Thursday, February 1, 2018

Out of the Abyss: Prisoners of the Drow

I started a new 5e campaign on Sunday: we’re playing through the Rage of Demons adventure Out of the Abyss, which was designed by Green Ronin. This looks like a pretty good adventure path, designed to take the PCs all the way from level 1 to level 15. This campaign has a couple of pretty significant challenges ahead of it, and I don’t mean a bunch of demon princes. First, we have a huge group: 10 players, which is the largest group I’ve run since my old Frilond campaign wrapped up 12 years ago. The other challenge is I will be moving within the next month, so we will be running this over Roll20 or similar technology. So we’ll see how this goes.

We certainly got off to a strong start: the adventure path begins, famously, with the PCs as prisoners in the Underdark, captives of the drow. The goal of the first chapter is to escape from the outpost of Velkenvelve, which is commanded by the drow priestess of Lolth, Ilvara. This setup might drive some players bananas but my group was game and rolled with it.


Stool the Myconid

On top of the large number of PCs are an almost equally large number of fellow prisoners: 10 in total, a motley crew of various strange Underdark races. All of these NPCs are fairly well drawn and distinctive, but man there are a lot of them. I gave the PCs a handout just to help them keep all the NPCs straight. Also, with so many NPCs I was able to be a little callous about having the drow execute some just to demonstrate their cruelty.

Velkenvelve is a nicely realized environment, with lots of interesting features to explore. The more important drow are also given motivations that give them a little more texture than just “we are naturally evil elves.”

The large number of PCs allowed the group to really roll through the outpost, but it wasn’t a cakewalk by any means. I discovered that quaggoths are pretty tough bastards in 5e: lots of hit points as well as a couple of nasty attacks. While the group made quick work of Asha the underpriestess they found Ilvara and her consort to be much, much tougher. The first round she unleashed an insect plague that dropped two PCs. But in the end, action economy ruled out and the PCs were able to escape without any deaths—and they still have five of their fellow prisoners.

All-in-all, I was fairly happy with how well the group jelled and the game unfolded. Starting without equipment turned out to be a nice challenge instead of being a real grind.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Solomani Rim War: Daibei Sector

In order to understand what might have happened in Magyar sector during the Solomani Rim War it is nearly as important to have a handle on neighboring Daibei sector. A sizable part of Daibei falls within the 50-parsec limit of the Solomani Autonomous Region, and as such the Confederation and the Imperium would have shared a significant border at the start of the Rim War. The T20 supplement Fighting Ships of the Solomani Confederation (FSotSC) notes that the Confederation of the 990s maintained a Daibei Sector Fleet, also charged with the protection of Solomani worlds in Reavers Deep.

One curiosity about Daibei is that no Rim War battles are shown on the map of “Wars of the Imperium” in the MegaTraveller Imperial Encyclopedia—though it’s not clear how much weight should be placed on that observation. The cartographer might have simply taken some liberties to avoid overlap with the Aslan Border Wars, which enfulfed much of the sector. Rim War fighting in Daibei is briefly mentioned in FSotSC as well as GURPS Traveller: Rim of Fire and the Mongoose Solomani alien module.

I’ve therefore assumed that while there were almost certainly Rim War battles in Daibei, there was no major, sustained campaign: after a lightning quick offensive captured many worlds on the Imperial side of the border, the front line soon stabilized. During the final phase of the War the Confederation presumed that the Imperium would open up a third, spinward front by pushing rimward through Daibei, but Admiral Kemper surprised everyone by attacking Magyar through the Solomani Rim instead.

The MegaTraveller Rebellion setting, set some 120 years after the Rim War, describes a Second Rim War in which a new Solomani invasion of Daibei is repulsed by fleets initially loyal to the Imperium and then aligned with the independent Federation of Daibei. To me this suggests that the inhabitants of Daibei are not strongly drawn to the Solomani Cause—perhaps due to the Imperium’s historical role in fending off Aslan incursions, or the significant non-human populations: for example, the Evantha worlds in the Tukera Cluster. All this leads me to suspect that the Confederation found only tepid support on Daibei worlds captured in the opening weeks of the first Solomani Rim War.

FSotSC contains a nice description of the opening of the Rim War in Diaspora sector; from that we can infer where the Imperial Confederation borders lay in 990 and extrapolate this to the borders of Daibei, which is how I developed speculative maps for Daibei and Diaspora during the Rim War period.

In working through Daibei, I came up with a rationale for how the Solomani might have captured so many worlds without much of a fight: the Lorimer Massacre. I also identified one system that probably did not succumb without a struggle: the Aslan world of Oifuerr.

The Lorimer Massacre

Prior to the Solomani Rim War, Udo (Daibei 1922) was the Imperial capital of Dudin subsector and the seat of Duke Edmuir Ventura. The Imperial 189th Fleet was assigned to Dudin and also charged with the defense of the Tukera Cluster in neighboring Cruxway subsector. Duke Edmuir, a weak and dissolute noble, was an enthusiast of the Solomani Movement who at some point in the 980s fell under the influence of SolSec. His older brother Errol was killed under mysterious circumstances in 987, possibly assassinated by SolSec operatives, and Edmuir was appointed Subsector Duke in 988.

On the eve of the War Ventura orchestrated the infamous Lorimer Massacre, in which his own huscarles murdered Subsector Admiral Shana Ergashi along with the Marquis of Baarn, the Viscount of Fender, and the Count of Corve along with their immediate families. Only Contessa Ilenna Rainier of Tukera and her family survived, fleeing to the Imperial Naval Base at Aquilon (Daibei 1820). Following the massacre Captain Harald Lang, Admiral Ergashi’s second-in-command and also a SolSec asset, ordered the 189th Fleet to stand down during the invasion.

Ventura’s treachery was compounded by extensive SolSec infiltration of the Imperial Daibei Sector Fleet. Confederation operatives used stolen high-level access codes to implant an ingenious virus named NESSUS into the the command and control networks of fleet assets. NESSUS propagated through compromised system updates but lay dormant until activation, when it crippled shipboard sensor and navigation systems. An Imperial Naval Board of Inquiry would later estimate some 31% of all Daibei Sector Fleet assets had been infected with NESSUS. Between Ventura and NESSUS, the Confederation was able to capture dozens of Daibei systems without firing a single shot.

