Sunday, April 18, 2010

It Came from the SRD - Part One

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no purist when it comes to the many editions and iterations of the “world’s most popular role-playing game”. My own desire for simplicity draws me toward the older versions of the game and their modern simulacra, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find things to like about most editions. The problem, I think, is when some of these clever notions (kits, feats, templates) become revenue sources for their owners. That said, I think one of the top five best ideas ever concerning our favorite game was the creation of the Open Gaming License and its accompanying System Reference Document. The SRD, and all of the other open content on the internet, are amazing sources from which to mine ideas. Looking over the SRD today, I decided to convert a few creatures (and creature variants) that didn’t make it into S&W:C. All of the following is open game content.

An arrowhawk is a predator and scavenger from the Elemental Plane of Air. By twisting its body and varying the cadence of its wingbeats, an arrowhawk can fly at top speed in any direction.

• Arrowhawk: HD 7; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 lightning bolt (2d8) or 1 bite (1d8); Move (Fly 24); Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Immune to lightning.

A barghest is a lupine fiend that can take the shape of a wolf or a goblin. A full-grown barghest is about 6 feet long and weighs 180 pounds. It has bluish-red skin and blue-black fur. A barghest’s eyes glow orange when it becomes excited. Barghests can cast blink, levitate and misdirection at will and charm monster and dimension door once per day. A barghest in wolf form leaves no tracks or trail. When a barghest slays an opponent, it can feed on the corpse, devouring both flesh and soul. Feeding prevents any form of raising or resurrection that requires part of the corpse. For every three suitable corpses a barghest devours, it gains one hit dice, and its armor class improves by one. The barghest only advances by consuming the corpses of creatures whose hit dice or levels are equal to or greater than its own current total. A barghest that reaches 9 hit dice through feeding immediately becomes a greater barghest upon completion of the act. A greater barghest gains the ability to cast invisibility and alter size once per day.

• Barghest: HD 6; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 bite (1d6), 2 claws (1d4); Move 12; Save 11; CL/XP 8/800; Special: Change shape, cast spells, feed, only harmed by magic weapons.
• Greater Barghest: HD 9; AC 0 [19]; Atk 1 bite (1d8), 2 claws (1d6); Move 15; Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Change shape, cast spells, feed, only harmed by magic weapons.

Belkers are wicked spirits of the air. They are composed of smoke, and their wings lend a demonic cast to their appearance. At will, it can take on gaseous form, looking like a pillar of smoke. In combat, it can engulf a victim, sending solidified, smoky claws into its lungs to tear and rend for 2d6 damage each round.

• Belker: HD 7; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 wings (1d6), 2 claws (1d3), 1 bite (1d4); Move 12 (Fly 21); Save 9; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Smoke claws, gaseous form.

A bodak is the restless, angry spirit of one killed by an act of terrible, senseless evil. They appear as humanoids with rubbery, reddish skin, featureless faces and smoldering, orange eyes. Creatures that meet its pitiless gaze must pass a saving throw or die instantly, re-animating as bodaks 24 hours later. Bodaks loathe sunlight, which inflicts 1 point of damage each round it is in contact with their skin.

• Bodak: HD 9; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 slam (1d8); Move 9; Save 6; CL/XP 12/2000; Special: Death gaze, vulnerable to light, unharmed by lightning.

The cauchemar is a horrible, especially malevolent version of a nightmare. The sight of one of these great horrors bearing down is enough to shake the heart of the boldest champion.

• Cauchemar: HD 16; AC -5 [24]; Atk 1 bite (2d6), 2 hoofs (2d8); Move 18 (Fly 35); Save 3; CL/XP 19/4100; Special: Breathe smoke, become incorporeal.

Celestial Charger
A celestial charger is a unicorn blessed by the gods of light and law. They have the same abilities as normal unicorns, but can also cast spells as a level 7 cleric. Once per day, a celestial charger can deal +8 damage on a successful attack against an evil creature.

• Celestial Charger: HD 8; AC 0 [19]; Atk 2 hoofs (1d8), 1 horn (1d10); Move 24; Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Double damage for charge, 25% magic resistance, teleport, smite evil, cast cleric spells as level 7 cleric.

Chaos Beast
Chaos beasts have mutable, ever-changing forms. For all its fearsome appearance, whether it has claws, fangs, pincers, tentacles, or spines, a chaos beast does little physical harm. A blow from a chaos beast causes a living creature to become a spongy, amorphous mass unless they pass a saving throw. An affected creature cannot hold or use any item. Soft or misshapen feet and legs reduce speed to 6. Searing pain courses along the nerves, so strong that the victim cannot cast spells or use magic items, and it attacks blindly, unable to distinguish friend from foe. Each round the victim spends in an amorphous state causes 1 point of wisdom drain from mental shock. If the victim’s wisdom score falls to 0, it becomes a chaos beast. A victim can regain its own shape by attempting a saving throw. A success reestablishes the creature’s normal form for 1 minute. On a failure, the victim can still repeat this check each round until successful or drained of wisdom. A shapechange or stoneskin spell does not cure an afflicted creature but fixes its form for the duration of the spell. A restoration or heal spell removes the affliction, but a separate restoration is necessary to restore any drained points of wisdom.

• Chaos Beast: HD 8; AC 3 [16]; Atk 2 claw (1d4); Move 9; Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Corporeal instability, immune to critical hits and transformations, magic resistance 20%.

These vicious little subterranean predators have hands and feet with spiny pads that help grip almost any surface. The victim of a successful tentacle attack must make a saving throw or be strangled for 1d6 points of damage each round. Chokers are so fast, they can make an extra attack or move at the end of each round.

