Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zin-Carla

Could it be possible for me to write about monsters for an entire month and not figure out a way to sneak the drow in? Sure, it's possible... but that just isn't my style.

Zin-carla (spirit-wraith in the drow language) is a creature that as far as I know was introduced by R.A. Salvatore in the book Exile. Drizzt's father was raised from the dead to track down and kill his son, and we of course know that since there have been approximately 6,872,923,013 books about Drizzt written since then, that the zin-carla failed in its task.

In Faiths and Pantheons, the ability to create a zin-carla is listed as a 9th level ability of the arachne prestige class. However, I would argue that it should be a spell instead. I never liked the idea that only clerics of Lolth who took a specific prestige class would ever have access to the ritual.

I believe it should be a higher level version of the create undead spell, but allowing the caster to create and control a death knight whose CR is less than or equal to the cleric's caster level. Since a character going straight into the arachne class could get the zin-carla class ability at 15th level, it would make sense for this to be an 8th level spell. To keep the flavor (and make sure it remained a drow-specific spell), I would rule that zin-carla is not a traditional cleric spell, but can be memorized as a domain spell for drow clerics of Lolth.

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yrthak

I have to admit that "Y" was a hard letter to write about given the restrictions I put on myself at the beginning of the month. My mind immediately jumped to yuan-ti, as I've used those plenty of times - but that disqualifies them from this month's writing because I vowed to widen my horizons and write about monsters I haven't used. Of all the "Y" monsters in the Pathfinder reference document online, the yrthak is the least weird... it's basically just a magical pterodactyl.

So why would I start using these critters in my games? I'm not sure exactly. This is the first creature I've come to on the list that I've really just thought, "You know what? There is absolutely nothing about this monster that makes it sound exciting to me." I did say some pretty negative things about the titan last week, but that had a lot more to do with the titan being in competition with cooler monsters than it having few redeeming traits on its own.

The yrthak, on the other hand? Unless you want a pterodactyl that screams your characters to death, I would leave this one on the shelf.

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.


Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xorn

I was going to use xorn once, back when I was running through the Age of Worms adventure path, but it just didn't work out. I don't remember now if they were actually in one of the adventures, or if I had a side quest I intended to use them in, or if I totally swapped out part of one module for another one (I put the Spire of Long Shadows in a level of the abyss described in Dungeon #60, for example). Unfortunately, the five xorn miniatures I purchased were never used... either the group decided not to pursue the plot hook that I just knew they would (surprise, surprise), or the campaign ended before we got there.

But seriously, how can you pass up on a monster that looks that creepy and eats diamonds for dinner? They're awesome in a peculiar way, and someday those five xorn are going to show up in one of my campaigns. I'm sure of it.

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Underdark Campaign Log #6

Cast:
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew)
  • Thomus, Human Rogue (John)
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake)
  • Rurik, Dwarf Barbarian (Stetson)
After last week's game ended on a rather sour note, I was quite pleased that this week went much more smoothly. This week, we caught up with the party just after a battle with a drow priestess in the tunnels under the Twisted Tower of Ashaba. They backtracked to the mongrelfolk lair to rest again, losing track of the catfolk somewhere along that short trip, and reunited with Thomus, the party rogue. Thomus had crept away while the others slept to track the mongrelfolk, who left immediately when they returned to their lair and found the party still there. Thomus witnessed the mongrelfolk get attacked by a centaur-like creature, but with the torso of a drow atop the body of a spider. They were captured, cocooned in webbing, and dragged away.

After a brief discussion, the group decided that regardless of what they intended to do, it would be wise to return to the surface and rest. They could also turn in their map and collect their reward from Thurbal. Thurbal was pleased with their progress in general, but was disappointed that they had not found any trace of the missing scouts, and sounded quite alarmed that they encountered drow. He did describe them, however, as true heroes for having defeated the drow they did come across, and offered an even sweeter deal than before: two hundred gold for every drow slain in the tunnels below and twenty gold for every monstrous humanoid.

They took the offer, and descended once more into the tunnels. They decided to leave the drider alone for the moment, and further investigate the area where they encountered the drow previously. As they suspected, there were more where she came from. Journeying not much farther down the tunnels, they came to a rope bridge across a deep chasm, with two quaggoth guards on the other side of the bridge.


