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Monster Compendium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
This thread gets resurrected once in a while, when i add an entry for a creature. the purpose of this thread is to take often disregarded monsters- monsters who didn't catch the imagination, were too simple, too complex, lacked a coherent consistency, or weren't "game worthy" for whatever reason, (long sentence, taking a breath) and give them a makeover in a way that will enliven the interest in them, give them a boost at the gaming table, and make them viable options for DMs everywhere. this is not Homebrew! the focus is on fluff, (though some crunch is in here as well) functions in the world, and interactions. try it- you might like it.
the first post gives the explanation and the contents, the second gives a basic format to whomever would like to contribute themselves, and the rest are the monster entries.
the rest of this post (other than the contents) is mostly ramblings. if you're interested in the monsters however (as well you should be) than go, explore, read and hopefully like what others and me have written. just don't forget to write your comments, ideas, and words of encouragement (highly important, and appreciable!) later on...
(all updates to content and otherwise will detailed here, on this first post)
0) opening statements, updates and content, and the basic format.
1) the Stirge: the pincher, the stinger, your favorite blood drinker! here
2) the Stone Giant: it's all about the community. (Thunder Clap variant included) part 1, part 2
3) the Barghest: by the Wolf, the Goblin and the unholy spirit! (includes a most unique PrC...) part 1, part 2
4) the Gargoyle: more than a roof top decoration (multiple variants included) part 1, part 2
5) The Serpent Lords: "how do you like your magic poison, you son of a dragon?" (remake of Nagas and Couatl. several variants included) part 1, part 2
12) Gibbering Mouther: the flesh that slides, the teeth that gnash, the horror behind the jabber... the horror. part 1, part 2
- added the gibbering mouther
- if you have any ideas, but don't have the time or inclination to write an entry, tell me about your ideas, and i'll try to expand on it, and bring it to life.
the purposes of this thread: (read only if interested)
1) to spark a new interests in the monsters presented here, give them a new fighting chance at your gaming group.
2) to promote creativity and ingenuity concerning the use of monsters. moving them from the mere "encounter" level, to the adventure, plot, and campaign levels.
3) to unite all these kind of threads under one roof, so that DMs may have the full (so far limited) range of these monsters to draw inspiration from, instead of just a single monster on a rapidly vanishing thread).
the monster entries are suggestions, not hard rules. it's the way we perceive them, and imagine might be the most fun to play. the entries encompass many areas, and are usually quite encompassing (unlike the monster entries in the MM), though most of this refer to Fluff, rather than Crunch (though there are also game mechanics suggestions). i do believe that this Compendium will hold true even for 4th Ed since the entries here relate to far more "universal" things than battle drills and rules.
for those of you who wish to contribute, please do (writing this entries his time consuming for me alone). the second post includes a sample format for you to use, but as with everything here, it is only a suggestion. feel free to work your own magic.
Last edited by Kol Korran : 06-17-2012 at 12:53 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
this post is for those of you who would like to contribute. if you're just interested in the monsters, move to the next posts.
the following format is very loose, and have served me well, but it is but a recommendation. i urge you to do what best fits your creative style, and your monster
(suggested only, feel free to alter it to your tastes and needs)
Monster's name and source: self explanatory
Bad street rep: whatever caused your chosen monster to be exiled from the common D&D table, made it less playable.
i care for it because: this is mostly to add some personal touch, and a bit of your story of why you chose to pick the monster by the shoulders (or other appropriate appendages), shake it up, give it a thorough make over pump it with confidence and send it to the world!
"and now, presenting to you, the new and improved <insert name here>: this part is all about the changes you made, big and small, to make your loved creature a more fun creature to play. these are to many to count, but i've suggested some sample areas and issues you may wish to address:
- perception: perhaps you noticed a new way to look upon the creature? a new twist? basically- what role, from the DM's perspective, will the monster fit now?
- concept: what the monster is about, the signature moves, the theme, the atmosphere. what makes it unique. try to think how would you have summarized the monster in a short manner.
- it's place in the world: many monsters don't get to participate because a DM can't fathom why a monster should be there,what it should do there, and so on. by integrating a creature in the setting, giving it an exact role in it's surrounding, it may become viable for choice. it adds depth and realism to the creature's existence, as well as many ways it could be integrated. the creature becomes more alive, and far better than a randomly placed monster... (this is usually one of the main dishes in the meal)
- interactions: similar to the previous issue. creatures do more than fight adventurers. what are their life cycle? what creatures do they compete with? who do they feed upon? (and how do they hunt) who feeds upon them? (and ow do they avoid that) does any creature rely on them? use them? domesticate them? do the creature show similar relations with other creatures? how do they deal with unknown threats? (such as adventurers) all of this is to add more playable scenarios and possibilities, as well as add even more life to the creature. (again, this might be a big dish)
- Game mechanics: any additions or alterations you want to make. the reason for the change, it's use, and how it makes the critter better! feel free to suggest variations for gaming styles, campaign worlds and so on. (this can be simple, or complex, depending on your concept and preferences)
- mysteries and the unknown: all kind of obscure knowledge, odd behaviors and things that deviats from the creature's norm. many times the exceptional speaks volumes of the the non exceptional (sahuagin with 4 arms, ogre mages versus ogres, and more). this also provides nice hooks, adventure ideas, and a source for knowledge checks (feel free to add the DCs if you wish). another dimension of the evolving creature.
"Playing, at a D&D table near YOU!"
well, in here you suggest some sample encounters your creature should participate. there in no better way to explain your concept then by a good example, so make it exciting! make it intriguing! make it turn our heads! remember- it's your monster's new premiere, and there are a lot of DMs out there, just looking for a good idea. this could be your creature's dream gig!
in conclusion: whatever you want, self explanatory i think. it could also be an excellent place to suggest further ideas, or ask others about specific features.
- end of format -
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-13-2010 at 02:11 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Stirge: the pincher, the stinger, your favorite blood drinker!
my first test subject, with which i started this whole thing. i always loved stirges. the stirge is also a fine example on how a fairly simple monster could be made far more playable and interesting, if you put some thought into it.
Bad street Rep: from my experience with stirges, they are considered between too weak to matter (at levels 4/5 and up), or packing too much impact for such a small creature. the fact that the ability damage they cause is CON, which both decrease hp and is life threatening at low levels, makes them a potential game stopper. but really, the reason i think they are really hated/ neglected is because they seem like an annoyance. after all- they are just big mosquitoes, no?
i care for it because: first, i the image of something attaching you to, and then starting to sap your blood with a straw (cartoon like) has always amused, and somewhat disturbed me. second- i tried using them with some other creatures against a 9th level party some time back, and suddenly they had a different role. that's when i began thinking about these blood suckers- they should act with others, they should try and avoid being zapped by whom they sting, and one more idea came to mind- in swamps and jungles what you fear the most are mosquito swarms... what if they were stirges?
and now presenting to you, the new and improved stirge:
Perception and Concept
- perception: many DMs treat stirges as mindless vermin, who stupidly fly and attach to a target, even if it's highly capable of killing it. also, there are usually very few stirges present... i decided to play my lovelies differently- as patient, parasitic stalkers. the stirges are NEVER the main threat, they never attack capable targets. their role changed from an odd encounter, to harassment, a constant threat, and complication for more serious encounters.
- concept: i view stirges as predatory pests who lurk most commonly in jungles, swamps, forests and such. they travel in fairly large groups, though the stirges are independent, not coordinating attacks. the stirges most commonly attack the prey when it's vulnerable, or otherwise occupied. common possibilities for stirges attacks (on a party) are: when one falls into water, when one is separated from another, when a wizards mumbles a spell, when the party sleeps (the stirges fall to the ground, and crawl to the victim, biting and drawing blood as it sleeps), or the most common event- when the party suddenly has it's hands full fighting something else. (as the party fights against' the hydra they suddenly feel something land on them, turning their heads to see it preparing to draw blood).
Place and Interactions
- Place in the world: these are the bottom feeders, feeding on those who are two weak to fight, who are trapped (many an animal sunken in a mud pit saw the fluttering of stirge wings on nearby branches), or slayed beasts (one of the best ways to get them off your back). think of them as sort of flying hyenas... they stay mostly in natural areas, but small flocks and nests are known to travel near rural settlements, and kill livestock. a special menace occurs every 4 years, when BloodLustSwarms emerge (more on that later).
- interactions: stirges tend to focus and specialize on a certain kind of prey in their area (learning their habits, weaknesses, and so on), but they are always ready to explore new prey (such as adventurers). it's usually the younger and more inexperienced stirges who makes the first flights, as the others watch, preparing to move if the first are succesful, preparing to wait if not. stirges always seek some cover, as many airborne predators fly better than it. stirges avoid flying prey (flying animal companions and familiars can assist). some races, nations and armies sometime capture flocks of stirges, to later unleash them on the enemy. some even train them to attack certain enemies or banners. (In Eberron, armies using the dead or the warforged were known to use the flying menace, mostly for morale affect, their own armies impervious).
stirges are known to be drawn and set up small nests near monsters and creatures who either kill in abundance, or have abilities that work well with theirs (assassin vine, carrion crawler, rust monster for example). in return, they striges do not draw blood from their benefactor, and kill all other annoyances and pests (rat control). druids are divided in their opinions about the stirges. for they can cause great harm, as well as great good. the most troubling issues are the BloodLustSwarms.
a secondary impact on environment, is the Stirges tendency to be disease spreaders. feasting on blood, and living in hot environment, they usually carry some diseases in their system when migrating. the stirges are immensely resistant to most known diseases, and have been at time used to drain the blood of the sick. (House Jorasco's major enclaves in Eberron uses them instead of leeches). the stirges posses a small gland that is believed to assist against various illnesses, and it is highly sought after.
Game mechanics and Mysteries
- game mechanics: but some of the main alterations are: 1) blood drain (ex): before this can begin, an attached stirge must succeed to attack (with it's proboscis) with only the armor and providing AC bonus. this is supposed to simulate the critter finding a clear piece of skin, giving an advantage to heavily armored characters.
natural armor decreases the amount of blood drained! (making creatures with a +4 to natural armor impervious).
2) Numbing effect: the insertion of the proboscis is preceded by a spraying of a numbing liquid from the stirges gland- this means that characters unaware of the stirges presence remain unaware to the proboscis (this mainly concerns sleeping characters).
3) blood sense: stirges has an acute sense of locating blood, and can sense it's presence in a 30' radius, even if blinded and deafened. this enables the stirges to pinpoint locations, and notice hiding characters, though it still needs to deal with all other implications of adverse conditions. this sense is blocked by two an inch of solid, or two inches of fluid.
4) skills: stirges get a +8 racial bonus to their move silently checks while on the ground, not fluttering their wings (again, used with sleeping characters mostly).
5) diseases: the target of a Stirges blood drain has 50% chance of attracting some sort of a disease (to be determined by the DM)
6) BloodLustSwarm info: every several years, massive swarms of stirges migrate out of their nesting habitats. these swarms attack indiscriminately, viable and nonviable targets alike, utterly fearless, utterly driven (far from the normal pattern of the cowardly stirge). what is more odd that once attached, a stirge drinks until it is killed, or it dies from over feeding (about 10 con). the swarms blood sense increases dramatically, up to 1000 ft. approximately. these swarms attack with their pinches as well, making them a menace (though less) even to bloodless targets (such as warforged).
the following are just basic guide lines for the swarm. i do not intend to post it here (i think it's not the place), if someone wishes, put it on the homebrew forum:
8-10 HD, with +2 hp per HD (the swarm's con increased due to constant rage)
swarm traits of course, half damage from weapons and so on, distraction and the like...
blood lust rage: basically like a barbarian's rage, applied consistently, until the swarm disperse. animal empathy and emotion calming magic do not work.
increased blood sense: the range of this ability increases to 1000 ft for the swarm. it always moves towards the target with most blood. that is it's primary target. most stirges avoid other targets in the swarm's path, and thus it only causes the blood loss damage below.
increasing blood loss: besides the usuall damage of the swarm (from pincers), an engulfed target suffers 2d4 damage the second round it is in the swarm, increasing by 1d4 each consecutive round. this blood loss decreases once the target leaves the swarm. (with an appropriate number of stirges attached)
attacking the main target: all the stirges attack. with hundreds of stirges upon the target, the stirges basically kill any viable target with blood, and having less than +4 natural armor), on the second round (drawing blood round), unless the character succeeds on a fortitude save (DC high, but not impossible). if the target survived, it's hit point are at -1, and 1d4 con, losing one each round. a heal check (again high) can stop the blood loss... the swarm moves immediately to the next main target.
Dwindling swarm: the more blood the swarm takes, the more of it's members die. this is especially true with main targets, and practically negligible with "on the way" targets. the usual method of dealing with swarms is sacrificing a large number of farm animals, who's bloodless shriveled husks, with bloated sdead stirges around them is all that remain after a night of the BloodLustSwarm.
- mysteries and unknown: the only real mystery is the existence of the BloodLustSwarms. these horrifying monstrosities are the exact opposite of the secretive, cowardly, dumb stirge. some theorize that angry divine powers are behind this, some that it's a manifestation of nature's wrath. (in Eberron they are attributed to the Devourer, or the Fury. the Ashbound consider them a vengeful force, the Wardnes are uncertain, and so on). it does seem to help to keep the stirges populations in check though. the Swarms come every some years, and all of them at the same time frame. however- no one has yet been able to predict when the swarming happens, what triggers it.
Playing, at a D&D table near YOU!
- "they're out there, i can feel it!": a basic harassment and terror continuing encounter. as the party enters a jungle/ swamp/ deep section of a forest, they notice the strange fluttering of wings and strange humming. (someone with know nature can make a check learn about stirges. with a high enough spot skill, someone may notice a few of the stirges on branches and such... watching...). as the party advances, keep mentioning the humming from time to time, and make some spot checks. they'll notice the little cuties around them... in front of them... behind them. at some point when someone does anything other than moving, make an attack with 1-3 stirges (on the most occupied/ exhausted character). the party should easily beat them/ kill them, but the fluttering will increase momentarily. the stirges will continue to follow, with maybe one more attack. after that they'll just wait, biding their time... if you wish to add a bit more terror, add some dead animals and creatures somewhere, with blood drained.
- "when monsters attack, so do we!": at some point after this, when the characters suddenly engage in battle, have a greater amount of the stirges attack! some should also seem to attack the monster (though if it has a +4 nat armor, it ignores them). this could prove especially surprising if the party shields some vulnerable party member (wizard?) from the monsters, only to have him attacked by the ever waiting stirges. the stirges would also most likely attack anyone who goes "maneuvering" separately, like rogues and scouts... again this pattern of attacking when the party is attacked (the party can use it once or twice against badly armored foes) should happen 1-3 times... after that, when the party has learned and retaliated, they wait... as only stirges can..
[b]- other good points to attack[:/B] could be when the party crosses a bridge, when they swim, when they climb up/down a rope/ cliff. any time they are a bit more busy...
- " when night descends, so do we! who needs a vampire really?" as the party prepares to sleep, the stirges keep being around. if the party sleeps in the open then they are in for some trouble, if they somehow barricaded themselves, then the danger is lessened, but not averted. as some characters begin to sleep, some of the stirges fall to the ground (you might allow a listen check for that, though finding the stirges can be more difficult). they then crawl to the nearest character, and suck some blood from it (see the numbing effect in game mechanics) the guarding character should have some chance to find and kill the intruders (flat footed on the ground). if they sleep in a barricaded place, then less stirges can come in, and they are easily detected and destroyed.
note that the loss of blood also means no healing during the night, and that the casters did not get a "good night's sleep".
- "the gang leader and his homies": (i apologize for my bad slang) not linked to the encounters above, Stirges often reside near an effective creature. how about a large hall, in which some carrion crawlers reside? when a victim is paralyzed, suddenly a stirge or two descend on the wrapped up meal (and the party must deal with their buddy's distress as well). a spider's (or aranea's, or a dridder's) den with all it's webs... once a prey is caught, come the predators... or perhaps a rust monster who coexist with some stirges- once reduces the AC, the other reduces the Con till they fall... stirges could work remarkably well with fairly non intelligent creatures, especially if they don't drink blood, such as... Golems? a group of stirges resides near a ruin guarded by some golem or another, swooping by whenever it starts pounding it's next meal...
- "BloodLustSwarm": the swarm itself is meant to be horrifying, and very deadly if not handled properly. but it can be diverted and redirected fairly easily, if one knows how. however, from my point of view, two significant points about it is not knowing when it will strike, and the mystery surrounding it. i can easily imagine a campaign, in which the party has a few encounters with stirges in an area, the main druid concerned at the increasing numbers. then, as the party explores something entirely different (preferably in some old abandoned place, close by to a rural settlement), they suddenly meet a minor villain, whom they know worships some dark/ insane purpose, standing under a massive nest of stirges, who hum strangely. they engulf it as he laughs and screams (i said insane, you following me?), and then the swarm senses it's next target- one of the characters... the encounters? one- flee the swarm and distract it. two- alert the villagers/ druid/ whomever. three- prepare a sacrifice in the direction of that swarm. four- have a second swarm arrive from an unanticipated direction...
in conclusion: as you see, other than the swarm i haven't diverted that much from what's written in the MM. this could easily be done with many other "banal" monsters! the stirge is indeed a treasure, if used right, and there are so many other treasures out there, just waiting... looking forward to your feedback...
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-13-2010 at 02:23 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
the Stone Giant: it's all about the community. (Thunder Clap variant included)
this entry focuses on making use of community, and making a simple "grunt monster" something more, unique, and memorable. this was also my first attempt at creating variants, in this case- the Thunderclaps.
Stone Giant MMI
Bad street Rep: giants, unlike dragons, devils and other multiple-sub-species creatures in the MMs, don't have much flavor added to their entries, and the distinction between them is often very, very vague. you basically pick a bigger ogre, who can throw rocks, and might have an energy immunity or minor spell-like powers. their societies are basically the same, and there is no actual reference on what it means to be a GIANT at all! (much less on their the inter relations between the subspecies).
out of the given races, the Stone Giant is probably the least used. if you want a weak sort of giant- why not take the Hill Giant? it fills the brute role sufficiently enough. and if you want something more "scenic", then the fire/ frost and other types fill the role. for most DMs, the Stone Giant is the kid picked last in the team...
i care for it because: the entry for the stone giant does hint that there was some attempt at giving it more context. it has a few peculiar differences from the other types (longer rock throwing, tougher Nat armor then it's power level, far longer life spans, the "elders with powers" part). i was early on intrigued at what possibilities this little "stone in the rough" might posses, if i only develop it, breath life into it.
the art work for it often reminded me of the huge elongated head statues seen on some culture's lands (Mauri? aborigines? i know i should have googled, but i haven't. sorry). and it gave me some ideas. the more i worked on this, the more excited i became, as suddenly this "back of the closet" giant race bloomed to be an intriguing, challenging and fun monster to run.
and now presenting to you, the new and improved Stone Giant:
Perceptions and Concept
- perception: giants at large are used as heavy melee combatants by the DM, with only 1-4 giants present. i preferred to focus on the tribe/ family/ small group as a whole (as i do with most intelligent social beings). the party may fight but a few giants, but there is some sort of support from the rest of their little community. also i wanted to make the giants more unique, with a special culture that has in-game ramifications as well... i developed some powers, practices, relations and tools for the culture (some of which unique to these stone giants).
the idea was to make the players not just face "a bigger ogre", but a unique monster, with it's own flavor and strategies. the community aspect, as well as the accompanying powers force the players to deal with added complexity, as well as providing many adventure hooks.
- concept: The Stone Giants are an old, old race... their legends tell of some sort of ancient pact with some force, binding the earth itself to their bodies. whatever this pact was, it has surely benefited the giants- they live longer, require less nutrition then their counterparts, their skin is much hardened, and perhaps most important is their connection with the earth, and the elder secrets they use to protect their community, their land, and care for it. some scholars claim that the stone giants were more numerous in olden days, and that they wielded great secrets and knowledge (as do the druids of these days), but most of these were lost... the remaining secrets however are still quiet potent, some terrifying.
most stone giant communities dwell in a mountainous region, though they can be found in most fairly wild, and open locations. while staying in a region, the Elder of the group (it's the spiritual adviser/ tribe shaman type of personality, but not necessarily) tends to a massive Geode called the Central Geode (in common. the giant name is more complex). this is the center of the Elder's powers, and enables him/her to protect and affect it's members and community in many ways- from strengthening giants from afar, surveying the land through the eyes of long dead petrified giants, use the same sentinels for the protection of the community, and more... the Central Geode recharges it's powers slowly, from the members of the community and the earth upon which it rest.
a sub group of the giants deserves a special reference- the ThunderClaps. Giants conceived or born in the middle of great storms (which the stone giants just love!) sometime display a slightly more reflective skin, as well as special powers. (you could ask your players for a spot check to spot the sheen, and for a knowledge check to realize what it means). these giants show powers connected to thunder, lightning and storm! though revered, many of these giants are encouraged to join special little nomadic groups called In-Thunder's-Step, (again, this is but a literal meaning, the true meaning in giant is obscure) composed mostly (but not entirely) of individuals with similar powers. these groups move between small communities, and perform certain religious rights. the significance of this is unknown, but usually storms can be called. the Thunder elders (who always travel in these groups, never staying at their original community) posses even more secrets, carrying their own center of power- a humming staff.
Place and Interactions:
- Place in the world: the giants form very tight knit little communities, and most focus on animal husbandry, a bit of agriculture and elaborate stone craft, and tending. a special affect a community has on a place is the presence of the Watchers. giants who are close to death (either naturally, or at negatives hit points and stabilized) are taken to locations of importance in the region (watch points, strategic points, places of reverence, and so on). there, the Elder uses the Central Geode to transform the giant to a watcher- the giant's features partially meld into the stone, as his entire body changes into rock.
these... monuments could be seen anywhere where stone giant were, or are present. as time goes by more and more of the Watcher seem to become "natural", but the face is always clear (you can have the party make spot checks if needed). stone giants always learn the location of all watchers in their region, both out of reverence, and out of practicality- in case of danger, a stone giant can touch a watcher and use one of his/her earth link powers to make the Central Geode emit a rumble, which attracts the Elder to it. the Elder can use the Geode to look and listen through any watchers in the region! if the situation grows dire, he can even use the Geode to animate a watcher, to protect his/her people! (this is rarely done, since it drains the Geode considerably. also, Stone Giant beliefs constitute that awakening a Watcher should be done only in extreme cases, as this disturbs it's sleep)
In Thunder's Step groups carry a Geode, but since it needs to stay half buried into the ground to recharge, they barely use it, conserving it's powers. not having it's protection, as well as the protection of Watchers (the nomadic ways take them away from the proximity of such assistance), they rely instead on their own strength and powers, as well as the staff carried by the Thunder Elder, called Held Storm. the staff amplifies the powers of the ThunderClaps, in a similiar way that the Central Geode do with the common stone giant powers. there are some subtle differences, but the principal is the same. these staffs can only be charged at storms though, and so it's use is also fairly conservative.
Stone giants (regular and thunderclaps) usually avoid complex politics. their utmost care is for their families/ community, and the care for the earth. usually cautious, they do however display all the possible range of behaviors and responses common to other races, such as curiosity, anger, aggressiveness, welcoming and more. the details vary between community to community, depending on the region's history and more.
Though most think of them as "stay in place" giants, the Stoney ones actually make scheduled migrations every several decades or so (druids have often pondered about this, as the giants themselves reluctantly refer to some "inner tides", "balance of stone", "the shifting rock" and other obscure terms). the Elder decides this a few years in advance, and then the leader of the tribe picks a few talented giants, to scout the way in advance, so they could all prepare. the road is usually fairly long, taking several years. the Geode cannot be charged while traveling, and so periodic stays are scheduled, used only if needed. usually, the destination has also been at some point (perhaps still is) a stone giant community (if there are giants in the place, they are probably preparing to migrate as well. no one knows how this is all synchronized).
there is one more common case where a splinter group detaches from the main one (similar to the scouts). when a group of young small giants comes of age, they are sent away from the community for several years, to learn more about the world. they could offer their services, wander on their own, and such. they must stay out of the reach of Watchers. the idea behind this is to grant the youths a bit more experience, and a bit more flexibility. the group is called a Pebble for this few years.
both of the above mentioned groups carry a Minor Geode, specially created by the elder. it enables the small group to gain some benefits similar to the Central Geode, but they can't use the elder powers, or recharge it. this is done both to give the younglings some backup if needed, and to teach them the importance of conservation (if talking about a Pebble).
In Thunder's Step are almost always migrating, but they follow storms rather then specific Stone giant settlement. from time to time they visit other groups of stone giants, to exchange goods, and perhaps join a new ThunderClap to them. the Thunderclap also have a special an emissary role, which will be discussed shortly
- interactions: Stone giants in general aren't very social and tend to avoid outsiders into their territory... many times travelers only see a glimpse of a giant, and from then on only the gazing look of Watchers, from time to time (the giant went to the closest Watcher, alerted the Elder, who then alerted the others, and kept watch on the possible threat). when the giants do deal with others, the whole range of possible interactions is open. there are however some notable special cases, either by behavior, or attitude:
- dwarfs: stone giants have an innate dislike for dwarves and other deep mining races, claiming them to be "wounding the earth". most stone giants tend to be wary towards them, and not hostile, due to an ancient history of bloodshed. many believe it is this feud that drove the dwarves to develop their special tactics against giants.
- Goliaths: are usually welcomed fairly warmly amongst the giants, considering them their smaller kin as a human might consider a halfling. both races have mostly Oral history to rely on, but it seems there was a far greater connection between the races in the past... but, just as with a human and a halfling, things are rarely that simple, and it all depends on the particular case.
- giant kin: the Stone Giants are considered the "neutral" party in any conflict between giants. they usually avoid getting involved, and most other races seem to understand that. there seem to have been some sort of a special decree in ages past, excluding giants from political giant conflicts. perhaps this is due to their secular nature. In Thunder's Step seem to fit a special role in this- they act as emmiseries and messengers between far and wide communities. some theorize that the ancient storm giants have been instrumental in creating the ThunderClaps, and have placed upon them this duty/ burden/ role... though now there are far, far less giants then in olden days, the In Thunder's Step keep on the tradition most seriously. surprisingly, most giant communities also keep with the hospitality for these nomads, though some giants have broken off their ties...
- trade:in times of need, stone giant can trade with other races. a common commodity are their services- either their strength, their earth link powers, or their martial prowess... small humanoid communities the giants deem valuable and non threatening may gain a seasonally visit from a few of the giants, looking for work or trade.
Thunderclaps are for some reason far more sociable then the common giants. they try to gain better equipment, better clothes and so forth... a ThunderClap many time acts as the giants spokesman, and can usually be identified by some flashier garb, weapon, or just style...
- giant eagles and rocs:stone giants are fond of giant eagles in their mountains, and go to some lengths protecting them. an even more sacred "birds" are the enormous Rocks. many giant communities (and especially ThunderClaps) revere them, as representations of some ancient power or bond. if a Roc lives nearby a community, the giants will protect it ferociously, and a Watcher or two will most probably be stationed near it, if possible.
- Pebbles"these groups of youngsters trade and lend their services far more frequently then other groups of giants (migration scouting parties as well, if the needs demand). the most commonly fought "brutes giant in the service of someone else" type of encounter usually stems from these little groups. Pebbles are mostly loyal to their own kind first however, and won't necessarily fight to the death for someone else (Pebbles usually hire themselves out as a way to gain experience, and adventure. not out of a special loyalty or cause... those wait at home)
- alliances: Stone giants sometime do enable themselves to form allies and friends. if these happen to live inside the area containing Watchers, the stone giants may give their allies a special gift- a small Calling Geode, which enables it's holder to alert the Elder by touching a watcher and making the Central Geode tremble (most allies no nothing of the process. they are just told "touch this stone to a watcher, and we'll know"). if the allies proved their worth, and one of the stone giants is dying, the allies might get a Watcher right close to home...
- game mechanics: these are not meant to be complete, but the basic outline of the ideas that could be easily fleshed out if you're using these ideas. there are a few sections, first dealing with the stone giants, then the Geode, the thunderclaps, the Held Storm, and a few other stuff...
1) younger stone giants: this mainly refers to the giants who might go on a Pebble (though "adults", meaning "full" giants can go to). there are two younger varieties: juvenile at 10HD, young adult at 12 HD. their statistics change accordingly:
less strength for the juvenile
one less natural armor per age category.
the rocks used cause less damage (didn't try to calculate how much).
the age mostly impact on the spell like powers the giants can get from their Stone/Earth Link feat (will be described shortly). this is true for thunder claps as well.
2) Stone Giant Feats: these feats represent a different degree of connection to the earth. all of them require being a stone giant. Giants don't "choose" these feats, instead they represent a gift, (or very special training in the case of the Secrets feats).
Stone/ Earth Link: the giant gains the ability to use spell like abiliites, identical to those of the earth domain, each spell-like ability once per day. instead of an ability score, the giant must have a sufficient amount of HD (both racial and class HD contribute to this). a giant with 10 HD can use the first level spell like ability, and any further tow more HD gives him access to another level (a "normal" 14th level giant gains access to all spell like abilities of the earth domain up to and including the third level).
in addition, the giant gains the Earth domain's special ability, usable once per day only, and he can access the Central Geode Community powers.
(a small note concerning the spell magic stones- the giant version applies to a single small rock, used usually by juveniles. it makes it as damaging as a larger rock (used by adults), besides the other affects...)
Secrets of the Stone Giants: this feat is held only by Elders of giant communities, and requires the previous feat. it enables the Elder to use all of the Central Geode's powers, as well as create a Minor Geode, a Calling Geode, and to recharge a Central Geode. this is the only way to recharge it, and so the Elder is of an enormous importance to the tribe...
3) Central Geode: this is a massive rock, with strange markings upon it, and an odd hum, similar to the Held Storm... it cannot be easily carried, and on migrations the giants make a special contraption to hold it between 4 of them. when not migrating it is buried half way into the earth, from where it draws it's power (together with the elder).
The Geode holds within it a great potential energy, that can be used either by the community members, or by the Elder/s for greater effect. each use of power drains the Geode, and it recharges but slowly. community members are taught to be careful in it's use, but not to fear in case of real danger. The Geode can exercise it's powers from afar. but the farther away the target, the more it is drained. do notice that members could be far from the Geode to call upon it's powers... the power drainage does limit it's range
(i haven't figured out an exact system to handle this, but it should be easy enough. the DM can alternatively just decide when a use is warranted, and when the Geode cannot be used, or is close to depletion). the powers:
"Alert the Watcher": this can be done by any stone giant. by touching a watcher, the Geode begins to tremble (could be miles away). if an Elder than touches it, he could sense which Watcher was touched (and then continue on his own. this power takes minor energy from the Geode.
the Community Powers can be accessed by any stone giant with the Earth/Stone link feat:
"call of stone":the giant's skin becomes grayer, and he takes on a meaner look. it gains a temporary increase to HD, and a toughening of natural skin (i thought 2-3HD, +2 nat per calling, or perhaps a small damage reduction instead? the increase in hit dice does NOT affect the spell like powers. this power takes a small but noticeable amount of energy from the Geode.
