View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other P.E.A.C.H: Mana Worm (Monster)

2015-02-06, 02:23 PM
Hello there, this is a monster I developed when I realized that the party was depending more on the possession of magical items rather than creativity and quality role-playing. Essentially, this monster is like a rust-monster for mages. Giving the melee fighters something to do instead of waiting for their mage to end the fight.

It's especially good at providing an incentive for the party to keep moving on an adventure. This is because if the party stays put with lots of magical items on them, then it gives the worms more time to catch up, assuming the mana-worms are even stalking the party to begin with.

What it also does is force the party to budget their magical items and be judicious about what they need and what they merely want to bring. It provides a new dynamic for the party to have to take into account. What's more is that it also forces mages to want to be more careful about casting their most powerful spells as casting a 9th level spell for a min/maxed caster will most definitely draw mana-worms to the residual aura of the spell as well as their own as a caster.

It also provides the DM with counter-ammunition against min/maxed casters who threaten to ruin the game by exploiting the magic system.


Mana Worm
Size/Type: Medium Aberration (Pseudo-Ethereal)
Hit Dice: 10d8+50 (95)
Initiative: +9
Speed: Fly 60 ft. (Perfect)
Armor Class: 19 (+4 Dex, +5 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +7/ +15
Attack: Sting +11 melee touch (2d6+7 plus devour)
Full Attack: 2 stings +11 melee touch (2d6+7 plus devour)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. / 10 ft.
Special Attacks: Devour
Special Qualities: Spell-Like Abilities, Pseudo-Ethereal, Sense Magic
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +15
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 18, Con 20, Int 4, Wis 24, Cha 2
Skills: ó
Feats: Improved Initiative, Improved Grapple
Environment: Roaming
Organization: Solitary, Infestation (4-8), Swarm (9-16), or Hive (17-32)
Challenge Rating: 8
Treasure: ó
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: ó
Level Adjustment: ó

Devour (Su): On a successful sting attack, the Mana-Worm may consume all magic on the target and heal itself. This process happens instantly. The healed amount is equal to (Caster Level*1d10) hitpoints and can heal the Mana-Worm beyond it's maximum hitpoints. If the target is a sentient magical caster, then all their magical spells for the day are drained. If the target is a magical object, then the magic in it is immediately disjoined and forever lost. Only relics gain a saving throw versus this ability. The DC is Wisdom based, and it negates the devour ability. With the default stats of this monster, the DC is 22.

Sense Magic (Su): The mana-worm can pinpoint the location of any and all magic within a ten-mile radius.

Magically absorbant(Su): Any and all spells cast upon the mana-worm instantly are absorbed and heal the mana-worm for CasterLevel* 1d10 hitpoints. The spells take no effect whatsoever.

Pseudo-Ethereal (Ex): Mana worms aren't completely ethereal, nor are they completely material or entirely corporeal either. They can be hit by physical objects, yet their sting and bite seem to phase through the material plane. They are able to move almost as if they were ethereal but are still visible. What's more is that mana-worms seem to die when subjected to intense physical forces.

Greater Teleport (Sp): Functions like the spell Greater Teleport, caster level 7. Can be used once per hour as a full-round action.

Weakness to Anti-Magic (Ex): Mana worms are instantly undone by anti-magic. They receive no saving throw whatsoever if they enter an anti-magic field and are utterly destroyed. As such, mana-worms will stay away from any anti-magic at all costs and will flee as soon as they detect any within 10 miles of their position.

Mana-worms are only ever seen in areas of considerable magical concentration. Magic Shops have to be careful and mask their magical auras or risk drawing Mana-Worms to their intense cumulative magical aura. Adventuring parties with an a great deal of magical equipment should beware of carrying all of it at once as any cumulative maical aura greater than 10 has a chance to attract a group of mana worms.

Cumulative magical aura is calculated by adding up the caster levels of all magical items as well as the caster levels of all mages in the group. The sum determines the strength of the aura and thus the chance of attracting one or more mana-worms. Roll a d% once every 7 days to determine if mana worms start stalking the party or not.

The hazard goes up by the strength of the cumulative magical aura.

Caster Level vs Chance of encounter within 7 days:
<=10 0%
11 10%
12 20%
14 30%
15 40%
16 50%
17 60%
18 70%
19 80%
20 90%
20+ 100%

2015-02-07, 12:40 PM
Would anyone like to talk about this? I kind of put some effort into making this and I'd sort of like some feedback, or maybe a critique about how it could be improved.

