Lords of the crater states, the snail lords combine skill at arms, natural armour and ancient eldritch pacts with nearly infinite patience to be the dominant life form on the salt flats.
The Snail Lord class presented here was written for 1981 B/X D&D and can probably be adapted to most OSR systems with minimal fuss.
Requirements: INT 9
Prime Requisite: CON and INT
Hit Dice: 1d6
Physically, the snail lords are best described as giant snails with arms that stand roughly five feet tall at the height of their decorated shells, with their eyestalks able to reach up to two feet above that. Their skins are pebbled and rough
Snail lords must have at least 13 in both prime requisites in order to get the +5% to earned experience. They must also have an INT of 16 and CON of 13 to get the +10% bonus.
Snail lords decorate their shells with intricate symbols of the pacts between their ancestors and the demons, spirits and machines of the nether. Their shells also provide them with a base Armour Class of 5. Because so much of their body is already armoured, wearing armour provides different bonuses to a Snail Lord than to most characters:
Leather Armour – AC 4
Chain Mail – AC 3
Plate Mail – AC 2
Shields and magic armours provide the usual bonuses to AC (-1 AC for a shield and -1 AC per “plus” on magic armour and shields).
Snail lords speak their own tongue, the trade tongue of the ghouls, and one additional language (plus any learned due to high intelligence).
Snail lords acquire magics from their ancestral pacts with intelligences and machineries alien to this world. They learn and cast spells like a magic-user, using the magic-user spell lists (of either the core rules, or the rules from Wonder & Wickedness). They inscribe and dye their shells with the markings of their pacts with lost gods and overwatching machines that grant them these abilities.
d10 Snail Lord Subclasses
- Arcane Mercenary – +1 to hit & damage with polearms
- Xenophobe – +1 to hit & damage against goblins, grinders, snatchers & toads.
- Eldritch Glaivemaster – 1/day per 2 levels (round up) can cast a spell on a polearm and then attack with the polearm the next round. The spell effect centres on the target struck, or is lost if the polearm misses.
- Of Noble and Ornate Shell – +1 AC bonus, +1 reaction rolls with other snail lords and base creatures.
- Gastropod Priest – at each level replace one spell from the Snail Lord spell list with one from the Floating Ones spell list.
- Moon–Marked – Gains the ability to see in the dark as with 60’ infravision. Determine which moon the snail lord is marked with – while that moon is visible in the sky the snail lord gains +3 on all saving throws.
- Loreseeker – Can use magic items restricted to other races and classes.
- Pact–Bound – Knows one additional spell at each odd level.
- Focused – +10% bonus to earned XP
- Choose one or make up a new one
Rumours and Myths of the Snail Lords
- Snail lord sages have traced the evolution of their kin to the ancient race of humanity. It is known that the leathery shell on the backs of the humans evolved into the ornate shells of the modern snail lords.
- The sands of the salt flats are almost entirely made of the crushed shells of ancient snail lords who have fought over this world for tens of thousands of years.
- Ancient myths claim that the snail lords are slain by mere contact with salt. Some isolated creatures from the hinterlands are shocked when they first discover snail lords living and traveling through the salt flats.
- The patron god of the snail lords abandoned them in the dark past and the arcane markings of the snails are their attempt to regain his grace… or to challenge him through their new found magics.
- Dirone pearls are actually specially treated snail lord eggs, which is in part why they have such high value within the crater states.
- Of the twelve moons in the firmament, the Spider’s Chains, the Imposter and the Priests’ Folly were all creations of the snail lords and remind us in the night of their great prowess.
- The number 5 has powerful magical and resonant properties for snail lords, and groups of 5 are not only looked upon favourably, but can tap into strange magics.
- Snail lord addicts of the viridian salts lose their shells in time and gradually transform into blind snatchers as the drug ravages their bodies.