PDA

View Full Version : Retooled Aboleth



sonofzeal
2008-07-26, 07:44 PM
Alright, so I'm going to throw my lvl7 party up against an Aboleth. However, it's going to be a major encounter so I'd like to tweak it out as much as possible without raising its CR or going much outside the official "improving monsters" guidelines. Specifically, I'd really like to improve its feat choices. Unfortunately, I'm really not the best at choosing feats for arcane/psionic things, so I was hoping some of you guys might have suggestions. If it matters, the party has a Elven Ranger/Scout (excellent DPS), Human Knight (pretty solid Tanking but low Will Save), a Human Wizard (generalist utility/buffer, fond of Ebon Eyes and Heroism), and possibly a Halfling Bard/Rogue (comic relief, healing via wands, some utility).

My feat ideas - Mindsight (LoM; Aboleths don't have the telepathy trait, but it's described under their Enslave section), Improved Toughness (more hp is always nice, and one feat for 8 hp is a pretty good trade), and Ability Focus (probably Slime or Enslave, possibly Mucus Cloud). Any thoughts?

Kyeudo
2008-07-26, 07:55 PM
Are you using the normal or the psionic version?

For the normal Aboleth, I wouldn't go with the Mindsight, mostly because it doesn't technically meet the requirements, but taking multiple Ability Focus feats for it's main abilities would be a good idea.

Tactics wise, the Aboleth should have some way of forcing the players to deal with it in the water, where it can bring it's aquatic nature t bear the best.

sonofzeal
2008-07-26, 08:00 PM
Are you using the normal or the psionic version?

For the normal Aboleth, I wouldn't go with the Mindsight, mostly because it doesn't technically meet the requirements, but taking multiple Ability Focus feats for it's main abilities would be a good idea.

Tactics wise, the Aboleth should have some way of forcing the players to deal with it in the water, where it can bring it's aquatic nature t bear the best.
Ah, I was just about to edit that in - I'm going with the Psionic version from XPH, for added awesomeness. I'm also using the Amphibious variant from LoM so forcing the party into the water isn't so important (but still good; if you have any suggestions on how to do that I'd be thrilled).

Ability Focus is always a good default choice though, you're right. My other main event of the session is a different retooled monster that uses Ability Focus and HD advancement to terrifying effect. :belkar: Still, that one was a more martial-oriented beast and hence more within my specialty, so I thought that taking advice for the Aboleth would be a good idea to see if there's anything more specific to its nature out there.

Rashmi
2008-07-26, 08:02 PM
Alright, so I'm going to throw my lvl7 party up against an Aboleth. However, it's going to be a major encounter so I'd like to tweak it out as much as possible without raising its CR or going much outside the official "improving monsters" guidelines. Specifically, I'd really like to improve its feat choices. Unfortunately, I'm really not the best at choosing feats for arcane/psionic things, so I was hoping some of you guys might have suggestions. If it matters, the party has a Elven Ranger/Scout (excellent DPS), Human Knight (pretty solid Tanking but low Will Save), a Human Wizard (generalist utility/buffer, fond of Ebon Eyes and Heroism), and possibly a Halfling Bard/Rogue (comic relief, healing via wands, some utility).

My feat ideas - Mindsight (LoM; Aboleths don't have the telepathy trait, but it's described under their Enslave section), Improved Toughness (more hp is always nice, and one feat for 8 hp is a pretty good trade), and Ability Focus (probably Slime or Enslave, possibly Mucus Cloud). Any thoughts?

1) Ability Focus is probably best.

2) Aboleths are already pretty rockin for CR 7.

3) You do know that Knights get a good will progression and a poor Fort and Ref progression right? All his saves should be in the same 2-3 point range at level 7, unless he has Force of Personality, in which case Will is way ahead.

4) Tactics are most important, Aboleths are super intelligent Evil Awesome. They should pretty much get a surprise round no matter what unless the party is hardcore paranoid, and they should maybe get more, is they start by enslaving the party fighter/rogue (why is Bob attacking us?!)

sonofzeal
2008-07-26, 08:16 PM
1) Ability Focus is probably best.
Thanks for the confirmation, since it seems so unanimous I'll probably go with that


2) Aboleths are already pretty rockin for CR 7.
Yeah, they seem pretty hardcore. My money's on the other beast for the TPK this session, but I'll admit I'm biased. :smallbiggrin:


3) You do know that Knights get a good will progression and a poor Fort and Ref progression right? All his saves should be in the same 2-3 point range at level 7, unless he has Force of Personality, in which case Will is way ahead.
Ah, forgot that. I know he totally tanked his Wisdom on purpose though, because he wanted to go for the "naive hero-wannabe" aspect.


