Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

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Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:11 pm

I recently discovered that the Monster Class rules in Savage Species provide playable versions of a number of creatures I've been interested in for some time, and I'm hoping that familiarizing myself with these rules, which I have long neglected, will enable me to understand the 3.5 rules in sufficient detail that I can begin homebrewing my own playable-character versions of those creatures which aren't represented here (such as the beholder, which I've wanted for a player-character race for some time, and as far as I can tell has NEVER been assigned a fitting LA).

So I'm going to see if I can manage to update once every week with a new character build for these races, set in my Whiteleaf universe. For now I plan to do one character each for levels 1 through 20, although I may have to drop that since I've never familiarized myself with the higher levels of play (my highest-level campaign was at 9, and I found even that difficult to stay on top of). Once I've made all of these characters, I'll see whether there are enough unused monster classes to be worth continuing with.

As with all Whiteleaf characters, these are made on a point-buy base of 32 (thusly, scores of 10-14 across the board are common, with usually only a single weak point at 8, unless racial penalties are in effect; characters can usually afford to have a single stat at 18 or two at 16, unless they would rather avoid any vulnerabilities at all).
Last edited by willpell on Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Level 1: Harvey, the Astral Deva In Training

Post by willpell » Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:40 pm

Name: Harvanthira Triknomatostakrit - "Just call me Harvey"
Race: Astral Deva
Class: Astral Deva 1
Type: Outsider [Good]
Alignment: Neutral Good
Abilities: STR 14, DEX 14, CON 16, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 12
HP: 1d8+3 (11/11)
BAB: +1
Armor Class: 16 (+2 DEX, +3 natural armor)
Saving Throws: Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +4. Natural +4 bonus to Fortitude Saves vs. poison (including alcohol).
Feat: Honestly, I forgot to pick one. Suggestions are welcome on what would fit the persona I've come up with for him.
Weapon Proficiencies: Simple + Martial.
Armor Proficiencies: None.
Skill Ranks: Hide 4, Move Silently 4, Knowledge (Local) 4, Knowledge (The Planes) 4, Listen 4, Sense Motive 4, Bluff 2, Perform (Comedy) 2. Harvey's third selected Knowledge skill for his Astral Deva class level is Nobility & Royalty, but he has no ranks in that as yet. His Astral Deva race gives him a +4 bonus on Spot and Listen checks.
Skill Checks: Bluff +3, Hide +6, Knowledge (Local) +4, Knowledge (The Planes) +4, Listen +10, Move Silently +6, Perform (Comedy) +3, Perform (Sing) +1, Sense Motive +6, Spot +6. Harvey makes a Sing check far more often than he should.
Languages: By DM fiat, Harvey loses the automatic Infernal and Draconic languages that come with the Astral Deva race, in order to speak Common automatically along with Celestial, and not have to waste his very limited Skill points on buying it. (After all, those cross-class ranks in Comedy were important, gosh-darnit.)
Good Subtype: Harvey is affected by spells as if he were Good, even if he stops being so somehow. Any weapon he wields automatically overcomes damage reduction as if it was a Good weapon.

This recently-manifested young Deva has chosen to spend most of his time among mortals, finding the struggles of their day-to-day life - and the moral choices and compromises they make, using their imperfect understanding of Good - to be far more interesting than the lofty abstract details of their soul-states and afterlives. (This is why he has no ranks in Knowledge: Religion, which would usually far precede both Local and Nobility in a typical Deva's specialization.) He is not especially smart, but he understands people on a fundamental level, and above all else he is a quietly vivacious fellow with a salt-of-the-earth demeanor, who relates well to members of the workaday world and isn't afraid to approach loftier sorts with a disarmingly submissive demeanor, despite being definitionally a superior being (or at least in the process of becoming one).
Dressed in plainclothes which favor a color scheme of either gray or black-plus-white, Harvey lacks the confidence typical of the angelic host, tending to stand in a slight slouch and not projecting his voice well as he walks; he believes that true Good does not boast of its prowess or lecture condescendingly to others, but rather that his role as an angel is to walk among the mortal flock, subtly nudging people toward making the right decisions. He uses his unassuming appearance and skills of blending into a crowd to discreetly observe events as they unfold, getting involved only when necessary and in as nuanced a fashion as possible.
If Harvey has a significant character flaw, it is that his relative dimwittedness, and his preference for avoiding the spotlight, causes him to underestimate the extent to which people may still come to follow his example. Having picked up a fondness for strong drink, he indulges this taste to an extent which would qualify as severe alcoholism, were his divine metabolism not far less affected by liquor than that of a human. Thusly, any person who tries to match him cocktail-for-cocktail will end up severely intoxicated long before he shows the slightest impairment; the youthful deva has not quite picked up on this aspect of human weakness, as he prefers to hang out in taverns where the convivial atmosphere is cultivated in large part by quietly giving the bum's rush to anyone that begins to display severe drunkenness. As a result, Harvey has not experienced the level to which some humans can poison themselves, either ruining their health or - worse yet - surviving just long enough to destroy the lives of others around him. Harvey's character arc will require him to eventually grow to understand the consequences which the weaker individuals around him suffer when they try to emulate those who are simply naturally better-equipped for survival than themselves; his commitment to Good is not only innate but sincere, but it will not remain perfect if he fails to recognize the responsibility he has to serve as a good role model for those he encounters, rather than leaving them with a misleading impression of what the true powers of the world can get away with doing. ("If an angel drinks five whisky sours in an hour, why can't I? Heck, I can call it a religious experience, a testament to the Gods' messengers in this world! Another round, Barkeep.")

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by Saltwater1 » Sun Nov 08, 2015 2:10 am

Very interesting... I'd like to see a mind flayer as a character. I wonder if there's any way to translate Savage Species over to 5e.
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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:07 pm

Saltwater1 wrote:Very interesting... I'd like to see a mind flayer as a character.
You will. Although Mind Flayers are product identity of Wizards of the Coast, so I attempt to distance myself from them in hopes of eventually publishing. Thusly the illithid character may not be deeply integrated into the setting, compared to creatures which are in the SRD. I need to be able to snip them out and replace them without too much collateral damage.
I wonder if there's any way to translate Savage Species over to 5e.
Savage Species specifically is a 3.0 document (more like 3.4 really, since it was one of the last books published prior to the 3.5 revision, and specifically institutes many but not all of the Monster Manual changes), whose intended purpose was to provide a rules-perspective bridge for rendering Monster Manual creatures playable as PCs. So whether any future edition requires any such book depends on whether it uses different rules-sets for monsters than for PCs, as with early 3.0, or has them seamlessly integrated as they were (somewhat, at least) in 3.5.

Personally, if I were publishing D&D, there wouldn't be a Monster Manual; its contents would be divided between the Player's Handbook (for mounts, animal companions, typical summoned minions, and anything meant to appeal to players as an alternate race choice) and the DMG (for creatures that are strongly not encouraged for player use, such as aboleths and dryads and anything with a higher-than-20 ECL). That's assuming, of course, that I didn't go even further in revisions and create a playable-in-one-book product (probably limited to low levels, with a very limited selection of spells, feats, and magic items, to ensure that it has enough spare content to contain a thorough selection of sample adventures and NPCs and such).

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by Saltwater1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 1:40 am

If you published this, I would buy it, if the price is reasonable. Even if it's only for 3e, some inspiration is always nice.
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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 10, 2015 2:29 am

Saltwater1 wrote:If you published this, I would buy it, if the price is reasonable. Even if it's only for 3e, some inspiration is always nice.
Please clarify what exactly you mean by "this". Even the faintest possibility of getting paid for what I would be doing anyway is worthy of investigation.

If you find my character-building skills of interest, I would encourage you to look here while you still can (the forum will die in a week; I'm fairly sure I have all this material backed up, but cannot spare the time to be sure, so you have my permission to download it all). I have been doing this for years, and would have done even more of it, were it not for the fickleness of modern humanity.

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by Saltwater1 » Tue Nov 10, 2015 12:29 pm

Ok. Thanks!
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Level 2: Barbie the Devil-Doll

Post by willpell » Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:16 pm

Came pretty close to missing the first weekly update after the thread's creation, but at the eleventh hour, I have managed to make it in, and luckily I have a small reserve of pre-made characters, one of which suits this week's requirement of being 2nd level. If these characters were truly complete, they would have gear equalling their WBL, but I'm omitting that step from the creation process for all of the Monsters of the Week...they are playable as-is if you plunk them down in a dungeon with no equipment at all, although they will be underpowered compared to their ECL if they lack any treasure to boost them up. I've not yet reached a point where I'm good at handling high-level treasure anyway, so providing gear for them would make it much harder for me to build past the first 5 or 10 levels; all the more reason to give their "naked" stats instead.