"gift of earth": the giant's eyes grow even more.. "earthy". the giant gains access to a spell-like power greater by one level than the normal.
this power takes a small but noticeable amount of energy from the Geode.
the Elder powers form the true powers of the Geode, and the core of the community's defense. the Elder must be in physical contact with it in order to use them:
"eyes, ears, and touch of the Watchers": the Elder can look through the eyes of the Watchers, hear what goes around them, and gains tremor sense for 60 ft. s/he can only "use" one such elder at a time, though most Elders due a weekly "survey" through all the watchers. this power takes a negligible amount of energy from the Geode. (practically free).
"Watcher turned Guardian": the Elder animates a watcher, (essentially an animated object), and unleashes it upon it's foes. the watcher can either give it brief mental commands and let it act on it's own, (perhaps in order to awaken another Watcher nearby?) or he can control it directly, using his own BAB, feats, and so on (while enjoying the Hardness and immunities of the construct). while "in touch" with a guardian the elder may channel any touch, self, or targeted spell unto the Watcher (ig he has any).
this power takes a large amount of energy from the Geode, and is done only at a real sense of danger.
"Summon the earth": the elder can summon an earth elemental to assist combatants, or to help reshape the earth and such. the stone giants sees the earth elementals as holy, and thus prefer to avoid using them in combat. the most common uses are for building, or averting natural disasters (and perhaps causing landslides and such over enemies, limiting the exposure to danger). though the elemental can be summoned at range, the Elder does not retain any link to it after the initial orders were given (unlike with the watchers). this power takes a variable amount of energy from the Geode, depending on the size of the elemental, but it is still a fairly large amount.
Embed Watcher/craft Minor Geode/ Craft calling Geode: all of these uses create tools of the Stone Giant society, and have been/will be explained in the proper place. the first is used to meld a dying giant into the Watcher's form, and requires a little energy. the second requires a medium amount of energy, and is in fact a piece of the Geode which detaches. the last requires a negligible amount, and is also a fist sized shard broken off the Central Geode.
4) Minor Geode: carried by a Pebble or migration scouting group, it enables the Community powers of the Central Geode. however, it's energy is far smaller (1/5-1/8 as the center Geode), and it cannot be recharged.
5) Calling Geode: used by non stone giants to alert stone giants. works like the "Alert the Watcher" power, but requires touching the Geode to the stone sentinel.
6)ThunderClap feats: these can be taken with or without the normal feats (they are not exclusive). however, there is no recorded case of one giant knowing both Secrets feats. all other remarks concerning the stone giant feats are true here as well.
ThunderClap:taken at birth, the giant is immune to lightning and deafening effects. gains resistance sonic 10, about 1 in 20 giant is a ThunderClap...
Thunder/Storm Link: this feat requires the previous feat first. works exactly the same like the Earth/Stone Link except that the domain in question is Weather (not Air...), and that it does not allow access to a Center Geode community powers. it does however allows access to the Held Storm Travel Group powers.
Secrets of the Thunder: requires the previous two feats first. this feat is held only by Thunder Elders, leading In Thunder's Step's nomads. it enables the Elder to use all of the Held Storm's powers. it also enables it's owner to recharge the staff, in appropriate storms.
7) Held Storm: the counterpart for the Center Geode in the nomadic groups, it holds the same function in many ways. it also hold a potential energy, that can be unleashed. it can be recharged only in naturally occurring storms, by someone holding the feat of Secrets of the Thunder. it's range is determined by weather- in calm weather it is short, but the stormier it gets the father the spread. the nomadic group is well aware of it, and tries not to wander too far.
the following power is available to ANY stone giant:
"sense the wind": sort of a compass for the group, the staff enables a greater range of weather prediction tests. upon succeeding on the appropriate survival test, the holder can predict the weather for the next week for farther than the mere near vicinity. in particular, the holder predicts the location of a rough or stormy weather.
the following powers can be called upon (the same as with community powers regarding the Center Geode) by giants with the Thunder/storm Link feat:
"Call of the thunder": the Giant skin begins to vibrate slightly, and then he suddenly emits a sharp burst of shattering thunder (sonic damage? deafening effects? perhaps stun?) ThunderClap giants are immune to this special attack. this power takes a small but noticeable amount of energy from the Held Storm.
"gift of storm": this works exactly like Gift of earth power of the Center Geode, only in regards to the ThunderClap's domain of weather. this power takes a small but noticeable amount of energy from the Held Storm.
the following powers can be used only by a Thunder Elder:
summon storm elemental: pretty much the same as the Summon earth elemental power of the Center Geode. the power expenditure is lower however, and this is a common uses on defense. again- the exact power usage depends on the elemental. they cannot be used to recharge the staff.
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-13-2010 at 02:38 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
Stone giants, continued
Mysteries and the unknown
- mysteries and unknown: there are some mysteries concerning the silent giants. the most obvious ones are their own secret crafts, from the Watchers, the Central Geodes, the Held Storm and such... according to some scripts some of the items were duplicated in the past by non-giants, but only a real stone giant, skilled in their secrets could activate it, and most importantly- regenerate them.
other secrets refer to their past- their strange elemental "pacts", the special place they hold with the giants, and more. perhaps most curious might be their constant migrations, and the signs or language they seem to see in the earth itself... the giants themselves have probably lost and forgotten much of their ancient past, so the answers may never be known...
Playing, at a D&D table near YOU!
- "the power of youth. literally the power!": to start of the list of encounters, i'd start with the closest thing in my concept to the "fight with a giant brute" sort of encounter. i speak of course of the Pebble group. the group of young giants is hired by an adversary of the players, and at some point or another they fight. pretty ordinary, but there are some notable differences.
first- the giants make good use of their spell like powers granted by the Link feats. (make at least one a thunderclap for variety). stoneshape could create pits, block passages, create cover and so on. call lightning can harass spell casters, while fog cloud provide concealment.
second- the Pebble has the Minor Geode for extra support. either make them stronger, or buff up their spell like abilities.
third- living away from their community, these giants are probably better equipped than the usual "giant swing club" stereotype. this is particularly true for thunderclaps.
fourth- more a matter of flavor, but important non the less- the age group. we're talking teenagers and young adults here- they are brash, enthusiastic, making lewd comments and jokes, egging their friends and so on. oh, and they are a few meters tall delivering a really serious punch...
- "real estate brokers": the other chance to meet a fairly small group of these giants is the migration scouting groups. a bit larger than Pebbles, these groups are comprised from the best of the clan/ tribe. an encounter with them is a far more strategic and tactical event.
a settlement in a mountainous area is harassed by stone giants. at first the harassment was merely to inconvenience, but recently things started to get worse. what is weird is that there haven't been any stone giant here for ages! (though there are those peculiar stone statues all over the region). attempts to find a base of operation have failed miserably.
this is actually a scouting group, preceding the main tribe by a few weeks/ months/ years. they are determined to get rid of the "land poachers", in order to start preparing it for the tribe. they use guerrilla tactics, aiming to drive the people away more than outright kill them. but if time gets pressing, they are willing to do what it takes. to make things more complicated this group avoids talking about the reasons for it's actions (fearing to expose the actual tribe), and goes to great lengths to prevent capture.
this is an encounter/ adventure suited more for the thinking kind of players, and offers no clear cut solution. it can go many ways, and have many possibilities for various tactical combat. (ambushing the adventurers, sabotaging supplies, using the spell like abilities to alter the terrain, and more) things might get far more complicated if the party actually kills the scouting group, only to find some time later that a whole tribe of giants, with their elders and weird magic just arrived...
- "a case of mistaken identity": as the party enters an area well known for gentle reclusive stone giants, they are suddenly confronted by angry ones, perhaps with an elemental by them, accusing them of some crime! when the party tries to explain it wasn't them, the giant reply "oh! you said you weren't here! but our watchers saw you, and watchers don't lie!"
an enemy of the party with shape shifting/ illusion abilities entered the mountain range shortly before the party came. it used it's talents to hide it's true nature, before committing some crime (destroying art, killing cattle, attacking a young giant, and such). the villain made sure it was all done in front of a Watcher though, before slinking away. if the party don't explain themselves they might have serious problems on their hands.
some sample classic instances for this- the party chases a villain and s/he does this as a diversion, through them of his/her trail. the party travels in a caravan, either guarding something or someone. as the party is occupied with the allegations, the villain steals/ assassinates the guarded.
- "reinforcements on their way!": the party have just dealt a serious blow to a group of creatures, and is now busy attacking the main lair/ village/ fortress... as they reach a central area, they see one of the creatures leaders pressing a small stone to a big statue (or statues?) in the middle of the place. a few seconds later, the statues come alive! oh well, the party fought constructs before... only this one doesn't really act like on- it fights smart, hits accurately, and where did the buffing spell come from? oh, and we have an earth elemental spring as well?
the statues are of course watchers, and these are allies to giants. (the stone is a Calling Geode). this is a sort of a surprise encounter in many ways- unexpected enemies, fighting in unexpected ways, and if what that leader yells at the characters is right- there are giant's on the way!
the idea is to have an encounter that injects new tension, new urgency into the play. by adding the "giants are coming! giants are coming!" element you also inject that vital thing that keeps a game interesting- time pressure.
- "the fugitive, Stone giant style!": the presence of watchers grants a really unique surveillance power for a community in it's region. a unique challenge for your adventure is creating some situation in which the party is deep within stone giant territory, and is for some reason is suddenly considered a threat. now the entire community mobilizes after them. this means scouting groups, perhaps giant eagles, and the ever present, ever silent numerous watchers... they merge fairly good with their background, and they are usually set at points that promise a great view.
when the group is found many resources are diverted towards them- the giants themselves, but more immediately- the watchers themselves, perhaps with an elemental to accompany. the party should ideally be able to defeat each little threat, but at a cost. escaping the region should require stealth, wilderness tactics, and smarts. the one really fun thing about this for a DM is to utilize the entire community.
some possible situations that lead to this one: the previous encounter, the party stealing eggs of giant eagles or Rocs. the party trying to steal a Central Geode, and more.
- "a heavy burden- a dead giant's last wish": the party witness (perhaps even assist) in a battle between two giants and some other monster (which might escape). at the end of the battle one of the giants is dying (negative hp, but stabilized), but the other urges the party not to heal it! the giant explains tat it goes against their beliefs, and that if they heal him he won't be able to become a Watcher later on (equivalent of robbing the giant of their after life). it then says that the emulation ceremony must be done quickly, but for that he must alert the Elder.
the giant goes searching for another watcher, to make contact, but not before asking the party to transport the unconscious giant to one of the places destined for watchers... and hurry, because time is of the essence! the party is left with the trouble of transporting the giant to it's place (which is a problem by itself. these fellows don't come light!), all the while watching for any other threats that might kill it too soon (for example- the escaping monster). they can heal it, but then risk bad reactions from the giants, they can kill it or leave it, and expect worse. or they can try to do what was asked of them..
the task is unique, and requires unconventional thinking. it may also be seem as annoying to some. this encounter is there efor best suited for "goody" groups, or groups who like immersion in the world, it's culture, and details. the actual "becoming a watcher" ceremony is a special experience, and they might also gain favor with the community for time to come?
- "In Thunder's Step, your ears go BOOM!": though ThunderClap giants can appear in all of the above scenes (as well they should, though they are a distinct and small minority), they really come to their own in their nomadic traveling groups. there they have their own stylish ways, more powers granted by the Held Storm and Elders, and perhaps most importantly- they are the norm, not the exceptions.
these nomadic groups enables the characters to see esoteric parts of giant lives. first- they give more depth to the common stone giant- they stand in contrast to them, but are also part of their culture.
second- they shed some light on the world of giants in general. being emmiseries between the different groups they may shed much light on them. in fact, one of the main reason for an adventuring group to join In Thunder's Step is to be able to reach hidden giants, or converse with them in a relatively safe manner.
last- these giants have a special relationship with the storm giants, and any who wishes to learn about this mighty creatures may do well to seek the Thunder Elder.
if the party does join the thunder clap, a small battle may explain why the Thunderclaps never built communities with the stone giants themselves. as battle erupts, they begin using their special powers, and the powers of the Held Storm. the Call of thunder means the party will find itself in the middle of booming sonic thunders! (make sure to have a recording of a thunder storm for this session...). most chances the characters will be deafened in no time which will lead to a lot of "what? attack who? what are you talking about? why are you going there? i told you to go there!" (you might ask your deafened players to just cover their ears till it's their turn. or rely on mature players...) together with call lightning, and perhaps sleet storms the battle will look like a little storm indeed! (oh, make sure it's a sunny lovely day before the encounter...)
this encounter is mostly for flavor, and to show the vast contrast to the common giants. but it could also be amusing, and overwhelming...
- "don't shoot the messenger! but then again, perhaps you should": this last "encounter" is actually a suggestion for a campaign, or part of a campaign. it somewhat enables you to use many of the above mentioned scenes in some way or another. the idea is far from complete, but it is enough to show how giants can become major forces in the campaign.
the main BBEG is a Thunder Elder, who secretly harbors some dark cause, far exceeding the usual "emmiserial" role appointed to his kind long ago. outwardly this Elder is charming, open, and have even gained some fame between humanoid groups as wise and insightful. secretly the Elder uses it's diplomatic skills and special position to sow unrest and concern amongst the various giant groups (not just stone) in the region/s. also, he persuades a small homeless community of stone giants (from "real estate brokers") to locate to a previously uninhabited (or perhaps long deserted) mountainous area, which they slowly turn into his vast fortress.
the various giant groups start attacking or harassing other settlements, and the party is forced to try and help. the BBEG tells the party of a way to cripple a small community of small giants (after finding he can't really subvert them to his cause) by killing their main elder (who knows his secret, and just waits for another Storm Elder to come). as the party does the feat, they are chased by the lot of the tribe (who has another younger Elder to operate the Geode). they might battle Pebbles here and there, meet with giant allies, and of course have their ears go Boom while traveling with the BBEG's own nomadic group. when the BBEG departs the group, the party might escort one of the ThunderClap Secret initiate to the mysterious castle of a storm giant, and help him become the new Thunder Elder.
the full powers of the Held Storm could come into play at the final confrontation, or they might be the threat that the party needs to stop. this will be a battle against a whole stone community, with some adjoined thunderclaps and other monsters, with the forces of both Geode and Staff arrayed against them.
and who knows, perhaps the BBEG uncovered some other of the stone giant secrets? there must be a reason why Stone and Thunder were kept apart after all...
in conclusion: i hope you enjoyed. i do believe these fellows have some good playing potential. haven't really dealt with other giants types (perhaps you can fill me in?) i do believe in less monster types, more depth to each. as always- comments are welcome!
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-13-2010 at 02:48 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Barghest: by the Wolf, the Goblin and the unholy spirit! (includes a most unique PrC...)
the monster has some history in legends, folklore and such, but i read very,very little of it. as with previous entries, i tried to inject a bit more substance to it, other than what the MM says. unlike other entries, this one might be a bit heavier on the "game mechanics" stuff. for you see- the way i expanded on the original description, a Braghest is fairly unique in origin, and thus have some specific rules for it. also- there are more than one type, and the entire race started as a union between two species, a malevolent cosmic force, to form... a Prestige Class.
got you intrigued already? good. the "mechanics" part is not very Stat heavy, more conceptual than anything. and one more important note, before i continue- i mainly play using the Eberron campaign setting, and the existence of the ancient goblinoid Empire inspired me much in this. i might make references to Eberron here and there, but everything is easily adjustable to most campaigns.
ok, time to begin. i suggest to work a little hunger, dim the lights, and think of wolves. hungry, malicious, relentless, cunning and power hungry wolves...
now, imagine you are in their debt...
Bad street Rep: this creature seems odd all around- it reminds one of lycanthropes, but not quite it. it's hunger reminds of a vampire's thirst, but not quite so again. it's definitely evil and extreme enough to be an outsider, only it doesn't fit the "ruthless/ mindless/ slave minion" type, nor the uber-strong-fighter type outsider of the outer planes (or similar). and what is with the weird progression thing? needs to feed on his enemies to gain HD? and what can a DM do with the Feeding thing- either useless or too extreme... lets just choose another monster...
i care for it because: first of all, as a series of lovely games once proclaimed "in odd we trust" (though i doubt this is what they had in mind). the two things that appealed to me first were the art for the creature (a starved looking alienish wolf, which looks cunning, fierce, and... wrong.) and the second thing was the feeding power. it was so unique, so out of place, yet sooo extreme, it just called for a story behind it.
i was then drawn to all the other kinds of strange facts: why just a goblin form? why the dependency on the feeding? why the lack of place amongst evil outsiders? this guy had a lot of potential in my mind. not as a single fight monster (though that could be done as well), but as a recurring... not necessarily villain, but definitely a dangerous, suspicious shifty character.
and now presenting to you, the new and improved Barghest:
perception and concept:
- perception: very few DMs have any clear role for this bugger. i've decided however to have several roles for it (other than the race/s history and predicament):
a cunning predatory monster, trying to avoid detection and extermination.
a hired demon buffing allies and weakening enemies in allies.
a demon who crafts elaborate deals, trading services for various other debts.
a minor or major villain (or it's helper), growing frighteningly in power each time it is met.
a prestige class for players enjoying the "doomed martyr" roleplay experience.
a tool by the DM to frighten a group relying on raise dead and similar spells too often
- concept: the story begins long ago, in a time where Goblinoids were numerous, (in Eberron, i refer to a time previous to the Six Kings). one region under Goblin control came into great danger. as things got worse, and each of the tribes fended for their own, one of the tribes uncovered secrets, of communicating with a primal force of creation, a force no one dealt with before. the only scripts remaining from that those time refer to it as Hunger (in Goblin), though the title seem incomplete...
the Goblins contacted the entity, wishing to deal with it, to gain some power, some help for their tribe, thinking to appease it with sacrifices and worship, as is the custom with other gods (for they thought this was one). but the entity seemed uninterested in all they suggested. communication with it has been hard. it seemed alien, strange, at the same time cunning but oblivious to many simple and well known things. the only thing that really interested it was the hunger, the hunger, the need to eat, to feed, to have a mouth.
as the tidings around them grew worse, the shamans of the tribes inquired and parlied with the entity, offering slaves and other for her to feed upon, but it demanded a body of it's own. they offered slaves as receptacles to it, but it demanded a willing subject, or in fact subjects... the more they spoke with the entity, the more it became clear that it was bound by specific rules, but that those rules could be used to make sure she cannot betray the tribe.
in the end it became clear the entity needed one feral mind, conjoined with an intelligent thinking mind. the tribe had long established connections with wolf packs, whom they treated as equals. one of the shaman suggested then one of the goblin rangers, and it's animal companion, two of them leaders within the tribe, powerful, well respected.
as the ranger and her wolf were brought in front of the shaman circle, the Hunger made it's offer: if the ranger and wolf will agree to joining with a portion of it, it will give them both great power- personal power, as well as the power to imbue their allies with victory over their enemies. bound to it's own strict and unwavering rules, the entity then added- but you will have to feed on others essence, drawing every little bit of them to you, and eventually to the Hunger. this is worse than death, as the "meal" ceases to exist entirely. more over, the hunger will slowly take both minds of wolf and goblin, if their will is not strong enough, consuming them as just other meals... the Hunger promised a slight chance of making it through the power trip, but it's a very, very slim one. will they accept?
the ranger (who's name was lost to time) and her companion accepted. a dark ritual, and darker transformation took place, joining both bodies into one, and adding a third, hungry, needing, insisting presence to the two minds already present. the First Barghest was created! the Barghest has indeed changed the battle, and soon the knowledge of the ritual and the powers began to circulate in Goblins lands. the Hunger made slightly different deals with each tribe, and with each goblin and wolf who partook in the rituals, but the same basic warnings returned: great power for being a conduit to the feeding. a perpetual feeling of hunger, of emptiness. the slim possibility to survive this, but also the near certainty that you won't.
the Name Barghest originates from the ancient Goblin tongue, and means somethings on the sort of "greatest martyrs" (commemorating both), but this meaning has been lost to time. out of the hundreds or thousands of Barghest in those times, many became powerful, many became the tribes guardians and heroes, at least for a while... because almost all have succumbed to the overpowering Hunger that lay within them.
some lost their connection to this world, and were later banished to some outer plane. there they cannot feed, endlessly seek to return, to feed, to sedate their torment. they are the lowest of Barghests, and are referred to as Extraplanar hounds (would love if someone give me better names)
with others, their free minds were consumed, but not their connection to the world. the prevailing mind was the Portion of Hunger that shaped like their previous minds. they lived in the world, form there till now, reproducing as well, but keeping their general numbers low. they are called the Native hounds
the last type was a sort of an accident, that gave rise to one of the world most numerous magical beasts- the Worgs. sometime, when the Hunger began to consume the goblin mind, it consumed itself as well. what was left is a strong wolf, with imprints of malicious cunning.
there are only two known cases of Goblins making it all the way through to the end of the PrC, without turning to one or another aspect of Barghest.
they have indeed been proven to be free of the Hunger, and shining individuals, have great influence with their own kind. the two have died long ago though, and their tales are but fantasy...
several characteristics are true to both Barghest types, and the Prc. (not the worg):
Hunger: the feeling of hunter is ever constant, ever present. it is absolutely central to being a Barghest. it can only be sated by the Feeding, which is an abominable act by most moral systems: the feeding act destroys the very essence of the "meal". most religions claims this destroys the soul, and thus vehemently object to the Barghest's existence.
Predation reserves: as the Barghest feeds, a shred of each essence goes into the Predation reserve- a power reserve that fuels the Barghest's powers, makes it stronger, even enables it to heal, and more. as the Barghest feeds, it looks healthier, fuller, more powerful. as it expends it's reserves, it becomes thinner, bonier, eyes sunken, and such. the rapid transformations in appearance have often frightened people
Elevating feeds: some feedings, of sufficiently strong enemies seem to have further effect on the Barghest- if enough "elevating feedings" are had, the Barghest grows in power! this is seen both as physical growth, and magical powers. the act is accompanied by a surge of Hunger, feeding on the energy of all nearby. this is a terrifying sight.
Dark Influence:many of the Barghest powers assist his allies and hamper his enemies simultaneously. the effects occur in a radius called Dark Influence. apart from the power's effect, all of the affected feel a strong sense of evil lingering over them. this is a unique ability of the race, and can be used to identify them.
Place in the world and Reactions:
- Place in the world: today most references to the ancient role of Barghest are gone. most people who might hear of a barghest just consider it "a demon who looks like a goblin". through the centuries various religious groups have tried to eradicate the Barghests, and they have been fairly succesful... not 100% succesful though, and the barghest prefer to keep it that way. most seek to hide, to live their lives in obscurity, to tend to their hunger without drawing attention.
but there is one aspect of Barghest nature, that makes dealing with others, for whatever need, a most special matter- their Deals, and adherence to the rules. though Barghests are creatures driven by a dark compulsion, they are also very lawful. Barghest are surprisingly very honest creatures (telling the bare minimum of course, but telling it truthfully), who give great weight to any agreed upon bargain, deal, or debt. those who summon them rely on this fact, as do any who deal with them, offer them protection, and more. a Barghest will always follow the deal. after all- their entire existence stems from their one important deal...
this does not in anyway means that dealing with a Barghest is simple. it is more akin to dealing with a team of devilish lawyers, all of whom were also top notch salesmen, and the elite of the debate team. a barghest would gladly offer its services- tracking, fighting, knowledge, powers, and more, if he thinks he can gain from the deal, and if it doesn't invalidate any other. it will however abide to it in the most self serving way it can, according to the rules.
what about assurances? well, this is where the adult Barghest has a special "deal finalizer", sort to speak. when most details have been agreed upon, the barghest explains this- by one of it's powers it extract a tiny piece of bone (shoulder, sternum, finger, jaw), enchants it, and ties it around a leather cord on it's neck. (the necklace is usually kept hidden. most Barghest have several such stones on the necklace).
if any side violate their deal, both feel the bone/ place where the bone was suddenly grow very cold. if the transgression continues, then the deal is broken, and the deal breaker suffers the consequences. the barghest gets really sick, while the second party might become prey to the Barghest. (would be dealt in detail later).
deals vary upon situation, but some general details that are common:
a promise the Barghest identity won't be shared, not now, not ever. nor will it be harmed in any way by the second party, not now, not ever.
a promise that the second party, their allies and perhaps other people won't be fed upon, killed, or harmed in any way
a promise that the Barghest won't assist the immediate enemies of the second party now, or later.
as listed above, most contracts are really long term, in matter of assurances, though they may be short term in matters of services. many who dealt with Barghests often forget about the deals for years to come after the service has been rended. well, except maybe for those moments where there is that dull ache in the bone there...
Barghest make deals for a lot of things, and it really depends on the type, and the individual Barghest.
the following will deal with the two known categories, as well with the PrC: Native hounds: all Natives are offsprings of ancient Barghest who managed to both reproduce, and not lose their connection to the material plane. these Barghests have two main concerns: not getting killed, and not to lose their connection to this world. these two factors influence everything they do in their lives, and lead to many specialized survival strategies.
a Native would pick his feeds carefully, making sure the feed isn't an Elevating feed (each bump in power may means a chance of losing the connection). Natives usually feed only up till they grow to adults, perhaps one or two levels more for the careless..
a Native would always try to act carefully, in a methodical way- strategizing, planning, using its detection skills and abilities, as well as the concealment and movement powers to the best advantage. if a threat is too big, it try to gather allies from the close surroundings. lastly- it can escape. all Natives keep a few essential belongings needed for a fast flight.
most Natives live close or nearby goblinoid settlements, wolf or worg packs, or in the wild. the Barghest takes care to spy first on it's intended neighbors, and might offer a deal, one of it's special deals in order to keep it's location hidden, and have a network of allies to scout and rely upon.
goblins and wolves/ worgs as neighbors are favored because of the issue of mating. a Barghest can only mate with a willing goblin or wolf (not a fellow Barghest). usually a really serious bargain is done, often in the form of a ritual or celebration. if the mate is female, then the barghest offers more, for the birthing of a barghest litter is life threatening to the mother.
Though natives prefer to remain unknown, some of them are more brash, full of confidence in their abilities and power. these Barghests deal for all kinds of power: feeding sacrifices, knowledge, items, position, knowledge, or even the leverage of making other more profitable deals.
these Natives either flaunt who they are, loving the fear and power, or hide their true heritage by assuming some other title (werewolf, goblin sorcerer, magical Worg and so on). if so, they take a great measure to make sure they aren't exposed, feed in private, and barely use their Dark Influence powers.
Extra planar hounds: lost to the world, where they cannot feed, these being are half crazed with hunger. how they reproduce there no one knows. they usually make their appearance in the world when they are called/ summoned by someone. coming from a "i've got nothing to lose" attitude these Barghest behave quite differently from their brethern.
an Extra planar would be far more focused on the feeding benefits of every bargain, and would demand it. (these being usually arrive utterly starved anyway, their Predation reserve empty or nearly so. they need to be fed to be useful). they are far more eager, enthusiastic and engaging in their approach to their tasks. some summoners find it a disadvantage, but some who dealt with the calculating, and often long-to-execute nature of the Natives prefer this direct approach.
another aspect of the Extra planars, that go against most expectations from called outsiders, is that they like it here! they prefer long term tasks, time consuming guarding duties, and so on. this potentially makes them quite valuable to a caller, if it wasn't for their insistent need to be fed constantly!
another disadvantage is of course the ability for these guys to be banished back, to wherever they come from. this makes them far less of a threat to the aptly prepared.
PrC Barghest: these were ancient, and are no more... the various religious sects have made great efforts to destroy every single possible mentioning of the ritual, or the actual name of the entity known as Hunger. but perhaps, someone, a goblin interested in it's people ancient history, a mage who hears the secret from a random ancient demon, a priest of a new religion focused on utter annihilation, or someone else, might yet find the secrets to forming a barghest. in the "game mechanics" part there is more info.
- interactions: Barghests have a very unique state of living, and their situation cannot be understood by another. even if so, their hunger and feeding is always a put off. as such, barghest grow to be self serving creatures, and their dealings with others often reflect this. deals or hostility are often the only options. there are some exceptions though: Goblins/Wolves- the two races usually accept a barghest into their community, provided it makes a deal with them. some groups are so used to barghests they even prepare a "standard deal" which the elders and shamans must memorize. the barghest might live in the community, or outside it, but it usually relies on the community's eyes and ears, as well as discretion. the barghest in it's stead provides added protection if danger calls, usually by it's own powers as well as the Dark Influence (which the goblinoids attribute to their own gods).
neither goblins nor wolves remember the real past, and consider barghest a sort of a protecting benefactor spirit- to be respected, but also to be wary of it. some goblin temples sometime have cryptic messages left on their doorstep by a barghest, showing a possible way to contact it if needed. goblins sometime go on "quests" when they reach maturity, to find the barghest, the protector of their tribe, and ask for a favor.
a barghest also make deals for mating with these two species (not true for an extra planar). if the female is not the barghest, she is taken to some safe local by the male barghest near the time of birth. the birthing of a litter can consume the mother, literally. if so, the barghest compensate the tribe, and family. if she survives however, then a great celebration is had, and she gains status within the tribe. a barghest never forces a wolf or a goblin to be it's mate, only by making a deal.
(in Eberron: due to the recent rise of Darguun, many Barghests secretly migrated there. the Dhakanni especially offer mates, and are also working to recover the ancient rituals to create more, and bolster their strength)
other Barghests- Natives are very protective of their young, but they raise them alone. they usually raise them up to the "mature whelp" stage", after which they either run them off, or quietly part ways.
barghests rarely work closely with other adult barghests. the constant reminder of their hunger in another's body is too much an irritation. Barghest do team up at times to discuss long term strategies, and especially territorial limits (they prefer to scatter as thinly as possible, so not to attract suspicion). Barghest rarely do actual deals with one another, but it has been known to happen. this usually have added fail-safes to them, as no one knows the cunning of a barghest more than another one!