Luckily for the group, they noticed before charging across that the bridge was not as it appeared. Some sort of illusion made it look sturdy, although the planks that made up the walkway were actually rotten and in some places missing altogether. Still, the quaggoths started hurling stones at them, and a choice had to be made: get to the other side or retreat. Rurik took the lead, getting almost to the other side of the bridge but stepping on a rotten plank and nearly falling into the chasm. Blue made it safely across and helped him back to safety, while the quaggoths continued to slow their progress by hurling rocks their way.

Once the party got past the troublesome bridge, the quaggoth guards were defeated easily, and the entrance to the drow outpost was theirs. The first room they entered was full of grimlock guards, as well as one drow warrior. They noticed the group immediately, and prepared for the assault as the heroes entered the room. The grimlocks rushed the intruders, while the drow moved along the far wall, headed for the exit but firing his hand crossbow along the way. Luckily, he was cut off before he could get to the next room and warn the others.

The next room contained a furnace, with four svirfneblin smiths working metal under the observation of two drow guards. Svirfnebling women and children, seven in all, were shackled on the opposite side of the room with a few tons of boulders suspended above their heads with a net. One drow guard stood by the workers, while the other stood by a rope attached to the net. Rurik charged in, attempting to grapple the guard near the rope. He failed to get a firm grip, but did force the guard away from the rope itself. In the end, one of the drow fell in combat, while the other escaped, the four svirfneblin smiths chasing him through the door at the opposite end of the room with their hammers.

Although there was talk of barring the door and resting, the group decided to free the slaves first, using some of the smithing tools to break the shackles. Unfortunately, the four svirfneblin seemed to have been unsuccessful in tracking down and killing the remaining drow guard. He returned with backup, another guard and a spellcaster. This time, there was no holding back. The drow spellcaster plunged the whole room into magical darkness, and while Blue was able to produce his magical light-ball to counter the effects in a small area, the party was still at a significant disadvantage. After several rounds of getting pelted with magical blasts of energy, the group finally managed to corner the mage and land a few blows.

The drow had the last laugh, however, as he teleported away, and an illusion of himself that he left behind cackled until someone attacked it and it dissipated. The heroes, having had enough of these drow, freed the remaining women and children and went back to the surface.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Wyvern

I'm not entirely sure why I've never used the wyvern before... I even have one of the miniatures, and that's usually one of the factors that pushes me to use a monster rather than skip it. After all, if I spent the money on the mini (even if I got it as part of a random pack or a lot on eBay), I should get my money's worth out of it, right? I suppose so... but still I have not used a wyvern in a game.

I'm going to try to incorporate a wyvern sometime in my current campaign, but I think I have a pretty good idea of how it will happen. A merchant who deals in exotic pets will be involved somehow... perhaps...

  • The merchant is looking for someone to capture a live wyvern and tries to hire the party.
  • The merchant has already captured a wyvern and wants to sell it to the party.
  • A captured wyvern escapes, and the party will need to figure out how to either capture it or get out of its way.
  • The party kills a wyvern (maybe just a "random" encounter), and the merchant who wanted to capture it takes revenge on them for spoiling his plans. 
Regardless of how they end up in the story, wyverns are interesting (and dangerous) foes worthy of their spot on the tabletop. I should not have neglected them for so long!


This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.


Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vampire

I've never really been a fan of vampires, although I did enjoy Interview with a Vampire, and I think it was one of the better vampire movies out there. Then along came Twilight, with all its teenage angst, romance, and the pop culture frenzy... and vampires fell off my list of cool monsters entirely. It's a shame, really, because vampires really do have the potential to be awesome villains - you just have to make sure your D&D vampires don't sparkle.

A few random ideas for incorporating vampires that might wind up in my current campaign:

  • A thieves guild run by vampires is converting local leaders and business owners in order to stifle any resistance to their plans.
  • A particularly lazy vampire has charmed a swarm of stirges, who go out and hunt for him. When they return, he plucks one from the swarm, drinking both the stirge's blood and the blood of its most recent victim.
  • A vampire has traveled to the Dalelands to raise an army of undead. His goal is to retake his homeland from the humans who ousted him centuries ago.