So speaking of nudity, this week's monster is named after a dress-up doll, although there's certainly nothing else about her which is child-friendly. I give you: the Barbed Devil. (We begin with her level 1 stats, followed by her textual description and backstory, followed by her level 2 stats; future weeks probably won't include every single version, but may have more than just the first and the last, depending on how much meaningful detail I believe each intermediate stage adds.)

* Hamatula character: Barbie the Devil-Doll (lawful evil) - level 1 version.
STR: 14 (pb 4 for value 12, +2 racial) - puissant but not brawny.
DEX: 16 (pb 10) - svelte and lithe, with a physique that would leave a human breathless.
CON: 8 (pb 0) - a fragile stick of a thing, who gets by on intimidation and trickery.
INT: 8 (pb 0) - basically an empty head; easily fascinated by trivial diversions.
WIS: 12 (pb 2 for value 10, +2 racial) - fairly dense, barely enough sense to follow orders.
CHA: 18 (pb 16) - spectacularly finely formed; even her spikes are symmetrical and shiny.
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet, even through magical darkness. Arguably limitless vision in darkness.
Speaks Celestial, Infernal, and Draconic. Purchased Common for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Concentration, Craft, Hide +2, Listen, Move Silently +4, Profession (fashion model) +4, Search, Sense Motive +4, and Spot +4.
Cross-Class Skills: Bluff +2, Intimidate +2, Speak Language1 (Common).
BAB: +1.
Two claws: melee, +4 to hit, each deals 1d4+2 damage.
Armor Class: 16 (+3 natural armor)
Spell Resistance 10.
Proficient with all simple and martial weapons, but not with armor or shields.
Feat: Persuasive (+2 on Bluff and Intimidate checks).
Lawful and Evil subtypes: always affected by spells and abilities as though Lawful Evil, even if alignment changes. Natural and wielded weapons count as Lawful and Evil for overcoming damage reduction.
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +3. Immune to fire and poison.
HD: 1d8-1 (7 HP).

Dubbed "Barbie" by a rather stupid cleric who conjured her soon after she first hatched out of a literally-mindless lemure, which had managed to absorb a tiny twinkle of brain-matter from some larva it had devoured, this hamatula is too dim to find herself insulted when named after a basic trait of her entire species; her continued use of the name makes her a laughing-stock among the other low-ranked devils that prowl the Hell of Vanity, existing mostly to give the higher-ranked fiends something to look good in comparison to. Snickered at even by creatures who were themselves obviously the butt of some cosmic joke, Barbie had eventually had enough, and found another dabbling diabolist who she could use as a catspaw to get herself permanently Called out of the Inferno, figuring that she might manage to make something of herself among humans (who, by virtue of not being immortal Outsiders, would have a harder time casting aspersions upon her worth as a being than her actual peers). Now she plays the part of the wannabe wizard's happily enslaved minion, encouraging him to think of her as nothing more than a toy he can play with for his own amusement, all while she schemes and bides her time, content to wait for him to make a mistake or simply die of old age, at which point she will inherit his resources, consolidate her power base, and begin planning her triumphant return to the Hells.

Having removed herself from the constant reminders of what a disgrace she is to devilkind, this hamatula's Vain nature has had the chance to blossom; she doesn't care if mere mortals occasionally call her pathetic, and isn't even insulted by the need to pretend obedience to her "master", any more than a cat resents being "owned" by a human who performs all its menial upkeep, in exchange for nothing more than the right to pet and coddle it. (There is of course no actual petting involved in Barbie's case, although her "collector" does enjoy dressing her up in exploitative costumes for his own visual amusement, a situation that suits her desire for attention and flattery quite well.) While it goes without saying that she will betray the conjurer in a heartbeat if a reason presents itself, she currently finds the situation equitable and even rather handy...especially since it has been easy to cultivate a rivalry between this wizard and her original summoner, who she still resents in a way that makes it easier to avoid resenting the new one. The cleric in question is devoted to the Lawful Evil deity which claims to have created humanity, a thoroughly hypocritical and bigoted god who proclaims the superiority of men over all creatures, and thus encourages binding devils, demons, and even angels as minions (of the four great exemplar races, only the Fair Folk are beyond the reach of these clerics, a fact which is justified by an entirely false myth-cycle involving him bedding Queen Titania and then tricking her into breaching her own marriage contract). Manipulating her "owner" into periodically harassing this cleric is a hobby which Barbie can easily indulge herself in, whenever blithe obedience to the man's whims begins to bore her too much; it also serves as a form of protective camoflauge, since the two evil mages are kept too busy sniping at each other to accomplish much in the way of actual villainy, and thus never attract the attention of do-gooders who might smite them (and her).

* Barbie the Devil-Doll level 2
STR: 14 (pb 4 for value 12, +2 racial)
DEX: 16 (pb 10)
CON: 8 (pb 0)
INT: 8 (pb 0)
WIS: 12 (pb 2 for value 10, +2 racial)
CHA: 18 (pb 16)
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet, even through magical darkness. Arguably limitless vision in darkness.
Has Telepathy in 100-foot range unless in an antimagic field. If this is inoperative, speaks Celestial, Infernal, Draconic and Common.
Class skills: Concentration, Craft, Hide +5, Listen, Move Silently +5, Profession (fashion model) +5, Search, Sense Motive +5, and Spot +5.
Cross-Class Skills: Bluff +2.5, Intimidate +2.5, Speak Language1 (Common). +2 synergy bonus to Diplomacy checks due to Sense Motive ranks.
BAB: +2.
Two claws: melee, +5 to hit, each deals 1d4+2 damage.
Armor Class: 16 (+3 natural armor)
Spell Resistance 11.
Proficient with all simple and martial weapons, but not with armor or shields.
Feat: Persuasive (+2 on Bluff and Intimidate checks).
Spell-Like Abilities, each 1/day, with caster level 2 and listed save DC:
* 13: Charm Person (30 ft. range, target becomes friendly for 2 hours unless Will saves)
* 14: Desecrate (30 ft. range to target point; 20-foot emanation aids undead for 4 hours)
* 13: Doom (120 ft. range, target takes -2 on attack rolls, saving throws, & skill/ability checks for 2 minutes unless they Will save or are immune to fear)
* 15: Hold Person (120 ft. range, humanoid target is paralyzed for 2 rounds unless they Will save when targeted, and may break out with full-round save on the subsequent round)
* 14: Produce Flame (fills casters' hand with torch flames for 20 rounds; may perform a melee or 120-foot range touch attack for 1d6+2 damage at the cost of 10 rounds' duration.)
* 14: Pyrotechnics (480 ft. range, extinguishes nonmagic fire in up to a 20-foot cube or deals 2 damage to a Fire creature, may either blind all onlookers within 120 feet for 1d4+1 rounds unless they Will save, or create 20-foot smoke cloud for 2 rounds which blocks all vision and debilitates creatures inside for 1d4+1 rounds unless they Fortitude save)
Lawful and Evil subtypes: always affected by spells and abilities as though Lawful Evil, even if alignment changes. Natural and wielded weapons count as Lawful and Evil for overcoming damage reduction.
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +4. Immune to fire and poison.
HD: 2d8-2 (8-14 HP).

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:47 am

A note for one of these characters in an upcoming week:

"It would be required that every sentence should belong to some precise level of the hierarchy. Therefore, if one could find no level at which the utterance fit, then the utterance would be deemed meaningless, and forgotten."
--"Goedel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid", by Douglas Hofstadter (henceforth "GEB")

"This example points out how silly the theory of types seems, when you import it into a familiar context. The remedy it adopts for paradoxes -- total banishment of self-reference in any form -- is a real case of overkill, branding many perfectly good constructions as meaningless."
--GEB

"Besides, the drive to eliminate paradoxes at any cost, especially when it requires the creation of highly artificial formalisms, puts too much stress on bland consistency, and too little on the quirky and bizarre, which make life and mathematics interesting. It is of course important to try to maintain consistency, but when this effort forces you into a stupendously ugly theory, you know something is wrong."
--GEB

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Thu Nov 26, 2015 2:16 am

In view of the unfortunate delays already suffered, I am putting this thread on a slight hiatus; it will resume as soon as possible (I'm hoping to post again on Saturday, and ideally with the first 4 characters as that's where we should be by now, but it may not work out that way). I may decree that these first two examples "don't count" toward the eventual structure of presenting one character for every level; I'm undergoing a thorough analysis of every SS monster class, to determine where the best "breakpoints" are, but have only made a few determinations. (For example, the Green Hag's last several levels do nothing but make her tougher and more combative; since the Annis is already far better at that, I'd prefer to push her in a more witchly and magical direction, so explicitly ruling that she can start taking normal character levels after her final "relevant" level of Green Hag is my plan. In other cases I may not be authorizing characters to break the "must complete entire MC rule", but simply pausing the process at an interesting moment, at which the character is particularly worthy of attention, before it resumes the progress of slogging through a "balanced" career path where most of the levels don't add much of anything.)