Ventura was rewarded with a bullet to the back of his head from his own Defense Minister, General Leda Emmett. The General declared martial law and pledged loyalty to the Imperium, which promptly interdicted the Udo system. The 10 worlds of the Udo Cluster became the site of seven pitched naval battles in 991 and 992, though the Confederation was unable to gain purchase there.

Captain Lang was initially fĂȘted as a Hero of the Confederation but in 993 he was arrested by SolSec agents and died in a Confederation prison in either 998 or 999.

The Siege of Oifuerr

Following the initial success of the Daibei offensive, the Confederation labored to absorb worlds that still held Imperial sympathies, such as Oifuerr (Daibei 1637) in Hermes subsector. The system contains only its M4 V primary, three gas giants, two secondary worlds, and the high-population industrial mainworld, valued for its rich lanthanum mines. Oifuerr is a moon orbiting the innermost gas giant Iytra in orbit 2. Oifuerr was also the highest population world in the subsector with approximately 48 billion Aslan inhabitants, representing one of the most significant populations of “Imperialized” Aslan in the region.

Although located some 5 parsecs within the border of the Autonomous Region, Oifuerr suffered under Solomani rule and in 940 Empress Margaret II established a permanent Imperial garrison in the system. Solomani cynics claimed this gesture was motivated more by concern for the lanthanum mines rather than the Aslan inhabitants.

By 990 the garrison consisted of the 763rd Imperial BatRon (Trokh: Tekhukhauleatealrao)—an understrength squadron of Timarin-class battle-riders—and the 354th Lift Infantry Field Army, drawn largely from Duurmurze (Daibei 0922). The garrison was supported by colonial assets consisting of a full squadron of Kapamir-class 25,000 dt heavy monitors, two squadrons of Seydlitz-class strike monitors, 6 wings of system defense boats, and 4 wings of heavy fighters. Although a nearly airless, low-gravity desert world, Oifuerr also fielded 9 colonial field armies outfitted at TL 12.

The Confederation assumed that Oifuerr would offer only limited resistance once the initial Daibei offensive was complete, but instead the lone system mounted one of the most determined and effective defences outside of Old Expanses. Over the course of 11 months Oifuerr drove back no less than four separate Confederation attempts to establish naval superiority. The Imperial battle riders and heavy monitors inflicted grievous losses on Confederation battlecruisers.

But isolated from the Imperium and lacking many important natural resources, after five months the Oifuerr defenses began to flag. And even after the Imperial space assets were worn down the ground forces mounted their own valiant resistance of the mainworld. The Confederation made several attempted landings but were dealt setback after setback. Finally, by using close coordination of naval firepower, the Imperial 354th Army was pinned and largely destroyed outside Khalahar Down starport.

Weary Confederation commanders decided to end the siege through orbital bombardments rather than risk more ground assaults. They chose to make an example of the Wyaholeah Arcology, a target with no military or industrial value but an important cultural center for the Aslan. The resulting destruction killed 2 million civilians and leveled Wyaholeah. Oifuerr surrendered shortly thereafter. The survivors of the 354th Imperial Army were rounded up and shipped to Solomani prison camps. For the duration of the war Aslan across Daibei and Magyar sectors were resettled on Oifuerr and often forced into labor at the lanthanum mines.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Shapeless Congeries: Shoggoths

Among the more frightening and iconic monsters from the Cthulhu mythos are the shoggoths, the protoplasmic servitor race created by the Elder Things to build their terrible cities. H.P. Lovecraft included them in his novella At the Mountains of Madness (1931).

The Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder Kickstarter came with several shoggoth miniatures. I was initially disappointed that they weren’t larger, but they are nice sculpts that could be mounted on a Huge base. I knew I wanted to paint one with a blue-black color with glowing green eyes. For my first attempt I primed it gray and then went with a soft blue base coat, but this was much too light. I tried again with a black primer and a thin base of the same soft blue—this approach worked much better, creating the dark, midnight blue effect I was looking for. I then used the same technique for glowing green eyes that I‘ve been using for red eyes. This worked pretty well, though when I added a glossy varnish to give the model a nice slimy sheen the glowing effect died back a bit.

There have been several versions of shoggoths in D&D, starting with “The Lovecraftian Mythos in Dungeons & Dragons” from The Dragon #12 (February, 1978). The first printing of the Deities and Demigods book (1980) also had AD&D stats for shoggoths in the Cthulhu Mythos section that was cut from later printings. Paizo created an open version for 3.5e in the Crucible of Chaos (2008), which was then updated for Pathfinder in the first Bestiary. The Petersen Mythos Bestiary has a second, slightly tougher Pathfinder version which was used to create the following 0e and 3.5e conversions.

The following text is Open Gaming Content.

Shoggoth

This mass of undulating tarry black flesh exudes the smell of decay, filled with bubbles of vilest air and giving off a very faint luminescence. Its unworldly voice is plaintive, always crying, “Tekeli-li!”

Formless Horror. A shoggoth’s form is constantly shifting, as the creature moves, explores, and interacts with its environment. Extremely adaptable, its current form is always the one that is most ideally suited to finding and consuming living flesh. At any one time, a shoggoth has dozens of pseudopods of varying proportions, and it uses them to create hands, suckers, stingers, or tentacles to grab and consume its prey. Shoggoths have no proper mouth but create and absorb such organs as needed

Always Hungry. Shoggoths are near-mindless predators though legends say they possess a cunning beyond that of most oozes.

Fueled by Chaos. Shoggoths are servitors of dark gods and things normally spoken of only in whispers. At one time, shoggoths were servants to a greater race, but after centuries or eons of mistreatment they rebelled and cast down their masters.

Unnaturally Resilient. Shoggoths are impervious to cold and can thrive on minimal foodstuffs filtered from air or water when nothing more nutritious is available. They prefer environments where water or ice is available.

