Professor George Edward Challenger

Professor Challenger, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and other stories, properly belongs to the years immediately following the Victorian Era, when he began his expeditions that led eventually to the lost plateau of Maple White Land in the Amazonian jungles. However, it is probable that Challenger was active in London toward the end of the 19th century as well, bull-headedly making enemies among the scientific community with his insistences that only the superior intellect of G.E.C. was equal to the task of unlocking the secrets of man's evolution.

Challenger was, it appears, somewhat of a Renaissance man in the sciences. His main field seemed to be anthropology, but palaeontology, zoology, anatomy and various other related fields, as well as several non-related, were within his scope of knowledge.

Challenger was an ape of a man - short, squat, muscular body, bullish neck, thick Assyrian beard that seemed to merge with the growth of hair from his chest. His strength matched his intellect and he was known to throw intruders bodily from his home. He disliked reporters in particular and anyone in general who failed to acknowledge his genius.

Should Challenger encounter a character from another era, especially the far past or the future, he will probably grab the character's skull, oblivious to any protests by his victim, muttering about the amazing differences from the normal skull and that G.E.C. has made another stupendous scientific discovery.

If attacked, Challenger is more than capable of holding his own with up to half a dozen attackers, provided they are average in physique and do not use weapons.

Written by William A. Barton


Professor George Edward Challenger, a brilliant, fearless, larger-than-life scientist whose daring exploits and discoveries take him around the world. He is accompanied on these voyages by newspaperman Edward Malone who, like Dr. Watson, records the tales of his eccentric companion. Physically Challenger is a short, solid, ingenious man with drooping eyes, bushy brows, bellowing voice and great black beard. A scientific jack-of-all-trades, his ingenuity can be counted upon to solve any problem or get out of any unsavoury situation, and be sure to offend and insult several other people in the process.

Written by Damian Gordon



16th–level Fighter with special Sage abilities

ALIGNMENT: Lawful neutral
HIT POINTS: 50 [136]*
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2/1 [7/2]**
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-6 (+4) [1-6 (+6)]**
HIT BONUS: +2 [+3]**
MOVE: 12”

Born in Largs, Scotland, in 1863, George Edward Challenger was perhaps one of the most underrated scientific brains of the 19th century. Educated in Edinburgh and further trained at the British Museum, Challenger’s personality quickly pushed him into the field of independent research. Through published papers, scientific debates (often distinguished by their violence) and extensive travels, he gained the notice of the scientific and public worlds.

His most famous and well documented exploit was the expedition he led to South America. From there, he and 3 others returned with conclusive proof and eyewitness accounts of a lost plateau populated by prehistoric life. His semi-accurate prediction that the earth was to pass through a poisonous belt of ether certainly did much to gain him the awe and respect of the public. However, irritated by what he thought were the attentions of idiots, Professor Challenger gradually withdrew from the general populace, eventually involving only himself and selected companions in his experiments. He was quickly forgotten.

In combat, Professor Challenger prefers to rely on his brute strength and surprising speed. When encountered, he will typically carry no more than a hunting knife or a machete (treat as a short sword), but there is a 25% chance that he will have an express hunting rifle with him. This weapon will do 2-12 points of damage each time it hits and the maximum range is 300 yards. Challenger may fire up to 4 shots per round. There is a 5% chance cumulative each round that he will run out of ammunition. In melee, Challenger will prefer to fight unarmed, and with his fists he can do 1-6 points of damage. However, he will not foolishly risk his life to do so.

Professor Challenger’s genius gives him abilities much like a sage. However. his mental prowess is such that in his special categories he does not require a library and may answer most general or specific questions in but a few moments. Exacting questions may require from a few hours to a day of study. His chance to answer any question in his specific areas is 80%. His special areas of study are all fauna and human biology. His minor fields are astronomy, chemistry, geology and mineralogy, physics, all flora, human languages, medicine, demi-human biology, humanoid & giantkind biology. Through his studies he has acquired certain spell-like abilities (although all scientific in his case) usable once per day. These are Cure light wounds, Cure serious wounds and Cure disease (NB: Cure Moderate Wounds, Cure Disease, Repair Injury).

