Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Monsters & Treasure Part 5

We begin today with a number of magical creatures, generally those that are summoned intpo the game by magic.

INVISIBLE STALKERS: These are invisible creatures created by the spell of the same name, that obey the orders of the caster. They're faultless trackers and pursue their mission to the exclusion of all else. When that's done they return to their "non-dimension" - canonically this is the Elemental Plane of Air. The only way to stop them is to kill them, but you can do it with a Dispell Magic as well - which is odd, because the spell description specifically said they can't be dispelled. I'm going to rule it like this - the Invisible Stalker can be sent home with a Dispell Magic spell; the reference in D&D Vol. 1 means that it can't be dismissed by the caster, which can have consequences as detailed below.

If the Stalker is made to perform tasks that take a long time, they'll try to pervert the mission to screw their master over. There's even a possibility that the caster will be whisked off to the Stalker's own plane and held in suspended animation. So use these guys wisely!

ELEMENTALS: As would be expected, the four classics are here: air, earth, fire and water. The strength of an elemental depends on the method used to summon it, and strangely enough it's the spell that summons the strongest - I thought it would be the other way around, since the spell is the most easily accessible of the three methods.

Only one of each type can be conjured in a day - and that goes for everyone in the game. If your opponent summons a Fire Elemental, you won't be able to do the same until tomorrow. This makes me wonder what happens if some guy on the other side of the planet summons a Fire Elemental - is it a global thing? Of course not - we'll call it a localised phenomenon, and chalk it up to either fickle elementals or a magical limitation due to the unknowns of piercing dimensional barriers.

Air Elementals fly all the time, get a damage bonus in the air, and can turn into a whirlwind. This will sweep those under 2 hit dice away - but there's nothing said on its effect on stronger creatures.

Earth Elementals can't cross water, but they deal 3d6 damage per hit on those touching the ground, which is pretty brutal. They can also batter down walls, so they're handy in a siege.

Fire Elementals score more damage against non-fire users, cannot cross water, but can set stuff on fire. You need a large body of flame to summon one.

Water elementals generally don't leave the water, and deal more damage when in it. Like Fire Elementals, you need a lot of water to summon one.

A summoned elemental has to be mentally controlled by the summoner at all times, or it'll go berserk and try to kill him. And they can only be hit by magic weapons, so good luck to your M-U if this happens to him.

Elementals are in Chainmail. It states that fire-breathing dragons can't affect Fire and Earth Elementals, which is fair enough. Otherwise there are no changes.

DJINN: Ah, the spelling. Noobs never know what this thing is until you tell them it's a Genie. But they have a load of special abilities - they fight as giants, can carry a lot, create food and drinks and items of wood or softer, create temporary metal items, cast illusions, form whirlwinds, turn invisible and become gaseous. It's not a lot of offensive power, but they'd rock as henchmen.

Djinn are in Chainmail, briefly noted as a type of Air Elemental, which fits well enough.

EFREET: Like the Djinn, but fiery, and Djinn are their enemies. Their home is said to be the City of Brass, and so we have our first D&D extra-planar location named. Otherwise they do a bit more damage than a Djinn, can carry more, and can create a Wall of Fire. They also serve for 1,001 days, though how you get one to serve you isn't spelled out.

Efreet are in Chainmail, briefly noted as a type of Fire Elemental.

OCHRE JELLY: Oozes! There's little that's more D&D than the various oozes and molds and fungi monsters. Each one has its gimmicky immunities and vulnerabilities, and because the oozes aren't specifically memorable the players can get them mixed up a bit. The Ochre Jelly is an amoeba, immune to weapons and lightning but vulnerable to fire and cold. Hits split them into smaller versions. They also dissolve wood and flesh, and can seep through small cracks.

BLACK PUDDING: There are also apparently Gray Puddings. It's said to be a nuisance monster, but with 10 hit dice and a damage output of 3d6 they're nothing to sneeze at. They're immune to cold, split by weapons and lightning, but killed by fire. And just because they weren't deadly enough they dissolve metal (which means weapons and armor), they can seep through cracks and they can travel on the walls and ceiling. A great monster for harassing PCs wherever they hole up (so long as it's not an extradimensional space).

GREEN SLIME: Getting your character killed by Green Slime is a kind of old-school initiation rite, I think. Fire and cold can kill it, but it's immune to weapons and lightning. It eats wood and metal, and sticks to flesh - and after one turn the victim is turned to green slime himself! It can be scraped off or burned off or healed by Cure Disease, but it's still awesome.

GRAY OOZE: The Gray Ooze resembles stone, so it's hard to see in a dungeon, as well as being immune to fire and cold. It corrodes metal, so when you accidentally step in one your leg armor will probably dissolve. It also eats flesh, as if that was ever in doubt.

YELLOW MOLD: Underground fungus that can be killed only by fire. Touching it deals damage to you, and it also has spores of the save-or-die variety. It's probably the most potentially deadly of the ooze/fungi group - try putting one at the bottom of your goblin's 10-foot pit, and watch your players wail.

HORSES: You know what they are. Their carrying capacities get listed, and it's noted that those not trained for battle are spooked by fire and strange smells. Also, Mules are great because they can go in dungeons. I already have a Mule pencilled in for my next character.

INSECTS OR SMALL ANIMALS: A vague guide for making stats up yourself. Which is fair enough - devote the space to monsters, not animals!

LARGE INSECTS OR ANIMALS: Again it's more of a guide, but it mentions giant ants and Tyrannosaurus Rex, so it gets bonus points. We also get our first glimpse at the Warrior of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs influence, with Martian creatures such as Apts, Banths, and Thoats being mentioned under this category. The original Greyhawk campaign had at least one character venture to Mars, so I must have it as a possibility, probably via a portal in Castle Greyhawk or the one I'm placing under the Adventurer's Guild (see earlier posts for more on that).

And to finalize the monster section (at last!) there are a number of other creatures that get very small descriptions. Most of these monsters showed up in later supplements, much as they are described here. Titans are said to be giants with magical abilities (correct!), Cyclopses are stronger giants with poor depth perception (who knows, they were never in AD&D to my experience), juggernauts are huge statues on wheels that roll over their enemies under guidance from an unearthly force (correct!), Living Statues are stone or iron beings that come alive to attack trespassers (correct in Basic D&D, but called Golems in AD&D), Salamanders are free-willed reptilian fire elementals (correct), and Gelatinous Cubes as transparent creatures that fit exactly the dimensions of the dungeon corridor that absorb items and may have metal ones floating in them. They even describe the infamous iron golem encountered by Gary's characters that was immune to everything but the weapons it guarded, had fire breath, a poison sword, and a whip of cockatrice feathers to turn its victims to stone. This was encountered in Castle Maure, as shown in the module Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure - that module will be part of the original elements I'll be mixing into the sandbox.

Robots, Golems and Androids also get briefly mentioned as self-explanatory. The second were rolled into Living Statues above, and the other two never really got further developed in D&D - I'll be throwing them in somewhere, possibly when the PCs jaunt off to other worlds. I certainly won't be neglecting the sci-fi/fantasy mash-up at the heart early D&D.

That's it for monsters, and it's heartening to see that the majority of them appear in the form they would keep in later editions of the game. On Monday I'll tackle the Treasure Tables, as well as a host of magical items - Swords, Armor, Weapons, Potions, Scrolls and Rings.

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