Dungeon Fantasy RPG character: Leonidas of Nemea, Cat-Folk barbarian

Hey, look! It’s a fully-fledged character for Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game—or GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, with maybe a small tweak or two.

Yes, you’re looking at a cat-folk—a lion-folk, that is!—with He-Man’s goofy pageboy haircut instead of a noble mane. There’s a reason for that…

Leonidas of Nemea

250-Point Cat-Folk Barbarian

The dry plains of far-away Nemea are home to cat-folk—fierce, strapping lion-folk, in fact. And at six and a half feet in height and 250 pounds, the lion-boy Leonidas stands tall even among…

Wait a second. Isn’t “Leonidas” just too twee a name for a warrior lion? Yes, it would seem so—but this young pride-leader has taken the name for a reason. Goblin-kin slavers, knowing that cat-folk make better fighters than workers, captured the warrior, his mates, and their cubs for use as front-line fodder in dungeon raids. During a confused retreat from a cursed chamber, the lion-boy broke his chains and turned on his captors—but failed to free his family before he succumbed to hobgoblin clubs and was left for dead.

Until the young warrior can rescue or avenge his mates and cubs, he subjects himself to an embarrassing human name and ridiculous cropped mane. (It’s a lion-folk thing.) Leonidas is normally affable and willing to partner with others, especially those with abilities he lacks. He’s open with comrades, and purrs when pleased. But sudden growls and tail-switching make it clear that this lion does not care for mockery of cat-folk or of his quest—including his adopted name. (“Watch yourself, friend. The name is not Simba, or Lion-O, or He-Cat, or Purr-cules, or Conyan the Furbarian, or Leo of Ne-meow-a. It’s Leonidas of Nemea.”) And the claws always come out when goblin-kin are about.

Unfortunately, Leonidas has found himself on a cold trail. He delves to earn coin for travel and news-gathering, and to search dungeons for the claw-scratched messages he knows his family will leave. He marks walls with messages of his own, and will keep hunting the slavers above ground and below, until he finds his kin and regains his pride.


ST 17 [70]; DX 13 [60]; IQ 10 [0]; HT 13 [30].

Secondary Characteristics

Damage 2d-1/3d+1; BL 58 lbs.; HP 22 [10]; Will 10 [0]; Per 13 [15]; FP 13 [0]; Basic Speed 6.00 [-10]; Basic Move 6 [0]; Move 6.

Dodge 10*; Parry 15* (Quarterstaff), 10* (Brawling), 10* (Wrestling); Block N/A.

* Includes +1 for Combat Reflexes.


  • Combat Reflexes [15]
  • Fearlessness 2 [4]
  • Hard to Kill 1 [2]
  • High Pain Threshold [10] 
  • Outdoorsman 2 [20]
  • Night Vision 5 [5]
  • Penetrating Voice [1]
  • Sharp Claws [5]
  • Sharp Teeth [1]
  • Striking ST 2 [10]
  • Temperature Tolerance 1 (Cold) [1]
  • Temperature Tolerance 1 (Heat) [1]
  • Tough Skin 2 [6]


  • Easy to Read [-10] 
  • Impulsiveness (12) [-10]
  • Intolerance (Goblin-kin) [-5]
  • Phobia (Entering Water) (15) [-2]
  • Social Stigma (Minority Group) [-10] 
  • Vow (Rescue or avenge family) [-5]
  • Wealth (Struggling) [-10]
  • Good-natured despite plight, but proud on matters of cat-folk and honor. [-1]
  • Will not reveal his real name or restore his mane until he fulfills his vow. [-1]
  • Has many self-doubts, but dislikes showing weakness. [-1]
  • Plays simple flute tunes (his mates’ favorites) during downtime. [-1]
  • Often wakes from a dream in which his family follows his messages and the sound of his flute to freedom. [-1] 


 Tail (not prehensile, and easily tucked into armor). 