Challenger’s personality, however, makes him extremely difficult to get along with. He is vain and egotistical, intolerant of the slightest criticism. If slighted, he is liable to respond with verbal abuse or physical violence. He is extremely solitary and secretive and resents intruders, assistants and followers. These he has been known to throw down stairs, wrestle with, or physically carry out of his house. He also considers all other people to be of lesser intelligence or ability to him and will treat these people in the most irritating and condescending manner. In general, the world is populated by boobs and idiots, according to the Professor. However, Challenger is normally courteous to women (provided they don’t interfere) and will be a strong and true supporter of those who can tolerate him. His Charisma score is listed as 16 primarily because of his ability to compel the attention of others and have his wishes normally acted upon. He has a strong degree of “animal magnetism” which is especially noticeable to members of primitive cultures. These groups will often concede to him a position of importance or honor on the basis of his personality alone.

Professor Challenger cuts an almost ridiculous appearance, being short but extremely broad-chested and muscular (he is often likened to a bull). He has thick, black hair covering his back and arms; a heavy, bushy beard; large, dark eyebrows; and coarse hair. His face is often florid or ruddy in color. His arms are unusually long, and this lends to him the appearance of some sort of ape or monkey. His movements are, however, quite quick. His voice is deep and normally very loud. His most distinctive facial feature is his high-domed forehead.

Written by David Cook

* As a 16th level Fighter with 18 Constitution, Professor Challenger has a minimum HTK of 66 and a maximum HTK of 147. In my games I allow Constitution bonuses at all levels, so he’d have a maximum HTK of 175 in a game I’d run. I used an average just under 80% to give him a more realistic and heroic 136 HTK. This works well in my games and is still within general AD&D limits.

** I have adjusted Professor Challenger’s unarmed combat to reflect his advanced level and specialisation in brawling.


The job of quantifying the milieu of a technological world, such as the Victorian Era, in AD&D 2nd Edition terms is difficult but rewarding. The best treatments of the subject are found in issues #57 and #100 of Dragon Magazine. In the respective articles “Modern Monsters: The Perils of 20th-Century Adventuring” - By Ed Greenwood and “The City Beyond the Gate” - By Robert Schroeck.


Magic works in “our world”, though with significant limitations. The world of Modern Monsters is remote in dimensional terms from the more magical realms of the multi-verse.

Thus, clerics will be completely out of touch with their deities and their servants, and subsequently will not be able to regain spells above second level. There may be problems obtaining material components for spells, and substitutions may result in interesting alterations of spell effects at the DM’s option. Summoning spells tend to fail and woe betide the wizard that looses his spell books.

The casting times of all spells are increased one category: segments become rounds, rounds become turns, turns become hours, hours become days. Note that this radically alters the usefulness of some spells. Feather fall, for example, can be used to float gently from the top of a cliff to the ground far below, but is not likely to help someone who is already plummeting earthward.

Modern humans will generally be 1st- or 2nd-level fighters, thieves and maybe even bards or preacher clerics. They have their physical abilities rolled on 3d6 each. No special systems may be used. This reflects the generally sedentary and non-combative nature of most peoples lives and upbringing. As well as the low overall magical nature of the Modern Monsters world.

Police and security officers will generally be the equivalent of 2nd- to 4th-level fighters. SWAT teams, military forces, professional mercenaries, and the like will range from 5th- to 8th-level in the fighter class. Thieves of all levels up to 14th will be found. The higher the thief’s level, the rarer and more specialised will be the individual in question. For example, thieves of 10th level and up in the modern world will often be sophisticated cat burglars or jewellery thieves a la “The Phantom” (Sir Charles Lytton - David Niven).

