Category Archives: Monsters

Assorted creatures, mostly for D&D 4e.

V-Borgs

V-Borg

Well, as a late sign of the apocalypse, or an early sign of the next one, here’s an Earth Delta update! As always, this is a “fresh off the grill” version, not particularly edited or tweaked.


 

V-Borg

V-Borgs, or “Vehicle Cyborgs”, are hideous, blightspawned abominations that fuse partially-living beings with the remnants of vehicles. It’s often theorized that they were the pilots or crew of the craft when they were destroyed, and the combination of blight energies and the vehicle’s self-repair nanobot swarms fused them together. There are countless varieties, many which barely resemble their original forms; over the centuries since the Cataclysm, they have slowly changed and adapted. While not mindless, their motivations are alien and seemingly mad; as far as most who encounter them are concerned, they strike out blindly. Some of them have found their way to the Annihilation Army, while others have been recruited to factions of Turing’s Children.

The transition to V-Borg was hideously painful, and most V-Borgs remain in a state of anguish. This can wax and wane over time; a V-Borg might be rational for a few hours, days, or weeks, then suddenly be consumed by torment and turn violent.

V-Borg Monowheel Gunner

V-Borg Monowheel Gunner

Level 18 Artillery

Medium natural animate (blightspawn, cyborg)

XP 2,000

HP 136; Bloodied 68

AC 29; Fortitude 30; Reflex 32; Will 29

Speed 8

Immune blight, poison, disease; Vulnerability 10 radiant, 10 lightning

Initiative +18

Perception +17

Darkvision, Tremorsense 10

Traits
Monowheel
The Monowheel Gunner gets to save twice when an effect would knock it prone, or once if no such save is normally allowed. However, once knocked prone, it must use all of its actions in a turn to stand. This does not apply to external effects of powers which allow it to stand. In addition, the Monowheel Gunner’s maximum climb speed is 1, due to its lack of legs.
Standard Actions
r Machinegun (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: 20; +25 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 13.
C Spray Fire (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Close Blast 5 (All creatures in blast); +25 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 9.
C Wild Spray (weapon) • Recharge 4 5 6
Attack: Close Burst 3 (All creatures in blast); +23 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 6.
R Line In The Sand (weapon) • Encounter
Effect: Line 8 within 15. The nearest square must be at least two squares from the Monowheel Gunner. (Any creature which crosses the line); Whenever an enemy enters a square that is part of the line, the Monowheel Gunner may make a machinegun attack on the triggering creature as an immediate reaction.
Sustain Minor: The line is sustained. While sustained, the Monowheel Gunner must remain within 15 squares of any square in the line. If it moves (voluntarily or otherwise) more than this distance from any square in the line, this power ends immediately.
Move Actions
Overrun • At-Will
Effect: The Monowheel Gunner can move through any square occupied by an enemy of Medium size or less. This movement provokes opportunity attacks as normal. A critical hit on such an attack will end movement.
Skills Acrobatics +23, Stealth +23
Str 19 (+13) Dex 28 (+18) Wis 16 (+12)
Con 22 (+15) Int 10 (+9) Cha 13 (+10)
Alignment chaotic evil     Languages Binary, Ancient

The monowheel gunner resembles a decaying humanoid torso, interlaced with corroded (yet still functioning) mechanical parts, balanced atop a gyroscopic wheel. Rapid-fire fully-automatic weapons are mounted on both arms; ammunition appears to be endless, possibly synthesized from scavenged materials and stored internally, sufficient to last through any single battle.

Monowheels often roam in packs, speeding across open areas and attacking any living creature they see. It appears they view this as a sport, with complex rules, and the packs often wear identifying tokens, such as scraps of cloth of a particular color, or the skull of a specific animal. Other monowheels will appear with mixed groups of V-Borgs, other Blightspawn, or more rarely wholly unrelated allies.

Their internal balance systems are very effective, allowing them to move over broken and irregular terrain with no more difficulty than a biped.


Design Notes: The idea of the Monowheels as “sports teams” is one of those things that wandered into my brain while I was writing. I was trying to find an interesting hook or concept beyond, “They like to shoot things”, and suddenly the notion of them moving in patterns, wheeling and spinning and criss-crossing as they hunted down some humanoids, competing to kill them or drive them to some goal, according to some set of rules and limits only they perceived, jumped into my mind.

Gelatinous Cube, Glacial

Gelatinous Cube, Glacial

In honor of the Winter Is Coming Blog Carnival, I’ve decided to try to a)post more often (hah!), and, b)post winter/cold/ice related stuff, as my fancy is struck. No promises on either frequency or content; been there, done that. For all you guys know, this could be my last post ever. We’ll see. (Note: I wrote that first paragraph on 11/04/2012. What day was this posted?)

So, for starters, let’s take one of the classic monsters, the gelatinous cube, and try some frozen variants. This is going to be a bit of an exercise in extemporanea, wherein I will “think out loud” on the page, as I try to work out what to do with this concept. This allows you to peer into the mind of the artist. Gaze not into the abyss, yadda yadda.

So. Cold gelatinous cube. “Ice Cube”, but that’s too obvious, even for me. Hm. Here’s problem one: The thing about cold, the thing is, about cold, is that it’s cold. Frozen. Stiff. Pretty much the antithesis of “gelatinous”. Sure, you can postulate the freezing point of Cube is much lower than that of water, and we might go with that, but as I ponder it… can a non-gelatinous gelatinous cube be interesting? Hmm…

Cold. Solid cube. Ice cube. Can’t absorb things, except very slowly. Like licking a street sign. Except it’s a street sign that wants to eat you. It can absorb on contact, slowly. Warmth of bodies thaws its outer surface. You get stuck, then drawn in as your own body heat softens the cube so it can feed. Hm. What else does ice do? Shatter. Hitting it causes smaller fragments or shards to fly off. Form their own monster. Hmmm. Clear. Gelatinous cubes are already clear, but arctic thoughts. Sun. Light. Refractions. Snowblindness. Cube shimmer in the sun, blinding aura, dazzling, hard to look at.

OK, that’s enough traits to work with.

Let’s see. Let’s do an “across the ages” thing here. I’ve done it for spells. Why not for monsters?

 

AD&D First Edition

GELATINOUS CUBE, GLACIAL
FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: I
ARMOR CLASS: 5
MOVE: 4“
HIT DICE: 6
% IN LAIR: Nil
TREASURE TYPE: See below
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 2-8+1-4 Cold
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Paralyzation, refraction, surprise on a 1-4
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: See below
INTELLIGENCE: Non-
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: L (10’ cube)
PSlONlC ABILITY: Nil

Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Glacial Gelatinous Cubes are found only in the frozen regions of the planet, or in dungeons which are kept magically super-cold. They are much more solid than their oozier brethren. Due to this, when they hit an adventurer and paralyze him, damage begins on the first turn following the attack, as it takes time for the stricken victim to be drawn inwards.

Glacial cubes are even harder to spot than others of their kind, as they blend perfectly with the semi-transparent ice of their home regions. If encountered in daylight, the cube may instinctively make a refractive attack instead of its normal attack, causing all within 20 feet to make a saving throw against breath weapon or be blinded for 1d4 turns. It may do this only once per day.

Glacial cubes have the same treasure types as other gelatinous cubes.

Glacial gelatinous cubes can be hit by all forms of weapons, but bladed weapons do only half damage. Blunt weapons do normal damage, but on each hit, there is a 25% chance that a shard of the cube will be knocked free. This shard makes an immediate attack as a 3HD monster on a random character within 10 feet of the cube. If the attack hits, the target takes 1d6 damage and must make a saving throw vs. paralysis or be paralyzed for 1d4 turns, during which time the embedded shard will do a further 1d6 damage per turn unless it is somehow removed. Anyone killed in this fashion will become a glacial cube within 2d6 rounds after death, having but 1/4 the hit points of a standard glacial cube, but otherwise identical.

