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Friday, March 7, 2014

The Most Awesome Dungeons & Dragons Monster By Edition

I prefer 2e DiTerlizzi to the 3e "Super-Turtle"
Hello again my trusty companion! Tonight I have the third session of my Shadow Pantheon campaign, where our heroes will encounter a Rainbow Dragon and maul their way through the second level of the Dungeon of the Bear.

I  have decided, since this campaign is all about going through "dungeons" and fighting "dragons", that they will fight some kind of dragon every single level! I'll start with some weak, weird ones, obviously.

Today, I want to talk your face off about monsters. We are going to go through each edition... and some d&d "offshoot" games... and find the MOST AWESOME monster! The criteria for this is very complex. It involves a complex mathematical equation, you're just going to have to trust that my awesome detector is fully functional. Now let's start in numerical order by edition:

"Why so serious", right everybody?
AD&D 1st Edition - The Beholder

Also known as the "eye tyrant" and the "sphere of many eyes", it's a big levitating basketball with one central magic eye and ten small magic tentacle eyes. You can cut off the eyestalks. They grow back a week later.

Here's something I didn't know: "Typically, only the central eye, plus 1-4 of those on stalks are able to function considering that the attack is coming from an arc 90 degrees before the monster... Attacks from above enable all 10 eyestalks to function." Wow. So don't fly above a beholder, people. Each eye does something nasty:

1. Charm Person
2. Charm Monster (useless?)
3. Sleep!
4. Telekinesis 2,500 pounds (throw your butt right into a spiky wall)
5. Flesh to Stone
6, Disintegrate (!!)
7. Fear
8. Slow
9. Cause serious wound
10. DEATH RAY
Central Eye: Anti-Magic Ray (14 foot range)

They really leave a lot up to the DM. The DM picks which eyestalks to shoot. And the anti-magic ray seems tricky. If a magic missile is fired from 30 feet away, does it dissipate if it passes through the anti-magic ray?

I like the beholder because it is such a bizarre, original monster. There's nothing else like it. It's an insane globe that just starts launching 4 or more spells at you simultaneously.
So unladylike!

Eventually I'll review the Spelljammer adventure Wildspace, where the heroes fly inside a giant beholder hive ship. Crazy!

Back in 2nd edition, I ran a Ravenloft campaign where the heroes were hunted by a few monster bounty hunters. One was a beholder who had multiple personalities, one for each eyestalk. The beholder's body made a humming noise as it hovered and moved. So every few sessions, the heroes would be somewhere, and suddenly they'd hear that humming noise, and wow would they freak out. It was awesome.

They finally faced off against all three bounty hunters in an abandoned village in the middle of a thunderstorm. It was awesome.
AD&D 2nd Edition - Tarrasque

That's THE Tarrasque! There is only one!

It is 50 feet tall, and it's a killing machine when active. It eats everything for miles around for a week or two, then finds a hidden lair underground and sleeps for 5d4 months.

I'll go to the gym tomorrow, just too tired
It has 6 attacks. Its' bite severs a limb in an attack roll of 18 or higher. Level 3 creatures and lower automatically flee when seeing it. Lightning bolts, cones of cold and magic missiles bounce off its' hide! There's a 1 in 6 chance these spells reflect back at the caster!

Totally immune to psionics (which, in 2e, were like an auto-win button for most published adventures).

To truly slay the Tarrasque, you had to reduce it to -30 hit points and cast a wish spell. Legend has it that a great treasure is lodged inside its' carapace (How odd).

Its' underbelly material can produce a metal that dwarves can use to make d4 +5 shields (!!).

Some think the creature was made by the elemental princes of evil.

I don't understand the final sentence. "Note: Creatures with a minus THAC0 can only be hit on a one."

Way back when, I played a 13th level fighter (based on Val Kilmer from Willow). He was in love with his vorpal sword - he thought his wife's spirit was in it, talking to him telepathically. He was a berserker - he charged every monster that threatened the party.

Well, one day, we're walking through the woods. Hey look, it's The Tarrasque! I lived my gimmick. I charged! I rolled a 20! I cut off its' toe. I tried all sorts of crazy stunts, all of which failed. Somehow I didn't die.

D&D 3rd Edition - Hellfire Engine

Our amps really rock! Man they're loud!
I was never a big 3rd edition guy, but I love the Fiendish Codexes and I really love the Paizo issues of Dungeon and Dragon Magazine. I realize this monster is in a similar vein as the Tarrasque, but according to my calculations this is in fact the most awesome monster.

The Hellfire Engine is a 20 foot tall automaton made of cold iron that was bathed in the blood of 12 celestials (yikes). It has a beard and antlers.

Mephistopheles himself creates these things. They are used in the blood war, leading the charge against the demons of the Abyss.

It can breathe out hellfire in a 60 foot cone. Hellfire is not like regular fire. It burns with a white-hot glow and creatures resistant or even immunity to fire still take full damage from hellfire.

If you do manage to kill it (282 hit points and a 37 AC!), it explodes in a 60 foot radius that deals 20d10 to everyone! Sheesh, who the heck wants to roll 20d10? They should have made it percentile + 75 or something.

There is no doubting the awesomeness here. It's a hellfire golem made by devils that kills demons. We can only salute the Fiendish Codex and try to figure some way to work this into our campaigns in some form or another.

D&D 4th Edition - Solamith

Best pizza in da city!
This one originally grabbed me because of the art. Just look at it. You can hear this thing's voice, either a new york cab driver or a polite british fellow.

