Revitalizing Old Monsters

In the 1970’s the comic book industry was in trouble. Marketing decisions had begun to get goofy. Probably the most obvious victim of goofy is the Batman line of comics. In the 60’s a television show was made that was based on the Caped Crusader, this show was so popular that it actually effected the comic book itself, that prior to that time was mostly a crime solving superhero comic. Sales went up, and children were hooked, but by 1970, the Batman comic was a mess. Sales were down, the villains were goofy, the police were incapable, and Batman had completely lost what made him cool.

Something had to be done, new writers were brought in, Batman was once again alone, the decision to return Batman would had been to hard if Robin was to be revitalized too. New villains were created, the old villains slowly returned but more dangerous and deadly then ever before. This was a great time for Batman! A hero which would be dead now if that decision hadn’t been made!

Many comics were still silly, but the darkness was spreading. Sometimes this worked, however, sometimes it didn’t. Aquaman ended up losing his soul, which was a travesty if you ask me. Many super-villains were abandoned, and forgotten about until a revitalization which took place in this decade which was centered on taking old goofy monsters and villains from the past, and bringing them back cooler and more dangerous then ever. Some of this was completely on the shoulders of the artists who drew them, but the greatest successes came from the writers who reworked some so that they made more sense to today’s readers. Going back and discovering WHY these guys were so odd, and making them angry about it. IT WORKED!

But, what does this have to do with Dungeons & Dragons? Easy, REVITALIZING.

One of the greatest sins which a writer can do is to choose to eliminate monsters because “somebody” thought that they were goofy or stupid, which, in my opinion, really isn’t their call to make. If they were told to update monsters, then that is what they should had done. I understand the executive decision to remove demons and devils from the new edition, that was political, but removing the oddities and the weird was wrong.

I say, that those goofy things should be brought back, but in a way that makes them more useful, and threatening. Take the Wolf in Sheeps Clothing for example, that there is a really goofy monster that I always loved, the monster is both creepy and silly. A bunny rabbit on a stump, it is bait and the monster that attacks those who try to pick up the rabbit with long tentacles and it eats them. YES!!!! But, how can we do this? How can we make it better?

It is a lesser form of a mimic, but why did it act the way that it did? Why a rabbit? What was it trying to catch? It certainly wasn’t people, who just picks up random rabbits? It ate animal predators and other creatures that are so stupid that they hunt by jumping on something.

We must also figure out where this thing came from, and it certainly isn’t native. They are too rare to be native, perhaps they are from space or another plane. Years ago they didn’t know what those around them wanted, so it chose the first form of bait that it saw, a bunny rabbit. All of them were slain, and they are believed to be extinct, but a group of them have been sent back to this plane, back to this plane to extract its revenge. It will now target the race of those which slew its ancestors. It worked slowly, spying on us through magic and discovering our weaknesses and strengths. The master has devised more effective baits which they will test upon us before opening the gate and cleansing the world of those whom slew it.

We must put them in the perfect locations, ones that maximize their bonuses and away from as many weaknesses as possible. The bunny rabbit will also be replaced by things which will attract humans and demi-humans to approach. Highly decorated swords in stones, Potions sitting on stumps, wells which promise fulfillment of desires. Some of these items can be destroyed and replaced by the mimic. The minor mimics job is to kill and also to breed!

Taking a page out of “Little Shop of Horrors” the minor mimic requires 1d3 feedings before it can start reproducing. Each feeding after the initial spawns 1d4 creatures which the minor mimic must feed, and this continues. Minor mimics who work together form a major mimic, a very large creature capable of forming large objects. Entire houses and castles, ships, wagons, and chariots. Whatever they can imagine, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to imagine how quick and terrible this creature has now become.

We must figure out why these creatures went away, why they came back, and we must MAKE them work. If a vampire is badly played, then we don’t delete them from the game, we figure out where we went wrong and we try to correct the problem. I think that we owe it to ourselves to do the same thing with monsters that we normally wouldn’t consider playing. Try it, and see how it works. Add darkness and fear to it, color it with myth and history, and see if you can’t use it to really terrify and threaten your players.