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:57 pm

As I continue to consider alternate approaches to the Monsters of the Week project, I will move ahead for now with the original sequence, which now needs a 3 and a 4 to catch up to the current week. So here goes a double-feature update (the second half should appear tomorrow) of two different air elementals. First, the one who isn't very pure, and who has a very specific inspiration (and attempting to upload one goddamn photo drove me into a berserk ragefest toward Flickr, and I still have no idea what to do about that, so let's just move on and use a different source).

Image

* Belker Character: Coughlin the Plotter (neutral evil)
STR: 12 (pb 4)
DEX: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial)
CON: 8 (pb 0)
INT: 10 (pb 6 for value 14, -4 racial)
WIS: 14 (pb 6)
CHA: 16 (pb 10)
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Auran; purchased Common and Infernal for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Craft, Listen, Move Silently, Profession, Spot.
Cross-Class Skills: Bluff +2.
BAB: +0.
Two wings: melee, +1 to hit, each deals 1d4+1 damage.
Proficient with nothing but natural attacks.
Feat: Skill Focus (Bluff).
Saves: Fort -1, Ref +5, Will +2.
Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning. Takes no extra damage from critical hits.
Armor Class: 14 (+1 natural armor).
HD: 1d8-1 (7 HP).
* Though not particularly bright, the cancerous elemental known as Coughlin is a critical part of the Web of Lies, as it has an innate gift for constructing scenarios of plausible deniability. Controlling several puppets in local government by way of carefully-contructed, multiple-redundant blackmail and extortion schemes, Coughlin doesn't need to know the details of what his more-competent henchmen are doing, he only needs to punish them horrifically if something goes wrong, ensuring that they stay motivated to do a good job. Coughlin always sounds like he's in terrible shape, speaking in a gravelly voice and wheezing when he doesn't, but it's all an act; when he wants to be silent, he need not breathe at all, simply absorbing air through his membranous outer surface. He is a fairly tenously-constructed creature, with every mote of his body deeply wanting to stop pretending they all get along and fly apart into a billion surly, omnipathic elementites; only a sense of ambitious hatred keeps him together, and that driving need to harm the greater world is what makes him a perfect Web architect - nobody needs to tell him to further the cause of Evil, since it's his deepest desire at all times, and that makes him perfect as both pawn and player in the great Game of Kings.

* Coughlin lvl. 2
STR: 12 (pb 4)
DEX: 18 (pb 6 for value 14, +4 racial)
CON: 8 (pb 0)
INT: 10 (pb 6 for value 14, -4 racial)
WIS: 14 (pb 6)
CHA: 16 (pb 10)
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Auran; purchased Common and Infernal for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Craft, Listen, Move Silently +2, Profession, Spot.
Cross-Class Skills: Bluff +2.
BAB: +1.
Two wings: melee, +2 to hit, each deals 1d4+1 damage.
Bite: melee, -3 to hit, 1d3 damage.
Proficient with nothing but natural attacks.
Feat: Skill Focus (Bluff).
Saves: Fort -1, Ref +7, Will +2.
Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning. Takes no extra damage from critical hits.
Armor Class: 16 (+2 natural armor).
HD: 2d8-2 (8-14 HP).
(Since the shitty D&D skill system ties my hands, this character would be a good place to break the "no multiclassing" rule in Savage Species, and give him a bunch of Rogue levels before continuing to advance him as a belker. Since he isn't meant for combat, the otherwise-neat Smoke Claws attack isn't as high a priority for him as a decent Move Silently check and some improvement to his already-impressive Bluff; he'll absolutely never accomplish anything at 2 skill points a level, so getting to Rogue 10 and spending his Special Ability on an Open-Minded feat would feel pretty nice, though that would mean never completing the full Belker progression, and maybe THAT much multiclassing should not be allowed. Since several SS classes are heavily front-loaded - eg the Barghest has Feed from level 1 on, and the Ghaele gets full cleric progression apart from its last six levels - there's a good argument for not allowing any multiclassing at all, but I think it should be possible to approve it on a case-by-case basis, as long as the player is not obviously trying to take advantage of sloppy rules writing to overpower his character.)

* Coughlin lvl. 3
STR: 14 (pb 4 for value 12, +2 racial)
DEX: 18 (pb 6 for value 14, +4 racial)
CON: 8 (pb 0)
INT: 10 (pb 6 for value 14, -4 racial)
WIS: 14 (pb 6)
CHA: 16 (pb 10)
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Auran; purchased Common and Infernal for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Craft, Listen, Move Silently +4, Profession, Spot.
Cross-Class Skills: Bluff +2.
BAB: +2.
Two wings: melee, +4 to hit, each deals 1d4+2 damage.
Bite: melee, -1 to hit, 1d3 damage.
Proficient with nothing but natural attacks.
Feat: Skill Focus (Bluff), Skill Focus (Hide).
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +7, Will +3.
Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning. Takes no extra damage from critical hits.
Smoke Form for a total of 5 rounds/day (as Gaseous Form, except fly 30 feet/round).
Armor Class: 16 (+2 natural armor).
HD: 3d8-3 (9-21 HP).
* (Prior to this level, Coughlin's ability to fulfill the mission described in his initial text was very limited, since all he could do was walk around in plain view; now that he has a fly speed and some Move Silently ranks - the former kind of obviates the latter, he'd much rather have Hide, but it's not listed as a Belker skill in the book, so for now I'll go with the RAW - he's now actually capable of doing some espionage and conspiracy-work. Granted he only gets half a minute of smoke-form and flight per day, but it's *something* at least.)

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Sun Nov 29, 2015 6:37 pm

Here's the second half of my Air Elementals series, this one actually being a member of the standard species. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how these guys work.

* Air Elemental character: Pinwheel Whirligig (true neutral)
STR: 10 (pb 2)
DEX: 18 (pb 6 for value 14, +4 racial)
CON: 14 (pb 6)
INT: 10 (pb 6 for value 14, -4 racial)
WIS: 15 (pb 8)
CHA: 12 (pb 4)
Speed: fly 100 ft (perfect).
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Auran; purchased Common for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Craft 1 (Metalwork), Profession +2 (handyman), Profession +1 (maid/janitor), Spot +3.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge (Local) +2, Speak Language (Common).
BAB: +0.
Proficient with absolutely nothing other than its natural attacks.
Slam attack: melee, +0 to hit, deals 1d4 damage. Not usable in whirlwind form.
Feat: Open-Minded, Improved Initiative (bonus), Flyby Attack (bonus).
Air subtype: No mechanical effect.
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +3.
Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning. Takes no extra damage from critical hits.
Armor Class: 18 (+1 size, +3 natural armor).
HD: 1d8+2 (10 HP).

* Those inexperienced in arcana often goggle at the thought of punching an air elemental, not comprehending how such a thing is possible; more knowledgeable souls, however, understand that the elemental is not made of the insubstantial wind itself, but rather is a living pattern in the swirling nitrogen and oxygen, a pattern which is painfully disrupted by as much as waving one hand through the space it occupies. Air'mentals are a masochistic lot, often driven by their rage to attack anything which offends them through its substantiality, but finding the very process of assaulting these affronts almost as agonizing as being outright counterattacked. Smacking one with a hammer or skewering it with a spear might not involve making contact with any sort of solid body, but these acts inflict harm nonetheless; on a particularly dolorous blow, they may even manage to strike all the way to the tightly-churning mass of dust particles which serve as the elemental's brain, possibly striking it dead on the spot.