Glacial gelatinous cubes take normal damage from fire, and cold attacks heal them for half the damage they would otherwise do. Electricity, fear, holds, paralyzation,  polymorph, and sleep based attacks have no effect on glacial gelatinous cubes.

It is rumored that white dragons of the smarter sort will sometimes (10% chance) keep glacial cubes as guardians, scattering them around their lairs to ward off intruders.

Pathfinder

(For those who care, which is to say, no one, I am using PF instead of D&D 3.x because my monster spreadsheet has been rewritten for PF.)

Glacial Cube
Large Ooze (Cold)
Hit Dice: 6d10+48 (96 Hit Points)
Initiative: -5 Dex
Speed: 15 feet (3 squares)
Armor Class: 14(-1 Size -5 Dex+10 Natural) touch 4; flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+10
Attack: Slam +6 (1d6+1d6 cold)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Engulf, Paralysis, Refraction, Shards
Special Qualities: Transparent
Immunities: Electricity, Cold, Ooze Traits
Saves: Fort +10,Ref -3,Will -3
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 1, Con 26, Int 0, Wis 1 ,Cha 1
Environment: Any Cold
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 4
Treasure: Incidental
Alignment: Neutral

The glacial cube is a cousin of the more common underground gelatinous cube, one which has adapted itself to life under conditions of extreme cold. It is much more solid than the normal gelatinous cube, which provides it with some measure of increased defense, reflected in both its Armor Class and its Hit Points. It also has several other distinctive traits which can catch unwary adventurers by surprise. Unless noted, it is otherwise identical to the gelatinous cube.

Acid (Ex): The glacial cube’s acid does not harm metal, stone, or ice.

Engulf(Ex): The glacial cube has a solid surface, and cannot easily engulf moving prey. However, the body heat of paralyzed victims melts its outer surface, at which point, it can ingest them. As a full round action, it can engulf a single Medium or small creature which is adjacent to it and paralyzed. There is no save. Engulfed creatures are subject to the cube’s paralysis and acid, gain the pinned condition, are in danger of suffocating, and are trapped within its body until they are no longer pinned. This ability does not affect creatures with the cold subtype.

Paralysis (Ex): A glacial gelatinous cube secretes an anesthetizing slime. A target hit by a cube’s melee or engulf attack must succeed on a DC 21 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 3d6 rounds. The cube can automatically engulf a paralyzed opponent. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Refraction (Ex): As a standard action, a glacial cube exposed to sunlight or bright light can instinctively form its internal substance into crystalline patterns that emit a blinding light. All those within a 30′ radius burst centered on the cube must make a Reflex save (DC 21) or be dazzled for 2d6 rounds. This save is Constitution based.

Shards (Ex): When the glacial cube is struck by a weapon which does crushing damage, it sends for small shards of its frozen substance. If it is critically hit by such a weapon, it produces 1d4+1 shard. Each shard makes an attack on a random creature within 10′ of the cube, at a +6 attack bonus. If it hits, it does 1d8 piercing damage, and it will do 1d6 cold and acid damage for the next 1d4+1 rounds (A DC 15 Heal check will remove the shard). Any creature killed while the shard is in place will reform in 2d6 rounds as a small glacial cube (apply the “young” template to the glacial cube)

Transparent (Ex): The glacial cube is even harder to spot than its dungeon-dwelling kin. A DC 20 Perception check is needed to notice one when in its natural habitat among ice cliffs and snowdrifts. Anyone more than 15 feet away has a 50% miss chance for aimed spells or attacks. Faerie fire, glitterdust, and similar spells render this effect moot, but invisibility purgeor the like do not, for the same reason they don’t make glass windows opaque.

Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition

Ah, 4e. The easiest version to design monsters for, hitting a good balance between the “finger in the wind” 1e/2e rules and the “IRS Tax Auditors Give Up” 3.x/PF rules. Well, it would be nice if there were more formal support for non-combat abilities or integration with the rules for PCs, but, you can’t have everything.

Because 4e makes it so easy to run simple monsters on the fly, the shard effect for the 4e version produces minions, which makes it tactically more interesting, in my opinion.

Glacial Cube

Level 7 Elite Brute

Large natural beast (ooze, cold)

XP 600

HP 194; Bloodied 97

AC 21; Fortitude 20; Reflex 17; Will 18

Speed 3

Immune gaze, cold; Resist 10 acid

Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Initiative +5

Perception +5

Tremorsense 5

Traits
Translucent
A glacial cube is invisible until seen (Perception DC 25) or until it attacks. Creatures that fail to notice the glacial cube might walk into it. if this occurs, the cube attacks (+13 vs. Fortitude; Hit: Target is immobilized, save ends.)
Standard Actions
m Slam • At-Will
Attack: +12 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d6 + 3 damage, and the target is immobilized (save ends).
M Engulf (acid, cold) • At-Will
Effect: The gelatinous cube engulfs one or two Medium or smaller targets who are immobilized and adjacent to it.; The target is grabbed and pulled into the cube’s space; the target is dazed and takes ongoing 10 acid and cold damage until it escapes the grab. A creature that escapes the grab shifts to a square of its choosing adjacent to the cube. The cube can move normally while creatures are engulfed within it.
C Refractive Burst (radiant) • Encounter
Requirements: Must be in sunlight or in bright light.
Attack: Close Burst 5 (All sighted creatures in burst.); +8 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d10 + 7 radiant damage, and target is blinded (save ends).
Triggered Actions
Shardspawn • Recharge 4 5 6
Trigger: The cube is struck by a blunt weapon, such as a mace, club, or hammer.
Effect (Immediate Reaction): The cube creates a cubeshard within any adjacent square. This does not grant extra XP. No more than two cubeshards can exist at any one time.
Skills Stealth +10
Str 15 (+5) Dex 15 (+5) Wis 14 (+5)
Con 17 (+6) Int 2 (–1) Cha 2 (–1)
Alignment unaligned     Languages
Glacial Shard

Level 6 Minion

Small natural beast (ooze, cold)

XP 63

HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion

AC 20; Fortitude 18; Reflex 19; Will 17

Speed 6

Initiative +6

Perception +3

Traits
Translucent
Glacial shards are small and easy to miss against ice and snow. If in such an environment, they have +2 to all defenses against ranged attacks originating more than 2 squares away, unless the attacker is not relying on normal vision.
Standard Actions
m Shard Slash (acid, cold) • At-Will
Attack: +11 vs. AC
Hit: 5 cold and acid damage.
M Embedding Shard (acid, cold) • Encounter
Attack: +11 vs. AC
Hit: 5 cold and acid damage, and the glacial shard is destroyed. The target takes 5 ongoing cold and acid damage (save ends). If this kills the target, it dissolves and becomes a glacial shard, which will attempt to flee the area.
Skills Stealth +11
Str 4 (+0) Dex 16 (+6) Wis 10 (+3)
Con 12 (+4) Int 1 (–2) Cha 10 (+3)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

I could add some more author’s notes here, but the fact is, I had this whole thing done EXCEPT for the shard minion, and that took me over two weeks to get around to doing (and only about an hour to do it, including fighting with Adventure Tools because it corrupted my saved monster file), and I don’t want to procrastinate any more.

Pyreflies

Pyreflies

More Earth Delta Critters

Slowly, painfully, Earth Delta inches towards the revised goal of being complete for levels 1-20, as I fill out the last of the level 16 monsters and plod on towards level 17! I will be honest — I’m not entirely happy with the Blightburn. It went through a whole lot of revisions and changes while sitting in the Monster Builder, and it still isn’t what I want it to be, even for a first pass. I’ve got a really clear mental image, but it’s hard to come up with the right mix of powers that are fun, playable, and fit the creature’s role. I mean, it doesn’t completely suck, or I wouldn’t be posting it at all, but I know it can be better.