2015-02-09, 10:00 AM
I like the flavor/theme of the monster. I've always liked monsters that feed off of or destroy magic, like the nightwing and that spider in MM23, I think with the disjunctive bite. I worry that what you've made here is too powerful, particularly for its CR.
For the Devour ability, I think taking a spellcaster's entire game utility away from them on a failed save is too much. Maybe have the ability remove 1d6 spell slots, starting with their highest level slots, and healing 1d10 x spell slot emptied this way. Similarly remove a certain amount of enhancement bonus for a magic weapon before finally mundane-ifying it, and they should also receive a save. I assume by relics you mean artifacts, which, at CR 8, the mana worm should not be able to touch. Finally, when stating that the worm can be healed beyond its normal maximum hit points, it should specify that these excess hit points are gained as temporary hp, to avoid RAW shenanigans.
Magically absorbant I think is fine, maybe change it to a sort of Absorptive Spell Resistance, so it has effectively infinite SR and any spell that is cast on it that allows spell resistance is absorbed, as you described it. This way certain spells can still bypass it, again making the casters not completely useless in the encounter.
With regards to Pseudo-Ethereal, it's not clear from the description what the effect is mechanically; either way I would refer to it only in the ability description and scrap the non-standard subtype you have listed. Is it meant to make the creature harder to hit, give it bonuses to its attacks, or just improve its maneuverability?
The antimagic vulnerability is good, though at ECL 8 nobody has access to it quite yet. Might I recommend giving it a vulnerability also to dispel magic? Either that a successful dispel check suppresses some of its abilities for a number of rounds, or that it simply deals damage (maybe 1d10 x level of the dispel effect) to the mana worm?

I think for the creature concept you probably have in mind this is gonna do better as a low-epic creature, CR in the 20s. That'll allow you to disregard or partially disregard a number of the nerfs listed here, but as it stands, I think this is definitely OP for a CR 8.

2015-02-12, 09:29 AM
I like this, but think your stat block could use a little work. Whenever you are dealing with supernatural abilities, remember that the DCs to saves are Charisma-based. At CR 8, PCs and their items should have saves, so the charisma 2 is too low for what it does. I'd bump it to Cha 10. Sting should not be a touch attack; it is a physical attack since the creature is not ethereal. Special abilities should always have game mechanics. Pseudo-ethereal is all description and doesn't qualify. All Aberrations have darkvision 60 ft. unless otherwise noted. Sense Magic should be Detect Magic see Ethereal Filcher.

Medium creatures have a 5-foot reach. . It has 2 attacks as full attack so bonus to damage should be its Str modifier. Pseudo-Ethereal is not a Subtype. It should have skills and is missing a feat.

Note my changes in RED. Its name should be consistent.

Size/Type: Medium Aberration No subtype
Hit Dice: 10d8+50 (95 hp)
Initiative: +9
Speed: Fly 60 ft. (Perfect)
Armor Class: 19 (+4 Dex, +5 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +7/+15
Attack: Sting +11 melee (2d6+4 plus devour magic item)
Full Attack: 2 stings +11 melee (2d6+4 plus devour magic item)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Devour Magic Item
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., Detect Magic, Magically Absorbent, Spell-like Ability, Weakness To Antimagic
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +15
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 18, Con 20, Int 4, Wis 24, Cha 10
Skills: should have 13 ranks worth of skills (only mindless creatures gain no feats and skills)
Feats: Improved Initiative, Improved Grapple (needs a 3rd feat)
Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary, Infestation (4-8), Swarm (9-16), or Hive (17-32)
Challenge Rating: 8
Treasure: ó
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: ó
Level Adjustment: ó

Now onto the creature's special abilities. Special Qualities should listed alphabetically and match how they are listed in the stat block. Devour should be renamed Devour Magic Item to make it obvious. As a Supernatural ability that is offensive, it should be a standard action but I think an exception could be made. It needs to successfully hit to the target before it can consume a magic item and it should be a requirement that the target has to be holding a magic item that is dropped for it to be consumed. Also, magic items should have a save for this. As written it is too powerful for CR 8. Why would anyone at that level have a relic or even an epic item? It breaks the economy. Furthermore, I can see it gaining hit points (two words) by eating magic items but you have it gaining far too many. Save DC should be 10 + 1/2 creature's HD + Charisma bonus. This is also why Charisma needs to be higher. Magically Absorbent should be listed as a special quality. It needs to be revised as it is far too powerful for CR 8. Teleport should be its Spell-like Ability and Weakness to Antimagic (spelled without the hyphen) is missing from the stat block. I think its Wisdom is too high but I'll leave any changes to that to you.

