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I_Got_This_Name
2006-02-07, 08:14 PM
Yet another innocent terrain feature that turns out to be intent on killing your PCs. This one looks manmade, so it couldn't possibly be a destructive force of nature or a servant of the malevolent fey, right? No.

Dread Highway
Colossal Outsider (Earth)
Hit Dice: 35d8 + 455 (612 HP)
Initiative: 0
Speed: 10 feet, burrow 10 feet
AC: 26 (-8 size, -4 dex, +28 natural), Flat-footed 26, Touch 3
Base Attack/Grapple: +35/+68
Attack: Slam +52 melee (4d6+17)
Full Attack: Slam +52 melee (4d6+17)
Space/Reach: 100 ft / 0 ft
Special Attacks: Consume, Spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Amorphous, Camouflage, Damage Reduction 10/adamantine Strange Senses, Superior Combat Reflexes, Travel
Saves: Fort +32, Ref +15, Will +19
Abilities: Str 44, Dex 3, Con 36, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 23
Skills: Balance +33, Bluff +39, Climb +55, Disguise +39, Hide +33, Knowledge (The Planes) +40, Listen +38, Move Silently +33, Spellcraft +40, Swim +55
Feats: Ability Focus (Hallucinatory Terrain, Mass Suggestion, Misdirection), Cleave, Combat Expertise, Improved Feint Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-like Ability (Greater Dispelling, Mass Suggestion)
Environment: Any Land
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 20 (shot in the dark)
Treasure: None
Alignment: Often Neutral Evil
Advancement: 36-90 HD (Colossal)
Level Adjustment: You're joking, right?

The road trails off into the distance, and gives you a vague feeling of unease.

Dread Highways are outsiders from an unknown part of the multiverse. Their primary composition is elemental earth, but earth elementals claim no kinship with them; their origins are a mystery to sages and scholars; some say that they are akin to an earth elemental, or a kind of fiend, that disguises itself as a road, others associate them with Fey, and yet more say that they are roads that are simply tired of connecting two places. A few even say that they were made by someone for some nefarious purpose. Though not always evil, their name comes from the legends of the evil majority, leading travelers into places best left undisturbed, for whatever reasons these Highways have. Sometimes they have been known to work in pairs, teleporting travellers from one half of the pair to the other. Most times, though, they work alone. Some tales tell of travellers able to persuade Dread Highways to speed them to their destinations, but these are dismissed by reputable sages as myth. Their motives are as mysterious as their origins. One curious property of them is their thickness, which they seem to be able to vary freely, from a few inches of packed earth or flagstones to several feet of well-made masonry, blending in with any road built to last centuries. Dread Highways usually speak three languages; Draconic, Common, Terran, Abyssal, and Infernal are the most common choices.

Combat: Dread Highways prefer to trip enemies first, then use their Improved Trip feat to damage them. They prefer not to fight, instead leading others to their doom, but will fight to defend themselves. Outside of combat, they use their Mass Suggestion to prevent their Hallucinatory Terrain from being interacted with, when necessary (typically suggesting that those walking along it keep on the road), and may try to herd unsuspecting people through Gates
Amorphous (ex): Immune to sleep, poison, paralysis, form-changing, and stunning effects. Cannot be flanked. Has 400 squares that can be arranged in any pattern, but must all be contiguous (although not necessarily linear). A typical Dread Highway arranges itself in a line four or five squares wide. Advanced Dread Highways have a number of squares equal to the square of their hit dice - 15. A Dread Highway may relocate its squares as it sees fit as part of a move; no square can move more than the speed of the creature. The Dread Highway cannot be tripped.
Camouflage (ex and su): The Dread Highway gains a +20 racial bonus to Hide and Disguise checks when attempting to pass for road. Additionally, the Dread Highway can alter itself to appear as any type of road, flagstone, masonry, or dirt track. These alterations are a supernatural ability, but the Highway retains its form even when such are suppressed.
Consume (su): Any creature that spends at least one round prone on the Dread Highway may be absorbed into the Highway, at its choice. Any creature being absorbed is considered grappled. The Highway attempts to pin those it absorbs, and inflicts 1 point of damage to a random ability score every round it maintains its pin; if this would knock constitution to 0 before all other scores are reduced to 0, roll again. One round after Constitution falls to 0, the creature is magically entombed, only able to be freed with a Freedom, Miracle, True Ressurection, or Wish spell. Every point drained is added to the Dread Highway's ability score as an enhancement bonus, decreasing by one per twelve hours (these bonuses stack with themselves); a well-travelled (but not too well-travelled as to be suspicious) highway will typically have 3d4 points more on all ability scores due to use of this ability. Additionally, while consuming a creature, the Dread Highway cannot leave the square the creature to be consumed is in; the creature may be ejected prematurely to allow a retreat.
(Modified to apply to more than just Int, Wis, and Cha, and to explain the Entombment more clearly).