A shoggoth’s skin glows with a very faint emerald luminescence. Its black tarry flesh is sometimes translucent as well, especially when it has not eaten in a long time. It is capable of secreting a thick, viscous, semi-opaque, sticky slime that further enhances its ability to catch and devour its prey.

0e

Shoggoth CL 19 (4,100 XP)

If a shoggoth hits an opponent with 2 tentacles in 1 round, it can decide to engulf the opponent automatically on the next round. An engulfed opponent takes 1d10 points of damage each round it remains trapped. Attacks on a shoggoth deal half their damage to anyone engulfed by the creature.

HD 13; AC 3 [16]; Atk 4 tentacles (1d10); Move 18/18 (swimming); Save 3; Al C; Special engulf, half damage from weapons, immune to cold, magic resistance (40%).

3.5e

Shoggoth CR 20

Always CE Huge ooze (aquatic)

Init +12; Senses all-around vision, darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision, scent, tremorsense 60 ft.; Listen +20, Spot +25

Languages Aklo

Defense

AC 36, touch 16, flat-footed 28
(+8 Dex, +20 natural, -2 size)

hp 403 (26d10+260 HD); fast healing 10

Fort +20, Ref +16, Will +22

Defensive Abilities ooze traits, strong willed; DR 10/–; Immune blindness, charm effects, cold, deafness, sonic; Resist acid 30, fire 30; SR 31

Offense

Spd 50 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 50 ft.

Melee 4 pseudopods +32 (3d8+15/19–20)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 30 ft.

Special Attacks constrict, consume, deadly blow, improved grab, maddening cacophony, trample

Tactics

Before Combat The shoggoth cries with its maddening cacophony to induce fear before closing to engulf its foes.

During Combat The shoggoth uses its pseudopods in the first round of any encounter, hoping to knock down a foe quickly. In the second round, it swallows one or more foes.

Morale The shoggoth retreats under cover if faced with flying opponents and it flees if reduced to less than 50 hit points without feeding on a foe. Otherwise, the shoggoth fights to the death.

Statistics

Str 40, Dex 26, Con 31, Int 5, Wis 22, Cha 13

Base Atk +19; Grp +42

Feats Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (pseudopods), Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Power Attack

Skills Climb +23, Listen +20, Spot +25, Swim +23

Ecology

Environment cold aquatic or underground

Organization solitary

Treasure standard

Advancement 24–34 HD (Huge), 35–46 HD (Colossal)

Special Abilities

All-Around Vision (Ex) A shoggoth’s many sense organs grant a +4 racial bonus on Spot checks and immunity to flanking.

Constrict (Ex) A shoggoth deals automatic pseudopod damage with a successful grapple check.

Consume (Ex) A shoggoth can attempt to consume a grappled opponent of Huge or smaller size by making a successful grapple check as a free action. Once inside, the opponent takes 4d6+22 bludgeoning damage plus 10d6 acid damage per round. A consumed creature can cut its way out by dealing 25 points of damage to the shoggoth (AC 28, and the shoggoth’s damage reduction still applies to those inside). A creature that cuts its way out of a shoggoth leaves no hole in the protoplasmic creature’s body. The shoggoth’s body can hold 1 Huge, 2 Large, 8 Medium, 32 Small, or 128 Tiny, or 512 Diminutive or smaller creatures.

Deadly Blow (Ex) If a shoggoth reduces a creature to fewer than 0 hit points with a pseudopod attack, the creature must make a successful DC 38 Fortitude save or it is instantly slain as the shoggoth plucks off the victim’s head, crushes its torso, or otherwise destroys the creature’s body. The save DC is Strength-based.

Improved Grab (Ex) To use this ability, a shoggoth must hit a creature up to one size category smaller than itself with a pseudopod attack. It may then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking attacks of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it it establishes a hold and can attempt to constrict or consume the opponent as a free action.

Maddening Cacophony (Su) As a free action, a shoggoth can give voice to sounds and words sane life was not meant to hear. All creatures in a 60-foot radius must make a DC 24 Will save or be confused for 1d6 rounds. Each round a creature is affected it takes 1d6 points of Wisdom damage. A creature that saves cannot be affected by this shoggoth’s maddening cacophony for 24 hours. This is a sonic mind-affecting effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Pseudopods (Ex) A shoggoth can attack with up to four pseudopods in a round. As it attacks, it can decide as a free action if the pseudopod inflicts bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage.

Strong-Willed (Ex) A shoggoth has a +6 racial bonus on Will saves. Once per day the shoggoth can reroll one failed Will save.

Trample (Ex) As a standard action during its turn each round, a shoggoth can literally run over an opponent at least one size smaller than itself. It merely has to move over the opponent to deal bludgeoning damage equal to 4d8 + 15. The target can attempt a DC 38 Reflex save to negate the damage, or it can instead choose to make an attack of opportunity at a -4 penalty. The save DC is Strength-based.

OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a

The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Formless Spawn

I received the final PDF of Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder. The book had been long delayed but the wait appears to have been worth it: this is a really nice looking supplement. One of the mythos monsters that works really well for the Great Dungeon is the formless spawn of Tsathoggua, a nasty intelligent ooze that “deserves” porting into 0e, 3e, and 5e.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Formless Spawn

This black heap of thick organic material swiftly changes form, emitting rope-like tendrils and building legs, mouths, and other structures seemingly without pattern. It is utterly silent despite the chaos of its ever-moving structure.

Shapes without Form. Deep below the earth live the formless spawn, highly fluid entities of black protoplasm that can shift between shapes with the rapidity of water. They are liquescent in their native habitats, and build channels or gutters of stone that they can flow through with incredible speed. Their preferred resting-place is a tub or a depression in the earth. The average size is around 16 feet across with a weight of about 2,000 pounds.

Endless Mutability. The formless spawn, though technically oozes, almost never form simple shapes. They often sprout spindly legs to run upon, twisted faces to leer with, and limbs to grasp and hold. When lurking in a room, they commonly shoot out sticky strands to cling to the walls or ceiling, building a web-like structure out of their own bodies. If an enemy is significantly smaller than the spawn, it can open up a huge toothless mouth and swallow a victim whole. A formless spawn frequently transforms its whole body into a pointed deadly ram and thrusts at a single, large enemy. Its club attacks are generally reserved for heavily-armored foes. The formless spawn's whip attacks are lashes with many small tendrils sharpened to razors, which slice lightly-armored enemies to shreds.

