Friday, June 28, 2013

Frightful Fridays! Polychaete Terror

Welcome to an early afternoon (or late morning or late evening, even) edition of Frightful Fridays! Paris pointed me in the direction of this large, weird worm that can bite through 20 pound fishing line and whose bristles can cause permanent numbness in humans. That makes for a delightful monster, especially once you ramp up the size and add a few nasty abilities. Today's extra provides some variants to the polychaete terror, if you happen to get bored with the base model.

I hope you like this giant worm, and I'll be back next Friday with a new monster. Thanks for reading!

This massive brown worm has a considerable array of stinging bristles along its body. It also has an unusually powerful set of jaws for a worm.
Polychaete Terror CR 17
XP 102,400
N Colossal vermin
Init -2; Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 120 ft.; Perception +16

AC 32, touch 0, flat-footed 32 (-2 Dex, -8 size, +32 natural)
hp 273 (26d8+156)
Fort +21, Ref +6, Will +8
DR 10/piercing or slashing; Immune acid, mind-affecting effects; Resist cold 20, electricity 20, fire 20

Speed 40 ft., burrow 20 ft., swim 60 ft.
Melee bite +22 (3d6+10/19-20 plus grab) and 12 stings +21 (2d4+10 plus poison)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Special Attacks many stingers, poison, powerful lunge, swallow whole (8d6 acid damage, AC 26, 27 hp)

Str 30, Dex 7, Con 23, Int —, Wis 11, Cha 10
Base Atk +19; CMB +37 (+41 grapple); CMD 45 (can't be tripped)
Feats Critical Focus(B), Impaling Critical (sting)(B), Improved Critical (bite)(B), Improved Impaling Critical (sting)(B), Weapon Focus (bite)(B)
Skills Perception +16, Swim +18; Racial Modifiers +16 Perception

Environment any warm aquatic or terrestrial
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure standard (gems, jewels and other items that withstand the polychaete's digestive acid)

Special Abilities
Many Stingers (Ex) While a polychaete terror can only bring 12 of its bristly stingers to bear in an attack, if it successfully uses its Improved Impaling Critical it does not lose any sting attacks while maintaining any impalements.
Polychaete Numbing Poison (Ex) String—injury; save Fort DC 29; frequency 1/round 6 rounds; effect 2d4 Dex (2 points of which are Dex drain); cure 2 consecutive saves. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Powerful Lunge (Ex) A polychaete terror can rapidly stretch its body out, giving it a 60-ft. reach until the beginning of its next turn. This imposes a -4 penalty to its AC. Due to the suddenness of this lunge, a character must succeed at a DC 20 Perception check to avoid being flatfooted against the polychaete.

Another baleful creation of the dread kraken, a polychaete terror is a giant sea worm grown to extraordinary size and gifted with a number of defensive capabilities. The creature's countless paralytic bristles are augmented so its poison has incredible potency. Finally, the segmented creature has a near rubbery quality, allowing it to instantly expand itself to make surprising attacks against its foes. A polychaete terror measures 35 feet in length and weighs 3 tons.

A dread kraken typically unleashes the mindless creature on a major population center, where the creature's incredible appetite drives it to a frenzy of destruction. After it causes some carnage, it fights until nothing else attacks it, at which point it stops and feasts on the victims it has impaled on its bristles. Usually left unsatisfied with that meal, it hunts for more prey. Characters who dispatch a polychaete terror are reward not only with whatever treasure survives in the creature's gullet, but also with easily obtained poison (requiring a DC 10 Heal check for one dose + one dose per 5 points over 15). A dose of polychaete terror poison has a price of 7,000 gp.


Variant Polychaete Terrors
Dread krakens did not stop with the base polychaete terror, especially since the creature's annelid nature renders it magically manipulable. A GM can apply the following changes to a polychaete terror to create a variety of encounters (or multiple different polychaete terrors in a single encounter).

Acidic Bristles This version of the polychaete replaces its sting's poison for an additional 1d6 acid damage when it hits with a sting. If it successfully impales a foe with a bristle, it deals this acid damage each round the foe remains impaled.

Breath Weapon This variant polychaete can breathe its digestive fluids in a 60-ft. line that deals 6d6 acid damage to each target in the line (DC 29 Reflex save for half). The save DC is Constitution-based. The polychaete requires 1d6 rounds between uses of its breath weapon.

Flight One fourth of the polychaete's bristles have the ability to levitate the creature. This allows the polychaete to crawl through the air, giving it a fly speed of 40 feet (clumsy).

Split Replace the polychaete's DR with this ability. Slashing and piercing weapons deal no damage, but the polychaete instead divides into two identical versions with half the original's current hit points. A polychaete with 20 or fewer hit points can no longer split.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

No, Sunderday hasn't gone away just yet...

