View Full Version : Dark/Shadow Themed Monsters

2011-01-29, 07:35 AM
Hello fellow Playgrounders. I've been working on a short horror campaign for my weekly group, set on an island tainted by a rift to the negative energy plane. A central piece of this campaign is a random encounter table I've been putting together.

Now, however. I've found myself in a bit of a pickle. It turns out that there aren't a whole lot of ranged monsters that follow the style guide I've been following so far (incorporeals, shadows, Plane of Mirrors, elementals. No skeleton/zombie monsters, no animals and no aberrations). Most of the monsters are stat reducers, and while they definitely serve a purpose in the campaign I want more than that.

I've been through MM 1-5, Fiend Folio and Tome of Magic and picked out everything I licked from there. Now I turn to you, hoping you'll be able to help me dig out some ranged attackers suitable for my campaign. I expect the group to be level 5-ish, but anything from CR1-10 would be useful to me.

For anyone interested, here's a link (https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AuUinJ8oO-NPdGRsSzFQUUhGQS1nWUFSRERDWGJXWmc&hl=en#gid=1) to the table.

2011-01-29, 08:11 AM
Well, it may not be ranged, but I recently used an amalgram of creatures to provide an interesting combat for a PbP group. I started with the stats of a Dusk Beast (Manual of the Planes), and basically slapped the powers of a Blink Dog onto it, because while the Dusk Beast has a shadowy appearance, it struck me as nothing more than a simple beatstick. This is how I introduced this creature to the party :

At first, you see nothing - the trap going off and [the druid's wolf]'s growling, however, gives you a rough direction/area to drop your Entangle spell into. As the plants in the area writhe up and around the creature, you begin to understand - the traps are at the very edge of the shadowy light provided by your fire/light spell, and the only reason you can see anything at all is because of the entangling plants providing an outline.

As you finish the last words of your spell, a massive section of the forest bursts into life, wrapping around everything within the area. In the center of this chaos, vines and brush form the outline of a large creature, one apparently formed from pure shadow. It's slightly larger than [the druid's wolf], with a reptilian body, a trashing tail that seems to have several spikes protruding from it, and a pair of heads, each tearing with jagged teeth at the plant life attempting to grab hold. Even staring directly at it, it's hard to believe what you're seeing; the body seems to be transparent like a shadow, but must be physically there, as your spell seems to have grabbed hold. Your shouts are enough to wake everyone.

Statwise, I can't post the full block since it's basically ripped directly out of the Manual of the Planes, but I didn't really use its full statblock anyway. I tend to rip large statblocks down to their bare numbers, so :

HP : 44
AC : 15
Attack : One bite, +10 melee, 1d8+2
Full attack : Two bites, +10 melee, 1d8+2 and barbed tail, +5 melee, 1d4+1
Special abilities : Shadow Blur, Shadow Blink
Skills : Hide +17, Move Silently +12

Shadow Blur : In anything less than direct sunlight, this dusk beast gains a 20% miss chance due to its shadowy hide.
Shadow Blink : this dusk beast can teleport, as dimension door (caster level 8th), once per round as a free action. The ability affects only the dusk beast, which never appears within a solid object and can act immediately after teleporting. This ability only works when not in direct sunlight.

CR : 3 or 4

The original CR of the Dusk Beast was 3, but looking at other CR3 entries, its damage is higher, HP is higher, but AC is lower than most other CR3's. Adding the abilities I've done here and playing it somewhat smart, I considered the CR to be 4, which seemed fair. If you play it like an intelligent creature, it can be used as an excellent hit-and-run type; Shadow Blink in behind the most vulnerable individual, full attack, then Shadow Blink out next round. You'll probably soak up a charge or two, but you should be able to ensure the opponents don't get full attacks against it, which only really hurts the two-weapon fighters and the whirling frenzy barbarians at this level.

I chose to play it with bestial intelligence, so it spent one round fighting the Entangle before Blinking out, and didn't just vanish when it was clearly losing. It also spent some time trying to break an arrow that they'd shot it with that had a Light spell cast on it, which I allowed to overcome its Shadow effects - the players were spending actions and being creative, so I rewarded that. In this role it's slightly less dangerous, but that suited what I was going for with this combat anyway. It served its purpose, perhaps it'd help you as well?

2011-01-29, 08:30 AM
There's a couple of templates which you can slap on pretty much anything. And you can quite legitimately explain that these were the things that were already in the area before the rift opened, and were warped by it's presence.

The Shadowed or Dark template sounds ideal for what you want to do.

Also, since Undead are negative-energy critters, you can simply take any given entry, turn it undead, and call it a day.