Pinwheel is unusual among his species, not in being incredibly smart by comparison (though he is certainly above average in mental aptitude, and substantially so in sagacity), but simply because he enjoys a greater sense of inner peace; his mind-grit orbits in almost geometric patterns at times, and he seems to instinctively grasp the need for elements other than his own to exist. (At this point we should disclaim that "he" is by no means an accurate pronoun, only a grammatical default to which the alien being never objects, since it is barely aware that such a concept as gender exists - elementals never breed, they simply take form from the planar substance, gaining dim sentience and a sense of personal identity at whatever pace is dictated by the whims of their Primordial god-kings...who must have at least a little something special in mind for this one, in order for him to have manifested so recently and yet have an Intelligence score in the human range). While he still finds the existence of water, fire, and above all earth offensive to his senses, he tolerates the disorienting panoply of the Prime Material realm to which he has emigrated, as a human visitor to foreign lands might tolerate the unfamiliar body odor of the people who press thickly about himself, becoming distressed only if they seem to be going out of their way to invade his personal space.

Spending as much of his time as possible high in the clouds, Pinwheel routinely goes weeks without meeting another entity, apart from occasional birds or native wind-spirits (both of whom are equally idiotic, able to say the Auran equivalent of "hi" and not much else), and the introverted elemental is just fine with that. But eventually, an itch of something vaguely resembling ennui or even loneliness grows within his core, and he dives back toward the grubby Terrestran sphere, never quite touching the ground lest his substance be fouled by sweeping up its grit. Those he interacts with express considerable consternation - not only does he speak of pugilistics routinely, forcing them to consider the aforementioned question of what exactly exists to hit or be hit, but even more bafflingly he collects money, routinely volunteering for odd jobs and then whisking away a tinkling "hand"ful of copper caps and occasional silver helms, converting them into gold or even platinum whenever he can find a banker. The metal disks chafe his quasi-membranous perimeter just as most solid matter does, but he finds them fascinating nonetheless, especially when the sunlight causes them to glitter brilliantly, or when they catch a spark of electricity from some staticky carpet that he's rolling or unrolling in an under-construction "house" (the idea of needing to live in something puzzles and fascinates him, so most of the "gigs" he arranges involve providing menial assistance to non-guilded builders; he occasionally has to stoop to cleaning work instead, but finds it more distasteful). Not comprehending the idea of having a "place of his own", he simply caches these treasures high in the tops of trees or on inaccessible upper ledges of church belfries and the like, whenever it grows too bothersome holding them constantly with half of his carrying capacity (he can manifest "hands" wherever he needs to all over his body, but never more than two of them at once, and finds even that much splitting of his focus as distracting as non-ambidextrous humans do, whenever they try to fight with a pair of blades or the like).

Pinwheel (a self-christened name based on a very loose translation of his Auran moniker) has many other ways of amusing himself, besides constantly trying to comprehend the baffling world of inert matter and complex-bodied fleshfolk; in particular he has noticed a quasi-Auran "language" being bandied about by humanoids who obviously don't understand his actual native tongue. Their utterances are gibberish, but amusing to the point of being slightly hypnotic; he has repeatedly attempted to inquire what they're doing, but his eagerness on the subject has provoked anything from confusion to terror, and not one of those he confronts this way have managed to explain that what they're doing is called "whistling". The only other exposure to music he's yet had (or rather noticed himself having, given that he overemphasizes the visual senses rather the way you'd expect from someone who spends most of their free time at 5000 feet) has been the stentorian tolling of church bells, which he absolutely finds as compelling as any human ever did; while he's nowhere near ready to actually comprehend religion, he strongly intends to pursue inquiry in this direction at some future point, and may even dabble in spellcraft if given the chance. (His build is going to end up looking like a piece of swiss cheese, probably never taking two levels in the same class; he's obviously not meant to be a highly functional character, just an interesting one. Also, he's an explicit exception to the usual rule of not multiclassing halfway through your monster class, though I'm likely to exempt elementals in general from this, due to their varying sizes; in his case he's just too interesting a character for me to force him to go all the way up to Large size, getting only 2 skill points each level, and then have only six class levels available to make up for it.)

* Pinwheel Whirligig lvl. 2
STR: 10 (pb 2)
DEX: 20 (pb 6 for value 14, +6 racial)
CON: 14 (pb 6)
INT: 10 (pb 6 for value 14, -4 racial)
WIS: 15 (pb 8)
CHA: 12 (pb 4)
Speed: fly 100 ft (perfect).
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Auran; purchased Common for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Craft 1 (Metalwork), Profession +2 (handyman), Profession +1 (maid/janitor), Spot +5.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge (Local) +2, Speak Language (Common).
BAB: +1.
Proficient with absolutely nothing other than its natural attacks.
Slam attack: melee, +6 to hit, deals 1d4 damage. Not usable in whirlwind form.
Whirlwind: Transform up to every ten minutes for 1 round at a time. May be anywhere from 10-20 feet tall in this form, and the upper end of the cone is half as wide as it is high; does not provoke when moving and does not threaten others. May move into others' spaces, and traps them inside itself if it does so, or if they touch it. Tiny and smaller creatures take damage when captured this way (this damage is also 1d4, although any magical bonus to his Strength improves the melee slam by 1.5x while not improving this attack), unless they Reflex save at DC 12, then must save again or be picked up and held (this does not count as a grapple), automatically taking damage every subsequent round. Flying creatures may save again each round to escape after taking the damage. Whirlwinded characters cannot move except to escape, take -4 DEX and -2 to attack rolls, and lose any cast spell unless they pass a Concentration 15+grade check. If he touches the ground, he creates a dust cloud in a 5-foot radius if he is 10 feet tall, granting 20% concealment to all within. If he is 20 feet tall, the cloud is 10 feet in radius, and fully obscures all vision beyond 5 feet, granting 50% concealment instead. Characters within the cloud must likewise check Concentration to cast spells.
Feat: Open-Minded, Improved Initiative (bonus), Flyby Attack (bonus), Weapon Finesse (bonus).
Air Mastery: Airborne creatures apply a -1 penalty to attack and damage rolls against him.
Air subtype: No mechanical effect.
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +8, Will +3.
Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning. Takes no extra damage from critical hits.
Armor Class: 19 (+1 size, +3 natural armor).
HD: 2d8+4 (13-20 HP).

* Pinwheel Whirligig, lvl. 3
STR: 10 (pb 2)
DEX: 20 (pb 6 for value 14, +6 racial)
CON: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial) - HP for previous HD retroactively increased.
INT: 10 (pb 6 for value 14, -4 racial)
WIS: 15 (pb 8)
CHA: 12 (pb 4)
Speed: fly 100 ft (perfect).
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Auran; purchased Common for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Craft 1 (Metalwork), Profession +2 (handyman), Profession +1 (maid/janitor), Spot +5.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge (Local) +3, Speak Language (Common).
BAB: +2.
Proficient with absolutely nothing other than its natural attacks.
Slam attack: melee, +7 to hit, deals 1d4 damage. Not usable in whirlwind form.
Whirlwind: Transform up to every ten minutes for 1 round at a time. May be anywhere from 10-20 feet tall in this form, and the upper end of the cone is half as wide as it is high; does not provoke when moving and does not threaten others. May move into others' spaces, and traps them inside itself if it does so, or if they touch it. Tiny and smaller creatures take damage when captured this way (this damage is also 1d4, although any magical bonus to his Strength improves the melee slam by 1.5x while not improving this attack), unless they Reflex save at DC 13, then must save again or be picked up and held (this does not count as a grapple), automatically taking damage every subsequent round. Flying creatures may save again each round to escape after taking the damage. Whirlwinded characters cannot move except to escape, take -4 DEX and -2 to attack rolls, and lose any cast spell unless they pass a Concentration 15+grade check. If he touches the ground, he creates a dust cloud in a 5-foot radius if he is 10 feet tall, granting 20% concealment to all within. If he is 20 feet tall, the cloud is 10 feet in radius, and fully obscures all vision beyond 5 feet, granting 50% concealment instead. Characters within the cloud must likewise check Concentration to cast spells.
Feat: Open-Minded, Improved Natural Armor, Improved Initiative (bonus), Flyby Attack (bonus), Weapon Finesse (bonus).
Air Mastery: Airborne creatures apply a -1 penalty to attack and damage rolls against him.
Air subtype: No mechanical effect.
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +4.
Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning. Takes no extra damage from critical hits.
Armor Class: 20 (+1 size, +3 natural armor with another +1 from feat).
HD: 3d8+9 (19-33 HP).

