Broken Ones are a species of monster originating from the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Ravenloft. Inspired by the abominations in HG Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau", Broken Ones are hideous, deformed, twisted abominations whose bodies are based on the unnatural melding of man and beast - and rarely in so harmonious a fashion as the typical beastfolk race. Products of fleshcrafting, they include both animals torturously uplifted into a semblance of the humanoid form and faculties and former humanoids warped into a crude semblance of beasts. It's hard to say which version feels more pain and torment from their present status; whether the transformation was achieved through bloodthirsty surgical mutilation (oft-presumed the default), weird implants that induced physical corruption, bizarre radiations harnessed through science or sorcery, alchemical formulas or occultic rituals, the transformation is never pleasant. Worse still, some Broken Ones are actually created accidentally, a result of polymorph, reincarnation or resurrection spells gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Much like Mongrelfolk, broken ones tend to dwell in isolated villages or lairs hidden in the wilderness, seeking to avoid confrontation with other races; attacks on humanoids are usually provoked by fear or vengeance, although there are some evil broken ones. Most desire only to be left alone, although they usually crave the destruction of their original creator.
Broken Ones first appeared in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and were at least mentioned in the 1990 sourcebook "Ravenloft: Realm of Terror" (aka, "The Black Box", the first ever Ravenloft campaign setting book). They saw print for the first time a year later in the 10th of the Monstrous Compendiums, also known as the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix I - this entry would later be reprinted in 1993's "Monstrous Manual". Divided here into Common and Greater Versions, their fluff actually presumes Broken Ones started as humans warped into more animalistic forms, even giving them the nickname "Animal Men".
The Common Broken One possesses inhuman stamina, with at least five hit points per hit dice and the ability to regenerate one hit point each round. Having survived the traumatic transformation that gave birth to them, they possess supernatural strength; their unarmed melee attack damage is 1d6, and certain specimens may be even stronger depending on what kind of creature they are based upon. Furthermore, they always have at least one ability derived from their animal half, and may have more.
The Greater Broken One is a truly superior specimen. Though still a frightening creature, they have emerged from the torturous crucible of their birth hardened into true monsters. In addition to their high minimum hit points, they regenerate 2 hit points per round and their unarmed strikes do 1d8 damage. When wielding weapons, their strength gives them between a +3 bonus and a +5 bonus on attack and damage rolls. They always have 1d4 animal abilities at minimum, and their abilities may be even stronger than those of their base creature.
The Ravenloft AD&D adventure "Thoughts of Darkness" introduced the Shattered Brethren of Bluetspur, who were later reprinted in the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III. Somewhat tougher than Common Broken Ones, if not as powerful as Greater Broken Ones, their primary unique attribute is the possession of innate psionics, which gives them a necessary edge against their hated illithid creators.
In 3rd edition, Broken Ones returned in a somewhat more generic format as a catch-all term for any individual rendered hideously deformed and mutated by scientific or sorcerous transformations. They lost the "Animal Men" moniker as a result of this, as they could now look like any hideously deformed and distorted creature, and not just some melding of man and animal. They were more heavily tied to Ravenloft in this edition, as the Broken One racial entry actually appeared in Denizens of Darkness (before being reprinted for Denizens of Dread). Now formally classified as an aberration, no punches were pulled in detailing their new status; the art alone consists of a Flesh Golem-like amalgamation of parts from different women, a dog with a human head and human hands growing out of its neck, and a man who looks almost melted. These broken ones are described as far more inherently malevolent and vindictive than their AD&D equivalents, described as bearing an uncontrollable hatred for all wholesome life.
Broken One Creators
Needless to say, those who create broken ones are particularly twisted individuals, usually either mad scientists or dark mages of some sort. In Ravenloft, broken ones can be found in any domain with a particularly strong association with mad science or dark magic, and they have been encountered in Darkon, Falkovnia, Forlorn, Lamordia, Hazlan, Nova Vaasa, and the Shadow Rift.
Various individuals in Ravenloft are particularly associated with broken ones:
First and foremost, there is the Darklord Frantisek Markov; a sadistic former pig farmer with a crazed amateur's enthusiasm for surgery, he became the Darklord of Markovia after brutally murdering his wife by performing his ghastly "surgeries" on her. Like Dr. Moreau, whom he is an obvious expy for, Markov is obsessed with the idea of augmenting animals to achieve the human form through grisly surgical means. That's not to say he doesn't "devolve" the odd human into a man-beast when he catches one, just that his creations are usually uplifted animals and not cursed men. In fact, Markov's broken ones are so unique that The Book of Sacrifices actually contains a variant broken one template specifically to describe Markovian Broken Ones, who are true to the original "Animal Men" fluff of AD&D and not the "Fleshcrafted Horror" fluff of 3rd edition. Such is Markov's basis to Moreau that his sole "starring" adventure, "Neither Man Nor Beast" (1996), reads pretty much like a tweaked variant of the original novel, with players being stranded on his island domain and ultimately escaping by assisting the broken ones in turning against their hated master.