  • Bolas-14 [4]
  • Brawling-13 [1]
  • Camouflage-12* [1]
  • Climbing-12 [1]
  • Current Affairs-10 [1]
  • Detect Lies-11 [1]
  • Forced Entry-13 [1]
  • Gesture-10 [1]
  • Hiking-12 [1]
  • Interrogation-11 [4]
  • Intimidation-10 [2]
  • Musical Instrument (Flute)-8 [1]
  • Naturalist-10* [1]
  • Navigation-12* [2]
  • Observation-12 [1]
  • Running-12 [1]
  • Shadowing-9 [1]
  • Staff-18 [20]
  • Stealth-13 [2]
  • Survival (Plains)-14* [1]
  • Tracking-14* [1]
  • Wrestling-13 [2]

* Includes +2 for Outdoorsman.


$500, 43.04 lbs. (No encumbrance)

  • Bolas x2. 2d-2 cr, Acc 0, Range 57, Shots T(1), Bulk -2. $40, 4 lb.
  • Canteen, Full. 1 quart water. $10, 3 lbs. 
  • Clothing. $0, 2 lbs. 
  • Coins. 2 silver, 10 copper. $50, 0.24 lb.
  • Flute. $40, 1 lb.
  • Heavy Leather Armor, Body and Arms. DR 2 (total DR 4). $233, 18.6 lbs. 
  • Quarterstaff, Fine. 3d+3 cr (reach 1, 2) or 2d+1 cr (reach 1, 2). $30, 4 lbs. 
  • Personal Basics. $5, 1 lb.
  • Pouch. Holds coins, personal basics. $10, 0.2 lb.
  • Rations, 6 meals. $12, 3 lbs.
  • Rope, 3/8″, 20 yards. $10, 3 lbs. (For tying up orcs!)
  • Small Backpack. Holds rope, flute, rations. $60, 3 lbs. 


Design Notes: Leonidas of Nemea

Leonidas’ design begins with a reworking of the cat-folk template. Bigger and less lithe than their more familiar cousins, lion-folk remove the template’s -1 ST, +1 DX, and Catfall. In return, they gain the lion-like traits Tough Skin 1, Penetrating Voice, and Temperature Tolerance 1 (Heat)—which, with the template’s existing Temperature Tolerance 1 (Cold), means lion-folk stay comfortable in a wide range of climates. As a stand-alone template, Lion-Folk is worth 25 points. (Note that Monsters also gives lions Flexibility [5]; consider that a reasonable option for lion-folk, and even more so for the smaller, more agile cat-folk.) 

Driven by his personal quest (and with GM permission), Leonidas replaces his racial Laziness with Vow and Intolerance. He goes beyond the norm in hatred of goblin-kin, even toward “civilized” individuals and half-goblin-folk (though the GM may let him lessen this to quirk-level dislike toward half-orcs and half-ogres who are proven adventuring comrades). Leonidas’ Vow itself, meanwhile, nets a low point value as the course it sets him on isn’t terribly different from what an adventurer would be doing anyway. But as he gets closer to his target, it could become a higher-value Vow or even Obsession.

Extra Will would nicely represent Leonidas’ determination to fulfill his quest, but would be a poor choice from an efficiency standpoint: a level of IQ would offer more than a combined level of Will, Per, and Outdoorsman, for the same cost. For now, Leonidas skips Will, and lets the barbarian staples of Fearlessness and Hard to Kill model his doggedness. (“Cat-tedness”, he corrects. Sorry.)

Leonidas supplements his racial level of Tough Skin with another level from the barbarian template. As small tweaks to that template, Leonidas drops Swimming and Fishing (water stuff; no thanks!), Mimicry and Disguise (such tricks are fine for tiger-folk, not proper lion-folk!), and Weather Sense (not much use for that on the veldt, where “hot and sunny again tomorrow” is the perpetual forecast). He may want to buy back some of those skills in the future, though, as without them he’s getting low mileage from his Outdoorsman advantage.