Extra planar are another issue- they have no problem of working with another extraplanar if there is enough feeding to be had. if that is not the case, they might turn on each other, in order to feed first! all Extra planar have a special hatred for the Natives (and they can sense which is which), and will try to slay them if possible.
worgs- these are in a way the brain damaged children of this entire affair. some worgs act like wolves, adding the barghest to their number, adding to their power, for protection... others however hunt the barghest furiously, or make a deal with it to stay out of their turf (if it's too powerful). this enmity is odd considering no worg remembers their history. they just feel a hatred towards the outsider...
Lycanthropes, especially werewolves- another group that a barghest might blend into. again, a deal is usually brokered. the Barghest usually supplies its Dark Influence powers to the group, for protection and a share of any prey. these alliances are usually not strong, but there have been odd cases (for example- the lycanthrope purge in Eberron. looking back it seem some groups were strengthened by some powerful dark powers)
assasin guilds- some assassin guilds, especially ones with magical means, may contract a Native or call an Extraplanar barghest for a special assignment. one of their clients want a target dead, and beyond the possibility of resurrection. the barghest is asked to do but the final blow and the Feeding.
this type of missions are usually shunned by both types. it draws way too much heat to the Natives, and is not fitting with the "long stay, long feeds" preferences of an Extra planar. both types however can be persuaded, if the reward is right. Barghest drive very serious deals for the use of their feeding powers, knowing well that no one else could do this...
organized outsiders, devils mostly- both being strictly lawful, the barghest usually feels a bit more at ease with the devils. Extraplanar ones sometime make deals with other powerful devils, that enables them to summon the Barghest instead of their usual summoning powers! some of the devils called by wizards and clerics have this extra boon to offer...
outside the purview of deals, a barghest feels outside any meaningful order- it's origins unknown, it is shunned from any cosmic hierarchy, left to be a sort of terminal bottom feeder.
intelligent undead- unable to feed upon them, or sense their life force (they have non). the Barghests feel between dispassionate about the undead, towards outward hatred. the dealing of these two groups is strenuous at best, most time far worse. a barghest usually avoid making a deal with those it can't feed upon (it can't make it's special debt bone), and so most dealings are off... vampires might be even worse, since their feeding habits are mutually exclusive, and they both have an urging need...
however, Barghest are nothing if not pragmatic (the Native ones at least), and might work with other intelligent undead, if the deal is lucrative enough. if not, most chances are that the barghest will either run, or use other allies (whom it made different deals with) to help it destroy the undead.
unintelligent undead, unliving constructs, oozes and such- barghest usually treat anyone who isn't a potential feed as a mere nuisance. it would deal with it if necessary, but it's own life sense and hunger draw it's attention elsewhere...
- game mechanics: the following describes the growth states of the Barghest. it also states the PrC! by going through the ritual the character and wolf become a Barghest! there are some major differences between a the born Native version and the PrC, but they will be explained.
i didn't try to balance this PrC. it gives a lot of power, but also a lot of complication, and a very serious threat to basically kill yourself just by going up levels. it is mostly for the feel of things.
feat: animal bond: this feat enables you to treat one specific animal type (wolf, dog, etc..) as an animal companion. you get animal empathy regarding the animal only, and it's power progresses as if you were a druid 3 levels beneath you.
the feat basically gave the ancient goblins an ability to have an animal companion without being a ranger/ druid.
Barghest PrC/ Native Barghest's growth stages
the growth stages refer to a native Barghest, from it's birth (stage 1- whelp) to it's death (reaching level 10-liberation/ death), if it goes that far. the PrC levels correlate with the stages. a new initiate effectively becomes a Whelp. only a PrC, one that passed the tests, can hope to live and reach level 10 though. Native and Extraplanar Barghests can't.
- requirements: this of course refers to the PrC only.
a goblin with a wolf animal companion (some scholars theorize there might be other combination.. an orc and a wild boar? an elf and a leopard? in any case it's theorized that the animal must have a special connection to the race). the feat described above can qualify for this.
special: performing the ritual that calls the entity known as Hunger. agreeing to it's terms of the deal willingly- power in exchange of being a conduit for feeding, the consistent insistent feeling of hunger, and knowing that though there is a slim chance to survive, most chances you are going to be consumed.
after agreeing, going through the joining ritual, and passing the first of the elevation tests (will be explained shortly)
general characteristics of the PrC, and Barghest advancement: - no turning back: once you've taken the first level of the PrC, you no longer posses any XP. advancement occurs only through elevating feeding, and by no other way. also- you must take levels/ growth states in this PrC alone, until you either succumb to it's curse, or find your way through. you cannot take levels in any other class till you finish with this one. - power definition and numerics:
Caster Level: your CL is always considered to be twice your growth state (2, 4, 6...)
Self Powers: these work only on you, are always super natural (Su), and require a move action to activate, if needed. (many of these are always active). the activated powers require Predation levels.
Group Powers: all group powers are Spell Like powers (Sp), and require a standard action to activate. they are all Dark Influence powers (tagging alignment) and work in it's burst radius. each power has two affects: one on allies, another on enemies. the activation of the power affects both at once. all these powers require Predation levels.
Dark Influence: all group powers, and the Feeding burst when gaining a level are considered Dark Influence effects. the Dark Influence powers affect ALL targets in the burst radius, which is 10ft per growth state/ level. this replaces any range and effect lines of similar spell descriptions the power imitates! also, all affected targets (allies and whomever failed a save) are "tagged" as lawful evil for the duration of the affect, and several rounds after (equal to the growth state/ level). this affects the type of abilities and spells that can be used by the targets, and on the targets. it also affect the results of various alignment detection spells and abilities.
Predation Reserve: a sort of a power reserve. you power all of your activated powers through this reserve. each power demands several levels of it. the only way to replenish this reserve is by feeding. the max levels you may have equals 4 times your growth state (4, 8, 12...). also, this affects your appearance- the more levels you have, the fuller you look, the less, the bonier you do.
Feeding: this is the main drive behind you and your state. there are several rules and categories for this:
viable feed: you can only feed of a living target with an intelligence score. no vermin, undead, oozes, constructs, elementals and so on. the DM is the last to decide. Barghests are never viable feeds.
feeding process: the barghest must make the killing blow with a natural weapon, the next round he must take a full round action to place his teeth above the target, and feed from it. the barghest is considered flatfooted for this round. if more than one round passes, only the flesh is destroyed.
feeding consequences for "meal": if more than a round passed, the target could be resurrected, but any raising method relying on the body of the deceased doesn't work. if one round had not passed, then the spirit of the deceased was also destroyed. a wish/ miracle have 50% to reverse this affect.
feeding consequences for the barghest: the Predation reserve fills up with the number of HD the target had. this changes if this was an elevating feed, and the barghest gained a level/ growth stage
elevation feeds: any viable target that has int 3+, and HD equal or more is considered an elevating feed. elevating feed may cause the barghest to rise in power.
gaining a level/ growth state, and the tests involved:
with each elevating feed, beginning with the third, the Barghest has a small chance of going up a level. this begins with 5% in the third elevating feed, (20 on d20), 10% in the fourth, and so on, each time adding 5%. (the idea is to keep this still random, unlike the idea in the MM). the leveling up happens immediately after the full round of feeding! for the next round, this is what happens:
leveling up:the Barghest spend going up level with one full round action. it's form grows, the hairs all bristle, and all the new powers become immediately known to the barghest.
emptying reserve:the barghest Predation levels sink to 0 at first, and it is fully healed. from the outside it looks like as its skin and wound heal, it becomes nearly skeletal
Feeding Burst:there is a burst of Dark Influence. all in the radius, foes and allies alike must make a fort save to resist the affect. each affected one gains a negative level that NEVER turns to a level loss (it's a different source then negative energy). the barghest gains one Predation level for each level lost. all who failed must roll to save again. this ends when either the Predation levels are full, all are dead, or all have saved. anyone who failed even one time is tagged by Dark Influence.
Elevation tests:the barghest must then pass two tests. the first test, The All Consuming Hunger, requires the barghest succeed in a Will throw. if he fails, his mind and the wolf minds are consumed, and all that remains is the Barghest mind. congratulation- you've just turned to a native Barghest! (providing you survive the next test). you are considered to have been consumed within one round, if someone wishes to resurrect you.
the second test, Belonging No More, also requires a will save. if failed, you become an extraplanar outsider, and can now be banished. if you are banished, you immediately lose the first test as well. congratulations- you've just become an Extraplanar Barghest!
the DC for both tests should be very easy to overcome. the danger is in the amount of tests (10 tries for each test, not counting some added dangers in the upper levels), and the disastrous outcome of actually failing one... if you are using this PrC, i'd suggest something on the lines of 5-10% of failing for each test. the PCs gets better will saves, but the DC for the tests grows with level as well, always a danger. (natural 1 as well always lingers)
obviously, Natives lost the first test, and fear the second. failing the second nearly highly increase the possibility of someday, by a banishment spell, to lose the first test.
the barghest then probably rise, bigger, healed, and partially energized, though it may not necessarily be who it was.
ok, that cover the basics! lets go to the development stages/ levels already!!
1) Whelp: both PrCs and new born Barghest go through the 2 tests as they enter the world of being a Barghest. for new born pups, born out of a non-barghest mother, the Feeding Burst might kill her (the Barghest then compensate the family and then the tribe/ pack, as explained). the PrC usually conduct this ritual with no "important" targets in the burst radius (sometime animal were put there, to energize the barghest).
it is important to note that though newborn begins very small, they already posses all the mental faculties of their older versions. what they lack is experience, and knowledge of the world. that their parent provides. a new born comes to the world with 3HD (little bundle of clawing joy!), +4 nat armor, and the appropriate changes to Str and Dex in regarding to a mature Barghest that are due to size. (got no intention to calculate that).
this stage features:
Physicality: new born are of size tiny. it can control it's hybrid form, staying in it. a PrC changes into the Hybrid form as well, staying in it, though the size depend on the size of the goblin. in most cases this form is small.
type: outsider (native) unless you failed the test. through their lives/ PrC class, they progress as outsiders- d8 HD, full BAB, all good saves, 8 skill points per level and so on.
bonus feats: scent, track. the scent only works in wolfs form though, which is not accessible yet...
Life Sense: this works like other "detect..." spells. the area of effect is a cone 10x growth stage. first round: presence of viable feeding targets. second round: number of targets, and the exact HD of the strongest one. third round: exact location and HD of all targets. this power can be activated and shut down at will. it requires no Predation levels.
Immunity to positive and negative energies: Barghests, being of another origin, are unaffected by the affect of either energy, for better or worse. Barghest can only heal naturally, or by the Healing Meal power.
Healing Meal (self power): the barghest uses as many predation levels it wishes at once. each heals 1d8+2 hp.
Misdirection: just like the spell baring that name. it is always active, and the Barghest can change it's target by a move action. young Whelps use it to hide themselves from any detect spells. older ones with their dealings with the world.
2) Growing Whelp: after more elevation tests, the Barghest grows. new born become tougher, and begin to join hunts with their parent. the first group power manifest, and they practice with fellow litter pups, and possible allies the parent brought.
this stage features:
Physicality: Natives grow to size small, the PrC grows mostly mentally. +1 to Str, Con, and a mental attribute of choice, and +1 to natural armor. another major change, is the ability to control which form you're in- goblin, wolf, or Hybrid.
Dimension Leap (self Power): the same as the spell. consumes 1 Predation level.
Mixed Blessing (group power): this Dark Influence version of Prayer allows enemies a will throw. this power consumes 2 Predation levels.
3) Maturing Whelp: after more elevation tests, the first of the stealth power appear here. the Barghest has nearly achieved adulthood. it is usually at this stage that the young ones live the den, looking for their own territory.
this stage features:
Physicality: other than growth, nothing changes.
Silent invisibility (self power): this works exactly like invisibility, but it also add +10 to move silently, as the power dampens sound. it cost 3 Predation levels.
Dark Colors (group power): this Dark Influence version of Blur effect to all allies, and faerie fire on the enemies requires 3 Predation levels. all of the changes of light seem like dark, hungry shadows.
4) Adult Barghest: after more elevation tests, a fully mature barghest, the powers begin to increase seriously now! one of the race's most important abilities come to play now- the debt stone
this stage features:
Physicality: the Barghest reaches medium size in it's wolf and hybrid forms (still small in goblin). +1 to Str, Con and a mental attribute of choice. Natural armor increases by +1 too.
Non- Detection (self power): active all the time, requires no predation levels.
Mixed Blessing improved (group power): the same as before, only now the bonuses and minuses increase to +2\-2. (and the save is harder). this takes 4 Predation levels.
Debt bone/ Debt stone: this is the final "reassurance" a Bargest crafts to finalize a deal. if the deal is broken, both parties know. if it was the second party who broke the deal, the Barghest can now freely scry upon it, and it can paralyze the deal breaker if within the range of Dark Influence. there is no save. if the Barghest broke the deal, it immediately loses all Predation reserves, and starts to tear apart as time goes by (con damage? hp damage?) a barghest will almost never back on a deal though. if the deal breaker returns to the deal, or any side dies, or the stone is destroyed, things get back to normal. the crafting of the bone takes 1hp from the second party, and one Predation level from the Braghest. both are temporary.
5) growing adult: Native prefer not to try and get this far, if they can helps it (there have been enough elevation tests to get to adult), but some do, for the added powers. after going through another set of tests, the barghest unlocks powers directly related to the feeding, and which grants it, and it's allies great advantages.
this stage features:
Physicality: the goblin form is also medium now. another +1 Str, Con, a mental attribute of choice, and +1 natural armor.
Enervating Strike (self power): the barghest imbues itself with destructive powers. any natural attack that hits in the following round causes 1d4 of negative levels, similar to the ones from the Feeding Burst (they may never be permanent). the barghest may use full attack the next round to make full use of this ability. also, if the barghest is touched this round the same applies. this power takes 5 Predation levels out of the Barghest.
Power Transfer (group power): this Dark Influence power, similar to a vampiric touch, this power transfers hp from the enemies to the allies. each enemy suffers 3d6 hp loss . the Hp from all of them is then divided amongst the allies (including the barghest) evenly, rounding up. the barghest uses 5 Predation levels for this.
6) Mature Adult: this is usually the utter limit for Natives (and even this is quite far!) after more elevation tests, this level locks more of the powers of movement and maneuverability that makes the Barghest such a valued ally, and deadly foe.
this stage features:
Physicality: the bargest is larger than medium, but not yet large. another +1 Str, Con, a mental ability of choice, and +1 nat.
Freedom of Movement (self power): exactly as the spell, active all the time. requires no predation levels.
Predator and Prey (group power): this Dark Influence power acts like haste on all the allies , and slow on all the enemies (save allowed). it takes 6 Predation levels).
7) Greater Barghest: after more elevation tests. a whole new power level is reached, the size and the powers of the Barghest are kicking it up a notch. these monstrosities are considered a major threat by many, and are usually hunted down fiercely! but their new powers, boosting up their already impressive powers make it quite difficult...
note that the Hunger at this points is becoming even stronger, more demanding, more pressing. this should be felt by those who face this brute, and played by whomever might play it.
this stage features:
Physicality: you have just reached large size, in all forms! the stat increase have increased more: +2 Str, Con, and a mental attribute of choice, and a +2 natural armor
Power Boost (self power): the barghest can boost any of it's stats by +8 (similar to bull strength spells). this last for CL minutes. the power boost cannot be used to withstand the tests though! also, it is not cumulative with the Balance of Power described next. this power takes 7 Predation levels.
Balance of Power (group power): this Dark Influence power, simultaneously decreases by 4 point an attribute of the enemies, and raises an attribute for the allies (these could be different attributes, must must be the same per side). saving throws are allowed, but difficult. this power takes 7 Predation levels out of the Barghest.
the growing Hunger: this is more of a sensation than an actual feature. the barghest knows that controlling the need to feed is about to become impossible. the DC for the tests of will increases from now, to become slightly more difficult (10-15% of failure).
8) Bursting barghest: after going through (more difficult than normal) elevation tests of will the Barghest grow even stronger. the power of Hunger's mind seem evident already, palpable. the barghest find it harder to control itself. nearly at the peak of it's powers, his powers become more fine tuned...
this stage features:
Physicality: the barghest seem like bursting at the edges, on the verge of losing control. the size increases, but just by a bit now. again, it gains +2 Str, Con, a mantal ability of choice, and +2 natrural armor.
True Sight (self power): just as the spell, active all the time, requires no predation levels.
Shadow Walk: just as the spell. this takes 8 Predation levels. the Barghest now searches everywhere for viable feeding material, as well as evading his pursuers. the paths of shadow become it's own...
Greater Mixed Blessing (group power): the same as the previous powers, only harder to resist, and the bonuses/ minueses increased to +4/-4.
Relentless Hunger: the power within gets more and more control... there are two effects: first-if the Barghest senses an elevating feed, he must succeed on will save or abandon all other prey until this one is fed upon. second- every fourth elevating feed triggers elevation tests again, whether the Barghest gaind a level or not... (if they happen to coincide, only one test is needed!
9)Hunger's Avatar: again, after some elevation tests, (more than before) the Barghest reaches the peek of it's power! to those who lost their mind at any point, this is truly as far as they will ever get! no amount of feeding can get them further, it can only increase their tests till they will become Extraplanar (if they haven't allready), or die, if they "gain a level". they have become demons of annihilation and destruction, beings who's entire purpose is to feed ever more...
but for PrC who got this far, despite all the difficulties, salvation is just around the corner! but will they stand the tribulations ahead?
this stage features:
Physicality: every movement, blinking of the eyes, twitching of an ear, somehow reflect the horrible hunter within... size remains unaltered. another +2 str, con, a menatla ability of choice, and +2 natural armor.
Annihilation (self power): this works like destruction, except for the following- the activation of this power grants it effects to the next succesfull natural attack. the focus is unneeded. if someone was destroyed by this, it is considered as if been fed upon within one round for resurrection purposes. it takes 9 Predation levels.
Circle of Destruction: this works like circle of death, only on viable feeding targets, but there is 12 HD limit. it works on enemies, while allies are immune to it. enyone killed by this power, is treated asfed upon within one round, for resurrection purposes. it takes 9 Predation levels. no material component is needed.
Relentless Hunger: the power of the Hunger increases. this works exactly like in the previous level,with two modifications: the DC to avoid pursuing prey is harder, and now the elevation tests come every 3 elevation feedings.
[*]10) Death/ liberation: a non PrC Barghest dies immediatly upon "reaching" this level, in it's own Bursting Feed. if a PrC goes through the process of gaining this level, it either dies (if it fails on the tests), or... it gets liberated, as the darkness loses hold of it, the deal is at it's end, and it passed through unimaginable darkness back into the light!
(my ideas for this particular level are a bit obscure. i gave more thought to the "powering up" aspects, less to this, but i'd appreicate any thoughts. this is what i had in mind though: ).
the seperation of forms is not instant, and may take between a day or few. in the hour following the transcendence, (i think that word is appropriate) the wolf and goblin coexist and work perfectly in the Hybrid form. they can no longer shape shift. the Hybrid is of a clear mind, no longer driven by the need to feed, for the first time in a long time... the change through the next few days, while the wolf and goblin part, affects them both in the following ways:
Physicality: both looks fairly lean, never ever growing fat, or even "chubby". they however feel very content, eat very little, and are carefull in their cravings. they resume their normal form, and gain the ability to change into each other, the specific person, not just the general type. they both lose the ability to shape to the hybrid form. they keep all gained attribute increases and natural armor increases- their skin and muscles as hard as steel, perhaps even more!
Free Choice: the character gains enough XP to place her at the appropriate level to her HD. it now resume gaining experience, and has the freedom to chooe between classes.
Powers: for the few hours after the liberation, the hybrid can use all powers as if it had a full Predation Reserve. it does not regenerate however, and the Dark Influence tags no one's alignement. as they part, the goblin retains all Group powers, while the wolf retains all Self powers. each power however has a 25% to be shared by both. they are all considered spell like powers for both. the first 4 levels used 3 times per day, levels 5-7 2 times per day, and levels 8-9 1 time per day.
Energies: both can now choose to disregard or benefit/ suffer from each energy. they are both however immune to level loss, death affects, and being fed upon by Braghest. Braghets in fact fear, and envy both creatures deeply.
One last reward: i have no exact idea what this may be, but i imagine the PrC getting some last reward from the deal, either something the entity and it discussed when all this journey began, or some sort of self elation/ growth/ benefit. i'm thinking of something on the lines of a wish/ limited wish, levels of power.
debt of bones: (yes, i know there is a book by that name. still- good title) they can no longer use the Bargehst powers in regard for the bones, but perhaps the exert some other influence, some other way to compel the second party to comply? or perhaps these just crumble into dust? i think all options are viable, and should fit the story and the campaign. getting through "Barghestood" might equel bacoming a sort of a saint! what happens then?
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-13-2010 at 05:38 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
Mysteries and the Unknown
- mysteries and unknown: more is unknown of the barghest then is... the Entity that fueled their entire creation is unknown, and remain hidden from the mightiest devils and angels. it seem to exist outside the natural order of things, just waiting to devour.
equally mysterious, but for more mundane reasons, are the rituals that enabled the barghests to ever come to be. whatever records there were they were long lost or destroyed, by barghests (not wanting others to suffer what they do) as well as those who sought to oppose them. perhaps somewhere there is n old copy, or maybe someone could resurrect the process from zero? what would happen then? one barghest is a serious force multiplier for it's allies, what if there are many?
and if on that subject- is the goblin-wolf the only possible combination? or can someone found a way to unite other races with other beasts? could the Barghest have a comeback in the form of new species?
and there is but one more major mystery, though the scholar probably don't give it a second thought- how is it to live being a barghest? having another mind constantly desiring, pushing, insisting? how does it feel that for you t olive, you must erase all shred of existence from others? how is it to feel the world hates you? the gods hate you? you have no place, neither on the material plane or another? and how does it feel that if you wish to grow stronger, protect yourself, advance like others do, all that waits you is madness and death?... there are a few barghest who managed not to be evil (but not unlawful!), but is it a wonder there are only a few?
Playing, at a D&D table near YOU!
- "Stalker in the woods": we'll begin with a simple encounter- a Native Barghest looking for a kill, and perhaps teaching it's young Whelps a thing or two about humanoids. the basic idea is to have the Barghest as predator, gauging its prey strength (tracking skill, life sense), and then springing an ambush when needed. if the group do see it, they might think it's a wolf, perhaps with some young wolves (if they notice them).
the Barghest is a consummate hunter. it can shoot arrows, use alchemical devices to weaken them. it would only close for the kill when it benefits it. dimension leap, silent invisibility would get it real close, while the mixed blessing and dark colors powers would make it's pups (and itself), much harder to defeat...
some emphasis for this simple encounter: treating the target as prey, the constant "demonstrations" to the pups. the close family feeling they might get from this pursuer. not fighting till near death- the barghest would quickly bail out (dimension leap) if either it or the off springs are in danger... think ranger, with powers, and kids to feed.
other interesting additions: perhaps the barghest brings an ally or two? (a wolf rider, or a worg, or some creature who enjoy cooperation with the barghest). a paladin or a cleric might be deeply disturbed by any Dark Influence powers (the paladin suddenly detect himself as evil? or the rouge he always suspected? protection from evil might suddenly not work, and more...). the natural geography could of course add to the possibilities of ambush and more. a nearby village or wolf/worg territory might be implicated by the barghest actions.
- "village guardian": as the party makes attacks against some Goblin stronghold, one of them summons the Barghest. on the next attack the group sees a new shaman who's powers greatly affect battle. or alternatively, they send the barghest (perhaps with a little squad of the village best warriors) to hunt down the offenders.
emphasis here- this isn't the barghest acting on it's own, but as a part of a protection deal. cunning and ruthless as it might be (not necessarily though), it now acts with the groups interests at heart. the barghest would mostly use it's group powers, and superior fighting skills. the fact that its an outsider, but it's honor bound should be made apparent.
as flavor, the chieftains might insist it wear the tribe's colors/ shield/ other ceremonial or functional stuff. it might give the barghest unexpected advantages, but may also hinder it's "style".
- " strategic tool": the barghest is a magnificent strategic tool- it weakens it's enemies and improves it's allies simultaneously, it can infiltrate and spy on most places, it can almost never be tracked, and if it has a fresh supplies of animals and such, it can be powered up for a long time! the barghest is a fine ally to an unscrupulous person. the barghest adheres to the deals made with it, and can be quite a versatile asset. hey, it's mere existence strikes terror in those he fights against! who wants to die by those hands!
this little paragraph just came to show the possible uses of a Barghest to any force, especially a military like force. use it well, but don't forget it follows a strict deal!
- "can you make me a better offer?" the barghest here is usually more powerful than the regular Native ones (growth state 5 or 6). it made a deal with some warring band, and is supplying them with significant advantage! the party are sent to either kill it, or make another deal with it.
the barghest might be interested, but the deal needs to be significantly better, and it must not hurt the current deal. loopholes and "legal" interpertations might ensue. this might be a very difficult mission for "goody" adventurers, but might fit right up the alley with the "moral less mercenary" type.
emphasis- doing this secretly and not getting caught. getting a good deal that won't endanger the party from the barghest. the self serving, yet rule bound nature of the barghest. a lot, a lot of roleplay opportunity here.
- "the lesser of two evils. but which is the lesser?": the party finds itself in a real jam, and suddenly appears the barghest (who might have been impersonating as non threatening, and might also have orchestrated this entire mess) to offer help... it can help the party find the secret exit, before the place collapse, tell them who the betrayer is, before it strikes and more. all it ask in return, is a little bargain, a little compensation for it's troubles.
it's imperative that the characters have a real choice here, and that you're not forcing them to take a deal. they can take the other option, and have a small chance of success. if they do take a deal, there should be enough time to argue and barter about it briefly, so that terms might be changed a bit, and not just shoved down their throat.
emphasis- the nature of the debt is not fully clear, it seems something simple, but that may be deceiving. the situation should offer it's own pressures to the deal. the Barghest should be portrayed as merely offering a deal, almost... generous. don';t make it to sleek looking, fast talking used car salesman. more like a bureaucrat who came to give you your tax refund because "well, it is yours, you think i care?"
- "ongoing business relations": this might follow in the footsteps of the two previous ideas- after dealing with the barghest once, and having been treated fairly, an opportunity presents itself again (the barghest tries to make it look accidental almost, perhaps using its connections and other debts to do so). the characters may have the opportunity to deal with it, and again the deal is fair (you could even let the player think it's a resource, almost like a cohort/ follower/ NPC they trade with on regular basis).
but then, some dealings later, the barghest makes another fairly odd request, still appearing non-threatening. but this time, as the party tries to fulfill it's part of the deal, they find that they cannot agree to the consequences of their actions. suddenly it all becomes complicated- either they comply with the deal, or they have a hungry barghest, with the power of a debt stone one their heels...
emphasis- deal with the characters fairly until the critical moment (the best liers tell the truth all the time, until it matters). make the barghest demand they fulfill their end (if it's still possible), and make the re precautions known, at least vaguely, before they refuse.
this can work wonders if there's a paladin, monk, cleric or druid around. nobody likes the interest rate that a Barghest sets.
- "Platinum card of the Assassins guild": in this encounter a barghest is also hired/ called in order to act in an assassination. the party may learn of the fact fairly late, and suddenly they are looking for an evil outsider other than just an assassin.
the barghest is outfitted with the best gear, mundane and magical to succeed at it's job, so identifying it may not busy easy. it might make matters difficult if there are a few of the fiends...
a particular complication may be if the coronation/event is for one of the characters, and it is the target! (works well with all the "lost heir of..." type of characters. so you wanted to a be a noble, eh?)
- "making life difficult. don't rise, stay!": this is just an added factor to any campaign- if the characters rely on raise dead and other staff, just give the main opposing group/ factor/ temple access to some Barghests, as both support troops (barghest excel at that), and as "finishers". a heavily wounded character would really get frightened when it sees one pop just next to it, using it's enervating strike. and well it should- once you go barghest, you never come back!
- "a little game of chess, where the pieces never get to the top of the board:" a barghest and vampire happen to inhabit the same town/ city/ region. they both despise each other, and wish the other dead, but... for some reason they don't go at each other's throats (sort to speak)- maybe there is a debt stone between them, maybe they fear a conflict, knowing the other's powerful enough. maybe they don't want the risk of having their cover blown by the other?
so, they set up a contest- another way to see who is more powerful a sort of a "gentleman's agreement": over the course of weeks/ months/ years, they select various "targets", challenging ones, and see who can feed on them first. no direct confrontation between the two is allowed, but using minions, powers, debts, and more is...
the party arrives to explore some a strange murder (or murders?) and find all kind of references to past occurrences. when they investigate, they keep finding semi contradicting evidence (due to the two different feeding styles, tactics, and feeding methods). and at times it seems that the perpetrator (whatever aspect of it) have actually tried to defend the victims, or delay their deaths?
all of the above is to confuse the characters. then each of the "gamers" may choose another target, and the party is in the middle, not sure of which enemy to protect, or one of the gamers might try and use the party to eliminate the other prematurely (and vice versa), or maybe the characters become... "an interesting game?"
emphasis- give each side their own resources, their own style, their own methods, but both must be manipulating geniuses. also, fearing persecution, they will both take quite extensive measures hiding who they are, and their involvement, they might play on local beliefs, or frame another if needed. and when the party comes close to revealing who they are, the two might join forces, in a temporary alliance to get rid of a common threat. the party should however know of the "bad blood" (pun intended) between the two, and use it to even the score.
- "my name is.... and i'm a PrC barghest": someone the group really values- a cohort, an old character a player left out, a funny scholar, or anyone else they care for, have somehow stumbled upon the secrets of turning into a barghest. it then went onto it's own little expedition and research, and have actually went on with the process, never fully understanding what it entails (despite dealing with the spirit). after going through the first tests, it suddenly realize ,and is frightened to its very core!
it calls the characters for help, but there is none- it must go through the entire process! it joins the party as a cohort, but may lose itself any feed. he plans to get through the other side, but have told the party of the slim chances... it is going to be a long ride now, and the party is trying to help him through.
make sure the cohort actually goes through the process. if it's not a goblin, then have him find a new way. don't forget the animal companion.
emphasis- there should be a real threat of his mind being consumed, or his link lost. the party doesn't necessarily knows if this happens though. it should prove a difficult cohort (needing to feed all the time), but perhaps a valuable one (powers, self and group). the battle of wills, and the fight against the "addiction" should be the main focus, as well as how it is different from others.
you could let it break through, or have it succumb. both have their own dramatic affects. consider well what deals he might make with the group (the deals might be a nice way for the team to monitor it's progress, as well as make sure it doesn't betray them).
this is especially interesting with a very moral character (paladin for example)- how do they console this creatures obvious evil, and the man before it? helping this one person live would mean the sacrifice of many lives? what should be the course? (many answers, discuss them if you wish). and as an added complication- what if one of the characters did this?
