Saturday, March 07, 2015

AD&D Monster Manual part 54

TITANOTHERE: Titanotheres first appeared in D&D as a part of the random encounter tables from Vol. 3: The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, and again in the encounter tables from Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry.  This is the first time they get a proper write-up.  According to Gary, they are huge, fearless plant-eaters that roamed the plains of the Pleistocene era in herds.  The herds will usually be 50% adult and 50% young, and the largest will attack if the herd is threatened.  This attack is a charge that deals double damage ( a hefty 4-32), and will also result in any smaller victim being trampled for 2-12 damage per foot.

Titanotheres, of course, were real, or at least as real as any creatures conjectured by paleontologists.  Gary has most of his details correct, but his placing of them in the Pleistocene era is way off.  Titanotheres died of around 28 million years ago, whereas the Pleistocene era started a mere 1.8 million years ago.  Gary has a habit of just lumping all of the "prehistoric" creatures into the Pleistocene era, and I'm okay with that for gaming purposes.  The only way it will come into play is via time travel (in which case you want as many creatures to menace the party with as possible) or the discovery of a "Lost World" (in which case historical/scientific accuracy is kind of irrelevant).

TOAD, GIANT: Giant Toads first appeared in Supplement II: Blackmoor, but here they've been given a complete overhaul.  Their tongue attack, which could draw victims into the toad's mouth, is gone, as is the protective colouration that provided them with effective invisibility.  The old toads had a poisonous bite as well, but we have a poisonous toad in the Monster Manual, so that hasn't been completely lost.  Their ability to leap has also been seriously neutered.  Whereas before toads could leap 18", they now can make a leap equal to their Movement (which in most cases is 6").  They can make an attack either during or after their leap, so most of the difficulty in facing them in combat will come from their mobility.  I kind of miss the tongue attack, to be honest.  I will probably keep the original version of giant toads around as a species native to the Blackmoor region.

Stat Changes:
Number Appearing: Old - 3-30, New - 1-12; Movement: Old - 1", swim 3", New - 6"; Hit Dice: Old - 1 or 2, New - 2+4; Damage: Old - 1 bite for 1-10, New - 1 bite for 2-8

TOAD, ICE: Ice Toads are appearing here for the first time.  They're native to cold climes, and can be sometimes found underground.  They get the same leaping attack as the regular giant Toad, and in addition to that they can radiate a burst of cold every other round, dealing 3-18 damage to any creature that isn't cold-resistant.  Throw in the fact that they have 5 Hit Dice and they make for formidable opponents, but more interesting than that is that they speak their own language, and have an Average intelligence.  Presumably, with intelligence that rivals that of humans, they have their own society and culture, which had never occurred to me before.  It's something to think on.

TOAD, POISONOUS: Poisonous Toads are pretty much exactly like the Giant Toads mentioned above, but their bite has a save or die poison.  I approve.

TRAPPER: Huh.  I was all set for a hefty entry here, but it turns out that Trappers are making their first appearance in the Monster Manual.  This is another nonsense monster that has seemingly perfectly evolved to destroy dungeon-delving adventurers.  With it's flat, stone-like body, the Trapper masquerades as a floor and waits for its prey to walk over it.  It often creates a "protuberance" that resembles a chest or a box, and when the unsuspecting prey comes near, it wraps around them and smothers them to death.

I'm not entirely certain how a lone adventurer is meant to survive this, aside from the obviosu measure of not walking over the Trapper.  It's 95% undetectable, so the likelihood of a warning from the DM is slim.  It is said to simply "close itself upon the unsuspecting victims", which doesn't spell much out about how it works mechanically.  It sounds automatic to me, though I would be inclined to require a hit roll or a saving throw.  The person trapped inside can't attack, takes damage every round, and dies from smothering in six rounds.  The only way out is for someone else to kill the trapper, or face it with certain death.  (Not as easy as it sounds: Trappers are resistant to both fire and cold).  Again, I see no way for a lone adventurer to escape, but I suppose that dungeon delving on your own is a risky proposition.

I like the way that Trapper damage is determined: it deals 4 damage per round, plus the Armor Class of the victim.  So (disregarding bonuses from Dexterity) it means that the more heavily armored the victim is, the more resistant he is to being crushed.  It's a simple, elegant rule.

Paying attention once more to the intelligence rating of the monster, I see that Trappers are rated as High.  I would have thought of them as nearly mindless.  There are probably quite a lot of monsters that I need to rethink along these lines.

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