Knight of the Iguana: Playable reptile men for TFT

“I am the Lizard King. I can do anything.”

— Jim Morrison


One of things that always drew me to the Fantasy Trip was its flexibility. Heroes with spells? Check. Wizards with broadswords or healing skills? No problem. So I was a little disappointed when the player races in the new revision removed the reptile man from the list. So let’s take a look at how we can make the reptile-folk a fair player race, and a few ways to make them even more interesting.


Reptile Rules

Not to obsess about ‘game balance’, but it would be difficult to compare the TFT reptile man as written with a typical starting character. The statistics are equal, but the reptile man gains +2 damage for its claws, DOUBLE the HTH damage, and an extra attack for their tail. The only offset is a -1 reaction penalty.

If we use the Drawback system outlined here, we can give them Outsider (minor social hindrance) to reflect how society sees them. And since they are cold-blooded, we could make them Vulnerable to cold (minor physical hindrance) to better offset their other advantages.

New Racial Drawback: Vulnerability (minor physical) reflects that a figure has a particular weakness to a particular element. All effects (attacks or environmental) form, this element are doubled, and the figure seeks to being in its presence. For example, a figure vulnerable to cold would take twice the damage from cold-based attacks and face twice the ST loss from being exposed in a cold environment without the Woodsman talent. Particularly common vulnerabilities (like fire or steel) should be considered major Drawbacks.

This would better offset the benefit of the +2 damage with their claws. One could also argue that merely having long claws could give you the All-Thumbs (minor handicap) Drawback.

As far as their other combat abilities, we can use a variation of Unarmed Combat, using the Kick rules for the tail attack, but only for side and rear hexes.

New Racial Talent (IQ 9): Natural Weapon Training (2) This is the ability to use the saurian’s claws and tail as effective combat weapons. A figure with this skill can:

  • Claw. Does +1 damage with bare hands in either HTH or regular combat. If their base bare-hands damage is 1d-1, they do 1d. This stacks with the +2 claw bonus.
  • Tail swipe. In regular combat, roll to hit at -4 DX, but do +2 damage compared to your bare-hands attack to an enemy in a side or rear hex. If used along with another attack, both attacks are at -4 DX.

This stacks with other unarmed combat talents, but does not require the figure to be unarmored in itself.


Scaled Society

The saurians are a race apart from most of the peoples of the world. They share little with their small, soft colleagues and care about them little more. Early saurian history was plagued by violence and warfare, with no check on the naturally aggressive nature of the species. This kept them primitive and desperate in a constant struggle to survive.

This changed with the arrival of the philosopher Xi and his ‘Path of Shifting Stones’, which taught the saurians to question before acting. Following the Path has transformed a primal, rapacious people into a thoughtful and disciplined one, and has greatly increased their contact with other races.

The main tenets of the Path is internal discipline and examining the repercussions of an action before taking it. This also involves meditation and precise movement drills designed enhance internal balance. Outwardly, this makes the saurians appear slow, distracted and unconcerned with the small matters of the day. But do not confuse this with indecision, because once committed a saurian will follow a course to its conclusion regardless of opposition.

Nor has this completely reined in their natural aggression. A saurian may lash out against assaults to its possessions, or even its pride, with a violence few others can match.

Saurians are largely solitary, and their communities are often little more than trading camps. Their technology is not up to the level of other races, but they are quite gifted at wringing every bit of value out of their environment. Their weavers, herbalists, fishers, and hunters have secrets unrivaled by more civilized peoples.

They have also mastered the use of volcanic obisidian in tool- and weapon-making. These extremely sharp weapons do an additional +1 damage, but will be unrepairable broken on a roll of 17 or 18. Saurian Sha-ken are widely sought out by all.

The typical saurian stands 7-feet tall and is covered in green and mottled brown scales similar to the colors of its home environment. There is little difference between the sexes, but the males have a larger crest on their heads that can be brightly colored, or ornamented with gems. Couplers share the duties of child-rearing, but once a saurian has matured (in 5-7 years) the couples usually separate and leave the offspring to fend for themselves. The Path teaches that these bonds must be respected, but there is little family life beyond maturity.

Saurian Starting package (Hero)
ST12 (+0), DX10 (+2), IQ11 (+2) Talents: Natural Weapon Training (2), Thrown Weapons (2), Sha-ken (1), Common Tongue (1), Toughness (2), Naturalist (2) . Suggested advancements include Woodsman, Climbing, Unarmed Combat II-V.

Saurian Specialists

Some reptile men have adapted to their environment in very specific ways. While not entirely different species, these regional variations can provide interesting flavor to reptilian encounters.

Guarrans are hardy, heavily-scaled saurians from dry steppes and desert lands. Dun-colored and covered in thick plates, their hides act as AD1 against attacks and they can go twice as long without water before losing ST. Their MA is only 8.

Varani are smaller, quick-moving saurians adapted to forests and wetlands. They gain the climbing talent for free, and can use their tongues as keen senses even in total darkness. The Varani are the most social of the saurians and have been known to hunt in packs. Their starting ST is 10.

Khamm’do are the largest of the saurians, and are found in the most fetid swampy regions. They are primitive even by saurian standards, and rarely use tools or weapons at all. They use their fearsome jaws in combat (-2DX to hit, ST-2 damage), and their bite is painfully poisonous. Those bitten must succeed in 3d/ST save or lose -2DX for one day or until treated by a physicker. In addition to their bite, the khamm’do are also extremely foul-smelling.


  1. What do you mean “the player races in the new revision removed the reptile man from the list.”? Seems to me that they are still there, but their starting ST was nerfed, perhaps to satisfy the new gods of “balance” and/or “simplicity”. But they seem to have been nerfed for PCs, not removed as a PC option.

    Similarly for Gargoyles, though in that case, normal non-PC gargoyles as are summoned or listed in Melee or Death Test still start at ST 20.

    But they left out the typical stats for non-PC Reptile Men, while not changing the description or body weight or the example in Tollenkar’s Lair.

    My conclusion is that most Reptile Men, like most Garygoyles, would still be their original TFT ST, and that the suggestion is to start PC ones as particularly weak specimens for their species (maybe adolescents). But of course GMs can and should do whatever they want.

    Having included the original ST +4 Reptile Men in my original TFT campaign, and seen them in action in others, I don’t really see any reason to nerf them to 32 points unless you want to balance their use in something like Death Test. I think trying to make everything be 32 points needlessly waters down the otherwise interesting distinctions between species.

    Developing Reptile Men further for a campaign can of course be a very fun and interesting thing to do, and it’s great you’ve developed and shared this.

    • They (along with gargoyles) got moved to the ‘Humanoid races’ section of creatures and out of the character creation section. Like old-school polearms, the 2X damage for HTH is pretty powerful, and I would have a hard time with players ripping enemies to pieces.

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