* Gritting his metaphorical teeth, Pinwheel has remained "grounded" (not quite literally) for months now, forcing himself to spend time among the infuriatingly earthy creatures called Humans, in order to figure out what has made them so successful in conquering the Material Plane that he routinely heard talk of them (among the djinni and other such "hybrids", rather than his own pure folk, but still) even back in his home dimension. Studious scrutiny of the confusing creatures has eventually borne fruit, though the constant mental "static" has made it impossible for him to concentrate on anything else. He's become inured to the casual contact of people jostling him, and staunchly resists his impulse to either attack them or fly straight up every time this happens; inevitably, this forbearance has caused his "integument" (the barely-there shield of half-solid static electricity, blanketing compressed-air curtains, and impulse currents which push the actual air outward at a considerable distance from his actual "surface", which holds an air elemental's "body" together) to thicken and solidify a bit more, making it harder for others to violate his perimeter - or even make contact with it. (Per RAW the Improved Natural Armor feat is boosting Natural Armor, and that doesn't apply to touch attacks - but given what a weak feat it is in general, and the appropriateness of the flavor, treating Pinwheel's version of it as a deflection bonus or something instead seems reasonable.)

* Pinwheel Whirligig level 4
STR: 12 (pb 2 for value 10, +2 racial)
DEX: 20 (pb 6 for value 14, +6 racial)
CON: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial)
INT: 10 (pb 6 for value 14, -4 racial)
WIS: 16 (pb 8, +1 level)
CHA: 12 (pb 4)
Speed: fly 100 ft (perfect).
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Auran; purchased Common for 2 skill points.
Class skills: Craft 1 (Metalwork), Profession +2 (handyman), Profession +1 (maid/janitor), Spot +5.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge (Local) +3, Perform (whistle), Speak Language (Common).
BAB: +3.
Proficient with absolutely nothing other than its natural attacks.
Slam attack: melee, +8 to hit, deals 1d4+1 damage. Not usable in whirlwind form.
Whirlwind: Transform up to every ten minutes for 2 rounds at a time. May be anywhere from 10-30 feet tall in this form, and the upper end of the cone is half as wide as it is high; does not provoke when moving and does not threaten others. May move into others' spaces, and traps them inside itself if it does so, or if they touch it. Small and smaller creatures take damage when captured this way (this damage is also 1d4, without the +1; any magical bonus to his Strength improves the melee slam by 1.5x while not improving this attack), unless they Reflex save at DC 14, then must save again or be picked up and held (this does not count as a grapple), automatically taking damage every subsequent round. Flying creatures may save again each round to escape after taking the damage. Whirlwinded characters cannot move except to escape, take -4 DEX and -2 to attack rolls, and lose any cast spell unless they pass a Concentration 15+grade check. If he touches the ground, he creates a dust cloud in a 5-foot radius if he is 10 feet tall, granting 20% concealment to all within. If he is 20 feet tall, the cloud is 10 feet in radius, and fully obscures all vision beyond 5 feet, granting 50% concealment instead. Characters within the cloud must likewise check Concentration to cast spells. (At 30 feet, he makes a 15-foot cloud which otherwise functions like the 10-foot one.)
Feat: Open-Minded, Improved Natural Armor, Improved Initiative (bonus), Flyby Attack (bonus), Weapon Finesse (bonus).
Air Mastery: Airborne creatures apply a -1 penalty to attack and damage rolls against him.
Air subtype: No mechanical effect.
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +9, Will +5.
Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stunning. Takes no extra damage from critical hits.
Armor Class: 19 (+3 natural armor with another +1 from feat).
HD: 4d8+12 (23-42 HP).

* Literally puffing up with pride at the way he has handled the trials and traumas of life among the "breathers", Pinwheel is no longer a 0.98-pound weakling, but a strapping young buck who literally fills up a room when he enters it (or at least he now could, if he popped his own "baloon" and turned into nothing but ordinary air; he's at least got the requisite volume now). His newly expanded self-confidence manifests inwardly, not outwardly, as per his introverted nature; rather than projecting himself, he more willingly welcomes sensory input, paying attention to the outside world in all its irritating confusion, since he's learned that the impulse to reject it all simply holds him back from becoming something more. The one effusive way in which he expresses his newfound contentment is through music; while his continuing distaste for material things (other than money) prohibits him from learning an instrument, he's experimented with singing in both Common and his native tongue, but finds that the peculiar hybrid of these expressive modes called "whistling" is most to his preference.

(Since elementals can validly be any size from Small to Huge, the Large one detailed in the Monster Class is not the only option, and thus it's a good place to diverge from the "must complete" rule of MCs. The only thing that's missing from this Elemental compared to the Medium Air'mental in the Monster Manual is that his Slam damage should increase to 1d6; that happens at the class's 5th level, but I don't think it's necessary to wait, since that level has no HD and thus doesn't change him much at all. It's arguably valid to claim that these "dead levels" are a necessary "tax" on monster characters - certainly I'd never let a player take one level of Succubus just to get +6 to Charisma, then immediately go for 19 levels in Sorcerer - but in this case, it seems clearly reasonable to be able to leave the class early. Maybe not quite as early as I'm doing it, since it means having a bunch of Elemental immunities and a huge fly speed with no level adjustment, but whatever; I think suffering through four HD with almost no Skill Points and subpar stats is more than worth it. The tables in Appendix 2, immediately after the monster classes, claim that a Small or Medium Air Elemental has a +4 level adjustment; that suggests that allowing him to stop at 4 levels is broken as hell, but frankly I doubt it, and anyway those rules don't line up with the fact that he gets HD on all four of his first levels anyway, with the monster class even giving him a fifth one before he reaches level 8, and a sixth at level 9. Overall, it's enough of a mess that I'm just saying "screw it".)

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Sun Dec 06, 2015 10:17 pm

I'm extremely proud of the character I added three levels to this morning; nevertheless, it's not her turn. Today, we're going to be looking at a complex monster that I've really never quite understood, but am running with as best I can: the Aranea. It's a 7-level class, but 5 levels is enough to get it access to a humanoid form on a temporary basis; that's good enough to suit the backstory I've written for the character. He was actually the first character I created for the Monsters of the Week series (Harvey The Not-So-Astral Deva was the second, and I would definitely not have stopped at level 1 with him if I'd thought it through, as there are very, very few candidates for the 18-20-level range which this project will eventually end up in). I knew that he needed to advance at least most of the way through his progression in order to gain the humanoid form, so he couldn't be my first example; nevertheless, he was my first idea along these lines (if only because I'm excessively linear in my thought processes, and thus started close to the beginning of the alphabet).

I still can't decide on a level that's not worth looking at in the progression (2nd comes closest, but it's when he first gains the ability to cast spells; 3rd is also pretty uneventful, but it brings substantial Attribute changes which require recalculating a lot of numbers, so I ultimately decided it and all the other levels were worth including). But to improve readability, I opted to add some extra formatting to the first and last levels, while not bothering with those in between.

* Aranea character: Silk the Scrivener, Reporter of the Abstract (chaotic neutral)
STR: 10 (pb 2) - only has this much for the sake of giving massages
DEX: 18 (pb 10 for value 16, +2 racial) - glides like oil across glass
CON: 14 (pb 6) - hale & hearty
INT: 15 (pb 8) - very open-minded and curious
WIS: 8 (pb 0) - more than a little eccentric, prone to sensate hypnosis
CHA: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial) - insidiously hypnotic in aspect
Speed: 30 ft., climb 25 feet.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common, Sylvan, Elven (for pillow talk) and Abyssal (for *nasty* pillow talk).
Class skills: Climb (+8 racial bonus, may always take 10), Concentration +4, Craft (weaving), Escape Artist +4, Jump, Listen +4, Profession, and Spot +4.
(The 3.5 Monster Manual mentions a +2 racial bonus on Jump, Listen and Spot checks, not found on the Savage Species table or its accompanying text, and not figured in anywhere here. Check with your DM.)
BAB: +1.
Proficient with simple weapons.
Feat: Weapon Finesse
Bite: melee, +5 to hit, deals 1d4 damage and injects poison for 1d3 STR damage (on initial and secondary effect), DC 12 to save.
May assume hybrid form for 1 hour at a time, 3 times per day. (There appears to be no actual reason to assume this form, other than flavor - unless the bite attack, and later the webs, are only usable in this form, which is possible to argue from a strict reading of text but was pretty clearly not the intent.)
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +6, Will -1. Very easily bamboozled. Keep him away from the Drow. (The Aranea in the Monster Manual lists Iron Will as a bonus feat, but this is not mentioned in the Savage Species progression.)
Armor Class: 14
HD: 1d8+2 (10 HP).
* Silk is a male aranea, but considers the genders of humanoids reversed, identifying the egg-laying female spider with the sperm-spewing male human, and his weak and terrified self with the females who must coddle and manipulate their physically superior cohorts. He shapeshifts into a female body (not a human one yet by a considerable stretch, just one that's heading roughly in that direction), which probably has testes where it should have ovaries, but otherwise is physically correct for the most part, apart from a bit more hair growth than is considered preferable, which he considers part of "her" sensory apparatus (conceptualizing the arm hairs as whiskers for feeling out her surroundings, and the pubes as playing some role in reproduction which probably wouldn't be pleasant to hear him speculate upon).

