Tag Archives: Monster Builder

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.)

More Merry Mutant Mayhem

More Mutants!

Sadly, this has nothing to do with the X-Men, but everything to do with Earth Delta, Lizard’s still-ongoing attempt at Gamma World style adventuring for D&D Fourth Edition. As with prior articles, this is a “work in progress” sample, as I had some extra time this weekend and chose to use it writing about mutant turtles (but not, I will note, teenage ninja mutant turtles… though it ought to be very possible to write up on using Earth Delta, come to think of it…)

This article has just monsters, since they’re the most useful to people playing WOTC’s version of Gamma World, but for those who care, I have been constantly expanding tech items, mutations, and tweaking rules here and there as I go along.

The monsters in this section represent more examples of “spreadsheet design”, and by that I mean “I have a spreadsheet showing all monsters by role and level, and I’ve been looking for gaps”. In a perfect world, there will be at least one of every role for every level, and I’m slowly approaching that, but I’m also trying to push forward to get the higher level monsters done as part of my goal to get to Paragon Tier complete. This means there’s still a few gaps in the lower level monsters, and I managed to fill in one of them. So, if you’re wondering why there’s a level 1 lurker mixed in with the level 14 and 15 monsters, that’s why.

Also, in a perfect world, I’d have the CSS needed to display the monsters in a prettier format than a crude cut-and-paste from Word. I can cut them into a separate PDF and attach that, but I’m not sure it’s useful to many readers (this assumes I have any readers, a dubious premise) and I’ve found that any kind of extra step, such as “click here to read”, is often too burdensome for the Twitter age. So, until I actually publish the next full draft of the Mutant Manual, I am going to ask that you bear with me.

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.

 

Reskinning vs. Renaming

Sort of an amplification of my earlier post, here’s an example of how I typically “reskin” a monster. This is an extremely simplistic reskin, and could actually use a bit more tweaking, but I wanted to use a “real world” example, not something I made up explicitly for this purpose. The original monster is on the right; the reskinned monster on the left. Even something as mildly changed as this cannot be done with the online “monster builder” tool. (Hell, I can’t even bring the damage in line with MM3 standards!)


How To Turn A Kuo Toa Into A Hobgoblin

This Is Reskinning


As you can see — I added in a trait to make the “It’s a hobgoblin in a diving suit!” idea mechanically relevant, not just fluff; I added in the hobgoblin racial ability; I changed the damage and attacks to be in-line with the new standards; I changed the language and added a skill; and I edited the name throughout. Changes of this nature are the bare minimum of what I’d expect from a tool which allows you to “reskin” monsters.

The New 4e “Monster Builder”: WTF?

I mean, the new “Monster Builder”. Which doesn’t build monsters. Which doesn’t do ANYTHING, really. You can change the name of the monster and the name of the powers, and that’s IT? When you change the monster name, it doesn’t even propagate to the rest of the text? So what’s the point?

This is about on par with sending the subscribers a $0.99 ball point pen, and telling them they can print out a stat block and then scribble changes on it.

“Insult” or “Direct Slap In The Face” doesn’t begin to cover it.

I’d heard it was bad, I’d been in some threads on it on RPG.net, so I can’t feign total ignorance of what to expect, but I figured (OK, hoped) people were using it wrong or I was misinterpreting what they were saying or something, and I didn’t want to post a rant on the “official” forums until I’d had a chance to play with it myself. I really can’t imagine that WOTC would have the utter gall — or lack of sense of shame — to publish something this utterly and completely useless and display it for paying customers. The first BETA of the old Monster Builder was a hundred times more useful than this.

WTF, Wizards? I mean, seriously, WTF? You know, companies like Blizzard (you may have heard of them… they make some kind of fantasy computer game that is, I hear, pretty popular) have a “We ship when it’s ready” policy, and while there’s a good bit of whining and wailing whenever a delay is announced, there’s a lot less of it once the product hits the streets, and most people have come to rightfully expect that they’ll get a quality game right out of the box, even if it’s late, and that works a whole lot better than “Ship and Patch” (Vanguard, oh, Vanguard, you could have been amazing..). If you don’t have a monster builder worth shipping, then, don’t ship it. Just say, “Look. We respect you as customers and we won’t insult you by presenting this to you as anything other than an interface mockup we threw together in about a day.” (Because, really, that’s what it is — I started writing a “Monster Builder” in C#, and in one day, it had the ability to edit a name and to apply the core formulas to AC, Hit Points, etc, based on changing level. Well, I lie, because I could also change the monster’s role and see the changes propagate through the hit points, etc. Oh, and I could change size, type, and origin. And edit keywords, so if I wanted a new origin, say, “Abyssal”, I could add it, and it would show up in the “Origin” dropdown. ONE DAY, Wizards. That took one programmer ONE DAY.)

(Hell, even sliding the level seems broken… the Aboleth lasher has “2d8+8 damage (4d+8 against a dazed target)”, and while the first value changes, the second does not. So the one function it has, that of changing level, still requires you to manually edit some values.)