Embodiments of Chaos. The formless spawn are wholly chaotic in their philosophy. Though they sometimes work toward the same larger goal, each takes its own independent action and direction.

0e

Formless Spawn CL 14 (2,600 XP)

A formless spawn can attack with either 3 tentacles or 1 bite. The victim of a formless spawn’s tentacle attacks must make a saving throw or be held fast and pulled to the mouth for a bite attack. Victims of a bite attack must likewise make a saving throw or be swallowed whole. Once inside the spawn, a creature suffers 3d6 points of damage per round. A swallowed creature can attempt to climb into the spawn’s mouth, where it must make a successful open doors roll to escape. A swallowed creature can also cut its way out using a dagger to deal 20 points of damage (AC 6 [13]). A formless spawn can hold 1 human or elf or 2 dwarves or halflings.

A formless spawn is immune to spells and blunt weapons.

HD 10; AC 4 [15]; Atk bite (3d6) or 3 tentacles (1d6); Move 15/12 (climbing)/15 (swimming); Save 5; AL C; Special: Immune to spells, blunt weapons; swallow whole

3.5e

Formless Spawn CR 8

Always CE Huge ooze

Init +9; Senses blindsight 120 ft.; Listen +12, Spot +16

Languages Aklo

Defense

AC 22, touch 22, flat-footed 13
(+5 deflection, +9 Dex, –2 size)

hp 115 (10d10+60 HD); fast healing 10

Fort +9, Ref +12, Will +4

Defensive Abilities all-around vision, DR 10/—; Immune acid, ooze traits; Resist electricity 10; SR 19

Offense

Spd 60 ft., climb 40 ft., swim 60 ft.

Melee bite +15 (4d6+6) or
3 club tentacles +15 (2d4+4)
or 12 whip tentacles +9 (1d4+2) or
ram +14 (6d8+6/x3)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

Special Attacks improved grab, swallow whole, variable attacks

Tactics

During Combat Formless spawn simply re-form after being cut or chopped. Each combat round, the formless spawn can take a different shape and use a different attack system, as the combat demands.

Morale Formless spawn are extremely fast and intelligent, so they can and do flee superior foes clever enough to focus on high-damage magical attacks.

Statistics

Str 19, Dex 29, Con 22, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 15

Base Atk +7; Grp +19

Feats Power Attack, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (club tentacle), Weapon Focus (bite)

Skills Climb +12, Knowledge (religion) +12, Hide +11, Listen +12, Move Silently +19, Search +6, Spot +16, Swim +12

SQ compression, freeze, tendrils

Ecology

Environment any underground

Organization solitary or flood (2–6)

Treasure standard

Advancement 11–20 HD (Huge), 21–30 (Gargantuan)

Special Abilities

All-Around Vision (Ex) A formless spawn has a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Search checks. A formless spawn can’t be flanked.

Blindsight (Ex) An formless ooze can ascertain prey by scent and vibration within 120 feet.

Compression (Ex) A formless spawn can move through an area as small as one-quarter its space without squeezing or one-eighth its space when squeezing.

Freeze (Ex) A formless spawn can hold itself so still that it appears to be nothing more than a puddle of tar or oil. When using this ability, a formless spawn can take 20 on its Hide check to hide in plain sight as just such a puddle. While freezing in this way, a spawn need not drink or eat.

Improved Grab (Ex) To use this ability, a formless spawn must hit a creature of any size with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Ram (Ex) As a full-round action, a formless spawn can transform its whole body into a deadly pointed ram and thrust at a single foe. This primary attack inflicts piercing damage.

Swallow Whole (Ex) A formless spawn can try to swallow a grabbed Large or smaller opponent by making a successful grapple check as a free action. A swallowed creature takes 2d4+4 points of acid damage per round. A swallowed creature can cut its way out by using a light slashing or piercing weapon to deal 10 points of damage to the formless spawn (AC 12). Once the creature exits, the hole closes; another swallowed opponent must cut its own way out. A formless spawn can hold 2 Large, 8 Medium, 32 Small, 128 Tiny, or 512 Diminutive or smaller opponents.

Tendrils (Ex) A formless spawn fills an area around it to a twenty-foot radius with a writhing storm of black tendrils formed from its own amorphous body. These tendrils grant it a +5 deflection bonus to AC and penalize all other creatures’ grapple checks made in that area by –5. Freedom of movement grants immunity to this penalty, and creatures that are gaseous or incorporeal do not suffer the penalty.

Tentacles (Ex) A formless spawn’s club tentacles always function as primary natural weapons that inflict bludgeoning damage. Its whip tentacles always function as secondary natural weapons that inflict slashing damage.

Variable Attacks (Ex) When a formless spawn attacks, it must choose which form of attack it wishes to make in that round between a bite, up to three club-like tentacles, a number of whip-like tentacles, or a single powerful ram. When it makes attacks of opportunity, it always does so with a club tentacle. It cannot attack with multiple attack types as part of a full-attack action—it must choose one of the four attack modes but is free to change those modes each round of combat.

5e

Formless Spawn Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

CE Huge ooze

Init +9; Senses blindsight 120 ft.; passive Perception 14

Languages Aklo

Defense

Armor Class 14

Hit Points 114 (12d12+36)

Resist electricity; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage; Immune deafened, exhaustion, prone

Offense

Speed 60 ft., climb 40 ft., swim 60 ft.

Multiattack. The formless spawn makes three tentacle attacks.

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 48 (8d10 + 4) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it is grappled (escape DC 16). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained.

Swallow. The formless spawn makes one bite attack against a Large or smaller creature it is grappling. If the attack hits, that creature takes the bite’s damage and is swallowed, and the grapple ends. While swallowed, the creature is blinded and restrained, it has total cover against attacks and other effects outside the spawn, and it takes 36 (8d8) acid damage at the start of each of the spawn’s turns. If the spawn takes 30 damage or more on a single turn from a creature inside it, the spawn must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw at the end of that turn or regurgitate all swallowed creatures, which fall prone in a space within 10 feet of the spawn. If the spawn dies, a swallowed creature is no longer restrained by it and can escape from the corpse using 15 feet of movement, exiting prone.

