I mentioned last week that the upcoming Night Below set has a few creatures that come from the upcoming Monster Manual V. In addition to last week's Greenspawn Zealot, this trio of entries will debut simultaneously in the latest monster tome.
There's always a challenge creating Good-aligned monsters, both in the minis game (because there aren't many Good monsters to choose from) and for the D&D roleplaying game. As cool as solars, gold dragons, and eladrin are, the D&D game doesn't provide much context for using them in encounters against PCs. Clever DMs, of course, can use such creatures as adversaries by drawing on the tropes of corruption, possession, or betrayal, but Good creatures are by their nature less likely to be placed on the battlefield.
The Arcadian Avenger takes two paths toward preventing its Lawful Good nature from being a barrier to play. First, it is Lawful, and Good, in that order. Its rigid definition of rules is a nearly alien way of thinking, and they might come into conflict with PCs simply through their strict adherence to (and enforcement of) law. They are the Lawful Good that many players try to force the party paladin to play. Another, easier way to get them into a battle is to have a spellcaster use summon monster VI to have an Arcadian Avenger do his bidding.
Part of the design goal for the Avenger was to have a "monstrous" uncommon creature for the Lawful Good faction in the D&D Miniatures Game. The CR 6 outsider is translated faithfully into its skirmish counterpart. It dual-wields a pair of longswords, adding Rend +10 if it hits with both. It shares Wrath with another of the LG minis in the set, gaining a +5 damage boost once an ally has been destroyed. That increases its overall damage potential to 40 points per round. It is also a bane to low-AC creatures, because it can use Elude Chance three times to grant itself an automatic 10 on its attack roll. If its Flight lets it get into a flanking position, it will automatically hit any creature with an AC of 22 or less! We're interested in seeing how much play this 65-hp, 31-point LG mini sees -- will it become a staple, or will it go the way of the once-popular Justice Archon?
The Verdant Reaver is one of a couple of new plant monsters in MMV. Once the humanoid thralls of dryads, they have been enraptured so long that they've lost all sense of who they once were. Now they are plant-creatures created by fey magic and undyingly loyal to their dryad "creators."
As an aside, I still call this guy Broccoli-Head. Our initial sketches had the same general shape as the final figure added a plume of leafy foliage atop his head. As you could imagine, it looked a lot like broccoli (or cauliflower, considering the sketch was black-and-white). The final result is a significant improvement.
For the minis game, the Verdant Reaver continues the Rending theme. Similar to the Avenger, it can output 40 points of damage in a round, but its attack bonus is lower, and it can't easily get through DR. It does provide a reasonable amount of battlefield control, however, both because its Large base occupies real estate and because its Verdant Growth ability transforms (temporarily) all adjacent squares to difficult terrain -- good luck charging it! The Reaver occupies the same point range as the Arcadian (low 30s), so it might help fill out certain CG bands.
My favorite of these three is the Carnage Demon. They do what demons do best -- destroy. Carnage demons fill the low-level demon brute role in a much more menacing fashion than do Dretch (the other low-CR demon). They feed off of death and destruction, growing more powerful when other Carnage Demons are around. (In D&D game terms, the carnage demon gets +1 damage on each of its two slam attacks for each other carnage demon within 30 feet.)
For the skirmish game, we kept the general concept (you want groups of these things) but needed to simplify it a bit. It gains the Carnage ability, doubling its damage when another Carnage Demon is within 6 squares. Because you want a lot of these 10-point minis in your warband, they have Mob 2 (letting you count every pair as only one creature for the warband limit). Ian Richards (from Organized Play) is convinced that 14 Carnage Demons plus some other 60-point mini is very powerful, because with Squad Activation, it's possible to inflict 280 points of damage in one activation. Of course, if you lose a key initiative and your opponent has area attacks, you could be making many fewer attacks very quickly, as Carnage Demons are really easy to hit and have only 20 hit points. On the other hand, four Carnage Demons in place of a hitter in a CE band might be worthwhile, even if their attack bonus leaves something to be desired. As common figures, you have a great chance to get as many Carnage Demons as you want for this sort of craziness.
Next week, another trio of minis with something in Common!
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer for RPG R&D and has been involved in many facets of the D&D product line. He's recently been Lead Developer for the upcoming Monster Manual V, Lead Designer on the Eberron adventure Eyes of the Lich Queen, and he's the Lead Developer for the D&D Miniatures Game.
Now we bring the return of the mystery silhouette. Shown below are all the figures that we'll feature in these previews. Can you guess their identities? Feel free to try!