Excerpts Archive | 10/29/2010
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Halloween
Monster Vault Excerpts

Continuing our Monster Vault previews, we wanted to present some creatures appropriate to Halloween—and what could be more classic than Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman? In this case, we have the Flesh Golem, Vampire Master, and a look at the Werewolf Moon Frenzy disease.

Golem

Golems might be made from humble stuff—stone, iron, or flesh and bones—but they possess astonishing power and durability. These automatons obey their creators above all else. Not even the threat of destruction can affect their obedience.

Golems have no wants, need no sustenance, require no rest, feel no pain, and know no remorse. No secrets pass their lips. No thoughts of betrayal fester in their simple minds. They seek only to follow their creators’ commands. Golems protect or attack whomever or whatever their creators demand.

Created by Others: Only those who cannot trust living servants or who require ageless guardians go to the great expense and effort of creating golems. Dwarves who would see their tombs protected for eternity, a wizard who wants to work his will upon a frightened populace, a general who desires an unstoppable soldier, a queen who needs an enforcer and guard beyond reproach—such are the people who craft golems.

Painstakingly Crafted: The construction of a golem begins with the building of its body. This work requires great command of the craft, whether it’s stonecutting, ironworking, or surgery. Sometimes a golem’s creator is the master of the art, but often the individual who desires a golem must hire highly skilled artisans to do the work. If the artisans won’t do the work for pay, they are sometimes kidnapped and forced into it.

Once a golem’s body has been constructed, a ritual must be performed to give it life. There are many versions of such rituals, but all require a sacrifice of both wealth and blood or spirit. The vilest of these rituals are the least expensive in gold and the most expensive in life. All of them result in the establishment of a connection to the Elemental Chaos. Through a tiny rent in the fabric of reality, the golem’s creator draws forth the same spirit stuff tapped by the gods and the primordials when they created the creatures of the world. This tiny spark of life has no memory, personality, or history. It is merely the impetus to move and obey. It sees and knows its creator, and nothing else matters.

Witless Wonders: A golem cannot think or act for itself. It can understand its creator’s commands perfectly, but it has no grasp of language beyond that understanding. Thus, a golem cannot be reasoned with or confused. In a way, nothing exists for the golem but its creator’s commands, and it takes their intent literally. This characteristic is the golem’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

When its creator is on hand to command it, a golem performs flawlessly. However, if that creator leaves the golem with instructions or is incapacitated, the golem continues to follow its last orders to the best of its ability. A golem knows the intent of its creator’s orders, but when it cannot fulfill such orders or does not know how to do so, it might react violently or simply stand and do nothing. A golem that has conflicting orders might alternate between them. A golem told to guard the door of a treasure vault against entry might break down the door itself if it detects intruders inside. A golem commanded to kill a foe might do so and then simply stop if it cannot hear its master’s calls to return and does not have standing orders to return once its task is complete.

Some creators grant another person or any person with a special symbol the right to command a golem. Such practices allow for the possibility that the golem might be used against its creator’s interests, if not against the creator directly, and those powerful enough to create a golem are usually loath to accept that risk.

Flesh Golem
Level 12 Elite Brute
Large natural animate (construct)
XP 1,400
HP 304; Bloodied 152 Initiative +4
AC 24, Fortitude 26, Reflex 21, Will 21 Perception +5
Speed 6 (cannot shift) Darkvision
Resist 10 cold
Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1
Traits
Primal Fear
When the golem takes fire damage from an attack, it takes a free action to move up to its speed, and each square it moves must place it farther from the attacker. If it cannot move at least half its speed, it grants combat advantage until the end of its next turn.
Life-Giving Jolt
When the golem takes lightning damage, it can make a basic attack as a free action.
Standard Actions
Melee SlamAt-Will
Attack: Melee 2 (one creature); +17 vs. AC, or +19 vs. AC while the golem is bloodied
Hit: 3d10 + 9 damage.
Melee Double AttackAt-Will
Effect: The golem uses slam twice. Each attack knocks the target prone if it hits.
Melee Golem RampageRecharge 5 6
Effect: The golem moves up to its speed + 2. During this movement, the golem can move through enemies’ spaces, and when the golem first enters a creature’s space, it uses slam against that creature.
Triggered Actions
Melee Berserk AttackAt-Will
Trigger: An attack damages the golem while it is bloodied.
Effect (Immediate Reaction): The golem uses slam against a random target within its reach.
Str 20 (+11)
Dex 7 (+4)
Wis 8 (+5)
Con 22 (+12)
Int 3 (+2)
Cha 3 (+2)
Alignment unaligned
Languages

Vampire

Awakened to an endless night, a vampire lusts for the life it lost and sates that hunger by drinking the blood of the living. In their dark and decadent dreams, they live in luxury, ruling over kingdoms of mortals who exist to satisfy their most sinister appetites.

Kings and queens of undeath, vampires rule the night. Some are fiends driven only by their lust for blood. These simple spawn are easily dispatched by those with skill. Other vampires are true lords of darkness, mighty creatures that have achieved a semblance of immortality and have come to control legions of vampires and other undead.

Cloaked in Superstition: Vampires are the subject of many superstitions. Garlic and holy symbols are supposed to repel them. Tales say they cannot cross running water or pass the threshold of a house uninvited.

Vampires might even be the source of such falsehoods, though it’s likely that fear of the creatures propagates the rumors. Ultimately, few things can protect a person from a vampire other than a sturdy weapon or a powerful implement.

