Thursday, October 07, 2010

AD&D Monster Manual part 5

Wild Camel: Like a lot of the normal animals featured in the Monster Manual, wild camels were first seen in the updated Wilderness Encounter Tables from Supplement III. Gary being Gary, he makes sure to distinguish between bactrians and dromedaries, with a special focus on how much treasure you can load them up with. My favourite bit is their spitting attack, that can blind the target. There are no rules provided for knocking one out like Arnold, though.

Carrion Crawler: This monster, one of my absolute favourites, first appeared in Supplement I. As before, it’s a giant centipede with paralysing tentacles in its mouth. Statistically it is unchanged, except for the now-familiar lowering of the % in Lair chance. (I’m noticing that this has been done with a lot of monsters, presumably to lower the chances of the PCs getting their greasy mitts on the monster’s treasure.) Some small bits of info revealed: carrion crawlers are green, and they lay eggs in corpses. There’s also an important detail in this excerpt: “each 2’ long tentacle exudes a gummy secretion which when fresh, will paralyze opponents”. “When fresh” is the important bit, as it specifies that this stuff isn’t something the PCs can bottle and use on their enemies.

Catoblepas: This total bastard monster first appeared in Strategic Review #7. Honestly, this guy. Basically it’s a long-necked buffalo that lives in the swamp and can kill you with its gaze. And just to top that off, the gaze has no saving throw. The only thing that will save your character is that the neck of the catoblepas is so weak that it can only raise its head about a quarter of the time. Statistically they haven’t changed since their first appearance, except that there’s now a chance they can have treasure, which there wasn’t before. And too right, because nobody wants to encounter one of these things with no chance for a reward.

Wild Cattle: It’s another wondrous inclusion from the Supplement III encounter tables. This is a catch-all category for the various types of cattle, obviously. They’re not usually hostile, but they might trample your character if you get too close.

Centaur: Centaurs first appeared in OD&D. You know the drill, half-man half-horse. In OD&D they could be Neutral or Lawful, but here they can be Neutral or Chaotic Good. Their Number Appearing range has slightly increased. They are now provided with leaders, and the stats of their women and young are a bit more detailed. It’s also noted that they dislike humans and dwarves, tolerate gnomes and halflings, and like elves, especially wood elves.  And for the record, there's nothing about them being tree-huggers here, so I feel free to play them as wine-guzzling, over-amorous marauders.

Giant Centipede: Centipedes were mentioned as possible monsters in OD&D, and they also showed up in the Wandering Monster tables. But this is where they get stats for the first time. Now I’m creeped out by centipedes at the best of times, but when they’re over a foot long? Forget it. They actually aren’t that tough, but they do have a poisonous bite. I love how their ‘weak’ venom is still fatal if you fail your save. Sure, you get a +4 bonus to the roll, but it’s still a save or die effect on a monster of less than 1 hit dice. Which I’m fine with, by the way.  The game is always better when the players aren't complacent.

Cerebral Parasite: These guys haven’t changed a bit since they debuted in Supplement III. Basically, they’re invisible to the eye, about the size of a flea, and they infect psionic characters and drain their psionic points every time they use a power. Not only that, but they multiply pretty rapidly. At first they seem like a bit of a nuisance monster, but I can imagine how much trouble you’d be in if you got caught in psychic battle with such a drain on your resources.

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