Devour Magic Items (Su): Once a mana-worm has made a successful sting attack on a target, the target must make a successful Reflex save (DC 15) or be forced to drop any item it is currently holding. A mana-worm may immediately attempt to devour most dropped magic items as a free action. However, they cannot consume cursed items, artifacts, and relics. Dropped magic items are considered unattended and receive a -4 penalty to save against being destroyed. A magic itemís saving throw bonus equals 2 + one-half its caster level (round down). Any magic item that fails its save is destroyed and consumed by the mana-worm. A mana-worm heals one hit point for every caster level the item had. Excess hit points are lost. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Magically Absorbent (Su): Any harmful spell cast that has the mana-worm as its target has no effect and is instantly absorbed and used to heal the mana-worm. A mana-worm heals 1 point of damage for every spell level it absorbs. Excess hit points are lost. Mana-worms are still affected normally by area-affect spells (except antimagic field; see Weakness to Antimagic below).

Spell-like Ability (Sp): A mana-worm can teleport like the spell greater teleport once per hour as a full-round action. CL 7.

Weakness to Antimagic (Ex): Mana-worms are instantly undone by antimagic. They receive no saving throw whatsoever if they enter an antimagic field and are utterly destroyed. As such, mana-worms will stay away from any antimagic at all costs and will flee as soon as they detect any within 10 miles of their position.

A picture is nice, but you still need a description. It can sting from either end since it has 2 stings. Why is it pseudo-ethereal? This doesn't really add anything to the ecology of this critter.

Here is the text on Etherealness

Phase spiders and certain other creatures can exist on the Ethereal Plane. While on the Ethereal Plane, a creature is called ethereal. Unlike incorporeal creatures, ethereal creatures are not present on the Material Plane.

Ethereal creatures are invisible, inaudible, insubstantial, and scentless to creatures on the Material Plane. Even most magical attacks have no effect on them. See invisibility and true seeing reveal ethereal creatures.

An ethereal creature can see and hear into the Material Plane in a 60-foot radius, though material objects still block sight and sound. (An ethereal creature canít see through a material wall, for instance.) An ethereal creature inside an object on the Material Plane cannot see. Things on the Material Plane, however, look gray, indistinct, and ghostly. An ethereal creature canít affect the Material Plane, not even magically. An ethereal creature, however, interacts with other ethereal creatures and objects the way material creatures interact with material creatures and objects.

Even if a creature on the Material Plane can see an ethereal creature the ethereal creature is on another plane. Only force effects can affect the ethereal creatures. If, on the other hand, both creatures are ethereal, they can affect each other normally.

A force effect originating on the Material Plane extends onto the Ethereal Plane, so that a wall of force blocks an ethereal creature, and a magic missile can strike one (provided the spellcaster can see the ethereal target). Gaze effects and abjurations also extend from the Material Plane to the Ethereal Plane. None of these effects extend from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane.

Ethereal creatures move in any direction (including up or down) at will. They do not need to walk on the ground, and material objects donít block them (though they canít see while their eyes are within solid material).

Ghosts have a power called manifestation that allows them to appear on the Material Plane as incorporeal creatures. Still, they are on the Ethereal Plane, and another ethereal creature can interact normally with a manifesting ghost. Ethereal creatures pass through and operate in water as easily as air. Ethereal creatures do not fall or take falling damage.

How does it fly? It doesn't have wings so is it magical in nature? If so, that should be noted in stat block. See Yeth Hound as an example.

Even if it can't consume the dropped item, it should be able to pick it up and fly with it until it can teleport away with it. Can it speak? What language should it know or at lest understand (Int 4 means it can understand a language)? Why doesn't it have stolen treasure in its lair? These should really be able to disarm opponents to take the relic away from an opponent.

If you need to take overpowered items items from a party without destroying them, I would suggest using an Ethereal Filcher rather than this. An encounter with one of these working with an ethereal filcher (maybe both are sent to retrieve the items(s) in question) would make for an interesting encounter.