One Of The Main Inspirations for Earth Delta

Part of it is the issue of role, one of the 4e hobgoblins of my little mind, in that I tend to think more in terms of “This is this, you know, thing, right, and it lives in this world, right, and so, it does this and this and the other, because, you know, that’s what this thing does.” The “role” it fills, if any, flows from its nature. 4e, however, inverts that: Nature flows from role. (It’s worth noting that the developers… including those who cheerleaded (cheerled?) “Role first!” in the run-up to 4e, have now done a perfect 180 for 5e, which I heartily applaud, but it would be nice if they explained how they came to recognize their sins and did a little Maoist self-criticism. Not going to happen, I know. Wait, where was I?) So I started with soldier, but the problem is that soldiers are best in groups, and while there are solo soldiers, most of what makes a soldier “soldier-y” is his ability to draw attacks and act as a defender, pointless in a solo. (“You’re marked, you get a -2 to attack anyone but him.” “You see anyone else on the battlefield?”) I then went with controller, but the power mix isn’t “gelling” properly. The easy out is brute — brutes are trivial to design as solos — but I have enough brutes and I wanted to get more variety. So, the Pyrefly Blightburn is still, pardon the pun, half-baked. The basic Pyrefly, I think, works well. I keep getting ideas to do a “Vampyrefly”, and the way in which Blight thematically damages healing surges certainly makes that plausible. The blightburn is halfway there, as it is, and maybe I need to shove it all the way there… or do the blightburn as an elite soldier, and the Vampyrefly as the solo controller, beginning fresh… hmmm…

Yes, I actually do just think and type what I’m thinking, word for word, literally.

In other news, I’ve also been working on my favorite on/off project, Stellar Warriors, which is back to being Pathfinder based. A little work on classes (mostly just changing flavor text) and weapons (two, two kinds of high-tech whips! Ah ha ha!), and, uhm, something else, don’t recall what. Bugger.

Anyway, the critters!


Pyreflies

Possibly related distantly to the thermite, pyreflies are man-size or larger insects commonly found in areas with high background radiation. They strongly resemble giant wasps, but their abdomen is grossly distended and glows with a brilliant, slightly sickening, energy. They can channel this energy into narrow beams, or trigger eruptions of brilliant light. When badly wounded, they respond by igniting the region around them, hoping to incinerate their attackers.

Pyrefly

Pyrefly

Level 17 Artillery

Medium natural mutant beast (insect)

XP 1,600

HP 126; Bloodied 63AC 29; Fortitude 28; Reflex 30; Will 29

Speed 4, fly 10

Resist 10 fire; Vulnerability 10 cold

Initiative +15

Perception +12

Traits
O Glow • Aura 5
The pyrefly’s aura is a region of bright light. It produces dim light in a further 5 squares, for a total illuminated area of 10 squares (5 bright, 5 dim).
O Brilliant Radiance • Aura 1
Any non-blind creature within the pyrefly’s aura is considered to be blind unless they have appropriate countermeasures, such as Resist (Radiant), sunglasses, and so on.
Standard Actions
R Tailbolt (radiant, fire) • At-Will
Attack: 20; +23 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 14 fire and radiant damage.
A Flare (fire, radiant) • Recharge 4 5 6
Attack: Area 3 (All creatures in blast); +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 9 fire and radiant damage, and targets are blinded (save ends).
m Tail Smash (fire) • At-Will
Attack: +22 vs. AC
Hit: 2d8 + 12 fire damage.
C Immolation Burst (fire, radiant) • Encounter must be bloodied
Attack: Close Burst 3 (All creatures in burst); +21 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d6 + 9 fire and radiant damage, and target is blinded (save ends) and takes ongoing 10 fire (save ends). In addition, the entire area of the attack becomes a zone which does 10 fire damage to any creature entering the zone or starting their turn there. This zone lasts until the end of the encounter.
Str 15 (+10) Dex 24 (+15) Wis 18 (+12)
Con 18 (+12) Int 2 (+4) Cha 21 (+13)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

This is a typical adult pyrefly. It will normally be encountered with others of its kind, or share a feeding area with creatures also comfortable in the radioactive zones. Pyreflies are primarily nectar-eaters, and have evolved to eat the highly radioactive nectar and saps of the plants that live in the same ruins they do; it is this mix of highly irradiated organic chemicals which give them their abilities. Creatures which are generally resistant to the pyrefly’s abilities often hunt or feed in the same areas, using the pyreflies as de facto bodyguards.

Common Mutations

Some pyreflies have wings which channel the same eerily glowing radioactive luminescence that fills their abdomen. When viewed through the crystalline exoskeleton that forms the wings themselves, the light takes on shimmering, rainbow hues which have a sort of psychic resonance with most organic life. Pyreflies will often use this ability when closely surrounded or threatened, giving them ample opportunity to retreat and blast their enemies, or just fly away unharmed.

 

C Hypnotic Wings (radiant, charm) • Encounter
Attack: Close Burst 5 (All non-blind enemies in area); +18 vs. Will
Hit: Creatures are Immobilized and Dazed (save ends both).

Pyrefly Blightburn

Pyrefly Blightburn

Level 16 Solo Controller

Huge natural mutant beast (blightspawn, insect)

XP 7,000

HP 628; Bloodied 314AC 30; Fortitude 29; Reflex 27; Will 28

Speed 6

Immune blight; Resist 10 fire; Vulnerability 10 cold

Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2

Initiative +10

Perception +12

Tremorsense 10

Traits
O Sickening Aura • Aura 3
Any non-blightspawn in the aura only regain half the normal hit points from any healing powers. In addition, this aura provides dim light.
Bleeding Blight
When the Pyrefly Blighburn is bloodied, it gains the Bleeding Blight power. See below.
Standard Actions
m Bite (blight, fire) • At-Will
Attack: Reach 2; +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 11 blight and fire damage, and ongoing 10 blight and fire damage (save ends).
m Tail Slap (blight, fire) • At-Will
Attack: +21 vs. AC
Hit: 4d6 + 5 blight and fire damage, and the target is knocked prone.
M Pyrelash • At-Will
Effect: The pyrefly blightburn may make up to 3 melee basic attacks against any targets in range, dividing the attacks among legal targets as desired. If all 3 attacks miss, Blighted Burst immediately recharges.
C Blighted Burst (blight, fire) • Recharge
Attack: Close Burst 5 (All creatures in burst); +19 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 3d6 + 8 blight and fire damage, and ongoing 10 blight damage and weakened (save ends both).
Miss: Half damage, and creatures hits are weakened (save ends).
Minor Actions
Stunted Flight • At-Will
Effect: The Pyrefly Blightburn gains a Fly speed of 10 until the end of its next turn.
A Burning Blightspit (blight, fire, zone) • Recharge 4 5 6
Effect: Area Burst 1; This creates a zone of blighted, burning, terrain. Any creature entering the area, or starting their turn there, takes 10 blight and fire damage. Any creature which ends their turn there loses a healing surge. The zone lasts until the end of the encounter or until the pyrefly blightburn creates a different zone.
Blightfeeding (healing) • At-Will
Effect: (Any creature within 2 squares of the Pyrefly Blightburn that is taking ongoing blight damage.); The target creature stops taking damage, and the Pyrefly Blightburn heals 10 hit points.
Triggered Actions
Bleeding Blight (blight, fire) • At-Will
Trigger: The Pyrefly Blightburn takes damage from a melee attack.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): +19 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d6 + 4 blight and fire damage. .
Str 24 (+15) Dex 15 (+10) Wis 18 (+12)
Con 21 (+13) Int 2 (+4) Cha 21 (+13)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Pyrefly Blightburns are bloated, hideous creatures, resembling their smaller kin in general outline only. Normally landbound, with shriveled wings, they have a charred black-and-grey exoskeleton and sunken, hollow, pits for eyes. Their abdomen continues to throb with a strange, swirling, miasmic glow, and beneath their ashen flesh, there are occasional sparks of actinic energy. They exist without much purpose, wandering the blight-infused ruins, leaving radioactive fire and crumbling, dead, ground in their wake. When they sense life that is untainted by the blight, they attack with a mindless fury.