* Silk the Aranea lvl. 2
STR: 10 (pb 2)
DEX: 18 (pb 10 for value 16, +2 racial)
CON: 14 (pb 6)
INT: 17 (pb 8 for value 15, +2 racial) - skill points are *not* retroactive for prior HD
WIS: 8 (pb 0)
CHA: 18 (pb 6 for value 14, +4 racial)
Speed: 30 ft., climb 25 feet.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common, Sylvan, Elven and Abyssal. He just went up in INT so he gets another language. Let's make it, oh I dunno, how about Gnome.
Class skills: Climb (+8 racial bonus, may always take 10), Concentration +5, Craft (weaving), Escape Artist +5, Jump, Listen +5, Profession, and Spot +4.
Cross-Class skills: Spellcraft +1.
BAB: +2.
Proficient with simple weapons.
Feat: Weapon Finesse
Bite: melee, +6 to hit, deals 1d4 damage and injects poison for 1d3 STR damage (on initial and secondary effect), DC 13 to save.
May assume hybrid form for 1 hour at a time, 3 times per day.
Spells: As level 1 sorcerer.
* Level 0: save DC 14, 5/day of Acid Splash, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound or Open/Close.
* Level 1: save DC 15, 3/day of Unseen Servant or Magic Missile.
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +7, Will -1. Very easily bamboozled. Keep him away from the Drow.
Armor Class: 15 (+1 natural armor).
HD: 2d8+4 (13-20 HP).
* At level 2, Silk has just gained spellcasting ability, though I'm not putting a super-lot of thought into his choice of spells. He's smarter now, and incredibly charismatic (for a giant spider), but still doesn't amount to all that much.

* Silk the Aranea lvl. 3
STR: 10 (pb 2)
DEX: 20 (pb 10 for value 16, +4 racial)
CON: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial) - retroactively added hit points to prior HD
INT: 17 (pb 8 for value 15, +2 racial)
WIS: 8 (pb 0)
CHA: 18 (pb 6 for value 14, +4 racial)
Speed: 30 ft., climb 25 feet.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common, Sylvan, Elven and Abyssal, plus he learned Gnome from an elf.
Class skills: Climb (+8 racial bonus, may always take 10), Concentration +5, Craft (weaving), Escape Artist +5, Jump, Listen +5, Profession, and Spot +4.
Cross-Class skills: Spellcraft +1.
BAB: +2.
Proficient with simple weapons.
Feat: Weapon Finesse
Bite: melee, +6 to hit, deals 1d6 damage and injects poison for 1d3 STR damage (on initial and secondary effect), DC 14 to save.
May assume hybrid form at will.
Spells: As level 1 sorcerer.
* Level 0: save DC 14, 5/day of Acid Splash, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound or Open/Close.
* Level 1: save DC 15, 3/day of Unseen Servant or Magic Missile.
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +8, Will -1.
Armor Class: 15 (+1 natural armor).
HD: 2d8+6 (15-22 HP).
* He's been talking (by correspondence) with members of various races and genders, trying to learn about the humanoid experience so that he can better blend in; everything he hears reinforces his conviction that the female humanoid gender best matches his own, that mammalian males lay their "eggs" in womens' bodies, and that the women are right to fear the prospect as they clearly do. Though still a sensualist, he begins to worry about what human males might do to him if he assumes a female form and "leads them on" in their complex mating rituals; overall he suspects it will be worth the risk, as chivalry seems to predominate over "she was asking to be raped" types of sentiment among the rank and file of humanity (clear proof that they have something on spiders, the way he figures it, not especially relishing the prospect that he'll someday be harvested for sperm and then eaten by his mate).

* Silk the Aranea lvl. 4
STR: 10 (pb 2)
DEX: 20 (pb 10 for value 16, +4 racial)
CON: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial) - retroactively added hit points to prior HD
INT: 19 (pb 8 for value 15, +4 racial)
WIS: 8 (pb 0)
CHA: 18 (pb 6 for value 14, +4 racial)
Speed: 40 ft. (30 ft. in hybrid form), climb 25 feet.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common, Sylvan, Elven, Abyssal, plus he learned Gnome from an elf and Dwarven from a gnome.
Class skills: Climb (+8 racial bonus, may always take 10), Concentration +5, Craft (weaving), Escape Artist +5, Jump, Listen +5, Profession, and Spot +4.
Cross-Class skills: Spellcraft +1.
BAB: +2.
Proficient with simple weapons.
Feat: Weapon Finesse
Bite: melee, +6 to hit, deals 1d6 damage and injects poison for 1d6 STR damage (on initial and secondary effect), DC 14 to save.
May assume hybrid form at will. (There appears to be no actual reason to assume this form, unless the bite attack is only usable in this form, which is ambiguous in the text.)
Spells: As level 2 sorcerer.
* Level 0: save DC 14, 6/day of Acid Splash, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Open/Close or Mending.
* Level 1: save DC 15, 4/day of Unseen Servant or Magic Missile.
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +8, Will -1. Very easily bamboozled. Keep him away from the Drow.
Armor Class: 15 (+1 natural armor).
HD: 2d8+6 (15-22 HP).
* Still no hardier than when he cast his first spell, Silk is now on the verge of ripening into his true power. The nerub's many legs now carry him at a speed unmatched by any save the wild men of the hinterlands, and his magic and poison alike have increased in virulence.

* Silk the Aranea lvl. 5
STR: 10 (pb 2)
DEX: 20 (pb 10 for value 16, +4 racial)
CON: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial) - retroactively added hit points to prior HD
INT: 19 (pb 8 for value 15, +4 racial)
WIS: 10 (pb 0 for value 8, +2 racial)
CHA: 18 (pb 6 for value 14, +4 racial)
Speed: 40 ft. (30 ft. in hybrid or humanoid form), climb 25 feet.
Darkvision 60 feet. (And maybe Low-Light Vision, if the 3.5 monster manual is to be believed.)
Speaks Common, Sylvan, Elven, Gnome, Dwarven, and Abyssal.
Class skills: Climb (+8 racial bonus, may always take 10), Concentration +6, Craft (weaving), Escape Artist +6, Jump, Listen +6, Profession, and Spot +5.
Cross-Class skills: Spellcraft +2.
BAB: +3.
Proficient with simple weapons.
Feats: Weapon Finesse, Urban Tracking (which "she" uses simply to ask around after local men of usefully white-knighting attitude, in the hopes that they'll hear that a mysterious and beautiful stranger has been asking about them).
Bite: melee, +7 to hit, deals 1d6 damage and injects poison for 1d6 STR damage (on initial and secondary effect), DC 14 to save. Not usable in humanoid form.
May assume human form for 1 hour at a time, 3 times per day; supposedly you receive all the racial traits of this form, which might include a feat and 6 extra skill points in the case of a human. We'll assume for the convenience that any such bonus is spent on something of no particular game relevance, like the "Resourceful Buyer" feat (Races of Destiny) and some ranks in Perform: Sing, just to represent interaction with male suitors or humans in general, and that the DM simply handwaves these effects if the bonus doesn't actually exist.
Also may assume hybrid form (functionally identical to spider shape, save for obvious issues with functioning in human-made environs), which may be taken and maintained as desired. The rules do not make clear whether switching from human to humanoid ends the duration of your human shape, leaves the clock on your hour running, or suspends that duration until you switch back.
Web 3/day: Throw as a net, but works on creatures up to Large, and may take up to five range increments of 10 feet each. Target is anchored in place and cannot move; DC 14 to Escape Artist or DC 18 to burst with a Strength check. Web has 6 HP and takes double damage from fire. Not usable in humanoid form.
Spells: As level 2 sorcerer.
* Level 0: save DC 14, 6/day of Acid Splash, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Open/Close or Mending.
* Level 1: save DC 15, 4/day of Unseen Servant or Magic Missile.
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +1.
Armor Class: 15 (+1 natural armor).
HD: 3d8+9 (19-31 HP).
* At last Silk has gotten the hang of shifting his chitin exoskeleton into a vertical-walking shape, squishing two pairs of his legs together to form each of a human's four limbs, discreetly tucking away his spinnerets, and growing skin over the whole mess. Naturally, the body he created for himself was female, with the yellowish-brown skin, straight black hair, and angular eyes typical of the inhabitants of Panh Ang; these cultures famously tend toward matriarchy and Amazonian warrior-cultures, making the meek and submissive behavior he adopts surprising but highly desirable to certain fetishists. Able to hold the shape for only three hours per day, this soft-spoken beauty limits how often "she" is seen, but uses those occasions to cultivate the passionate interest of certain human males, cherry-picked to fit a certain profile - brawny and powerful (which, in Silk's mind, indicates that they will be fine mothers, laying a clutch of dozens of eggs which will hatch into very powerful half-nerub children - he sees no reason why this is any more implausible than half-orcs or half-dragons), but also stalwart and patient, capable of being manipulated into entirely reliable behavior.
* Though Silk is chaotic himself, he relies upon the predictability of Lawful people as his minions, finding his fellow free spirits dangerously untrustworthy and better not trifled with; while he's cultivating a knightly type's ardent desire to win the hand of this fair maiden who gives such good backrubs, he also must carefully ensure that this chosen swain does not ever attempt to follow "her" home, when she hastily makes herself scarce after spending almost the entirety of a two-hour period in his company, taking a brief recess only once in the middle (presumably to "powder her nose" or some such feminine vanity, which the lothario is happy to accept as long as "she" hurries back). These brief dalliances leave the nerub's third daily hour of shifted shape "in reserve" for emergencies; the rest of his time is largely spent in hybrid form, just to get used to standing erect, and he slowly tinkers with the configuration of this body shape, moving the fangs downward and the spinnerets up, hoping to align these with the protruding glands and "lower mouth" of the she-man's body shape.
* (Picking up a +2 Wisdom and the last batch of skill points he gets in his progression, Silk ought to have been smacked with a clue bat by now, figuring out how human gender dynamics really work; instead, he'll have to wait until he takes an actual class level to gain any real comprehension of the subject. Whether he advances as a sorcerer in order to take advantage of his innate talents, or puts his incredible Charisma to work some other way, as a rogue or bard or even a Marshal, in any case the lessons that will help him function in human society are definitely being taught now, when the limits of his shapeshifting force him to engage in the kind of elaborate courtship games played by women in the Arabian Nights tales. I guess I'll go ahead and assume that all this is happening in Cycadria rather than the Empire; it's closer to Panh Ang anyway, so the "yellow fever" fetish ought to be better-developed than in men of the cosmopolitan, racially near-homogenous Tradespeak Imperium.)