Only a couple of the superstitions about vampires are true: Vampires abhor sunlight, and they cast no shadows or reflections. Not surprisingly, any vampire that wishes to move unnoticed among the living tends to remain in poorly lit areas where mirrors and other reflective surfaces are absent.

Born from Death: Anyone who survives an attack from a vampire might fall prey to the vampire’s curse, entering into a deep, deathlike sleep. A person under this curse is often assumed dead and ushered through funeral rites. When that person awakes at the next sunset, he or she is a vampire. If confined within a coffin, this vampire might already be buried or could be awaiting burial in a temple or a family member’s home. Most vampires awaken as slavering spawn, but a few retain enough of themselves to emerge from death as true vampires.

Although a vampire might retain memories of its life, most of the emotional attachments are gone, replaced by the insatiable hunger for warm blood. Only the strongest bonds remain, and often they are negative emotions, such as hate or desire for revenge. Once-pure feelings become twisted by undeath: Love transforms into hungry obsession, and friendship becomes bitter jealousy. Some sages whisper of rituals that can stop the transformation and awaken a person under the vampire’s curse. If the transformation cannot be stopped in this way, then the only way to stop a person from becoming a vampire is to burn or dismember the body. This puts a vampire hunter in the awkward position of slaying a helpless innocent to prevent him or her from becoming a vile creature.

Chained to the Grave: Every vampire remains bound to its coffin, crypt, or grave site, requiring that the vampire rest there every day. Unlike most living humanoids, though, vampires must rest during daylight hours. If a vampire did not receive a formal burial, it must lie under a foot or so of earth at the place of its transition to undeath (a cave or a dungeon chamber beneath the earth also suffices).

A vampire can move its place of burial or set up multiple places of burial by transporting a significant amount of grave dirt or a large coffin pieces to another location, where a similar resting place can be crafted.

A vampire that fails to find rest each day struggles to maintain its strength and sanity. As days without rest go by, a vampire goes mad with hunger for blood, eventually coming to desire the blood of its former race above anything else. Its feeding becomes a strange, externalized self-destruction. A vampire crazed by such bloodlust cannot heal damage to its body until it rests.

Master Vampire
Level 12 Lurker
Medium natural humanoid (undead)
XP 700
HP 98; Bloodied 49 Initiative +15
AC 26, Fortitude 25, Reflex 24, Will 24 Perception +14
Speed 7, climb 4 (spider climb) Darkvision
Immune disease, poison; Resist 10 necrotic
Traits
Burned by Sunlight (radiant)
Whenever the vampire starts its turn in direct sunlight, it takes 10 radiant damage.
Regeneration
The vampire regains 10 hit points whenever it starts its turn and has at least 1 hit point. When the vampire takes radiant damage, its regeneration does not function on its next turn.
Standard Actions
Melee ClawAt-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +17 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 5 damage.
Melee Bite (healing)At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one dazed, dominated, stunned, or unconscious creature); +17 vs. AC
Hit: 4d10 + 10 damage, and the vampire regains 20 hit points.
Cloud of Bats (polymorph)At-Will
Effect: The vampire assumes the form of a cloud of bats until the start of its next turn. While in this form, the vampire cannot attack but becomes insubstantial, gains fly 8 (hover), gains a +5 power bonus to Stealth checks, and can move through enemies’ spaces.
Ranged Dominating Gaze (charm)Recharge when no creature is dominated by this power
Attack: Ranged 5 (one creature); +17 vs. Will
Hit: The target is dominated until the end of the vampire’s next turn.
Triggered Actions
Mist Form (polymorph)Encounter
Trigger: The vampire takes damage while bloodied.
Effect (No Action): The vampire becomes insubstantial and gains fly 12. The vampire cannot attack or use cloud of bats. This effect lasts for 1 hour or until the vampire ends it as a minor action.
Skills Acrobatics +16, Athletics +17, Bluff +16, Insight +14, Stealth +16
Str 22 (+12)
Dex 20 (+11)
Wis 17 (+9)
Con 20 (+11)
Int 15 (+8)
Cha 21 (+11)
Alignment evil
Languages Common

Lycanthrope

Lycanthropes shift between human and animal forms, comfortably traveling both in society and in the wild.

Shapeshifters remain in human form around other creatures, revealing their bestial nature only when in the company of other lycanthropes or moments before a kill. The carnivorous creatures are born with a craving for human flesh. An instinct to survive and the awareness that discovery means death drives lycanthropes to lie, cheat, steal, and murder.

True lycanthropes are born only to shapeshifter mates, but legends tell a different story. According to these myths, a lycanthrope’s bite or a mystic’s curse can infect a mortal with lycanthropy.

Werewolf Moon Frenzy
Level 6 Disease
This disease starts with a fever, which soon becomes a violent and unpredictable rage.
Stage 0: The target recovers from the disease.
Stage 1: While affected by stage 1, the target takes a –2 penalty to Will.
Stage 2: While affected by stage 2, whenever the target becomes bloodied, it makes a melee basic attack as a free action against an ally adjacent to it.
Stage 3: While affected by stage 3, whenever the target is hit by an attack, it makes a melee basic attack as a free action against an ally adjacent to it.
Check: At the end of each extended rest, the target makes an Endurance check if it is at stage 1 or 2.
10 or Lower: The stage of the disease increases by 1.
11–14: No change.
15 or Higher: The stage of the disease decreases by 1.

Excerpt Schedule

Monday Friday

October 25

Red Dragon

October 29

Flesh Golem/ Vampire

October 25

Otyugh

October 29

Purple Worm

October 25

Displacer Beast

October 29

Doppleganger