Random Side Note: Whenever I've had a bad day at work and I come home moody, my wife always repeats the first line of the Smashing Pumpkins song, "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"... the world is a vampire. I don't know what that has to do with RPGs, but I couldn't write this post without including it. Hahaha

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Unicorn

I have never had a unicorn in one of my games, but I'm working on it. I know that if I can ever convince my wife to play D&D or Pathfinder, she will want one. Whether she plays a high level paladin with one as a mount, or a ranger with an exalted companion, or maybe just one of those healers from the Miniatures Handbook, I'm sure we will it happen.

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Titan

Yeah, yeah, I know this is a pic of a fire giant - not a titan.
Titans are a race of "monsters" who I have never included in a campaign mainly because they are just so doggone tough. Their challenge ratings are so high that a party of characters needs to be in the high teens level-wise before they can take one on without getting slaughtered, and I have never had a campaign last beyond 12th level.

High level campaigns are just rare, and by the time characters get to those high levels, there are just so many other monsters that I'd rather be throwing at them - balors, pit fiends, ancient dragons, high priestesses of Lolth (Hi Quenthel!), dracoliches, etc. I'm sure if I kept listing high-level opponents, eventually I'd put titans on the list... but how far down? To be honest, they're late second round picks at best. They're just competing with too many other monsters that I happen to like better, and at a challenge rating that so rarely comes up that the poor titans will probably never make the cut.

Sorry guys, but I doubt any of you titans will ever see play in one of my campaigns. Hang in there, though. There's always the remote possibility that I'll manage to sneak you into a one-shot adventure.


This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Salamander

Even though I've always found creatures from the elemental plane of fire alluring, I have somehow neglected the salamander. Perhaps it is because they have been overshadowed by fiery creatures I like more... like effreet, red dragons, and plain old fire elementals. Maybe the salamanders just need a strong revolutionary figure to lead them out of obscurity in my campaigns... could Damodar be it?

Damodar Snakeskin is a young but powerful salamander cleric, departing from the ways of his people to worship Sseth, a yuan-ti deity. He believes that salamanders are long-lost cousins to the yuan-ti, and for the glory of Sseth, the two races should band together in a glorious uprising to overthrow their "masters" in both the elemental plane of fire and the abyss. To this end, he has begun recruiting across the planes. So far he has brought several hundred salamanders and yuan-ti under his banner, and has emissaries speaking to various groups who might prove sympathetic to the cause. Although he has achieved a great deal of personal power, he has yet to secure the loyalty of enough subjects to threaten any entrenched force on either the elemental plane of fire or the abyss, and has thus gone unnoticed by those whose rule he seeks to someday overthrow. The key to his success will be his ability to avoid their attention while he is building his army, for any uprising as ambitious as his own is likely to be stamped out before it ever grows powerful enough to pose a true threat.



This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rakshasa

The rakshasa assassin miniature from D&D Miniatures has been one of my favorites since I first laid eyes on it. However, I've never actually gotten the chance to use it because I haven't run a suitably high level campaign since I got the figure. I did run a paragon tier adventure for a friend who was home from Germany for a few weeks on leave a few years ago, but using a figure this sweet in a one-shot adventure seemed like a waste. This guy deserves more time in the spotlight, if not as the campaign's defining villain, then at least a high ranking henchman of the main villain.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Underdark Campaign Log #5

After missing a week because of an emergency I had come up at work, we were able to continue with the adventurers' exploration of the tunnels under the Twisted Tower of Ashaba. Two new players joined us this week, running a catfolk rogue named Tous and a dwarf barbarian named Rurik, and their presence definitely mixed things up in the party.

Cast:
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew)
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake)
  • Tous, Catfolk Rogue (Andy)
  • Rurik, Dwarf Barbarian (Stetson)
After resting for an evening in the lair of the mongrelfolk - who, by the way, mysteriously did not return to their lair while the party rested - the group heard someone farther back in the passage, approaching from the same direction they originally entered the caves. They went to investigate, and found themselves in a standoff with a cat-person of some sort. At the same time, another sound from deeper in the cave alerted them to more company. Facing down a dwarf on one side and a mysterious humanoid cat on the other, the situation was tense to say the least... foreshadowing an even more intense encounter later in the evening.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Magic Missile Dice

Ever get tired of adding up all those +1's when you're figuring out magic missile damage? I don't, but if it bothers you, this is definitely the product you need: dice that range from 2-5, perfect for calculating all those 1d4+1 rolls. Is this product ever going to be necessary at the game table? Of course not. Is it going to make your life easier at the game table? Maybe by a tiny margin. But is it an interesting little novelty item to bring along for the cool factor? Of course it is! Or maybe the problem is that the intelligence score of the party wizard is much higher than the actual intelligence of the player running said wizard, and his turns take way too long because calculating 3d4+3 is just too hard... if so, these dice are the answer to all your problems.