Per the RAW in Savage Species, Aranea poison goes up to 2d6 STR damage in the last two levels of the progression, but this likely reflects an edition difference. In 3.5, 1d6 is the maximum; nevertheless I'll assume that it arrives at the same time in the monster class regardless, and that the upgrade to the final level just never happens unless the DM agrees that such strong venom is appropriate for a 3-HD character (who casts grade-1 sorcerer spells) at ECL 6 or 7.

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:40 pm

Now that we're at level 6 (ostensibly the last moment at which the rules can represent real-world human potential in terms of things like the Jump skill, before genuinely impossible results begin to exist - this being why the E6 project was founded), it's a good time to start skipping levels that don't add Hit Dice or otherwise dramatically change the base creature. Today's creature has two of these "dead levels", at which they apply only an Attribute bonus or something similarly trivial, and so we won't be looking at those levels, just at the four really distinct points in her career.

* Medusa character: Meduseld the Doomed (lawful good)
STR: 14 (pb 6) - inherits impressive natural musculature from her combative twin-mother.
DEX: 10 (pb 0 for value 8, +2 racial) - Accustomed to the slow pace of small-town life.
CON: 14 (pb 6) - Well-fed and vital, despite the touch of death on her birth.
INT: 8 (pb 0) - Simple and more than a bit naive, courtesy of her sheltered upbringing.
WIS: 16 (pb 10) - Good country living has taught her old-fashioned values.
CHA: 18 (pb 10 for value 16, +2 racial) - A life of kindness and comfort has made her glow from within, and her gentle demeanor softens features that could otherwise be fearsome.
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common.
Class skills: Bluff, Craft +1 (cooking), Disguise, Move Silently, Profession, and Spot +1.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge: Local +1.
BAB: +1.
Attack with snakes (all operate as a unit): melee, +3 to hit, deals 1d4+1 damage and inflicts a poison. The victim must Fortitude save at DC 12, otherwise it loses 1 STR and must save again 10 rounds later. If it fails the second save, it loses 2 more STR.
Proficient with all simple weapons and the shortbow.
Feat: Enduring Life (+4 bonus on fortitude saves to remove a negative level, and may ignore all effects of that level for 20 rounds after gaining it).
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +5.
Armor Class: 10 (no natch armor as yet - her skin is platy but still no thicker than a callous)
HD: 1d8+2 (10 HP).
* Innocence is a rare and precious trait in jaded, self-aware Whiteleaf; few of the Celestines bother to treasure it anymore, since it is so easily destroyed, and since the social consequences of its over-emphasis can be so easily perverted by the forces of corruption. So on those rare occasions that a truly pure soul is born, its precious nature often goes tragically unappreciated - especially when it is born in a flawed container, where no-one would think to look for it. Like a fragile porcelain ornament in an ugly cardboard box, with no "handle with care" stickers to be found, the soul's beautiful gleam is certain to be quickly soiled and snuffed out.
The race of medusas is said to be born of a curse, and many clerics doubt they have souls at all, certainly not Good ones. But this is ignorance on their part; in truth, while the society of this all-female race quickly instills a lineage of hatred in the parthenogenetic twins they birth during particularly fervent episodes of wrath and despair, they are born with none of the stain of their ancestry. And when the paladin Stronmar Sigismundsun struck down the malevolent snakehair sorceress Kathramatka, her death agonies turned into birth throes which the holy man somehow managed to recognize, and he turned his sword so that the intended death-stroke instead simply blinded the dying monstress, allowing her body to finish its work before she expired. She never saw her daughter, but the child never saw its mother's corpse either; Stronmar wrapped the baby up in his cloak and bore it away, raising the little girl as his own daughter (and parenting it more skillfully, if overprotectively, than he could ever have believed himself capable of).
Though she initially looked completely human, little Meduseld didn't take long to display her secret (in retrospect, Stronmar realized that the "branding specialist" he consulted in order to choose this name was not simply being lazy, but had in fact meant it as a sort of early warning, to gentle the later blow to involved townsfolk). Those who had loved the girl before she started to sprout wriggling head-tentacles and scaly face plates didn't find it incredibly difficult to continue loving her thereafter; some of these simple country folk were frightened of her, but most could overcome it, having good hearts and open minds thanks to the Empire's aid. As her age of maturity approached, Meddie's form became truly monstrous, with every "hair" growing a pair of near-blind eyes and a reflexively belligerent mouth, but beneath it all she was still just the young lady she'd been taught to become by a half-dozen foster mothers, all platonically drawn to the single father who'd retired from his adventuring lifestyle in order to enjoy the quiet domestic life.
Finally, she sat down and talked with her "parent", learning the full story of where she had come from and why he had given up his life to ensure hers; with tearful gratitude, but also with an adolescent stirring inside her which she didn't quite understand, she explained that she had to take up the legacy which he had stepped away from, and embark on a quest to discover what it meant to be herself. Not daring to try and hold her there, and with his offer to escort her being gently rejected, Stronmar had no choice but to gift her with his adventuring gear and sent her on her way, hoping that she could survive whatever the world had in store for her.

* Meduseld lvl. 2
STR: 14 (pb 6)
DEX: 10 (pb 0 for value 8, +2 racial)
CON: 14 (pb 6)
INT: 10 (pb 0 for value 8, +2 racial) - skill points are *not* retroactive for prior HD
WIS: 16 (pb 10)
CHA: 18 (pb 10 for value 16, +2 racial)
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common.
Class skills: Bluff, Craft +1 (cooking), Disguise +1 (plus makeup kit), Move Silently +1, Profession, and Spot +1.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge: Local +1.
BAB: +2.
Attack with snakes (all operate as a unit): melee, +4 to hit, deals 1d4+1 damage and inflicts a poison. The victim must Fortitude save at DC 12, otherwise it loses 1 STR. It must save again 10 rounds later either way; if it fails the second save, it loses 2 STR.
Proficient with all simple weapons and the shortbow.
Feat: Enduring Life (+4 bonus on fortitude saves to remove a negative level, and may ignore all effects of that level for 20 rounds after gaining it).
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +6.
Armor Class: 11 (+1 natch armor)
HD: 2d8+4 (13-20 HP).
* Meduseld has had the first of a series of shocks as she goes out into the world; injuries have begun to harden her skin, though not yet her heart, and the extent of her naive ignorance is becoming uncomfortably apparent, forcing her mind to evolve away from the childlike simplicity she once enjoyed. She still doesn't intentionally "fight" much, since the twitchy snakes generally strike at imminent threats even before she consciously perceives their presence, and she has begun to witness the fear that this reflex engenders in common folk who witness it, making them unwilling to get too close to her, no matter how peaceable her demeanor seems at a given moment. She is beginning to experience the first pangs of loneliness and alienation, now that she's left her social support system behind; she regrets her decision a little, but still feels compelled to pursue some greater future than the simple domestic life, no matter how much she pines for those days of comfort and cameraderie.