It is a creature of all-consuming hunger, and tears off chunks of itself and hurls the wads of necrotized, exploding tissue at its' enemies. Those it slays, it devours to replenish spent flesh. When the creature finishes, a tortured face appears under the skin of the demon's belly - a spiritual echo of the dead creature's soul.

I've never been properly compensated for my contributions to this company!
 They are an "artillery" type monster, which means they hang back and launch off range attacks. When throwing chunks, it has a choice as to how much damage it takes: 5, 10, or 15 hit points. The more it takes, the bigger the expolsion and the more damage it does.

I love these monsters because of the way they look and their power, and the fact that they're demons. I love demons and the Abyss.

And on top of all that, I love their miniature, too.

The D&D equivalent of the fake facebook gf
See, I showed off my books there
Pathfinder - Seaweed Siren

This is a monster that stopped me in my tracks as soon as I saw it. And they even made a mini for it!

It's a spin on the classic "siren lures sailors to their death" trope. The heads stick out of the water and sing songs in nonsense languages to lure people close. Then it tries to eat you!

It can let out a babbling cacophony that makes it difficult to cast a spell (concentration check). Each head can fire off a bolt of sonic energy. It has a gaze attack that staggers you.

You can cut the heads off, and if the siren is out of water for about 10 hours or so, it will begin to "drown" (or suffocate, I guess).

I like this one just because you can tell your players about the three green haired women in the ocean talking nonsense to them, and then you plop the mini down and it is go time!

Hurt feelings over who ate my leftovers persist to this day

Hackmaster - The Grevans

Knights of the Dinner Table is a comic/magazine that is very important to me. It dragged me back into the hobby at least on one occasion. When I read it, it gives me that "d&d feeling" and reminds me why I like to play RPGs.

I don't play Hackmaster, but I sometimes use the Hackmaster material that appears in the magazine. Jolly Blackburn began a series of articles on a race of orc/elves, known as The Grevans. What impresses me so much is the massive piles of lore involved. He details their gods, their migration, their clans... it's so deep. There's so much you can do with them.

And what's funny is, they don't throw blobs of their own skin at you or bite your arms off. They're just a humanoid race of warriors. But because of the time, effort, and creativity put into them, they are awesome and kind of a model as to how a DM should flesh out an important element in his or her campaign.

Here's some of the cooler details, just to give you an idea.

-Wyongnore: A Grevan god with no eyes, no mouth and a snake growing from each shoulder. One snake whispers in his ear what he sees, the other snake speaks for him.
- The Tablet of the Ages: A "motherstone" of all creation shattered into twelve parts, each piece is a major artifact. One has a power over war and armies, another over death itself, etc.
- The three tribes/sub-races - The Sar-Grevans (elf-like), the Gretans (human-like) and the Har-Korri ("True-Bloods")
- The Har'Korri are led by "Nangrus", a shard of the Tablet of the Ages. It urges them to make war. "A warrior race who inexplicably attack targets with no apparent strategic value while by-passing those that do."

Dungeon Crawl Classics - Dragon

I think that the DCC dragons are the best. They have a very cool approach to them. Each one is unique and rare. Each one should have a name... they are so rare and special that mortals don't talk about "a" dragon, they talk about "the" dragon.

To make THE dragon, you must roll on a bunch of charts:

- Size: They can be as small as a cat to the size of a castle
- Age: 1-5 years old up to immortal (5,000+ years old)
- Breath Weapons: Anything from fire to sleep gas to smoke
- They know up to d20 spells
- They have martial powers like a dive bomb attack, a hypnotic stare, petrifying gaze (!!!) or the ability to fire spines out of its' hide.
- They have unique powers like cause earthquake, reverse gravity, summon allies (could be zombies, demons, wolves, etc), teleportation or even invisibility
- Appearance: Yep you roll a d30 to see if they're Black, Crystal, Lion-like, Multi-Chromatic or even Turtle-like.

A dragon should be special. And I love random charts. In my opinion, the DCC dragons are the best.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess - The Luck Sucker
That's right, I didn't pick the penis monster
Words to live by
I am no expert on Lamentations. I don't own the core book, but I've bought and run a bunch of the adventures. And my favorite monster from this game is in the adventure "F**k For Satan" (which is an awesome dungeon crawl).

It's a 15 foot long bald caterpillar made of neon ooze. It feeds on ill fortune and has a bunch of crazy powers:

- It injects poisonous ooze into you that gives you 1d6 occurances of bad luck. That means when you make a non-combat roll, you auto-roll a one! Then the ooze solidifies inside of you and takes 1d4 days to pass, which you can do nothing but curl up in agony. Yep! I think the players just woke up!
- If you roll a natural one when you attack it, the monster's AC goes up by one.
- If you roll a natural one when you damage it, you don't damage it at all. You ADD that much to the Luck Sucker's maximum hit points!
- It is immune to blunt weapons (it has no skeleton)
- When you do damage to it, its' inner juices spray out on all within 10 feet. For d6 hours, all natural twos are counted as natural ones.
- Once per day it excretes a mist in a 50 foot radius. Make a save or else for the next d4 hours you make all rolls on a lower die (So instead of rolling a d20 to hit, you roll a d12!)

This is not a monster to throw at them all the time. But every once in a while, a crazy deadly-in-a-weird-way creature can really bring out some great moments. Your players will not forget this monster and they will run screaming from the next one.



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