Neanderthals (also spelled Neandertals, scientific name either Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, as there is some debate as to whether it was either a distinct species or a subspecies) are one of the last known branches of the homo sapiens family tree to go extinct as modern humanity evolved. They were the dominant hominid within the areas that would later become Europe and the upper Mediterannean until the Upper Paleoithic, some 40,000 years ago, when Cro-Magnon Man, direct ancestor of Homo Sapiens Sapiens (that's you and me) came into contact with them. By the Mesolithic ice age, the Neanderthals were all gone. Why and how is something science is still trying to puzzle out.
Recent advances in genetic analysis have revealed that the genome of modern humans is 99.7% identical to the Neanderthal genome, with multiple genes in modern humans being indistinguishable from their Neanderthal counterparts. This has led to speculation about interbreeding between early modern humans and Neanderthals that might have occurred in the past, and the extent and timing of said interbreeding continues to be a topic of considerable debate among researchers.
Regardless, Neanderthals are generally regarded as the "caveman" species by fantasy writers, particularly pulp authors from the 40s and 50s, for looking more "primitive" than Cro-Magnon, but not full-on Frazetta Man like the older, smaller, and hairier hominids we've learned about over the decades. (This depiction may or may not be justified; some archaeologists believe that Neanderthals may have produced art and adornments such as beads and buried their dead, but their claims have been strongly disputed.)
For this, if nothing else, Neanderthals will always have a place deep in the hearts of the oldest of Old School Roleplaying neckbeards. After all, the Neanderthal has been suggested, if not used, as a model for the orc or even the dwarf for a fair while. Hell, even the D&D Hill Giant has long tapped into that "grunting, hairy, savage caveman" archetype popularized by the Neanderthals.
It should be no surprise that Neanderthals appeared as an actual Dungeons & Dragons PC race.
The first version, fitting with the Neanderthal's inspiration for Frazetta Man, appeared in the Hollow World sub-setting for Mystara in D&D Basic. Here, they were called simply "brute-men", capable of reaching 10th level in their own racial class and 4th level as both shamans and as wokani.
- Racial Ability Modifiers: +1 Constitution, -1 Intelligence (Minimums of 3s and maximums of 18s in all stats)
- Minimum Ability Scores: Strength 9, Constitution 9
- Prime Requisite: Strength - Strength 13+ for +5% to XP earned, Strength 16+ for +10% to XP earned
- Save As: Cleric of equivalent level
- Special Abilities: Never surprised in an Ambush, +1 on Individual Initiative checks, can detect secret doors/traps/hidden construction on a 1-3 of a d6 if they are disguised as natural objects.
- Cultural Melee Weapons: Hand-Axe, Dagger, Mace, Club, Blackjack, Throwing Hammer, Staff, Spear, Javelin
- Cultural Missile Weapons: Shortbow, Sling
- Cultural Armor: Leather Armor, No Shields
- Shamans can use axe, mace, club, blackjack, hammer, staff, leather armor
- Wokani can use dagger, club and staff
Experience Table: Level - XP Required - Hit Dice
- 1: 0 XP, 1d8 HD
- 2: 1,000 XP, 2d8 HD
- 3: 2,000 XP, 3d8 HD
- 4: 4,000 XP, 4d8 HD
- 5: 8,000 XP, 5d8 HD
- 6: 16,000 XP, 6d8 HD
- 7: 32,000 XP, 7d8 HD
- 8: 64,000 XP, 8d8 HD
- 9: 130,000 XP, 9d8 HD
- 10: 260,000 XP, 10d8 HD
Above 10th level, brute-men gain 1 general skill slot for every 520,000 XP earned.
Neanderthals didn't reappear until the 3rd edition splatbook Frostburn. This version of D&D Neanderthal isn't really anything special. Pretty bog-standard "winterlands-dwelling Noble Savage unfortunate primitives" fluff. Big, strong, savage but loyal human-offshoots: what more is there to say, really? Particularly when you take into account the...quality... of other races from similar environmental splats (see: Darfellan, Asherati).
- +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Dexterity, -2 Intelligence
- Base Land Speed 30 feet
- Primitive Weapon Mastery (Ex): +1 racial bonus on attack rolls made with the Boloas, Club, Dart, Greatclub, Goad, Harpoon, Iuak, Javelin, Longspear, Quarterstaff, Ritiik, Shortbow, Shortspear, Sling, Spear, Sugliin, Throwing Axe and Tigerskull Club.
- +2 racial bonus on Listen, Spot and Survival checks.
- Climate Tolerant (Ex): Neanderthals do not have to make Fortitude saves in environments between -20 degrees F and 140 degrees F. This does not provide protection from actual fire or cold damage. Neanderthals count as having the Cold Endurance feat for purposes of filling prerequisites.
- Human Blood: For all effects related to race, a Neanderthal is treated as being human.
- Illiteracy: A Neanderthal does not automatically know how to read and write. Must spend 2 skill points to gain the ability to read and write all languages he can speak.
- Favored Class: Barbarian
|Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Races|
|Basic Set:||Dwarf - Elf - Hobbit - Human|
|Creature Catalog 1:|| Brownie - Centaur - Dryad - Faun - Hsiao |
Leprechaun - Pixie - Pooka - Redcap - Sidhe
Sprite - Treant - Wood Imp - Wooddrake
|Creature Catalog 2:|| Faenare - Gnome - Gremlin - Harpy |
Nagpa - Pegataur - Sphinx - Tabi
|Creature Catalog 3:||Kna - Kopru - Merrow - Nixie - Triton|
|Dragon Magazine:|| Cayma - Gatorman - Lupin - N'djatwa |
Phanaton - Rakasta - Shazak - Wallara
|Hollow World:|| Beastman - Brute-Man - Hutaakan |
Krugel Orc - Kubbit - Malpheggi Lizard Man
|Known World:|| Bugbear - Goblin - Gnoll |
Hobgoblin - Kobold - Ogre - Troll