Boarcupines

Boarcupines

You Should Be Used To Names Like That By Now

Wow, 20 days or so since I last posted? Well, I’ve been replying to comments, I updated Grammar For Gamers, and I’ve been active on some of the 5e boards over at WOTC, telling them what they’re doing wrong. Also, exercising, which has started to take an hour a day away from important things like writing blog entries while eating an entire bag of bacon-wrapped Cheetos.

Anyway, this is a creature which has been in the back of my mind for a while, but I was, surprisingly, stuck on the name… I kept thinking “Porcuboar”, which is obviously not acceptable, and it both astounds and depresses me how long it took for the bleedingly obvious “boarcupine” to emerge.

While the kangaruins are intended to be straightforward creatures, the boarcupine is more complex, as it changes its fighting style and general function when it’s bloodied, going from a quill-tossing piece of artillery to a vicious brute.

The usual caveat: Fresh off the keyboard, not a lot of editing, yadda yadda yadda.

Boarcupine

Boarcupine (Artillery/Brute)

Level 16 Elite Artillery/Brute

Large natural beast (mammal)

XP 2,800

HP 252; Bloodied 126

AC 28; Fortitude 29; Reflex 28; Will 27

Speed 6

Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Initiative +13

Perception +10, low-light vision

Traits
O Prickly Defense • Aura 1
Any creature entering the aura, or starting its turn there, takes 2d6+4 damage. If doubles are rolled on this damage, the creature also takes 5 ongoing damage, save ends. If the first save fails and the target is in the aura, increase to 10 ongoing damage.
Raging Boar
When the Boarcupine is bloodied, it gains 64 temporary hit points, and its AC and Reflex defenses drop by 2. It also changes its abilities in ways noted in each affected power. Once it has been bloodied, it becomes Berserk. It does not lose this condition until the end of the encounter, even if it is healed back above Bloodied.
Standard Actions
m Gore • At-Will
Attack: Reach 2; +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d10 + 8 damage. If the Boarcupine is Berserk, the damage increases to 4d10+10.
a Quill Toss • At-Will
Requirements: The Boarcupine must not be Berserk.
Attack: Area Burst 2 within 15 (All creatures in burst.); +20 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d6 + 4 damage, and creature is slowed (save ends). If hit again by this power when still slowed, the condition becomes immobilized (save ends). .
M Trample • At-Will
Requirements: Must be Berserk.
Attack: +21 vs. AC; +2 bonus to attack rolls and +6 bonus to damage against prone targets.
Hit: 2d12 + 10 damage, and target is knocked prone. .
All Out Attack • At-Will
Requirements: Must not be Berserk.
Effect: The Boarcupine makes a Gore attack and a Quill Toss attack. The Quill Toss does not provoke an OA from any creature targeted by the Gore.
C Quill Burst • Recharge 4 5 6; recharge 6 if Berserk
Attack: Close Burst 3 (All creatures in burst); +21 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d6 + 4 damage, and creature is blinded until the start of the boarcupine’s next turn.
M Tramplegore • At-Will
Requirements: Must be Berserk.
Effect: The boarcupine makes a trample and gore attack, against the same or different targets. If both attacks hit, it may shift half its speed.
Triggered Actions
Bloodied Burst • Encounter
Trigger: The boarcupine is bloodied for the first time in an encounter.
Effect (Immediate Reaction): Quill Burst immediately recharges, and the boarcupine uses it. In addition, the boarcupine become Berserk.
Skills Endurance +20, Intimidate +15
Str 24 (+15) Dex 21 (+13) Wis 15 (+10)
Con 24 (+15) Int 2 (+4) Cha 15 (+10)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Boarcupines are massive creatures, usually 8-10 feet high at the shoulder. Their general form is that of a greatly enlarged boar, except that they are covered with a dense tangle of jagged quills, and usually have 2-6 tusks that jut in every direction.

Boarcupines are almost never seen with their own kind, except during mating season, when they will gather in the dense, temperate forests that are their homes and engage in violent battles in order to win attention from the females. After mating, the females will leave and raise their offspring away from the violent and territorial males; boarcupines are weaned within 6 months. Some groups of bloodgers will stalk pregnant females and try to capture the young within a week or two of birth; this is the only way to even partially domesticate them.

There are a number of herb and fungus mixes which can mimic particular scents which the boarcupine responds to, such as a female in heat or a male marking its territority. Races which dwell in the forests often use these to control or guide boarcupines, so they may be encountered as guards. Sometimes, female boarcupines are teamed with other creatures, sapient or otherwise, that have been scent-masked to seem to be her young.

Boarcupine Mounts: Bloodgers, and members of the Beast Legion and the Annihilation Army, sometimes manage to make mounts out of these beasts. Such creatures gain the “Mount” keyword, and the following powers:

Difficult Mount
When the boarcupine is Berserk, any rider must make an Easy Athletics or Nature check, with the DC based on the boarcupine’s level, to remain mounted. This check is a free action made at the start of the rider’s turn.

 

Painful Spur • Encounter
Requirements: Must be mounted by a rider of 16th level or higher.
Effect: As a Standard Action, the rider forces the boarcupine to perform a Quill Burst attack, even if the power has not recharged. After this, the power cannot recharge (even by Bloodied Burst) until the boarcupine has had a short rest.

(Generally, it’s best for riders to save Painful Spur until the boarcupine has been bloodied; otherwise, they lose the bonus recharge from Bloodied Burst, and, besides, Recharge 6 might as well be recharge never when you’re past bloodied — the fight will most likely only go another 2-3 rounds.)

Kangaruins

Kangaruin

As a creative type, I am often asked “Where do you get your ideas?” (Well, by ‘often’, I mean, ‘Often when I’m in a generic interview being read the same questions they ask everyone who fills out the form’.) I am even more often asked “Man, do you know how bad your stuff sucks?”, but that’s another issue. Anyway, to answer the first question (the answer to the second question is, by the way, ‘All too well.’), just about darn near everywhere, and surprisingly, not from really good drugs, which I suspect would be most people’s guess. Where was I? Oh yes. Ideas.

A week or two ago, I was watching a documentary on the problem of kangaroos invading Australia’s suburbs. Yes, I know that sounds like a Sci-Fi (sorry, ‘SyFy’) channel “original movie”, or the leadup to some sort of joke, but it’s actually a fairly major issue, as you have multi-hundred pound kangaroos roaming people’s backyards, standing in front of cars like a deer… erm… a kangaroo caught in the headlights, etc. On a few occasions, they’ve even broken into people’s homes, and one such news story got media attention and headlines referred to “ninja kangaroos”. My mind immediately got to work, and produced these critters for Earth Delta, which are not in any way ninja kangaroos. (I do intend to create some more rules for Kangaroid PCs, though… how did I leave those out, anyway? Then you could be a ninja kangaroo, except you’d need to use the monk rules, or the rogue, or something.)

From a design perspective, I wanted to keep these basic — even at higher levels, you need bread-and-butter monsters who just do a few simple things. I also had to embody the most iconic aspect of kangaroos, which is, of course, hoppity hopping all over the place. The two breeds, the kicker and the leaper, are slight variants on each other, power-wise, and their various “knock prone” abilities synergize well. This is deliberate; kangaroo collectives are called “mobs”, and so these creatures are designed to be used in groups, so that as soon as one has knocked an enemy prone, the others can move in and attack, taking advantage of their extra damage.