Strange Senses (ex and su): No creature standing on the Dread Highway (occupying the same space) may be concealed at all from it. The Dread Highway automatically senses all unconcealed magical auras, and knows their school, within 120 feet of any of its squares. Concealed magical auras are detected with a successful opposed Spellcraft check between the Highway and the one concealing the aura (such as by casting an Undetectable Aura spell; if the Highway succeeds it is detected (and the Highway knows that it is concealed); success by 10 or more gives school as well. Unconcealed auras, and concealed auras of known school, are known to within 10 feet, concealed auras of unknown school merely gives a general area. As a move action, the Dread Highway may pinpoint all known-school auras, to the point of denying concealment to their origins, and to know the square and only give concealment to the origins of unknown-school auras, for one round. The Dread Highway completely lacks a sense of sight (all creatures not otherwise revealed have total concealment), but can hear using the closest of its squares to the noise source. Its lack of sight, and its hearing and sense of creatures standing on it are extraordinary, while its magic sense is supernatural.
Superior Combat Reflexes (ex): Despite its low dexterity score, a Dread Highway may take one attack of opportunity per creature standing on it per round. These attacks of opportunity must still be provoked. Additionally, it can use a Quickened Spell-like Ability in place of an attack of opportunity.
Spell-like Abilities: At will: Light, Misdirection (DC 20), Nondetection, Obscuring Mist (to 20' from all squares). 5/day: Gate (travel only, can connect to same plane), Greater Dispelling, Hallucinatory Terrain (DC 23), Mass Suggestion (DC 24; suggestions can be given telepathically). 3/day: Sympathy. All are otherwise as the spells cast by a 30th-level Sorcerer. Remember to adjust DCs for increased charisma from the Consume power.
Travel (ex): A Dread Highway's movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity unless it runs, even if it enters its enemy's square, but it cannot charge. If a Dread Highway positions itself along difficult terrain, any moving along or standing on it may use its Swim, Balance, or Climb check result instead of attempting their own, and may move on it full speed, although it gains a +8 bonus to all trip attempts against creatures doing such. Creatures standing on a moving Dread Highway do so effortlessly and potentially without noticing, so long as it doesn't attempt to trip them; they move with it.

Is it broken? Is it too easy to kill so I should lower the CR? Too hard? Most awesome concept ever? A horrible idea and I shouldn't try to make any more terrain features into monsters?

jdrich
2006-02-07, 08:26 PM
More easily completed by a level 7 gnome illusionist.

Personally, I hate the idea of non-monster monsters. This is a good concept, but I still dislike it as it requires a good deal of magical belief to take hold.

Not to mention it needs a higher CHA to improve those DCs. Otherwise the abilities are useless.

I_Got_This_Name
2006-02-07, 08:32 PM
Well, its more of a subtle menace than a direct drag-out-fight monster. For instance, one could hide a major trade road, then replace the hidden part with itself, leading on a short detour into, say, Gehenna. Or Hades. Or a really deadly jungle, or whatever, using its Hallucinatory Terrain ability to camouflage the transition.

Or, at least, that was one of the two concepts that went into creating this monster. The other was a road trying to trip someone walking on it, then eating them.

Right, will bump up its cha a few points to improve the DCs, and increase the duration of eaten ability points.

jdrich
2006-02-07, 08:37 PM
Perhaps the second idea, a monster that trips people and eats them, would be a better one, or at least warranting a second creature?

A monster that trips creatures that don't see it and tries to eat them would be supercool. Which is why plant creatures are so cool.

"Where'd Thog go?"

"I think that tree ate him."

"Oh..."

I_Got_This_Name
2006-02-08, 12:03 AM
A lesser monster that just pretends to be a road to trip and eat people and is less magical could work. Still, I like the image of a road fooling people into walking into hell better.

jdrich
2006-02-08, 12:04 AM
The road would more likely be a trap than a sentient creature.

Leperflesh
2006-02-08, 04:29 AM
I wonder.

If you kill it, what happens to its 'body'?

Is there a place where ancient Dread Highway's go to die, when they reach maximum age?

How do they reproduce?

I rather like this idea, but I'm not too sure about making it an actual, statted-out creature. It's more of a force of nature - a spirit-road, a sort of curse.

Also, I wonder what Fharlanghan thinks of these critters, and what advantage a cleric of Fharlanghan ought to have against one....

