Monday 8 July 2024

The 1 HD Humanoid Winner-Stays-On Title Fight 2024

It is of great importance that we perform the following exercise.

The Contestants

The contestants are all of the 1 HD humanoids in the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual, with '1 HD' defined as anything that has a HD total starting with the integer 1 (so this would include goblins, with HD 1-1, and hobgoblins, with HD 1+1, but would not include kobolds, with 1/2 HD, or halflings, which do not have HD as such, but rather have 1d6 hp). Where there are separate stat blocks for different varieties of the same creature (for instance, hill and mountain dwarfs), each variety is represented. Where different varieties of the same creature have the same stat block (for instance, hobgoblins and koalinths), only the main variety is represented. Aquatic humanoids are prohibited entry.

The list of contestants is therefore:

1. Aaracokra 

2. Bullywug 

3. Hill dwarf

4. Mountain dwarf 

5. Duergar 

6. Elf 

7. Gibberling 

8. Rock gnome 

9. Tinker gnome 

10. Goblin 

11. Grippli 

12. Hobgoblin 

13. Mold man 

14. Myconid

15. Orc 

16. Tasloi

The Rules

The first two contestants are assigned at random and must fight to the death. The winner stays in the fighting pit to take on the next contestant (chosen at random). Each contestant is equipped with standard armour and weapon for its type.

Hit point totals for each contestant are generated at random.

Initiative rolls take place every round. A 'to hit' roll of 20 does double damage; a 'to hit' roll of 1 is a fumble. 

Special abilities may be used.


Round 1: Goblin vs Mountain Dwarf

The first two fighters enter the pit. The goblin (5 hp) wields a spear; the mountain dwarf (9 hp) a battle axe. They circle one another for a moment, warily. Suddenly the dwarf lunges forward with an ineffectual swipe; the goblin jabs out with a weak blow that glances off the dwarf's armour; they come apart once more. The crowd mutter testily at this ineptitude, and the dwarf - perhaps stung by these murmured aspersions cast on his technique - darts nimbly past the jabbing range of the goblin's spear and caves in the creature's skull with a single blow of his axe (8 hp damage).

Round 2: Mountain Dwarf vs Orc

The mountain dwarf kicks the goblin corpse to one side and its brains smear across the floor of the pit. A newcomer, the orc (7 hp), carefully strides over the mess, swinging his flail. Once again, the fight begins slowly as the two opponents test each other's defences, probing at each other with feints and false movements. But just as the crowd is settling down for a long encounter, the orc, focused on his enemy, slips in some goblin brains and fumbles his flail, sending it clattering to the floor. The mountain dwarf seizes the advantage and drives his axe into the orc's torso (6 hp damage) and then, as it sinks to its knees and scrabbles for its weapon, shatters its spine with an overhead blow (critical hit, 5 hp damage x 2).

Round 3: Mountain Dwarf vs Duergar

Now the mountain dwarf's true arch enemy enters the pit: a duergar (7 hp), wielding a war pick and shield. Judging that his foe must now be tired from his previous bouts, the duergar adopts a fresh tactic, marching forward directly to go toe-to-toe with the enemy. The two flail at each other. First the duergar is nearly felled by a great axe blow to the head that dents his helmet inwards and nigh breaks his skull (6 hp damage), but then the mountain dwarf is wounded for the first time by a ferocious swing of the duergar's war pick that pounds into his side (3 hp damage). More lusty blows are traded; both dwarfs take repeated heavy hits to their shields and armour. But then, at the last, the mountain dwarf is once again triumphant, suddenly shifting the focus of his attacks to the legs and taking out the duergar's knees with an artery-severing slice (4 hp damage) which makes black duergar blood spew out onto the stone.

Round 4: Mountain Dwarf vs Hobgoblin

A hobgoblin (9 hp), burly and orange, descends to the whoops and jeers of the audience. He wields a halberd, and strides forward confidently into the duel, his intention simply to overcome his opponent with brute force. Those watching bray for ultraviolence: halberd against axe; chopping and slicing and the severing of limbs or, preferably heads. What they get initially, however, is a grotesque display of incompetence. Both fighters repeatedly pound on each other's armour or, more often, simply at the air itself - not one, but both manage to fumble and drop their weapons only to be reprieved by the failure of their opponent to press the advantage. Eventually, and to the hoots of the derision of the audience, first blood goes to the dwarf when, for the second time, the hobgoblin drops his halberd, and is cut ineffectually by the dwarf's battle axe across the forehead (1 hp damage). He is then sliced again at the shoulder as he seizes up his weapon once more (1 hp damage). Those watching let up a great cackle of scornful laughter - but this suddenly transforms into a loud cheer as the hobgoblin recovers his composure and, with a deft touch, skewers the dwarf through the spleen and forces him to rapidly bleed out in a gurgling ruin on the floor (critical hit: 10 hp damage).

