Friday, May 8, 2009

Gygax's Hunter Class

Jon in Seattle mentioned in an offline discussion the rumored existence of a Hunter class that Gary Gygax was kicking around for AD&D 1e after his untimely departure from TSR. Having heard zippo about this before, I was as much intrigued as I had been yesterday about the Amazon.

With a little cyber-sleuthing I was pleasantly surprised to find that Gygax had indeed penned such an article in 1988 in the short-lived magazine Realms of Adventure. For your reading pleasure the article is appended below.


Before beginning the exposition I want to express my pleasure at again being able to offer new approaches in play to all the enthusiasts of fantasy gaming. As time and space permits I’ll try to provide several more character classes for your consideration in the fantasy game milieu. Read on, and when you’ve finished please consider dropping me a line to let me know what you think. Suggestions and requests for new professional approaches are always given thoughtful reading. One further thing. This is all quite ‘unofficial’, as another entity possesses all rights to the AD&D game. Nonetheless I think you’ll find hunters nice additions to your campaign.

This profession is as much one of circumstance as purpose. The hunter is one who was born in a wilderness area and grew up in primitive conditions requiring a knowledge of woodcraft, fishing, trapping, tracking, knowing the flora and fauna for many reasons, and hunting to sustain life. There might be rare exceptions to this, but generally the hunter is one of savage, barbaric background. There are, of course, hunters from open plains areas, frozen tundra, and barrens. Such individuals are of more nomadic sort than the class considers, and in general these backgrounds are more akin to the barbarian class. The hunter class considers a wooded homeland as the principal training ground, and this should suit most campaign milieus.

Race: Humans, elves (wild races only), half-elves and half-orcs can be hunter characters. There is no upper limit to progression for any race.

Armor & Weapons: Treat hunter characters as barbarians in regards to the wearing of armor and use of weapons. However the hunter may have two weapon specializations, one of which must be the spear. The player is allowed to select his or her second specialization.

Strength bonuses: As a fighter class character.

Dexterity bonuses: Begins at 14 with +1 and go up in steps of +1, so 18 dexterity gives +5 for armor addition, reaction and missile adjustment.

Constitution bonuses: As fighter.

Attack Ability: A hunter uses the table for fighters. When combating opponents of human or near-human sort, which fight with hands or weapons like those of humans, the hunter is at a –2 penalty to hit. When combating opponents of other nature (animal. Reptile, fish, beast, monster) the hunter is at +2 to hit. In the latter case any modified score of 20 or greater on the ‘to hit’ die roll indicates maximum damage for the weapon employed.

Saving Ability: Hunters use the same table as fighters but gain a +2 bonus against any attack form requiring a saving throw which comes from an animal-like opponent (a basilisk, a dragon, etc).

Hunter Profession: As barbarians never require training to advance in ability level, so too hunters are never in need of any sort of formal schooling. They always advance by ‘on-the-job experience’, as it were. If the circumstances of any adventure indicate a lack of related experience for hunter character advancement, the DM will always reduce his or her reward to match circumstances.

Minimum Characteristics: The hunter must have minimum statistics of S 15, I 12, W 12, D 15, and Con 14. There is no minimum Charisma.

Experience Bonus: The minimum statistics for a hunter total 68 (exclude Charisma). Any total of 73 or greater earns a 10% bonus in awarded experience.


Exp. Point Total /Level #/of d12*/ Name attributed

0-3,000/ 1/ 1/ Forester
3,001-6,000/ 2/2/ Frontiersman
6,001-12,500/ 3/ 3/ Woodsman
12,501-25,000/ 4/4/ Backwoodsman
25,001-50,000/ 5/ 5/ Trapper
50,001-100,000/ 6/ 6/ Tracker
100,001-175,000/ 7/ 7/ Stalker
175,001-300,000/ 8/ 8/ Huntsman
300,001-500,000/ 9/ 9/ Hunter
500,001-1,000,000/ 10/ 9+3/ Huntmaster

For each additional 500,000 of earned experience an additional level is added and 3 additional hit points are gained. Above 9th level, characters are simply referred to as ‘Huntmaster’ without reference to degree of excellence (i.e. 10th, 11th etc is omitted).

*The d12 is ‘averaged’ in that a roll of 1 is treated as 4, a roll of 2 is treated as 5, and a roll of 12 is treated as 6. The initial hit point determination roll for a 1st level hunter character must always be 6 or better, but thereafter any result (with averaging) is possible.


Experience level of hunter/ Chance of success*

1st/ 21%
2nd/ 23%
3rd/ 26%
4th/ 30%
5th/ 35%
6th/ 41%
7th/ 48%
8th/ 54%
9th/ 59%
10th/ 63%
11th and up/ +2% per level to 75% max.

*The DM may allow some added chance for success if additional preparation time is taken and there are such considerations as distractions, camouflage and the like. Deduction is likewise to be made for care, having an experienced guide (such as another hunter), magic, etc. Naturally a spell will surely discover snares and traps if the dweomer has the power to do so. A hunter is able to detect others’ snares and traps at a likelihood of 10% below that with which he or she is able to build them personally.