- "my name is... and i love being a barghest!" on the other side of the equation, the BBEG or one of his lieutenants, volunteer for the ritual. this is best done after the party met it a few times, they clashed sword and spell, and have a pretty good idea of what to face. so, he gets an upgrade! unlike the former guy, who is horrified of the transformation, this guy loves it, revels in it, and might go up levels fast in it!
the idea is to give the party a new surprise, and another glimpse into the reality of the barghest. barghest can gain powers quite fast, and their physical aspects transform dramatically with it. it can go through a few stages each time they meet, and become a fearsome monstrosity for them to face.
- "knowing where to look" a wizard/ cleric/ warlock/ dragon/ devil/ villain discovered the place where several (or only one), powerful Bargehsts were imprisoned (growth state 7 and above). he forged a deal with them, promising to free them, and let them feed if they will serve it until it'll reach it's goal.
this is their basic "dark powerful servant minions" routine, with it's own flavor. the party may find a way to break the Barghests debt stones, kill them in battle or by "over feeding" them, or other solutions.
-"finding the debt stones" some great and terrifying creature is acting on a deal he made with a long dead Barghest. for some reason the stone survived, and is now used by someone else! it could either be a barghest, a goblin shaman who knows the secrets, or something else entirely unexpected.
whomever is using the stone got great control over the creature, far more than the stones usually confer. perhaps there are some secrets, and some uses to the stones still unknown?
a barghest (or two) might assist the characters to find the perpetrator, disturbed by this unknown new power, and the possibility that it can be used back against them. the barghest may even callign their own favors to aid the party in unexpected ways.
another version of the event would be a debt stone linked to a certain blood line. years after it was forgotten, someone (all of the above options, or perhaps an old, grizzled yet powerful barghest), is calling in on the debt. either the royals do something they don't want (frame someone, open a previously restricted area, start a war, and more), or the barghest can hunt down any of the party... (could be even more complicated if a kid suddenly goes missing)
in conclusion: i hope you enjoyed, and that i haven't tired you needlessly. the PrC is obviously far from complete, but i'm really bad at all this fine detail. the Debt and bargain aspect can be easily adapted for other outsiders and beings (dragons?) but i felt it fits the barghest much more. this is one of the most versatile monsters out there, and i think it should have at least a good "side villain" sit in many a campaign...
as always, i'd love any comments or feedback you may have. thanks in advance,
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-13-2010 at 05:55 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Gargoyle: more than a roof top decoration (multiple variants included)
Gargoyles have a rich history in out world- they decorate many religious establishments, and also some other grand statues. they have often been considered as either watchers/ sentinels or guardians of the structure they decorated, said to wake if a time of need calls them to. many were grafted to the images of devils, angles, and other creatures, representing the supernatural protectors.
DnD tried to draw inspiration from that, but as with many monsters- did that poorly. the gargoyle have been through several transformations through the DnD editions but it always failed to really, um, lift of the ground. i hope this thread will help rectify this, to a small extent at least.
the inspiration for the thread came from many places. (i never said i had utterly original ideas): from years of playing, from reading a bit about history, from Terry Pratchet's books, from the Notredame disney movie, and probably more that i can't think of. still, i hope i gave it all a more "DnD appropriate" feel, and made it more "game worthy".
Bad street Rep: first, Gargoyles are a one shtick monster- pretends to be statue, and then it attacks. the DR/ magic is supposed to make it "magical"... c'mon! this makes it even more boring than many common animals or beasts who lack any real tactic.
second- not only does it have one shtick, but it's a really, relaly bad one: most group finding statues will think of one of 4 possible threats immediately: traps, petrifying monsters, animated objects, or gargoyles. now, if you see the statue looks like a gargoyle (since in DnD it has only one form), most will immediately hack it, not waiting to see if it moves or not. the "freeze" ability is utterly ridiculous. so, this leaves the gargoyle as a boring, and a not very succesful encounter, which is why most DM just forget about it all together.
i care for it because: gargoyles have a rich history, and a strong connections to religions, which offered an interesting venue to explore. according to 1st edition, as well as Earth myths, they are crafted, but posses their own intelligence and driving force. the gargoyles seemed to exist in borders, so to speak: on the borders of the church perimeter, the border between being alive and not, the border between taken seriously and not, the border between divine and just stone, the border between disciples of the church, and the church itself. they were intriguing to say the least...
in turning this to DnD, where such things as gods, constructs, devils and angels existed, i thought the gargoyle could be made into much, much more than "statue leaps at you. grrrr!"
and now presenting to you, the new and improved gargoyle:
Perceptions and Concept
- perception: the changes i have made in the gargoyle all lead to it new roles in the game. the gargoyle is now a construct, with the living subtype. they were originally made creatures, but their intelligence have allowed them to break out as an independent "species" (as far as this term can be applied). this fundamental change is crucial to it's interactions in the world, and also explains part of their unique outlook. moreover, it means there are many, many forms and types of gargoyles, other than the most common ones. (it's not a template though)
the gargoyles were originally created to perform as sentinels, guardians, and protectors. this aspect of their character have prevailed to this day, and dictates much of the gargoyles personality and place in the environment. nearly all gargoyles watch or protect a place, in some way or another. they have developed certain powers to enhance their capabilities in this role. chief amongst these powers, are their abilities to "fade out" and their rebuilding powers (both will be discussed). the first enables them to divert the mind of whomever observes them, looks for them, and so on (this replaces the freeze, making the "statue surprises and attack" schtick far more viable, with added twists). the second enables them to survive after being destroyed, leading to far more extreme battle tactics, similar to fanaticism.
the last major change of role for the gargoyles, is with it's interactions. no more is it but a lonely predator with an odd method of stalking- the gargoyle has a strong connection to religions, history, architecture, and some even say the planes. gargoyles are not "just another monster", and interact with many different creatures based on their own character and the situation.
- concept: we shall begin with the theorized origins of Gargoyles: records show that several times through history, advanced cultures have created, or recreated gargoyles. dissatisfied with the constructs and golems, which were usually mindless and simple. crafters and various artificers (i do not mean the class) of old tried to create an intelligent construct, but have often failed.
it was divine magic rather than arcane that did the trick. priests channeled a massive amount of positive energy of an unknown quality, that both animated the various designated stone bodies, and imbued them with some sort of a core intelligence. the source of this intelligence was unclear at first, but soon enough the gargoyles themselves began to provide clues- they began to modify and sculpt their bodies to the memory of shapes and motifs in their mind- the faces usually became demonic, delivish or angelic. strange runes and writings appeared on the "skin", many of the symbols resembling languages of the outsiders planes. and nearly all gargoyles sprouted stone wings, of some sort or another (usually feathery or leathery looking). needless to say, this caused much speculation in the various religions...
but other than to peek the priests curiosity, the origins of the gargoyles intelligence seemed of little significance- these were independent thinkers, with minds, motivations, and interests of their own. many of them proved far more valuable than the older golems, being capable to reason, and carry out complex tasks. however, this intelligence proved to be a hindrance to the crafters as well- the gargoyles could not be so easily controlled and commanded as the older constructs were. many of them refused tasks, circumvented them, or even rebelled or ran away. though many gargoyles came to understandings with the various temples and other organizations, many also spread far and wide, finding new niches, new alliances, and new places to protect and guard.
many types and forms of gargoyles were created (usually by different species, religions, and so on), but some things are common to all gargoyles. (some of this will be discussed more broadly in the game mechanics part):
living constructs: Gargoyles are made beings, like other constructs, they need not sleep, eat, they do not age and more. they do posses intelligence, constitution score and more. they are also capable of learning and improving themselves, by taking character levels.
a gargoyle is a connection between the stone form, and the positive energy intelligence inside. the energy can expand and recede in the form, leading to three states of body and awareness- the stone sentinel, the half awakened gargoyle and the fully awakened one.
the gargoyles posses a unique ability called "fade out" . this ability is active as long as the gargoyle remains motionless (in any of it's states). it affects the mind of whomever becomes aware of the gargoyle's presence, whether by just spotting it, seeing it, scrying upon it and so... if causes the subject to disregard/ overlook/ forget about the existence of the gargoyle, even if actively looking for it. this is a strong mind affecting effect, and an integral part of the gargoyle's essence. it does not need be aware of any potential targets, and is not aware that this power affects anyone as well. some theorize this power developed to protect the gargoyles from persecution, while other think it developed to help it in it's protective duties (how can you be sure there is nor gargoyle in this room? you might just be overlooking it, while it stares you right in the face). this power works well even against common divinations such as detect invisibility (it's not invisible, you just don't really "want to" see it), scrying, and more. some strong willed individuals are capable of noticing gargoyles while still, but most of the population doesn't (high will D). as soon as the gargoyles moves however, this effect is broken.
positive energy link: gargoyles, being partly made of vivid positive energy, can draw upon other sources of it. this power can both hinder or help channelers of positive energy, and makes the gargoyles valuable allies or enemies to such individuals.
Rebuilding: one of the best kept secrets of the gargoyles, and one of the reason they sometime seem so fierce. gargoyles in battle can often seem careless, without much regard to their personal well being. many times they make use of suicidal tactics to bring down formidable foes. the truth is that though much of the Gargoyle's body may be destroyed, even beyond recognition, the positive energy spirit within can rebuild it, if there are the right conditions. if these conditions are not present, (such as in the case of most roaming gargoyles and feral ones) the gargoyle acts far more cautiously.
alter worked stone: this power works like Stoneshape, only it can work only on worked stone, and it takes it a long time to work... gargoyles everywhere slowly and methodically alter their surroundings- carvings new statues, making glyphs, writing and runes, and in the case of the more industrious gargoyles living in perilous places- traps. this power takes days, if not weeks or months to show it's effects though.
Tongues: a gargoyle cannot speak, but it understand all languages. it communicates either by signals, actions, or scribbling on the earth/ walls. there are more complex forms of communication but that will be dealt with later.
guardian powers: as part of their role, each gargoyle usually posses one or two powers that enhance its capabilities. these usually take the form of a constantly active divination spell/ sensory amplification, but at times have other applications. gargoyles can change these powers to different ones in order to fit their new purpose or role, but this too takes days, weeks, or months.
but these are all general characteristics, they give some insights into the gargoyles and their behavior, but for an in depth look, lets move on to the next section.
Place and Interactions
- Place in the world: Gargoyles posses a difficult mind to understand by most people. their interests seem partly connected to those of the intelligent species, but partly not. this might be to the origins of their mind- Gargoyles seem to be listening to some sort of hidden cross-planes-frequency, that no one else can hear. many of the priests, mages or others who tried to deal with them, found out that not only did gargoyles give their own interpretations to the communication, but they also came to entirely weird or insubstantial conclusions, which seemed to rely on all kind of information whose origins could not be confirmed..
another odd (if at times useful) behavior aspect of the gargoyles is their intimate connection and dependency on buildings, structures and other manufactured places.. the vast amount of gargoyles in the world lives in, on, or somehow attached to some structure or another. they seem to prefer older places, with more history, architecture, and importance to them (how gargoyles sense that, no one knows, but it is evident they do sense it). many landmarks have at least a few gargoyles connected to them, but due to their "fade out" ability, no one knows exactly how many, if they are the same or they change, or much else. sometime even the presence of gargoyles is hard to detect, until they begin affecting the place.
but why are they there? what do they want? it is unclear, but there are some facts that are known, or suspected... the first and most obvious thing, is that the gargoyles don't consider the structure/ building/ place just as a place, but they treat it as if it was a living thing! they care for it, repair it, improve it, and perhaps most importantly- they guard it. this is not to mean gargoyles attack anyone who just enter their place. gargoyles on the whole prefer to remain as anonymous as possible, making their presence known only when absolutely necessary. a gargoyle will confront someone only if the person's presence is either dangerous to the place, or stand in objection to the purpose and history of the building...
this might be the confusing part, but gargoyles obviously either sense, or determine for themselves of the purposes and "character" of the structure they are linked to. if someone acts against the code of a temple, he might find the temple gargoyle there. if someone wishes to interrupt an act at a theater, the same may apply. if someone wishes to steal from an old store house... what is more intriguing however is that the gargoyles themselves seems to personalize the "character" of the building- a place dedicated to a courageous and straight forward deity will be protected by similar acting gargoyles. an abandoned temple for the gods of death and torture will most likely have gargoyles that revel in causing pain, decorating themselves with skulls of former victims. an old messaging station of House Sivis on Eberron might have very serious, strict, and methodical gargoyles on it's roof.
not all gargoyles however live in populated places, or even have access to structures. there are 4 basic types of Gargoyles, divided by habitat:
City gargoyles: this category encompasses all gargoyles who live in areas inhabited heavily by other creatures. gargoyles try to keep a fairly low key in these places, though they also tend to expand quite a bit. the gargoyles do not attach themselves to any structure however, but only places of history and/ or importance. gargoyles stay almost exclusively in their stone sentinel state in populated areas, to avoid a chance of getting caught. most temples and other places of import assume they have a gargoyle or two, and may communicate them (in the interactions sections). some places, which are more accepting of gargoyles use them as messengers, guardians and more (sharn and Droaam in Eberron, as well as many of the Khundarak major vaults). the city and ruin gargoyles (next category), are the most common communicators.
Ruin Gargoyles: these are gargoyles who left more inhabited places either because of persecution, lack of space, or any other reason. the places they inhabit need not be utter ruins- the name refers merely to places not heavily populated. these gargoyles tend to take a more active role in defending their home, and may be found patrolling their places (usually in half awakened state). Ruin Gargoyles are far more likely than City gargoyles to refer to an entire street, small city or other large are as their structure (mostly due to the ability to move, and the vast amount of buildings that may need repair). due to the increased dangers of their local, ruin gargoyles usually make alliances with various creatures, for their combined defense. in some really old ruins, some gargoyles have stayed for ages, and has grown in strength and purpose (more HD or levels, and usually more Guardian powers).
Roaming Gargoyles: it is theorized that the gargoyles of each structure slowly create more gargoyles in some inexplicable way (sculpting the body, then animating it with combined positive energy). some buildings have been known to accumulate gargoyles, though no one know if it is due to creation of more, or migration (or perhaps they were always there. you can never know due to "fade out"). it is believed that when a structure reaches a certain capacity, new formed gargoyles must leave, till they find their own place. these "structureless" gargoyles do seem less experienced. they are however far more cautious, and usually prefer stealth over combat. many times these gargoyles make tense deals with some group or another, that allows it to use some of it's structures, in return for it's guardianship and added muscle. amongst all other categories, these spend their time in the fully awakened state the most, while searching for a place. sometime large groups of gargoyles were met in this manner, usually when their structure was destroyed or occupied.
Feral Gargoyles: roaming gargoyles who don't find a structure soon enough, seem to lose some of their sanity, and become Feral- they usually align with various vicious beasts or creatures, and do prey on nearly everything. these things are menace, and though insane they are still cunning. the feral gargoyles are part of the reason many priests and scholars in the past called for the gargoyles destruction, claiming all gargoyles posses this madness, and that at one point or another they will turn on all the civilized species. there has been no proof , though these gargoyles usually alter their features to resemble demons even more.
another way to categorize gargoyles, is by form. the form mostly derives from the culture/s that created the gargoyles. all gargoyles however, as said before, alter their appearances, most notably their faces, runes on their "skin", and the sprouting of wings. the abilities and mechanics will be discussed later, but here are some of the more known forms:
humanoid gargoyle: the basic one, based on the one in the MM. these gargoyles are the most common to gain class levels, though far from the only ones.. sometime the humanoid represent some race, sometime some ideal or outsider , or whatever. the differences usually mostly disappear by the time the gargoyle finishes altering it's appearance to it's own preference, though sometime some indication remains (a symbol of an era, and such).
Lion gargoyles: whether these were created to imitate dragonnes, sphinx, lammasu, or some other creature is unknown. the majesty of these gargoyles is usually hindered by the face. they are most commonly the guardians of vast spaces, openings to buildings, arenas, great halls and more. created to inspire awe and fear ,they rarely survive as City gargoyles, but are fairly common in Ruins.
Draconic Gargoyles: these were shaped in the image of dragons, and are amongst the rarest of all gargoyles. (the creation price is a severe). these gargoyles are always guardians of important places, and have rarely traveled a far. they are usually more powerful then the more common gargoyles. young dragons seem to like them (and create alliances with them), while older ones usually just tend to ignore...
Serpentine gargoyle: the winged serpent gargoyles are usually fairly large to huge. the vast majority of these were created by the Yuan Ti. these gargoyles focus their powers to protect the Yuan Ti temples, mostly masking them from divinations. in a time of need however, they prove to be fierce combatants, and work well with the abomination priests. Serpent gargoyles have been found at other locals, the Ruin ones are fierce protectors, and far more aggressive than most gargoyles are. the Feral ones are a serious danger.
Aquatic Gargoyles: created either by the Kuo-Toa, the sahuagin, or someone else (most think it was someone else, perhaps aquatic elves). these look very similiar to the humanoid ones, but they wings adapted to swimming, almost like a manta ray. nearly all of these live in submerged ruins.
Spider/ Marilian gargoyle: these seem to be an aberration of the common gargoyle design (not the aberration type though) instead of wings they develop two extra pairs of arms (or perhaps the wings changed to arms). these gargoyles are mostly Feral, but some are not. they tend to be tool users far earlier then the rest. the feral ones seem to associate with ettercaps, monstrous spiders, driders and so on. one theory claims the dark elves or their goddess have created, or influenced their creation. another theory claims that these gargoyles have a fairly big chunk of a Marilith in their essence. the real reason is unknown.
Collosal/ ancient gargoyle: these are by far the rarest of any gargoyles that were either mentioned or not mentioned here! no one knows exactly how these creatures came to be, though there are some theories. a Collosal Gargoyle is usually the size of an enourmeous building/ small city! (many scholars in fact believe that the gargoyles purpose in attaching to buildings is to create these giants). these small fortresses are each fairly unique with it's own powers and statistics, and are known only to exist in legend (one exception is in Eberron, where a Daelkyr and it's court all reside in one of these gargoyles, who slowly crawls over in the depths of Khyber). theories of scholars who explored this field say a gargoyle of this size is cannot be created, but fragments of research from long gone cultures suggests otherwise...
- interactions: gargoyles usually prefer not to interact with those around them, much more content to just stay as they are, and think gargoylian thoughts... that said, gargoyles do interact with the world whenever something comes into the scope of their guardianship, or in matters of their own safety and protection. it is important to remember that though gargoyles have independent minds,city and ruin gargoyles incorporate into their character aspects of the structure/ area character. usually by dealing with a gargoyle you get a feeling of the place, as it is now, and as it was before.
the guarding of the place can be done with or without cooperation of any of the place inhabitants (if any). however. if the gargoyles find an appropriate representative (someone else who share their desires for the building, usually a head of a temple, a leader of a guild, a dragon that lies in the ruins and so on), they may try and communicate with it through the Gargoyle Script, letting it be aware of their presence. this opens the negotiation/ discussion and, perhaps letting the other side ask them to protect certain parts, watch certain people, choose specific guardian powers and so on. the communication is often difficult, and does not always get out the exact results desired. (though they are rarely off by much)
Gargoyle Script is both a way of communication, and a form of expression. gargoyles regularly use their alter stone powers to etch numerous writings on the walls, pillars and so of where they live. these are often cryptic, and written in a multitude of languages at once (usually a different language every 3-4 words). the topics can be many: their daily sightings, thoughts, and more. amongst these are also glimpses of the structures history, and that of the people who build it, and also various "messages" about matters that may matter to the "character" of the building (scholars believe this is how the gargoyles try and communicate with it).
the script can be used to learn about the place (more on that in the game mechanics part), but also as a way to learn the gargoyles answers to a person's questions. usually a representative goes to a part of the structure he knows the gargoyles reside in (where someone seen them, or more likely- the script), and asks a question loud and clear. next day, it's time to search the new scripts, and decipher the answer. due to the slowness of this method, and the complexity of translation, this is not a very reliable form, but it is the only one that enables long discussions, as gargoyles are very reluctant to reveal their presence for "normal" signal communication.
as to the normal requests and communications with gargoyles:
guarding routine: the representative details his/ her list of priorities, what threats are expected, and perhaps what powers s/he asks the gargoyles to use (provided they know of it). the gargoyle response can be simple or complex, sometime adding information to the original analysis.
query about the place's history, people or more:. gargoyles will be truthful only if this won't harm the place.
religious or scholarly inquiry, about other subjects: gargoyles have a special connection to divinity, and they have lived long enough, in important enough places to have learned many things of many places. the answer to these questions may be the most obscure and cryptic, but sometime there are real gems of knowledge in the confusing babble.
outgoing mission for a purpose: this is one of the most difficult services to get, since it means the gargoyle leaves it's structure. a gargoyle would tend to agree to missions that somehow serve either the place, or the place's "character" (some armies have been known to have Gargoyle squadrons, on a "holy mission"). roaming gargoyles usually agree to this if promised a safe lodging in the structure afterward.
note that with all of these, gargoyles still look out after their own interests, and might lie, conceal or more if needed. another important thing to keep in mind, is that when sending them away, gargoyles have their own interpretations of when the job was done.
though this covers the basic interactions with gargoyles (other then being attacked, or your plans foiled by their powers/ observance) with certain creatures, gargoyles usually have a special relationship: - other types of gargoyles: gargoyles seem to care little about type, but mostly about purpose and allegiance (as these are influenced by the structure). leadership in a place is determined by seniority, and experience, not by type or power. gargoyles, as far as it can be estimated, care little for these matters anyway. the one exception is Marilian gargoyles- these are either outcasted, or raised to leadership. the reasons for this remain obscure, gargoyles refuse to script of it.
- divine casters, mostly "civilized" ones: gargoyles acknowledge the religions part in their creation, but are not willing to fully submit to them. gargoyles have a preference to temples and other religious sites, and are usually more open towards clerics and their similar. this is however a very close, and very intimate relationship, as many clerics in the past tried to destroy them. the gargoyle's link to positive energy, makes them both an ally and an enemy to positive energy channelers, and so views vary. most often, the gargoyles view of the cleric is colored mostly by it's own character, and the character of the place it is attached to. gargoyles have been known to be the closest allies of temples, and the worst enemies.
- mindless undead, mindless constructs, and anything that is immune to their "fade out" power: gargoyles are weary of all of them, often en devouring to either destroy these, or find their master and broker a deal with him/ her. the gargoyles are used to live in a state where no one really sees them, and it is deeply disturbing to them when that is not the case.
- Yuan- Ti: the makers the serpentine gargoyles. this specific type are fiercely loyal to their makers and ideals. as to other variants- though many gargoyles shun the oppressive nature of the Yuan Ti culture, their need for secrecy always ensure that a gargoyle can find a place there, with it's skills.
- outsiders: oddly enough, the gargoyles have no particular response to the outsiders, though some legends and rumors say that certain outsiders can bend gargoyles to their will like an evil cleric can rebuke undead (i didn't touch this idea, feel free to expand on it).
- petrifying creatures (medusas, gorgons and the like): gargoyles quite often work with these creatures- if they get petrified, they just "awaken" in the next round. more importantly for the gargoyle however, are the various statues and more in the place, they give it more "character". a disturbing side effect of petrifications, and the gargoyles ability to create more of their own in time, is that given enough time, the petrified creature, (already altered superficially by the "alter stone" powers), will wake as a superbly crafted gargoyle. there is no turning back from that...
- warforged (as they are in Eberron): though these are the rare two examples of living constructs, very little else binds them together. neither their history, mode of creation, view of the world... some warforged tried to find gargoyles and maybe learn from the more about their existence, but these efforts have been futile at best. the gargoyle either ignore them, or eventually get hostile if they keep to persist (that is if the warforged could even sense the presence of the gargoyles at all!) a very small group of warforged tries to gather gargoyles scripts from major locations (especially temple of the sovereign or Onatar or the traveler), believing there may be messages from their creators in them.
Game mechanics and Mysteries
- game mechanics: much of this section is not numbered (i'm crap at that), but it does give the basic idea of most things, as well as a general aspired difficulty level.
1) type: construct. subtype: living. most of what is to follow is similar to the warforged, but there are some differences:
it has a constitution score.
it begins with 4 HD and are treated as construct for all purposes of HP, BAB and so on for these HD. any further HD are gained by class levels...
immune to sleep, poison, paralisys, disease and so on... (check the list where needed) not immune to mind effecting spells and abilities, subject to critical hits in varying degrees (will be explained), stunning, ability drain and so on...
as a live construct, the gargoyle can be affected by spells that affect objects as well as creatures. unlike the warforged though, the gargoyle is made out of stone, and is unaffected by any influences that specifically target metal or wood.
unlike the warforged, due to their link to positive energy, gargoyles are fully healed by either "repair" spells or "cure " spells.
gargoyles do posses dark vision to 60 ft.
gargoyles usually gain levels as favored souls, cleric, fighters or whatever fits the theme of their structure. the clerics usually become leaders.
unlike other constructs, the knowledge skill needed to learn information about the gargoyles is knowledge (religion) and not (arcana).
2) shifting states: the gargoyle's positive energy can expand and recede within the stone form, leading to 3 states. the gargoyle needs a standard action to become more awakened, but only a move action to become less... remember however that gargoyles can remain still in any state (a gargoyle planning an ambush will most likely be still in one of the awakened states) :
Stone sentinel: the gargoyle is indeed a statue for all purposes. all senses other than it's Guardian power are diminished (-10 to all such checks), but its "fade out" power is at it's strongest (a really high will DC). It has the hardness of a stone statue of it's size for all purposes of attacks, if by any chance it's presence was Ascertained)
half- awakened: if still, it still looks like a statue (if someone senses it). when in motion, it looks like an animated object, though it acts with a bit more speed and intelligence. compared to the fully awakened, the movement and senses in this form are reduced (about -20ft for all forms of movement, one worse level of flying maneuverability, about -5 to senses checks, low initiative bonus). the gargoyle does retain some hardness from the Sentinel stage (hardness 8? hardness 10?) and the DC for his "fade out" power decreases. has moderate fortification. higher AC than fully awakened.
fully awakened: with the positive energy at the fore, the gargoyle looks like a creature with the color of stone, with fast mobility. (senses at normal, speed at normal, high initiative bonus) the gargoyle loses it's hardness as this stage, but it gains DR/ magic from the bursting energy. the DC for the "fade out" ability is the lowest here (though still challenging. for what levels? didn't try and figure this out, depending on the campaign i suppose). has light fortification.
3)"fade out": this power was described mostly in the concept section. the main differences from the freeze ability are:
it is a mind effecting ability, which is resisted by a will save, not a spot.
if you fail the save, you don't realize the gargoyle (in whatever state it is) is there at all! you don't "see a statue that doesn't seem alive"- you don't see a statue at all!
this isn't invisibility, as it doesn't affect the gargoyle at all. you cannot find it by throwing bags of flower, see invisibility, or anything of the sort. it is in your mind, and your mind alone.
the power is always active, and requires but that the gargoyle stays still. the gargoyle need not be aware that it is being watched. this of course, led to the gargoyles default position- still as a statue. (better safe than sorry).
this effect works through scrying devices and so on.
4) rebuilding: this power has more influence on the long term, than on a single encounter. it might be relevant to explaining gargoyles battling behavior, and to locations which the party may visit several times during the campaign.
if a gargoyle is "killed", the energy inside it can still restore it (after all, that was just the form that was destroyed) in time. if the following conditions are met, the energy rebuilds the form at about 1-3 HP a day. the conditions are as follows:
a gargoyle that reaches 0Hp immediately turns to half awakened (if its fully awakened). at -1HP or less it turns into a stone statue (not a sentinel form!) all it's powers other than this, and the "fade out" cease to function.
the gargoyle can sustain damage up to it's full HP+10 under the zero, before actually dying (a gargoyle with 27 HP can go down to -37 HP before dying). as long as the gargoyle is above that limit, the energy can rebuild it.
for any reconstruction to succeed, the gargoyle must be in contact with worked stone.
f the gargoyle is not repaired in a set time (several days? weeks? depending on it's injury?) it dies.
this power is the gargoyles most kept secret, and one that kept them alive many times. relying on this powers and their fellow gargoyles putting them somewhere safe to rebuild after the battle is over (allies get scripted warning to do so, without explanation), gargoyles often use suicidal tactics. one of the favorite ones is to grapple an opponent in a precarious situation (on a ledge, grapple a flier or a swimmer, or someone being chased, or running away from a swarm or something), and then just turn to stone... the grappled (or worse- pinned) opponent is now trapped by the statue, which may plummet from the sky, into the depths, to the side of the building or whatever, and crash, taking it's victim with it.
5) guardian power: every gargoyle sustains one such power, while more powerful gargoyles (one power for every 3 or 4 HD?), can sustain more. gargoyles seem to be able to change their powers, but the process takes time (days to weeks. this should again be relevant if the party visits the same place several times) the powers are active as long as the gargoyles is (as long as it has not been reduced to negative HP). most of the powers mimic detection or abjuration spells. sample powers (i haven't assigned CL or DC for any appropriate ones):
improved senses: the gargoyle gets a +10 on his spot, listen and search checks, and it's dark vision improves to 120 ft. unlike the other powers, these works fully in sentinel and half awakened forms.
block scrying in 60 ft radius.
block dimensional travel in 60 ft radius.
dispel illusions 60 ft.
6) positive energy link: gargoyles feel any channeling of positive energy within 60 ft. of them. a gargoyle can try to draw that energy to itself as an immediate action (the gargoyle fort save against the channeler's will save). a gargoyle aware of the presence of a channeler, can ready it's action to draw upon the energy. if that is the case the attempt succeeds immediately. the gargoyle must have line of sight to the channeler. if the drawing attempt succeeds:
if it was a cure spell, it heals the gargoyle instead of the intended target. the gargoyle can gain temporary HP in this manner, beyond it's regular limit.
if it was any other spell using positive energy, it heals the gargoyle as if it was a cure spell of the same level, instead of it's normal affect on the target.
if it was a use of "turn undead", it is instead converted to a healing spell of a level equal to half of the strongest undead turned. the turning attempt is nullified of course.
7) gargoyle script: as mentioned before, it is extremely difficult to decipher this. if the gargoyle/s were asked a specific question about the structure/ place it/ they are attached to, the answer is the equivalent of a Legend Lore spell. if the questions is about some other topic, the answer could also mimic the concept of Legend Lore, but with less accurate results (as the DM sees fit). the problem comes when trying to decipher it:
the DC to the check should be fairly high, but some information can be gained from less than a perfect result. the check is an intelligence check, where 5 points in any relevant knowledge skill grant +2, and knowledge of any sufficiently "archaic/ mysterious" language grants a +1. (for the DM discretion). or if the DM wish, give them a coded message, in several codes, interchanging- an appropriate language breaks one of the codes.