You're welcome.

Q is for Quickling

Often touted as the best scout in Cormanthor by anyone who has employed his services, Fitz's natural quickling abilities put the scouting skills of most elves to shame.

Despite his knack for scouting, Fitz is actually better at something else: stealing. One of his favorite pastimes is leading parties of adventurers to a particularly nasty dungeon, allowing them to do all the heavy lifting inside, and then whiz by, snatching whatever choice magical items he finds intriguing.

He has developed quite the reputation for such unsavory tactics, but since his scouting skills are legendary and he doesn't actually kill the adventurers who hired him, many still employ his services. Those who do employ him, however, are advised to take measures to secure their loot... or at least be prepared for him to choose his own valuable tip for his services. Good luck catching him once he's claimed his prize!

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Purple Worm

I stared at the "P" entries in my old Monster Manual and then in the Pathfinder Bestiary for a while. I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped, and my mouth was hanging open stupidly. For many of the monsters I've written about this month, I've had to think hard about why I would have wanted to include such a monster in a campaign in the first place... but for this post, I was dumbfounded. For the life of me, I can't figure out why I've never used the purple worm. I've used the miniature before to represent an urgulstasta back when we were playing through the Age of Worms adventure path, but never has an actual purple worm seen play in one of my campaigns.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Owlbear

That's right, O is for owlbear. It's arguably one of D&D's most iconic (or at least unique) monsters, and I've never once used one in a campaign. Part of the reason I've never liked the owlbear is that I just didn't like the concept. The idea of randomly mismatched animals just didn't appeal to me. To be honest, they still don't. You might as well have a parakeet-lion or a bunny-crocodile.

And that idea, my friends, is what led me to write this post. No, I don't like owlbears - but maybe the idea of weird animal combos isn't entirely useless even if it is ridiculous. Perhaps there is a good combination out there that doesn't seem quite so goofy. I mean, after all, some of the cooler creatures out there (like the griffon) are essentially the same type of animal mishmash... so the idea can't be completely without merit. Click on the picture of the owlbear below for some ridiculous owlbear-like crossbreeds, and comment below if you manage to discover something particularly useful or funny!



This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nymph

I don't know why, but I have had on my mind quite often lately the idea of using traditionally "good" creatures as opponents in RPGs. A few days ago, I wrote up some plot hooks that might lead a group of heroes into conflict with a good monster. Today, with the nymph, I'll suggest a few nymph variants.

  • Too Hot to Touch - The elemental plane of fire holds more beauty than the allure of the flame itself. Nymphs from this plane are literally too hot to touch - dealing an extra 1d6 fire damage with any melee attack they make and inflicting 1d6 fire damage on any attacker who successfully strikes them in melee. Use this simple addition or apply an appropriate template, such as the fire element creature template from Manual of the Planes.
  • Demon Nymph - Thought to be the offspring of an elf and a succubus, this beautiful creature has a deadly allure. They are just as skilled in the art of seduction as their demonic parent, but can hide their true nature for a much longer period of time because of their elf heritage. Apply the fiendish or half-fiend template.
  • Widowed Nymph - This nymph spent many years at the side of a valiant paladin who stood for justice and purity. Together they quested to rid the world of a foul lich, but when he fell victim to the curse of vampirism and she was forced to slay him in his undead form, she turned away from the light. Now she spends her days bitterly wandering the countryside, taking out her pain on those whose relationships are still intact. Add levels of assassin, blackguard, or another villainous prestige class.


