Is it Thursday already? What happened to Tuesday? Oh, well -- better late than never!
This week's article looks at an overgrown bug and an overgrown bug demon. The Chasme helps fill out the Rares of the Chaotic Evil faction, while the Celestial Giant Stag Beetle is one of five Large-sized Uncommons in the Blood War expansion.
The Chasme is a nasty demon that first appeared in S4, The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, way back in 1982. Some of you readers weren't even alive back then! It later surfaced in the Planescape setting during the AD&D 2nd edition heyday. These bug demons were the enforcers of the planes of Chaos and Evil, killing off deserters from the demonic hordes of the Blood War. You can find out more about Chasmes and their role in the Lower Planes in Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss.
The skirmish side of the Chasme is built around the Drone ability, which allows it to put all creatures within three squares to sleep. That's an even bigger area when you consider the Large size of the Chasme's base and its fly speed of 10 squares. Sleep can be a powerful effect. When stunned, a creature loses only one turn, while when paralyzed, it has a chance to recover at the end of each turn. But a sleeping creature can't recover on its own -- it consumes the action of another creature to wake it up. Once a creature is put to sleep, it may be possible to ignore it for the rest of the skirmish, or at least long enough to get a kill shot thanks to the automatic critical hit on the helpless sleeping target. Failing a Sleep save significantly affects the outcome of the game. Just ask some of my opponents from around last year's Angelfire release, when I recall putting more than one Archmage to sleep with the ranged attack of the Thorn.
When playtesting the Chasme, I built it into a warband that included Cursed Spirits from the Archfiends expansion (which are immune to sleep and provide a –2 to the saving throws of adjacent creatures), hoping to maximize the effectiveness of the Chasme's Drone. The large area of the Drone's effect coupled with the speed of the flying Chasme can be devastating against the right warband. In one scenario, the Chasme was able to use its Drone at the end of one round, win initiative for the following round, and Drone again, giving between a 65% to 80% chance that a wide swath of creatures would each fail at least one of the two saves and fall asleep. It then could block off any foes still standing while it waited for the heavy hitters to come up and finish them.
Celestial Giant Stag Beetle
Our other bug comes straight from the list of summon monster V. Of course, it may be a better choice to summon 1d4+1 celestial bison instead, since at least they taste better (and likely deal more damage). But alas, we didn't put a bison in the set. However, large beetles have been a more common opponent in most D&D games than bison, and now you can have your very own official D&D Giant Stag Beetle. Just don't leave it on the floor if you live with someone who is skittish about bugs, because it looks fairly realistic.
The Beetle's skirmish side is a pretty straightforward conversion of the creature's RPG stats. It keeps the base creature's solid melee attack (+10 for 20) and Trample ability, and also gets DR, Spell Resistance, and a Smite Evil because of its Celestial nature. It might be slow, but for only 26 points, you get a Large creature that can fill a corridor and block for a round or two. It might get in a couple solid hits in the process.
Next week's article will feature a couple of the good guys caught up in these Blood War battles. I won't bore you with the details, but this guy's a member of the 2nd PMCA. What's the PMCA, you ask? Well, it isn't the Plastic Miniatures Centennial Army. Maybe you'll figure it out by next week.
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer in RPG/Minis R&D, Lead Developer for the D&D Miniatures Game, and has worked on a variety of D&D game products, including Monster Manual IV, Tome of Battle, and Magic Item Compendium. He is the author of the upcoming Eberron super-adventure Eyes of the Lich Queen. So as you can see, he's not a slacker. He works really hard. Cut him a break, OK?