4) Tactics are most important, Aboleths are super intelligent Evil Awesome. They should pretty much get a surprise round no matter what unless the party is hardcore paranoid, and they should maybe get more, is they start by enslaving the party fighter/rogue (why is Bob attacking us?!)
Mmm... well, openning up with an Enslave or three is obvious, as is attacking from cover of water and not presenting an open target. It could also rig a few nasty surprises with collapsing walkways to get the PCs into the water.... hmmm.... :xykon:

ghost_warlock
2008-07-26, 11:47 PM
Since you're going for the psionic aboleth, you could also take advantage of the psionic feats. I don't have my books with me/can't access the SRD from work, so I can't offer much help other than that idea, sorry.:smallfrown:

But...

I just had a weird idea to make the fight somewhat thematic and hopefully memorable. :smallbiggrin:

Give the aboleth some sort of fancy item or custom power to reverse gravity within a 40'-radius - some sort of alien artifact it stumbled upon that only works within the area of its lair (from a crashed illithid vessel nearby or something).

When the party enters the radius, they 'fall' up to the ceiling and take a few dice of damage, say 3d6 (save for half; enough to noticebly hurt/be annoying, but not enough to kill them outright). Every few rounds during the fight the aboleth reverses the polarity on the item so that everyone 'falls' in whichever direction the item is now dictating as down.

The artifact doesn't only affect creatures, but anything in the area that's not effectively nailed down (specifically, the aboleth's pool of slimy water). Creatures that would 'fall' into water take no damage when the artifact is reversed but anyone who wasn't in the muck when the item is reconfigured takes the falling damage. Since the aboleth possesses the artifact, and the item also has a featherfall-type property, the aboleth never takes the 'falling' damage.

llamamushroom
2008-07-27, 12:25 AM
That's just plain evil... I love it!

I don't know much about Psionic Aboleths, but, to tie in with the evilness of Reverse Gravity, using Mirage Arcana couple be interesting - making everybody think that the 'ground' is much, much closer than it actually is, or perhaps other illusion abilities to make getting out again very difficult - make it look like there is a way out everywhere/no-where.

Kyeudo
2008-07-27, 12:50 AM
Getting them in the water with the Aboleth is the easy part.

If they are there to kill the Aboleth, just make sure the Aboleth's underwater lair is large enough or twisted enough that they can't attack it without going in after it.

If they are there to find some magic item or artifact, put it in the water and have the Aboleth ambush them.

If it's a person, put the person in an air pocket on the other side of a flooded tunnel or lake.

If this aboleth is not a Big Bad, just make part of the adventure require them to cross through a flooded section. Don't give them enough room to fly over it.

If none of these work for you, use it's false sensory input to make the water apear to not have an Aboleth in it and instead contain some sort of treasure. Riskier, as someone might make their Will save, but it will do in a pinch.

Once they are in the water, lead off with Dominate on the one that looks the weakest willed. Keep at range as long as possible and use its psi-like abilities to sow confusion amongst their group. Aboleths have good attack bonuses, but low AC.

If they look like they are going to break for the surface, wall of ectoplasm it off. The aboleth can cover 13 ten foot squares with it's wall, so that should keep them under and within reach.

Once it's out of dominates, switch to id insinuations and ego whips. If you have to use disable, make sure you tell them that they have been reduced to 0 hp if they fail their save. Only when the disable ends should you tell them they are fine. Only use mental disruption if the Aboleth succeeds in dominating a creature (it's dominate doesn't have a duration of concentration), but if it does dominate a creature use it mercelessly to deny action advantage to the party.

Once it can't simply use psi-like powers anymore, turn loose with that reach and bevy of natural attacks.

Make them afraid to ever go in the water again. :smallamused:

bosssmiley
2008-07-27, 06:01 AM
You don't need to retool the Aboleth beyond some feat picks (Ability Focus ftw!). As has been previously noted:


(from The Dungeonomicon (http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=9483578&postcount=7))

Keep in mind that even by itself, an Aboleth is badly under CRed. They have actual dominate with a pretty decent DC and they aren't half bad in combat. Also, they have long duration images available as spell-like abilities. So any Aboleth area is going to be covered in layered illusions. If an Aboleth attacks, chances are that it's going to have several turns of doing pretty much anything it wants as the PCs sit shell-shocked on the other side of an illusory wall.

If you really want to put the hurt on the PCs you might want to look up some of the Aboleth-only feats from "Lords of Madness".

sonofzeal
2008-07-27, 09:27 PM
Well, the session's over and the party didn't even fight the aboleth; they got TPK'd (sorta) by my other big nasty for the session, my own personal "pet", The Whisperer In The Darkness. Reposted here for your amusement....