This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Medusa

Long before Wizards of the Coast started shying away from "save or die" effects, I was avoiding them like the plague. Mostly it was because I had so few players that a single "save or die" roll could spell disaster for my entire campaign rather than just one unlucky player. The medusa is one of those iconic creatures from mythology that just demands to be used sometime, though, right? Now that I'm running a campaign with more than just two or three players (currently seven if everyone showed up at the same time), those pesky save or die effects aren't necessarily campaign ending affairs - frustrating for one or two players, sure, but that's what Transmute Stone to Flesh spells are for!

One intriguing villain might be a medusa that has begun dabbling in enchantment magic to more easily lure victims into her traps. "Come. Look into my eyes," is just so much harder to resist when under the influence of a charm person spell! I already have a good idea of who the major villains will be in my current campaign... but perhaps one of them needs a snake-haired henchman. Hmmmm...



This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Lammasu

The lammasu is another creature that I have never used in a campaign, and admittedly, it's mainly because they're good guys. While lawful good monsters aren't usually the first thing I think of when I'm trying to devise the next challenge in a campaign, having "good" villains can be a strange and refreshing change of pace. But how would you go about making a lawful good creature the villain? They're supposed to be on the same side as the party! They're not supposed to be enemies... frenemies, at the very worst! Part of this is the charm of having a "good" villain in the first place. It can put a lot of stress on characters who know they aren't "supposed" to be fighting against the good guys... and even if they don't stress out about the idea, it's still a plot twist that they probably won't see coming.

A Few "Good Guys vs. Good Guys" Plot Hooks
  • A mated pair of lammasu is guarding an artifact to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, the characters really need that artifact.
  • In a case of mistaken identity, the party is believed to be a group of raiders who stole from someone under the lammasu's protection. Now they intend to get the stolen property back.
  • The party thinks a villain should be killed, while a lammasu believes he should be allowed to redeem himself.


This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kyton

As much as I admired the gatling chain tripper build back in the D&D 3.5 days, I'm not sure how I managed to DM a several year long 3.5 game without trying to figure out how broken a kyton gatling chain tripper would be - and subsequently throw it at my players to see what would happen. The Dancing Chains ability states that any animated chains, "attack as effectively as the kyton," so it makes sense to me that any chain-specific feats could apply to the animated chain attacks as well. This would likely lead to a quite annoying combat for the PCs, where a single opponent could conceivably keep the entire party prone without having to dance around the battlefield. Cue ominous DM laughter.

Honestly, though, it is hard to justify making players suffer through such a combat. How many times would it take for a character to be knocked prone before the group groans in unison, and suddenly you realize that the players aren't having fun anymore. I do think annoying creatures with status effects have their place, but a fine tuned kyton tripper might be excessive. When work slows down some and I have more time to invest, I'll probably sit down and run the numbers to see just how ridiculous this monster might be.



This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jermlaine

These little creatures have intrigued me since I first saw their entry in the Fiend Folio back in 1st edition. Between their demeanor and their numbers, the jermlaine seemed particularly nasty despite individually weak stats. So why have I never used these critters before? Back when I was running 1st/2nd edition campaigns, I think my mind was a little boggled by the sheer number of jermlaine that it would take to challenge a party of mid-level characters in a stand-up fight. I was young then and hadn't really grasped the idea that weak monsters can still be a real pain for the PCs - the trick is being clever enough, and I just wasn't a clever enough DM in those early days to make it happen. By the time 3rd edition rolled around, I was running monsters much more intelligently. However, we had moved pretty heavily into using miniatures, and I very rarely used tiny monsters because it was hard to represent them on a grid. In both cases I was narrow-minded, first because of my lack of tactics and next because I let miniature rules box me in.

What is keeping me from using the jermlaine in my current campaign? Nothing at all... except maybe waiting for the right time to spring one of their traps. There may or may not be a large group of jermlaine harassing some pech mining expeditions in a future encounter... kudos to you if you know where I snagged that encounter idea.


This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Work has thrown me for a loop this week, and it has been tough to keep up with the challenge. Rather than abandon it altogether, I'm shifting my focus a bit. I'll be giving more of a DM's take on creatures I haven't used rather than doing some spin on each one (although I might go back to that next week). Posts of this nature are just quicker to produce, and since time is a hot commodity at the moment, I'm going with what works.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Intellect Devourer

Just a couple of intellect devourer plot hooks...
  • A local warlord has been particularly savage in the last few days, taking delight in the abuse of even his most trusted advisors. If one of them strikes him down, there will be a violent power grab among potential successors. The truth, however, is that the warlord is already dead, and anyone striking down the body may very well fall victim to the aberration now controlling his actions.
  • One village on the outskirts of civilization insists that the nearby marshes can bring people back from the dead. Deceased loved ones left overnight are never there the following morning, and are often spotted wandering about in the following weeks. They disappear eventually, but the dead are clearly walking again.


