Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AD&D Monster Manual part 26

God bless the letter K, and the paltry number of monsters whose name begins with that letter.  It's a short entry!

Ki-Rin: The ki-rin, a horse-like aerial spirit with vast magical powers, first appeared in Supplement III. Statistically the only major change to them is the addition of an extra attack per round, a horn that deals 3-18 damage as a +3 weapon.

In OD&D they were said to be able to cast spells as an 18th level magic-user. That’s still the case in AD&D, but the number of low level spells they can cast in a day has been greatly increased. They still have psionic powers, and average more psionic points than before. It’s hard to tell whether they’re more or less powerful than before, though; in OD&D they could use every psychic power available to magic-users, and in AD&D they get 4 major and 6 minor abilities. AD&D’s psionic system is very different than that found in OD&D, so I can’t really gauge this until I get to the Player’s Handbook.

In OD&D they were said to have the powers of a djinni at double strength, and that’s still true, as is their ability to cast all air-based spells at double strength. One area in which they’ve been powered down is their Magic Resistance. It’s still sitting at a healthy 90%, but in OD&D they were completely immune to spells cast below 12th level, and that’s no longer the case. But with an MR that high, it will probably not make a great difference.

We also get confirmation that the ki-rin’s ability to converse with anyone is telepathic. And their skin is worth 25,000 gp, which is just a great way to try and lure your PCs into skinning a majorly powerful being of Lawful Good alignment.

Kobolds: Kobolds first appeared in OD&D Vol. 2, and their stats haven’t changed here. What has changed is the amount of detail given to them. Their society is described as tribal, like most of the D&D humanoids, and they have the usual selection of leaders and bodyguards. They are also said to keep wild boars and giant weasels in their lairs. Most kobolds use short swords, axes and clubs, with javelins and spears as missile weapons. They hate gnomes and other woodland fey like brownies and sprites. Nothing is mentioned about them being expert trap-makers, a thing that becomes standard later on. Nor are they described as dog-like or scaly in the text, although the illustration does depict them in that way.  It's not the first time they've been drawn in that manner, though; I distinctly remember some dog-men kobolds in Swords & Spells.


Daddy Grognard said...

I've never used this, and I can't recall a dungeon in which I've ever encountered it. Which is probably just as well since it also has the inherent ability to call lightning, presumably at 18th level. This, if you check the spell out (druidic, I think) gives 20d8 of lightning damage, which is an average of 90 hit points, but it gets worse because any spell that has to do with things of the sky (err, methinks lightning counts) is doubled in strength. That's an average of 180 hit points in one strike.

Okay, so it's not as bad as the 360 points of damage that all Tiamat's heads can do to you if they breathe on you at the same time and you fail your save, but pretty harsh. And while you're busy smouldering (that assumes you make your save), it then casts the same spell from its list of actual spells it can do that day. Or a wish. Or meteor strike. Or whichever 9th level spell it fancies.

Nathan P. Mahney said...

Wow. I like the way you think.

It's true that a ki-rin isn't something you're going to encounter much in a pre-planned dungeon adventure. I think their utility comes from the wandering monster charts, because a random encounter with one of these could be either a life-saver or a TPK depending on how the PCs treat it.

Anonymous said...

I've encountered ki-rin with two different groups of players. Both times, our party ended up being there to keep the mooks away while the ki-rin killed a powerful demon, and then he sent us on a quest to the demon's home to recover stolen property.

No idea why two different DMs came up with almost the exact same use for them. I don't think there's any similar story in Japanese myth or pop culture. But it worked.