-Lep

Jothki
2006-02-08, 06:07 AM
Consume (su): Any creature that spends at least one round prone on the Dread Highway may be absorbed into the Highway, at its choice. Any creature being absorbed is considered grappled. The Highway attempts to pin those it absorbs, and inflicts 1 point of damage to a random mental ability score every round it maintains its pin; once all three scores are reduced to 0 the creature is killed and entombed within the road, only able to be freed with a Freedom, Miracle, True Ressurection, or Wish spell. Every point drained is added to the Dread Highway's mental ability score as an enhancement bonus, decreasing by one per twelve hours (these bonuses stack with themselves); a well-travelled (but not too well-travelled as to be suspicious) highway will typically have 3d4 points more on all three mental ability scores due to use of this ability.

Why couldn't you simply (well, it wouldn't be simple, but still) hack the thing apart to rescue the body of someone who is trapped?

Larrin
2006-02-08, 12:57 PM
i have to say that the conept is really cool and original, i like the idea that it really doesn't try and attack people, simply leads them astray. thats thinking like an evil road!

but one thing that seems quite out of place (to me): Why does consume drain mental scores? i mean, what part of "I'm a big scary road" says "i like to suck out peoples intelligence" personally i would do it more on a "it slowly petrifies its victum, draining physical scores to add to its own, once all score are zero, the victum is considered petrified, and its form will be absorded into the road in 1d4 days" or some such.

I_Got_This_Name
2006-02-08, 05:49 PM
What does Fharlanghan think of Dread Highways? He probably thinks of them as abominations.

Consume: It sucks out your mind in a sort of dimensional quicksand, feeding on it. Your body isn't inside the road; it was teleported through it into a sort of dimensional non-space (an inaccessible Demiplane). You can't simply hack through the point where a one-way Gate was, or an Imprisonment spell was cast, to pull your friend through, so you can't slash through a big, scary, man-eating road to get those it consumed. I suppose I can make it apply to all ability scores.

How do they reproduce? Nobody knows. My best idea is asexual fission (they get to be 145 feet or more on a side, then send half of themselves through a Gate).

If you kill it, if it's "posessing" a normal road (in the same place as a normal road and disguising itself as the normal road), the normal road is simply heavily disturbed (by all of the hacking apart an evil road that happened through it). If its out in wilderness, it just vanishes. There are possible explosions here.

It could be a sort of curse or trap on a road, but I'd imagine it more as driving a road off-course, so that it can create a false destination for it.

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-02-10, 04:53 PM
Amorphous (ex): Immune to sleep, poison, paralysis, form-changing, and stunning effects. Cannot be flanked. Has 400 squares that can be arranged in any pattern, but must all be contiguous (although not necessarily linear). A typical Dread Highway arranges itself in a line four or five squares wide. Advanced Dread Highways have a number of squares equal to the square of their hit dice - 15. A Dread Highway may relocate its squares as it sees fit as part of a move; no square can move more than the speed of the creature. The Dread Highway cannot be tripped.
Hey, I like this... think I might adjust it to the Hidden Stream, thought worried its already complicated enough as it is.

Ferahgo
2006-02-10, 10:39 PM
Well, first off, how does it trip people? I may have missed something, but a road lacks any legs to swipe at someone elses legs. Does a cobblestone rise as they are moving, knocking them over, as the road chuckles, and begins to suck them in?

I'm just not sure how one would describe it.

Second, I love the 'Road to Hades' concept. All it needs is ol' Bing. That would definetly be one of the oddest encounters ever. Imagine such a road, leading through a bustling village green. The villagers go about their normal business, when suddenly a group of oddly-garbed strangers bustle in. The villagers greet them cheerily, but the strangers take no notice of them. Indeed, they yell something about demons, and one asks the other if they remember which direction the 'gate here' was. It culminates with one of the strangers gutting a villager, yelling 'devil, be gone!', and the illusion dissapearing, leaving a group of perfectly fine, all-around good guys standing clustered together, with an expresion of disbelief on their faces, with a middle-aged man run through on the fighters sword where a demon should have been. They grin sheepishly, and explain that this must have been the work of some dread road, working its enchantment upon them. This doesn't sit well with the population of the little hamlet.
Nice.
The one thing, though, it that most of amorphous is likely to not be used, as I don't think many DM's would like to keep track of some 400 squares of creature.
I leave you with this thought: who do they talk to when they get bored?

bingo_bob
2006-02-10, 10:58 PM
How the heck would a road swim? In what?

I_Got_This_Name
2006-02-11, 02:35 AM
How would it trip? I'd imagine that it creates a sort of wave in its surface and sweeps it under the person it wants to trip, or it tries to shake and knock them down, or it drops the part of itself under one foot; it has a bunch of maneuvers it knows.