Tentacle. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (3d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 16). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained. The spawn has eight tentacles, each of which can grapple one target.

Statistics

Str 17 (+3), Dex 18 (+4), Con 16 (+3), Int 14 (+2), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 14 (+2)

Skills Perception +14

Traits

Amorphous. A formless spawn can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

False appearance. While a formless spawn remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a puddle of tar or oil.

Spider climb. A formless spawn can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a

The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ogres of the Great Dungeon

The Reaper Bones 3 Kickerstarter featured not one, not two, but five different ogre miniatures. Three were included in the core set, while two were part of the "Ogre Command" add-on. I decided to paint them all in a batch, which took a while since I am a slow, slow painter.

I continue to be impressed with the quality of the sculpts in this set, and to be plagued by errant mold lines. (I think all of these figures were done by the same sculptor—maybe Tre Manor?) These models seem to be inspired by the Paizo take on ogres, compete with collections of skulls. I love all the gruesome little details, like the cowering goblin tethered to the ogress, or the incorporation of human-sized shields into their armor, or the hand sticking out of the pouch of one of the ogres.

I was pretty happy with how these came out, but once I was done I realized they looked much too clean. Ogres are pretty squalid after all, so I went back and "distressed" some of the equipment—adding brown wash to dirty up some of the leather, and some dabs of tarnished copper to create a simple rust effect on the metal. After so much work trying to keep my lines sharp and neat, it was a little painful to intentionally muck it all up. Next time I will try to have a better plan from the start.

Ogres of the Great Dungeon

Ogres, it seems, are found anywhere humans dwell. In the Far Reaches to the east, ogres serve in the halls of the frost and fire giants. In the Southern Empires, ogres live amongst the orc tribes in the wastelands. In the Far West, enslaved ogres toil for wizards and demons in their black towers. And in the North, ogres have always lurked in the darkness at the edge of civilization, even as far back as the days of lost Norumbega.

In the Great Dungeon, the lands around Black Lake are dominated by one particularly prolific and degenerate family of ogres: the Aintry Clan. These ogres are possessed of the delusion that they are not monsters at all but human: fair, freedom-loving, and heroic. And perhaps the Aintry family were indeed once human, but after untold years of unspeakable practices, they are become thoroughly corrupt and monstrous. Despite this, the members of the Aintry clan believe themselves to be persecuted by the forces of oppressive Law, driven into the wilderness where there and only there they can be free, able to maintain their family traditions in peace.

In the Great Dungeon, the Aintry Clan has finally found a home where they feel reasonably safe from prying eyes and interlopers. They have established several outposts but their main stronghold is rumored to be on the Sixth Level, where their terrible matriarch resides. The Aintrys are friendly with the ghouls, gnolls, trolls, and Orcs of the Shattered Bone; they are enemies to the Crookhorn kobolds and the Dungmarket goblins. Woe to those adventures who fall into the fell clutches of the Aintry clan: if not tortured to death or devoured such unfortunates are subject to such horrors that they are never truly whole again.

Random Ogre Encounters (3.5e)
d%EncounterAverage EL
01–021 annis hag6
03–052d4 gnolls4
06–171d4+2 half-ogres*5
18–221 hill giant5
23–251 ogre barbarian7
26–311d2 ogre ruffians6
32–561d4 ogres5
57–731d2 ogres and 1 ogre ruffian7
74–901d3 ogres and 1 wardog6
91–961d4+2 orogs*4
97–001d2 trolls6

* Tome of Horrors Revisited

Monday, October 9, 2017

Only Those Weren't Cloaks: Cloakers

WizKids Flying Ray

The cloaker is a fairly interesting monster, an intelligent and alien creature with a striking visual image and a variety of abilities. The cloaker first appeared in the module Secret of the Slavers’ Stockade (1981) and was then collected in the Monster Manual II (1983). It has been included in every subsequent edition of D&D, with the more powerful variant cloaker lord debuting in the second edition Menzoberranzan boxed set (1992). Wolfgang Baur developed an entire cloaker city in his “Kingdom of the Ghouls” adventure from Dungeon 70 (1998).

Paizo appears to have adopted cloakers as a substitute for the closed-content ixitxachitl, which seems a decent enough re-purposing. For the Pathfinder game, Paizo subtly cleaned up the shadow shift ability and changed it to a free action, which is an idea well worth back-porting to 3.5e. As most combats only last only four rounds or so, monsters with many special abilities rarely get a chance to show them all off.

The inspiration for the cloaker is unclear, but it resembles some monsters from one of my favorite Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, “The Sunken Land” (1942), which is in Swords Against Death. In this story, the Mouser glimpses a band of northmen being overwhelmed by black, cloak-like creatures. It's a great case of "less is more," as the terse, ambiguous description of the situation leaves much to the reader's imagination.

It is somewhat challenging in 3.5e to create advanced cloakers, despite their intelligence and array of special abilities—or perhaps it is more accurate to say because of these very traits. The cloaker special abilities are a bit of a hodgepodge, muddying the monster's role, and none scale well with additional hit dice or class levels. The aberration creature type is fairly weak, so advancing cloakers by HD does relatively little beyond increasing their size to Huge. Cloakers could certainly take levels in character classes, but many classes would be considered non-associated and thus have limited effect on the final challenge rating. In 2e or 5e, where monster design is far looser, one could just create a "master cloaker" with some new abilities. In 3.5e, a species-specific prestige class might be the best way to go, a class that enhanced and maybe expanded the moan and shadow shift abilities.

Surprisingly, there are very few cloaker miniatures available. The Reaper Bones II Kickstarter had one "cloak beast" as part of its Thank You pack add-on, but I don't believe that any of the DDM sets had a cloaker. Enter the Pathfinder Battles line of pre-painted miniatures and the "flying ray," a nice uncommon figure from the Deadly Foes set. I picked up several of these for the Great Dungeon. Very little is known about these monsters, other than they are said to inhabit the deep levels.