Another Darklord who produces broken ones is Hazlik, the Thayan Red Mage who rules over Hazlan. Whilst they are not his obsession the way that they are for Markov, Hazlik's temper and taste for dark magic causes him to produce more than his fair share of twisted once-men and once-beasts.
Likewise, Dr. Mordenheim, the Darklord of Lamordia, produces many scientific broken ones as side-effects of his cursed experiments in attempting to resurrect his dead wife.
The illithids of Bluetspur are known to create Broken Ones, as mentioned above.
Arguably the non-Darklord major producer of broken ones in the Demiplane of Dread is Falkfuhrer Doktor Vjorn Horstman, head of Falkovnia's Ministry of Science. In order to please his mad master, and for his own sadistic pleasures, Doktor Horstman performs twisted experiments on human victims to create super-soldiers; so far, the best he has officially come up with are artificial therianthropes and broken ones, although a Quoth the Raven article does give him some more unique monsters.
Broken One PCs
In "The Book of Souls", the first semi-official netbook of Ravenloft content, rules were presented for playing a broken one player character inspired by rules for undead and golem PCs that had earlier appeared in "Requiem" and "Van Richten's Guide to the Created". The idea was that, as tormented victims of hideous experiments struggling to hold onto their dwindling or "gifted" humanity, broken ones made perfect sense for PCs in a gothic horror-fantasy setting.
Especially as this was at a time when the only unique race Ravenloft had to its name were the Half-Vistani.
The rules presented covered both playing a broken one who had been created and then escaped and for having a former player character still remain playable after being warped into a broken one.
- Ability Score Rolls: 2d10 for Physical stats, 2d6 for Mental stats.
- Ability Score Range: Strength 2-20, Dexterity 2-20, Constitution 2-20, Intelligence 2-12, Wisdom 2-12, Charisma 2-12.
- Optional Rule: A broken one has an ability to pass itself off as human, equal to 10% chance per point of Charisma.
- Base Movement Rate: 9
- Hit Dice: As Class
- Class & Level Restrictions: Fighter (12), Avenger (12), Thief (12)
- Natural Armament: A broken one has a natural attack ability that does 1d6 damage. This is treated as its own form of weapon proficiency slot, so the broken one suffers a penalty if it places no points in this. 3 points of specialization increases the damage to 18, whilst 5 points increases the damage to 1d10.
- Regeneration: 1 hit point per round, can't regenerate acid or fire damage, will not continue to regenerate if killed.
- Salient Ability: A broken one has one salient ability from the following list.
- Armored Hide: Base AC is 7.
- Beastspeak: You can communicate with the animal species you were made from.
- Berserk Frenzy: You can continue to fight until reduced to -7 hit points.
- Charging Attack: If you can move at a run straight at your opponent for at least 40 feet, you can make a charging attack with your natural attack form.
- Gills: You can breathe water and air.
- Glide: You can move forward 2 feet for every 1ft you drop.
- Gnawing Teeth: You can chew through solid wood, at a rate of 1 inch every 2 rounds.
- Heat Sensing Pits: You have Infravision 60 feet.
- Keen Hearing: +2 bonus to checks against being surprised.
- Keen Smell: You have the Tracking non-weapon proficiency, but when tracking, you only suffer the modifiers stemming from time and water.
- Keen Vision: Your vision ranges are doubled.
- Mighty Leap: You can jump 10ft straight up or 20ft straight forward from a standstill.
- Natural Camouflage: If you remain motionless in a natural setting, others must succeed on an Intelligence check to be able to see you.
- Night Vision: Reduce any penalties caused by low-light by 2 points.
- Pack Animal: Treat your Strength as +2 for determining your encumbrance.
- Padfoot: Others suffer a -3 penalty to their surprise checks against you.
- Powerful Lungs: You can hold your breath for rounds equal to your Constitution score.
- Quills: Any creature that hits you with a natural weapon takes 1d2 damage itself. This doesn't decrease the damage you take.
- Special Movement Form: You can move through one special terrain condition at your normal movement rate.
- Venom: Your natural attack forces the victim to pass a Save vs. Poison or take +1d6 damage due to your poison.
- Double the cost of armor and the cost of clothing.
- Roleplaying Penalty: A broken one's horrifying appearance will make them stick out in a crowd, and not in a good way. They may even provoke Fear and/or Horror checks in NPCs.
- Roleplaying Penalty: Fear of Creation - broken ones should be subjected to a Horror check whenever presented with a reminder of whatever created them, most commonly either surgical procedures or magic.
Converting a former PC into a Broken One differs from making one from scratch in only two ways.
Firstly, when determining the Broken One's ability scores, they will receive either a penalty or a bonus to the ability score role based on their previous score. Apply a -1 penalty for each point below 7 in the original score, and a +1 for each point above 14 in the original score - this will max out as a -4 penalty for an original score of 3 and a +4 bonus for an original score of 18.