The “common mutations” section was inspired in two different ways. First, I knew I wanted some kind of “freaky-ass tail” variant; my original idea was to add a thagomizer, but I decided a sting worked better (no reason a DM can’t change that, of course — Earth Delta is all about the mix-and-match). The other was based on some cool fossils of extinct, carnivorous, kangaroos. The mechanic is designed to reflect the idea of coarse, irregular, teeth ripping open gaping, bleeding, wounds, and the restriction for “bloodied targets only” is really more fluff than anything else, but it’s always nice to have a couple of surprises to pull out, to have monster abilities change, even a little, as the fight progresses.

Oh, yeah, the usual disclaimers apply — this is all “fresh off the manuscript”, barely edited, never mind playtested, yadda yadda yadda.


Kangaroos

Kangaroos are group-oriented herbivores that have proven themselves to be quite effective survivors as suburban sprawl engulfed them. After the Cataclysm, they had to adapt to deal with all manner of new and changed predators. They’ve mutated less than many creatures, but have still become much more powerful and dangerous than they once were.

The most common type of mutant kangaroo is known, simply, as the kangaruin. There are several variants and subspecies, and a typical mob will hold individuals of several types, all of which can interbreed freely. Kangaruins strongly resemble slightly larger, slightly rougher and more scraggly versions of their ancestors, with one interesting exception — their arms have shriveled to near-useless stubs.

Kangaruin Leaper

Kangaruin Leaper

Level 16 Skirmisher

Medium natural beast

XP 1,400

HP 154; Bloodied 77

AC 29; Fortitude 28; Reflex 30; Will 27

Speed 6, Jump 6

Initiative +17

Perception +12

Low-Light Vision

Traits
Jumper
Kangaruins can clear obstacles up to 3 squares high as part of their move action if they jump.
Hop On Top
The kangaruin leaper does +2d6 damage against prone targets.
Tie Me Kangaroo Down
The kangaruin leaper has a +2 bonus on saves to end any immobilized, slowed, or restrained condition.
Standard Actions
m Kickback • At-Will
Attack: +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 11 damage, and the kangaruin leaper can choose to either shift 2 squares away from the target, or knock the target prone.
Bouncing Kick • Encounter
Attack: +21 vs. AC; As part of this action, the kangaruin leaper may jump, perform the attack, and jump again, so long as the total distance jumped does not exceed its speed. (So jump 2 squares, kick, jump 4 squares, for example.) The kangaruin does not provoke opportunity attacks from the target of the kick, whether it hits or now.
Hit: 3d8 + 11.
Triggered Actions
Out Of The Way • Recharge 5 6
Trigger: An enemy charges the kangaruin leaper and makes a melee attack. This power triggers after the attack roll is made.
Effect (Immediate Interrupt): The kangaruin gains +4 to all defenses against the source of the triggering attack. If the attack misses, the kangaruin and the attacker swap places, and the attacker falls prone.
Skills Athletics +18
Str 20 (+13) Dex 24 (+15) Wis 18 (+12)
Con 18 (+12) Int 2 (+4) Cha 15 (+10)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

The leaper’s mutations include dozens of small changes to muscle fiber, bone structure, and neural speed, making it fantastically agile and responsive, easily battering down enemies and then kicking them to bloody pulp.

Kangaruin Kicker

Kangaruin Kicker

Level 16 Brute

Medium natural beast

XP 1,400

HP 194; Bloodied 97

AC 28; Fortitude 30; Reflex 27; Will 27

Speed 6, Lump 4

Initiative +12

Perception +10

Low-Light Vision

Traits
Hop On Top
The kangaruin does +2d6 damage against prone targets.
Tie Me Kangaroo Down
The kangaruin kicker has a +4 bonus to Athletics checks to escape being grappled, and a +2 bonus on saves to end any immobilized, slowed, or restrained condition.
Standard Actions
m Hard Kick • At-Will
Attack: +21 vs. AC
Hit: 4d8 + 14 damage, and the target is knocked prone.
c Tail Swipe • Encounter
Attack: Close Burst 3 (All enemies in burst); +19 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d10 + 10 damage, and the targets are knocked prone.
Triggered Actions
M Frantic Attack • At-Will
Trigger: The kangaruin kicker is bloodied.
Effect (Immediate Reaction): The kangaruin kicker makes a hard kick attack at all adjacent enemies, at a -2 to hit, but +5 to damage. .
Skills Athletics +18
Str 21 (+13) Dex 18 (+12) Wis 15 (+10)
Con 24 (+15) Int 2 (+4) Cha 15 (+10)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Kickers are larger, tougher, and slightly slower members of kangaruin packs. They are even more difficult to restrain than their leaper cousins, and somewhat prone to panic if seriously injured. Typically, a kicker will start attacking an enemy, then, once it’s been battered to the ground, leapers will… erm… leap in, and finish it off.

Common Mutations

M Scorpion Sting (poison) • Encounter
Attack: +19 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 6d6 + 3 poison damage, and the target is slowed (save ends).
First Failed Saving Throw: Target falls prone (save ends).

The kangaruin’s tail ends with a large stinger, capable of injecting a poison that causes dizziness in addition to searing pain.

m I Ate A Dingoes Baby • At-Will
Requirements: Bloodied creatures only.
Attack: +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 5 and ongoing 5 damage (save ends). If injured again by this power before saving, the ongoing damage increases to 10.

The kangaruin has developed sharp, jagged, nasty teeth. It will not use them in combat against an enemy unless that enemy is badly injured, then a bloodlust overwhelms it and it attacks. It likes to bite at the same place again and again, tearing the wound open.

Wastespawn — Oilslick

That is not dead which can eternal lie…

Like I keep saying, Earth Delta is not dead, just pining for the fjords… the fjords filled with deadly killer mutant pine trees that fire explosive laser pinecones!!!! Hmmm… explosive pinecones… I like that… anyway, here’s the first Level 16 monster for Earth Delta, the Oilslick Wastespawn!

(In case anyone’s wondering, and I know you’re not, one of the distractions I’ve been dealing with has been my oft-mentioned but rarely-detailed Stellar Warriors. I should post about that…)


 

Wastespawn 

The wretched ruins of the Ancestor’s excess have left behind vast regions tainted with terrible toxins, not to mention awful alliteration. Various systems, including nanobots and genetically engineered bacteria, were usually dispatched to clean up and process such areas, but, during the time leading up to the Cataclysm, wars were fought by sabotaging and reprogramming such things, trying to turn the cleaners into killers. The mix of confused programming and reprogramming, and the passage of time, caused the ecosystems of cleaning bots, waste-eating bacteria, and offensive counter-programs to use the raw material of the wastes to form ever more complex beings, fast-forward evolution using the tools at hand. These creatures are now called wastespawn, and they live wherever the Ancestor’s offal is densely concentrated. They generally possess only fragments of intelligence, pseudo-minds composed of badly mangled bits of semi-aware code, but they are motivated by a strong hatred of an unknown enemy, which they assume to be any creature which enters their realm.

Some groups, especially rubblers and ratmen, have found ways to tame or herd wastespawn. The Annihiliation Army is known to sometimes capture them, contain them, and unleash them on strongholds as terror weapons ahead of their own invasions.