For now, Leonidas uses saved points and quirk points to pick up Current Affairs, Detect Lies, Interrogation, and Shadowing, and uses template options to take Climbing, Forced Entry, Gesture, and Observation—all skills to help him track down, get his hands on, and squeeze information from goblins. Musical Instrument affords him a hobby (even if it’ll never earn him coin at the inns).

On the fighting side of things, Leonidas strays from the template a bit to choose the traditional lion-folk weapons of staff and bolas, good choices for defense and for capturing orcs alive. He can use spears and polearms at decent defaults when armored hobgoblins or big dungeon monsters call for heavier armament.

Leonidas knows that poor planning (Impulsiveness) has left him on a cold trail (and maybe botched his escape to begin with). He wishes he had his parents’ unmatched wisdom, will, courage, and tooth-and-claw skills (Leonidas’ Brawling is too low for a damage bonus). While the lion-boy has become an experienced interrogator, he’s found that the Common tongue and Gesture aren’t always enough for dealing with goblin-kin captives; he hopes to learn their language and their tribal insignia (Heraldry), as well as Knot-Tying (orcs have slipped out of his ropes in the past). And finally, Leonidas is painfully aware that he hasn’t yet developed the leadership ability that he’ll need when he returns to the clan with his rescued kin. All of these suggest future power-ups for Leonidas, as well as the abilities he’ll look for in adventuring companions.

Customizing the design

To make Leonidas a deadlier fighter, replace Staff with Polearm or Two-Handed Axe/Mace, skills suited to high ST. Or to make up for the loss of Staff’s defensive prowess, choose one of the barbarian template’s weapon and shield options. Bolas can be replaced with a more lethal ranged skill from the template. Putting points into Trademark Move, Weapon Bond, and added weapon skills will further boost combat effectiveness. (Keep in mind that expensive weapons may require Leonidas to give up his pricey armor or find more coin.)

Looking at disadvantages, Easy to Read could be replaced with a more dramatic disadvantage like Berserk. Social Stigma (Minority Group) could become Social Stigma (Savage) if the GM wants to make lion-folk feared in the game world.

Finally, changes will be in order if Leonidas completes his quest. His Intolerance would likely remain, but Vow should be replaced with Code of Honor (Lion-Folk) [-5]—something fairly simple, like “Uphold cat-folk and lion-folk honor; gain personal honor by protecting the clan; humble yourself in name and appearance while personal honor is lost”. And once his Vow is behind him, Leonidas might even embrace the return of proper feline Laziness (hakuna catata, the lions call it).

A note on the Outdoorsman talent: If you go by my suggestions in Tiny GURPS idea: A better Outdoorsman, you may want to boost this DFRPG talent with a tenth skill. I’d suggest extending Outdoorsman to also cover Hiking, which would boost Leo’s skill to Hiking-14, a respectable level for a walker of the wide savannah. (You might even want to put together a wholly different set of 10 outdoor skills, as discussed in the article.)


Interesting character? Or save this one for the circus? You tell me.

Header image: Don’t mind the art quality. For a quick sketch on an iPhone, it’ll have to do. (Also, it’s only the second shot at a pic. You shoulda seen the first, begun without even a peek at how the sketching software works. It’s hilarious.)


  • uE5Xg9p2

    Amusing and interesting!  Do you put this much descriptive work into all your characters?  It’s certainly a quality write-up.

    • tbone

      Thanks! I think the main reason for the detail – beyond the usual over-writing – is that I had this guy stray from both his racial and professional templates a fair amount, requiring explanation. Plus, writing things up made me take note of his many shortcomings as a cat on a specific mission (and as an adventurer in general). Those are worth pointing out.

      Incidentally, although I’m not that familar with the source material, I think the character idea took a little subconscious inspiration from your ThunderCats writeups!

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