This semi-optional rule - in that the article encourages you to use it, since it's so "gothic", but it's such a hassle (and so easy to abuse) that you can easily just discard it, since Ravenloft encourages the DM to be a prick too much as it is - covers the great gothic horror issue facing a Broken One PC: the constant threat of the beast overtaking what's left of the man.
A DM needs to keep a list of Beastly Behaviors and Human Habits - behavioral traits that either reinforce a Broken One's human aspects or its bestial aspects, and make a running tally of the actions that the PC performs. Ideally, a DM and a player should work together to establish what is most appropriate for the character.
At the end of each week, compare the total marks for bestial or human actions engaged in during that week. If the broken one acted more like a Beast, than it immediately loses 1 point from each of its mental stats. If they acted more like a human, they gain 1 point in each of their mental stats. If the tally evens out, their stats remain as they are.
If the broken one's Intelligence or Wisdom drops to 1, then they have lost the battle of beasthood. The other two scores will drop to 1, at the rate of 1 point from each score per week, and once all three stats are at 1, the broken one has completely reverted to to its bestial origins. Now physically and mentally nothing more than a mere deformed-looking animal, they will run away into the wilderness.
A broken one who truly fears that they are succumbing to reversion can always take the drastic step of having a fleshcrafter attempt to stabilize them. Still, whatever the means of doing so - surgery, sorcery, alchemy - this is not without its risks. Even if the broken one is willing (or restrained by well-meaning friends), the stress of the procedure upon body and mind forces them to take a Saving Throw vs. Death Magic. Success restores their mental stats to their maximum value (the score rolled at character creation). Failure leaves them dead.
If a broken one succumbs to beasthood and is then forcibly restored by fleshcrafting, their old persona is lost; the broken one starts over as a 1st level character in every fashion. It bears mentioning that this a cruel thing to do and most would be more compassionate by just letting the broken one go into the wild.
Markovian Broken One Template
“Markovian broken one” is a template that can be added to any animal of Small through Large size that has limbs and an internal skeleton (referred to hereafter as the “base animal”). The creature’s type changes to “aberration” and its size changes to Medium-size. A Markovian broken one uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Speed: The base animal’s speed changes to 30 ft. If the base animal does not have a normal land speed (i.e. it only has a burrow, climb, fly, and/or swim speed), it gains a land speed of 30 ft. If the base animal has a burrow, climb, or swim speed, that speed is changed to half its normal value. If the base animal has a fly speed, it loses that form of movement.
Attacks: The broken one retains the natural attacks of the base animal, though the damage dealt by those attacks may be changed. Additionally, the broken one may now wield weapons as a humanoid would. A broken one that attacks with its natural weapons and wielded weapons in the same round suffers the normal –5 penalty, as if the wielded weapon were a secondary natural weapon. This penalty is reduced to –2 if the broken one has the Multiattack feat, which can be taken even if the broken one has less than three natural weapons. Obviously, a broken one that is carrying or wielding items cannot use its claw attacks or certain slam attacks. Broken ones are automatically proficient in the following weapons: dagger, sickle, club, halfspear, quarterstaff, shortspear, dart, sling, javelin, throwing axe, handaxe, greatclub, and shortbow.
Damage: The base damage dealt by a broken one’s natural weapons changes to the values described in the table below: Attack Type Damage Bite 1d4 Claw 1d4 Gore 1d6 Slam, Butt, Tail Slap, Hoof 1d3
Face/Reach: Changes to 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: The broken one retains any special attacks possessed by the base animal. Rake attacks use the altered claw damage listed above.
Special Qualities: The broken one retains any special qualities possessed by the base animal, and also gains those listed below.
- Fast Healing (Su): Broken ones have fast healing 1.
Abilities: Increase from the base animal as follows: Str +4, Dex –2, Con +8, Int +6, Cha +6.
Skills: Broken ones receive 12 extra skill points due to the awakening of their sentient minds. Any skills listed in the base animal’s statistics may be purchased as class skills with these extra skill points. The following skills may also be purchased as class skills if they are not already listed in the base animal’s entry: Animal Empathy, Balance, Climb, Craft, Handle Animal, Heal, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (nature), Listen, Move Silently, Spot, Swim, and Wilderness Lore. All other skills are considered cross-class skills of the purpose of spending these extra skill points. If the broken one later advances in a character class, its purchases skills as a normal character of that class would.
Feats: Broken ones gain the Alertness, Endurance, and Improved Initiative feats if they do not already possess them.
Climate/Terrain: Warm forest, hills, and mountains
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (3–6), band (7–12 plus 1 petty chief of 2nd-4th level), or tribe (20–30 plus 2 petty chiefs of 2nd-4th level and 1 chief of 5th-7th level)
Challenge Rating: As the base animal +1
Treasure: No coins; 50% goods (no metal objects); 50% items (no metal objects)
Alignment: Usually neutral evil
Advancement: By character class
Markovian Broken One Characters: A Markovian broken one’s Favored Class is Barbarian. Nearly all Markovian broken ones that advance in a character class are barbarians, though adepts, druids, and rangers have been known to occur. Other classes are virtually unheard of.