8) variant forms: i only dealt with the main issues i could think of- movement (the figures refer to the awakened state), size, and what makes them different:
Humanoid gargoyles: speed 40 ft. fly 60 (average). those with class levels usually use tools, though not many. (sword, wands and so on)
Lion Gargoyles: speed 60 ft. large size (as a horse), fly 40 ft. (poor). Pounce. Roar (burst radius, save fort or be stunned for 1-4 rounds).
Draconic Gargoyles: size large- huge. speed 60 ft. fly 150 poor. can use any dragon attacks for their size. Spell Resistance, perhaps also resistance 10 to some sort of energy.
Serpentine Gargoyles: size large- huge speed 60 ft. fly 100 (poor). tremor sense, swallow whole, improved grapple and constrict.
Aquatic Gargoyles: usually similar to humanoid or draconic gargoyles. the same except having a swim speed equal to their base speed.
Spider/ Marilian gargoyles: based solely on the humanoid version. speed 60,climb 40 . can use all hands without hindrance.
Collosal/ Ancient Gargoyles: i have no stats to them (it would be like stating a fortress) my suggestions are to make each fairly unique, it's Guardian powers affecting all of it. maybe have creatures living it it/ on it. i imagine its hardness and other powers should be considerably higher, except for may the "fade out", which shouldn't really come into play with this kind of creature.
- mysteries and the unknown: gargoyles, and there pieced-together mind are themselves a mystery. their strange connection to buildings and areas is a bit creepy, and worrying, but so is their seeming connection with other sources of information, or consciousness.
gargoyles however are also a reservoir of information and mysteries. their wealth of information made many a scholar loose his bearing and original purpose. their enigmatic scribbling and writing maybe holding secrets in itself.
gargoyles in a way present an achievement gone too far- a skillful slave that wouldn't stay a slave. some even speculate that these former servants, are not as innocent and disinterested in the world as some may think. infiltrating everywhere, slowly building more, and more, sending themselves everywhere...how many gargoyles are out there? hundreds? thousands? hundreds of thousands? how would you know exactly, when you can't even count the ones in your roof? why are you staring at me like that! i saw at least.. wait a minute, i though i saw... i was sure... hey, weren't there some statues up there? ah, forget about it! just been a long day, i forgot what i was talking about...
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-14-2010 at 04:18 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
Playing, at a D&D table near you!
- "statue surprises you and goes grrr!" i thought to begin with a revisit to the old basic gargoyle encounter and see how it changed... now imagine our group of adventurers doing what they do best- going through an old ruined temple, and being the good guys they are, they do not forget to grab anything with a twinkle in it. any opposition? why, they disposed of it as soon as they saw it! coming to the main hall, they prepared, ready for the big fight, they then entered the hall, meeting the horrible... emptiness?
what the hell? moving curiously forward, they immediately begin trying to find the hidden danger. the wizard and cleric casts a few divination spells, while the rogue searches ahead. "oy, nothing here but some strange writing!". the cleric and wizard come close, trying to check the writing, maybe for a clue, while the rogue checks for traps around the big statue in the middle. "stop!" cries the fighter "i bet it will come alive! a freaking big statue of it's god or something! you 3 take cover while i hack it down, prepare to help!"
the others take position away from the intimidating sculpture, as the fighter start trashing it. "the writings don't make sense, just a bunch of gibberish like we found before" says the wizard, as suddenly the cleric goes pale. "what's the matter he asks the cleric, who just noticed their "cover" were 2 gargoyles, who suddenly launch at them. as they start to fight, the fighter turns, and rush at them, when a huge chunk of stone falls on him from the top of the statue. and that chunk of stone has teeth...
ok, enough cinema- a few things that can be important to these situations- first of course, is the "fade out of memory", that gives the gargoyles a real element of surprise. as a DM remember the gargoyles must be still for this to work, so position them in advance, and don't move them to suit your needs. gargoyles are patient, and can wait till circumstances fit their needs, but they are not all seeing and all planning. if the gargoyles had time to watch the party, they will be able to prepare a good enough ambush somewhere. gargoyles prefer one definitive ambush, over a few sporadic ones.
second- various states. the half awakened and fully awakened states give you two kinds of challenges at once- one fast, with DR/magic, while the other slower, but with hardness and better protection. the gargoyles can switch between the states, and use the best one. don't forget that in the semi awakened state the gargoyle weigh as much as stone, and can use it to it's advantage (such as falling on the fighter). the fortification makes them problematic for the rogue. the fact that it's not heavy fortification makes the sneak attacks still worthwhile..
as the battle continued, the fighter drew the gargoyles attention, but he was being bled out slowly. the cleric cleared a path to him "here, let me heal you". but as soon as the cleric mumbled the words, one of the other gargoyles, the one the fighter nearly beat, suddenly glowed, the cracks mending..
third- the gargoyles ability to draw upon positive energy makes every long battle more hazardous. and this is but healing, gargoyles are especially hazardous with other creatures, especially the undead.
one of the gargoyles reached the wizard, no matter what it threw at him. ait grabbed him, grappled for a few seconds, and turned to stone. the wizards cursed, not being able to get it's hands loose.
fourth- the "turn to stone" ability can be tough with grappling, but twice as dangerous when flying, climbing, swimming and more.
"lets get out of here! we killed over half, we'll get to town and regroup, next time it will be easier!"
fifth- the rebuilding means that though that may be true, if they wait too long then it is not... the gargoyles could be back to full strength (or at least more than the group expects) also, they might change their guardian powers to fit the situation.
- "him? i don't know, it just joined us one day. doesn't speak much, but he's a hell of a night watch!" at some point of the party's adventures, it is watched by a roaming gargoyle the party shows character similar to the structure he left, and so it decides to join them for awhile. the idea here is to join the party with a unique cohort, which may not be entirely easy to deal with. first of all, at times it disappears, and you don't find it until you sit on it! it doesn't talk, just writes all that stuff or does the hand signals, and the cleric is getting a bit testy with it. oh, and not to forget- why is he with us anyway? i never got a clear answer.
a gargoyle, though not fitting to be a PC due to mentality and more, would make a very interesting (and also effective) cohort. it provides the party with roleplay opportunities, valuable abilities (consturct, positive link against enemy clerics, and more), and plot hooks (figuring out where it came, deciphering warnings and omens in it's script, guardian abilities finding something, and of course finding it a permanent structure).
- "guys, someone broke in! lets find Gregor!" (sorry, couldn't think of a better name). in continuation to the previous encounter, if the party ever settles into a major base of operations (small manor, fortress, keep, whether "liberated" by the party or gained in less violent ways), why not add a gargoyle or two to the mix? in could either be the former cohort, or a new gargoyle who just got in, or a previous "occupant" that just hadn't revealed itself to the former residents... again, this is mainly for roleplaying applications, but the gargoyles, as a skilled guardian, can also provide plot hooks if the players abode is ever broken into. like a stealthy security camera, Gregor probably seen it all...
- safer than a Khundarak safe: (that was an Eberron reference). at some adventure or campaign, some place needs to be guarded really well. instead of numerous spells and traps that could be thwarted by the right magic or rogue skill, the protector seeks the help of gargoyles (he either contacts them through some other gargoyle, or they might have been part of the place anyway. anywhere with gargoyle script is a good place to start).
the idea here is to incorporate gargoyles as part of a place's security measures. in this role the gargoyles will mostly be detectors and blockers, using their guardian powers rather than their combat abilities. the gargoyles can also be re setters of traps, activators of mechanisms and more. spread them out, and wisely. if the gargoyles know of the party, they will prepare.
-cheap oracle, who writes in gibberish: the Gargoyle script can be used as part of a murder mystery, prophetic event, or whatever. if you enable your players access to some gargoyles (like their friend Gregor), you in fact give them access to an elaborate, cryptic form of Legend Lore. this may especially appeal to problem solvers/ decoders. as always with puzzles- don't make it the only way to solve the problem, but have it be meaningful enough.
-sanctuary: a ruin that harbors enough gargoyles may well function as a sanctuary, or a safe neutral zone: the few encounters with gargoyles ensure the place is far less barren then it seems (and you can never trust what you see with gargoyles) and the various power of the gargoyles make it very hard to snake in undetected, or to scry/ teleport in with surprise. (in fact, it just might be that this sort of neutrality, safety, is the idea behind the place, or the ruin/ structure, making the gargoyles especially devout to it.
the party, perhaps accompanying or accompanied by allies arrive here to meet with their enemies, or to negotiate with potential allies (as long as things feel tense). the presence of the gargoyles serves to restrain violence, and so many highly interesting and tense roleplaying situations can occur here.
alternatively, you could also have one of the side make some transgression against the code of the place (the transgression can be hidden or not, intentional or not, it may matter... or not). suddenly, the entire silent places burst with the awakening of hundreds of gargoyles! the party may need to make a breakthrough, they might need to save someone caught in another part of the place, or it might even need to fight shoulder to shoulder with their enemy to get out of here!. this is especially fit for levels when small groups no longer matter, but big groups of gargoyles do.
i suggest to use a varied mix of gargoyles here, unless you already have other species in allegiance with the gargoyles, providing them assistance.
(for some reason imagine an old desert ruin, home to a clan of Janni and the gargoyles, where two army leaders, with large retinues come to meet).
-Gargoyles falling from the sky! gargoyles are also effective as flying troops in wars. if a temple succeeds in convincing some to join the cause, then it has gotten some valuable allies. gargoyles usually hamper far stronger flying troops by the simple tactic of grappling with them and then turning to stone.the added weight either complicates flight for the flier, or just brings it down! gargoyles usually crush from the fall, but the priests and cleric later collect the pieces and lay them at a small stone alter dragged by a cart especially fot his purpose.
another tactic, used mainly against siege engines and for terror effect, as to have the gargoyles fly above the designated target, and then plummet to it turning to stone. they usually wreck havoc, but gargoyles don't use this a lot, since it may means their remains may be behind enemy lines.
gargoyles are intelligent troops and will use whatever tactic is efficient and needed. their common protections make them amazingly good against normal troops, and they are soemtimes used so...
- distant relatives: i haven't mentioned the other variant of gargoyles, since they can still fit most scenes, with slight variations. a lion gargoyle can be a mount cohort, draconic gargoyles are even more impressive at downing fliers than the humanoids are, and so on. the important thing about the variants, is to both show their difference, and that they are still, basically, gargoyles, not some other kind of construct... make sure the basic features of behavior stay the same, and then vary and alter as you like!
-ancient gargoyles: these are not so much a creature than it is a location. i would recommend not to put more than one of these in a campaign, and even then with a good reason. the main contributions of them to the gaming experience are first- the matter of size, feeling very small against this massive creature. second- "living scenery"- the gargoyle is alive, and it's "alter stone" works in a larger scale. the place should feel vibrant, with a purpose, with a pulse (as far as this term can be used). third- usually the moving living fortress is part of something epic, and this serves to make it unique.
Bonus section! interactions with other monsters of the Compendium!
-Stirges: the stirges can't really feed upon the gargoyles- too hard a skin (when in stone or half awakened state), and too much of a DR on awakened state. besides, what would they drink- mortar? however, these two creatures can coexist in quite a beneficial manner.
stirges usually supplement the guardianship of Ruin gargoyles, and Feral ones: when the gargoyles swoop to attack, so do the stirges from their hiding places! as the intruders (read: adventuring party) tries to deal with the stone guardians, the blood sucking opportunists swoop for a quick meal. the situation might get more severe if a restoration spell is needed, since the gargoyle's positive energy link greatly complicate the succesfull casting of such spell in mid combat.
gargoyles usually don't mind the stirges presence, since they usually pose no threat or opposition for the structures they guard. Feral gargoyles even help them, altering stone cleft a bit to create better nests and so on... but all in all, the gargoyles seem fairly oblivious to these creatures, benefiting from their presence when in battle, but not caring much otherwise.
there is a peculiar exception though- when the gargoyles is allied with a temple dedicated to gods who demand much blood letting, sacrifices and such, the gargoyles of the place may actually cultivate stirges, building complicated nests and small tunnels through the building. no one knows exactly why this is so, but some believe this stems from the gargoyles own interpretation of the building's purpose and character...
-BloodLust Swarms: an entirely different matter are these devastating swarms. here, the main interaction is with City gargoyles, but this time as opposers. small farming communities have usually relied upon the local temples and churches to protect them from these horrors. when BloodLust swarms appear, the inhabitants of the area run to the the temple, and baricade themselves in. now, is the time of the temple's defenders- the gargoyles, to take care of the swarm. the gargoyles are uniquely suited for this, unaffected of the swarm abilities other than the damage. (and even for that, they rely on their Rebuilding for afterwards. many commoners tell of their frightful night in the church's hall, hearing the maddened flattering and humming of wings outside, and the inhuman shrieks of the battling statues (who some people suspected, but never actually knew, were there).
at some incidents in history however, cultists of dark or destructive gods, intentionally sabotaged or destroyed the gargoyles beforehand. if done secretly, many temples didn't learn about it till it was far too late...
- stone giants: workers of natural stone on one side, and worked stone on the other, gargoyles and stone giants never really got along together... they also rarely met due to the vastly different habitats... however, ruin, roaming and feral gargoyles have crossed paths with stone giant communities or migration parties on occasion. the gargoyles prefer to use their Fade out powers, knowing that the giants are far more superior to them strength wise, but there had been some serious clashes at times.
gargoyles usually display some great emotion towards Watchers- hate, caring, and more. almost if they think of it as some other gargoyle. however, their attempts to alter it, adding gargoyle runes, changing the face and more are definitely not appreciated by the stone giants, who feverishly hunt down gargoyles who stumble into their territory, perhaps for this exact reason. some scholars theorize there might be a connection between the crafting of the gargoyles, and the creating of Watchers, even their purpose is similar.
-In Thunder's Step groups: the ThunderClaps stone giants are more sociable than their kin, even to gargoyles, but to an extent. usually when such a group travels through a place known for it's ruins, or visits a local inhabited by gargoyles, they offer a deal- news, or other goods for the protection the gargoyle might offer. the gargoyles themselves seem to recognize the group as some sort of a religious pilgrimage, and are more willing to converse with it/ let it pass.
when dealing with other non giant races, ThunderClaps (in their role as emmiseries) sometime choose a meeting place heavily populated by gargoyles (as i described above, in the "Sanctuary" encounter), to reduce possible hostilities.
one unconfirmed rumor tells that gargoyles take a great pleasure from the storms created by the Held Storm, and that this must be part of the payment the gargoyles receive for whatever deals they broker with the ThunderClaps. this is particularly odd considering that they almost exclusively create these storms in places of religious importance for common stone giants... where no gargoyle would venture..
-Yeth Hounds: (i'm taking a bit of creative liberty Prometheus): similar to the stirges, there is no really special connection between the species, but there are at times interesting interactions. Feral gargoyles sometime hunt with Yeth Hounds, where they drive creatures to it, and then it surprises them. this is especially true is swamps and similar areas, where the Yeth hound drives the victims to the water's edge, and then the gargoyle leaps, grabs it, and then sink, turning to stone. Yeth hounds seem to revel in the horror of the drowning victim.
some of the Feral's use their alter stone powers to help modify the Yeth Hounds lair, make it a maze of curves, pitfalls and more. Spider/ Marilian gargoyles seem to be attracted to the yeth hounds more than others.
at times of war, when yeth hounds and gargoyles may be on opposite sides (Gargoyles usually on a mission for a temple, yeth hounds trained or subdued somehow by someone). the Yeth hounds may work as terror groups, while the gargoyles main just is to knock them down of the sky (mostly by their usual method of "hug, pertrify self, crash to ground". Draconic and serpentine gargoyles however use more conventional methods.)
another odd instance, similar to the stirges again, is when a gargoyle inhabit a temple or a place dedicated to fear. if a yeth hound arrives, the gargoyles may take effort to make it's stay more comfy, more pleasurable as well..
- Barghest: Barghest are not the only devine protectors of the goblinoid races. goblins of the past created gargoyles to, and some of their temples sport them. (in Eberron it is estimated the Dhakann empire was responsible for many of the gargoyles present in Khorvaire today). but there is no special animosity amongst them. the Barghest cannot identify them by it's life sense, and cannot feed upon them. this in some ways, ease the relations between the species.
the Barghest's need for secrecy, inquisitive mind, protective powers, and well known reputation for honoring deals (through debt stones), make it an ideal partner. many gargoyles seek ruin gargoyles, or offer deals for roaming gargoyles, for mutual protection. the gargoyle may also make a deal with some gargoyles not in it's own where about, to function as observers, and security for a deal making meeting... (again, as in "sanctuary"). both creatures are often reliable, and through the centuries many gargoyles found some comfort in the presence of the elusive stone sentinels..
Barghest however use the gargoyles as another resource, a resource of information- a Barghest is usually familiar with many languages, and at least some knowledge skills. a Barghest may spend days going over some Gargoyle script, deciphering it. some time it is for the Barghest own use, but sometime the information is a bargaining card for more deals. indeed, at some places (usually rural ones, and with heavy goblinoid populations), the Barghest establishes itself as a sort of an oracle...
Barghests, through their long experience with gargoyles, have learned to deal with their odd personalities, weird mindset, and off-key interpretations. Barghests, out of the various species who tried to communicate with gargoyles, and make them do as they are told, are definitely one of the most successful, subtly manipulative...
all of the above however refer to natural Barghests, not Extraplanar ones, who have no special experience with the gargoyles. these Barghests usually relentless uncontrolled behavior and hunger brings them to a confrontation with the Barghests soon enough.
- Wights: (batsofchaos, i'm taking some liberties here as well, feel free to comment) the wights being intelligent undead, the gargoyles usually don't mind them that much (Fade out still affects them, and the energy drain can't hurt the gargoyles), unless they come into conflict with the gargoyles (or the buildings) cause.
there have been known to be cases in the past, where wight population grew alarmingly, that many temples requested their gargoyles to wage war against them, and destroy them. and indeed, for some odd reason (perhaps the work of the secret society mentioned in the thread) gargoyles then sought and hunted wights, by great amounts.
but as said before- gargoyle align themselves to numerous goals and purposes. gargoyles have been seen fighting with wight on occasion, though not in an orderly manner, usually in ruins and such. the combination tend to be devastating. (cleric can't rebuke without the gargoyle interfering, and if a gargoyle grapples and turn to stone, the wight had as easy target).
on a few occasions though, wights and gargoyles were joined in purpose. this was usually under the leadership of a death/ necromancy influenced religion (in Eberron, the most notable is Blood of Vol), or guarding a tomb and such. the various forms of both "species", their "immortality", relentlessness, various and more make any structured coalition between them a thing to be feared (a wight dragon ridden by a humanoid gargoyle, or vice versa. a cavalry of lion gargoyles and wight riders of various species, or vice versa, and more). the gargoyles usually takes the role of defender and neutralizer, while the wight is the offensive, the killer...
in conclusion: i do think this is one of my best work, and amongst the most versatile. gargoyles could fit in so many situations and places... hope you enjoyed, and as always- comments are welcomed.
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-14-2010 at 04:58 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Serpent Lords: "how do you like your magic poison, you son of a dragon?" (remake of Nagas and Couatl. several variants included)
similar to the entries for the Barghest and the Gargoyle, the Naga and other serpentine creatures also has a rich history in legends, folklore and more (eastern and African cultures mostly, from my little research). as i saw it, i looked for other serpentine monsters, and noticed some liens of similarity with the Couatl. from here on the creation process rolled on, until i brought the Nagas into their new incarnation, as a single species (sort of) known asThe Serpent Lords. i hope my attempt to unite the monsters doesn't offend anyone.
one more note: as before, some of the following draws inspiration from the Eberron setting, and fit it better. but as before- all here can easily be adapted to any campaign world.
Naga (MMI), Couatl (MMI) and Bone Naga (MMII)
(note: from here after, the term Serpent Lord represent all 3)
Bad Street Rep: Nagas (bone included) have a mishmash of abilities, no coherent outlook, and the variants in MMI all resemble each other strongly, lacking any singularity. the Naga also looks awkward, with no explanation. in short, the Nagas jsut fall through the cracks, DM choices wise... it doesn't have any role or niche it fits well enough to be worth the effort. the Couatl is quite decent however, with the obvious role of mystic-fights-for-good. it resembled Nagas on several aspects though, and their joining is hopefully a fruitful one.
i like it because at first i didn't. but legends about Nagas (where they are often portrayed as guardians of knowledge or treasure, their bite deadly, their cunning fierce) have sparked my imagination. i then remembered the many real world myths about serpentine/ snake creatures, and decided to focus this on the Naga. the Eberron connection of the Couatl to dragons have cinched it for me. i knew how marvelous Nagas could be, how versatile, and how pivotal and centric they could be to legends. i decided to make them grander, more unique, more memorable, with an aura of awe and mystery as those of weaker dragons.
And now, presenting to you the new and improved Serpent Lords:
Perception and Concept
- Perception:in this new incarnation, the Serpent Lords have a closely tied history to dragons. in a way they tried to compete with them, envied them, sought to gain power like them. bound to their own forms however they are weaker, and so the Nagas have improved their cunning, and deadliness of their poison. the Serpent lords have some unique roles for the DM:
various encounters for various levels, relying on the serpent lords progression routes.
a scheming power behind the scene, adept at stealth, manipulation and information extraction
a deadly combatant, with a poison for every cause.
a most fitting powerful minion or sidekick. even a recurring one.
center for legends, and intrigue with dragons.
two unique challenges in the form of Ascendant Serpentine lords (Couatl and Bone Naga). who gained far more power than their kin, and are parts in the greater struggle between good an evil.
- Concept: the Serpent Lord species describes the growth of Nagas, and their progression. after maturity the Naga can choose between 3 paths, two of them leading to Ascension transforming to either Couatl or Bone Naga, depending on the path chosen. (note to those who read Barghest: don't worry, not nearly as complicated as that was). the Nagas moral choices (alignement) have a significant role in this, but not the only role.
the Serpent lords powers focus on several fields- mastery of poison (the ability to change it, and use several kinds), spell casting as dragons (not much change there), and various powers that focus on manipulation and information gathering.
The Serpent lords are more vulnerable than dragons, and far less powerful, but do posses an impressive arrogance and sense of entitlement. due to their weakened states, they are far more resourceful and scheming however. Nagas are in a very real way, Dragon wannabes.
Place and Interactions
- Place in the world: no one knows when it happened, but Serpent Lords seem to have been very close to dragons some time in the paths. maybe when dragons were simpler, and not the immensely powerful beasts they are now. legends and scholarly research suggests that in that forgotten past, the bodies of the two species was similar, and that the Serpent lords wore serpentine faces. in fact, some even theorize that it was one species, that split into the two very distinct species known today!
it seems that this separation came with a curse, or a bane on Nagas: they were cursed with ever shifting faces of the lower races, as well as no legs (or perhaps the dragons gained legs?), but perhaps most irritating of all is the vast difference in power and respect between the two species. the Nagas resent the dragons deeply for that.
in the time that passed since, Serpent lords have often sought of ways to increase their power and influence. they gained access to tombs, ancient ruins, and other places of import and power. many time the "guardian" Serpent lord isn't so much a guardian, as a looter, mimicking dragons with their desires for wealth, treasure, and more.
Serpent Lords evolve in the following manner, in their pursuit for power:
Youngling Nagas require a moist environment, and are often found in lakes, swamps, jungles and more. at this stage they are very vulnerable, and often congregate in small hunting groups. the scales are greenish, like algae.
Mature Nagas developed tight knit scales and can now venture from the watery surfaces. their powers grow, but are yet far from impressive. Nagas of this stage usually travel in pairs, for companionship and protection, and procreation. many travels to dry areas, liking the difference from their childhood. this is the focal point of a Serpent Lord's life. from here the Naga can choose one of 3 paths, in it's quest for power. their scales are usually brown or earth toned.
Power Naga is a term describing the next stage in the possible paths. the powers grow again, and become more unique. the paths reflect the Alignment and power choices the Naga took. it's an evolution of personality as well as power.
Guardian Naga: is a power naga of neutral or good alignement, who chose to give up it's hatred for the dragons, and try and imitate them. the scales grow brighter, almost blinding. the name comes from their tendency to guard places or goals of import.
Venom Lord: is a power naga of any alignment, who decided to not choose any of the extreme paths. it focuses on becoming stronger physically, and improving it's mastery of poison. the scales remain in earth tones, though with flecks of red and gray.
Dark Naga: is a power naga of neutral or evil alignement, who chose to pursue power at any cost, wanting to live as long as the dragons, or more. they develop a new poison which increases their powers of manipulations. their scales become dark gray to dark black.
Ascendancy: no one except ascendant Serpent Lords knows how to complete this final transformation. it is not a matter of gaining experience or gaining HD, but something more profound, more subtle. Venom lords cannot achieve Ascendancy.
Couatl: is an ascendant good Guardian Naga. the name meant something on the lines of "sublime" in ancient Draconic, but the meaning was lost. the scales turns to all the colors of the rainbow, and indeed some of the Couatl's forces are tied to it. good dragons relinquish their hostilities with Couatls, often working together for common goals. Couatls are known as champions of good, great sages, but also quite elusive.
Couatls breed together to bring a new young Couatl (though wise beyond their years). but a Couatl and a naga breeding will always bring out a Youngling naga.
Bone Naga is an ascendant evil Dark Naga. it completes a dark ritual, transforming it's body to an undead husk, from which the serpentine skeleton emerges. bone nagas can posses another creature through their poison (that remains active, even in the undead state), as well as grow more powerful in their spell casting abilities. the bone naga is undead, and a most scheming and dangerous creature, often plotting for more power, usually at the expanse of dragons. it is quite an exemplary of evil, similar to many liches are.
Serpent Lords (other than Ascendant ones) posses a humanoid face (Couatls posses a draconic face, and Bone Nagas posses no face). each time the face is part of their curse/ nature: each time they bite humanoid creautres their face turns to resemble it, though is a stretched out and somewhat distorted way. Nagas generally hate this, but some do like the horrified expression on their opponent's face. if the Naga succeeded to Delve into Memory with it's bite, (will be explained later), then the similarity is even more striking, mimicking facial traits and expressions.
Nagas posses the ability to glean into the memory of their opponents when biting them (as i said- explained later). this makes them excellent information gatherers, and superb combatants. Dark Naga has even further powers to influence memories and more. many Nagas become connoisseurs of memory, enjoying and savoring it. some dislike it, but all find it useful.
Serpent lords moves from place to place when the need calls for it, but they are often reluctant to. similar to dragons, a Serpent Lord will alter and protect it's lair, either with its Telekinesis, it's spells, or services from other creatures (rended willingly or not). unlike Dragons, the Serpents lords rely less on their own personal power (they are arrogant and proud, but also realistic), but rather on minions, traps, superior terrain, information gathering, or any other advantage they can get their coils on!
Eberron note: in this setting, the nagas are called "the worms of Eberron", and are believed to have been on both sides in the age of demons. some went to the dragons aid and became Couatl's (ending with their great sacrifice), while others either stayed neutral, or came to the Rakshasa's side. when many of the Rajahs were imprisoned, some of the lower demons, Naga's amongst them were bound to different location or under Khyber. the Daelkyr however played with these creatures, and gave them their faces (and some claim also some of their powers). the Serpent Lords since then escaped, but their aberrant nature is still hunted down by the various druids.
A clarification by Classy One: The feathered serpents were nerver considered inferior to dragons, even if they are less powerful. In fact, many dragons admired the couatl or even viewed them as superior to dragons due to their knack for psionics (which you failed to mention) and their natural immortality.
When the couatl gave up their lives to seal the rakshasa rajahs, the dragons even had survivor guilt (since they thrived afterwards) and many devote their entire life and future generations to guarding the peace that couatls brought with their own life force. If that isn't blatant respect then I don't know what is.
- Interactions: the Serpent Lords are quite willing to deal with whomever they need to. most are skilled negotiators and their powers sometime give them an edge. it is quite common for a Naga to demand she bite lightly whomever it is making a deal with, so it could Delve into it's Memory, and make sure they are not lying. Dark Nagas are even more dangerous in that respect.
Serpent Lords usually seek the most powerful position possible in any organization, but they will conceed to a lower one, if a more powerful applicant rise. nagas are very aware of the power hierarchy, and almost always scheme to move ahead, but only when appropriate.
different power and ascendant serpent lords react and deal depending on their own personality, and should be regarded on a case by case basis.
even so, there are several special cases: - youngling Naga: all Serpent Lords are fiercely protecting of the young ones, believing that their survival trumps nearly any other consideration. this blind species protectiveness might even be the one case that Guardian nagas and Bone Nagas work together. this trait has no real explanation, except for the strange blief held by nearly all serpent lords that their species is on the verge of extinction... always.
- power nagas and mature nagas: many time a power naga will try to take a mature one under it's scales, sort to speak. they try and be their mentors. the relationship is a unique one, and lasts only until a transformation occurs.
- serpent lords of opposite paths: if they meet, or learn of the other one existence, then they seek to destroy (or evade, if the other is too powerful) each other. the hatred is immense, and both sides might go to great lengths to exterminate the other.
- Yuan Ti: somewhat similar in nature, many Naga's find refuge and a home in a Yuan-ti temple. alliances quickly develop. the Yuan Ti are the only race who managed to refine a Naga's poison and keep it potent. temples who have a naga assisting them are far more dangerous. the temples naturally welcome only neutral and evil nagas
in Eberron there is a Benevolent Yuan-Ti race, worshiping couatls. (one locations is in the south east of the blade desert). Guardian Nagas may find the same companionship in these places.
- Dragons: the great animosity between the dragon race and the Serpent Lords one is hard to breach. other than the Couatl there is no known example of dragons working together with nagas. nagas usually flee any direct confrontation, and might leave an are alltogether if a dragon arrives, but many (especially the Dark and Bone Nagas) scheme to get rid of the dragons.
if young dragons are found in the area, the naga will usually hunt them down fiercely, reveling in the delight, knowing full well that once they grow, that opportunity is lost. dragons in turn go to great measures to hunt down nagas in their area close to hatching.
Gaurdian Nagas usually try and help young good dragons in need though. adult dragons don't reciprocate, and many of them will hunt down Guardian Nagas non the less...
- half dragons: Serpent lords usually feel about these offsprings the same way they feel about the draconic parent. guardian nagas try to protect and guide them usually, while dark nagas and venom lord try to destroy them. a special dark and sadistic pleasure of dark nagas is to try and turn half dragons against dragons (maybe by their special powers).
