Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Hollyphant - A to Z psionic monsters

Little tiny elephants with glowing-golden fur and golden wings. If you are good, you will have an overwhelming desire to pet them and do whatever they say. If you are evil, you will want to puke and run. That's the Hollyphant!

As far as campaign integration, they are lawful good "messengers and helpers". When you study their powers, they seems to be especially designed for wars against the undead, or against demons/devils.

Thus, they might show up to help the PCs in some hopeless battle against supernatural evil. I consider them a nice "bail out" or "special ally" monster, for when PCs are in way over their heads.

The use of "bail out/special ally" helpers is a nice way to allow your PCs to embark on adventures that are not "level-appropriate". I am a big fan of throwing PCs into the deep water, having them feel overwhelmed and harried by superior forces. You know, just like every good drama-conflict scenario we see in the movies.

Who is On Top - Good or Evil?

Think of the Transformers, for example. In the real thing, Optimus Prime is the alpha dude. But in the movie, Megatron was the alpha. Beating him would require some superhuman effort, something really clever and brave. This was the basic structure of Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, too.

How much fun is it if you can just walk into the bad guy's lair and smack him around like your bitch? I guess that is the "Superman" model of adventuring. Since Superman is the alpha dog, the bad guys have to be the ones sneaking around and trying to survive on the sly, using their guile against superior power.

In D&D gaming, for the purposes of dramatic tension, I think it should be the opposite. That is how it is set up in my AZ Adventures milieu: a dawn of civilization environment, in which humans have to struggle to hang on. Wandering out of your fortified settlement means you are in extreme danger. Greater forces constantly threated to overwhelm you.

Integrating Helpers/Allies into the Adventure

Aside from the "last minute rescue" scenario in which the "bail out" monster shows up to prevent a TPK, the Hollyphant could also be used in a "pilgrimage to potential ally" manner as well. Like: we know a Hollyphant lives up in the mountain vale over there on the edge of the horizon, let's go see if we can find him and get his help for that war against the forces of evil who are trying to wipe us out...

Maybe the Hollyphant would come looking for the PCs! "Friends, there is a great evil approaching. I need your help to turn the tide and rid the land of this grave danger..." Nice plot hook, I would think. It would give the players a nice feel for "pawns in a larger war" dilemma. In this case, the Hollyphant would be mainly used "off-stage", controlled by the DM, popping into the PCs awareness only every so often.

Or, maybe against a high level evil opponent, such as a Demon Lord, the Hollyphant would actually join the expedition. Certainly, he would be there for any kind of "climactic battle". Maybe you could even give your players the Hollyphant as a resource to be used, like a "loaner" character to be played. You gotta admit, it would be fun to play one of these critters.

HD 8+8
attacks: two tusks (1-3/1-3 dam.)
Magic resistance: 60%
INT: genius
Psionic Ability: 201-300
attack/defence modes: All/All

Psionic Powers:

4 minor (choose from): clairaudience, clairvoyance, invisibility, molecular agitation, object reading, precognition, sensitivity to psychic impressions

2 major (choose from): body control, energy control, mind bar, molecular manipulation, molecular rearrangement, telekinesis, shape alteration

Special powers:

permanent globe of invulnerability (to 1st-4th level spells)
immunity to disease and poison
immune to non-magic weapons

at will (16th level):

banish (beware of potential backlash!!!)
detect evil (2" rad.)
etherealness/astral travel
limited telepathy

3x per day:
Trumpet blast - as Horn of Blasting, Drums of Deafening, or Sun-Sparkles (8d6+8 dam. from positive energy particles on undead or devils/demons)

2x per day:
cure serious wounds
protection from evil (1" foot rad.)

1x per day:
flame strike
raise dead
gate: lesser (70%) or greater (30%) good creature
[lesser: hollyphant, baku, lamassu, opinicus, shedu;
: deva, greater lamassu, greater shedu, ki-rin, phoenix]


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