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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

RMA: Oliphaunts (Elephants and Mastodons)

I can stand the sight of worms,
And even microscopic germs,
But technicolor pachyderms,
Are really too much for me!

                                     -"Pink Elephants on Parade"

It's hardly surprising to find that elephants are pretty formidable opponents in D&D. They're big, they're strong, and they basically have SPEARS coming out of their faces. I have rarely seen them in play, though. Elephants –and their prehistoric cousins, the Mastodon– are rare on random encounters. Each only appears a single time (Grassland and Optional: Prehistoric) on the charts. Nevertheless, "modern" elephants are sometimes tamed in certain cultures and can make for an interesting encounter.

aka "The last thing Uncle Ted saw 
after setting off a firecracker on safari."

Elephant (from Cook)

AC: 5 
HD: 9
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 2 (tusks) or 1 (trample)
Damage: 2d8/2d8 or 4d8
No. App: 0 (1d20)
Save: F5
Morale: 8

First of all, up to twenty in a herd. Secondly, NINE hit dice. Their AC is decent, too. If you tick these things off, you have some heavy work ahead. 

They charge to start with, doing double damage with tusks, so that's potentially sixty-four hit points of damage right there. THEN they start trampling for up to 32 points per attack. Those 9HD means elephants hit often enough, but check this out: Against man-sized or smaller, they get a +4 to attack!!

Mastodons are pretty similar, except tougher (though they deal slightly less damage with their tusks).

Mastodon (from Cook)
AC: 3 
HD: 15
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 2 (tusks) or 1 (trample)
Damage: 2d6/2d6 or 4d8
No. App: 0 (2d8)
Save: F8
Morale: 8

The best way to deal with either of these creatures as foes? Scare them off. They're herbivores with so-so morale. Just don't be in the way when they stampede in a panic. 

The tusks of these creatures are valuable enough to entice some to take the risks (up to 800gp per). Hooks involving ivory hunters, vengeful druids, and elephant graveyards full of tusks could make for a fine adventure indeed!

Monday, September 24, 2012

RMA: Merchants

Let's get these pineapples to Hawaii before the price drops!

Probably every DM has used the "caravan guard" adventure hook at one point or another, and merchants themselves are not exactly the scariest of monsters unless you are particularly susceptible to extended warranty sales pitches. But the more I look at the Cook Expert listing, the more intrigued I am.

Like bandits, merchants are not so much a memorable encounter by themselves, as what -ahem- baggage comes with them.

The no. appearing is listed as 1-20. What's fun is the chart on X36. Depending upon how many actual merchants there are, the caravan just keeps growing. An average roll of 10-11 merchants means twenty wagons. That means at least 20 teamsters plus draft animals (mules, etc.); probably 2 per wagon. THEN there are the extra 1d12 animals. 

The merchants themselves wear chain and carry swords, so ten or so of them are relatively formidable. However, the really interesting thing are their guards.

For the 10-11 merchants, that's 45 fighters in tow. 

Forty. Five. 

What's more, that includes four 2nd-3rd level fighters plus a FIFTH level guard leader. 

I'm thinking these guys aren't going to be terribly easy to intimidate. Nevertheless, twenty wagons of goods and supplies plus forty or fifty riding/draft animals must be a tempting target for some. (Not to mention the weapons and armor from the guards, etc.)

Another aspect of the merchant encounter that is worth noting is how useful they are at handing out rumors and hooks. Merchants generally talk to everyone from all over and keep their eyes and ears open. Smart players will make nice with merchants, and pump them for every scrap of information they can. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

More 40K vids

I've posted two more videos as part of my ongoing project to educate my players about the 40k 'verse. One about living in the 41st millenium, the other about Chaos. More to come as well.

Part 2

Part 3