Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Guardian Monsters - Listed and Considered

There are a great number of guardian monsters to help spice up the role playing.   Guardian-type monsters are a regular feature in dramatic fantasy fiction, so even new players will relate to plot hooks predicated on guardian monster intervention.  
Lord of the Rings, for example, is essentially a guardian-monster-initiated adventure (Gandolf being the guardian monster).    The Gandolf example is apt, as many guardian monsters do have polymorph powers, so could assume the likeness of mankind.
Guardian Animals
For low-level campaigns, dealing with the local dangers of the heath and forest, some of the best guardian monsters you can use are Grims and Moondogs.   The great thing about the Grims and Moondogs is that they are elusive and mysterious, so the players would probably think they were part of the evil at first. 
Grims take the form of black dogs, black cats, or black owls.  The Harry Potter series used the "Grim plot hook" to great effect in book 3, when Harry kept seeing a large black canine stalking him in the shadows (which ended up being his guardian Sirius Black, of course). 
Guardians of Specific Places
Some guardians are encamped in a specific locale, working to disrupt and contain some evil from breaking out. 
Naga (guardian-types) would be well-used here.  From their description it seems clear they would not be likely to be "roaming" guardians.   I could see them patrolling a Yuan-Ti infested jungle, or the area around an evil temple...
Foo-Dogs and Foo-Lions are also described as guardians with powerful anti-evil powers.  They are described as chaotic, so would not make good long-term disciplined guardians, but they could be brought in as excellent shock troops in the battle against evil. 
Opinicus also appear to be well-suited to a role as guardians of some specific location.  They are especially equipped to deal with undead and demons, so they would be prone to be found guarding the approaches to dangerous areas full of such creatures, such as the forest around a vampire's castle or the mountains around lich's lair, for example. 
Wandering Guardian Monsters
The Agathion, Baku, Ki-rin, Lammasu, Hollyphant, and Shedu are the classic wandering guardian monsters.   They are all described as "roaming" guardians, seeking out and containing evil wherever they can find it. 
Most of them can polymorph into human form.  I imagine they would maintain some kind of contact with locals on the ground, gathering their information.  Naturally, such contact would tend to be with influential druids, clerics, magic users, or psionic warriors.
Dragon Guardians and Dragon Wars
Another creative idea would be to use a dragon, or even Bahamut the Platinum Dragon, as a guardian.  His description clearly describes his regular wandering.   No doubt he is gathering intelligence and keeping tabs on rising evil, ready to intervene if necessary.   I would imagine he would be especially vigilant against dragon problems, particularly related to his evil arch-nemesis Tiamat.  
I can imagine lots of plot hooks involving a "War Among the Dragons".  Imagine the poor people caught in the middle of those battles.  Of course, the good dragons would seek out the help of powerful humans of good alignment to assist in their battle.  The evil dragons would perhaps have some evil humans on their side, and let us not forget the Githyanki-Red Dragon alliance...
You gotta admit, campaigning a Dragon War would be pretty freakin epic. 
Good old-fashioned Guardian Angels
The ultimate guardian monsters are probably the "guardian angels" statted out in the 1e MM2 as Devas, Planetars, and Solars.    If you are doing a "human-centric" campaign, these would be perfect.  Perhaps especially if you are doing a "war of good vs evil, angels vs devils" type scenario.  Solars are so ridiculously over-powered, they would have to be used against Demon Lords and such. 
Guardian Monster Random Table
Or maybe you just need a guardian animal to bail your players out of a tight spot or severe challenge.  Here you go, in random tabular form:
01-20 Grim
21-30 Moondog
31-38 Naga, guardian
39-46 Foo-creature (75% dog, 25% lion)
47-53 Opinicus
54-60 Hollyphant
61-67 Agathion
68-74 Baku
75-81 Ki-rin
82-88 Lammasu (25% Greater Lammasu)
89-95 Shedu (25% Greater Shedu)
96-97 Dragon (10% Bahamut)
98-99 Deva
00 Planetar (25% Solar)

Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Psionicist class for 5th ed

 The Psion Mentalist is dedicated to the use of psionic powers to influence, manipulate, and dominate the minds of those around him.  He forgoes the development of psionic abilities of the body to instead focus on the disciplines of the mind.    

The Psion Mentalist must start with a 16 in at least one of the following abilities: INT, WIS, or CHA (to be eligible for psionic powers).    The Psion Mentalist starts with 6 hp and gains d6 hp per level.  

