Tuesday Toot!! | Augur Dwarf

Tuesday TootG+ is closing. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

:: Augur Dwarf ::

augur dwarf (npc class)Summary
A venerated niche-class of dwarf. They have enhance underground skills especially (precious) metal detection.

Plot Hook
Raid into the Augurary

Augurs shave their beards. This visually sets them apart from normal dwarven society.

Augur Apprentices are permitted to shave their top lips, whereas Augur Masters are completely clean shaven. There are serveral tiers between Apprentice and Master, each tier having a beard type which reflects their status.

Augurs tend to be less muscular than normal dwarves, as they do not handle metal and do little manual labour.

Society – clanless
Augurs are little known outside dwarven society. Indeed, they are somewhat of a secret, and when seen by outsiders, they are often mistaken for gnomes.

Augurs are revered in dwarven society, but are outside of the usual clan structures. Beard shaving emblematic of their separation.

In youth, when their special skills are first spotted, Augurs must forgo their clan and travel to secret locations (Augurary) to train as an Augur. As they progress in skill, they travel to ever more secret centres to continue their training.

Partly this is done to isolate Augurs from metals, which can interfere with their metal-sense. The other part being that Augurs guard their secrets well and their wealth better.

The initial testing involves asking a youth to locate a gold coin hidden under one of 5 cups, usually the test is repeated 5 times. If they can meet the task (a very rare occurrence), they can keep the coin. Within the next year a summons to the clan chief sees them on their way to the first of the Augur Schools.

Those that have a weak talent or fail to progress in skill, usually enter into the armed Augur Guard, or become servants. Augurs like lucky dwarves, and so those that fluked the test are usually trained as recruiters.

Augur Guardsman are rarely released from service, but being unable to return to their clans, often become adventures. They progress like fighters but with some basic metal detecting skills (bit like a Locate Object spell, but for concentrations of metals). However, to make use of this skill they must have armour and weapons that are free of metal, e.g. bone or stone axes and leather armour.

IMG_8490The Augurs earn a good living by getting commissions from detecting seams of precious metals. Masters Augurs can earn huge commission when discovering such seams. The more valuable the metal, the more the commission they get. Most often Augurs are called in by Dwavish clans to locate new metal seams, particularly when a mine has apparently run dry. Master Augurs are few, and in great demand by dwarven leaders. Lower ranking Augurs charge less commission but have less skill.

Augur accept non-metallic payment only, e.g. gems, pearls, art, silk, ivory or other precious materials. Metal-less magic items are highly prized.

Most Augurs have skills in detecting bulk ‘base’ metals, like iron, tin, copper (even as ores). The most esteemed, and highest advancing are Augurs that can detect the ‘noblest’ metals like gold, platinum, and mithral.

Master Augurs also have high sensitivity. For example, a Master Augur could detect a thread-sized seam of mithral buried 30 feet within stone. An adept could detect a thicker seem of gold much closer to the surface e.g. 6 feet.

To make use of their talent, especially when looking for sparse and deeply buried metals, the Augur must be free of all metal distractions. Such metals interfere with their metal-senses, giving a ‘false signal’. It’s like trying to listen out for a faint sound while a lute is playing in your ear.

Augurs therefore wear clothes and carry gear free of any metal, e.g. with bone/wooden buttons/buckles etc.

The Augur Guardsman, for the reasons given above, also wear only leather armour and carry stone, wood, bone, antler or ivory weapons. To the uninitiated, they might look like primitives.

Sometimes, an Augur will need to venture into a mine alone (without distractions) to find a precious metal seam. In the wild places this can be dangerous. Augurs therefore also train in some of the thief skills (Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Hear Noise, Climb Walls), and progress as a thief sub-class (the above skills at two levels higher than their actual level).

Companion Beasts
Augurs also keep two unusual beasts, and pay high prices for both.

denzelianSometimes, if potential rewards are high, Augurs ‘scour’ the rocks of a mine with Denzelians (Fiend Folio; page 25). Denzelians eat away at the outer surface of the rocks, free metals dropping to the floor. Next the mine is swept (precious metals of course bring collected and removed). Next hungry Rust Monsters (Monster Manual I; Page 83) are sent into the mine to scavenge and feed off any leftover metal traces. Augur(s) can then scan the ‘scoured’ mine for new metal seams with less surface interference.

200px-rust_monsterRarely, Augurs act for non-dwarves, usually monarch commissions. The non-dwarves who witness their activities are deliberately left with the impression that the Denzelians are the true metal sleuths, and the beardless dwarves merely their (poor) minders/handlers. Outsiders are often too scared of Rust Monsters to ask too many questions about their use. Rust Monsters also make useful Augur ‘guard-dogs’ (always alert for metal bearing intruders).

Testing Chamber
Augurs have a special testing chamber called The Cube. There are in fact several Cubes. These comprise a platform in a cube shaped room. On the platform a cube of dense stone blocks are built up. Within the cube, blocks with seams of precious metals are inserted. Blocks joining up to form a seam of metal in the cube. The testee can walk under, over, and around the cube of stone and indeed climb its sides.  After such a scan, the testee must sketch out how the metal seam is distributed in the blocks. Finer metal seams and more dense rocks can be used to increase the challenge, to examine more advanced testees. Decoy metal seams e.g. copper seams can be added to the cube in an attempt to confuse the true metal signal being looked for. Testees only get a few chances to prove themselves.

An Augur Master must be able to detect a single thread of a noble metal (gold, or higher value metal) within a 60 foot test cube.

A novice may be tested where the metal-seam is 6 inches thick in a 10 foot test cube.

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

James V West Gexit
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”
Fight on dear Gexit
(drawing by James V West)

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