Take My Monster – Please

You'd think that after yesterday, I wouldn't really have a least favorite monster. That's almost correct.

I had said in a couple places that any monster could be reskinned as a human of some kind, but that I still did not like to use humans as monsters for the party to encounter.

So, I thought about it and tried my hand at shemping a couple monsters that are traditionally the most hated D&D monsters ever. These are stated for Swords & Wizardry. Feel free to use them, they are licensed under the OGL.

F.H. Plum, the Priest

No one knows where he is from. Many who have asked ended up under his thrall for a few hours until they came to their senses 300 miles away from where they started. Little is known or understood about this peculiar man. Many choose to leave him alone to his wanderings.

Mr. Plum is dressed in shining white plate armor, though he never covers his face with his helmet. He carries a shining white spiked mace and a dirty gray bag of various odds and ends. He is not aggressive unless attacked. Even if attacked, he first attempt to deliver a foul spittle on his opponents. Anyone that fails their saving throw will be unable to be within 300 feet of F.H. Plum for 24 hours. If the spittle doesn't succeed, he will use his mace. Anyone hit by the mace will take and additional 1d4 points of acid damage for two rounds after the successful attack.

Violence, however, is rarely neccessary. Anyone that attempts to communicate with Plum must make a saving throw or be his thrall for 2d6 hours. Otherwise, he speaks only in total gibberish. Any attempt to use ESP or Comprehend Languages will fail.

Whatever his purposes are, he appears to be mostly harmless and best left alone. He does appear to walk, but observant creatures will note that he actually walks about 3 inches about the surface. It is rumored that he can walk on any surface, an ability that he sadly does not imbue upon his thralls.

F.H. Plum, the Priest: HD 2; AC 0 [19]; Atk Acid Mace (1d8 + 1d4 acid); Save 16; Move 6; AL L; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Repugnant Spittle, Charming Gibberish, Levitation

Udyn Nubuck

Udyn spends her time living near a large lake, just outside the village where she was born. She lives in a small hut near the edge of the water. She has domesticated a large number of ducks, geese and chickens and makes a living from selling their eggs in town.

She is otherwise ordinary in appearance and usually enjoys being hospitable to anyone that visits. Anyone who visits usually marvels at her ability to feed any number of people that arrive at her door. It is said that she once fed a local nobleman's garrison.

However, if anyone threatens her fowl, she will go into a rage. Anyone who fails their saving throw will be stunned for one round. The saving throw will need to be re-rolled every round in which she is enraged. She has no ability to fight in combat.

Udyn NubuckHD 1d4 hp; AC 9 [10]; Atk none; Save 20; Move 6, Swim 12;  AL L;  CL/XP A/5; Special: Stun, Create Food and Water

Ancon Nob

On second thought, shemping a creature originally described by Pliny the Elder as hurling almost half a mile of flaming poop with the properties of greek fire could be pretty bad. If I ever played Battlesystem again, I would make a rule for this guy.

Your charge against the left flank is not effective as you were hit with Greek Fire. Well, it's not exactly Greek Fire, it came from one man. He didn't have a traditional launching system for it, either.

You get the idea. Even terrible monsters, especially those that are not interesting in combat, can be made interesting by shemping. I could see adding Udyn as a major NPC that the party visits quite a bit. I mean, who doesn't like free food, right? F.H. Plum strikes me as either a survivor of swimming in the phlogiston for a century, or a cursed priest of a forgotten god. Breaking the curse could be a pretty good story arc with the right players. I'd love to see how they would "manage" his whereabouts.

Having said all that, I guess there are some monsters that I don't like. For some reason, I'm not a fan of unicorns. I also don't like autognomes though I do like having androids and robots in my games. It's just that the autognome is a poor robot and only funny for exactly one-half of a round. Beats me why I don't like them. I mean, I like the giant space hamsters and the miniaturized giant space hamsters. Why those two gnome gags always makes me chuckle is a mystery to me, too.

When in doubt, shemp a poor monster as a human to see if it can become more interesting. If it can't, the monster may not be worth your time.

P.S. While working on this post, I discovered that a perfect anagram of tirapheg is graphite. I almost created a human named Graphite, the Illusionist. As I was working on it, though, Graphite began to become more and more like Simon and the Land of the Chalk Drawings.

Primordials

My son has a rich imagination centered around two flying dolphins. Usually, they swim around the sea taking to the air to visit other friends in faraway places. Some of these faraway places are "Kansas", "Mexico", "Ice Cream Land", "Pie Land", and "Different Water".

Not wanting to miss out on his multi-verse hopping, delphine adventures, I asked him about some of these far away places. He described Ice Cream Land as a place that was made entirely of ice cream. Ice cream people lived there. Ice cream dolphins and sharks lived there, too.

Before I get too far, yes, I asked about "Different Water". He said that is was like the ocean, but in a different place. That's all I got. He's five, so I'll cut him a break for now.

In any case, I pondered what would creatures of Ice cream land be called? They're like elementals, but not composed of a single element (unless you consider ice cream an element). I wanted a name that would represent their composition of the fundamental 'stuff' to be represented. So, I happened upon primordials and the name has stuck so far.

The spark my son's imagination provided was to imagine a multiverse without the Ptolemaic/Wu Xing elemental planes. What if the other planes were made of various complex compounds, but were just different?

In addition to pondering these planes, I happened upon a note for an adventure seed about summoning a fire elemental that broke free of the summoners' control. I wanted these new planes to have creatures composed of fire, but how would that work?

First, how would a fire-creature survive? There needs to be a source of oxygen. Instead of breathing, though, it should get oxygen by eating something. Searching the interwebs, I found sodium chlorate, a key component in some chemical oxygen generators. Skipping down to a wikipedia entry on Oxygen Candles, I figured that these fire creatures could make these candles to eat. The fantastic element I needed to add was a plant native to that plane that contains lots of sodium chlorate. Assuming that existed, these Fire Primordials could make food with this plant and iron filings. When ingested, it would produce oxygen for about six hours. Better yet, their digestive tract has naturally occurring iron, so that they only need to ingest this plant.

So now, I have shemped the fire elemental, plus I have an exotic plant that could be used as more adventure seeds.

Let's add in some more twists. The Fire Primordial wouldn't have access to this plant while it is in our world, so it would have to know enough to heat up salt water and somehow pass electricity through it. So, I figure that this creature should be intelligent. Given that Andras now has a system that allows just about anyone to cast a cantrip level spell once a day (with about a 50-50 chance of success), I figured that his 'spell' would be just enough to deliver a short electrical charge. The spell has no value in combat.

Then I formed a picture in my head of this Fire Primordial sitting in a cave with a large stone mug filled with salt water. He heats the water (he is made of fire) and casts his cantrip. Now he has a "tea" of sodium chlorate to drink. I also figure that he doesn't need to eat as much because our world has more oxygen in the atmosphere than his own.

If you're still with me, let's add one more item to the mix. Do you know what happens when you mix sodium chlorate and sugar? Big explosion. So this Fire Primordial can be killed by ingesting sugar. In other words, sugar is a poison to him. I can imagine a couple of beet farmers keeping the creature at bay by throwing beets at it. In some ways, it appeals to my sense that ordinary people should have a way to fight off a creature like this, even if it has a low chance of success.

Now to finish the adventure tentatively entitled "Escape of the Fire Primordial". In the meantime, I need to think of a name for the plane of his origin. Eldur? Gasira? Nar? Fy-Heem?