Gamestoppers
Part Eight: That Invisible Touch

In this installment of Gamestoppers, we take a look at how both incorporeal monsters and the energy drain special attack work. Last month, the group was ambushed by a lurking behir that blasted Krusk with lightning and fried his magic cloak. After recovering from the battle, the group approaches a massive door set in the wall of the opposite end of the behir's lair.

DM: So then, you've finally made it to the door. Again, it stands about 20 feet tall, and its surface depicts a leering goblin deity perched on a throne of skulls. What's more, the door looks to be made of solid gold, and a pair of glittering red gems shine in the goblin's eye sockets.

Krusk
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Lidda
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Vadania
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Nebbin

PC (Nebin): You said that the door looked like it was made of gold, right? I'm gonna give it a closer look.

DM: Okay; make an Appraise check.

PC (Nebin): All right. [Rolls a die.] A 16.

DM: Good enough for you to tell what you've probably already guessed -- the door isn't really made of gold but of brass. The gems look fairly valuable, though; you can't make a proper appraisal while they're still wedged in the eye sockets 18 feet up there, though.

PC (Krusk): No gold? Great. First my cloak gets burned up and then the gods take away my gold door treasure.

PC (Nebin): Still, those gems might be worth something. If only one of us was good at climbing things and stealing gems. . . . [Glances sideways at Lidda.]

PC (Lidda): Fine; I get the hint. But before I climb up to grab those gems, I want to look for traps on the door. [Rolls a Search check with a result of 30.]

DM: Nothing; the door looks safe. Locked up tight, but safe.

PC (Lidda): Okay, I clamber up the door.

DM: Right. As you reach out and touch the door, a shock of cold seems to radiate up your arm. You jerk back just as what appears to be a pale wizened goblin with blue smoking light for eyes slithers out of the door! In less than a second, the transparent fiend is floating in the air before you, howling in rage! Everyone needs to make an initiative check.

[The players roll; Lidda gets a 21, Vadania a 17, Krusk a 10, and Nebin an 8. The DM rolls a 14 for the goblin spectre.]

DM: You're up first, Lidda!

PC (Lidda): Gah! No way I'm fighting that thing in melee! I back up 40 feet, using Tumble to avoid any attacks of opportunity from it. [Rolls a Tumble check of 37.] Oh, and I draw my bow and get ready to shoot it.

DM: You evade the creature with ease. Vadania?

PC (Vadania): Whoa! I think I'm going to hit it with a flame strike spell. [Rolls 10d6] That's 42 points of damage; 21 of which is fire damage and 21 of which is holy damage.

DM: First of all, let's see if the monster ignores the spell since there's a 50% chance the spell won't affect it. Flame strike is not a force spell and the monster is incorporeal. [DM rolls a 74 on percentile dice.] Well, that's not good for the spectre. The monster still gets a saving throw. [DM rolls a 21 for the spectre's saving throw.] It makes the save. It still takes a total of 21 points of damage, though, which annoyed it quite a bit. It takes a swipe at you, Vadania. [Rolls a natural 20 for the spectre's attack.] BANG! A threat! [Rolls to confirm and gets a result of 14.] Well, normally that wouldn't hit you, Vadania, but since the ghostly goblin is incorporeal, it ignores any armor or natural armor you may have.

PC (Vadania): Beautiful; my touch AC is only 13.

DM: Too bad for you. The spectre reaches directly through your armor and you feel its fist close around your heart as something vital tears loose. [Rolls 2d8 to determine the damage done by the spectre's critical hit.] Well, the good news is that I rolled minimum damage for the critical hit; you take 2 points of damage.

PC (Vadania): Whew!

DM: The bad news is that the spectre's energy drain attack is doubled too. You suffer four negative levels. Until they're fixed (or they become permanent in 24 hours), you're going to suffer a -4 penalty to all skill checks, all ability checks, all attacks, and all saving throws. You also suffer a -4 penalty to your effective character level. Oh, and you lose access to four of your highest-level, currently available spells.

PC (Vadania): Dang! Well, I've got three 5th-level spells prepared, so I guess all three of them go away. As for 4th-level spells, I still have a dispel magic, a flame strike, and a freedom of movement left.

DM: Okay, go ahead and choose which of those 4th-level spells vanishes.

PC (Vadania): Great. Buh-bye freedom of movement.

DM:[Laughs.] Well, the energy the spectre stole from you seems to have invigorated it somewhat; it has received 20 temporary hit points! It's your turn now, Krusk.

PC (Krusk): I'll teach that nasty to mess with Vadania's precious life energies! Take THIS! [Gets a 29 with his +2 greataxe attack.]

DM: Well, your greataxe strikes the spectre square in the head, but since it is an incorporeal creature, there's a 50% chance your greataxe passes harmlessly through its body. [Rolls a 23.] Which, of course, it does. The spectre takes no damage; it actually seems to sneer at you and your ineffectual greataxe.

PC (Krusk): WHAT?! RARRRGHHHHH!!

DM: Your turn, Nebin!

PC (Nebin): Wow! If that thing hits Vadania a couple more times, we'll be fighting more than one spectre. Remember what happened to Regdar last year? I'm gonna cast mage armor on Vadania to help protect her.

DM: Okay; that gives Vadania a +4 armor bonus. It doesn't stack with the bonus granted to her by her +2 hide armor, but it will work against the spectre's touch attack since it is a force effect. Right! Next round! The spectre's got a whole 1 point of damage on it, and it has already drained four levels from the party. I like the way this combat is going!

PCs (all):[Grumbles.]

As the combat continues, the spectre drains two levels from Nebin and four from Krusk before it is finally dispatched by one of Nebin's magic missile spells. After the combat, the demoralized group decides to retreat to a sheltered corner of the behir's lair to rest and recuperate. All thoughts of stealing the gems from the door have apparently fled.

Where to Look: The rules for the energy drain attack are given on pages 75-76 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, and on page 8 of the Monster Manual. The rules for incorporeal monsters appear on pages 77-78 of the Dungeon Master's Guide and on page 6 of the Monster Manual.

Be sure to check out Gamestoppers next month when the group makes it through the door and finds themselves in a massive temple dedicated to a forgotten goblin deity. Once inside, their old nemesis the goblin high priest promptly attacks them while riding his hell hound mount, which gives us a great opportunity to look at the rules for mounted combat

Spectre: hp 45; see Monster Manual, page 169


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