The most common weapons to be encountered in the modern world are knives, night-sticks (as club), machetes (as short sword) and handguns. Treat knives as daggers, adjusting damage to fit blade size. The standard switchblade knife has an eight-inch blade. The blades of folding (pocket) knives range from three to seven inches. Combat and hunting knives range from six to eighteen.

One of the unusual characteristic of firearms is their ability to ignore armour. Any firearm may ignore the portion of a target's AC that is derived from physical armour or shield. At short range, Dexterity, cover, and magical bonuses are the only factors that contribute to a target's AC. At medium range, the target's base AC is penalised by 5 (which may be as bad as ignoring it altogether), and at long range, the base AC is penalised by 2.

For example, a renegade knight in plate mail +3 is fired upon by the king's musketeers. Normally, his AC is a base 0. A short-range musket shot ignores the 7-point AC reduction provided by plate mail, and only the armour’s +3 enchantment is considered. The renegade knight's AC is a 7. At medium range, the armour is not completely ignored, but the base AC of 3 is reduced to an AC of 8. Magic adjusts this to AC 5. At long range, the knight is AC 2 against musket fire.

Aside from rendering armour obsolete, the greatest ability of a firearm is to cause open-ended damage. Any time a firearm hits its target, there is a 25% chance that a second damage die is rolled and added to the first. There's a 25% chance that that damage roll creates additional damage, and so on.

Combined weapons are an interesting side-note in the history of firearms. When firearms were still relatively new (flintlocks in the main), it was fairly common to make sure that the weapon retained its usefulness after its first shot by building a melee weapon around it. Hammers, axes, broadswords and daggers were all made with parallel gun barrels. In some cases, the barrel actually served as the weapon's haft.

Modern ballistic armour is equivalent to studded leather, and is fully effective against firearms. Providing an AC of 7 against melee, missile and firearms attacks.

~ Fighter ~

Warriors are still common in the Modern Monsters world, but it is exceedingly rare for them to attain high levels. Any fighter with a strength of 14 or less is limited to 6th-level. Strength 15 allows advancement to 9th-level. Strength 16 limits the individual to 12th-level. Those truly expressional individuals with Strength 17 can attain 15th-level and those with the Herculean Strength of 18 can reach 18th-level.

The following fighter kits are suitable to the Modern Monsters world:

Clansman - Tough and rugged backwoods types. Highland Scots, Irish of the Fens, Hill Turks and the like.

Forester - Usually gamekeepers on noble estates. Poachers tend to be thieves following the scout kit.

Gentleman Adventurer - Usually military officers with lesser ranks (Myrmidons) under their command.

Myrmidon - Your career soldiers, royal guards, military types, mercenaries and the like.

Noble Warrior - Sons and hangers-on to the old families and great landed gentry of Europe.

Outlaw - Cut-throats and their ilk still exist in the world, turning their hand to anything from muggings to smuggling. Some rough-&-tumble poachers fall into this kit.

Savage - Covers everything from African tribesmen to the tribals in India and even the Anu in Japan.

Sea Dog - Men who live with the sea, everything from pirates to privateers to professional navy men.

Swashbuckler - Young gentlemen with a roguish streak and some dilettantes still cling to the daring role of the swashbuckler.

Wilderness Warrior - On one side of the coin is the Arabic desert nomad and on the other the Inuit of the frozen north.

~ Thief ~

After the ubiquitous fighters, thieves are the next most commonly encountered class. Most are not professionals, just dabblers in the shadows of society.

The following thief kits are suitable to the Modern Monsters world:

Acrobat - Circus and carnival entertainers.

Bandit - Bushrangers, gunslingers, and other raiders from ambush. Some clans and tribes live by banditry, it is effectively their traditional craft.

Beggar - Hugh Boone / Neville St. Clair form the rousing Sherlock Holmes tale 'The Man with the Twisted Lip' is the archetypal beggar.

Buccaneer - Like the more violent sea dogs, buccaneers still roam the world, preying on the weak and cutting shady deals on the high seas.