Wastespawn, Oilslick

Wastespawn, Oilslick

Level 16 Lurker

Medium elemental animate (ooze)

XP 1,400

HP 105; Bloodied 53AC 30; Fortitude 28; Reflex 29; Will 27Speed 5

Immune poison, disease; Resist 10 acid

Initiative +20

Perception +15

All-Around Vision, Tremorsense 50

Traits
Flammable
If the Oilslick takes more than 10 points of fire damage in a single attack, it ignites, gaining the “Burning” condition (save ends). This causes its slam attack to do an additional 1d10 fire damage, and gives it an Aura 2 that has “Any creature starting its turn in this aura takes 2d6+5 fire damage”. The Oilslick takes 2d6+5 fire damage on the start of its turn, as well.
Incorporeal
The oilslick takes full damage from fire and cold attacks.
Standard Actions
m Slam • At-Will
Attack: +21 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 11 damage, and the target is covered with oil (save ends). Oil covered targets gain a +2 to all defenses against being grabbed, but all forced movement effects against them increase by 1 square, and all terrain is difficult terrain for them (as they tend to slip and slide a lot). Flying creatures are grounded. If the oilslick is burning, the target also has ongoing 5 fire damage (the same save ends this condition as well).
Slick Slam • At-Will
Requirements: Must be in Flowing Slick form.
Effect: The oilslick makes two slam attacks. These can target any creature adjacent to it, or standing on its body. It can attack the same creature twice, or two separate creatures.
Move Actions
Flowing Slick • Encounter
Effect: The oilslick spreads out to become a thin carpet of oil, 5 squares on a side. In this form, it ignores difficult terrain, and it can squeeze through any space of up to 1 square wide. Enemies can move through its spaces, though it can make a slam attack as an opportunity action against any creature who moves more than one square through its body. It costs 3 squares of movement to cross each square (flying creatures may move normally). It can return to normal form as a minor action. When it changes to this form, it can pass under any enemies occupying the spaces it will now occupy, and performs a slam attack against each enemy so engulfed, at a +2 bonus. Its AC and Reflex defenses are reduced by 2 when it is in this form.
Return To The Pool • Recharge 5 6
Effect: The oilslick flows into the pool of industrial waste which spawned it. In this form, it is considered to be hidden, gains resist 10 (all but fire), and regenerates 10 points/turn. It can end this state as a minor action. It can move at full speed while hidden in this way. It can take no actions except to move or return to its normal state.
Skills Stealth +21
Str 21 (+13) Dex 27 (+16) Wis 15 (+10)
Con 21 (+13) Int 3 (+4) Cha 15 (+10)
Alignment evil     Languages

Oilslick wastespawn are barely more than animals, possessing only rudimentary self-awareness. They dwell deep in pools and seas of industrial wastes, primarily, of course, oil, which still had many uses in manufacturing and industry, even though, by the time of the Ancestors, it had lost much of its utility as a primary power source. (There were also many stockpiles of it, sometimes locked away for centuries, against some future shortage.) Oilslick wastespawn are basically symbiotic colonies that combine thick, contaminated, oil and highly-mutated oil-eating bacteria, which now function to convert other substances into oil. The oilslick will arise from the pool as a vaguely tentacle-shaped wave or whip of oil, and moves on its own by flowing forward and then drawing itself up. If it senses that its enemies are using any kind of fire or heat weapons, including lasers, a primitive and malicious instinct will cause it to not use its flowing slick power until it is ablaze, and then it will engulf its foes in its burning mass.


 Design Notes

As with most great things, this started with something I saw in a Jack Kirby comic,

What I Stole This From Was Inspired By

but by the time it hit the page, it had very little to do with the inspiration beyond the idea of “oil slick as monster”. Because I’m a lazy-ass bastard, and I’d rather beat one semi-original idea to death than actually come up with more than one idea at a time, I realized that while an oil slick monster was cool, coming up with a whole bunch of monsters based on “animated waste and junk” was even cooler, and by “even cooler”, I mean, “would require very little mental effort to find viable concepts to fill a variety of roles”. So there will probably be more wastespawn in the future.

This one has lower hit points than average, because it’s such a bitch to hurt, and, if you attack it in its native environment, it has a very powerful “retreat and rest” mechanic. Lurkers are supposed to be frustrating as hell and require some thinking to beat. Setting it on fire is a wonderfully double edged laser sword, because while it takes some damage, it also becomes much deadlier, especially if it’s saved up its encounter power for just such a contingency. The ongoing damage from the flames is low because of the other effects the basic slam attack already imposes; without them, the ongoing damage would be 10. The increased forced movement effect isn’t especially useful to the oilslick itself, since it has no powers that do that, but pair it with a controller or a brute/soldier type that relies on push effects, and you’ve got a good game of PC pinball going. I like that it’s an interesting synergy mechanic and a logical effect of what the creature is and what it does. Likewise, the notations on how its powers affect flying creatures are there because I dislike that 4e either encourages you to ignore all logic and apply the rules as written, or makes the assumption the DM will issue rules calls as needed. I’d rather empower the DM by telling him up-front what the game-effect power is modeling (an oil slick) and give him some advice on the most common type of conflict or question which will arise, namely, “Why can’t I fly over it?” The answers, as you see, are “If you’re flying and covered with oil, it goops you up and you fall, but, if you’re flying over an oil slick on the ground, no, it’s not difficult terrain for you.” (Difficult Terrain is a perfect example of “90% is not enough” when it comes to rules. By this I mean, it’s obvious that the 4e designers looked at 3.5s myriad of terrain types and conditions and said, “Look. 90% of the time, all we want is ‘This terrain slows you down’, and it doesn’t matter if it’s slick ice or brambles or deep sand or a high wind.” The problem is that for all of those, there’s different possible countermeasures — can a fire spell melt the ice, or a fire elemental ignore it? A nimble elf can shift on brambles, but what could does being nimble do against a powerful headwind or heavy gravity or a ‘zone of slowness’? The DM is constantly forced to either apply the rules as written, even if they make no sense, or get into pointless arguments over whether or not the rules apply, because the effects-based design of 4e offers little guidance when it comes to interpreting the source of the effect, and this, in turn, causes loss of immersion. This, in turn, is also why I pointed out some of the uses of sand or other “gritty” material, because it’s the sort of thing clever players will want to try, and should be able to, without the DM having to be forced to choose between something like “Uhm, OK, the handful of sand completely blots up the man-sized living oil slick” or “No, there’s no effect, why should sand hurt it?” With the provided guidelines, the DM ought to be able to cover most common variations and have an expected “baseline effectiveness” to work from.

Gameworld wise, I like the idea of a “wolfpack” of these things arising out of a small “sea” of oil at the bottom of a ruined factory, or of a Stronghold using one or two as “moat monsters”. The “overuse” of “quotes” in my “writing” can be strongly attributed to the aforementioned Mr. Kirby.

Snakes… Why’d It Have To Be Snakes…

…because snakes are cool, that’s why! Duh! Only sharks are cooler… hm…. snakeshark! Oh, yeah, that’s going in there…

Anyway, here’s a bit more of work-in-progress for Earth Delta, namely, snakevines! I like concepts that lend themselves to easy expansion, mostly because I’m intellectually lazy, and if I get one quasi-good idea (possibly even a para-good idea, and if you get that joke, damn, you’re an old-school gamer), I will not just run with it, I will do a god-damn marathon with it. So, when I got the idea of sort of snake/plant hybrids, it occurred to me I could do all sorts of snakes and fill a lot of different niches, so a quick look at my spreadsheet of monsters showed me I still needed brutes and artillery for level 15… and that’s what you’re getting.

Wait, you ask, level 15 of what? No, you’re not asking that, since this site isn’t exactly teeming with random casual browsers, but, just in case… this is for Earth Delta, Lizard’s version of post apocalyptic mutant adventuring designed for the Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition rules, a lot like WOTC’s own Gamma World, except, a)mine doesn’t have collectible cards, and, b)rather ironically, mine is more compatible with core 4e than theirs. Go figure.