- liches wannabe: the transformation of a dark naga to a bone naga is a mysterious one. many believe it is an earleir versions of the transformation to lich process (though the two differ greatly). some casters, seeking to become liches, seek out Bone Nagas, and broker dark deals with them for exchange of the information (including letting them "ride" in their bodies... will be explained later). some scholars claim that the Bone Naga's poison can enhance a lich's abilities greatly...
- constructs, and unintelligent undead: most Serpentine lords fear them, since some of their powers (poison included) don't affect them. a serpent lord hate what it can't reason with.
- outsiders: the Couatl is an outsider itself. furthermore, all evil and good outsiders consider it firmly as one of them, in terms of the greater battle between good and evil. other Serpent lords don't receive the same treatment, not even the Bone Naga (which prefers to stay out of that business anyway).
- half celestials/ half fiends: these are most commonly treated exactly as outsiders by the serpent lords, and vice versa. some mortals however, and some half fiends/ celestials, believe that the ascendant transformation processes can also benefit them, to reach more "celestial/ fiend status". these might og to great lengths to capture either power nagas or ascendant serpent lords and try to find out the answer. half celestials though usually prefer to talk things through, though some have been known to act more urgently in times of need.
- reptiles, especially snakes. including dire forms: All the Serpent lords exude some sort of influence on these creatures. they all treat the serpent lords with respect, or at least healthy caution. the Venom Lords are especially renown for this, with their powers to command reptiles (will be detailed soon). many times, the Venom lords lair will have a few such critters lairing about as added guardians.
- Game mechanics: as with my other entries, the following is mostly suggestions, and a blue print. i didn't get to the actual numbers. however, i do believe this could be done easily with these guidelines, by someone more inclined to it.
i will now detail the developmental paths of the Serpent Lords, with the powers and changes that accompany them.
1) general abilities:: all serpent lords posses these abilities. they are detailed fully here, new powers , or improvements are detailed in each developmental stage:
Detect thoughts: always active, as the spell
guarded thoughts: no one can read or scry a serpent lords thoughts.
immunity to poison: all poisons, even those of other, more advanced serpent lords.
Delve into Memory: when a Naga bites an opponent, however lightly (even without injecting poison) it might gain a glimpse into the opponents memory. the opponent roles a will save- if it succeeds, the serpent lord only learns basic information- name, class, and tactics of that person for the fight. the Serpent's lord initiative immediately becomes one higher than the opponent's. if the opponent failed it's saving through, the serpent lord gets a longer glimpse into the opponent's memory, learning all that happened in a specific time(detailed in each stage), including the names of friends, strategies and tactics, and the plans for this fight. the initiative becomes one higher than the highest initiative amongst those in the opponent's memory (or +4 generally. what ever is more comfortable)
multiple poisons: the serpent lords have multiple poison glands. the nage decides which poison to inject upon biting (only one!).
Morphic Poison: the primary poison of the naga, causes it's damage to whichever ability score the naga chooses (slight variations in the gland). it is the same ability for the initial and secondary damage.the DC is moderate.
Paralysis poison: moderate DC, initial damage paralysis for 1 minute. secondary damage paralysis for 1 hour.
Truth poison: moderate DC. initial damage target can't lie. secondary damage target must tell the truth. (slightly different)
skills: diplomacy, bluff, gather information, sense motive, intimidation, hide, move silently, swim, all knowledge skills and climb are all class skills. the serpent lords get a significant bonus on the conversational skills as well as swim, and a small bonus to the stealth skills.
speak with animals: always active, usually used to talk with reptiles.
dark vision to 60 ft.
thin body: the serpentine body enables the serpent lords to move through tunnels fit for a tiny creature (standing up). serpents lords usually dig many tunnels through their lair- too small for most creatures the naga fight, but small enough for it to move through.
2) Youngling Naga:
4 HD, medium size, swim speed 50, land speed 30, low natural armor.
spell casting: like a level 3 sorcerer.
Delve into Memory: can delve to 1d4 hours on a failed will save.
Morphic poison: 1d6 ability damage (initial and secondary)
3) Mature Naga:
7 HD, large size. swim 60. land speed 40, +3 natural armor.
spell casting: like a 5th level sorcerer.
Delve into Memory: can delve to 1d4 days on a failed will save.
Morphic Poison: 1d8 ability damage (initial and secondary)
improved grab+ constrict: as the feat and the special attack.
Telekenisis: a new ability, like the spell. the serpent lord can use only the sustained force version of the spell. the force is used to alter and shape the lair mostly, as well as inter act with simple objects.
this is the pivotal moment. from here on the serpent lord can either gain levels or HD, or go by one of the paths.
4) Power Naga, Guardian:
this stage can only be acquired by a neutral or good mature naga.
+2 HD, +2 natural armor.
spell casting: like a 7th level sorcerer. can cast from the clerical list as well, including the Good and protection domain.
Delve into Memory: can delve to 1d4 weeks on a failed will save.
no improvement on the morphic posion.
Cleansing poison: a sort of "anti poison"- it has the effects of Heal, without the cured HP. (it cures poison, and all kinds of ailments)
Bright Scales: 3 times per day, the Guardian Naga can make his scales blindingly bright. everyone with opened eyes must succeed at a reflex save (moderate DC) or be blinded for 2d6 rounds.
Power Naga, Dark:
this stage can only be acquired by a neutral or evil mature naga.
+2 HD, +2 natural armor.
spell casting: like a 7th level sorcerer. can cast from the clerical list as well, including the evil and trickery domain.
Delve into Memory: can delve to 1d4 weeks on a failed will save.
no improvement on the morphic poison.
Memory altering poison: low- mid DC. initial and secondary damage: minor memory loss- the character is regarded as having two negative levels, but without it being negative energy. the posion stays in the system. if the target is unconscious, the naga can speak and try to alter the target's memory. if it fails a will save (moderate DC), it comes to believe the Naga's version of events about the past 1d4 weeks (months for Dark Nagas)
devotion poison: initial damage- the target is charmed. secondary damage: the target is devoted to the Naga, (similar to the effects of quest/ geas, only unknowingly so.) and will do it's best to aid it's cause! the first affect wears off after 1d6 hours, the second after 4d6 days!
Power Naga, Venom Lord:
this stage can only be acquired by a mature naga.
+3 HD, +3 natural armor, +4 con (which also affects the poisons DCs)
spell casting: like a 7th level sorcerer. can cast from the druid list
Delve into Memory: can delve to 1d4 weeks on a failed will save.
morphic poison: 1d10 ability damage (both initial and secondary). only the Venom lord amongst the power Nagas improves this poison
spit poisons: all poisons become also contact poison. the naga can spit it to 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. no range increments.
command reptiles:as command animals, but only or reptiles. the caster levels equal to the HD for this affect.
cannot continue on evolving by paths, just HD and levels.
5) ascendent, Couatl:
this stage can only be acquired by a good guardian naga.
+2 HD, +2 natural armor, +2 con. type outsider (native, good). the couatl gains feathery wings. fly 60 (good).
spell casting: like a 9th level sorcerer. can cast from the clerical list as well, including the Good and protection domain.
Delve into Memory: can delve to 1d4 months on a failed will save.
morphic poison: 2d6 ability damage (initial and secondary)
ascendant powers: plane shift, ethereal jaunt, detect any alignment. all at will.
prismatic Scales: 3 times per day, the Guardian Naga can make his scales to shimmer in all the colors of the rainbow. the next one hit by the Couatl (by touch attack or regular one) is affected as if hit by a prismatic spray.
ascendant, Bone Naga:
this stage can only be acquired by a evil dark naga.
+2 HD, +2 natural armor, +2 con. type undead.
spell casting: like a 11th level sorcerer. can cast from the clerical list as well, including the evil and trickery domain. the Bone Naga sacrifices other forces compared to the Couatl, to gain this levels of spells.
Delve into Memory: can delve to 1d4 months on a failed will save.
morphic poison:2d6 ability damage (initial and secondary)
Live in the Poison: the transformation the naga takes lives her body a skeletal form, strong in itself, but still but a vessel to the real home of the Bone Naga's life force- the Poison. when a Bona Naga bites an opponent, it can try to inject itself into it. there is 1 saving throw. if the opponent fails, the naga now curses in it's veins, dominating it as if by a magic jar. further more- all the victims memories, skills and abilities become available to the Naga.
accompanying husk: the skeleton provides a sort of a phylactery. if the host of the naga dies, the Naga's life force returns to the poison gland in 1d3 days. if the husk is destroyed, the bone naga (in it's host) must find a new naga from which to create it's husk (any mature or above will suffice. but not a youngling, or a Couatl).
the skeleton can also accompany the naga, as an intelligent skeleton, with a +4 turn resistence. most Bone Nagas do so only if they need to relocate far, or if they need another combatant desperatly, and there is no one near. the skeleton can still use it's poisons! (though the Bone Naga needs to use a move action to change types)
powers within host: the naga retains all it's powers not requiring the naga's body (poisons, constrict and so on). it can use all of the host powers that are not psionic or solely mental based super natural abilities.
avoid detection: the Nagas presence inside a host body is very hard to detect. any attempt to do so requires a caster level check, against the Naga's HD.
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-11-2011 at 07:40 AM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
Serpent Lords, continued
Mysteries and the Unknown
-Mysteries and the Unknown: Nagas keep their secrets, and little is know about them. they are creatures of secrecy and obscurity. amongst the greatest mysteries are the origins of the conflict with the Dragons. neither race is willing to talk about that schism, but it is evident. though Dragons hoard treasures, Nagas hoard secrets and knowledge. their abilities make them especially capable of extracting information, and guarding it. however, a naga will never trade such treasures without a price... a steep one.
another mystery is the paths to ascension. since even the non ascendant Nagas know these secrets, the mystery is well kept. legends tell of people who found out the secrets, but could not use them on themselves- the process was tied to the Serpent lord Species. the same legends also claim however, that the processes can be changed to produce different results. some say that it's the one way to become half celestial or half fiend without being born into the situation.
another more direct application of the transformation process of the Dark Nagas to bone Nagas is typically associated with the transformation to liches. what connection there is, if any is unknown.
special guilds and craftsmen tried for ages to refine the poison of Nagas, especially the Cleansing poison of Guardian Nagas. their poison quickly become inert soon after extraction. the only success was achieved by Yuan Ti, who managed to preserve the poison for days at a time. many believe that this is because the Nagas alter their poison to that affect exactly. of course, no Naga ever confirmed that.
Playing at a D&D table near YOU!
- "what is your poison of choice?": i'll begin with a simple melee encounter to show how the Serpent Lords improved from the original concept. first of all- a Naga will almost always fight in circumstances that favor it. Mature Nagas power of telekinesis allows it to prepare the terrain- making tough ground, creating covers (good for casting spells), creating ponds that limit movements to others (but not itself) perhaps even digging tunnels through the battle area, allowing for easy concealed and protected access to any part of it (the Naga's thin body allows this). if possible, the serpent lord will gather what information it can about it's enemies before hand. and use it.
when battle commences, the serpent lord will use it's detect thoughts, and Delve into Memory in order to learn of the party's strategy, as well as boost up it's initiative. if it is succesful, then it can now target each opponent with the most suitable morphic poison (either one that incapacitates the target by hitting it's lowest attribute, or one that harms their main attribute). if the target is hard to hit, the Naga will try to grapple it, perhaps even pin it, and then bite.
Nagas nearly always have a way to retreate (even if it's just a hole to a flooded tunnel), and will usually do so before they reach critical HP levels. Nagas believe strongly in the saying "run to fight another day".
- guardian of the tomb: Nagas excel at protecting their own lairs. the naga will usually have long tunnels dug through out the lair, enabling it to appear nearly everywhere. a naga will strike soon, trying to Delve into memory to learn about the party of invaders it will then retreat, and strike at various opportune time. a Naga's lair is typically very well trapped, either to harm/ incapacitate invaders, to just make them vulnerable to another attack. Power nagas, who can cast healing spells as well as arcane ones usually prefer this method of harassment/ attrition.
be warned that since the serpent lord is smart, so will be their traps, and their ambushes. if it succeeded in it's information gathering, it will usually use the party's weaknesses to devastating efficiency.
all Nagas are likely to have some creatures working for them. they either lured them, created a favorable habitat for them (simple creatures), or made bargains with them (mature Nagas and above). or perhaps they are allies (especially with guardian nagas), charmed reptiles (venom lords), or charmed/ persuaded thralls (dark naga, using it's devotion poison, and subtle suggestions with the memory altering poison).
ascendant serpent lords go to far greater measures, especially the Bone Naga protecting it's husk.
- interrogator supreme: a naga might work for any organization or group who wishes to uncover secrets. the nagas abilities makes it a prime information extractor, one who can be cruel and terrifying. if the characters are captured and are interrogated for their knowledge, a naga can come, detect their thoughts, and use it's Delve into Memory ability to glean the needed information. the face changing to that of the characters, with mannerisms to match only makes it all the creepier.
The Dark Naga makes an even more terrifying interrogator. it can make you devout to it (by the use of it's devotion poison), wanting to tell it everything, to please it, make it proud of you... then later, when your real self resumes, you still remember.
have the naga as part of a larger force. it will hold the place of a specialist- torturer, recruiter, healer, magical assistance, infiltrator, spy, or more. this slithering monstrosity should be played as it is- mysterious, arrogant, and terribly, terribly efficient.
- "the fangs that pull the strings": Dark Nagas, with their special poison, fit the role of schemer, or the power behind the throne (sort to speak perfectly). they have the ability to make others do as they wish, and to tamper with memories. this last ability is especially useful as a plot tool- the NAga can make fake impressions, make allies turn against the PCs, make their actions suddenly forgotten (or replaced with other actions), they can create false impressions, start wars, cause betrayals, and so much more!
all of this goes to serve the naga's purpose- usually more power, or eliminating threats. this is especially true for dragons.
- "those are strange looking eels" youngling nagas make suitable opponent for low level parties. though they don't have much casting skills, they use it to their best advantage (true strike followed by a bite for example). this is also one of the few times when they will be met in groups. Youngling nagas usually make "deals" with simple animals and creatures, and may be found working together with many kinds. they usually \refrain from dealing with more intelligent ones, do to the inherent danger (even this little they act like little dragons)
- "that's a strange looking druid": Venom lords have access to druidic spells, and combned with their form and command of reptiles, many groups might think this is a druid in (a weird) animal form. Venom lords are the most likely to remain in pairs when reaching the Power Naga stage, and are the most likely to be in a wild location. with their swim ability, and spit poison powers, they usually try to stay at a distance from their enemies while using summoned critters and the reptiles to busy the group.
- "that really reminds me of a lich": Bone Nagas can perform as well as a lich, but with vast differences: the Naga uses a different body each time it faces the characters. it can have a "companion" skeleton snaky thing, with a potent poison. and it doesn't have a phylactery, in the traditional sense. where Dark Nagas were schemers and hidden powers, Bone Naga actually go even farther- a Bone Naga can replace, and use the powers of whomever it controls. it can take control over a king, a powerful Wizard, or even a Dragon! (the ultimate joke, as the Bone Nage see it!)
if the PCs find out about the deception, they may fight and attack the possessed being, but the Naga won't be destroyed. it will come again, but in a different body (and perhaps with a devout follower as well). this may happen a few times, the Naga even using the PCs friends. the PCs might think it's a ghost, or a special magic (the Knowledge DC for this ability should be high), until finally they find out the real way to end this- kill the skeletal body.
only even that isn't the end, as the Naga (possessing a creature who eluded the party), just needs to find another Naga to kill, and turn into a Husk. hey, it might even hire the PCs to do so! (the PCs might be all too eager to kill any Naga they meet now, after the last experience, not knowing they might be helping the very fiend they thought they already destroyed)
-"the silent war": taking a grander look at things, you could pit the Nagas in your Campaign, in a secret war against some dragons in the regions. the Naga try to remain hidden and gain power to vanquish the "hated ones" (perhaps even scheming for the party to battle one of the dragons, or at least gather information about it), while the dragons mostly remain aloof, but some of them may at times try to "control" the nagas population in the area. as both sides have both good, evil, and neutral, and many motives and moralities, the players may end up on either side (if they choose a side at all)
a few ideas/ encounters/ plots/ adventures to that effect:
parental care:a couple of Mature nagas (or power ones) try to fight and kill a young dragon in their area, who hunts their offspring. they may offer secrets or treasure for any help. the dragon known that more nagas in the area will mean it's doom (since it ages slower), so it may offer similar, yet different prizes.
a Dark Naga: uses it's powers to send people to fight the Dragon, and harass it. it might even send one "devotee" with the party, on pretense that the dragon is dangerous and evil and so on... when the party fight meet the surprisingly good dragon, the devotee suddenly charges and destroys the eggs, in mad fanaticism. if the party don't act quick, the maddened dragon might end them quickly.
which path to take:some mature Nagas try to choose a path. there may be various influences in the area, including nagas and dragons. the PCs actions, and the development of events may influence heavily which power path the nagas will choose. this in turn can shift the balance of power in the nagas world, and the fight with the dragons. a good dragons ask the PCs to provide a good example to the nagas, and advocate tolerance to dragons (hoping they will turn to Guardian nagas). but other dragons (probably younger ones), jsut seek to destroy the aberrations, thus driving them more towards the dark path. in the end some nagas will turn to each path, the numbers will depend on the PCs and events. the PCs might gain a valuable ally or enemy due to this.
race for power: both Powerful serpent lords and dragons race to gain access to some power, artifact, or the like. the serpent lords are most likely to be more numerous, and with allies, but the dragons have their own power and resources to match the odds. the PCs either join one side, or are on a third side altogether, trying to beat them both.
birth of a couatl: a guardian naga is heralded to come close to it's moment of transformation. as this gets known, both evil nagas and evil dragons seek to prevent the occasion. the good dragon/s helping the couatl is incapacitated/ murdered, and the pcs must protect this unique occurrence and marvel while the powers try to destroy it and them (a fit quest for a paladin if there was one).
-"the poison that is a cure": the only cure for some exotic/ magical ailment is the Cleansing poison of a guardian naga. however, the poison cannot be retained or purified. the naga agrees to make the subtle needed alteration, in return for some quest... after the party returns, they receive the vials of poison/ cure, but then they are hunted by various groups coveting it (everyone has someone who needs it, or they just want to find a way to refine serpent lords poisons). the party may even find itself in a serious predicament, where there are several worthy subjects for the poison, but there is only one dose... who will they choose?
- "quick path to ascension":a half fiend (or a half celestial with a pressing need) starts capturing power and ascendant serpent lords, trying to coax them to reveal the secret, or experiment with them until it is revealed.
as many nagas (and perhaps a couatl) come under attack, the PCs may be called to action, to fight against this foe. this is amongst the only times the PCs may all with serpent lords of an opposite path, and explore their world more intimately..
Bonus section! Reactions with the other monsters in the compendium!
- Strige: no real reaction. the serpent lords find the critters to be an annoying pest. (their natural armor is usually high enough for them not be a threat). however, youngling and mature nagas often arrange for comfort habitats for stirges in their lair, as added guards and security.
- Stone Giants: the two species tend to leave each other alone. the stone giant's high fort save means that most of the venom doesn't affect them. nagas sometime broker deals for mutual protection with the giants (bringing spell casting ability from their end), but that is rare.
stone giants do however greatly respect Couatls, and sometime even give them tribute and offerings.
Thunder Claps have no special relations with the serpent lords, but often keep detailed records of lairs and sightings, mostly weary of Dark Nagas. the giants is a good source of information if a naga is looked after.
- Barghest: the two species may exist in a tenuous relationship at best. both are clever, both are scheming, and both have strong motivating powers (hunger for barghest, pride for serpent lords), and they both know it. the barghest ability to broker a deal makes some interactions fairly safe, but even that is tense.
barghest would most prefer to deal with Venom lords, as the guardian nagas usually find it morally objectionable to deal with a barghest, and the dark naga are too dangerous with their awareness altering poisons.
Bone Nagas never inhabit Barghests- something in their essence repels the bone naga deeply...
- Yeth Hounds: most serpent lords highly dislike the Yeth hounds. they might have been good allies or minions if they showed but a bit more discretion- a quality serpent lords value very much. Guardin nagas especially seem to hunt these abomination down. they use their blinding scales power to force the beasts out of light and into the ground, where the advantage goes to the naga.
- Gargoyles: serpent lords, as frequent inhabitors of ruins, often meet Ruin Gargoyles, and associate with them. in fact, a naga would often travel a great distance to a new lair if it knows of gargoyles there. the gargoyles add to the security, and their Gargoyle Script is poured over hours and hours by the eager serpent lord. the gargoyles demeanor and outlook is soon deducted, and the serpent lords conform to it willingly. the only hindrance is that sometime the gargoyles sometime block the serpent lord's tunnels with their Alter worked stone power.
there are two special cases however. the first are the draconic gargoyles. the gargoyles show no special reaction to the new presence. but the serpent lords find the presence of the draconic form irritating, and usually either leave the place, or try to destroy the gargoyle (note, that is if they are aware of it's presence at all, do to fade out). guardian nagas and couatls are usually fine with the draconic gargoyles.
the second exception are the serpentine gargoyles. serpent lords see these as a sort of monuments to their own power, and very pleasing. there is usually some competition in a place that boast such gargoyles, and it might even come to house several serpent lords. if the gargoyle is part of a Yuan Ti temple, than all the better.
- Wights: serpent lords hate these creatures, unless they can make them to be tools. (which is rare). imprevious to poison and deadly, serpent lords will usually try to find someone to fight these abominations for them.
Bone Nagas are more accepting, since they are no longer a target for the Wight's hunger. they are known to work with them on occasion, maybe even making small armies of them, if it suits their purpose.
in conclusion: i hope that this remake made these monsters more playable, more fun, and more intriguing. the naga is a sort of an underdog, but a vicious, cunning, and moderately powerful underdog. hopefully, this entry has given more depth to the creature, as well as a place in any campaign world. has it found it's way to yours? hope you enjoyed,
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-15-2010 at 12:15 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
PHEEEEEEWW! finally finished bringing this thread up to date... there are things for new readers, and old readers alike here. please, tell me what you think- of the old entries, the new one, the general structure, anything really.
i think i'll go rest now...
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-15-2010 at 12:16 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Yeth Hound: flying terrors from above!(by Prometheus)
This is the first entry not done by me, but by Prometheus as you might see, the format is different, and that is cool! i posted it as is (under the spoilers) as i like people's own styles and.. he let me do it. as always, i hope you enjoy his fine work!
Yeth Hound MMI
Bad street Rep: Hell hounds, howlers, krenshar, worgs, winter wolfs, dire wolfs, werewolves, barghest, blink dog, and displacer beast! How many weird and evil dogs does the Monster Manual need? The Yeth Hound just seems odd, with arbitrary abilities. No modules have any place for it, and at the end of the alphabet, DMs just forget about it.
i care for it because: First of all, Yeth Hounds are legit. They are some accident generated by a wizard (of the coast), they are a Scottish legend. They are creatures with a fear ability, but they are also descriptively and pictorially scary. An emaciated dark dog, with a humanoid head, aerie yellow eyes, terrifying screams, and INEXPLICABLY FLiIES! It's certainly creepier than any of another variety of monsters.
and now, presenting the new and improved Yeth Hound:
Perceptions and Concept
- perception: They are seen as just another hack and slash monster, or exactly like the krenshar. Either that, or they are relegated to evil planes and never seen ever. More importantly, it isn't used how it can be.
- concept: Yeth Hounds seem to have a culture of fear, they actually enjoy it and their existence seems to be driven by it. I prefer the Yethi version of "creature of fear" than some cliche amorphous spirit of darkness. To many tales about the Yeth Hounds have been spun to justify the irrational fear of their barks, therefore their is a certain degree of paranoia about them.
the rest of it (i didn't know how to organize it)
-Fear's Purpose: Some isolationist towns like to cultivate or introduce a band of Yeth Hounds into the surrounding wilderness. Most of the time, they don't harm people, they just give them a good chase. As a result, the village tends to be bypassed by most outside events and can keep to itself. Perhaps more nefariously, a few in control of the city use it to make sure that no one else attempts to leave (like M.Night Shamalan's The Village).
-mechanics: Each time a creature fails a Will Save to the Yeth Hounds Bay special attack, it receives a cumulative -2 penalty to it, to a maximum of -6, each penalty lasting for a month.
Rather than make multiple bay attacks, a herd of Yeth Hounds can make a single Bay attack that receives a +2 bonus to the DC for each beyond the first up to a maximum of four with a +6 bonus.
-Yeth Hound Den: While yeth hounds are frequently encountered on the prowl, they gather in their own cavernous den where they hide in the day, and the only way to root them out of an area is to destroy it. Yeth hounds permit other creatures to inhabit the outskirts of their den - so long as they don't hunt the yeth hounds, they can feed off of those driven from the den by fear. In addition to the hazards posed by the cohabitants, the complex is usually very uneven, slippery, jagged and unstable - most of this is natural, but occasionally intelligent yeth hounds put work into digging up and trapping their surroundings. The yeth hounds are easily able to fly through the caves, and the more the fleeing humanoids trip and harm themselves, the better. Also, it provides many perches for them to hide on in the dark. The cavern usually has an erratic and maze-like quality to it with many dead ends and more than one exit/entrance.
From a distance, Yeth hounds can cause their cries to echo so that the creature is confused about which way to run or harms himself or herself trying to escape. When they come closer, they can choose to herd their subject in circles, out of the cavern, or into a dead end -whichever they prefer.
Exceptionally large and well-made Yeth Hound dens will usually include a band of enslaved humanoids or monstrous humanoids (Grimlocks, Mongrelfolk, Goblins, Gnomes) which they chase around their for their daytime amusement. After a hunt, they'll bring back some scraps for their prisoners to subsist on, which is usually the best indication of where a Yeth hound den is, and whether or not they have captives.
-mechanics: A Yeth Hound's Bay ability echoes two times the ordinary range in a Yeth Hound's Den. In a Yeth Hound's Den, a Yeth Hound may make a DC 15 Dex Check to direct its Bay ability so it appears to come from a different direction so long as it has the ability to find an appropriate path within range.
-Yethi Mounts & Companions:
Sinister witches and staunch warlords alike can use a beast which drives their enemies mad with fear. They can serve as scouts, guard dogs, and as part of a strategic attack. They are the traditional mount of Wisplings, and their flying trickery is quite something to mettle with.
-mechanics: A Yeth Hound may serve as a Blackguard's fiendish servant as though the Blackguard had a character level of three less. A Yeth Hound may serve as an improved familiar (CWar) at an Arcane Caster and BAB level of 7. Obviously, a Yeth Hound is still able to function as a cohort with an LA +3.
-Wereyeths: That is, the Were-Yeth Hound. When Yeth Hounds are struck by a Werewolf, they must make a Fortitude save to avoid contracting the curse of lycanthropy as if they were humanoid, but rather than becoming a werewolf yeth hound, or a werefolf humanoid, they become a wereyeth humanoid (of the same species of that the werewolf was). Although this seems like an unlikely event, the results are quite enduring. Even in human form, its irrational form of flight is completely active and it makes for a formidable opponent.
mechanics-the lycanthrope template remains mostly the same, with a few modifications. It has outsider HD rather than animal HD. DR/silver is increased by 5 in every form. It's ability modifiers are Str +6, Dex+4, Con+4. Alignment Neutral Evil.
Bring it all Together: Mayor trains Yeth Hounds to isolate town. Yeth hounds keep traveling-merchants prisoners in their den. The mayor periodically comes by and collects the merchant's wealth (he's yething all the way to the bank). When players destroy the den, the Mayor introduces more. They must be coming from somewhere and the experts agrees destroying the den usually does it. When the players confront the Mayor, oh snap, he's a Wereyeth! Apparently this little project had that nasty side effect - a nasty side effect he defends to his death (But if he inflicts one of them, he gets his last yeth). If only he would have let his daughter go out at night a flirt with the city merchants we wouldn't have this problem, would we.
in conclusion (by Prometheus): Yeth hounds, are awesome I hope I gave the thread format justice.
comment by Kol Korran: you see? not that complicated! all formats are welcomed. it's your ideas and creativity that matters. well done Prometheus, may there be many more!
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-22-2010 at 04:11 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
due to a recent suggestion, i've decided to try something new: i understand that though many have you may have good ideas, you lack the time or inclination to write an entry down.
so, why not let me do it for you? tell me of your ideas (either by posting them here, or by sending me a private message), and i'll try and expand on those core ideas, and make them into a full entry, mentioning you of course.
some points i'd like to make about this:
- when sending me an idea, don't just mention a monster. try to detail at least a few things you want it to be revamped, and how- i need some core/ seed ideas to start from.
- the most importent thing is the new "concept and perception" parts, since from them i can usually deduct the rest.
- the creature must be "maligned, forgotten or misunderstood". i won't expand on red dragons or mind flayers for example, since they make their appearances on many a game.
- bear in mind that it might take me some time to write an entry, and that in some cases i won't have enough ideas to write a worthy one. so be patient, and understand if i say i'm stumped for ideas (i will at least send you a private message to let you know)
- i still would love to see your own entries, since a person's style adds a lot to a post, IMO at least. besides, it might encourage others. so if you can write an entry, please do. we'd like to see your works.
that is all i have. now lets see the talents ("American Monster"?), getting ready to work,
Last edited by Kol Korran : 05-27-2008 at 04:31 AM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Wights: worse than the Black plague, in a "fits all" new size! (a Template, and several sample creatures included) (by batsofchaos)
this is the second entry not done by me, but by batsofchaos. It was originally posted in the Home brew forum, since it detailed a full template (in the game mechanics section), not just general suggestions as i normally do. the entry is all his work (i mostly used "copy-paste") and is added here with his permission. so, without further ado
Bad street rep:
The Wight has been a go-to source for making players shake in their boots over negative levels, but the Wight has been suffering from a problem that keeps it out of the big-time. It's not a template when in all fairness it should be.
I care for it because:
Wights are awesome and challenging to fight at lower levels, and having them not only ramp up in a better fashion, but also a more logical fashion would make their playability jump through the roof.
And now, presenting to you, the new and improved Wight: Perception and Concept
The perception shift is subtle but important. Standard Wights are somewhat limited in their use as the current guidelines place them in graveyards and the like. Additionally, it is a somewhat irksome mechanic that makes it so any humanoid felled by a Wight’s energy drain rises as a Wight, which is human-sized and human-shaped. A dwarf becomes a foot taller and a bit narrower. A Halfling doubles in size and height. A lizardfolk loses its scales and tail and has horrible deformations to its skull. What sense does that make? As a template, these problems lessen. They also open up a host of questions; questions that can form the heart of adventures. After all, would a Wight act the same way if it were five feet taller? How about five feet shorter? And for that matter, what if a Wight doesn’t even have to be necessarily humanoid?
