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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

RMA: Giant Horned Chameleon

Admittedly, a normal chameleon –as weird as he looks– isn't particularly scary. In fact, I think they're kinda cute in an alien-meets-dinosaur kinda way. The giant variety a la Moldvay, is a different kettle of lizard.

Lizard, Giant Horned Chameleon (from Moldvay)

No. App: 1d3 (1d6)
Move: 120' (40')
AC: 2
HD: 5
Attacks: 2 (bite, horn)
Damage: 2d4/1d6
Save: F3
Morale: 7

So stat-wise, it's no great shakes. Their morale would indicate a skittish creature. The best things you can say about it are that its AC is decent and 5 HD is too much for a Sleep spell to take it out. While the book's listing doesn't specifically state it, in the real world chameleons are gifted climbers, so I would probably allow a certain amount of clinging to rough walls, etc. Where the GHC really shines is in the details, though.  Let's look at a few tidbits:

"The immense 7' giant horned chameleon can surprise its prey, despite its bulk, due to its uncanny ability to take on the color, appearance, and texture of its local surroundings. A victim will be surprised on a surprise check roll of 1-5 on 1d6."

Yup. That's right. You have a less than 17% chance of not being surprised. That means free attacks, and with up to 3 of them in a random encounter, that could be six attacks before you can do anything about it.

"The giant horned chameleon has three special attacks. The first is its sticky tongue, which can lash out to a distance of 5'. If this attack succeeds, the victim is immediately yanked back to the chameleon's mouth and bitten without the need for another attack roll, for 2d4 hit points of damage."

Five feet isn't exactly longbow range, but it doesn't need to be adjacent to you either. The automatic bite is a nice touch, and 2-8 points of damage is respectable enough. 

"The second special attack available to the chameleon is its large horns, which inflict 1d6 hit points of damage."

Not really all that special, but still a solid melee attack for close-fighting.

"Lastly, the chameleon may, on a successful attack, knock down an opponent by lashing out with its tail. The opponent may not attack the same round this occurs."

That's a fun wrinkle for a fight: the lizard(s) just making folks lose their turn over and over. There's no save against it, and a 5 HD critter is hitting often enough. What's particularly interesting about that is since they get two attacks per round, they can ruin a PC's turn by knocking him flat and still attack for damage (bite or impale). 
 I could see a party wandering into some large room that was a chameleon lair, housing 5-6 of these things and having a pretty interesting encounter.

Monday, May 6, 2013

RSA: Part Water

Let's just get the Heston screen cap out of the way, OK?

An amusing and powerful spell. And, like most RSAs, one I've rarely seen a PC use. It's odd that this is a MU/Elf spell in BX rather than a clerical spell given –like some other spells– its obvious mythological origins, but who am I to blow against the wind?

Its pretty high level (6th), so it's understandable why you don't see it cast all the time. Also, it's really only useful when dealing with a large body of water, which isn't too terribly frequent in most campaigns. 

Part Water (from Cook)
Level: 6 (MU)
Range: 120'
Duration: 6 turns

This spell creates a path through a body of water, enabling creatures to walk on the bottom. The path will be up to 120' long and 10' wide. The spell may be ended at any time by the caster before the duration is over.

The first thing I notice about the spell description is the dimensions/AoE. Why? No depth! It doesn't care whether you are making a path through a fish pond or an ocean, it goes ALL THE WAY DOWN! Obviously it's hard to do the Red Sea Stroll without it reaching the bed, but still!

The second thing about the dimensions is, well, the other dimensions. Only 120' x 10'? That's not getting you very far. One hour duration is nice if it's only for one combat, but you aren't getting a lot of overland travel done in that time. It would be handy for some river crossings and the like, though.

Now, one fun use of this spell that comes to mind is when it comes to a naval battle: Opening a gap in the water right in front of an enemy vessel? Good times! Of course, you'd want to angle it just right to maximize the effect, but I would say even a big ship would stand a real risk of capsizing or dipping its prow low enough to be swamped.

Like many of these higher level, unusual spells, I would be tempted to place a scroll in a campaign just to see what fun the PCs might come up with.