This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Hydra

On a scroll thought to be a thousand or more years old, a prophecy tells of the end of the Blood War: when an unholy hundred-headed dragon from the Abyss spearheads an assault on Malsheem on the deepest level of Baator. Although the prophecy does not specify which side wins, the common belief of the demons is that such a monster will be able to turn the tide of battle in their favor, and that they will rule supreme in the lower planes. In order to fulfill the prophecy, a hydra with demon blood was bred through countless dark rituals and magic, with the intention of severing its heads and letting them regrow until the creature fulfilled the description on the scroll.

The plot has been fouled, however, by a trio of angels who stole the hydra at birth. It is now bound by magic and secreted away, far from demonic eyes. However, if it ever fell into their hands again...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Gelatinous Cube

In the deep reaches of the Underdark, one xorn has filled a maze of tunnels with gelatinous cubes. Instead of attacking travelers for their precious metals, this clever xorn chases them through its maze, waiting for them to turn a corner too fast and run right into one of his pet slimes. In time, the gelatinous cubes digest the flesh and drop the precious metals for the xorn to pick up at its leisure. This symbiotic relationship keeps both xorn and cubes conveniently well-fed. For the unsuspecting adventurer, however, becoming the meal is far from convenient.

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Journey Into Nyx Spoiler

That's right... the last set in Theros block is right around the corner. Journey Into Nyx will officially release next month, with prerelease events at the end of April. If you're looking to get the jump on what's coming next in the Magic world, check out the spoiler at MTGSalvation by clicking here.

F is for Froghemoth

A tribe of bullywugs once terrorized the small village of Twigberry, demanding monthly sacrifices to appease their frog god's appetite. When the bullywugs were defeated by a local group of adventurers, the town thought itself safe. However, they quickly learned that the bullywugs' frog god was much more present and real than they had imagined, and now anyone venturing too close to the edge of the swamp risks being devoured by a three-eyed six-tentacled monstrosity. What's worse, the group of heroes who defeated the bullywugs went out to slay the froghemoth and have not been heard from since. It is assumed that they were consumed as well, and now the village is in dire need of assistance.

FROGHEMOTHCR 13
XP 25,600
N Huge aberration
Init +5; Senses all-around vision, blindsight 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +16
DEFENSE
AC 28, touch 9, flat-footed 27 (+1 Dex, +19 natural, –2 size)
hp 184 (16d8+112)
Fort +12, Ref +8, Will +11
Immune electricity (partial); Resist fire 10
Weaknesses slowed by electricity
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee bite +20 (2d6+10/19–20 plus grab), 4 tentacles +18 (1d8+5 plus grab), tongue +18 (1d4+5 plus grab)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft. (30 ft. with tongue)
Special Attacks constrict (tentacle, 1d6+10), swallow whole (3d6+10 damage, AC 19, hp 18)
STATISTICS
Str 30, Dex 13, Con 24, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 11
Base Atk +12; CMB +24 (+28 grapple); CMD 35
Skills Perception +16, Stealth +14 (+22 in marshes), Swim +18; Racial Modifiers +8 Perception, +8 Stealth in marshes
ECOLOGY
Environment temperate marsh
Organization solitary
Treasure standard
SPECIAL ABILITIES
All-Around Vision (Ex) A froghemoth's stalked eyes allow it to see in all directions at once. It cannot be flanked.
Slowed by Electricity (Ex) Although a froghemoth is immune to damage from electricity, whenever it would otherwise take such damage it is instead slowed for 1 round.

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Underdark Campaign Log #4

Cast:
  • Thomus, Human Rogue (John)
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew)
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake)
Although a few of the bar patrons looked interesting, the group decided to leave them alone and retire early. The night passed without incident, and the group awoke the following morning ready to get their reconnaissance mission underway.


