Trees, bugs, and rats … just like the last time I went camping, except that these trees want to eat you, the bugs want to suck your blood, and the rats want you to join them under the full moon.
The three minis presented here are all low-level beasties commonly used in RPG games as well as single-digit point cost minis for use in the D&D Miniatures Game.
This little plant creature first appeared in The Sunless Citadel, the lead entry in the first Adventure Path for 3rd edition D&D. They've since appeared in Monster Manual II. They are the offspring of the Gulthias Tree, an evil tree that grew from a stake used to slay a powerful vampire. The vampiric heritage persists in these monsters -- they can “root” themselves for sustenance much like a normal plant, but they also have a particular taste for blood.
As you can see by the stat card, the Twig Blight is the lowest-cost creature to ever have Damage Reduction. DR 5 on a plant creature becomes more significant than usual, because plants are immune to critical hits. This creature is effectively immune to the attacks of any creature that doesn’t do at least 10 damage or have magic damage. More notes on DR can be found a bit further below.
As a classic D&D monster, this four-winged, oversized mosquito has been encountered with harrowing frequency by low-level groups throughout the game’s history. Most of my early, 1st level adventures involved either goblins or kobolds, but nearly all of them included stirges (a monster curiously missing from The Sunless Citadel). There’s a sort of primal recognition with the stirge, in that a gamer can easily imagine what sort of horrible creature it might be. After all, you take the blood-sucking mosquito, enlarge it to the size of a housecat, and you have an unsettlingly familiar mental image. It’s a lot easier than imagining something like a tojanida.
When designing the Stirge mini, we wanted to capture both the “get it off me!” idea as well as the image of a swarm of the little beasties closing in on their prey. Thus its primary abilities were born. Blood Syphon represents the stirge landing on its prey ready to suck the blood out of a living enemy. The very significant attack and damage bonus mean that opponents will want to kill stirges as quickly as possible or even run away from adjacent Stirges (Stirges can’t make attacks of opportunity). The Stirge is also one of three minis in the set with the Mob ability, allowing a group of three to count only once against a warband’s eight-figure limit. Because all Stirges must activate at the same time, a player can’t gain an activation advantage by including Mob units, but that player may be able to retain activations longer if his opponent is focused on eliminating Stirges.
As PCs rise past their first couple of levels, they typically return to their home town, spend their new-found loot, and inadvertently stumble onto a nefarious plot involving prominent townsfolk who happen to have a crew of wererat enforcers that live in the sewers. Wererats make great nemeses for PCs in those low levels and are a great “introductory” lycanthrope, useful to introduce the dangers of lycanthropy before delving headlong into a classic werewolf-centered adventure. The uncommon Wererat Rogue perfectly represents these foes.
The skirmish stats here are a fairly straightforward depiction of a wererat that is also a rogue, gaining DR from the former and the Hide/Sneak Attack combo from the latter. The Wererat Rogue is reasonably efficient at dealing damage to those susceptible to Sneak Attack, considering that when he flanks he’s at +11 for 10 damage (unless he’s flanking a Twig Blight). If you look at the Wererat from the Dragoneye release, you’ll note that the Wererat Rogue is much more efficiently priced. There was a concern in the 12-activation era that DR on a low cost unit would be too much of an advantage, and so such creatures were priced conservatively. With a reduction to eight activations, warbands are more likely to be able to deal with low-cost units with DR. Damage reduction is still an advantage, but we’re more comfortable using it on a piece in the single-digit cost range.
That’s it for this week. Next week, I’ll talk about what you aren’t getting in your WotDQ booster or what you will get if you do get what you shouldn’t get.
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer with RPG/Minis R&D and is the lead developer for D&D Miniatures starting with next July's War of the Dragon Queen. He's also helped develop many exciting upcoming D&D products, including Player's Handbook II, Monster Manual IV, Tome of Magic, and Tome of Battle!