Gandalf was a Level Six Technician and a Dralasite

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by Tom Verreault

Thirty seven years ago an article was published in Dragon #5 (March ’77) titled, “Gandalf was a 5th level Wizard.” In it the author analyzed the displayed magic of Gandalf against the D&D magic system and came to the conclusion that you could simulate Gandalf with nothing more than a 5th level magic user in D&D.

I would contend that Gandalf was very conservative with his power and only ever used the minimal amount necessary for the situation at hand. In the setting of Middle Earth the display of power could and usually did draw the attention of dark powers. My opinion is that Gandalf the Gray was simply in the habit of avoiding ostentatious displays of power. His career as the Gray Wizard was that of working behind the scenes and remaining unnoticed. When he assumed or was promoted to the rank of White Wizard he then came out in the open more than his entire career as the Gray Wizard.

A role playing game is simply a system of simulating action within a setting. Setting aside the pitfalls of forcing a fictional character to fit a game system, let’s consider Gandalf as a Star Frontiers NPC.

Gandalf the Gray

A lot of his displayed magic is easily performed with a few items from the equipment list; the flashlight, the everflame, the laser rifle, the holo flare, the holo-screen, and the stun or flash bang grenade. In the mines of Moria, he used his staff to light the way but only enough so that the party could see where they were going; ie as a flashlight. In the fir trees he lit the pine cones on fire and cast them down amongst the wargs, a feat easily duplicated with the everflame. His fireworks at Bilbo’s party would be nothing more than holo flares. Other magical effects would be easily duplicated with skillful use of the holo-screen. The lightning flash that laid the Goblin King low could have been either a laser rifle set to 20 SEU or a few well-placed grenades.


Tom Verreault


As for skills he almost certainly had the technician skill for the attempt to unlock the door to Moria. He would have computer skills for writing the code to modify holographic devices and for his ability to delve into archives and research clues.  It would seem he has considerable skill with a sword so he’d have melee weapons skill and, as suggested above, a level or two of beam weapon skill. In “The Two Towers” he breaks Saruman’s hold on King Theoden and this would be done with the psycho-social skill in Star Frontiers. Finally, upon interrogating Pippen concerning the Palantír, he declared, “there was no lie in him,” which is best simulated by the dralasite ability, “lie detection.”

My gut feeling is that he should be a level 6th technician who likes to tinker with things. He puts on a good fireworks show when visiting friends on outpost or low population colonies by reprograming holo flares with much more exciting displays. He carries a walking staff he built to function as a laser but is rugged enough for melee combat. He’s programmed holo screen disks to subtly make himself more imposing (+15% to PER checks).

Dollof the Gray, a Star Frontiers NPC

Species: Dralasite     Sex: Neuter      Handedness: N/A

Walking: 5m/turn  Running: 20m/turn  Hourly: 3 km

Ability Scores

STR/STA          50/50    IM: 4     PS: 3

DEX/RS           45/40    Ranged Weapon: 43%

INT/LOG         65/60    Melee Weapon: 65%

PER/LDR         40/55


PSA: Technological

Skills:  Melee 4, Technician 6, Computer 4, Beam 2, Psych-social 2

Lie Detection: 35%

Elasticity - 5 limbs                           

Equipment: Skiensuit, holoscreen, power beltpack, Techkit, everflame, flashlight, 10 holoflares, 2 stun grenades, “Dollof’s Staff”, and a hovercycle he calls Shadowfast

Dollof’s Staff

This item is unique, being specially designed and made by Dollof itself. The staff is has a federanium housing and the working “guts” of a laser rife.  There is a retractable knife mount at the beam emitter end of the staff which will hold a flash light but not a knife as its too far back from the end.  The staff counts as a concealed weapon and because of the special housing it will remain undetected to scanning 95% of the time. Because of the design it is not as effective as a laser rifle; -5% modifier to use as a rifle but Dollof ignores this penalty. Its range is not as great as a laser rifle having no effective extreme range. The staff will not break in combat even if the wielder rolls a critical failure (though a referee might rule that the laser part is inoperable until serviced). Dollof can open and service his staff at any time but anyone else is at -20% to open it until he has successfully done so at least once.

Mass: 3 kg     Value:  1,500 Cr

Dollof’s Staff








Range (PB/S/M/L/E)

As a staff








As a laser



20 SEU clip

1 to 20





Dollof is an interesting character. He’s travelled the Frontier (and beyond) studying ancient alien artifacts. He’s known for wearing a gray trench coat and a rumpled blue hat with a brim. Some say he’s an archaeologist, some a college professor, and others just a crazy old coot. He does have a lively personality and sense of humor but does not suffer fools gladly.

He has contacts and friends on almost any outpost or low population colony as well as at major institutions of learning like the University of Zebulon and the Triad Institute of Technology. Some authorities, including Star Law, are mildly to coldly suspicious of him. He has been known to recruit teams of adventurers for expeditions into uncharted areas of established colonies as well as unexplored star systems.

He is always careful with sharing his motives and usually there are deeper layers to what he has revealed. He can give the impression that he believes the Frontier sector could be in danger from ancient alien artifacts whether they be of sathar, clikk, or tetrarch origin.

He will not seek out combat but is not afraid of it, especially if companions are threatened. His weapon of preference is his staff, preferring to not advertise the laser feature. He will use his holo screen along with his psych-social skill and PER checks to influence others. His holo flares are for entertainment or distractions. He is an expert as picking locks and disarming alarms and traps and he has spent enough time with Tetrarch artifacts that he no longer suffers the -20% penalty for operating alien equipment when dealing with things of Tetrarch origin.