D&D Miniatures01/11/2007

Unhallowed Preview 5
Ice, Wind, & Fire

The Unhallowed expansion to the D&D Miniatures Game includes a trio of miniatures that are elemental in nature, even if only one of them is an actual elemental. First up, a pair of mephits, followed by an old Chainmail redux.

Air Mephit and Fire Mephit

Fire MephitMephits have been on various wish lists for a while now, for a variety of reasons. They are in the Monster Manual (of course, so is the tojanida). They are on the summon monster list. They hearken back to the old days of 1st Edition D&D, 2nd Edition D&D, or the Planescape setting. They are great low-CR creatures to use in any elemental-themed adventure, because they have more personality than standard elementals. They also are some of the first creatures PCs might encounter that have flight, damage reduction, fast healing, and a breath weapon! Each of those abilities alone can prove challenging for a group of low-level adventurers, but these creatures have all four.

We initially designed the mephits as a quartet of creatures with the idea of sliding them into the Blood War set. We wanted the four mephits to be comparable with each other and also share a game mechanic that would set them apart. As Uncommon or maybe Common miniatures, we didn't want a long list of abilities for each of them, so we opted instead to make the focus of a mephit mini be that single mechanic. The mephits are great examples of creating new abilities for a creature to reflect the flavor of the D&D rules without translating them directly.

Air MephitWe chose the breath weapon be that shared ability, then made it more distinctive by using a rider effect on the breath weapon in addition to the regular damage. The same rider effect appears on the mephit's melee attack. The Air Mephit, for example, uses his breath weapon to push foes around with a gust of wind. The Fire Mephit might set a creature on fire, causing it to take more fire damage the following round. With super-fast fly speeds and two uses of a 10-damage breath cone, these mephits can be deadly to fodder units, though they may just serve to annoy stronger units.

We also gave a different defensive ability to each of these two mephits, abilities that create a contrasting distinction between the mephit types. The Air Mephit has Conceal 6, and the Fire Mephit has Fire Healing 5. Each mephit has only 15 hit points, so it is expected that each ability might come into play only once per game (per mephit). It's enough to maybe keep your 13-point figure on the board an extra round.

Large Ice Elemental

Large Ice ElementalIt's Large, it's made of ice, and it walks around smashing things. This guy was done as a metal miniature in the not-so-distant past as part of the Chainmail miniatures game. He also appeared in Manual of the Planes. You might notice that he's lost the "para" from his name, becoming simply the Ice Elemental. Purists everywhere are crying out and then realizing how annoying it is to say "paraelemental."

The Ice Elemental is one of the first minis to explore the concept of battlefield manipulation. An earlier example is the Elemental Wall from War Drums with its ability to directly change the terrain on the map. We can do this in a variety of ways, such as creating walls, making areas of terrain become difficult, or causing damage to creatures that move through specific squares. For the most part, we've determined that these sorts of abilities are Lawful in nature. The typically faster Chaotic factions instead rely on their speed or ranged abilities to circumvent terrain obstacles.

In this case, the Ice Elemental has an ability called Ice Spikes, which deals 5 cold damage to any nonflying creature that moves into an adjacent square. It's pretty simple, not really earth-shattering, but it allows the Ice Elemental to control a significant part of the battlefield, especially with his Large base size and Melee Reach 2. He rounds out with a pair of attacks that deal up to 15 damage along with DR 5 and Cold Healing 10. A mere 28 points will add all of that to your Lawful warband.

People don't forget you when your name is Jemima.Next week, we'll look at something completely different.

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.

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