I know, I know. That’s two weeks I’ve missed now but I just got overwhelmed with work last week. I worked 3 different jobs and ended up working 13 days straight and an additional 22 hours on my days off on top of my regular 44hr week’s work! So when I came home I was a bit beat and just wanted to sleep. All for a good cause though as I’m visiting the USA in a month’s time (and hoping to catch up with fellow Rambler Paris, unfortunately the only one of my US friends who lives close to where I’m going to be while I’m there) and so that extra pay is going to come in handy for some spending money. Enough with the excuses though, you don’t want to hear that, you want new content!

So this week we’re coming back to the Shield Gems. This little one isn’t amazing, but it can be quite useful in a tight situation and can easily be the difference between winning and losing a fight. Whatever keeps you around longer can always be bad news for your opponent. So I give to you, the Shielder.

Shield Gems
Shield Gems are small jewels that can be attached to a shield by a skilled Armorsmith (DC 15 Craft check). If a check is failed by more than 5 there is a 50% chance the Shield Gem is ruined.
Most appear to be regular gems at first glance, but upon closer inspection, they usually have something that sets them apart (such as a faint glow, sigils etched into their surface, etc).
Some Shield Gems can be activated without attaching them to a shield, and in this case it will be stated in their entry.

Aura Faint Abjuration; CL 3rd
Slot –; Price 1,600gp; Weight
This small hemispherical piece of azurite radiates a magical aura but appears to do nothing. That is until it is attached to a shield. Once they are joined, they become a potent protective combination.
As an immediate action, the bearer of the shield can speak a command world. From the edges of the shield, a shimmering blue band of force springs into existence. This field lasts until the end of the round and grants a +1 deflection bonus to the wielder.
This ability may be used up to three times per day.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, shield of faith; Cost 800gp

Friday, June 21, 2013

Frightful Fridays! Chthonian Elephant

I apologize for last week's lack of monster, but I had a few looming deadlines that I had to clear. I'm back this week, though, and I will blame Heath for this week's monster. He threw the gauntlet at me (made of adamantine, so it stung) and requested something in the CR 15 to 19 range. If I had to guess, he has plans for the monster.

I hope you enjoy the chthonian elephant, and I think Flash will be back on Sunday with a new shield item. I will return on Friday with a new monster or several to make up for lost time. Thanks for reading!

This mighty elephant has numerous tentacles where its trunk should be, and the trumpeting from each of the tentacles creates a maddening cacophony.
Chthonian Elephant CR 16
XP 76,800
CE Colossal aberration
Init -2; Senses Perception +38

AC 32, touch 0, flat-footed 32 (-2 Dex, -8 size, +32 natural)
hp 252 (24d8+144); regeneration 10 (electricity)
Fort +14, Ref +6, Will +19
DR 15/lawful and magic; Immune acid, cold, fire; Resist sonic 20; SR 27

Speed 90 ft.
Melee gore +26 (2d8+16/19-20) and 4 tentacles +21 (1d6+8 plus grab)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 20 ft.
Special Attacks blasting trumpet, constrict (1d6+16), disrupting trumpet, grab, trample (3d6+24; DC 38), trumpet of doom, trumpet of madness
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 24th; concentration +26)
Constant—displacement (self only)

Str 42, Dex 6, Con 23, Int 13, Wis 20, Cha 15
Base Atk +18; CMB +42 (+44 bull rush, +46 grapple, +44 sunder); CMD 50 (52 vs. sunder, 54 vs. trip)
Feats Critical Focus, Flanking Foil, Improved Bull Rush, Impaling Critical (gore), Improved Critical (gore), Improved Impaling Critical (gore), Improved Sunder, Intimidating Prowess, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Perception), Staggering Critical, Stunning Critical
Skills Acrobatics -2 (+22 jump), Intimidate +45, Knowledge (planes) +25, Perception +38, Sense Motive +29, Spellcraft +28, Stealth -18
Languages Aklo, Common; telepathy (60 ft.)

Environment any terrestrial
Organization solitary
Treasure incidental

Special Abilities
Blasting Trumpet (Su) As a move action or part of a move action, a chthonian elephant can unleash a blast of pure sonic destruction, dealing 12d6 sonic damage in a 60-foot cone (Reflex DC 28 for half). The elephant must wait 1d4 rounds before using its blasting trumpet again. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Disrupting Trumpet (Su) The disrupting trumpet is the loudest and most resonant of a chthonian elephant's trumpets. As a full-round action, a chthonian elephant creates a disruption field covering a 90-foot radius around the elephant that duplicates the effects of an area dispel from greater dispel magic. Additionally, spellcasters within 90 feet of the elephant must succeed at a DC 24 concentration check when casting spells until the beginning of the elephant's next turn. The elephant must wait 2d4 rounds before using disrupting trumpet again.    
Grab (Ex) A chthonian elephant has 6 tentacles with which it can grab opponents. It grabs the first 2 with tentacles that cannot trumpet, but for each opponent after the second, it must give up one of its trumpet abilities.
Trumpet of Doom (Su) As a move action or part of a move action, a chthonian elephant looses a low-pitched, mournful sound that seems to jar the very souls of creatures within 60 feet of the elephant. Those within range must succeed at a DC 24 Will save or become shaken. Creatures that successfully save against this trumpet cannot be affected by the same elephant's trumpet of doom for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Trumpet of Madness (Su) A chthonian elephant can take a move action or part of a move action to blare a discordant noise that affects all creatures within 30 feet of the elephant. Creatures within range must succeed at a DC 24 Will save or be affected as if targeted by insanity. The elephant must wait 1d4 rounds before using trumpet of madness again. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Scholars do not know whether a creature of pure madness reached out and transformed an elephant into a chthonian elephant or the creature arbitrarily decided to take an elephant's shape itself. Whatever actually happened, the presence of a chthonian elephant presages death, destruction, and insanity on an enormous scale. The creature stands 30 feet tall and weighs 3 tons.

