Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry part 14

Today I'm going to finish up with Supplement III's monsters, taking a look at a number of psionic nasties.

SU-MONSTERS: They resemble a "wasp-waisted, great-chested hound" with a monkey's head, and if it wasn't for later illustrations in AD&D I might have a hard time imagining what that is meant to look like. Anyway, they're chaotic evil, live underground or on the surface, and have four prehensile feet with sharp nails, which they use to hang upside down to ambush prey. They're often found in family units, and as usual the female will fight at double value if her young are attacked. Good ol' Dad ignores the kids, but goes likewise nuts if his woman is attacked. They have a "latent psionic ability", and what this means is that if anyone near them uses a psionic power, they can retaliate with some form of psionic attack. They themselves are completely immune to psionics.

And you know what? Psychic monkeys. I can't wait to spring a whole pack of these things on an unsuspecting party.

BRAIN MOLES: These are small rodents that inhabit "most places above and below ground". So they must be quite common. This ties in with my previous ideas about the origin of psionics if I say that various rodents are being mutated as well. Rodents are everywhere, after all, and at least this is an explanation for why Brain Moles won't be encountered earlier in the campaign.

They're attracted to psionic activity (even that originating from spells), and seek to feed on it by "psionically burrowing". On a psionic character this works like a really powerful Mind Thrust, and on non-psionics replicating a power with a spell it has a chance to drive them insane. The only out is to run away or kill the bastard mole.

CEREBRAL PARASITES: These are invisible creatures that can become ethereal or astral, that attach to psionic characters and feed off their psionic energy. Once they feed enough, they reproduce and drain even more energy until the victim is used up. The only way to detect them is for a psychic to carefully examine the victim's aura, and then they can be treated like a disease.

I do wonder what happens when a character is completely drained of psionic power, though. There's nothing to indicate that it results in death. Is it just that the character becomes markedly less effective as a psionic? Perhaps that is disadvantage enough, especially if he gets into psionic combat with something.

THOUGHT EATERS: Appearing as a sickly grey, skeletal platypus with an enormous head and webbed paws (Undead Psyduck?) these creatures live in the Ethereal Plane and are basically mindless. They can sense psionic activity in the physical plane, and absorb any psionic or spell energy used near them. They can even consume the thoughts of non-psionics, resulting in permanent loss of Intelligence. Here we get a bit of insight into what low Intelligence actually means. If you have 0 Intelligence, you are dead. At 1, you are alive but mindless. At 2 you are an idiot, and at 3 you are an imbecile, and at 4 you are a "low-grade moron". Nice.

Back to the monster, you can defend against it with the Mind Blank spell and other mental defenses, but it can only be attacked by ethereal characters.

And that's it for the monsters. It's a nice bunch, mostly Demons and psionic-related creatures, but not really the sort of things that will see heavy use until higher levels. I can see why they didn't appear until the third supplement.

ARTIFACTS

Since I seem to have a bit of time, I might as well dive into the copious list of artifacts herein. And this is great stuff, a real trove of old-school D&D lore. I like how the items are given a list of suggested powers, but the DM is encouraged to change them up so that players won't know exactly what to expect. I'll probably go with the powers listed, as my players are unlikely to ever crack the cover of Eldritch Wizardry.

It should be noted that all of these items are one-of-a-kind, most are thousands of years old, their owners generally become like Gollum, and those who try to destroy them usually end up dead. Sounds promising so far.

THE INVULNERABLE COAT OF ARN: This is a shining coat of chainmail, said to be a relic of a bygone age. Not much to go on there, but it fits any humanoid regardless of size and makes the areas covered completely invulnerable to physical attacks. It's also resistant to spells and fire, and makes the wearer completely immune to acid, cold and disease. Suggested Powers: Invisibility, double speed, wearer's touch poisons any human, and wearer shrinks 2 inches every time the armor is used. Heh. It's awesome, but the drawbacks ensure it's use is temporary at best.

THE MACE OF CUTHBERT: This mace is said to be a holy relic from the times of St. Cuthbert, and this is our first mention of this Greyhawk deity (and I believe the first mention of any official deity). It's a +5 weapon that can only be used by good Clerics. Suggested Powers: Levitation, fire resistance, dispel magic 4 times a day, death spell 2 times a day, only activated when it kills a specific monster type, and loses powers when it kills a different specific monster type. That last ability makes it a little unreliable, and I'll have to work out just which monsters make sense for such a power. Perhaps once I know a little more about St. Cuthbert I'll be able to figure something out.

THE SWORD OF KAS: D&D lore, ahoy! This sword belonged to Kas, the one-time bodyguard to the legendary lich Vecna. Alas, that's all we get of the story at the moment, but there's more to come when I get the a certain infamous Hand and Eye. Kas is said to have been the mightiest swordsman of his age, and the sword is made from a thin grey blade of unknown metal.

The sword is +3, +5 against demons, undead and godlings. It's sentient (as all swords are in OD&D) and has very, very high Intelligence and Ego - it's likely that it will possess most of its wielders, and since it is evil will cause a lot of headaches. Suggested Powers: Water breathing, become ethereal 2 times a day, cast a double-strength Cause Serious Wounds 2 times a day, complete magic immunity (but also cannot cast spells, and permanently drains any magic item the wearer touches), restore a level lost to energy drain once a week (it's suggested the level might be drained from a nearby friendly PC...).

Next: More artifact-y goodness.

2 comments:

A Paladin In Citadel said...

The artifacts and demons are my favorite part of this book.

Orcus, Demogorgon, Type V demon, and the succubus.

Like candy to a 12 year old.

Nathan P. Mahney said...

Oh yeah, without a doubt. Those sections are chock-full of D&D history, and lots of great things to fire the imagination.