Constructed from living stone, the chess set is made from earth elementals carved into shape and bound to a particular role.
Each chess set behaves like a miniature knightly court. They engage in courtly politics and romance, war chivalrously with other chess sets or factions in the gardens, and embark on quixotic quests.
Each chess set refers to itself by a different name; the Red Court, the White Order, the Ivory Palace and so forth. Their customs are often bizarre but are at least vaguely similar to those of an Arthurian romance. Hospitality, duty, courage, self-sacrifice, and glory are lauded. Cowardice, treachery and unsportsmanlike behaviour is roundly condemned.
All pieces of the chess set are forbidden by custom from romance with those outside their class (save for the King and Queen). None the less, the set pursues tangled webs of romance with a dedicated fervour. They are keen to involve outsiders- even PCs - in these affairs. A chess-piece lover is a loyal companion, if slighted or betrayed they and their court become an implacable enemy.
A chess set cannot be properly destroyed without great effort. If even a few shards of stone remain, the whole set will slowly regenerate. ‘Dead’ members return as if from nowhere within an hour, so long as they are unobserved. As such, although a set may take casualties, those replenish quickly, and soon the set will be back up to full strength.
In truth, the set is not 16 creatures, but a single creature with 16 bodies, play acting at different roles, like a human with a puppet on each hand. What one of the set knows, they all know. What one feels, they all feel.
Any mind-affecting effects that successfully effect one chess-piece affect them all.
1 Rook, 1 Knight, 1 Bishop and 4 pawns are male (those on the king's side). The other half are female.
Position is everything in fights with a chess set. Those pieces close to one another support one another well, and they jump on isolated PCs and beat them into a pulp.
Even if you don’t normally use miniatures, get a chess set out for the fight to track where everybody is.
For the purposes of the fight, treat ‘adjacent’ as being ‘within about 3 meters’.
All chess pieces:
Immune to backstabs and other attacks that target vulnerable anatomy. Immune to poison and sickness.
Half damage from sharp weapons, fire. Double damage from blunt weapons, cold, electricity.
All affected by mental effects that affect at least 1 chess piece.
If the king is taken out of action, the rest all fall inert until the king recovers.
If unobserved, all chess pieces (even those destroyed, transformed, put somewhere else) return to full strength within an hour and come back together.
The supposed ruler of the chess court. A stone elemental carved into the form of an old man in robes and an ornate crown. Slow, indecisive but potent. Think of Emperor Palpatine, if he was chivalrous rather than a baddy.
HD 5, HP 20, Armour as Chain + Shield, Smash (+5, d10), saves as fighter 5.
Instead of attacking, can grant up to 5 pawns, 2 rooks or 3 bishops/knights to make an extra attack. Cannot do this if engaged in combat himself.
Moves at half speed.
The real power behind the court. Somewhere between a cunning second-in-command and an unstoppable crusading warrior-queen. Think of a beautiful female Darth Vader, carved from stone.
HD 11, HP 40, Armour as Plate, Smash (+11, d10), saves as thief 11.
Can make a Smash attack against every enemy adjacent.
Moves at double speed.
Stolid, defensive types. Tasked with holding and maintaining territory. Hold grudges with quiet fervour.
Carved from elemental stone to resemble a warrior in plate, behind a huge shield, features blocky and square. The helmet features the distinctive crenulation of the traditional chess-piece.
HD 9, HP 32, Armour as Plate plus Shield, Smash (+9, d10), saves as fighter 9.
Grants its AC to any adjacent chess-pieces.
Can make a free Smash attack against anybody who attacks a non-rook chess piece when the rook could have been targeted instead.
The dashing cavaliers of the court. Impetuous, touchy about their honour even for chess-pieces. Carved to resemble plate-armoured knights, in helmets with a heraldic crest shaped like a horse.
HD 5, HP 20, Armour as Chain, Smash (+5, d10), saves as fighter 5.
Can pass through walls, shield-walls, and other barriers as if they weren’t there.
Double damage when attacking from behind.
The clergy of the court. Solemn. Prone to blessing things in battle. Politically astute, but prone to hidden passions. Carved to resemble robed figures in tall bishops-mitres.
HD 5, HP 20, Armour as Chain, Smash (+5, d10), saves as cleric 5.
Add d10 to the damage done by adjacent chess-pieces.
Moves at double speed..
The rank and file warriors of the court. Servile, courteous. Not very clever. Apologise a lot.
Carved to resemble little people with bulbous heads, a bit like the toadstools in Mario.
HD 3, HP 12, Armour as Chain, Smash (+3, d10), saves as thief 3.
Moves at half speed..