The following text is Open Game Content.

Cloaker

This shape, like a great black cloak, ripples and rises up into the air, opening up into a billowing sheet of darkness.

A Strange, Alien Race. The cloakers are most often found in the deep underground realms, where they are feared and avoided by the other races. The goals and motivations of the cloakers are largely unknown.

Deceptive Appearance. 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.

Weird and Unsettling Abilities. Cloakers emit an eerie moaning that can induce baleful effects in the listener. They are able to manipulate shadows to produce spell-like effects.

A cloaker has a wingspan of about 8 feet. It weighs about 100 pounds.

Cloaker CR 5

Usually CN Large aberration

Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +13, Spot +13

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 19, touch 12, flat-footed 16
(+3 Dex, +7 natural, -1 size)

hp 45 (6d8+18 HD)

Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +7

Special Defenses shadow shift

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +8 (1d6+5), bite +3 (1d4+2)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (5 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks engulf, moan

Tactics

Before Combat Cloakers usually lie still, watching and listening for prey.

During Combat If facing a single opponent, a cloaker uses its engulf attack. Against multiple foes, it lashes with its tail in concert with its moan and shadow shift abilities to reduce the opposition’s numbers, then engulfs a survivor. Multiple cloakers usually split up, leaving one or two behind to use special abilities while the rest make melee attacks.

Morale Individual cloakers fight until brought to 20 hp or less; groups of cloakers retreat once half their number are slain.

Statistics

Str 21, Dex 16, Con 17, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 15

Base Atk +4; Grp +13

Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative

Skills Hide +8, Listen +13, Move Silently +12, Spot +13

Ecology

Environment underground

Organization solitary, mob (3–6), or flock (7–12)

Treasure standard

Advancement 7–9 HD (Large); 10–18 HD (Huge)

Special Abilities

Engulf (Ex) A cloaker can try to wrap a Medium or smaller creature in its body as a standard action. The cloaker attempts a grapple that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and bites the engulfed victim with a +4 bonus on its attack roll. It can still use its whiplike tail to strike at other targets. Attacks that hit an engulfing cloaker deal half their damage to the monster and half to the trapped victim.

Moan (Ex) A cloaker can emit a dangerous subsonic moan as a standard action. By changing the frequency, the cloaker can cause one of four effects. Cloakers are immune to these sonic, mind-affecting attacks. Unless otherwise specified, a creature that successfully saves against one of these effects cannot be affected by the same moan effect from the same cloaker for 24 hours. All save DCs for moan effects are Charisma-based.

Fear: Anyone within a 30-foot spread must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or become panicked for 2 rounds.

Nausea: Anyone in a 30-foot cone must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or be overcome by nausea and weakness. Affected characters fall prone and become nauseated for 1d4+1 rounds.

Stupor: A single creature within 30 feet of the cloaker must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or be affected as though by a hold monster spell for 5 rounds. Even after a successful save, the creature must repeat the save if the cloaker uses this effect again.

Unnerve: Anyone within a 60-foot spread automatically takes a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls. Those forced to hear the moan for more than 6 consecutive rounds must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or enter a trance, unable to attack or defend themselves until the moaning stops.

Shadow Shift (Su) When in dim illumination, a cloaker can manipulate shadows as a free action to create one of three effects: blur (lasts 1d4 rounds, self only), mirror image (CL 6th), or silent image (DC 15, CL 6th, save DC is Charisma-based).

Variant Cloakers

While most cloakers have a fairly uniform appearance, there are several varieties that stand out from the norm.

Shadowbrood: Believed to be cloakers infused with the energy of the Plane of Shadow, these midnight-black cloakers are often mistaken for incorporeal undead. They can use their shadow shift ability to produce effects identical to darkness and dimension door (self only). Once per day they may use maze and shadow walk as spell-like abilities (caster level 8th). (CR +1)

Vampiric: These yellow-gray cloakers thrive on blood and attach themselves to their prey like leeches. Despite the name, most vampiric cloakers are not undead; however, explorers have reported vampiric cloakers that recoil from holy symbols and are damaged by water, so presumably they somehow can become true vampires, though the mechanics for this are unknown. In addition to the normal powers of cloakers, they have the following abilities. (CR +1)

Attach (Ex): If a vampiric cloaker hits with a bite attack, it uses its powerful jaws to latch onto the opponent’s body and automatically deals bite damage each round it remains attached. An attached cloaker loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class and has an AC of 16. An attached cloaker can be struck with a weapon or grappled itself. To remove an attached cloaker through grappling, the opponent must achieve a pin against the creature. A vampiric cloaker can use this ability while it engulfs an opponent.

Blood Drain (Ex): A vampiric cloaker drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution damage in any round when it begins its turn attached to a victim. Once it has dealt 10 points of Constitution damage, it detaches and flies off to digest the meal. If its victim dies before the cloaker’s appetite has been sated, the cloaker detaches and seeks a new target.

Advanced Cloakers

Cloaker guards are older, larger individuals assigned to protect important cloaker areas.

Cloaker Guard CR 7

Advanced cloaker

CN Huge aberration

Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +17, Spot +17

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 20, touch 10, flat-footed 18
(+2 Dex, +10 natural, -2 size)

hp 126 (12d8+72 HD)

Fort +10, Ref +6, Will +10

Special Defenses shadow shift

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +17 (2d6+10), bite +12 (1d6+5)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft. (10 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks engulf, moan

Statistics

Str 30, Dex 14, Con 22, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 15

Base Atk +9; Grp +27

Feats Ability Focus (moan), Combat Reflexes, Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (tail slap)

Skills Hide +9, Listen +17, Move Silently +17, Spot +17

Special Abilities

Moan (Ex) The DC for all effects is 20.

Shadow Shift (Su) DC 18 Will for silent image.

Lurking cloakers wait patiently in the darkness, seeking to catch and destroy stragglers.

