Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AD&D Monster Manual part 10

Displacer Beast: Displacer Beasts (which first appeared in Supplement I) look like pumas with dirty big spiked tentacles on their shoulders, and they also appear 3 feet away from their actual locations due to their ‘molecular vibrations’. They haven’t changed at all from Supplement I, although the description no longer notes that they have six legs (though the illustrations shows them this way). It’s interesting that a pack is always made up of adults. Do they not breed naturally? And they’re also noted as hating all life, which is an odd outlook for a Neutral creature.  But I guess hating ALL life regardless of its alignment could be considered Neutral.  Ah, alignment.  It's a thorny topic for sure.

Djinni: Djinn appeared first in OD&D. They are your classic mythological genie, although the regular types can't grant wishes. Their Armor Class has changed from 5 to 4, and their Hit Dice has had a minor correction from 8+1 to 8+3. They also get an alignment now, of Chaotic Good. Their powers remain basically the same, except that now they are more rigidly defined in terms of duration and effect. Noble Djinn are introduced for the first time. There is a 1% chance that any djinn will be a noble, and these are the guys that can grant you three wishes. We also learn that Djinn come from the Plane of Air, and that their social structure is based on rule by a Caliph, with various noble types like viziers, beys, emirs, sheiks, sherrifs and maliks.

Dog: Wild Dogs were included in the revised Wilderness Encounter Tables from Supplement III. Gary shows some rare restraint with this entry, providing stats for just War Dogs and Wild Dogs. I was kind of expecting a breakdown on about thirty different breeds, but I guess the man does know when to delve and when to gloss.  War Dogs are large dogs trained in combat. Wild Dogs roam the wilderness, and generally won’t attack anyone if they’re well fed. They can be tamed if you get one away from its pack.

War dogs are a fairly regular purchase for low-level PCs trying to get some extra combat power, I’ve found. My take on the whole thing is that these dogs are trained for warfare, not for dungeon exploration. They don’t know how to be sneaky, and they don’t deal well with supernatural phenomena, particularly the undead.  There's nothing like a pack of ghouls to send your dogs into a frenzy.

Dolphin: Dolphins first appeared in Supplement II, but a lot of tweaks have been made to them since then. Their Armor Class has changed from 6 to 5, and they move faster. They now pal around with swordfish and narwhales, and Gary has been kind enough to reel off some quick stats for them. They still hate sharks, and will help humans. But they no longer get telepathy with other dolphins, nor can they detect magic within 50 miles. And alas, there is no longer any mention of fitting dolphins with a war harness. It’s a sad loss to the game, and a rare case of Gary making something less cool.

Doppleganger: First introduced in Supplement I, dopplegangers are shape-changers that often impersonate humanoid creatures. They have changed very little from their original appearance. They do gain the ability of ESP, which is a great aid in their impersonations, I’m sure. And they get a better chance to gain surprise.

If I ever do the classic Doppleganger ambush where it's taken the form of a PC, I'll run it as follows.  Firstly, the PC so impersonated must write his actions for the round on a sheet of paper and hand them to me.  I describe what his character is doing as described in the note, and I do the same for the doppleganger, and that way the other players should have a harder time figuring out which is which.  The player will roll all the dice for himself and for the doppleganger, because I like to keep a player's fate in his own hands so far as the dice go.

I’m going to cut things short here, because the next entry is Dragon. And that one is going to take some doing.

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