View Full Version : retrospect (3.5; time-altering golem)

2009-02-10, 12:02 PM
suppose that i ought to get this onto my homebrew page sooner or later...

last month's monster contest entry:

Large Construct
Hit Dice: 18d10+30 (129 hp)
Initiative: +10
Speed: 100 feet
Armor Class: 39 (+6 Dex, -1 size, +6 deflection, +8 natural, +9 armor, +1 insight); touch 21; flat-footed 33
Base Attack/Grapple: +13/+27
Attack: Slam +22 melee (2d6+9 plus disruptive strike)
Full Attack: 2 slams +22 melee (2d6+9 plus disruptive strike)
Space/Reach: 10 feet/30 feet
Special Attacks: Disruptive strike, psi-like abilities
Special Qualities: Backstagger, construct traits, damage reduction 15/adamantine and magic, darkvision 60 feet, ephemeral surge, immunity to magic, low-light vision, reach through space, resistance to acid 10, cold 10, and fire 10, spatial shield, telepathy 100 feet
Saves: Fort +9, Reflex +17, Will +11
Abilities: Str 28, Dex 23, Con –, Int 16, Wis 18, Cha 22
Skills: Balance +21, Concentration +15, Hide +22, Jump +29, Knowledge (the planes) +16, Listen +9, Move Silently +21, Search +26, Spot +9
Feats: (B) Smoke Strike, (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4237205#post4237205) Improved Initiative, Combat Reflexes, Great Fortitude, Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Ability Focus (disruptive strike), Knockback
Environment: Sigil, or any land
Organization: Solitary, Team (2-4), or Squad (8-12)
Challenge Rating: 17
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: N
Advancement: 19-36HD (Huge); 37-54 HD (Gargantuan); 55+ HD (Colossal)
Level Adjustment: –

Visual Inspiration for this creature (http://gilgamesh44.deviantart.com/art/Mecha-1-92966527)

A hulking, metal-encased figure flickers and stutter-steps forward, at times seeming to disappear altogether, only to reappear immediately, further along on its original course. Its movements are at once fluid and mechanically rigid. Twin pinpoints of luminous cobalt stare out from the impenetrable darkness underneath its bronze helm. Between the joints of its spotless bronze armor, light reflects off of flawless angles of crystal.

These constructs have always been a part of Sigil; some say that they are the sword arm of the Lady of Pain. Others say that they are her secret police. They have no official name, and are only known by the nickname given them by the Caged; they call these constructs by the name of restrospects.

Each retrospect is a golem made of alchemically treated bronze over a frame of crystal and crystal wire. They are extremely tough and alarmingly fast. They never communicate with anyone around them–giving credence to the idea that they are creations of the enigmatic Lady of Pain–but they seem to be able to silently communicate with one another.

Retrospects are very rarely seen, and usually only appear when a threat to Sigil has been discovered. In these instances, entire squads of retrospects have been seen flickering and teleporting through the streets and plazas of the city. They are so rarely out in public that even most of the Caged assume that they are just folk tales.

Strangely though, as of late they have been encountered outside of the Cage, though it is unsure as to whether they are working for their mysterious master in Sigil, a new master, or whether they work now for themselves. These retrospects have been witnessed doing such uncharacteristic tasks as raiding temples and ruins, acting as bounty hunters for valuable treasures, and waging private wars with demons, angels, and anything in between.

It is rumored by some–though sources are hardly credible–that the squadrons of retrospects are ruled by a council of greater retrospects, golems the size of small mountains, that answer directly to the Lady of Pain herself. No one has ever seen evidence of these godly beings though, and even if they were real, Sigil has certainly seen things far stranger.

Each retrospect can speak telepathically up to 100 feet away with any creature that has a language, though they have no need to speak to anyone but themselves and their masters. They do understand the common tongue, Abyssal, Celestial, and Infernal, as well as their own, strange language that is based off of the subtle manipulations of time and space around them.


Anyone charging into combat thinking that a retrospect is like any other golem is going to be disappointed. Retrospects seem to harness some of the energy of time and space itself, and can utilize this power to great effect in combat. Further, all known retrospects have been dazzlingly proficient with psychokinetic and psychoportive psionics, allowing them a great advantage against even arcane casters and their ilk.