Round 5: Hobgoblin vs Gibberling

The hobgoblin lifts his halberd into the air and roars in triumph. But the next participant is already in the pit - a gibberling (6 hp) stopping only for a brief moment to lunge to the ground to lick up some of the gore and offal that has been spilled in previous fights. This time, no time is wasted. The gibberling flings itself at the hobgoblin and, with its short sword, subjects the orange enemy to repeated, violent stabs, one of which penetrates armor and bites into flesh (5 hp damage). But summoning up all its remaining strength even as its blood pours free of its torso, the hobgoblin wrestles the gibberling to the ground and staves in its face with slamming motions from the steeled pommel of its halberd (7 hp damage). The fight is over almost as soon as it has started; the crowd are unsure whether the appropriate emotional response is disappointment or glee.

Round 6: Hobgoblin vs Myconid

As the noise from the audience simmers down an altogether different aspect is brought to proceedings as the hobgoblin staggers, grievously wounded, into the middle of the pit to face its enemy - a fungus man (6 hp), moving with the alien gracility of animated chitin. Expressionless, it creeps forward as the hobgoblin circles it. The hobgoblin swings and stabs; the myconid buffets these blows aside with its deceptively dextrous fists. then pounds weakly on its enemy's armour to no avail. Then, trying a different tack, the walking fungus grasps the shaft of the halberd and draws the hobgoblin into its embrace; a brief struggle ensues, but the wounded goblinoid is no match for the pitiless strength of the fungal kingdom, and soon it lies dead, strangled and finally stomped on the floor (3 hp damage).

Round 7: Myconid vs Tasloi

Whether the fungus man is wounded or tired is not within the wit of the audience to discern. Unfeelingly, it turns from the hobgoblin's twitching corpse to regard a tasloi (5 hp), which has crept quietly into the ring on padding feet, wielding a javelin and shield. The audience is quiet now: an altogether different type of combat is here promised. The two opponents watch one another. Then the tasloi darts forward, and skewers the fungus man in the leg (1 hp damage) before ducking away from the myconid's fists. The enemies once again hold themselves still, some yards apart, motionless and silent. Most of the audience is enrapt; others, impatient, yell grumbles and insults. The fights remain statuesque. Then the tasloi once more darts forward with startling rapidity. But the myconid has anticipated its movements perfectly! With a single blow it swipes the ape-like target aside, snapping its neck (5 hp damage), and its corpse lands with a crunching thud some distance away, utterly inert.

Round 8: Myconid vs Mold Man

But now there is a hubbub of approval from the audience as the next fighter - a mold man (8 hp) enters the pit, and a battle is promised between the two branches of the fungal kingdom itself. Neither betrays any emotion as the fight begins. Yet clearly pitless hatred is at stake. In the very moment that battle is joined the enemies force all of their strength against one another: the vegepygmy thrusts its spear into the body of the myconid (4 hp damage) and the fungus man, ignoring whatever pain it may feel, simply uses the shaft of the weapon to tug its owner closer so that it can batter him brutally about the head (4 hp damge). No mercy is sought, or given, in this straightforward battle to the end; the vegepygmy, despite its wounds, simply twists and jerks its spear until the myconid's body is rent asunder and it collapses to the ground (3 hp). 

Round 9: Mold Man vs Elf

The cold-bloodedness of the confrontation has shocked the audience but a cheer goes up as the elf (8 hp), wielding a longsword, strides confidently into the pit. And his swagger is justified. With a single sidestep and thrusting motion he simply dispatches the vegepygmy - the lightest of touches being enough to nearly seperate its head from its body by slicing delicately through its throat.

Round 10: Elf vs Rock Gnome

Barely have the spectators had the chance to digest what has happened in the previous bout that they are compelled into gales of laughter as the next commences. A tiny, frail and decrepit rock gnome (1 hp) has assayed forth - surely, the spectators think, this tale will not be long in the telling. But no! The elf, clearly buoyed by overconfidence, drops his weapon in the initial clash and the gnome is able to deliver a lusty blow with his warhammer that, were it an inch or so to the right, would have succeeded in braining the bigger opponent completely. As it is, the elf suffers a serious but survivable blow (6 hp) and manages to seize up his sword so as to finish what ought to have been a much simpler fight by simply hacking the gnome about the body (5 hp damage). 