Continue reading

Stinging Orca

Well, I’m leaving for GenCon in a bit, which means either I won’t be posting anything or I’ll be posting a lot — how’s that for boolean? I’ll be using my laptop, which has become frustratingly sluggish, and I’m not sure my passwords are up to date on it, and, anyway, if I’m lucky, I won’t have time, since if we’re away from home my wife doesn’t need to worry about how much noise she’s making I’ll be too busy gaming.

So, in yet another desperate attempt to pretend this is an ongoing concern and not another “cobweb site”, here’s more stuff from the yes-I’m-still-working-on-it Earth Delta, namely, killer whales. With legs. And tentacles. You know, the normal stuff.

Landwhale, Stinging Orca

Landwhale, Stinging Orca

Level 16 Brute

Huge natural mutant beast (mutant, mammal)

XP 1,400

HP 191; Bloodied 96

AC 28; Fortitude 29; Reflex 27; Will 26

Speed 7, swim 8

Resist 5 weapon; Resist 10 against blunt weapons; Resist 10 cold; Vulnerability 10 fire

Initiative +13

Perception +17

Low-Light Vision

Traits
Six-Legged
It is hard to knock a stinging orca prone. Whenever an effect would knock it prone (including a successful save to avoid being moved into dangerous terrain), it may roll a save to remain standing. If any power or effect allows it to “save or fall prone”, it may roll twice and take the higher result.
Squat Legs
The Stinging Orca cannot jump.
Standard Actions
m Bite • At-Will
Attack: Reach 1; +21 vs. AC; +2 bonus to attack rolls against prone or immobilized targets.
Hit: 3d10 + 10 damage.
M Paralytic Tentacles • Recharge 3 4 5 6
Attack: Reach 3 (One or two creatures in reach); +20 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d8 + 9 damage, and target is immobilized (save ends). .
Move Actions
Trample • Encounter
Attack: +18 vs. Fortitude; The stinging orca moves its speed; it may move through squares occupied by medium or smaller creatures, doing damage as detailed below. It may use this power in place of a charge, as a standard action, if desired. (It will then bite at the end of the charge, as expected.)
Hit: 2d12 + 10 and target is knocked prone.
Miss: Half damage and push target one square.
Triggered Actions
C Tail Swipe • Encounter
Trigger: The stinging orca is bloodied.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): Close Burst 1 (All enemies in burst.); +19 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d8 + 7 damage, and push target 1d4 squares. .
Skills Athletics +18
Str 21 (+13) Dex 21 (+13) Wis 19 (+12)
Con 21 (+13) Int 6 (+6) Cha 18 (+12)
Alignment unaligned     Languages Common, Growl

Stinging orcas are found mostly in sub-arctic climates, where winters are long and there are many herd animals to hunt. Extreme hunger might drive some pods to attack communities, which can be extremely dangerous; an angry pod of full-grown “black stingers”, as they’re sometimes called, can quite literally flatten a poorly-walled stronghold in minutes.

Stinging orcas have the basic body design of their aquatic ancestors, but they run on six strong, stubby, legs, and two long, ever-whipping tendrils emerge from their backs, just behind the shoulders. These tendrils exude a paralytic venom which leaves their prey helpless and easily devoured.

While less intelligent than humans, stinging orcas are still sapient and they will fight with cunning. A common tactic is for one to bowl over enemies and let his fellows move in on the downed targets while he goes after the object of his charge. They are cooperative hunters and will use their tendrils on each other’s chosen prey, and they will show no mercy when it comes to protecting the young of the pod.

Despite their ferocity and relatively low intellects, it is often possible to deal peaceably with the orcas, especially if there are offers of freshly killed meat. They are a gregarious and communicative lot, though, so news of untrustworthy dealings will spread across thousands of miles with remarkable speed.

Stinging orca blubber can be rendered down into oil by use of the Skin and Gut technique; this yields oil worth 9000 gp per whale, in 10 medium units. (See the treasure section in the Core Rules). Obviously, barrels or other containers are needed to haul it back. Rendering a stinging whale in this way makes it impossible to gather ingredients for consumables using the same technique; it’s one or the other.

Design Notes

A fairly standard baseline creature, with a minor twist, namely, the displacer beast style tentacles. I’m playing around with Traits more; a lot of the detail for creatures that 3.5 handled by subtypes or feat choices can be lost in 4e, if you don’t make the effort to put it back, and I’m starting to make that effort (I may go back and spruce up older creatures when I’m done with paragon tier, as that will be a good way to also fix typos, correct inconsistencies, and so on.)

Rereading the critter now, it occurs me this would make a great mount; I will need to write up a version of that. Perhaps it will be ridden by squid-people or shark-men or something.

 

Prairie Lobsters

Prairie Lobsters

Since semi-regular updates of this site are generally considered a sign of the apocalypse, it is only fitting that I continue with more snippets from my apocalyptic RPG, Earth Delta, which is intended for use with Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition, and damn straight that awkward phrasing is there mostly to get google to be aware this site sort of exists.

Since a major chunk of “completing paragon tier” is “finishing the monster list”, that’s where I’ve been putting a lot of my attention. I’d been contemplating some sort of mutant lobster for a while, and then, suddenly, the phrase “prairie lobster” popped into my head, and I rolled with it.

Some design notes: Mostly, these are intended as “baseline” critters — the kind of bog-standard things you need at various levels to fill niches. Exotically powered and specialized monsters are way cool, but if everything is an insane pile of custom one-off mechanics, the game becomes unplayable. At the same time, I want to try to make them feel right for their nature and not be trivial reskins of any other creature. So the prairie lobster doesn’t mark, per se; it grabs you, and if you stop struggling against it for an instant (to attack something else), it gives you a little extra pinch. Its ability to grab and hold two targets, coupled with its size and reach, lets it do a lot to make enemies choose to take it down first.

The riding lobster was actually where my mind first started; I just had this image of a cowboy type, rolling a cigarette as the sun set in the west, while his armored and clawed mount plodded along. The yunguns are there because you can always use some more minions, and I like “ecologies”, where different creatures in the same category can have roles that make a kind of sense, even if what we’re discussing is horse-sized lobsters that have decided to live like buffalo. It’s not how ridiculous your premise is that matters; it’s how you play out the consequences. I also like the image of swarms of lobsters, about the size of large dogs, bounding playfully around the prairies, tearing random passers-by to pieces with their claws.

You will note I resisted the urge to give them Vulnerability 10 butter.

(As with a lot of this “Preview” stuff, this is hot off the presses, literally created only a few minutes before posting, and may be even more typo-riddled and unbalanced than my usual stuff, to the extent that’s even possible.)

It’s my hope that I’ll post a PDF addendum to this article, that will have the critters more properly formatted; for now, you’ll need to make do with what WordPress does to Word.


 

Lobsters

Lobsters are tough and ill-tempered critters, while also being notably delicious. Their giant fighting claws make them naturally threatening, especially when increased dramatically in size and given the ability to confront man more directly, whether in the ruined cities that line the coastal regions, or wandering the great plains… hey, man, this game has flying grizzly bears with laser eyes. You can deal with prairie lobsters.

Prairie Lobsters

Much like the hoppertank, prairie lobsters are oversized arthropods who have undergone dramatic transformations in lifestyle. They are found in many of the fertile grassy plains of the world, especially the Purple Plains and the Ghostgrass Expanses. They are primarily omnivorous grazers, devouring many types of grass and the insects and other creatures that live on them, but they can and will eat larger prey if they catch it. They are especially good at rooting out smaller burrowing animals, and if a herd moves into cultivated land, it can be devastating if they are not driven off. They compete with hoppertanks for many of the same feeding grounds, and if the hoppertanks’ greater mobility fails them, they will be torn apart and devoured with gusto.

Some prairie lobsters have been captured young and trained as mounts; see “Mounts”.