Their illusions over the ground are only Hallucinatory Terrain, which does no concealment of structures, and isn't a phantasm, so it wouldn't be able to trick adventurers into fighting villagers. This is more of a "you're walking down the road" (dice rolling) "it's a perfectly normal road, except that you find that you're now in Hell."

Yeah, generally you don't keep track of 400 squares. For convenience, you can just make a line 100 squares long and 4 wide, or 80 by 5, and you have a Dread Highway; it can, if it wants to, invade a city and spread itself out over 400 squares of alleys, though.

What do they do when bored? Nobody knows.

They use their swim skill when taking a form pretending to be a bridge, or when disguising themselves as a floating bridge.

Ferahgo
2006-02-11, 09:45 PM
Yeah, I know how hallucinatory terrain works. I just think it would be worth it to house-rule some Major Images in there for effect.
So deliciously EVIL!

Guancyto
2006-02-12, 07:58 AM
I have to wonder.

What's going to happen the first time the players hit this thing with a Dominate Monster spell and make it stick?

Nasrudith
2006-02-12, 03:53 PM
Seems too powerful, it can render them practically helpless with a single trip and grapple. However it has an essential weakness, once it reveals itself it's easy to get it. Simply cast fly, shoot it, and be the first adventurer to kill the road. It will however probably claim at least one PC.

I_Got_This_Name
2006-02-12, 05:18 PM
You have to stay down for one round before it automatically grapples you.

Round 1: Get Tripped, take damage
Round 2: Try to get up, get tripped (AoO), take damage. Begin absorbtion
Or
Round 1: Get tripped, take damage
Round 2: Get levitated off
Or
Round 2: Get up, don't get tripped, try to run away and get tripped
Round 3: Fail to get up, begin absorbtion.

Admittedly, once it gets a hold it tends to keep it. Absorbtion, however, takes a long time; if a party manages to Fly and bombard, as suggested, it won't work.

Editing Consume now to prevent a tactic that it shouldn't be able to do (Grab and burrow)

Forderz
2006-04-10, 03:23 PM
@[email protected] this is soo evi- OMG EVILGASM :o :-X ;D

Jothki
2006-04-10, 03:58 PM
This looks like it would be a fairly efficient way for a powerful caster to ferry around small armies.

Rigeld2
2006-04-10, 04:14 PM
Round 1: Get Tripped, take damage
Round 2: Try to get up, get tripped (AoO), take damage. Begin absorbtion

This doesnt work. Sequence is as follows:

Attempt to stand up, provoke AoO (but atm still down)
AoO to trip succeeds
character falls (he was already down, so no change)
Character finishes standing up.

thevorpalbunny
2006-05-20, 06:11 PM
No, it's like this:

Round 1: Fall down
Round 2: Stand up. Attempt doesn't provoke, actual standing does. AoO hits for damage.
Round 3:Get tripped again.
Rounds 4-100 alternate between 2 and 3 until someone helps you fly away.

Yossarian
2006-05-20, 06:46 PM
No, it's like this:

Only if you houserule it as such. Except where explicitly noted otherwise, an AoO always occurs before the action that triggers it is completed. Someone tries to cast a spell, you AoO them, then they cast the spell (assuming they didn't get messed up). Someone tries to move away, you AoO them, then they move (again, assuming they're still able to). Hence someone tries to stand up, you AoO them, then they stand up. The official FAQs cover this situation, although even the base rules suggest that it works that way.

Michael_Sandy
2006-05-21, 01:32 PM
I was also concerned about the Dominate Monster problem.

Or worse, some wizard Domesticating these guys and breeding them, while using their Gate abilities to full effect.

High-Chancellor
2006-05-21, 08:06 PM
Reminds me of the black road in the Chronicles of Amber.

If you haven't heard of it... for shame!


It would be interesting if you could travel the planes by walking on it, if you managed to avoid all of its traps and pitfalls.

idksocrates
2006-05-21, 08:30 PM
Knowing myself that AoO happen before the action, I was really wondering how the road is supposed to keep someone down for one whole round.

You could make it so that if someone falls prone onto the road, it gets a free grapple check. On the next round, it gets a free pin attempt to absorb.

Also, the CR is way too high for it. Even with 600 hp, it just doesn't have the damage dealing capablity to take on a EL20 PC party. I mean, compare to a Black Wyrm. Near 500 hp, then all the fun things Dragons get. Then there's the Tarrasque, who has super super immunity to everything, dr 40/epic, regerneration 40, swallow whole, and like 6 natural attacks. Yeah, this thing is probably more like CR 12, depending on how easy it is to get out of consume once your in.

Do you get your normal grapple attempts or escape artist attempts while you are pinned by a Dread Highway when your pinned?
If the creature is killed, are all consumed victims free?

If these are true, I probably wouldn't put the CR too much higher than 12.