Changing the Wight into a template opens up a world of possibilities. The standard Wight has one Modus Operandi; smash the living with their fists while consuming the victim’s life force. In this regard, the Wight is perfect. However, it’s not very interesting or versatile. The PCs go into a dungeon, or a cavern, or a graveyard, or some sewers and a Wight shows up and starts smashing. It’s kind of a one-trick-pony, which is kind of a let-down since they’re intelligent undead. Opening up to a wider variety of creatures, as well as having them retain some vestiges of their living life, allows limitlessl more options for encounters. Wight Kobolds; devious little abominations looking to eat the living through trickery and stealth. Wight Minotaurs; powerful brutes hunting fierce and powerful creatures to get the biggest meal for their insatiable appetite. Wight Dragons; corrupted beasts that abandon their hordes and lay whole country sides to waste in their consumption.
Place and Interactions
Place In the World:
Making Wights an acquired template completely changes locations and reasons for encountering a Wight in the world. The more powerful Wights will attack chaotically and devastatingly, while the weaker ones will use stealth and caution. They become more diversified, wandering in a multitude of manners in an attempt to sate their hunger.
Wights do not usually associate with other Wights unless they are spawn under their control. Others are competition for the consumption of the living. They hold a grudging respect for others; they’re all on the same side, but they will only grudgingly make deals with other free Wights.
Those under a Wight’s control are treated as subordinates, to be commanded and destroyed protecting their master on a moments notice.
Game Mechanics and Mysteries
A Wight’s appearance is a weird and twisted reflection of the form it had in life. A Wight is about the height and weight of its base creature.
Wights speak whatever languages they could when alive. Creating A Wight
"Wight" is an acquired template that can be added to any corporeal creature (other than an undead) that has a skeletal system (referred to hereafter as the base creature). Size and Type
The creature’s type changes to undead. It retains any subtype except for alignment subtypes (such as good) and subtypes that indicate kind. It does not gain the augmented subtype. It uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here. Hit Dice
Increase all current and future Hit Dice to d12s. Speed
Same as base creature Armor Class
The base creature’s natural armor bonus improves by +4. Attacks
A Wight retains all the attacks of the base creature and also gains a slam attack if it didn’t already have one. If the base creature can use weapons, the Wight retains this ability. A creature with natural weapons retains those natural weapons. A Wight fighting without weapons uses either its slam attack or its primary natural weapon (if it has any). A Wight armed with a weapon uses its slam or a weapon. However, Wights effectively eat through slam attacks, so they will never use weapons on creatures that are susceptible to their energy drain.
Slam Damage by Size Category
Natural and manufactured weapons deal damage normally. A slam attack deals damage depending on the Wight’s size. (If the base creature already had slam attacks, use the Wight slam damage only if it’s better.) Special Attacks
A Wight retains all the special attacks of the base creature and gains those described below. Saves have a DC of 10 + ½ Wight’s HD + Wight’s Cha modifier unless noted otherwise. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Create Spawn (Su)
Any creature slain by a Wight becomes a Wight in 1d4 rounds. Spawn are under the command of the Wight that created them and remain enslaved until its death. A Wight may voluntarily free an enslaved Wight, but once freed, a Wight cannot be enslaved again. Wights that have twice as many Hit Dice as their creator are automatically free of control.
Energy Drain (Su)
Living creatures hit by a Wight’s slam attack gain one negative level. For each such negative level bestowed, the Wight gains 5 temporary hit points. Special Qualities
A Wight retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains those described below.
Darkvision 60 ft.
A Wight has darkvision out to 60 ft. Saves
A Wight's base saves are Fort 1/3 HD, Ref 1/3 HD, Will 2 + 1/2 HD Abilities
Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +2, Dex +2, Wis +2, Cha +4. As an undead creature, a Wight has no Constitution score. Skills
Wights have a +8 racial bonus on Move Silently checks. Otherwise same as the base creature. Feats
Wights gain Alertness and Blind-Fight, assuming the base creature meets the prerequisites and doesn’t already have these feats. Environment
Any, usually same as base creature. Organization
Solitary, pair, gang (3-5), or pack (6-11) Challenge Rating
Same as the base creature +2. Treasure
Always lawful evil. Advancement
As base creature, or by character class. Level Adjustment
Same as the base creature +4.
Alertness, Blind-Fight, Great Fortitude, Power Attack, Track
Solitary, pair, gang (3-5), or pack (6-11)
Always lawful evil
By character class
Mysteries and the Unknown:
Why these Wights haven’t taken over everything is a mystery. They are powerful and attack to eat and transform. They are also fairly tactless (the big ones, anyway), so it is not through self-control that their numbers have not spiraled out of control. Is there perhaps a limit to the number of Wights that can be created at a time? Do the Wights have a life cycle, where given time they will expire? Are they fueled by a source that can only be spread so thin? Or perhaps there are secret organizations that are formed solely to keep the undead abominations in check…?
Playing at a DnD Table Near You!:
“I thought for sure we were dealing with a vampire, what the heck am I gonna do with forty pounds of garlic?” --A Wight Kobold has snuck into a town and has been energy draining random people at night. He hides inside homes during the day and carefully sneaks around energy-draining at night. He takes care to not kill anyone, keeping away from children and the infirm. As such, it appears the village has been struck with a mysterious, debilitating illness that leaves sufferers weakened but alive. The party wanders through and is asked to check into the source of the illness…
“Wait, why are the MINOTAURS asking us for help?” --The local minotaurs have a family of Wights in their ancestral burial grounds, and they’ve proven too tough for the Minotaur’s usual methods…
“The flying terror.” --A dragon has been transformed into a Wight and is tearing through the countryside bringing death and destruction in its wake. Entire towns have been transformed into Wights and the problem is spreading quickly…
“The secret society.” --The adventurers cross paths with a mysterious group that’s hell-bent on the destruction of a couple Wights the party has randomly encountered. Finding out who they are leads to the discovery of a group dedicated to eradicating Wights of all types. Further exploring who these people are and their group shows the society is a lot more prevalent than initially suspected. Indeed, it might take years to uncover just how deep the rabbit hole goes…
In Conclusion:(by batsofchaos)
Not too much different from the standard Wight which is a fairly useful monster, but a strong alteration that can lead to much greater intrigue and versatility.
Comment by Kol Korran: as you see different forumists with widely different choice of emphasis. all works are accepted though, so feel free to contribute, so we could all enjoy the fruits of your imagination and creativity.
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-22-2010 at 04:13 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
Originally Posted by EvilElitest
Hey, i love this thread, if i had more time i wanted to do gorgons. Could you do some old 2E monsters as well
I'd be interested in seeing a treatment of Gorgons; they always fell flat for me. I mean, mythologically speaking Medusas should be gorgons. The seperation always seemed weird...and a breath weapon instead of a gaze attack? Why are the gorgons a higher CR than Medusa; she was the queen of the gorgons!
I know I shouldn't look too closely; mythology and DnD don't exactly mix perfectly. I still have had no use for gorgons as a result.
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Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Troglodyte: more than just a case of bad odor. a glimpse through a twisted and broken mirror
i noticed these lizardine folks due to a comment by Trog, (earlier on this thread. i hope you like what it turned out to be!). as i read through the monster entry, at first i didn't find much to work with. but upon googling the troglodyte and reading a bit, a few ideas and adaptations came to mind. this entry barely has "game mechanics", focusing more on cultural aspects. also, it is shorter than previous ones...
Bad street Rep: the Troglodyte, like many monsters out there, is only only for their signature ability- stench. other than that they seem quite boring, easily replaceable with any other of the myriad of humanoids out there. they do have some odd remarks about hoarding iron, and the strange choice of "cleric" as their favored class. these don't seem to make sense though.
also- if you need lizardian creatures, why now go with lizardmen or kobolds?
i care for it because: i didn't at first. it really didn't appeal to me. but then i began reading about troglodytes. the term basically refers to something of the sort of sub-human, or "almost human". they are considered malicious by nature, or cursed this way. i found some interesting inspiration in this, and adapting it to the D&D world, in a way that might make for an interesting race culture.
and now presenting to you, the new and improved Troglodyte:
Perception and Concept
- perception: the troglodyte is originally used for an encounter with a monster who has the Stench ability. with this transformation, i hope to show a broader scope to the creatures- secondary assistants to another intelligent race, supplying them with cheap forms of magic, or intriguing and complex social encounters, a complication to resolve due to their tunneling abilities, and more.
the troglodyte is not just a battle enocounter, but a race with it's own agenda, psyche, and motives.
- concept: the troglodytes are a scavenging society (at least the parts the party is likely to meet). small tribes that move from place to place looking for some resource or another. the trogs can use various methods to get what they want, though violence is a common choice in the fairly militaristic society. they do have other methods and other skills that others need to consider though, amongst them their knowledge of ancient cultures and secrets.
a most disturbing aspect of the troglodytes is their near obsession with mimicry, of personalities, places, and more. this talent/ curse however creates some unexpected advantages to the trogs when combating. many believe it's due to a desperate need to find a culture of their own.
Place and Interactions
- Place in the world: no one knows the origins of the troglodytes. though they habitually inhabit old ruins, take on ancient customs and revere long dead gods, there is no reference to their origins or history. some scholars even speculate that the troglodytes race arose from another race- some ancient race of bygone days, who was somehow transformed into these poor beings (either by a great curse, or some other way). or maybe they were the race's slaves, and since then took it upon themselves to replace them...
for whatever reason, the troglodyte culture revers the past, to extreme measures. troglodyte society is divided to two main social groupings. Citadel nations remain in the locations of great civilizations' ruins of the past. the numbers there are usually huge, as the trogs consider these places a sacred home. they cultivate mimicry of the culture, studying it, even rebuilding the place, and more. the citadel troglodytes always seek to bring the civilization back to glory (maybe they believe this way they'll bring themselves back?) to do this every Citadel nation decides on some "great works" that must be done- great buildings, a great magical ritual, and so forth. the project could take decades, even centuries, but the troglodytes are not deterred. this becomes the focus of their society...
but in order to achieve this great work, resources and special ingredients must be acquired (this can be a simple as iron, a special kind of wood, of stone, or more esoteric things such as magical fluids, specific animals, perhaps enchanted ones, and more... great quantities are the key). for this purpose, the citadel nation send smaller groups, usually tribes, as Scavenging parties. each with a Spirit Shaman/ Favored soul or cleric to lead them. a scavenge party may take a long time as well to achieve it's allotted goal. they will usually travel long and far to places that may harbor their desired resources/ items of query.
these "foraging" may take years and decades. other races usually meet these groups only, as the Citadel nations keep their location and presence a deep secret, often hunting down to exclusion whomever might find them. the scavenging parties are less secretive though, having accepted possible death and annihilation when traveling abroad.
after leaving the citadel, the scavenging troglodytes start developing a strange behavior- lacking a central culture anymore, they begin to mimic and imitate everything and everyone they meet. this need is almost compulsive, and deeply disturbing to others, who may find a troglodyte adapting to their stance, speech, gestures and even fighting style! no one knows why they do it, and with such a desperate need, though some hypothesize that the trogs for some reason lack a real central personality since they came to this world, and so they try to "find one" to call their own. this view is mostly held by de sympathizers of troglodytes) this trait is partly just "a thing we do" amongst the troglodytes, but they have also found ways to utilize it to their benefit.
the mimicry is not mindless though, and a troglodyte will act in his best interest, even if needs to act "against character", but s/he will do so reluctantly, and with great distaste. most troglodytes are sour, cunning, and quick to violence, knowing full well the realities of the world.
scavenging groups usually travel under ground, usually by digging easily collapsible tunnels. the digging is mostly done by a special kind of lizards (adapted monitor lizards with impressive burrowing speed). the troglodytes surface and scout from time to time, looking for whatever they're looking for. if a prospective target/ resource have been found, a more stable dwelling is constructed (probably shaped and built in similar fashion to a close dwelling place, or the last habitable structure/ tunnel system the trogs encountered).
the common way to gain the desired items/ resources is usually by raids, but against serious opposition there are other methods. troglodytes have been known to ally with other groups, (usually larger and more powerful), in return for their enchanted charms and fetishes... part of the talents of the divine leaders (SS/FS/C) is their ability to make charms and spells that contain simple spells, far more quickly and efficiently than most other races accomplish. these fetishes are used by the troglodytes in battle, but are also traded for cooperation with other races.
another venue, that only at times succeed, is to tunnel towards the goal. the troglodytes are master tunnelers, and can easily collapse tunnels to block any pursuit. this tactic can work only a few times though, until the element of surprise is lost.
a scavenging group doesn't carry much other goods with it, and so can rarely trade for the items they want, other than their charms and fetishes. troglodytes very rarely take that position, usually only when their previous tactics failed.
another tactic of the troglodytes might be considered strategic, where it not for some oddities. troglodytes seem to really like taking captives! presumably this is so they could trade them off, (which they sometime do) but trogs as often as not just keep the captive, study them, learn about them, mimic them. they also seem to try and make the captive troglodyte- painting its skin, maybe stretching them to their lengths, even smearing it with their body fluids and odors. the reasons for that are unexplained, as troglodytes seem just half aware they are doing this, and have answered with a complex shrug when questioned.
in battle the troglodyte have several assets: first of all is their stench. they are very careful when using it with allies (usually the agreement between the groups is to make separate war parties because of exactly this). second are their charms- about every 4th troglodyte carries a small charm or another on him/ her. if underground then the lizards accompany usually, giving extra mobility and a space to run into if wanting to collapse the tunnel. and last but not least- the troglodytes population, through their devotion and worship of past civilization, have somehow managed to be blessed with a higher than normal amount of divine casters (Spirit shamans are said to listen to the spirits of the past, favored souls are just blessed, though they acknowledge no authority. clerics usually revere the ideals, and sometime the god of the long gone civilization), amongst them there is the leader, but also other gifted individuals of the tribe.
there is one more tactic that troglodytes use- in nearly every battle one or a few of the group are designated as watchers. these will observe the battle while fighting (they will usually employ ranged attacks) and then run back to the tribe. due to their memory and mimicry, the watcher/s could show most of what happened. if the foes meet with the troglodytes again, they will find them especially geared against their tactics!
the scavenging parties are not fanatics- if the resource/ items cannot be gained at the current local, the tribe will move on, collapsing their tunnels. if materials were gained, these will be carried by some beasts of burden or another (Again- these might need to be stolen), onwards to the next possible location. if the materials/ items can be used, then they will, but only by leading members of the tribe, and usually very amateurishly (iron, one of the common sought after materials, was known to be just carried in lumps, but also used as decoration and make shift armors, granting up to +4 AC)
- interactions: interaction in general depends mostly on whether the other group has the resources/ materials desired, whether the troglodytes are Citadel or Scavengers, and of course- the power balance. each case is also affected by the mimicry trait. there are a few special cases:
- tunneling lizards: these are regarded highly, as much live stock to 3rd world tribes. the troglodyte tribe takes care of these, and doesn't usually expose them to harm. the lizards are immune to the stench.
- kobolds: koblods quite often work with troglodytes. the kobolds have the numbers and craftiness, and the trogs grant the tougher muscles, charms, and lizards. but the real "deal closer" is something else entirely- the kobolds are just astounded someone wants to mimic THEM!
- lizardmen: one race living in water, the other one in swamps the races barely meet, though sometime a scavenging party encroaches on lizards' territory. the two races are bitter rivals, as the lizardmen never accept the intrusion of "the other" lizards. troglodytes leave if they can, usually at a disadvantage.
- undead: the tribe usually has quite a varied divine talent (the usually have both turning and rebuking clerics), and so most times the tribes will try to take control of simple undead, and use them as warriors. if possible, they will gladly create zombies and skeletons to aid their cause. the fact that the undead have no nose only helps in the matter.
- dopplegangers, changlings and similar shape shifters: the troglodytes seem to adore or nearly worship them. if they realize someone is a shape shifter, they will usually try to kidnap him/ her, and try hard to mimic it's shape shifting, impossible as it may be
- constructs: the tribes usually consider defending guardians as a part of a place/ culture, and will take great care to avoid them. also, they will try to mimic their construction back at home.
Game mechanics and Mysteries
- game mechanics: 1) battle Mimicry: after watching an opponent for a short time (didn't decide how much it was, but it could be fairly short- a few rounds to a few minutes) the troglodyte can mimic feats that were used. (1 feat + 1 feat per intelligent bonus). the troglodyte can mimic only feats that were used and that s/he can normally attain. (describing this correctly is crucial)
2) tribal mimicry: when a Watcher returns to the camp, he can detail the battle to all the other troglodytes. when meeting the same foes all troglodytes can have +2 insight to either their AC or attack. (again- describing this correctly is crucial)
3) charms and fetishes: a troglodyte diving caster can create charms and fetishes (like potions, just another forms- beads, feathers, scales, bones and so on). the time and material cost for this is just 75% of the normal price.
4) draw upon essence: another one of the trgolodytes secrets. this works like the artificer's ability- the divine caster can draw the XP that was used to create an item in order to create another.
- mysteries and unknown: the greatest mystery about the troglodyte is probably who are they? where did they come from? each citadel holds it's own secrets, of which the troglodytes are probably experts. the locations of these small nations is always shrouded in mystery, as only the leader shaman knows, and would never tell alive.
another common mystery that hangs over each scavenging group is what do they want, and what do they want it for? the materials alone can't shed much light, though they may give a small clue.
Playing, at a D&D table near YOU!
- "and there goes the floor": one of the first signs of troglodyte presence is when they tunnel straight to the source (or perhaps they mistook a bit) of their query. (this is especially trur if they have a high enough level of a divine caster, that can.. well... divine the location of the query). imagine a ball the party was invited to, and suddenly the floor collapses, and a bunch of trogs climb up, stinking up the place! (maybe they sought another place, or maybe they needed the chandelier!)
the battle can descend back to the tunnels, but the troglodytes can collapse them behind them, if they need to escape
- "brutes with magical help": time to bring in the allies, with help in the forms of charms and such (certainly won't look out of place in the regular ogre's garb for instance) as well as maybe a divine casting troglodyte in the back (entangle wouldn't hurt ogres much, would it?
- "predicting the next heist": if the tribe needs several different items, it will become very hard to figure out where they will hit next. unless... what if one of the dead ones drop a partial list, (perhaps half eaten by a lizard?) now the party needs to find where the trogs are going to hit next! could be a fun game of "why the hell does DARK RU..." mean? also, with the watchers- after a battle or two the party is fighting their own style!
- "torture, troglodyte style!" at one of the encounters, the troglodytes focus one one character or two (i'd suggest two, so it would be a fun play between them) and kidnap them! (again- they could separate them from the others by collapsing tunnels, Stone Shape, and more). then, the full scope of troglodyte mimicry comes to view- as they arrive at their tunnels- they see they resemble the places that were attacked, some troglodytes act like people in the town/ city... and worst of all- now they (the players) are being mimicked, to the max! clothes, talking, personality, and so on... but there is more! they are being "turned" to troglodytes! (the smell would be the worst). design your preferred escape plan...
- "and now undead?" this could be added sooner or later, as the troglodyte start bringing in the dead. (which could be accompanied by both a rebuking cleric and a spirit shaman. would be an odd combination). have the undead stink already, from previous generous application of odor.
- "to the Citadel": if the players defeat the troglodytes before they escape, and they interogate the divine leader (vie speak with dead for example), they might find the location of the lost citadel, and perhaps also the purpose of gathering all of those materials! but the Citadels' trogs are going to prove much more powerful, and entrenched. it seems the roles have turned...
- "or perhaps just a trade?" if the players don't exterminate the troglodytes, they could porbably trade with them for several things: charms and fetishes, location of other ruins' knowledge of subterranean travel (especially fitting if your world has an active underworld). the engagement could end neutrally, and the troglodytes moving on... they can even tunnel a way for the characters, though the incessant mimicry might deter some players... (especially those who experienced it already)
in conclusion: a bit shorter than usual, but i think it is still worthwhile. hopefully this added you a race to your campaign. anyway, i'd really, really love any remarks, on the Troglodyte or others
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-22-2010 at 04:27 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Hydra- "because 12 heads are better than one!"
The Hydra appears in the story of Hercules first. it has since then gained popularity, as a symbol of savagery, but also renewal and growth. a real world critter was named after this monster as well, though it's size, appetite and general demeanor are far from the renown beastly reputation.
D&D draws on the mythological Hydra, in a fairly accurate way, but it doesn't evolve her beyond that. it remains but a monster... this, i hope to change.
A few people helped me with ideas and refinement here. the main ones are AslanCross, Triaxx and Biffoniacus Furiou, but i thank all who helped. now, lets get down to business...
- Bad street Rep: a Hydra in low levels is usually a tough fight, bordering on a TPK usually. at mid-high levels it poses no challenge, as the extra heads don't really come up to par with the abilities the party has gained till then. also, the fight with a Hydra feels like solving a puzzle more than a fight- the rules for her demise often navigate players to take specific combat actions instead of begin inventive.
but more than that- the hydra lacks any further info! it exist to fight and that's all it seems. other creatures in the MM got some (if little) further information about their life, habits, culture, but the Hydra got none. but the Hydra is full of intriguing questions, when you put your mind to it...
- i care for it because:first of all, i just love the image- a beast rises from water with several nearly identical heads, snapping! the image is one of fascinated horror! but also, i think the Hydra is Unique- a creature that is several creatures in one really. i think the hydras multiple heads could be made far more interesting than just things to chop off and burn.
the "fluff vacuum" around the Hydra begs to be filled, and made interesting, compelling, challenging. i hope this entry would make the hydra more than just an encounter you need good timing and an open flame for...
and now presenting to you, the new and improved Hydra:
Perceptions and Concept
- perception: the role of the hydra in most DnD games is limited to a tough solo encounter, solvable only by battle or flight. there are three main changes in perception i have made to the hydra. the first is that though it may be a beast, it is a cunning beast, using it's surroundings to it's advantage, assessing risks and more. it knows it's strengths and weaknesses and it reacts accordingly.
the second change is that the hydras, through increased intelligence begin to speak, negotiate and even crudely trace and deal with other intelligent beings. this opens a whole new set of encounters for an adventuring party, both in dealing with the hydra itself, or with allies of her.
the third change is that Hydras now have a greater place in the world, as a rumored offshoot of the ancestor of dragons and wyrms. hydras are powerful creatures, but not as powerful as their cousins. they can achieve interesting abilities however...
- concept: a Hydra is a most peculiar creature. there are three key concepts to realize about a Hydra to really understand how much it changes through life, how much it evolves, and how conflicted it is... the first thing to remember is that the hydra is not a single creature really- it is many creatures in the same body, and there is a battle of wills and discipline. a hydra begins life with 3 heads (more on the life cycle later), and after several brief and brutal fights amongst them, the dominant head takes a position of seniority. the two other heads become subservient to it, and act as helpers and guardians to it.
these 3 heads keep leading the hydras efforts. as it gains heads the dominant "demonstrates" it's dominance, but the control is loose. at most times the heads are but half controlled by the dominant head and the guardian ones, attacking whomever they want and acting however they like. the dominant head does however assert control in matters of emergency, and other events such as negotiations and such. some who have fought hydras report this dual nature in fighting- at first the heads lash about everywhere, but once it's heads start to get loped off and burned, the main head suddenly focuses the heads attacks on the main threats.
another special and important note made by researchers- unless a stump gets burned, one of the two growing heads is Identical to the one that was cut off, including personality, memories, and so on. it was theorized that the Hydra's "main brain" was lodged in the body but none was found. this remarkable phenomenon must be part of the hydras magic, and the secret is highly sought after. it is this ability that enables a hydra to truly remain intact after a fight, in all manners.
if a stump is burned however, than that head is truly dead, like a severed limb. if a dominant head gets cut off and burned than one of the guardians takes its place (but see later on intelligence). as the heads have a different personality this means the hydra's entire attitude just changed! the guardian heads however are very loyal to the dominant head, and try their best to protect it.
another important aspect to learn about the hydra is that as it ages, it adds not only heads, but also intelligence, wisdom and charisma! these are added to all the heads, but the dominant one, which have began the smartest, is always assumed to have the best scores. hydras also begin to speak at a certain age, and so their options broaden considerably. the hydra's relatively fast growing mental capabilities mean that it changes rapidly, becoming smarter and wiser at an incredible pace. the hydras you met a few years back isn't the hydra you're meeting today...
the last aspect to remember about the hydra, which stems from the previous two, is the constant struggle within it. the hydra contains many heads, with various mental capabilities, forced to live together. some heads are more "civilized" (in a broad manner of speaking) while others are always more beastly. a hydra, even an elderly one of 12 heads will always display both aspects- beast and intelligence, savagery and refinement. most who dealt with hydra say this is the most unsettling aspect of all. you can one minute deal with a noble, only to be attacked by a bloodthirsty mob the next...
Place and Interactions
- Place in the world: the exact origin of Hydras is unknown. scholars often theorize that there was some common aquatic ancestor to to be dragons and hydras, but where and how the split happened no one knows. other scholars say that the trolls and hydras have a common ancestry, but there is nothing to support that fact. whatever the truth is, the hydras remarkable recuperating abilities, and it's immense speed at getting mentally and physically powerful makes it a dangerous creature indeed.
which is exactly why it is hunted down so thoroughly. humanoids (and other intelligent creatures) of most races try to hunt down hydras as soon as they appear, when small, in order to prevent them growing up to the full menaces they are. this is why hydras continue to be rare. in order to survive a young hydra must grow cunning, calculating, cautious. hydras tend to attack from ambushes when possible, and might quickly retreat if the opponent isn't beaten down. however, the hydra, like the trolls, suffers from a nearly constant hunger, and so sometime remain in a dangerous fight and fight savagely!
a hydra grows from under the skin of it's parent (some who fought parenting hydras report that the writhing movement under the skin of her back only added to the disgust) until it erupts. as soon as it can stand on it's feet, it is set loose- parental care isn't common amongst hydras (though there have been exceptions). the small 3 headed hydra then must fend for herself, and find a new habitat, as it's parent will drive it off. if it is strong enough, cunning enough, it will survive. otherwise it will be hunted down.
every some years, depedning on the food in the previous years, a hydra ages a bit, grows a bit, becomes smarter and wiser, and grows another head. from a certain number of head it might learn how to speak from eavesdropping on the local intelligent creatures. (a hydra begins to speak when it gains it's 8-9 head usually). some rare hydras begin to develop spell casting abilities, similar to dragons. these abilities increase as well as the hydra ages.
as said before, burnt up stumps never heal, and if a dominant head was burnt, than the general mental capabilities of the hydra are less than what they could have been (it was the smartest and wisest). guardian and less senior heads have been known to develop spell casting abilities instead of a burnt dominant head but that is truly rare.
hydras display a strange behavior prior to mating. each hydra emits a subtle scent, either a "calling signal" or a "responding signal". hydras who are responders, than feast mightily in their own territories, before starting to make their way towards the calling hydras. the scent is subtle, but strong, and can be carried away for miles upon miles. this times of "migration of eyes" are accompanied by stories of hydras away of their local habitats, mostly moving as stealthily as they can, but sometimes going on a feeding frenzy. when the two (or more) hydras meet they mate. hydras are bisexual so they fertilize each other in weird mating (including the biting off of most heads). the one who called will usually now make the journey back to where the responder came from, thus changing territories... the newly born hydras will begin their life in a few months.
the normal limit for a hydra is 12 heads. some hydras however are capable to make some pivotal change in their body's physique, and go beyond that, to 13heads and more they become known as Legendary hydras. they increase much in size as they grow more heads, and they also gain special capabilities (again reminding dragons). what marks them more special however is the balance they achieve amongst their heads. these hydras are usually calm, collected, insightful. no more is the struggle between intelligence and beast. some say these rare and remarkable creatures are almost serene...
even rarer are the "many headed oracles"- legendary hydras whose many heads and insight grants them a special sight. some can look to the past, some can look to the planes, some can decipher the unconscious, some can even see the future. these are always unique beings, usually worshiped and praised...
as to how cryo and pyro hydras come to the world- it is theorized that sometime in the past a silver dragon sought to create allies, and have either mated or some other way conjoined some of it's essence with a hydra. later, a red dragon became jealous and did the same. there is no real evidence for either story though. both kinds are born to normal hydras, and no real pattern can be made out. the two kinds however do have a slightly higher percentage of Legendary Hydras
Hydras commonly live within swamps, but a few live at seas and oceans (they are incredibly rare as there is far less place to hide from predators there). contrary to common belief- a hydra cannot breath underwater, just hold her breath for fairly long periods (and you need only one head to go above water and fill the lungs)
there is one more variant, living in desert- the Sand Hydra. these have lost the smooth skin, and instead have thick smooth plates covering them. usually laying beneath the sand like blue dragons, they often attack with total surprise. a large number of Pyro Hydras are sand hydras.
- interactions: the Hydra's interaction with the environment and it's inhabitant depend mostly on it's maturity and ability to speak. once it speak a hydra becomes hungry for knowledge, and may do many kinds of deal in order to gain more knowledge. The hydra' mind/s are growing constantly, and so need common stimulation. knowledge is a strong currency with a hydra. a common consequence of a hydra gaining knowledge is a hydra gaining a class level. barbarian, sorcerer and spirit shaman are all common classes a hydra (it's dominant head really) might take.
a hydra however will always be cautious, remembering her early years evading predators and hunters. it will try to set up negotiations in a safe place, or at least close to water where it can extinguish itself. the dealing with a hydra are dealings with a group of people, one of them controlling the rest by a tight leash. it is wise to try and placate all heads, and not just one (the DM should play at least the dominant head, one guardian head and one of the bestial heads)
Hydras also have something of a dragon's need for looting, though not as strong. a hydra would rather trade with a dangerous enemy than attack it. a hydra however doesn't hoard her stuff in one place- being the cautious creature it is, a hydra hides and buries her loot everywhere in it's territory. it gains satisfaction from knowing it's all there, but unlike a dragon it doesn't need to actually lay on it.
- other hydras: a hydra is a solitary creature. when two hydras meet it is for mating only. if hydras happen to come to the same territory together, the one with less heads would leave.
- Dragons: dragons usually have no tolerance for young hydras. they older ones usually hunt them down for sport, and the young ones hunt them down seriously. the flight and breath weapon give the dragons a clear advantage. dragons do however hold a peculiar place for intelligent hydras- many times they decide to tame them a bit, and keep them as pets/ guardians to their lair! the exact reasons a dragon does so is unclear, but maybe it is out of some sort of kinship... this is especially true with cryo and pyro hydras. the dragon usually becomes attached to his/her pet and would hate to see it harmed. the hydra enjoys the protection, and the knowledge of the grander creature.