Additional Hunter Skills:

Animal Friendship. The hunter character may create a special bond with a hunting animal – dog, wolf, large cat or even a bear. The animal cannot have more hit dice than the hunter has experience levels. It will require a month of constant attention to form the special bond after an animal has been befriended, and the animal must spend at least one half of the time thereafter with the hunter. If desired, the hunter may free one animal and befriend another, but at no time can there be more than one special animal attached to the hunter. The chance of striking friendship is shown on HunterTable II, though a hunter of high level is not restricted by the 75% maximum. The DM may adjust the chance of success as necessary due to circumstances. The animal will hunt for and with its master/mistress, perform simple acts upon direction, and generally behave as very loyal and most intelligently for its species. Typical acts such an animal can perform are:

Hunt down and chase
Come back on command

Highly intelligent animals might carry things to some known place if the command is understood.

Build Snares & Traps. These constructions will catch game or enemies. The hunter can construct any of the following in the times shown below and with the noted effects on any victim:

Snare: 30 minutes; save vs. DEATH or victim killed.
Deadfall: 1 hour; 4d6 damage.
Heavy Deadfall: 2 hours; save vs. DEATH or victim killed; 6d6 damage if save made.
Pit Trap: 4 hours; save vs. DEATH to avoid unconsciousness for 1 hour, 1d6 damage + 1d6/stake placed by hunter up to 10, with d10 roll by victim to determine how many stakes are effective; no escape, or at least 1 minute required to get out of pit (DM determination).
Spring Trap: 15 minutes; 4d4 damage; successful ‘to hit’ roll must be made by trap against victim’s armor class to inflict damage, but no dexterity bonuses allowed (because the trap is a surprise).

The chance of any snare or trap functioning is determined by the hunter’s experience level, as shown on Table II.

Construct Simple Weapons. The hunter is able to fashion weapons as indicated below. The chance of a weapon breaking on use is the inverse of the skill of the hunter, as shown on Table II (so a weapon fashioned by a 1st level hunter has a 79% chance of breaking when used, unless this chance is modified).

Club: 10 minutes; +20% on skill for fashioning.

Spear: 30 minutes; +10%.
Knife: 1 hour; +5%.
Stone Axe: 3 hours.
Bow: 6 hours with 3 arrows, each additional arrow 1 hour.

Track. This includes identification of any footprints, signs, and spoor of any sort. The hunter is able to track the quarry detected at a base chance as shown on Table II, with modifications as below:

Sign under 1 hour old +20%

Sign under 3 hours old +10%
Sign under 1 day old 0
Sign over 1 day old -5%
Sign over 2 days old -10%
Simple concealing of sign used -10%
Rain or other similar disturbance -20%/hour

Thus, if the quarry took a well-traveled road for example, and there was a fair amount of traffic passing along it afterwards, the sign would be obliterated at the rate of 20% per hour, and after 5 hours it would be untrackable. Ahunter is able to conceal sign as well as he or she is able to detect it, but for each non-hunter (or skilled woodsman) in the group with the character the ability is reduced by 5%.

Treat Injury. Damage from wounds of any sort can be treated by a hunter. The hunter can stop bleeding and set sprains or broken bones. The immediate effect on the patient is a gain of 1-4 hit points, and healing will then proceed at +1 point/day above normal rate for as many days as the hunter has levels of experience.

Treat Illness. Illness includes poisoning of any sort. Toxins can be slowed in effect by any hunter, and illness or parasitic infection delayed for as many days as the hunter has levels of experience. Simple poisons, illnesses, and infestations can be cured totally by a hunter of 6th or higher level with a base chance of 5% per level of the hunter; the DM may adjust this for severity of the problem and special knowledge of the hunter.

Woodcraft. Ability to employ woodcraft as shown on Table II. Included in this skill category are:

Climb cliffs and trees (+20%)

Determine best route through wilderness
Identify fauna
Identify flora
Identify habitat
Know direction and avoid becoming lost (+10%)
Mimic animal and bird calls
Scout ahead for danger
Shelter finding or construction
Making fire
Making clothing (+10%)
Supply game, fish and other food (+20%)
Locate pure water (+20%)
Weather prediction

The DM may wish to adjust probabilities according to circumstances.

Until next time, good gaming!

Gary Gygax


  1. It'd seem nigh impossible to get stats to qualify for a Hunter, but I guess there has to be downside.

    Thanks for posting it.

    Now, if someone can just post the entire text of Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign, my life will be complete.

  2. I do agree with others who have said that the class is a bit over-powered in its conception, much like a super ranger/barbarian combo class. So yes, you would at least need something to balance it out like high minimums.

    With five barbarians and a ranger running around in our current C&C campaign I've been a little unsatisfied in how both seem to play. I thought about stripping Gygax's class down to something less cumbersome and powerful to see if it could be a better fit.

    And brother, yes when some kind soul puts up the First Fantasy Campaign--and any number of long out-of-print goodies I'll be a happy camper too.