Weapons & Armor

The Psion Mentalist can choose any armor or weapons.     The Psion Mentalist gains additional armor and weapon proficiencies at the rate of Magic Users (1 every 6 levels)  

Class Proficiencies

INT, WIS, CHA, Animal Handling, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1 (20 max).  Increases in INT, WIS, or CHA would increase psionic strength points (see below).

Starting Psionic Ability Points

Roll d100, adding 1 point to the total for each point of INT, WIS, and CHA score.

Additional Psionic Strength Points per level

+2d10 (maximum of 344 points)

Acquisition of Psionic Combat techniques (by level)

1st - Mind Blank &  Mind Thrust
2nd -  Thought Shield & Ego Whip
3rd  - Mental Barrier &  Id Insinuation 
4th -  Intellectual Fortress & Psychic Crush   
5th - Tower of Iron Will & Psionic Blast

Psion Mentalists acquire the following  psionic disciplines by level:

1st - Object Reading, Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions, Empathy, ESP
2nd – Detection of Good/Evil, Clairaudience, Hypnosis
3rd – Animal Telepathy, Detection of Magic, Clairvoyance,
4th – Aura Alteration, Telempathic Projection
5th – Telepathy, Invisibility
6th --   Mind Bar, Domination
7th –  Mass Domination, Precognition 
8th – Telepathic Projection
9th -- Astral Projection
10th –Cell Adjustment, Suspended Animation
11th - Energy Control (cancel energy attacks),
12th –Dimension Walk
13th – Dimension Door
14th-- Probability Travel (to parallel worlds/planes)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gnomes, Svirfneblin and the family of illusionist trickster Wee Folk

Gnomes are the only demi-human race in 1e who can become illusionists.  Gnomes are remarked as being cousins of the dwarfs, but just as equally, they appear to be cousins to the illusionist-trickster races.   In fact, it appears most likely that gnomes are  actually a half-breed race, resulting from the union of the Wee Folk and the Dwarf family.

In the DMG, they are described as "lively and full of humor - often on the black side or practical jokes".
They are described as living in homes: "sometimes based upon earthen burrows, although 75% of the time it will be made in rocky hill formations" (MM), and that they "enjoy the open world of growing things almost as much as their mines and burrows" (DMG).  In short, just as we would expect someone with the instincts of both Leprecauns and Dwarfs.

In the MM, they are rumored to have "magical abilities".  This is revealed in the PH to be illusionist skill, up to seventh class level (casting 4th level spells).  These innate illusionist  powers are developed more fully in the description of the Deep Gnomes, the Svirfneblin.

Svirfneblin: 3' tall with pointy ears, home: far beneath the surface of the earth
powers (1x per day):
change self
non-detection and silent movement (constant)
unlikely to be surprised (1 in 12)
immune to illusion
(20-40% magic resistance)

Wee Folk - The  Illusionist Tricksters

The Wee Folk have been classified according to a number of different titles, including leprechauns, brownies, pixies, sprites, and bookas.  They seem to have a number of traits in common, suggesting they form something of a family group.

Their similarities to the Gnomes are manifold, including the pointy ears.   The MM suggests that Brownies and Leprechauns are the result of a Halfling/Pixie combination.  It seems just as likely that Gnomes are the result of a Dwarf/Leprechaun combination. 

Brownies: 1.5' tall with pointy ears, home: quiet, pastoral areas; "friendly but shy"
powers (1x per day):
invisibility in nature (at will)
dancing lights
continual light
mirror image
dimension door
protection from evil
cannot be surprised

Leprechaun: 2' tall with pointy ears, home: fair, green lands with lush hills and dales; "mischievous nature"
powers (at will):
polymorph non-living object
create illusion

cannot be surprised
(80% magic resistance)

Pixie: 2.5' tall, with wings and pointy ears, home: most idyllic of woodlands, "highly mischievous"
powers (at will):
polymorph self
create illusions (2x per day)
know alignment
cause confusion
dispel magic (1x per day)
dancing lights (1x per day)
ESP (1x per day)
Otto's Irresistible Dance (1x per day)
(25% magic resistance)

Also related:

Sprites: 2' tall, with wings and pointy ears; home: meadows and wooded glens, "shy and reclusive"
powers (at will):
detect good/evil
move silently

Booka: 1' tall, with wings and pointy ears: home: attics, roofs, chimneys; "mischievous but hates evil"
powers (at will):
(10% magic resistance)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On the origins of Giants and giantism

Our society has long been plagued by the ravages of giant creatures. Throughout the years, numerous attempts have been made to sweep the hinterlands of dangerous giant beasts. No matter how successful the efforts at eradication, the giant beast always seem to reappear a year or two later.