* Meduseld lvl. 4
STR: 14 (pb 6)
DEX: 10 (pb 0 for value 8, +2 racial)
CON: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial) - HP added retroactively to prior HD
INT: 10 (pb 0 for value 8, +2 racial) - skill points are *not* retroactive for prior HD
WIS: 16 (pb 10)
CHA: 18 (pb 10 for value 16, +2 racial)
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common.
Class skills: Bluff, Craft +1 (cooking), Disguise +2 (plus makeup kit), Move Silently +1, Profession, and Spot +2.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge: Local +1.
BAB: +3.
Attack with snakes (all operate as a unit): melee, +5 to hit, deals 1d4+1 damage and inflicts a poison. The victim must Fortitude save at DC 13, otherwise it loses 1d4 STR. It must save again 10 rounds later either way; if it fails the second save, it loses 2d4 STR.
Proficient with all simple weapons and the shortbow.
Feats: Enduring Life (+4 bonus on fortitude saves to remove a negative level, and may ignore all effects of that level for 20 rounds after gaining it), Rapid Metabolism (add double your Constitution bonus to the normal daily healing rate, without needing to rest; extra healing is not doubled by treatment with the Heal skill).
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +6.
Armor Class: 11 (+1 natch armor)
HD: 3d8+9 (19-33 HP).
* The tragedy of Meduseld is beginning to unfold; she has developed nothing in recent weeks other than a higher tolerance for pain, as she has been subjected to unrelenting opposition and abuse by panicky villagers and marauding monsters alike. Utterly unsuccessful in defending her fellow innocents, she has been tormented first by their attackers which she failed to stop, and then again by the humans themselves, as they look for someone to blame for having brought the disaster upon them in the first place. Her spirit has not yet been broken by this unfair treatment, but her constant weeping, bleeding, convalescence, and general anguish have left her no ability to focus on learning anything other than how to "toughen up" - and increase the virulence of her venom.
* As Meddie convalesces in solitude from her abuse at the hands of "monsters" far more nearly human than her, the slow knitting of her bones and the mending of her corded muscles is reflected by a growing bitterness in her heart. And, true to the curse which is handed down through the medusan line, this vitriol streams outward into the snakes which writhe on her scalp, seeking to infect others with the biochemical manifestation of her slowly growing hatred for other beings.

* Meduseld lvl. 6
STR: 14 (pb 6)
DEX: 12 (pb 0 for value 8, +4 racial)
CON: 16 (pb 6 for value 14, +2 racial) - HP added retroactively to prior HD
INT: 11 (pb 0 for value 8, +2 racial, +1 level) - skill points are *not* retroactive for prior HD
WIS: 16 (pb 10)
CHA: 18 (pb 10 for value 16, +2 racial)
Speed: 30 ft.
Darkvision 60 feet.
Speaks Common.
Class skills: Bluff, Craft +2 (cooking), Disguise +2 (plus makeup kit), Move Silently +1, Profession, and Spot +3.
Cross-Class Skills: Knowledge: Local +1.
BAB: +4.
Attack with snakes (all operate as a unit): melee, +6 to hit, deals 1d4+1 damage and inflicts a poison. The victim must Fortitude save at DC 13, otherwise it loses 1d4 STR. It must save again 10 rounds later either way; if it fails the second save, it loses 2d4 STR.
Proficient with all simple weapons and the shortbow.
Feats: Enduring Life (+4 bonus on fortitude saves to remove a negative level, and may ignore all effects of that level for 20 rounds after gaining it), Rapid Metabolism (add double your Constitution bonus to the normal daily healing rate, without needing to rest; extra healing is not doubled by treatment with the Heal skill).
Petrifying Gaze 1/day: Target a creature within 10 feet which can see the medusa's eyes. That creature must Fortitude save at DC 16 or be turned to stone permanently.
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +7.
Armor Class: 13 (+2 natch armor)
HD: 4d8+12 (23-44 HP).
* At last, the shriveling of Meduseld's once-pure soul is complete; she retains a sense of virtue and principle, but they have become entirely abstract concepts, which she obeys out of a mixture of high self-opinion and pure habit. Her antipathy for the people she encounters is nearly complete by now; they shrink from her in horror as she wears the pain of her abuse on her face, and she understands with a cold tranquility that they do not want to be reminded of the world's ugliness, even if that means they must deny succor to those who are grievously wounded in body or in spirit. When she confronted the mayor of the hamlet she was defending and was hectored mercilessly, thanked for the sacrifices she had made with accusations and epithets, something finally snapped inside her; seeing the man as a symbol of everything that was wrong with humanity, she found herself believing that true Good could best be ensured by the removal of certain key figures, whose leadership steers the flock toward obeying its worst urges. And so she took one step toward the sputtering, belligerent Rogue who had demanded she leave "his" town, grasped his shoulders firmly with both of her surprisingly-strong hands, willed her snakes to wrap around his head and hold his eyelids open, and then rotated her own eyes 180 degrees in their sockets, exposing the veiny optic nerves which themselves writhed in serpentine viciousness. Unable to escape the sight of those hideously inverted orbs, the man stiffened in instinctive revulsion, and the magic of the ancestral curse flowed out of Meddie's hardened heart, drawn like a heat-seeking missile to his disgust and terror, turning his rigidity from a muscular paralysis into a supernatural prison of stone.
With her grisly work complete, Meduseld's eyes returned to their normal position, and she felt a momentary lightening of her dour mood, a catharsis that left her carefree youthful demeanor to surge forth again, albeit as a hollow shadow of itself. Turning toward the trembling witnesses of her act - the entire population of the town had turned out to watch the confrontation between their leader and this outsider - Meduseld smiled, leaning nonchalantly against the new statue, and allowing her snaky hair to lie completely flat and limp, all the heads closing their eyes and mouths as their mistress relaxed her mood completely. In a cheerful, beneficent tone of voice, Meddie informed the folk of the village that from that moment forward, she was in charge; she would attend to the former mayor's duties, "properly this time", and life would return to normal, apart from a little bit of extra disaster preparedness that the village ought to always have had. The fat and apoplectic mayor's stone form was to remain exactly where it was, on pain of anyone who removed it taking its place; let it serve as a symbol for those who would allow their selfishness to overpower their sense of duty, as she felt certain he had done (when in actuality he was a fairly decent civic administrator, and only very slightly corrupted by the luxuries that his power afforded him - he was just having a bad day when he shouted at the traumatized girl, and he paid with his life for that mistake).
* Now the folk of the community are attempting to put their lives back together, repairing buildings that were sacked when the monsters overran the town, figuring out replacements for any resources of which they were pillaged - and quietly talking themselves into accepting the way an inhuman tyrant has imposed herself upon them. Returning to her old domestic habits, out of a mix of neurotic denial and genuine wishes for a more pleasant day-to-day, Meddie seems like a kindly enough matron, baking sweetbreads to lift the people's spirits and boiling "stone soup" to stretch the hamlet's meager food budget - but the folk still live in fear of what will happen if she is crossed again. And truthfully, so does she; the knowledge of what she's capable of now gnaws at the back of her mind, putting the lie to all of her hopes that she can integrate again, whispering that she brought all this on herself when she left home in the first place. Eventually, she will tire of pretending to have built a new life here, and wander off again, leaving the town leaderless and devoid of protection against the monsters who still maraud its environs; despite this, they will be glad to see her go, and her restless spirit will guide her in search of new adventures, which will scar her spirit more deeply still.

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:40 pm

Due to computer issues, the Monsters of the Week series is on indefinite hiatus. The level 7 example is ready to go, but after that I would have nothing prepared, and no ability to organize my notes and work on the project.

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Re: Monsters of the Week: A [Whiteleaf] Character Blog

Post by willpell » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:36 pm

Thinking about starting this up again, if there's any interest.

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