Monday, September 28, 2009

Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry part 13

Supplement III continues, with more weird and wondrous monsters.

COUATL: These are winged snakes covered in feathers, rarely found outside of warm jungles. They are also said to be found "flying through the ether", which I am taking to mean the Ethereal Plane, as my memory is telling me they are extraplanar in later editions. Hmmm, having checked the Monster Manuals for AD&D 1e, 2e and 3e, there's nothing explicit, but they do have the power of etherealness from 2e onwards, so I'm on the right track.

Couatl's have a whole load of special abilities – they can polymorph themselves, cast spells as a 5th level M-U and/or a 7th level Cleric, and possess a pretty high level of psionic power. All of this means that they are regarded as divine beings by the inhabitants of their homelands. Luckily for PCs they are Lawful, and luckily for DMs who want to use them as antagonists they have Neutral tendencies.

KI-RIN: The Ki-Rin, which "somewhat resembles a cloudy horse", lives by itself in the clouds, and its hooves rarely touch the ground. They're totally lawful good, and as is usual with Gary, that means that they are super-powerful. Get this: in addition to being of the highest intelligence, they can travel astrally or ethereally, are resistant to all magic cast by a user under 12th level, have 90% resistance to all other spells, can cast spells as an 18th level M-U, and possess every single M-U psionic ability! Oh, plus they have all the abilities of a djinni at double strength. And their air spells are twice as powerful. And they can talk to anything. As much as Gary designed some real rat bastard evil monsters intended to hose the PCs, he had a penchant for making the good guys really overpowered. There's a slight balance in place with the Ki-Rin's tendency to ignore human affairs, but the proper magic can get around that right quick.

SHEDU: The Shedu is said to be somewhat like a Lammasu, having a human's head on the body of a winged bull. They are even said to be cousins of the Lammasu, which is a tidbit to remember, even serving pretty much the same purpose as Lawful Good guys who protect those who serve Law. The only real difference is that they have a load of psionic powers, and can travel Astrally or Ethereally. They seem a little redundant, actually, and I suspect they're probably here just to check off another name from mythology.

INTELLECT DEVOURERS: Ah, a lovely new evil beastie for my collection... Chaotic, evil, intelligent and highly malign – these are the kinds of things that really enamour me towards a monster. Now, I remember these guys as being brains on legs, but here they appear as "a ball-like body of sooty black poised upon four legs." Their colouring lets them hide in shadows like a 10th level Thief, and as such they like to live deep underground, or aboveground in the darkest places. They have claws, but in general attack only with psionics, and they eat psionic energy – "whether gained from the dying shriek or by more subtle means." Rad. If anyone nearby uses a psionic powers, the Devourer will stalk and ambush them, and if it kills the poor guy it will inhabit his body and try to get at other characters. As with most monsters in this book they come with a lot of psionic powers, and they're a bastard to kill. You'll need a +3 weapon at least, and even those do just 1 point of damage. Bright light will drive them away (being shadowy beings, I guess) and a Fire Ball acts as such, but Lightning Bolt is barely effective. Death Spell works a quarter of the time, but Power Word Kill does the trick (it would want to at that level!). Oh, and they roam the Astral and Ethereal Planes. Gary's milking those planes for all they're worth now that they're properly defined.

Adding these new monsters should be no trouble. One lives in jungles I presume to be far away from the City of Greyhawk, one lives in the sky, one lives in the Astral or Ethereal Plane and the last inhabits remote regions underground. None of them are likely to be bumped into on your average dungeon or wilderness jaunt.

MIND FLAYERS: We've seen Mind Flayers before, in The Strategic Review #1, but here they are for the first time in an official supplement, so let's see what is different. Surprisingly, not much. Their stats are unchanged, and so are their special abilities, the only addition being that they now have Psionic Powers. Their Mind Blast is also very slightly changed, in that a few of the numbers on the old Mind Blast chart are switched to ranges. For instance, what would once have put a character in a coma for 3 days now does so for 1-4 days. Although it does seem that Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits are more resistant than they were – I chalk this up to the awakening of psionic potential in all the humanoid races. The fact that Mind Flayers are now more psychically powerful than they were will tie in nicely as well - obviously they are doing something to enhance themselves, probably building some giant brain-thing or other. The side-effect of the Giant Brain's emanations is that humans and some other types are getting powers too.

NEXT: I finish up with the monsters. Get ready for psychic monkeys, people!


A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'm a little late to the party, but I am enjoying going over your old posts.

Have to say i'm not a fan of EW's psionics, or the book's editing, but those old OD&D books are, otherwise, a treasure trove of OS goodness.


Nathan P. Mahney said...

Hey, thanks, I appreciate the comments.

Personally, I'm not a fan of psionics in D&D at all. I've never really been able to wrap my head around any of the various systems, and flavour-wise it never fit well outside of Dark Sun and maybe Spelljammer.

But the whole point of this project is to try and mesh as much D&D together as I can. So I have to make psionics work as best as I am able!