Burglar - Everything from smash-&-grab men to the master cracksman are covered here. They are common throughout the glittering grand cities of the world.

Courtier - The flatterers, dandies, fops and other hangers-on in the royal courts of Europe.

Cutpurse - Still the most common thief abroad in the world. Sometimes working in small groups with dips and distracters and passers.

Fence - The infamous Professor Moriarty was the world's greatest fence.

Investigator - Represents everything from police detectives to consulting detectives and inquiry agents.

Picaro - Some butlers and family retainers fall into this kit. Almost always considered a loveable yet wise eccentric by all they meet.

Scout - The classic poacher.

Smuggler - Something of a mix of the buccaneer and the fence. They usually have a well established home territory.

Spy - Everything from those who listen at keyholes to the bold government man in foreign lands.

Swashbuckler - Rarer than their fighter kin, roguish swashbucklers still linger on in some courtly corners of Europe.

Swindler - Everything from dodgey market stall owners to politicians of dubious antecedents.

Thug - Strong arm men, leg breakers, press gangers and the like.

Troubleshooter - Locksmiths and architects who specialise in foiling theft.

Vagabond - Urbane thieves. A man with a trade, abet a shady one.

~ Bard ~

Bard's exist and they are the most common of the incredibly rare spell casters in the Modern Monsters world. Folk tales of hedge wizards usually go back to some encounter or misadventure with a bard. When a bard advances to a new level, there is a 5% chance (non-cumulative) that they stumbled upon some ancient lore that reveals spell casting to them. This is the closest thing there is to a native mage in the Modern Monsters setting. It is not altogether unheard of for a Bard to dual class to Scholarly Mage. There are some tomes of great power in the world, brought from beyond by travellers, and study of these may enable one to become a true wizard. In the entire world there are less than a handful of such individuals.

The following bard kits are suitable to the Modern Monsters world:

True Bard - 1st and 2nd Level True Bards are more often then not university students busking for extra cash. They combine the typical bardic elements of transience, streetsmarts and rough academic knowledge.

Blade - The dying breed of sword swallowers and knife throwers at fairs and carnivals.

Charlatan - Shady dealers down the pub who have a bit more pizzazz than your common thief are 1st level Charlatans. The dodgey real estate agent across the street is a 2nd level Charlatan.

Gallant - The odd hopeless romantic does turn up, even in this cynical modern age. Poets and moody musicians fit this bill.

Gypsy Bard - As members of the wandering gypsy bands, bad reactions tend to follow these individuals. Most people view them as tramps and thieves.

Herald - Some very independent minded reporters are Heralds, but they are very rare indeed.

Jester - Along with the Blade, these characters are the last of the carnival entertainers, a dying profession. Some have successfully made the move into the music halls and onto the stage.

Jongleur - As with the Blade and Jester, the dying art of the carnival entertainer.

Loremaster - If a young True Bard settles down and becomes a professor at some university or other, they usually grow into Loremasters and leave their busking and youthful ways behind them.

Meistersinger - Some Sufi and Hindu ascetics fit the bill here. There could even be some followers of Shinto that are nature bards.

Riddlemaster - Those strange creatures that write crossword puzzles and those brain-bending logic puzzle books for a living are Riddlemasters.

Thespian - Your local amateur theatre groups are comprised of 1st-level Thespians. A young and promising actor on his way up is 2nd-level, a good solid actor who lives by their craft is 4th-level and someone of great fame, such as Sir Laurence Olivier or Sir John Gielgud, is 7th-level.

~ Other Classes and Kits ~

The only clerical kit available is the Preacher. They can be of any religious bent and are found as parish priests, local imams, wandering Sufis, Hindu yogis and in a myriad of other forms. The vast bulk of the clergy of established religions are 1st- and 2nd-level preachers with Wisdom scores of 9 through 12.

All other Clerics only exist as travellers from beyond. This applies to Paladins and Rangers too.