Thursday, July 24, 2014

Random Monster: Vrahn Skeleton

VRAHN SKELETON
Medium Undead, Lawful Evil
***
Armor Class 15 (chain shirt)
Hit Points 27 (5d8 + 5)
Speed 30 ft
***
STR 14 (+2)   DEX 15 (+2)   CON 13 (+1)   INT 11 (+0)   WIS 10 (+0)   CHA 6 (-2)
Skills Athletics +4, Investigation +2, Perception +2
***
Damage Vulnerabilities bludgeoning
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60ft. passive Perception 12
Languages Common
Challenge 1 (200xp)
***
Dervish When the vrahn skeleton hits a creature for the first time during its turn, it deals an extra 3 (1d6) damage with the attack.

ACTIONS

Two-weapon Fighting. The vrahn skeleton makes two scimitar attacks. It can move between each attack.

Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.

Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 150 ft./600 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.

***

In a terrible war not so long ago, a warrior king who wanted victory above all else sought the aid of a necromancer. Provided with the bodies of the king's fallen elite soldiers, she was tasked with creating skeleton warriors who remembered none of their human memories or fears (or its sense of self), but retained their cunning and fighting prowess.

Said to be named after the king who commissioned their creation, these elite skeletons are sometimes sent as scouts to areas where the survival of living soldiers are not guaranteed. More often they are seen leading a handful of normal skeletons, where they might be mistaken as one themselves if their better-than-scraps gear are not noticed. Adventurers who attract the unwanted attention of the skeletons' now cursed-king may be the target of a hit squad of these elite warriors.

Notes.

  • I'm thinking of doing this every week, possibly on a Monday, as I try to understand how the monsters work under the new system.
  • For the first one, I went with a creature that's ripped off and converted from one of the more popular settings. It should be pretty easy to spot for its fans. For future monsters, though, I will likely go back to my usual Filipino-inspired stuff.
  • From those coming from 4E, think of this as a level 1 solo skirmisher. I think this guy was a level 11 monster. Back then I liked to turn them into level 6 elites or level 1 solos. The conversion method seems to work
  • If it feels too simple for a "solo," you may try to add in a Parry reaction that allows it to reduce melee damage it receives by 1d6. Note that this will probably prolong combat.
  • For those coming from 3.5, the monster I ripped this off from was CR 3. I think CR 1 for the new edition is a comfortable spot, as it means that by itself, it should be a moderate challenge for a group of level 1 PCs.
  • As always, criticisms are welcome!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Weapons of A-Salt

Salt has an interestingly mundane place in Dungeons and Dragons. 3E doesn't make use of it too much, outside of a Wall spell, a Transmutation spell, and an equipment entry that says it is worth about 5gp per ounce. As far a I know, 4E doesn't mention salt at all, 

Here in the Philippines, though, salt is the bane of just about every mythological creature. Find the lower half of manananggal, spray salt onto the open wound, and either the manananggal cannot reform in the morning, or her lower half outright melts, depending on the story. Salt can be used to bind ghosts, sort of like a Magic Circle. Any food offering to the diwata (fey) would be offensive if it contained salt for flavoring. 

A friend of mine told me that salt is an aversion to Celtic fairies, as well. So why is salt such a non-item in D&D? We are probably biased by modern sensibilities: Salt is such an inconspicuous, everyday item these days that we forget how hard it used to be to procure. In some sense, 3E at least remembered this. Look at its price - in a system where commoners took home an average of 3gp/month, it's interesting to see salt at 5gp, which is the exact same price as silver of the same weight.

Ask Lot if salt is no big deal and he'll probably be pissed.

So, if we want to include some of the more mystical properties of salt in a game, how would we go about it? Here are a few quick ideas:
  • Salt can hurt someone's eyes, but throw a handful at a fey, outsider, or non-elemental spirits and it'd actually deal damage that overcomes material and magic-based damage reduction.
  • Alternatively, throw it at incorporeal undead and it'd become physical for a short amount of time.
  • Salt can be used as material components for magic circles. It can act as a grounding agent for magic, in that it can suppress some minor magical effects.
  • Salt, however, is mundane and will only inconvenience (won't completely stop) more powerful spirits. If you're binding a marilith, for example, using salt for your magic circle might turn out to be problematic. 
  • If you want to have a salt-like substance that packs more punch, take a page out of Trese's book and use ground-up mermaid bones. And you thought necromancer skills were only useful in graveyards. 
  • Fantasy salt is an element: It doesn't hurt elementals.
  • It might work on some shadow creatures. If you want to be sure, throw it at a manananggal and see what happens. ;)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Are Tikbalang Elves?

I was recently surprised (in a good way) to learn that Trese komiks had its own entry in TVtropes. The cases of the occult investigator Alexandra Trese is a window to Philippine folklore that is accessible to the general public and I highly recommend reading it if you can find a copy. But anyway, I was looking through some of the tropes that the komiks series embody, and was intrigued at one of them. Particularly, they listed the tikbalang under the trope "our elves are different."

Let's take a quick look at this comparison, shall we?

Art by James Macaspac

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

[5e Musings] 2nd Round Initial Thoughts

The second playtest packet is out, complete with character creation rules for characters of 1st-5th level as well as an updated bestiary! The whole thing caught me by surprise - I felt like the packet was coming soon, but I thought I would at least be able to finish the Caves of Chaos from the first playtest, first. I'm pretty sure that my players would prefer to try their hand at character creation, though, so I will be converting the upcoming Sunday game to a chargen session instead. 

I feel like I'm going into a more familiar zone, myself, as I feel like I thrive better as a DM when not following the general plot of a module. As the packet does not come with one (yet), I'll look into figuring out how encounter building works. I will also experiment with exploration and roleplay a little bit more.

One thing I will note is that I will likely deviate from the rules-as-written this time. I want to see how much I can bend the system with house rules without breaking it; over the course of the next few weeks, I will post things that I change in our gameplay. 

To motivate the creation of these house rules, I want to start with the things that I initially like and dislike about the second round.