A lone retrospect usually stalks its foes long enough to determine how best to dispatch them, whether in brutal melee combat, or with a barrage of psionic energy. In groups, a single retrospect will be sent as a scout, in order to observe its prey. When the scout has communicated what it can back to the squad, all of the retrospects will teleport in, coordinating masterful ambushes and cooperating to take down even the most powerful foes.

Disruptive Strike (Su): When a restrospect hits a target with a slam attack, that creature or object has its place in time and space scrambled. For the next round, if the target should become affected by an effect (either its own, or someone else's) with the Teleportation descriptor, that effect fails, and the target takes 1d10 damage per 2 caster levels of the effect. If the target should become affected by any effect that alters the flow of time in any way (celerity, timestop, etc), the effect fails, and the target is instead slowed, as the spell, for 1 round per 2 caster levels. The target receives a Will saving throw (DC 27; Cha-based) in order to negate the damage or the slow effect, though the effects that triggered them still fail. Teleportation effects that also affect the flow of time would affect the target with both the damage and the slow effect.

Psi-like Abilities:
Constant–defensive and offensive precognition (stats already figured), trace teleport, psionic freedom of movement; At will–greater teleport; 3/day–chained to the earth (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=89093) (DC 22), dimensional lock (DC 24), dispel psionics, plane shift, psionic banishment (DC 22), psionic fly, telekinesis (DC 21); 1/day–quickened energy current (DC 25; electricity; only when struck in melee or successfully grappled; lasts one round), null psionics field. Caster Level 18th. The DCs are Charisma-based.

Backstagger (Su): A retrospect does not exist in only one location on the timeline. Its point of existence tends to blur and shift randomly. A few times a minute though, the retrospect catches up with all of its temporal selves, and can take advantage of this focus of the flow of time in order to augment its capabilities, and even repair damage.

Once every 2d4 rounds, a retrospect experiences one of these backstaggers. During a round in which a retrospect backstaggers, it is healed 2d12 damage, and gains a +4 insight bonus to armor class and saving throws, as it replaces its current existence with fragments of future existences in which it knows what will come to pass, and fragments of past existence, in which it was uninjured. If a retrospect has lost body parts, or has suffered another lingering, negative effect, it is cured of all of these conditions on a round in which its backstagger heals it to full hit points.

Ephemeral Surge (Su): A retrospect does not simply trudge from place to place. It winks in and out of existence with extreme rapidity, each instance moving it substantially along its path. This movement is capable of bypassing physical obstacles so long as they are less than 20 feet thick. This movement can also seem to cover larger distances, similar to a dimension door effect. In this fashion, a retrospect can step over a chasm, to the roof of a building, etc. Every square moved into in this fashion counts as two squares. Thus, a retrospect making a move action can surge over a 40-foot chasm (counting as 80 feet), and still have 20 feet of movement left over with which to move where it pleases, even through doors, walls, etc. Moving in this fashion does not constitute a teleportation effect for the purpose of triggering a feat, contingent effect, etc.

Further, a retrospect's ephemeral surge gives it a constant effect similar to the blink spell, though this effect is in no way tied to the Ethereal Plane, and instead gains its power from its fluid existence in the flow of time and space. Unlike the blink spell, if the retrospect's attacker can see invisibility, it gains no benefit against it, though true seeing or any similar spell of equal or greater power negates any miss chance or spell failure chance whatsoever.

Once per encounter, a retrospect can surge forward in a straight line as a full-round act with a series of dimension door-like steps that gives it a double move. The retrospect can attack any foe threatened during this move with one melee attack at full BAB. Any target hit by this attack is affected as if by baleful teleport, taking 9d6 points of damage on top of the melee damage (Fort save DC 21 for half; Cha-based). This effect replaces the retrospect's disruptive strike for the rest of the move.

A retrospect that has lost the effect of its ephemeral surge (through an antimagic field, having taken sonic damage, or some other way) loses all of these benefits, and can only walk and run normally, at a base movement rate of 40 feet.

Immunity to Magic (Ex): A retrospect is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as noted below.

An effect that deals electricity damage heals 1 point of damage for every 3 points of damage that it would have otherwise dealt. If the amount of healing would cause the retrospect to exceed its full hit points, it gains any excess as temporary hit points.

An effect that deals sonic damage slows the retrospect for 3 rounds, and causes it to lose its ephemeral surge ability for the same duration. There is no save against this effect.