Lurking Cloaker CR 8

Cloaker rogue 3

CN Large aberration

Init +10; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +13, Spot +13

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 23, touch 16, flat-footed 17
(+1 deflection, +6 Dex, +7 natural, -1 size)

hp 68 (6d8+18 plus 3d6+18 HD)

Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +8

Special Defenses evasion, shadow shift, trap sense +1

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +11 (1d6+6), bite +6 (1d4+3)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (5 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks engulf, moan, sneak attack +2d6

Statistics

Str 23, Dex 22, Con 17, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 14

Base Atk +6; Grp +16

Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative

Skills Hide +12, Listen +13, Move Silently +16, Search +5, Sense Motive +7, Spot +13, Use Magic Device +8

SQ trapfinding

Combat Gear oil of magic vestment +5, potion of greater magic fang +5, potion of resist energy (fire) 30; Other Gear ring of protection +1

Special Abilities

Moan (Ex) The DC for all effects is 15.

Shadow Shift (Su) DC 15 Will for silent image.

The mind of a cloaker is bizarre, and these creatures do not worship conventional gods, instead choosing to venerate aloof, extra-dimensional beings of mind-shattering power.

Cloaker Suppliant CR 9

Cloaker cleric 7

CN Large aberration

Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +12, Spot +12

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 22, touch 14, flat-footed 18
(+1 deflection, +4 Dex, +8 natural, -1 size)

hp 140 (6d8+36 plus 7d8+42 HD)

Fort +13, Ref +10, Will +13

Special Defenses shadow shift

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +12 (1d6+4), bite +7 (1d4+2)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (5 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks engulf, moan, rebuke undead 7/day (+4, 2d6+11 HD, 7th)

Spells Prepared (CL 7th, 8th for Chaos spells)

4th—chaos hammer *D (DC 20), inflict critical wounds (+12 melee touch, DC 20), spell immunity

3rd—bestow curse (+12 melee touch, DC 19), deeper darkness, prayer, rage D (DC 19)

2nd—death knell (DC 18), hold person (DC 18), inflict moderate wounds (+12 melee touch, DC 18), resist energy, shatter (DC 18), touch of madness D (+12 melee touch, DC 18)

1st—bane (DC 17), cause fear (DC 17), command (DC 17), detect law *, doom (DC 17), entropic shield, lesser confusion D (DC 17)

0—detect magic (2), guidance (2), read magic, resistance (2)

D Domain spell, * chaos spell; Domains chaos, madness

Statistics

Str 18, Dex 18, Con 22, Int 14, Wis 20, Cha 18

Base Atk +9; Grp +17

Feats Ability Focus (moan), Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Armor, Lightning Reflexes

Skills Concentration +16 (+20 casting defensively), Hide +9, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Knowledge (the planes) +9, Listen +12, Move Silently +13, Spellcraft +8, Spot +12, Survival +3 (+5 on other planes)

SQ spontaneous casting (inflict spells)

Combat Gear scroll of greater dispel magic and harm, wand of shatter (30 charges); Other Gear amulet of health +2, ring of protection +1

Special Abilities

Madness Domain For spellcasting (determining bonus spells and DCs), the cloaker suppliant uses its Wisdom score +3 (23) in place of Wisdom alone. For all other purposes, such as skills and saves, the cloaker suppliant uses its Wisdom score -3 (17) in place of Wisdom. (These modifiers are already included in the statistics block.) Once per day, the cloaker suppliant can see and act with the clarity of true madness. The suppliant gains a +3 bonus on a single roll involving Wisdom. The suppliant must choose to use this power before the roll is made.

Moan (Ex) The save DC for all effects is 19.

Shadow Shift (Su) DC 17 Will for silent image.

Vampiric cloakers are revered and feared by other cloakers as being marked with a special power.

Vampiric Cloaker CR 10

Vampiric cloaker fighter 4

CE Large aberration

Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +14, Spot +14

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 23, touch 14, flat-footed 19
(+1 deflection, +4 Dex, +9 natural, -1 size)

hp 102 (6d8+30 plus 4d10+20)

Fort +11, Ref +7, Will +9

Special Defenses shadow shift

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +15 (1d6+8), bite +11 (1d6+6/19-20)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (5 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks attach, blood drain, engulf, moan

Statistics

Str 26, Dex 19, Con 20, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 12

Base Atk +8; Grp +20

Feats Combat Expertise, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (bite), Improved Trip, Weapon Specialization (bite), Weapon Focus (bite)

Skills Hide +11, Listen +14, Move Silently +15, Spot +14

Gear amulet of natural armor +2, ring of protection +1

Special Abilities

Attach (Ex) If a vampiric cloaker hits with a bite attack, it uses its powerful jaws to latch onto the opponent’s body and automatically deals bite damage each round it remains attached. An attached cloaker loses its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class and has an AC of 16. An attached cloaker can be struck with a weapon or grappled itself. To remove an attached cloaker through grappling, the opponent must achieve a pin against the creature. A vampiric cloaker can use this ability while it engulfs an opponent.

Blood Drain (Ex) A vampiric cloaker drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution damage in any round when it begins its turn attached to a victim. Once it has dealt 10 points of Constitution damage, it detaches and flies off to digest the meal. If its victim dies before the cloaker’s appetite has been sated, the cloaker detaches and seeks a new target.

Moan (Ex) The DC for all effects is 14.

Shadow Shift (Su) DC 14 Will for silent image.

Elder cloakers are some of the largest and oldest cloakers known, generally found only in the deepest and darkest parts of the earth and occasionally on the Plane of Shadow.

Elder Cloaker CR 12

Advanced elite shadowbrood cloaker

Usually CN Huge aberration

Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +22, Spot +22

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 21, touch 11, flat-footed 18
(+3 Dex, +10 natural, -2 size)

hp 228 (18d8+144 HD)

Fort +14, Ref +9, Will +12

Special Defenses shadow shift

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +22 (2d6+11), bite +17 (1d6+5)

Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft. (10 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks engulf, moan

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th)

1/day—maze, shadow walk

Statistics

Str 32, Dex 17, Con 26, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 18

Base Atk +13; Grp +32

Feats Ability Focus (moan), Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Improved Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Improved Natural Attack (tail slap)

Skills Hide +16, Listen +22, Move Silently +24, Spot +22

Special Abilities

Moan (Ex) The DC for all effects is 25.

