in 5e.

I toyed with modelling him after a 1e AD&D Bard - he becomes more mystical in his kingship and beyond. Also not a terrible plan for Gandalf.

Ba5ec Ukko: he can have the non-fighting abilities of a 5e Rogue of the same level.


Older edition D&D is surprisingly resistant to producing the heroic characters it is claimed to be based on, and has to break its own rules for most iterations.*

Obviously, I'm exhibiting my own bias and interpretation here:

Gray Mouser and Cugel have to be 10th level Thieves so that they can use magic. While this might work for Cugel, Gray Mouser's spell-casting comes much earlier in his career - he starts out as a wizard's apprentice.

Conan and Fafhrd both have to have Thief and/or Ranger levels because the Barbarian class doesn't yet exist, and still won't be a great fit when it does.

Is Elric that accomplished a swordsman or sorcerer without his ring and sword and ancestral demonic pacts? He is a pawn in a cosmic game (also, to a lesser degree, the Mouser and Fafhrd), not master of his own fate - he doesn't need hit points if the higher powers don't want him to die until they see fit.

* And later edition D&D feel/look like they tried to address this - it's a criticism of 5e vs. OS, for instance. It's legitimate to draw on those later editions, particularly as they're broadly mechanically compatible and mostly freely available, and I treat The Game like Lego plus off-brand compatible blocks, rather than a 3D printer.

As well as spotlighting 5e as a source, there's also:

  • 1e and 2e AD&D to boost Ukko's Thief skills (racial and high Dexterity bonuses).
  • AD&D for Ukko's Dexterity bonus to AC.
  • 1e AD&D Unearthed Arcana for the Slaine's (Barbarian) hit dice and Dexterity bonus to AC.
  • 2e's Celts Historical Reference, for Slaine's Salmon Leap and Spear Catch feats (without the WP and NWP requirements).

The idea is that these kinds of celebrities should be more powerful than the PCs, but not so much that they utterly outclass them. As long as the players are participants rather than spectators, it should be fine.

Slaine's warp spasm could be a whole sub-system, but here it's just the druidic animal growth spell. Another possibility: use the AD&D enlarge spell, with warped Slaine as an Ogre (stats a bit too close to the regular Slaine in this iteration) or a Giant depending on how powerful his rage was.


  1. Regarding Mouser, I'm tempted to fall back on that old grognardish argument of "they are thieves because of what they do, not because of their class" so Mouser would be a wizard (class) that just so happens to sneak about and stab people (antics).

    Elric too is probably a wizard with a collection of stupidly powerful gadgets.

    Conan and Fafhrd are probably thieves with high CON and STR and maximum rolled HP.

    I think you've got Slaine and Ukko just about right.

    1. I hadn't thought that about Mouser, despite being pretty settled on it with Elric.

      My Old School Thief Variant (in the Popular Posts last I looked) is meant to try and cover both Cugel/Mouser and Fafhrd/Conan without multi-classing.

      I agree with the thief-as-deeds over thief-as-intrinsic: the archetypes for me are Fighter, Magic User, Rogue with everything else being a kit or prestige class, and Rogue doesn't automatically mean what (eg) D&D says it does (more like T&T).

      (Also, my instinct says both Lone Wolf (at the start) and the YOU of Fighting Fantasy are basically 4th level Fighters, too)

    2. Lone Wolf is tricky, as he's effectively a Jedi, but before the bandolier of superpowers, yeah, Fighter seems right.

      As for YOU, of course it depends on the book, but agreed, for about 87% of them, YOU are a Fighter.