Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: The Strategic Review #7 part 3

CREATURE FEATURES:

Denebian Slime Devil: This creature, most probably derived from a passing mention on Star Trek, is an obvious joke monster. It appears as whatever the creature's victim finds most repulsive, or otherwise as a blob of slime. It will tirelessly follow a human-type around, and is so abhorrent that anyone who meets a character being trailed by one will either flee or attack - I'm starting to think that the NPCs of this era are emotionally stunted in some way. The creature can only be killed or dispelled by a manner determined by the DM, and there are a number of highly unfunny examples given. And to make it a complete nuisance, it doesn't aid in fights, instead hangign around and whining much like C-3P0.

I will be including this creature, but it will not be native to Oerth, or any other D&D-style world. It may exist in other sci-fi based planets, possibly in the settings for Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World. I'll be substituting my own methods for destroying it, however.

Catoblepas: Ah, a real D&D monster – what a relief. Or it would be, if the Catoblepas wasn't an utterly terrible design. It has the body of a large water buffalo, with an ugly warthog's head on a long neck – this odd physiology is the result of it adapting to its swampy environment. The creature's gaze is the equivalent of a Death Spell – NO SAVE. And get this – if you're surprised, meeting the gaze is automatic. So there's a good 2-in-6 chance of your entire party being arbitrarily struck dead by any Catoblepas encounter. Their one weakness is that it's hard for them to lift their heads, with only a 25% chance to do so on the first round. But that chance increases each round, so you're going to cop it eventually... Their tail can also stun opponents, but that's pretty much small potatoes in comparison.

When I do include a Catoblepas, I'm going to make it a damn rare creature, and also one that is sung of in tales and legends. If the PCs enter an area where one lives, I'm going to make it pretty easy for them to discover that fact.

ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL STANDARD MILITARY SYMBOLS:

This article presents a series of standard symbols for depicting various troop types on military maps. I'll use these on hand-outs should the PCs ever discover such a map.

THIEF BONUSES FOR DEXTERITY

This short article presents a table that gives Thieves a bonus or penalty to their special abilities based on Dexterity. This is a good thing – Thieves in OD&D need all the help they can get.

The next bit is a touch more contentious: the addition of Exceptional Dexterity. That is, if a Thief has a Dex of 18, he gets to roll percentile dice to see if he is extra-super dextrous. I don't mind the addition, to be honest. It works for the Fighter in terms of Strength, and I'm all for things that boost the Thief a bit.

The explanation for these rules being introduced will be new training techniques provided by the Adventurers' Guild – the old standby.

D&D IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE DM

It's a DM advice article by Gary, which goes through the usual motions: limit magic, make the PCs work for their rewards, play the monsters intelligently, etc. The most interesting thing here is a mention of the D&D campaign played at CalTech, a monster high-level gonzo game dubbed Dungeons & Beavers. I'm tempted to throw in a sub-level of Greyhawk that is completely over the top in this manner. Gary had a King Kong-themed level entitled 'Monkeying Around', so I'd probably give it a similar pun.

Oh, and Gary confirms that none of the PCs in either Greyhawk or Blackmoor are over 14th level at this point.

That's it for today. There's an Empire of the Petal Throne article I want to cover, but it's long and I can't be bothered - those EPT articles take some getting through.

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