ACHAIERAI

Climate/Terrain:
Any/Below ground
Frequency: Very Rare (believed to be extinct)
Organization: Flocks
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Carnivore
Intelligence: Average (8-10)
Treasure: F
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
No. Appearing: 1-8

Armor Class: Body 8, Legs –1
Movement: 18
Hit Dice: 9 (Body 40 hp; legs 15 hp each)
THAC0: 17, or 11 w/ beak
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-8/1-8/1-10
Special Attacks: Nil
Special Defenses: Toxic Smoke
Magic Resistance: 35%
Size: H (15’ tall)
Morale: special
XP Value: 3,000

Though the foul motives which caused these loathsome birds to be first summoned from the infernal regions are now lost from memory, remnants of the original achalerai flock still stalk the earth, haunting shadowy places and underground passages. In form they consist of a huge spherical head-body, with a powerful beak and feathery crest, atop four long legs ending in strong claws.

The legs are a metallic blue-gray, the body-head a dull scarlet with deep red blotches. The eyes are steel-blue and the tiny wings blue-green. A wide range of crest colors have been observed, the most common being a bright flame-red

Combat: Man-sized opponents cannot usually attack the soft body, but can only reach the hard, metallic legs. Likewise, it will not usually be able to reach a victim with its beak and will therefore fight with two claws, doing 1-8 hit points of damage.

A beak attack, when this is possible, will have the THAC0 of 11, while the claws attack with a THAC0 of 17. If a beak attack is delivered, it will inflict 1-10 hit points of damage on the victim.

The achaierai often travel in groups and, though a group need never check morale, each individual bird will try to flee if it loses a leg (a total of 15 hp of damage or more on a particular leg will break it from the body). Though flightless, a bird often eludes pursuers with its long strides. Its movement rate is unaffected by the loss of a single leg, but the loss of two legs halves movement rate. An injured leg will regenerate fully in about two days, but the birds do not possess other regenerative powers and a leg which has been completely lost will not be re-grown.

If a bird loses three legs, or is otherwise seriously wounded, it will release a cloud of black toxic smoke which in shape and size approximates to a sphere of 10’ radius. All within the cloud (except achairai) take 2-12 hit points of damage automatically, and must save against poison or suffer insanity for 3 hours. In the confusion the wounded bird will seek to escape, crawling if three legs have been lost at a Movement rate of 2.

Habitat/Society: Achaierai are not native to this plane, however are a bi-product of a magic spell which originally summoned them, but is now lost to history. These creatures have evolved into somewhat different creatures then the originals, developing 120’ Ultravision to aid them in their now subterranean lifestyles. Though many varieties exist, all have subtly adapted to their new world, arctic varieties have thick, fur-like feathers, while desert Achaierai have light plumage and no comb. Believed to be extinct by scholars, a few flocks still hunt the underworld, sometimes going above ground when food is scarce in the underdark. Most prefer mountainous terrain, these Achaierai are definitely the largest of all types, standing well over 20’ tall.

The Achaierai typically stays in small family units that are rarely over 8 in numbers. The flock is led by an adult male, the rest are females who possess the same stats as above. The male has long sharp talons on its legs which it can use for 1 attack which does 1d12 if successful, jumping with both hind legs and attempting to strike with the sharp metallic spur on the front set. All of the birds fend for themselves unless chicks are involved. When this is the case, the males provide protection for the chicks and the females provide food and are in charge of raising them. A chick who grows to maturity will typically leave to find its own way.

The hunting range of a flock is huge, and defended wildly. If an intruder is discovered, one Achaierai may attack to discover how powerful the enemy is, if possible the Achaierai will either kill and eat the intruder, or flee and bring back the rest of the flock and set up an ambush. Highly dangerous foes will be avoided entirely.

Ecology: Achaierai will attempt to each all living matter, but are capable of knowing what to avoid. Their strong stomachs can digest whatever they can swallow, and they are immune to all known poisons. Wizards have discovered that feathers from their bodies can be used in making magical quills in which they use to write scrolls.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the change to the Wolf In Sheep's Clothing. I'm thinking something along the lines of a barbed-tentacle creature hiding under a pile of treasure and bones, with pseudopods that it uses like a tree uses fruit. But the fruit of the Wolf is shaped like and acts like some common unintelligent territorial monster - say, a Giant Centipede. You slay the centipede(s) crawling on the walls and treasure, they approach and dig in to the loot. You're then attacked by the Wolf. It feeds and brings out its backup fruit, replacing the ruined fruit in a couple days.
The treasure itself may act as seed-pods. The creature's seeds are small pearls that hatch into larvae some weeks after being laid.

I'd have the treasure be real and valuable though. No sense making it a complete waste of time.

Ripper X said...

That is an excellent idea. With just a little work, one can make the Wolf a very creepy monster that nobody will ever forget.

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