Round 11: Elf vs Tinker Gnome

Crestfallen, the elf clearly has no stomach left for the fight, and the catcalls and jeers of the audience have left his confidence shattered despite his victories. And he faces, in the form of a tinker gnome (3 hp), an enemy who is clearly imbued with the desire for revenge. The dispatch is quick and expedient: the gnome slips beneath the elf's slashing longsword and jabs his shortsword into his larger opponent's groin: the elf's lifeblood jets out from its severed femoral artery and he expires with a long, pained and sorrowful gasp. The audience break out into spontaneous applause at this, deeming it good and necessary work; the tinker gnome beams with grim satisfaction.

Round 12: Tinker Gnome vs Grippli

But the tourney is not over and a frog-man (8 hp) creeps forth, wielding a cutlass. It examines the tinker gnome with predatory amphibian coldness, and then lurches forward. The two diminutive enemies clash - jabbing and cutting and thrusting at one another with their small but deadly blades. The grippli is left badly wounded by a gaping slice in its side (6 hp damage); it croaks in fury and backs away. The audience cheer: this tinker gnome, small though he may be, has proved himself to their liking. Given greater strenght and purpose by their support, the tinker gnome presses his advantage. He is badly cut about the face (1 hp damage) by the grippli's cutlass - but he finishes the frog-man in style, thrusting his short sword into its mouth and thereby into its brain, killing it instantly (4 hp damage).

Round 13: Tinker Gnome vs Aaracokra

The spectators stand to applaud their hero even as the Aaracokra (7 hp), wielding a javelin, swoops down to occupy the centre of the pit. The applause turns to boos and jeers; the audience are behind the underdog, now, and immediately make clear their demand for an upset. The bird man cackles and flaps its wing-arms confidently, sure that it will frustrate them and happy to take on the role of heel. But no! This tinker gnome is skilled, strong, and blessed by his gods with fortune - no sooner have he and the aaracokra commenced battle than he is driving his bloodied blade into its very heart with the single upwards thrust of an execution (critical hit - 10 hp damage). [I didn't fudge any rolls, I swear.]

Round 14: Tinker Gnome vs Bullywug

Wild cheers break out as the tinker gnome raises its blade in the air in triumph. Now comes forth another frog-man, though of a more upright and malevolent sort: a bullywug (5 hp), naked but armed with shield and sword. It licks its own teeth and the fight begins - gnome and bullywug alike slashing and stabbing but failing to cause harm. They come apart once more, panting and gasping; the spectators shout encouragement to their champion. Again the fight is joined; again no harm is done except to the strength and vitality of the fighters' sword arms; again a moment of respite as they catch their breath. A third time they come together for the kill; this time, though, a gasp of horror from the audience as the tinker gnome's blade is forced from his grasp! The bullwug, sensing victory, ignores the shrieks from the spectators and slashes and swings at the tinker gnome's wildly squirming form. Surely now the audience's favourite is done for? But somehow he manages to seize up his weapon once again and escape harm. And then, at the fifth entanglement, he wins - sidestepping a thrust from the bullywug and cutting out its throat in the same darting movement (5 hp damage).

Round 15: Tinker Gnome vs Hill Dwarf

A chant goes up; the audience sense a great upset, perhaps the greatest upset in the history of melee combat, in the offing. The tinker gnome is hurt, tired, but flushed with the joy of victory in battle; his last opponent is a hill dwarf (6 hp), fully armoured and wielding a mighty warhammer. The dwarf will make none of the errors of his predecessors; he will underestimate the tinker gnome not one iota. He is wary - too wary! The tinker gnome's skilled blade once more draws blood, and draws deep (4 hp damage). The crowd's cheers grow louder still - they are certain now that victory will go to their hero. Can he succeed in the final push? Can he vanquish this last opponent, and seize the trophy? Can he upend all expectations, and deliver the mightiest of surprises to whatever proud dieties have arrogated for themselves the right to convene this tournament? No. The hill dwarf quickly dispatches him with his warhammer...and the tournament is ended.



  1. The strategy here is to show up as late as possible to the party, same as a wedding reception.

  2. Mountain Dwarf was a hero. Fight! Fight! Fight!

  3. I agree that going later is the key to victory, since wounds inflicted in one bout carry over into the next. If there were no criticals nor fumbles, things would've been very different!

  4. At 1st level, AC is king. As soon as I saw 'fully armoured', I knew that gnome's hot streak was about to come to an end!