Thursday, April 16, 2015

AD&D Monster Manual part 60

WHALE: In principle this is the same monster that first appeared in Supplement II: Blackmoor, but its absurdities have been wrangled somewhat.  Just look at the damage listed below: originally a whale fluke could dish out up to 140 points of damage, which is a little extreme.  The AD&D whale is still a powerful beast when riled, but it's been brought back to a level that fits on the mortal plane.

Whales are split into plant-eaters and carnivores, and the carnivores will often attack humans (killer whales will always attack, which doesn't sound at all accurate, but this is D&D).  In addition to the bite and fluke attacks mentioned above, whales near the surface can do a tail smash that deals damage equal to one-half the whale's Hit Dice.  I wonder if this is accurate, or if it was supposed to say hit points.  As it is, the tail smash deals from 6 to 18 damage depending on the whale's size, which seems a little paltry.

Carnivorous whales can swallow their prey whole, and the biggest can swallow a whole longship and crew.  It's said that escape isn't too difficult, but a whale's digestive juices deal 1 point of damage per turn (that's slow), and there's a 50% chance that anyone disgorged will emerge at a great depth underwater.

Never one to shy away from making dead monsters valuable, Gary says that whales often have treasure in their stomachs (this bit was in Supplement II as well).  There's a 1% chance per hit dice that each treasure type will be present.  If a whale is sick it creates ambergris, which can be sold for 1,000 to 20,000 gp, and a whale carcass is worth 100gp per hit die.  Ambergris is most often used in perfumes, and whenever I read about it it reminds me of the following quote from Moby Dick: "Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale!"

Stat Changes:
Armor Class: Old - 5, New - 4; Movement: Old - 18", New - 18" to 24"; Hit Dice: Old - 40, New - 12 to 36; Damage: Old - 1 bite at 10-80 and 1 fluke at 15-150, New - 1 bite ranging from 5-20 to 15-60 and 1 fluke ranging from 1-8 to 5-40


WIGHT: Wights have been around since OD&D, and have changed but little.  The first change I noticed is that they are no longer referred to as "nasty critters", which gives them a bit of added dignity.  We learn that the term wight used to mean "person", but now refers to this undead monster, which dwells in barrow mounds or catacombs, hates all life, and shuns sunlight.  Basically, wights have become an actual concept rather than a collection of stats hoping that you've read Tolkien.

Like a lot of undead in this book, Wights are now said to exist simultaneously in the Prime and Negative Material Planes.  They can only be damaged by silver or magical weapons, which is a slight tweak: in OD&D only magic weapons could damage them, but the silver is new.  They also now get the standard raft of undead immunities, such as sleep, charm, hold and cold-based spells, and a vulnerability to holy water.  A raise dead spell will now destroy a wight outright.

In OD&D, any man-type drained or killed by a wight becomes a wight.  That's clarified here: the newly created wight is at half-strength, and under the control of the one who slew it.

But the best thing about wights, of course, is their level drain ability.  It was there in OD&D, and it's here as well, unchanged in all its glory.  May it live on forever.

Stat Changes:
Number Appearing: Old - 2-24, New - 2-16; Movement: Old - 9", New - 12"; Hit Dice: Old - 3, New - 4+3; Damage: Old - energy drain only, New - 1-4 plus energy drain

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