Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement II - Blackmoor Part 4

Sorry about the delay folks - Easter and all that. We now resume our regular schedule.

SAHUAGIN: Wow. That's one long entry - at a time when most monsters get a paragraph, these 'Devil Men of the Deep' merit about two pages worth of stuff. It's pretty good stuff as well.

The first thing we learn is that they're vicious, evil buggers who pal around with Giant Sharks. They're smart like elves, but perverted (they say it like being an elf isn't perverted as well!).

Then we get some history that I feel can easily be tacked onto Greyhawk - In eons past there was a great flood, which may or may not have happened twice, when the ice caps melted during a war between the gods for control of the planet. Some of the gods grabbed up their subjects to save them from the flood, while others transformed their subjects to adapt to the water - sea elves and mermen were created by the gods of Law and Neutrality, while those of Chaos made the Sahuagin, who are said to be the most evil of the evil.

Physically they pretty much look like evil fish-men. They can swim quickly, and have a hide equal to leather armor. Their teeth and claws are sharp, and they have a tail that can club people for 2d6 damage. They can even rake with their back legs. Add to that sensitive ears and eyes that can see underwater, and you'll definitely want to fight these guys on land.

They have a few weaknesses. Their eyes aren't suited to being on the surface, so they only come up at night and during storms. Their ears can be damaged by loud noises. They also can't breathe air or fresh water.

They live in large communities, with their underwater capital housing 100,000 of the nasties. They have the usual array of high-level fighters and magic-users, as well as lots of sharks. They fight with tridents and barbed nets, the former usually poisoned (joy).

They take prisoners, but usually only to eat. Those they don't eat get thrown to the sharks with nothing but a knife to defend themselves.

The Sahuagin have one king, and nine princes, all of whom are subject to challenge for their position by other Sahuagin. Some of these leaders are rumoured to have four arms. It's also interesting to note that Sahuagin never stop growing, which makes me instantly think of using an absolute behemoth from the dawn of time who has prolonged his life with potions of longevity.

Sahuagin eat cripples and unsuccessful challengers, as well as the sick. Their women fight, and look just like the men. The young hatch from eggs - and after a few days are pretty much as tough and vicious as any other Sahuagin! I guess you have to grow up quick in such an evil society.

Anyway, this is a really cool entry, and the sort of thing we won't see much of in a long while. Even the AD&D Monster Manual rarely goes into this kind of detail.

FLOATING EYES: Small fish with one big eye that they can use to hypnotise PCs or make the afraid. Other monsters follow them around and snack on the victims.

IXITXACHITL: "A race of Chaotic Clerical Philosophers, they resemble Manta Rays, with one in ten being a vampire equivalent." Has their ever been a better sentence written in the English language? That's about all we learn about them too, except that they all have cleric levels and some have magic-user levels. It's a pretty bloody good springboard, though.

LOCATHAH: Because with mermen, tritons, sea elves and sahuagin, we need another bloody race of undersea humanoids. Anyway, these guys are eel-riding nomads, who use castles as their base camp and are neutral and fairly civilised.

MORKOTH: Another favourite of mine. They're also known as Morlocks. A 'shrouded wraith of the deep' that lives in spiralling tunnels. When the tunnels are viewed from above, the hypnotic pattern draws the victim down to be charmed. It can also reflect spells cast upon it back at the caster.

POISONOUS CORAL: If it cuts you, save or die in 12 turns.

MASHERS: Like a big coral-eating purple worm, but harmless unless frightened.

STRANGLE WEED: Sea weed that wraps creatures like a tentacle and crushes them.

LYCANTHROPES: There are no new were-creatures given here, but the curse/disease itself gets significantly expanded. Before, all we knew was that if a lycanthrope damages you for 50% of your total hit points, you'll become one unless you get a Cure Disease spell. Some things are clarified here - the victim must be warm-blooded. If the wounds are taken under a full moon during spring, the Cleric casting Cure Disease must be 10th level to heal you. The were-personality can now assert itself in much the same way as an intelligent sword. Also: we know that men affected turn into animals with human intelligence, but animals can be affected as well - being able to become men with animal intelligence. That's cool! Being a lycanthrope confers a lot of bonuses, such as more hit dice, greater speed, better AC and increased Strength and COnstitution. Doesn't sound like such a bad deal, actually.

NYMPHS: Apparently they are just like Dryads. Presumably underwater Dryads.

MOTTLED WORMS: Aquatic Purple Worms.

GNOMES: Some gnomes live in underwater cities enclosed by domes, with tunnels to the surface.

KOBOLDS: Like gnomes, but they live in 'air-enclosed cave complexes'.

EVIL HIGH PRIESTS: Some EHPs live in underwater castles protected by a spell that allows them to breathe underwater.

SEA HAGS: Before any other type of Hag, we get the underwater variety. They're like Dryads, but they try to kill people with their ugliness.

KAPOACINTH: Underwater gargoyles with fins instead of wings.

KOALINTH: Water-breathing hobgoblins.

LACEDONS: Underwater ghouls, sometimes led by a wraith.

Other monsters that may be found underwater: Leeches, Ochre Jellies, Green Slime, Ropers, and Gelatinous Cubes.

Thankfully it won't take much explanation to introduce most of these creatures - they've just been living underwater the whole time, where the PCs have yet to explore. Getting the PCs down there will be the tricky part, but a few rumours of treasure in sunken Atlantis ought to do the trick.

Supplement II introduces a few new magic items, all of which are related to aquatic adventuring in some fashion. Since there aren't many, I'll do a run-through of the lot.

RING OF FREEDOM: Lets you move and attack as normal when underwater.

RING OF MOVEMENT: This works like a ring of flying, but only when underwater. (Uh, can't characters already effectively fly underwater? I guess it would come in handy if you're wearing plate mail, though.)

CLEARWATER POTION: Removes salt from water in a 10' diameter. The only use I can think of for this is to provide a source of drinking water, especially if your characters get stranded at sea.

CLOAK OF THE MANTA RAY: This cloak lets you breath underwater and swim at the same speed as a manta ray. You can also release the cloak, and it will fight like a manta ray.

NECKLACE OF WATER BREATHING: Self-explanatory, but it only works for 2.5 days before it needs a rest.

TRIDENT OF FISH CONTROL: This allows the wielder to control any swimming creature that can't also breath air - that's a lot more than fish. For some reason it doesn't work on the Portuguese Man-of-War, probably because it is a mindless jellyfish.

NET OF SNARING: Automatically snares any swimming target you throw it at.

HELM OF UNDERWATER VISION: Lets the wearer see further when underwater.

PEARLS: Regular pearls are treated just like gems.

PINK PEARLS: These are much more valuable, and treated like jewels.

BLACK PEARLS: Lets a magic-user cast one additional spell from his repertoire - whether the pearl is then used up is left vague, but I have to say yes.

GOLD PEARL: Like the black variety, but it works for Clerics.

RED PEARL: Heals the wounds of Fighting-Men. Why no other class? It bears further thinking.

SILVER PEARL: These are worth 10-100,000 gp. Apparently 5% of gems are Silver Pearls?!? That's a bit common for such a valuable thing. Let's say that 5% of gems found underwater are Silver Pearls, or possibly just 5% of pearls.

That's a bunch of stuff that's useful underwater and not much use on land. That they aren't yet integrated into the treasure tables is a good thing, as they're niche items.

As with the aquatic monsters, these items will come into the game when I manage to lure my players into some underwater adventuring.

Tomorrow I take a look at the very first official D&D adventure: The Temple of the Frog.

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