Size/Type: Large Aberration
Hit Dice: 8d8+72 (108 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares), swim 20 ft.
Armor Class: 20 (+1 Dex, +10 natural, -1 size), touch 11, flat-footed 19
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+14
Attack: Bite +10 melee (1d2+4) or spittle +7 ranged touch (1d6 acid plus blindness)
Full Attack: 6 bites +10 melee (1d2+4) and spittle +7 ranged touch (1d6 acid plus blindness)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Gibbering (DC 19), spittle (DC 25), improved grab, blood drain, swallow whole, ground manipulation
Special Qualities: Amorphous, damage reduction 5/bludgeoning, darkvision 60
Saves: Fort +11, Ref +5, Will +7
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 12, Con 28, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 16
Skills: Listen , Spot , Swim
Feats: Lightning Reflexes, Ability Focus (Spittle), Ability Focus (Gibbering)
Environment: Underground
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: None
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: 5-12 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment:



Every single aspect of a gibbering mouther that makes it worthy of a CR5 is suddenly far, far more deadly. The DCs have gone from "might get somebody" to "probably will get everybody"; the grapple has gone from "might threaten a halfling" to "serious danger to the fighter"; and the attacks have gone from "excuses to get that Improved Grab with its mediocre grapple check" to "omg mouths everywhere its eating my spleeeen aghhwwgahfdsf". Its only weakness is its lack of speed, but amorphous creatures have ways of ambushing parties that compensates nicely, and Ground Manipulation makes for quick getaways and excellent guerilla tactics. All it needs to do is confuse or blind a single party member, and the rest are committed to the fight to try and save that one... until they realise they'll be lucky just to save themselves.

This abomination made its first appearance in a previous campaign. I had this thing prepared in an underground tunnel the PCs were using as a shortcut. They kept getting into discussions about what to do, so I had the thing ooze its way out of the roof into their midst. Fighter gets confused, wizard gets engulfed, rogue gets blinded AND confused, and anyone left is suddenly re-evaluating their commitment to the rest of the team.

This time, the party was slighty more competent and I was slightly more evil. The first sign of its presense was the ground underneath them turning into quicksand. Instead of going "wtf", they tried to pull out their one mired comrade, so when the Whisperer rose out of the mire they were all clustered and panicked. Then, every single one of them failed their Will Save vs confusion, even the Wizard who only needed to roll a 3. Two rounds later the wizard and rogue are engulfed, the fighter is fleeing for the hills, and the ranger is blind. Three rounds after that, the Wizard and Rogue are dead, the fighter is long gone, and the Ranger ends up working with the Aboleth to bring the beast to it (the Aboleth's whole motivation for being there revolved around aquiring and studying this monstrosity). We're currently in negotiations for what to do next; retcon the Wizard's last desperate Concentration check to cast Teleport, reboot with new characters, or end the campaign.

namo
2008-07-27, 09:35 PM
I like the non-psionic aboleth better exactly because of the illusions it can cast.

Its lair is dark, and filled with layers of illusions. It hears the party because, well, they are stumbling around and talking.

With Project Image + Veil, it can create a humanoid image through which it can cast spells. Make it friendly. If the party follows it, they fall into <insert trap/acid pond/...> hidden by Mirage Arcana. If they don't, well, they're probably going to attack it - let the image can flee and if they pursue...

If they ignore the image, attack with Hypnotic Pattern. Or let the aboleth approach - after a diversion with Permanent Image, including enough noise to cover its approach - until it can start enslaving.

The players may never even see the real aboleth...

edit: ugh, way to make a useless post.

ghost_warlock
2008-07-27, 10:20 PM
This abomination made its first appearance in a previous campaign. I had this thing prepared in an underground tunnel the PCs were using as a shortcut. They kept getting into discussions about what to do, so I had the thing ooze its way out of the roof into their midst. Fighter gets confused, wizard gets engulfed, rogue gets blinded AND confused, and anyone left is suddenly re-evaluating their commitment to the rest of the team.

IMO, this is exactly how an aberration campaign is supposed to be. If the PCs aren't seriously reconsidering their choice of profession, things are too easy for them. When they say "**** this! We've leaving and burning the house down/collapsing the entrance," you should have a warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment.

sonofzeal
2008-07-27, 11:11 PM
IMO, this is exactly how an aberration campaign is supposed to be. If the PCs aren't seriously reconsidering their choice of profession, things are too easy for them. When they say "**** this! We've leaving and burning the house down/collapsing the entrance," you should have a warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment.
So true! I see it as my job to push the PCs to the brink, without stepping overboard into what's unfair. A good party can handle this; its defenses are decent but not exceptional in any way, and once you pass the will save once you're pretty good. Still, it'll push your average lvl7 party right to the brink, while leaving escape routes open. Try it in your own campaign! =D

PanNarrans
2008-07-28, 12:30 PM
I'd never put a party up against an Aboleth without also surrounding them with Skum. One of them should preferably be a former party member or well-liked NPC.
As to your Whisperer, it seems much more like a Shoggoth than one of the Mi-Go...