Our Council of Sages, after extensive and dangerous investigation, has at last solved the riddle. The giant beasts are not members of giant animal species that can be eradicated. Rather, they are the result of some sort of natural process which turns normal animals into giants!

Giantism Mutation

This process, this giantism mutation, appears to be most associated with areas of high mana concentration, such as tall mountains, powerful rivers, natural springs, and cave openings. Beasts in those areas are born to normal-sized parents, but due to some magical enhancement, undergo a spectacular growth rate which vaults them to giant-status by the time they mature.

Giantism in Humans

It has been previously assumed that giantism in humans was related to the dark arts or dealings with demons. Many a witch has been burned at the stake when her child evidenced giantism. The Sages now recommend that the Trial by Burning sentence be considered non-mandatory in these cases, allowing the mothers of such children the opportunity to defend themselves in court before being wed to the Burning Man.

Origins of Giant Races

The Sages have even determined that the different mana sources produce different effects in the humans affected with giantism:

- the mana of the river waters produces the race of Storm Giants
- the mana of the volcano fields produces the black race of Fire Giants
- the mana of the underground caverns produces the race of Hill Giants
- the mana of the high mountains is more variable, producing either Stone or Cloud Giants.

As few adult females are ever seen among the Giants, perhaps boys are more prone to giantism then girls. Or perhaps the young human females who are cast out of their homes, when their parents see the giantism at work, are simply less able to survive into adulthood. At any rate, this discovery helps explain why no babies are ever seen among the Giants.

The Rise & Fall of Giant Hordes

This discovery also helps explain the rapid rise and fall of giant hordes, as well as their general state of primitive culture. Giant culture is primitive because all of them are essentially orphaned children, cast out of their homes and villages at a young age (the few that somehow escape the mandatory penalties, that is). As adults giants are unable to produce their own offspring, there is little continuation of culture among them.

Giant hordes tend to rise and fall as people move into areas with high mana. It is an odd twist of fate that these hordes, which usually end up destroying those advanced human settlements, are actually the children of the would-be settlers.

The dynamic goes something like this: after a generation or two of settlement, enough giants arise to be able to destroy the settlement. The lack of settlement leads to a lack of giants, allowing a later generation to attempt to settle the magically-rich area.

The lesson is clear, and has been emphasized by the Council of Sages: the mandatory sentence that falls upon children with giantism must be enforced with renewed vigor! Only when children with giantism are fully eliminated will human settlement in mana-rich regions be secured.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Magic value of Gold

Magical power enters the material world following several well-known channels. The primary source is, of course, the sun. The moon, planets, and stars also exert their own magical influence.

However, magic also streams upward from below. Vocanoes and natural springs, as everyone knows, are locations of powerful magic. Items that have their origins in the earth often retain powerful magical properties, such as crystals and, of course, gold.

The Magical Properties of Gold

The obsessive attraction exerted by gold upon magical creatures is well-known, and of course, felt by humans as well to a certain degree.

Dragons are the most notorious hoarders of gold, jewels, and gems. The possession of these magically-potent items appears to be connected with the longetivity of those magical beasts.

Some have speculated that dragons consume the treasures as food, but this idea is contradicted by the fact that dragon hoards never seem to shrink, only grow. The well-attested observation of dragons swallowing piles of gold seems to be explained as the method by which the dragon carries the treasure back to its lair. Presumably the treasure is regurgitated bird-style into the dragon's hoard, although this has not been observed (by anyone who lived to tell of it) to this point....

The Hoard of the Goblin King

The lure of gold upon the subterrainean goblinoids is also well known, most legendarily in the case of the hoard of the goblin king. Goblins who lair amidst the piles of gold appear to grow large and strong, perhaps owing to the magical properties of the magic-charged gold itself. The gold also appears to be used in their mating practices, as the significant presence of gold in their breeding pens attests.

The Minotaur Lords of Bullhead City

The shifting labyrynths of Bullhead City are reported to be awash in gold. The multitude of aggressive and powerful minotaur who constantly struggle for dominance there, however, has precluded much investigation.