• Choker: HD 3; AC 2 [17]; Atk 2 tentacles (1d4); Move 9 (Climb 6); Save 14; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Strangle, quickness.

Chuuls are a horrible combination of crustacean, insect, and serpent. Although amphibious, they are not good swimmers and prefer to attack on land or in shallow water. The victim of a chuul’s claw attack must succeed at a saving throw or be constricted for 3d6 points of damage each round. A chuul can transfer constricted victims from a claw to its tentacles on its next turn. The tentacles grapple with the same strength as the claw. They deal no damage, but do exude a secretion that paralyzes for 6 rounds if a saving throw is failed. While held in the tentacles, a victim suffers 1d8 points of damage each round from the chuul’s mandibles.

• Chuul: HD 11+2; AC -3 [22]; Atk 2 claw (2d6); Move 12 (Swim 9); Save 4; CL/XP 15/2900; Special: Amphibious, constrict, paralyze, immune to poison.

When resting or lying in wait, these creatures are almost impossible to distinguish from common black cloaks (the cloaker’s ivory claws look very much like bone clasps). Only when it unfurls does the horrific nature of the creature become apparent. A cloaker has a wingspan of about 8 feet. Cloakers emit a low moan that can either cause everyone within 30 feet to save vs. fear or cause one creature within 30 feet to save vs. hold monster. Cloakers can manipulate shadows, duplicating the effect of the spells blur or mirror image.

• Cloaker: HD 6; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 tail (1d6), 1 bite (1d4); Move 3 (Fly 15); Save 11; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Moan, shadow shift.

Derro are a degenerate race of albinos that dwell deep underground. At night, they walk the surface world, kidnapping humans for slaves or food. Most derro wear studded leather armor and carry repeating light crossbows with poisoned bolts (see below), fork-fauchards (pole arms that grant a +4 bonus to overbearing attacks) and daggers. Derro bands are often lead by their savants, a sort of combination of magic-user and cleric. Derro lairs contain 20-40 derro, 1d3 savants, 1d6 student savants, 20-30 slaves (80% female) and 1d3 gargoyle allies.

• Derro: HD 3; AC 14; Atk 1 weapon (1d4); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Magic resistance 30%.
• Savant: HD 7; AC 14; Atk 1 weapon (1d4); Move 12; Save 9; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Magic resistance 30%, spells.

A destrachan looks something like an eyeless velociraptor with a gaping, lamprey-like mouth. It has a pair of complex, three-part ears that it can adjust to be more or less sensitive to various sounds. It is blind, yet hunts with a sense of hearing more precise than most creatures’ sight. From its tubular mouth a destrachan emits carefully focused harmonics, producing sonic energy so powerful it can shatter a stone wall. So skilled is a destrachan at controlling the sounds it emits that it can choose what type of material to affect with its attack.

A destrachan can blast sonic energy in a cone up to 80 feet long. It can also use this attack to affect any creatures or objects within a 30-foot radius. It can tune the harmonics of this destructive power to affect different types of targets, including a blast that deals 4d6 points of damage to all within 20 feet, stunning all foes within 20 feet (saving throws apply) or shattering a particular material.

• Destrachan: HD 8; AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 claw (1d6); Move 12; Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Blindsight, sonic energy.

Dread Wraith
The oldest and most malevolent wraiths lurk in the depths of forgotten temples and other forsaken places. They can sense the approach of living creatures, and hunger for them. Dread wraiths are immune to all non-magical weapons, including silver ones. Arrows, even magical ones, inflict only a single point of damage on their etheric bodies. The touch of a dread wraith inflict 2d6 points of damage and drains 1d2 levels. Humanoids that have all of their levels drained by a dread wraith become wraiths themselves under the control of their killer.

• Dread Wraith: HD 16; AC 0 [19]; Atk 1 touch (2d6 + level drain); Move 9 (Fly 24); Save 3; CL/XP 19/4100; Special: Drain 1d2 levels per hit.

Elder Pudding
The most ancient black puddings are vast pools of inky death. They have the same special abilities as other black puddings, save that weapons and armor of any kind are destroyed with but a single hit.

• Elder Pudding: HD 20; AC 8 [11]; Atk 1 attack (4d8); Move 6; Save 3; CL/XP 21/4700; Special: Acidic surface, immune to cold, divides when hit with lightning.

Ethereal Filcher
Ethereal filchers look vaguely like giant, disembodied hands, the “fingers” each tipped in a hand with long, sinuous fingers. The “palm” contains a rudimentary face. Ethereal filchers can slip in and out of the ethereal plane at will, using this ability to take people by surprise. The creature attempts to seize an item, then quickly shifs back to the ether. Ethereal filchers can detect magic at will.

• Ethereal Filcher: HD 5; AC 2 [17]; Atk 1 bite (1d4); Move 15; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Detect magic, ethereal jaunt, pick pockets.

Ethereal Marauder
Ethereal marauders look like bipedal lizards with no forelegs and with gaping, tri-corner mouths filled with fangs. Their coloration ranges from bright blue to deep violet. They live on the ethereal plane, but mostly hunt on the material plane. Once a marauder locates prey, it leaves the ethereal plane to attack, biting the victim and then retreating quickly back to the ether.

• Ethereal Marauder: HD 2+1; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d8); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Ethereal jaunt.

Coming Soon: I'll finish up the unconverted SRD monsters and then get to work describing the southwest portion of the Wyvern Coast and the infamous city-state of Ophir.


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