Before reporting to the Twisted Tower, they checked in with Tauster to see if he had finished identifying the four potions they left with him the day before. He reported that he had, and that they could be useful. However, he warned that these potions had a dangerous side effect: they made anyone who drank them more susceptible to mind affecting magic (-4 to will saves). Almost as an afterthought, he also mentioned that the potions reeked of fish. Although the smell had no significant effect, it was nonetheless quite potent. After much debate and a failed attempt to sell the potions to Tauster, the party decided that keeping them would be best, if only to use in emergencies.


Moving on, the heroes purchased a few rations from town and then headed to the Twisted Tower. Once there, they began their first descent into the Underdark. The barricaded door (with a convenient peep hole) that protected the inhabited parts of the Twisted Tower from the wild tunnels underneath it was opened for the heroes, and they went through, listening to the loud thuds of the door being closed and barred behind them.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Ettin

I did have a nice little post written here, but by some fluke in blogger, control-Z deleted the entire post rather than just undoing the formatting changes I was playing with... and then immediately auto-saved and wouldn't let me undo my attempt to undo. Because of this insanely frustrating turn of events, I'm putting this here as a placeholder, and I'll rewrite as much of the original as I can remember when I have time later tonight. :-(

This month, as a participant in the A-Z Blog Challenge, I'll be writing a post each day (except for Sundays) and letting the alphabet guide my content. Thematically, all of my April posts (at least those related to the blog challenge) will be monster related. Each day, I'll be challenging myself to create an encounter, NPC, location, etc. that features a monster I've never used before in a roleplaying game. Hopefully this will push me to include more variety in my current campaign, and who knows... maybe I'll find a few new favorites.


Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Demilich

Deep in a tomb that has been undisturbed for hundreds of years lies the modest resting place of Arkazam the Thrice Plagued. A lich of considerable power in his time, he hid his phylactery and his most prized possessions in a completely enclosed crypt deep underground. At the time, there was no way to enter the crypt except through teleportation, but an earthquake has fractured the solid stone in which it was once sealed, and now it is accessible to others.

Luckily for anyone exploring the area, Arkazam's consciousness long ago got distracted somewhere on the astral plane and his connection to his physical body faded. All that is left of him in the prime material plane is his skull, a gem encrusted guardian over what is left of his most prized possessions.

Map made with the Dungeon Tile Mapper

Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Goat Sucker... Wait, What?

The creature many call a chupacabra is actually not what is responsible for all the cattle deaths in the barony's outlying farms. Although these creatures do suck blood from their victims, they do not prey on cattle as many believe. The true goat sucking culprit is actually much more sinister. A vampiric gargoyle has made its home in a group of nearby limestone caverns. In the evenings, it emerges to hunt, and has so far only picked off the most accessible of prey: farm animals. However, if something is not done, it will soon try feeding on the local humanoid population, at which point the baron will need to do something about the issue immediately.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Black Pudding

Servants of Ghaunadaur, the drow deity of slimes and other foul creatures, often incorporate dangerous oozes into their dwellings to please their god and to deter unwanted guests. One particularly nasty surprise that adventurers run into is the black pudding pit, in which a normal pit trap is made much deadlier by keeping a black pudding at the bottom.

Creating such a trap is complicated, and not only because getting a black pudding into a pit is a dangerous task. Once it is there, the trapsmith must figure out a way to keep it from simply climbing the walls with its suction ability. Some wily mages have taken to experimenting with permanent versions of Charm Monster and similar spells. Others take a riskier but perhaps deadlier approach, using permanent Grease effects on the walls of the pit to make climbing out much harder for the pudding... as well as anyone unfortunate enough to fall in.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Azer

Artemios Adderblaze was born and raised by dwarves rather than his own kin, and his skill with the axe is nearly as prized by his adopted brothers as his skill at the forge. Unfortunately, growing up as a weaponsmithing prodigy who couldn't be touched (literally) left Artemios lonely even among those who professed to love him. He left home recently, relying on his skill with the axe to get him work as a bodyguard. His most recent employer, an ifrit mage, is beginning to transition from boss to friend. Although Artemios doesn't like the wizard's foul temperament or his questionable ethics, he's still the only person he has ever met who seems unafraid of his fiery nature. Because of this alone, he has stayed at the mage's side, and is growing more bitter by the day.

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