Reach Through Space (Su): A retrospect has a natural reach of 30 feet, thanks to its ability to reach through time and space. Further, as a standard attack, it can make a single melee attack against any target within 200 feet as if it threatened the target. As a full-round act, it can make a single melee attack against any target within sight, no matter how far away, as if it threatened the target. If this ability is suppressed (through a null psionics field, or some other measure), the retrospect is left with a natural 10-foot reach as a standard large creature.

Spatial Shield (Su): A retrospect is surrounded by a rippling aura of time and space that grants it a +6 deflection bonus to its armor class, and a +4 bonus to Reflex saves.

Racial Skill Bonuses: A retrospect receives a +8 racial bonus to all Knowledge (the planes), and Search checks.

Sample Encounters

(ECL 24) A squad of retrospects was probing at a strange portal within the bowels of Sigil, presumably searching for a way for the Lady of Pain to escape the plane. They accidentally opened a portal to the Abyss, and now the PCs must battle both a horde of rampaging demons, and the cornered retrospects that do not care to tell innocent bystander from foe.

(ECL 17) A single retrospect has ambushed the PCs as they enter an ancient tomb on the Prime Material Plane, seeking to hide the secrets of this hidden planar touchstone from those that might be able to use it against the retrospect's reclusive master.

(ECL 21) Two retrospects have suffered defeat in battle while attempting to search for something within the subterranean fortress of a powerful lich. They have hired the PCs to assault the fortress while they sneak in and make off with their target.

2009-02-10, 01:27 PM
this looks really cool...though at first glance, its CR might be a little low....some of those abilities look a little...too synergistic.

other than that, great job!

2009-02-10, 05:41 PM
hmm, i had originally planned for a cr of 16, if i remember, but then decided that it needed to be bumped up to the point where full casters begin getting 9th level spells (except for the sorcerer, but that's the tired subject of another thread).

by that level, a pc party should have sufficient firepower to be able to stop just about anything in the first monstrous manual, and this guy's low hit dice drops it below what i think an 18th level party should be tackling. in some games that i've participated in, 14th level pc's would be shrugging off encounters with these guys as if they were npc-classed goblins.

2009-02-10, 06:12 PM
the only reason I'm not so sure about that is...well, they're immune to all but one (rather small) spell subtype. No other magic works on them. Granted, that means you're still able to beat on them...but they seem to be much better at beating on you than you on them. Especially with what, 30' reach? and a number of constant combat-buffs.

2009-02-11, 01:48 PM
the only reason I'm not so sure about that is...well, they're immune to all but one (rather small) spell subtype. No other magic works on them. Granted, that means you're still able to beat on them...but they seem to be much better at beating on you than you on them. Especially with what, 30' reach? and a number of constant combat-buffs.

but a 30-foot reach is what the pc's have been enjoying since 5th level.

the immunities are pretty consistent for golems, even of the cr 9 category, and its weakness (sonic attacks) is immensely crippling. if you hit it with a 0th level sonic spell that does one point of damage, it is slowed for 3 rounds, and loses access to one of its biggest tactical advantages--ephemeral surge. that alone nerfs it down a cr or two.

plus, something i just barely noticed, technically, the retrospect could be treated as a crystalline creature, so sonic effects usually do even more damage to them. i'll have to look at that...

the only place where this guy is brilliant, compared to other golems, is versus the celerity and timestopdependent groups, or the ones that make immense use of teleportation.

but, then again, that is what this guys was designed to defeat. why? because the time-warping spells are some of the most game-breaking, and the teleportation spells are in a lot of ways a respawn or autowin function in the game. many dm's (including myself) have to go to extraordinary lengths to challenge players that use these spells as a crutch, and if my players have gotten complacent in their use of these spells, the retrospect will stomp them into the ground.

2009-02-11, 03:05 PM
but a 30-foot reach is what the pc's have been enjoying since 5th level.

Just curious: Which spell would that be, and do your PCs really tend to spam it that much?

2009-02-11, 11:48 PM
i could swear i already answered this, but apparently not...

it was a joke, draco.

ok, so hyperbole doesn't make a good argument, but the fact remains that a high reach is not that hard to come by. and without doing any actual google searches, i would bet that there are a couple of spells extend the reach even further.

the point though was to one-up the pc's in those areas though, so i wouldn't feel too bad for them being outreached by this guy.