It has been noted, however, that minotaur encountered in the wilds can be distracted and/or diverted by the surrender of bags of gold. Examination of human victims of minotaur attacks indicates that the bullmen have no interest in humans as a food source, only as a source of wealth.

The Secrets of the Dwarven Mines

As everyone knows, the Dwarven Mines are rich in two items: gold and magic weapons. How the dwarves produce magic weapons has long been a mystery, as they show no aptitude for magical ability in any other sphere.

It is suspected that the dwarfs somehow harness great magical power from the gold (and other magic susbstances) as they harvest it from the rocks in their deep caverns. This magical over-exposure may account for madness that overcomes those few humans who attempt deep delves into the Dwarven Mines. The hearty natural anti-magical resistance of the Dwarfs seem to shield them from the ill-effects associated with repeated exposure to these high concentrations of magical power.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Being detected while Scrying - the perils of assisted-astral travel and remote viewing

Very interesting note on page 119 of the 1e DMG:

"Various devices for seeing at a distance (such as crystal balls, various scrying devices such as dishes or pans of water or mirrors, and spells such as clairaudience) are DETECTABLE."

The astral nature of remote viewing

The explanation for this potential detectability is the fact that they scrying device is a form of assisted astral travel. The astral spirit of the remote viewer actually goes to the location being viewed. That is why someone viewing a scrying device goes into a trance while viewing, as their spirit is actually undergoing astral travel, their conscious mind cannot be with their physical body.

Countering the Scrying Attempt

If the creature being observed is a magical creature/spell user/psionic, it has a change of realising that he is being observed.

Detection of Invisibility Table, pg.59 of the DMG
detection of invisibility table

As per the DMG, if the creature realizes he is being observed, he can cast a darkness or a dispel magic upon the spot of observation (described in the DMG as a "small disturbance in the air caused by the magical viewing"), which is the location of the remote viewer's astral body.

Vulnerability to astral attack

If the creature being observed, or anyone at the remote viewing location, has psionic powers or the ability to see into the astral plane, the remote viewer would also subject to psionic attack. Attempts at "soul capture", such as a magic jar, could be conceivable as well....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Devas - Astral and Psionic Monster Profile

Devas are basically angels: golden-skinned, amber-eyed, with white-but-gold-tinted-wings, tall, slender, and graceful, with a charisma effect of 20. 
According to the ancient concept (which I am duplicating in my AZ Adventures milieu), the Heavens were not on "another plane", they were above us, up in the sky.    That is where the Devas live, up in the sphere of the heavens.   Devas will be encountered on earth either physically or astrally.   
Astral Contact
As Devas can astrally project their spirits quickly through the heavens, astral contact will be more common.
In their astral form, they appear to people mainly in visions, especially in people's dream.  People with psychic sensitivity ("whose awareness extends to the ethereal and astral planes") could also see their astral forms while awake.  
Psychic mediums and shamans can also allow the devas to temporarily possess their bodies to deliver messages or do healings.  
While spirit-projected in the astral state, they can engage only in psionic combat, not physical combat.  In certain cases, their special powers could also be applied, but these could only be things that deal with the spiritual realm, not the physical realm, such as Know Alignment or Remove Fear.   
Physical Contact
On occasion, Devas might also physically journey down from the heavens to accomplish some task on earth, in person.   
As they can become invisible, go ethereal, polymorph self, and teleport at will, even while physically present, it might be hard to tell, as they can "come and go like a ghost". 
Even if their physical form is destroyed (which would be quite the trick, given their speed, etherealness, and teleport-at-will abilities), their astral spirit would return to their celestial home.
HD 9+36
attacks: Mace of Disruption: 2 strikes (4-15 +6 dam.)
INT: genius
Magic resistance: 65%, +1 to hit, immune to level drain, soul imprisonment, or death spells
Psionic Ability: 210
attacks: Psionic Blast, Mind Thrust, Ego Whip, Psychic Crush
defenses: Mind Blank, Thought Shield, Mental Barrier
Special Powers:
at will:
detect evil
detect illusion
detect magic
protection from evil
dispel illusion
dispel invisibility
know alignment
polymorph self
read magic
remove curse
remove fear
7x per day:
cure light wounds
detect traps
3x per day:
cure disease
cure serious wounds
1x per day:
blade barrier