Tactics and Tips
You Craft the Creature
By "Light Dragon"

Design & Development's You Craft the Creature is creating a brand new menace for the game -- chosen by you, the players! Each week, we've asked you to vote on some aspect of this developing creature -- from its type and terrain, to its Challenge Rating and special abilities. When complete, this new creature (nicknamed the [AMM], as a "mastermind" aberration) will even appear in a forthcoming sourcebook.

This time for Tactics and Tips, we asked you to supply the advice. The situation at hand: a party of adventurers has heard rumor of Design & Development's strange new creature, and it plans to campaign against it. What strategic advice would you offer the members of this party against aberrations or masterminds (and their minions) in general? How about against this creature and its special abilities in particular?

Several adventurers lent their wisdom in the Tactics and Tips contest, with "Light Dragon" supplying the winning entry, as voted by the player community. Enjoy!

Enter the [AMM]

Mialee faced down the horrifying aberration. At its side hovered a terrible fey creature that darted back and forth in a dizzying pattern.

"It's no matter." Mialee set her jaw. She would destroy the monster and its ally. Soveliss would be avenged and the aberration's foul schemes would be foiled.

Muttering under her breath, Mialee prepared a spell. In her hand she clutched a patch of fur wound around a dull glass rod, the focus of her utterance.

The aberration cackled.

Lightning exploded around Mialee as her spell erupted. The aberration looked shocked that a bolt was headed for it, but did nothing to move. Instead, it stared at the energy.

Mialee was not prepared for what happened next. Her lightning bolt rebounded at her! The aberration's blasphemous geometries reflected the spell to her -- sending her reeling in pain.

[AMMs]

[AMMs] are devious opponents. Whether focusing their blasphemous geometries and reflecting attacks back at their opponents, or wreaking havoc with caster's spells by using their wild magic aura, [AMMs] have the opportunity to do extensive damage to an unprepared party.

Special Qualities

Blasphemous Geometries (Ex): Being an outsider from another dimension, the [AMM]'s form does not translate well on the Material Plane. It appears to be composed of obscene angles and planes, which makes it difficult for natives to perceive it. As a result of its alien nature, the [AMM]'s body reacts strangely and unpredictably to native objects traveling in normal vectors toward it. A targeted attack, whether melee, ranged, arcane, or otherwise, has a 10% chance per number of [AMM]'s opponents in a 10-foot radius of being redirected randomly at one of these opponents. Effects that target an area are not affected.

As Mialee discovered in her encounter with the [AMM], the [AMM] can reflect any targeted attack, whether melee, ranged, or arcane. The blasphemous geometries ability becomes truly terrifying, however, when the [AMM's] enemies cluster around it since there is a 10% chance per number of the [AMM's] opponents in a 10-foot radius of the attack being redirected randomly at one of the opponents.

The best defense against blasphemous geometries is to have a strong melee character charge the [AMM]. Initiating a grapple might also be a good decision, since the [AMM] has a weak Strength score. Once the [AMM] is engaged, allow the melee character to disable it alone. Each additional opponent increases the chances that attacks are reflected. While the fighter is dealing with the [AMM], the rest of the party can eliminate the [AMM's] allied evil fey.

Darkvision

When exploring at night or in ill-lit caverns bring a sunrod, cast light on equipment, or carry torches because, even if you cannot see in the dark, the [AMM] can.

Wild Magic Aura

Wild Magic Aura (Su): The [AMM] is a natural conduit for wild magic. Anyone within 120 feet of the [AMM] must make a DC 25 caster level check whenever casting a spell or using a spell-like ability. Failure means the spell is affected as if it had been cast in a wild magic zone (see page 150 of the Dungeon Master's Guide). The [AMM]'s spells are not affected by this aura.

The [AMM's] special qualities are especially frightening if the aberration is hidden from sight. The adventurers should bypass its evil allies and seek out the [AMM] as soon as possible before its wild magic aura causes too much damage.

The quotation "I like to keep my friends far away . . . and my enemies farther still." is a classic example of the [AMM's] dry wit and aptly describes the [AMM's] core strategy. By sending fey allies to harass adventurers from a distance, a hidden [AMM] can envelop the adventuring party in its wild magic aura -- befuddling and foiling their spells.

The party's spellcasters may become confused when the wild magic aura affects them as though they are in a wild magic zone (see page 150 of the Dungeon Master's Guide) unless they can overcome a DC 25 caster level check when casting a spell or using a spell-like ability.

Scrying, see invisibility, and detect evil are useful in locating the [AMM]. The [AMM] makes extremely clever use of hiding places and invisibility spells so that it can do the most harm possible with its wild magic aura. As a result, quickly locating the aberration is absolutely vital.

Weaknesses

If the party is susceptible to the wild magic aura, they should send melee attackers to deal with the [AMM] while spellcasters retreat beyond its 200-foot range and confront its fey allies. In the event that the fey are more powerful than the spellcasters, one melee adventurer should accompany the casters.

Cold iron is a must when dealing with the [AMM's] evil fey allies, since many of them have DR/cold iron. The only way to injure them decisively is to either inflict massive damage or have weapons made from the rare material.

  • Area spells such as cloudkill, fireball, meteor swarm, or stinking cloud can be useful if the spellcaster can overcome the [AMM's] wild magic aura.
  • Attack from afar. Ranged attacks and attacks made by adventurers with 10-foot-reach weapons can do massive damage to the [AMM] without fear that its blasphemous geometries will reflect the damage back to the adventurers.
  • Chain lightning and circle of death can hurt large numbers of fey. Chain lightning is also useful as a ranged spell that it is not subject to the [AMM's] special qualities when it is cast over 200 feet away from the [AMM].
  • Crushing despair's burst can drain the [AMM] and its allies, giving them a -2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage rolls. After a successful casting, a melee attacker can rush in and attack the [AMM] with little fear of being hit.
  • Protection from evil can defend adventurers from the [AMM's] allied fey. Magic circle against evil gives spellcasters safety from attacks.
  • Summon a few creatures to pound on the [AMM] while the party's melee fighters deal with the fey.

Must-Haves: Detect evil or scrying, light, meteor swarm, summon monster or summon nature's ally, protection from evil.

Best Buys for Lower-Level Spells: Crushing despair, detect evil, fireball, protection from evil.

Wish List: Chain lightning, circle of death, cold iron, magic circle against evil, see invisibility.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, Player's Handbook.

About the Author

"Light Dragon" Francis Gradijan is a lawful good 3rd-level political science/international studies major who has strongly considered multiclassing as a fighter in order to obtain Weapon Specialization. He has been talking his way around encounters and overcoming THAC0 since the classic days of 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons.


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