Prairie Lobster Adult

Prairie Lobster Adult

Level 15 Soldier

Large natural beast (mutant, arthropod)

XP 1,200

HP 148; Bloodied 74AC 32; Fortitude 28; Reflex 27; Will 24Speed 5Resist 10 cold

Initiative +12

Perception +10

Low-Light Vision

Standard Actions
m Pincers • At-Will
Requirements: Must have less than two targets grabbed.
Attack: Reach 2; +20 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 7 damage.
Grabbing Pincers • At-Will
Requirements: Must have less than 2 targets grabbed.
Attack: Reach 2; +20 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 7 damage, and target is grabbed until escape or until the lobster lets them go. The prairie lobster can grab up to two targets. While grabbed, if the target makes an attack that does not include the prairie lobster, it takes 10 points of damage as an immediate interrupt.
M Squeeze • At-Will
Attack: (Make a separate attack against each grabbed target.); +19 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d8 + 7 damage, and ongoing 5 damage (save ends). If the target is already taking ongoing damage from this attack, it increases to ongoing 10 damage (save ends).
Triggered Actions
M Fury of Clacks • Encounter
Trigger: When first bloodied.
Effect (Immediate Reaction): The prairie lobster adult makes a pincer attack against all non-prairie lobsters in range (Reach 2). It will drop anyone it has grabbed prior to doing so as part of this action.
Skills Endurance +17
Str 26 (+15) Dex 17 (+10) Wis 17 (+10)
Con 20 (+12) Int 1 (+2) Cha 14 (+9)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Adult prairie lobsters (it is nigh-impossible for anyone who isn’t an expert to tell male from female, and no one cares too much) travel the plains in herds of ten to twenty, usually surrounded by a small cloud of leaping, clattering “yunguns” whom they will try to protect from predators. Prairie lobsters are quite aggressive towards all other species, and will snap and make threatening displays at any creature that gets too close; if this does not work, a few of them will dash forward from the herd to dispatch the enemy. When badly injured, they tend to go mad, lashing out at everything in sight that isn’t a prairie lobster.

Prairie Lobster Yungun

Prairie Lobster Yunguns

Level 14 Minion Skirmisher

Small natural beast (mutant, arthropod)

XP 250

HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minionAC 31; Fortitude 26; Reflex 31; Will 22Speed 8

Initiative +17

Perception +9

Low-Light Vision

Traits
Group Attack
If a yungun has damaged the target this round, the pincer attack does +2 damage.
Standard Actions
m Pincers • At-Will
Attack: +19 vs. AC
Hit: 9 damage and see “Group Attack”.
Free Actions
Skittersnap • Encounter
Effect: The prairie lobster yungun may shift 2 squares after making a pincer attack.
Skills Acrobatics +20
Str 17 (+10) Dex 26 (+15) Wis 14 (+9)
Con 20 (+12) Int 1 (+2) Cha 14 (+9)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Yunguns (no one is quite sure of the derivation of the word; some scholars feel it comes from the language of the Eastern Dragons, who, it is said, had great influence on the Merkan lands) are immature prairie lobsters, and usually travel with the herds, protected by their elders. Active, curious, and playful, they often explore in small groups, bounding and leaping across the amethyst waves of grain that cover much of the Central Merkan Plains. Their shells are remarkably hard, and an unwary traveler who finds himself surrounded may be torn to bloody gobbets by their claws. They are also extremely tasty when grilled over a fire, so everyone from wastelanders to armies of the Beast Legions on the march eagerly hunt them if they have wandered too far from their protective pack.

Riding Lobster

Riding Lobster

Level 14 Soldier

Large natural beast (mutant, arthropod, mount)

XP 1,000

HP 140; Bloodied 70AC 30; Fortitude 26; Reflex 26; Will 23Speed 7Resist  cold

Initiative +12

Perception +10

Low-Light Vision

Traits
Scary Mount
When mounted by a trained rider of 14th level or higher, the riding lobster grants a +2 to Intimidate checks made by that rider.
Standard Actions
m Pincers • At-Will
Attack: Reach 2; +19 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 6 damage.
Hold ‘em, Boy! (mount) • At-Will
Requirements: Must not be grabbing a creature.
Attack: Reach 2; +19 vs. AC
Hit: 3d8 + 7 damage, and target is grabbed until escape or until the lobster lets them go. The grabbed target grants combat advantage to a rider of 14th level or higher mounted on the Riding Lobster.
M Squeeze • At-Will
Attack: (One grabbed target.); +17 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d8 + 6 damage, and ongoing 5 damage (save ends). If the target is already taking ongoing damage from this attack, it increases to ongoing 10 damage (save ends).
Skills Endurance +17
Str 26 (+15) Dex 17 (+10) Wis 17 (+10)
Con 20 (+12) Int 2 (+3) Cha 14 (+9)
Alignment unaligned     Languages

Riding lobsters are prairie lobsters trained from hatching to serve as mounts. They are fed a special diet that makes them slightly smaller and much faster than their kin, at the cost of shrinking one of their claws to virtual uselessness. While most range in color from dark green to olive green, a few scholars have found that feeding selected plants to them while young can change this coloration, producing brightly colored individuals who can be very distinctive. Some bloodger knights are known to have them bred in colors matching their personal heraldry, as have some Beast Legion commanders.

Riding lobsters almost never have additional mutations.

Common Mutations

Hypnotic Shell: Some prairie lobster adults have shells which ripple in coruscating colors. This unusual effect increases in speed and intensity when the prairie lobster is in combat, and it can be hard to look away. So… pretty…. It gains the following attack.

Minor Actions
C Hypnotic Shell (charm) • Recharge 6
Attack: (All non-prairie lobsters in burst.); +4 vs. Will
Hit: Target grants combat advantage to all enemies (save ends). While this condition persists, the prairie lobster can slide one affected target one square as a free action on the start of its turn. .

Venomclaw: A few prairie lobsters have evolved poison sacks in their claws. When they squeeze a target, they also inject a poison that causes partial paralysis, making it especially difficult to escape the beast’s claws or to flee far if they do.

Venomclaw
When a target is hit by the prairie lobster’s squeeze attack, it is slowed and suffers a -4 to Athletics and Acrobatics checks (save ends both). This is a poison effect. This is a different saving throw than the ongoing damage.

 

 

EXTERMINATE!

The tagline of this site is “Old School Attitude, Modern Rules”. (Not, as some would have it, “Updates on a roll of 18+ on 2D10″) A big part of the feel of “Old School” is “Anything that’s cool is included”, and “cool” usually meant whatever was in the movies or at the top of the nerd reading list for that week. Dungeons & Dragons campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s were full of wookies and kzinti, phasers and lightsabers, aliens and predators, ninjas and more ninjas. A lot of that great and glorious wahooness has been lost in recent decades, or is brought back only so that it can be snickered at with a superior attitude and/or played purely for laughs (see the execrable “Castle Greyhawk” module published by TSR for AD&D 2e, as repugnant an attempt to piss on Gary’s legacy as I can imagine).

Me, I prefer unironic, unexamined, embrasure of the 14 year old within. Since Doctor Who hadn’t made it across the pond in most of the early era of D&D, or was sneered at by the kind of Very Serious Fans who might have heard of it (if they watched anything British, it would be Blake’s Seven), there was very little inclusion of Dr. Who material in things like Arduin or All The World’s Monsters. So, we set the gaming TARDIS to take the “That which is cool, rules” attitude of the 1970s and merge it, via a chronal transpacial rift in idea space, with the mechanics of the 2010s, and I present the first of several Daleks, statted for 4e. (There will be at least one solo “Dalek Commander”, and probably a non-elite, maybe two, but I wanted to get one mid-range “model” out first.)

Dalek