Shadow Shift (Su) When in dim illumination, an elder cloaker can manipulate shadows as a free action to create one of five effects: blur (lasts 1d4 rounds, self only), darkness (CL 6th), dimension door (self only, up to 640 ft.), mirror image (CL 6th), silent image (DC 23, CL 6th).

Cloaker Shadow Weavers use arcane magic to tap into the mysterious power of the Plane of Shadow.

Cloaker Shadow Weaver CR 13

Cloaker sorcerer 11

CN Large aberration

Init +9; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +14, Spot +14

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 26, touch 17, flat-footed 21
(+3 deflection, +5 Dex, +9 natural, -1 size)

hp 143 (6d8+30 plus 11d4+55 HD)

Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +14

Special Defenses shadow shift

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +12 (1d6+4), bite +7 (1d4+2)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (5 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks engulf, moan

Spells Known (CL 11th)

5th (5/day)—shadow evocation (DC 22), waves of fatigue

4th (7/day)—crushing despair (DC 19), enervation (+13 ranged touch), shadow conjuration (DC 21)

3rd (7/day)—dispel magic, lightning bolt (DC 18), ray of exhaustion (+13 ranged touch, DC 18), slow (DC 18)

2nd (7/day)—blindness/deafness (DC 17), darkness, scare (DC 17), touch of idiocy (+12 melee touch)

1st (8/day)—disguise self, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement (+13 ranged touch), shield, shocking grasp (+12 melee touch)

0 (6/day)—daze (DC 15), detect magic, ghost sound (DC 17), mage hand, ray of frost (+13 ranged touch), prestidigitation, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue (+12 melee touch, DC 15)

Statistics

Str 18, Dex 20, Con 20, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 21

Base Atk +9; Grp +17

Feats Alertness, Eschew Materials, Greater Spell Focus (illusion), Improved Initiative, Spell Focus (illusion), Still Spell

Skills Concentration +19, Hide +11, Knowledge (arcana) +16, Listen +14, Move Silently +14, Spellcraft +18, Spot +14

SQ summon familiar

Combat Gear scroll of deep slumber and suggestion, wand of major image (30 charges); Other Gear amulet of natural armor +2, ring of protection +3

Special Abilities

Moan (Ex) The DC for all effects is 18.

Shadow Shift (Su) DC 18 Will for silent image.

Shadow Lord cloakers are often the rulers of large cloaker communities deep beneath the earth.

Shadow Lord Cloaker CR 15

Advanced cloaker shadowdancer 10

CN Large aberration

Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +23, Spot +23

Languages Undercommon

Defense

AC 25, touch 18, flat-footed 19
(+3 deflection, +6 Dex, +7 natural, -1 size)

hp 148 (7d8+28 plus 10d8+40 HD)

Fort +9, Ref +15, Will +11

Special Defenses defensive roll, improved evasion, improved uncanny dodge, shadow shift, slippery mind; Resist fire 10

Offense

Spd 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)

Melee tail slap +18 (1d8+4), bite +12 (1d4+2)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (5 ft. with bite)

Special Attacks engulf, moan, shadow illusion

Statistics

Str 19, Dex 22, Con 18, Int 18, Wis 16, Cha 18

Base Atk +12; Grp +20

Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Flyby Attack, Improved Natural Attack (tail slap), Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (tail slap)

Skills Bluff +14, Decipher Script +14, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +14 (+16 acting), Escape Artist +16, Hide +22, Intimidate +6, Listen +23, Move Silently +26, Perform (dance) +19, Search +19, Sleight of Hand +8, Spot +23, Survival +3 (+5 to follow tracks), Use Rope +6 (+8 to bind)

SQ hide in plain sight, summon shadow, shadow jump 160 ft.

Combat Gear eyes of doom; Other Gear amulet of health +2, minor ring of energy resistance (fire), ring of protection +3

Special Abilities

Defensive Roll (Ex) Once per day, when a shadow lord cloaker would be reduced to 0 hit points or less by damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special ability), it can attempt to roll with the damage. It makes a Reflex saving throw (DC = damage dealt) and, if successful, takes only half damage from the blow. It must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to execute its defensive roll. If it is in a situation that would deny it any Dexterity bonus to AC, it can’t attempt a defensive roll.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su) A shadow lord cloaker can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as it is within 10 feet of some sort of shadow, it can hide itself from view in the open without anything to actually hide behind. It cannot, however, hide in its own shadow.

Improved Evasion (Ex) If a shadow lord cloaker makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, it instead takes no damage. A shadow lord cloaker takes only half damage even if it fails its saving throw. A helpless shadow lord cloaker does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex) A shadow lord cloaker retains its Dexterity bonus to AC regardless of being caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. A shadow lord cloaker cannot be flanked except by a rogue of 14th or higher level. (It still loses any Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.)

Moan (Ex) The DC for all effects is 17.

Shadow Illusion (Sp) A shadow lord cloaker can create visual illusions. This ability’s effect is identical to that of the arcane spell silent image and may be employed once per day.

Shadow Jump (Su) A shadow lord cloaker can travel between shadows as if by means of a dimension door spell. The limitation is that the magical transport must begin and end in an area with at least some shadow. This amount can be split among many jumps, but each one, no matter how small, counts as a 10-foot increment.

Shadow Shift (Su) DC 17 Will for silent image.

Slippery Mind (Ex) If the shadow lord cloaker is affected by an enchantment and fails its saving throw, 1 round later it can attempt its saving throw again. It only gets this one extra chance to succeed at its saving throw. If it fails as well, the spell’s effects occur normally.

Summon Shadow (Su) A shadow lord cloaker can summon a 7 HD shadow, an undead shade. Unlike a normal shadow, this shadow’s alignment matches that of the shadow lord cloaker, and the creature cannot create spawn. The summoned shadow cannot be turned, rebuked, or commanded by any third party. This shadow serves as a companion to the shadow lord cloaker and can communicate intelligibly with the shadow lord cloaker.

OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a

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