- kobolds: kobolds either hunt hydras fiercely, or welcome one to honor/worship it. most kobolds truly believe hydras are related to dragons, and so substitute this creature for the real thing. on other cases hydras often trade their combat skills for traps to their lairs from a neutral kobold tribe.
- lizardmen: like the kobolds, lizardmen either love or hate hydras. if the swamp is low on resources, they will usually hunt the hydras down. but if it is plentiful, the lizardmen will generally capture and tame hydras. they will use the none speaking ones as mounts of war, but the speaking ones often take positions of leadership in the tribe. a few tribes had gotten a legendary hydra to make it's transformation in them. these hydras are usually worshiped and venerated. when going to war, or coastal raids it is not uncommon for the lizardmen to come riding hydras (only the best warriors on them).
- Trolls: trolls and Hydras act strangely, not attacking each other if there is no immediate need. trolls have been known to consult with elderly hydras, which is quite bizarre for trolls. no one knows the reason for this... "truce".
- Mind Flayers: the mind flayers usually keep a bunch of hydras, older ones preferably as an endless source of brains. the fast growth of the hydras brain is of a particular taste to the Illithid Pallet (if they have one). the dominant head is kept alive and active though, as lacking it for long periods have often made the hydras go mad and the taste to ruin...
- Druids Sects: the opinion on the hydra is controversial amongst druid circles. some consider it an abomination, while others point to legendary hydras and say the hydras have a special place in the world. druids monitor the time of mating (migration of eyes) since these tend to disturb local life.
Game mechanics and Mysteries
- game mechanics: i haven't written exact numbers (or the ever elusive CR for the hydra) but i hope this works well
1) general traits from having many heads (some of this will be repeated from the MM- it's for emphasis. some supersedes the MM):
- the dominant head controls the "move action" part of the turn. if it's cut off, than another head controls it. [b]all [/B heads gets each a standard action. for example- the hydra may move, and then attack with all it's heads.
- the hydra has attacks of opportunity equal to the number of it's heads.
- a hydra gets a bonus equal to the number of heads to spot, search, listen, sense motive and intimidate.
2) Aging: a hydra begins with 3 heads, Intelligence 3, wis 8, cha 7 for the dominant head (-1 on all for the rest) size large.
- each time it ages, it gains one head and +1 to all 3 mental stats
- at 5 heads it grows to huge, at 13 to gargantuan, at 25 to collosal.
- from int 6, it may begin to talk. each age category check (chance= 5% x int)
- 25% of hydras develop the ability to cast spells at 9 heads. they take Eschew Materials as the feat. they cast spells as sor1, and the ability goes up by 2 levels every 2 heads. this can be augmented if the Hydra takes the sorcerer class.
3) common combat behvior:
- the guardian heads will commonly provide cover for the dominant head (if it is threatened) giving +4 AC. otherwise they will attack in concert.
- if ambushing a creatures in a boat the hydra will try to turn the boat over (using the two guardian heads and others if necessary) if on land the hydra will try to remain close to water to extinguish itself.
- overrun is a common tactic of the hydra to get as many of it's heads against as many foes as possible. it';s huge size usually means the Improved Overrun feat is unneeded.
- some hydras get the snatch feat which enables them to be devastating against small creatures. improved snatch or growing to G size (legendary hydra) makes them equally effective against medium creatures.
- a hydra at first will attack everyone, the heads barely controllable in battle. only a serious threat (a who cast a fireball, a fighter with a flaming sword lopping off heads and the like) will cause the hydra to focus her attacks.
- a hydra will usually run if 1/3-1/2 of her heads were cut off and burned, though it may become enraged and attack onwards.
4) Legendary Hydras:
- grows to size gargantuan in 13-24 heads, size collosal in 25-36 heads
- apply the Monster of Legend template. i decided on the following characteristics: frightful presence, fast healing increases by 5, SR, and immunities (one to either fire or acid, the other to something entirely different. use another ability for cryo/pyro)
5) Many Headed Oracle: basically just add true sight, that is constantly active and some ability to see into the past/ future/ plains/ unknown and so for... this creatures are not really there to do battle with, but as plot instruments.
6) Sand Hydra: -4 dex, +5 AC (plates), poison DC 15 1d4 con/1d4 con (not for pyro/cryo)
- mysteries and the unknown: there are still quite a few things unknown about hydras and their development. first of course is their origin- there are many clues to it being related to dragons, but nothing conclusive. second is their amazing growth in mental abilities which is astounding. many scholars and alchemists hoped to create a brain enhancing liquid from the brain juices of a hydra, but so far without success.
probably the largest secret of hydras is the transformation to legendary hydras and many headed oracles (the latter especially). this is perhaps the true destiny, the pinnacle of hydra existence. even dragons never reached the oracle's gift- are the many heads a requirement for that? no one to date knows, the hydras themselves are silent about the details of the needed transformation.
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-22-2010 at 04:39 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
Playing, at a D&D table near you!
- Tough Encounter, but this time with Character i thought to begin with the straight battle with the Hydra, just to show some of the changes. first of all, the Hydra tries to attack from ambush (from the water most likely). then, as the fighter/ barbarian/ melee person reaches it, it over runs it, to position itself where it can reach as many as possible. it will than attack savagely everyone, but 3 heads will always wait before attacking, 2 of them masking the other (you can say they use the delay option).
as soon as some serious damage to the hydra is done (mainly heads) it suddenly changes tactics! the main head seem more intense and all heads are attacking the same foe! the players should feel the change of mood, and it should surprise them, but due to the hydra having less heads it shouldn't (hopefully) be fatal.
another important difference from this version of battling a hydra than the previous one is that now the players can target the dominant head instead, if they wish to just drive the hydra away. once the dominant head is gone the hydra is again uncontrollable (until a guardian head asserts control), and so it would prefer to retreat.
- "the stalking duo" an encounter suitable especially for low levels- two young hydras (3-4 heads) have arrived at the same territory, and are trying to assert dominance (as with heads, as with hydras) and to drive the other off. they come to a crude agreement/ competition- taking turns, whomever causes the most damages/ kill the strange new creatures in the territory (the adventurers) wins. the party is stalked and attacked again and again in sporadic, cautious attacks of the hydras, usually when they are at a disadvantage, only to have their harassers heal and run away. as a DM play each of the two a bit differently, and you have an interesting situation (the PCs may or may not realize there are two attackers). emphasis should be made on quick attacks and retreat, the hydras using their superiority in water to escape.
- an odd patron: as they traverse in it's territory, a speaking hydra cautiously makes an offer to the PCs. as it speaks they notice to ugly burnt stumps. the hydra has been attacked and pursued by a tribe of kobolds/ lizardman/ other fire using creatures, and it needs someone to help it get rid of it's molesters. the hydra may offer many things in return- a trip on its' back through more dangerous parts of the swamp, information, (secret words to open passageways, the solution to a puzzle and so on) part of it's treasure ("we can kill it and take it!"... "um not realy- it buried it's treasure all over the damn swamp")
- reinforcements, unexpected reinforcements: this is a surprise encounter- the party battles some humanoids, or creatures and so on, and at some point one of them retreats, going for "reinforcements". everybody gets excited, moral is up ("you'll be sorry when the reinforcements arrive!"). the party expects probably some elite soldiers or so, when suddenly arrives a 9-11 headed hydra! (spell caster variety) the hydra made a deal- info and treasure for it's help in battle. and this is one of the numbered amount of times it is to offer assistance. such a hydra equals a troop of soldiers all by itself, but now it fights with the humanoids in an odd combination of cooperation. (the party may make a better offer mid battle to try and persuade it leave)
- Migration of eyes, centered on you! the druids are alarmed when a large number of hydras are making their way towards a small but important village/ tiny city! this is the time of migration of eyes, but why are they behaving so? as the characters arrive to the place they may have to repel s few hydras, until they learn from one of them there is a strong scent from this place. someone in the town (a druid, the mayor, a noble, a cleric of destruction) somehow captured a large hydra and is keeping drugged underground in a well ventilated place. the scent causes the hydras to be driven to get to the captured hydra, and nothing will stop them. as a ranger notifies a legendary hydra is on the way, the race is on to find the captured one before a massacre hits the town (an encounter for mid levels)
-the making of a legend: a hydra of some renown learns of the party, and by various means gets to meet it. it wants them to help it become a legendary hydra. the party are to escort the hydra to various locations, with more than half her heads meditating, and help it achieve various goals in it's transformation. this spiritual quest should emphasize the struggle between beast and intelligence in the hydra, and could be quite interesting roleplay wise.
-Pet: the two suggested encounters/ complications are set when a dragon adopted a hydra as a pet. in the first the party enters a dragon's lair, expecting to find it only to find a many headed hydra instead! after causing it much damage, and spending some of the resources, then the dragon appears! (this is especially true when combining a pyro hydra with a fire breathing dragon for example- the party will use it's protections and cold based spells before meeting the dragon). the second occurrence comes when the party seeks some dragon's help, only to be attacked by a hydra before that. after slaying it, they reach the dragon who asks them if they've seen it's missing pet- it misses it so! (now there's a critical bluff/ diplomacy check if ever there was one!)
- armies of the lizardfolk:when some lizardfolk decide to wage war / raid on some city/ some coastal villages add some hydras to them- un speaking ones will function as troop carriers and shock troops, while speaking ones will act as commanders and planners. the synergy should work fine, with perhaps low level casters joining each hydra casting resist fire on the hydra. the focus should be on the dual roles the hydras take- from frontliners to commanders.
-worshiped of the kobolds: similar to the dragon idea, the concept here is to surprise the characters! as the kobolds they fight keep praising "the great lizard" the PCs come to expect a dragon, only to meet a small (or not so small) hydra.
Bonus section! interactions with other monsters of the Compendium!
-Stirges: these creatures don't seem able to penetrate the hydras tough hide. as a hydra grows more intelligent, it tries to encourage stirges to make their home in it's lair, as an added protection. small hydras (such as in the duo encounter above) try to lure opponents to stirge infested locals, and then use their help to finish up the foes.
-BloodLust Swarms: an entirely different matter- hydras fear these creatures and usually submerge themselves as they approach, snapping and taking down one stirge at a time.
- stone giants: the hydras rarely live in areas close to stone giants, so there is not much interaction, the only exception or legendary hydras, who sometime travel away from the swamp. stone giants prefer to kill these hydras, fearing them. this is not true to the many headed oracles, whom even the stone giants respect, after a fashion
-In Thunder's Step groups: the ThunderClaps stone giants are more sociable than their kin, even to hydras, and have been known to talk and exchange information with them. these groups take a special interest to note the whereabouts of any exceptional hydras, watching who might become an oracle. with these peculiarities, the ThunderClaps try to create a close bond, offering services in exchange for oracular vision.
-Yeth Hounds: (i'm taking a bit of creative liberty Prometheus):the hounds of fear fear themselves the hydras. but with their flight they are in no real danger. yeth hounds often try to drive hydras out of their territory, but not to kill- something preverse in them enjoys that the vicious engines of destruction are out in the world..
- Barghest: Barghests often appreciates the protection a speaking hydra (one it can deal with that is) can provide it, and will often try to broker a deal with it. a hydra have many times hired a barghest to "deal" with those who would hunt it with fire.
many hydras though, as they get smarter and smarter dislike dealing with such a creature (even hydras have standards) and cease to deal with it.
- Wights: no special relationships. the hydras usually dislike the undead for their smell, but they also fear them for their ability to kill them without fire. a hydra will usually try to finish the menace itself, or deal for allies to do it for it.
- Nagas: some nagas like hydras, but most don't, due to the assumed relationship to dragons. nagas are still a worthy adversary due to their spells and poison though. it is rumored that both ascendent paths of nagas contain some of the secrets for a transformation to legendary hydras, and some 12 headed hydras have been known to seek either a dark naga or a guardian one.
bone nagas especially love to try and poison (control) many headed oracles... though they don't get their vision, they get to lie to others about what they are, and thus influence events greatly.
- Gargoyles:they are neither pray and conversation is hard as well. some hydras who frequent ruins however become fascinated by gargoyle script, and can become quite attached to the place as a result. hydras rarely actually communicate with these beings. again- the exception is the legendary hydras, whose increased wisdom and many heads enables them to notice the gargoyles in spite of the fade out power.. in those instances the hydra usually confirms to the "nature of the structure" thus gaining the gargoyles cooperation
- troglodytes: due to the trogs migratory nature there is no special interaction between the two races, other than fights when the trogs decide they need something from the hydra's territory.
in conclusion: i hope it was an interesting read, and that some new ideas sprang up. i would again like to thank all who helped me, and as usual- all comments (especially words of encouragement) are welcome!
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-22-2010 at 04:50 PM.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
I really like the troglodytes (I must have missed them the first time around).
Yes, you have done the Yeth Hounds justice. I kind of opened them up to interactions when I mentioned their habit of coexisting with creature's near their den and I feel like you have posted consistently with the idea. Yeth Hounds should have no problem outsourcing their fear to other creatures, but of course this habit doesn't always mesh well with the habits of the others.
You do a fine job writing these Kol Korran, but I'd probably make a new creature myself should I want to add a particular one. I'm currently thinking about Tendriculos but may chose to do another instead.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
thanks for the encouragment Prometheus and cnsvnc! it realy, realy helps seeing -some- feedback after all that writing.
i'd be delighted to host onemore of your creations here prometheus, feel free to post straight into the thread. my only requests is that if possible, use spoilers (it keeps things neat without too much text overwhelming) and if you can find one- add a pic- it gives the thread a more "compedium" feel. but neither is necessery- just your vivid imagination!
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
cool I would like to see my favorite creature, The Hound Archon, here. My DM says that there is no way for them to be introduced in our campaign unless I want to kill off my current character and start at first level (we are a level 7 group) and he says that there is no way to make them an effective NPC.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
hhhmmmmmm, mind flayers and hydras. never thought about it. with the order of the hierarchy of heads there might be some deteoration in the "quality" of brains if the mindflayers pick the brainier brains.
on a side note: been awhile since i wrote an entry (been doing other stuff), but i will soon. i'm mostly thinking about a the hags ("ding dong the witch ain't dead") but Eldar Ditto suggested the Hound Archon, which is interesting, but for which i have no immediate ideas. anyone else with favorites or ideas? (and some core suggestions on how to develop them?) 4E also accepted, though i must say that i have even less ideas for them. (nearly no fluff whatsoever to begin working from)
oh, and one more importent thing- thanks for the encouragement. since this thing has launched i kind of accepted that nearly no one is realy interested in it, and i'm doing this mostly for my own satisfaction (letting out the demons of creativity), but it's always pleasing to see someone else like my works as well.
so thanks Eldar Ditto, and thanks Pirate_King
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
At risk for necromancy warnings, I know, but this is a really interesting subject. The Stirges were particularly well written, and I think my favorite part of this grand experiment is going to be the smaller, weaker horde of monsters that are CR 0-4 that need some love. I'm thinking of magmins, off the top of my head. The only one i've ever used as a DM was a mind flayer's slave, used to torture people. I'm not sure how I could justify using them for much else; they're essentially fire elemental, not-quite-evil gnomes.
Re: Monster Compedium for the maligned, forgotten & misunderstood monsters
The Aranea: oh, what a tangled web we weave...
been a long time since i posted, but here is another vastly remorphed critter. it definetely fits the bill of forgot tne and misunderstood, but i hope after this at least someone will like it.
Aranea- add an "e" and it's the class of spiders. what marvelous, yet creepy creatures! to some they represent beauty, to some horror, to some they are pests, but they keep many pests away. this post was inspired by a thread discussing spiders in Australia (amongst other things), which got me thinking about these beauties, and the last time i used them... good times, good times!
my editing program is shut to hell so there is only this pic. it does not depict the Aranea as i think of it very well, but it might draw the attention of Aranea lovers.
Bad street Rep: the Aranea doesn't really fit any specific role, and it seems there is always someone more suited to it. you want vermin- why not use the usual spider? shape changer? pick a doppleganger or a lycanthrope. spell caster? please... the Aranea is poorly placed to compete with these guys, and it has no niche role to pick for it's own.
also, it is fairly weak- easy to break DCs on its poison and web ability, and fairly bad spell casting. it doesn't seem to pose a serious threat in any category.
i care for it because: i study biology, and i think Spiders are awesome. they are so... alien to us- 8-geometry, extremely precise, extremely patient, and so utterly, perfectly built for their role. i think they are cool. then i noticed that on the Aranea's entry it says it's actually a spider who can assume other forms! so it's quite different from most were-creatures, for whom the animal form is secondary... we're dealing with a spider, who is intelligent, and that can change form to look like any of us! <enter shudder here> i could just feel the 8 eyes upon me.
The Aranea's lack of stereotypical behavior like were-creatures do informed me that these guys were self willed, not cursed, and had a myriad of behaviors. this presented opportunities for a unique psychology and perception. these guys were going to be the spiders amongst us!
and now presenting to you, the new and improved Aranea:
Perceptions and Concept
- perception: the changes to the Aranea are all geared to certain effects. first- The Creature you're dealing with is an intelligent spider. but it's intelligence differs quite a bit from most humanoids. this is hard to do mechanically, and is mostly fluff wise, i hope i can get the message across.
secondly, the role of the Aranea in a campaign is that of either a spy/ assassin, or of a long range effect caster (or both). this is done by two of the Aranea's powers. the first is it's own specialized form of shape changing (if it can still be called that)- Immersion and the second is the special kind of Magic Aranea's developed- Weave Magic (this goes especially well with Forgotten realms, but not just).
most Araneas are still weak (though there are exceptions, see below) and so tend to avoid a straight fight. i highly suggest to play the Aranea as a sort of a super spy, not by their abilities, but by their actions, decisions, and choices. when a fight start, run, and exchange bodies, to act again.
there are also more rural, more "monsterly" Araneas, for which i've dedicated some thought, but the focus is on the more civilized ones.
- concept: no one really knows where Araneas came from. no one ever really researched them, as they tended to be fairly rare, and unimportant in the greater scheme. the few scholars that did research at all theorize that Araneas have at some long time ago been normal spiders, who somehow (gods? magic? evolution?) gained intelligence, quite a bit of it. then they have supposedly developed strange and highly orderly forms of magic, of which but little remained. All Araneas have a bit of magic in them (thus they have sorcerer levels), but the high forms of magic have disappeared. few tried to question the strange creature themselves, but their alien mind prevented scanning their thoughts and direct questioning proved to be confusing- Araneas just think very differently.
in this transformation, Araneas are not Shape changers. instead, they are sort of body snatchers. An Aranea that somehow subdues a humanoid (and this is sometime done by allies of the Aranea) can undergo a horrid ritual (called Immersion) in which the Aranea's body sinks into the flesh of the victim, and the spider binds it's thought to it. the victim may try to resist, but if it fails, the aranea assumes full control over the body and memories and capabilities of the victim. araneas can also leave the victim away unharmed, but they usually try to destroy the body after wards, in order so that no one will know of them. bigger araneas require bigger bodies (discussed later)
this potentially have made the Araneas supreme spies, but though they are able to mimic the victim's behavior to an extent, few of the Aranea can successfully mimic the oh so different humanoid behavior fully. thus two solutions present themselves- the Araneas choose victims of fairly low importance, who mostly live on the outskirts of society, or they impersonate someone who thereafter is considered to have undergone a "slight personality change". unless the observer is well aware of the odd behavior of Araneas (such as is in royal courts, high merchant houses and temples), this behavior is usually discarded as just "that person is odd, that's all".
Araneas can as the MM says transform magically into a hybrid form, or even to their own normal form, they very, very, very rarely do so. an Aranea in his own form could almost exclusively only be found in it's lairs, in its room of Magical webs. (discussed further)
Araneas pursue their own strange ends- some are collectors, some are manipulators, some are hunters, and quite a few just love to observe the busy life around them, interfere with a few pulls and tugs of their magical threads, but mostly be left alone.
some however, do take on a more serious role. this tend to join adventuring groups (who are unaware of their odd friend's true nature), or join criminal affairs, or even sell their unique skills to spying or assassination organizations (and others as well can benefit from the Aranea's help...). there are a few more tools that help the Aranea on their work-
first of all is their extremely orderly nature, as well as their builder capabilities. Araneas usually take great pleasure in crafting and building capacities, such as castle builder, trap maker, lock smith, and their most favorite hobby- poison making. the latter is done in secret most times, but sometimes the aranea seeks patron who can acquire the materials for them.
another source of mysterious power that none have figured out yet is the Weave Magic- each Aranea that isn't traveling has one place where he keeps a tangled web of threads. but these threads are not usual ones, but magical ones. Each thread is anchored to a special item the Aranea crafts. when this item is in someone elses possession, the Arenea can use the threads to either gain information or influence the other person, regardless of actual distance- the "great web" joins them. (more info on the Game mechanics part) however, each Aranea knows only a few such influences. as they grow in power, they usually find more.
Aranea usually grow in power by gaining class levels. however, due to their magical nature, they also improve their sorcery skills as well. Araneas that grow sufficiently in power, also grow physically, and need bigger and bigger forms to get into. this has made the giant population a pray to the Araneas Immersion powers as well. at first araneas pray on ogres and trolls (troll begin favorite), and later they go on to giants. the magic of the aranea still enables them to meld with smaller creatures though.
araneas use the combination of their powers to hide in the population, and manipulate it slowly to their will. they are not strong enough to succeed on their own however, so they either prefer to remain in obscurity, or find allies.
a special issue is Aranea's breeding- they do not require another aranea, just another monstrous spider. a small percentage of the eggs can turn into araneas, but these have to be implanted into the body of an arcane spontaneous caster (which is usually taken captive and held prisoner until the egg hatches). this becomes the first body of the new Aranea
Place and Interactions
- Place in the world: Araneas are like spiders- they prefer to find a quite place, catch their pray, and be left alone. but they also have intelligence, and curiosity, so most of these spiders find a field or two of interests in which they invest a great deal of their time. this could be scholarly (you ever noticed how weird the librarian looked to you?), exploratory (Indiana jones with fangs), religiously or more. many of the interests are quite bizarre. a great deal of Araneas are avid collectors of very specialized collections.
there are basically two types of araneas: city araneas & wild araneas. the two types differ mostly by their environment, and their attitude to humanoids. the wild ones either shun them (if they look intimidating) or hunt them (if not). there are a few more differences discussed under game mechanics.
the termcity araneas actually refers to all such critters who live in civilized places, be in a rural tribe of orcs or the bustling city of Sharn. they know they will be hunted, so most hide. some however join forces with other powers, and serve them. it has not been unknown for spying agencies, wizards, evil temples, gangs or more to cooperate with an aranea, it's identity known to them or not. the Aranea however tries to hide his webbed room from all eyes if possible. this has something to do with the aranea psyche that is not understood. some scholars think that the webs represent it's thoughts, and that to the aranea that is like mind reading!
a wild aranea usually groups with ettercaps, spiders, and other creatures whom he can ally with for protection and hunt. it is usually possessive of a good body, and will only rarely leave it (humanoid bodies are rare to find in the wilderness. they are usually the ones to take on the bodies of the giant-kin, caring less about infiltration.
an aranea that tries to find allies usually succeeds, but though it has presence (charisma and skills) there is almost always some "awkward/ alien" element in it's behavior, something that doesn't fully fit in. as mentioned before, most discard this to eccentricity or the like.
- interactions: Araneas interactions are dependent on the particular relationship with the creature whom they are dealing with, their own powers and influence upon it, and the aranea's strange, alien agenda. An aranea will almost always try to get a target of interest to accept (or get) the anchoring item for the Aranea's threads, so it can learn more about it.
some groups deserve however a special attention:
- Spiders: these are naturally attracted to the Aranea, and araneas are usually loathe to hurt them. the house of an aranea would seem clean of spiders, until you go to the webbed room to which he transferred them all. Araneas breed with monstrous spiders as was mentioned. strangely enough, araneas don't produce poison out of spiders.
- Ettercaps: some theorize that these creatures were araneas who got caught in the hybrid form. they idolize araneas and protect them fiercely. araneas usually treat them as simple bodyguards, akin to slaves.
- Bebilith: some araneas worship these fiends, and try and summon them if they have the power. also, a few rare aranea have been able to distill it's poison, a feat accomplished by no other.
- poisonous creatures: as avid poison makers, Araneas are known to seek out and try and hunt these creatures, or work some scheme with allies to get it. this is especially true of wild araneas.
- drow: despite theories, the Lolth priesthood despises Araneas and seeks to destroy them as abominations (the spider part of the Drider's is the abomination part after all). Driders however have been known to work with them, often needing more "normal" looking agents in the world above.
- humans and giants: most of these groups fear the Aranea's immersion power greatly, and thus seek to destroy them if they can. there are exceptions always...
- the undead and constructs: Araneas find them frustrating, but that's all.
- outsiders: Araneas as a whole are very nonreligious, believing in more abstract ascetic concepts. they harbor no special attitude towards outsiders. they seem to do extremely well with Formians though...
- In Eberron: Araneas have developed special relationships in this campaign setting. both of the shadow houses have made deals with a small number of araneas to serve in different capacities- sometime they use they weave magic to scout, sometime they immerse in a person that needs to be controlled, and sometime they just extract information that way (since they get the victim's memories). of course, at times they do more personal work. also, the children of winter have a special place for araneas, at times even offering themselves to them for immersion (though the "honor" is usually saved for a kidnapped victim whom they want to control. various other forces make use of araneas, depending on the uses and interest of aranea. some have joined forces as spies for the lords of dust, some araneas who collect symbionts work for the Daelkyr and more. it is even theorized that they are the creation of a long dead Daelkyr lord. recently, the daughters of Sora Kell, in their nation of monsters have tried to secretly foster good relationships with araneas, making a home for them, wishing for them to form their spying agency, alongside the many changlings they allready have. sora Katya seem to have gained a special insight into their nature, perhaps even their magic...
Game mechanics and Mysteries
- game mechanics: much of this section is not numbered (i'm crap at that), but it does give the basic idea of most things, as well as a general aspired difficulty level.
1) Immersion: this ability works on a humanoid of medium or small size(or if the aranea has grown enough also on giant of large or huge size). the target must be incapacitated (bound, unconscious, paralyzed and so on). the aranea tries to meld with the target's body, and mind. the target may resist with a will save (mediocre DC). if he fails, the target binds. upon binding the Aranea assumes full control of the target, gaining the following:
physical ability scores.
HP remains the same, though it is changed by the Con Change
the araneas has all the target's memories
the aranea gains access to all the target's skills, abilities, and spells up to it's own hd. (calculated as ECL) for example- a 5HD aranea takes over a 6HD Aasimar, it gains all the abilities of up to 4th level. (due to the +1 LA)
upon exiting the body it loses all powers.
the victim may try another saving throw each day, when the body is unconscious. if so, the aranea lives the body while it sleeps. 3 failed saves means the aranea can keep the body for as long as it wants. the same aranea cannot immerse in the same body more than once.
an evacuated victim never remembers what transpired while under possession of the aranea.
on rare occasion, when the aranea does something that is seriously against the victim's nature, it may try another saving throw (similar to a charm person, only in more strict circumstances) for a forceful removal. (see next)
the body can change shape to hybrid form and spider form, as written in the MM. the DCs however are influenced by the new body's stats.
a forceful removal of an Aranea from the host body can be made, by spells such as dispel magic and break enchantment, but this causes great damage to the host (serious amount of damage, fort save for half)
2) gaining levels: the aranea is an inherently magical creature. it starts out stated as in the MM. for every three levels it gains, it increases it's sorcerer spellcasting ability by one level. if the aranea gains levels as sorcerer, than it instead increases the number of spells known of it's highest level by 1.
3) Weave Magic: (only got the concept for this one, not the stats) each aranea knows a bit of this special kind of magic. an aranea creates a special place (room, hall, cave) in which he weaves a tangled web. the threads actually continue on the astral, with loose ends. the aranea then prepares special "anchoring items" (these could be gems, magical items, jewelery and more), to which one of the loose threads binds. these items are given/ sent/ and more (there are plenty of possibilities) to prospected targets. the item's special ability is masked from normal magical detection (identify and such spells need to pass a CL check, hard DC)
the aranea can then use special "weave magic effects" on his targets, as long as they hold the item. (the target may receive a secret saving throw. if the effect works on them, they fulled as if tugged by an invisible string, the tale tell of weave magic for those who know. i suggest a wisdom or intelligence check to sense it) the items true intent usually doesn't become clear till much later on. each aranea knows the "locate" weave magic, and two more. each two hit dice the aranea gets it learns one more. an aranea can use this magic 3+ Cha modifier times per day. it is important to note however that the effects are not that potent, or else it would have been a devastating form of magic.
some sample weave magic effects:
Locate creature: distance and direction to the target.
limited scry: as scry but with shorter range around the target.
keep close/ away: the aranea chooses. if the target moves more than a mile in either direction a major curse kicks in.
any other suggestions?
4) spider mastery: all spiders are immediately helpful towards araneas, as well as ettercaps. an aranea gives them all a +2 moral on attacks and damage.
5) alien mind: anyone trying to read an Aranea's mind (in or out of it's humanoid body) immediately fails and it gets the impression of meticulous patters and something that seem like a complex web. (for those knowing araneas, this sensation in fact is one of the true tried methods of ascertaining an aranea is in a body).
also, the aranea gets a +4 to save against mind affecting spells.
7) poison handling: araneas never risk poisoning themselves when dealing with poison
8) Growth: an aranea that reaches 8 hd grows to a large spider, and can now immerse in giant... giants. 13 hd can immerse in huge. they still retain the ability to enter small or medium forms.
9) Alignment: most Araneas are lawful neutral, though they follow their own weird laws. Araneas however can vary widely in view, though very very few become chaotic.
- Mysteries and the Unknown: araneas are as mysterious as their minds and the webs they weave. few creature come even close to understanding their motives. but a few mysteries remain:
- similar to gargoyles and shape shifters- how many aranea are there? were are they? what do they want? is that odd person just odd or an aranea?
- Weave Magic, that now one succeeds in deciphering. true- the bit with the item is simple enough, but creating the web and the strands is a whole new matter.
- the immersion ritual. whenever it was tried by another, either the caster died, or the victim, or they were some how mashed together without recognition into a pitiful thing. if this trick could be learned by another other than the elusive araneas, it could be useful indeed.
- how were they formed? or created? are there more mysterious forms of magic out there? is there somewhere an aranea/ storm giant that is more knowledgeable than the rest, wielding more mysteries.
- lastly: who is pulling your thread, hmmm?
Last edited by Kol Korran : 10-22-2010 at 05:09 PM.