A chthonian elephant is a fairly straightforward fighter, and it uses its various trumpets to soften up foes before crushing, impaling, or squeezing them to death. The elephant tries to trample as large a group as possible at first and then sets about goring foes with its massive tusks and grabbing opponents with its many trumpeting tentacles. The creature has no need to eat, so it usually leaves the broken corpses behind as it travels to the location of its next slaughter.

The yih have a special interest in chthonian elephant sightings, as their legends refer to many-trunked demons that massacred entire primitive yih tribes.

Chthonian Elephant Ivory
Chthonian elephant tusks carry the elephant's madness far after the elephant has perished, but they are extremely valuable, which lures an elephant's killer into taking them. An intact tusk is worth 10,000 gp, but someone with 10 ranks in an appropriate Craft skill (alchemy, sculptures, etc.)  can split the tusk apart into 20 chunks worth 500 gp each. The tusk's (or partial tusk's) owner is afflicted with a curse while he possesses the material. Curing the owner of the curse does not remove the cursing property from the ivory; if the ivory comes into another character's possession, the curse afflicts the new owner.

Chthonian Ivory Curse
Type curse; Save Will DC 24 + 1 for every 1,000 gp worth of chthonian ivory (minimum 0)
Frequency 1/day
Effect 1d6 Wis damage (at 0, the character is permanently insane and cannot be cured short of a miracle or wish); Effect continuous -8 penalty on Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks; this effect persists even if the victim makes his daily Will save

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Survival Tips for the Frustrated Fantasist

“Life is what happens to you when you are trying to game and blog.”   
Th. the Obscure, D.M. (Doctor Mythopoeiae)

So, long-time readers already knew I was having an academic year that was consuming my life.  I added a new home and everything that goes with that into the mix and recovering from an injury, and all blogging and gaming pretty much disappeared from my life.  (I might could have squeezed in a little gaming, if similar things hadn’t happened to the members of my little group.)  The flame would have gone out over here if it were not for Mike Welham and Craig Johnston (thanks, guys!).  So, how have I been surviving this challenge to La Mitopoietica Vita?  I have to read.

Part of this is just my personality.  Recreational reading helps me to retain my humanity and my sanity.  I must read.  (Feel free to google for escapsim quotes by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, then come back.)  I need fantastical fiction.  My primary recourse in these months as been to the ever-reliable Steven Brust.  I have read seven Vlad Taltos novels (see picture above) and two of the Khaavren romances (see picture below). 

Damn, Brust can write.  Dense, complex plots for this genre, but not so much that you choke on them.  Intriguing characterization that makes me care about characters that I can't imagine caring about if all I had was a bare-bones character sketch of them.  And while he's not my favorite world-builder, he does a lot in his under-stated way.  And the things that stand out (the Houses, the Orb, the Cycle, the reversals or twists around "humanity" are enjoyable and make the world alien).  When it comes to food, he's the Patrick O'Brian of fantasy food.

If you haven't treated yourself to Brust, I'm telling you he is on my required reading list and you don't have to give me anything in return for the recommendation, though your comments are always appreciated.  If you haven't heard Atomic Array's interview of him, I recommend that, too.  He's done a fantastic job of keeping me fed as a Mythopoet under pressure and short of leisure.  How will it inform my gaming when I return?  I think that Brust's swashbuckling in particular will be an excellent inspiration when I can return to Swords & Wizardry in Waterdeep, and the politics among the Dragaeran houses could give me fuel for what to do with the noble houses of Waterdeep.  All this will be in the cooker when I can return to gaming.

So, what I am reading while I'm taking a break from my Brustian bacchanal?  An Elric reread: I'm closing in on the end of volume 3 in Del Ray's excellent definitive collection.  After that, I may read Paths of the Dead or stretch things out a little more by inserting a collection of Peter S. Beagle's short stories.  I picked it up here in San Antonio when The Last Unicorn tour came to town.  (While the first leg of the tour is done, keep an eye on the website for future developments in your area which will be forthcoming.  Seeing Rone Barton in action and having a conversation with Peter are worth the price of admission alone, but I was impressed by how clean the copy of the TLU is.) Well, that's it for this Tomeful Tuesday.  Baby steps back to blogging, my fellow ramblers, baby steps.