A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    After seeing this entry in the LA-reassignment thread, inspiration struck. A swarm vulnerable only to certain spells and ghost touch weapons with at least one energy type (flaming etc).

    PHOTON SWARM
    FINE CONSTRUCT (Incorporeal, Swarm)
    Hit Dice: 24d10 (132 hp)
    Initiative: +6
    Speed: Fly 20 ft. (perfect) (4 squares)
    Armor Class: 25 (+1 deflection, +6 Dex, +8 size), touch 25, flat-footed 19
    Base Attack/Grapple: +18/-
    Attack: Swarm (5d6)
    Full Attack: Swarm (5d6)
    Space/Reach: 10 ft./0 ft.
    Special Attacks: Distraction, positive energy swarm
    Special Qualities: Construct traits, darkness vulnerability, darkvision 60 ft., daylight, light affinity, immune to weapon damage, incorporeal traits, low-light vision, swarm traits
    Saves: Fort +8, Ref +14, Will +8
    Abilities: Str , Dex 22, Con , Int -, Wis 10, Cha 1
    Skills: -
    Feats: -
    Environment: Any
    Organization: Solitary
    Challenge Rating: 11
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Always neutral
    Advancement: None
    Level Adjustment: -

    The swarm is a mass of infinitesimal (yet intense) points of white and golden radiance, swirling in the air around the enchanted relic. You will have to think of a clever plan to defeat this guardian...

    A photon swarm is a construct built from sunlight itself. Beautiful and in many ways invulnerable, it makes a formidable guardian... especially in the desert tombs of ancient sun-worshipping races.

    Photon swarms understand (but do not speak) Common and Celestial.

    Combat
    Photon swarms are mindless in combat. They slowly grind opponents down with their swarm attack, relying on their artificial and insubstantial natures to protect themselves from most attacks.

    Darkness Vulnerability (Ex)
    A photon swarm targeted by (or within the area of) a [Darkness] spell of at least 4th level takes 1d6 points of damage per caster level (per round, for non-instantaneous effects). It is never permitted a save against [Darkness] spells.

    Daylight (Su)
    A photon swarm radiates daylight, as the spell (caster level 24th). This effect automatically counters and dispels any [Darkness] spell of 3rd level or lower within 120 feet of the swarm. It cannot suppress this ability.

    Distraction (Ex)
    Any living or undead creature that begins its turn with a swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 22 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. Undead creatures are not immune to this effect by virtue of their type. The save DC is Constitution-based.

    Light Affinity (Ex)
    A photon swarm is immune to any light-based attack, including [Light] spells, [Pattern] spells, and prismatic spells. It is restored to full hit points each day at dawn.

    Positive Energy Swarm (Ex)
    A photon swarm's swarm attack overcomes all types of damage reduction, much like the light rays of a lantern archon. Additionally, it deals double damage to undead creatures (or triple damage to those specifically harmed by bright light).
    Last edited by rferries; 2018-08-04 at 06:05 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    The speed seems a bit low. I suggest Fly 1475400000 feet(Clumsy).
    My one piece of homebrew: The Shaman. A Druid replacement with more powerlevel control.
    The bargain bin- malfunctioning, missing, and broken magic items.
    Spirit Barbarian: The Barbarian, with heavy elements from the Shaman. Complete up to level 17.
    The Priest: A cleric reword which ran out of steam. Still a fun prestige class suitable for E6.
    The Coward: Not every hero can fight.

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    So, being made of light is the reason it's incorporeal? But incorporeal creatures can pass through 5-foot-thick stone walls. Light can't do that.

    Also, if we're being honest, how is this concept not just a para-elemental version of the elementite swarms from Planar Handbook? A construct made of light sounds like a construct made of fire or electricity, which is to say, a misassigned creature type.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    So, being made of light is the reason it's incorporeal? But incorporeal creatures can pass through 5-foot-thick stone walls. Light can't do that.

    Also, if we're being honest, how is this concept not just a para-elemental version of the elementite swarms from Planar Handbook? A construct made of light sounds like a construct made of fire or electricity, which is to say, a misassigned creature type.
    In wizard of the coast there is a precedent of constructs made of light but there is no light elementals so it seems wizard of the coast have a different vision of the world.(also the constructs made of light in wizard of the coast are all incorporeal)
    Also another oddity is that all wizard of the coast constructs made of light are good aligned while having an int of _.
    Do not forget artificial creatures are very magical so light constructs being able to go through walls is not incoherent.
    Last edited by noob; 2018-07-29 at 06:03 AM.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by aimlessPolymath View Post
    The speed seems a bit low. I suggest Fly 1475400000 feet(Clumsy).
    Oh, you! :D

    Quote Originally Posted by Maat Mons View Post
    So, being made of light is the reason it's incorporeal? But incorporeal creatures can pass through 5-foot-thick stone walls. Light can't do that.

    Also, if we're being honest, how is this concept not just a para-elemental version of the elementite swarms from Planar Handbook? A construct made of light sounds like a construct made of fire or electricity, which is to say, a misassigned creature type.
    As with so much DnD stuff it's an abstraction - you can't really hit sunlight with a sword. Plus, light can pass through some types of matter (water, glass, etc).

    I'm afraid I'm not familiar with those paraelementals/elementites but I'll look them up. As I said I got the idea from the ephemeral swarm, just upgraded the creature type to construct for more immunities.

    Quote Originally Posted by noob View Post
    In wizard of the coast there is a precedent of constructs made of light but there is no light elementals so it seems wizard of the coast have a different vision of the world.(also the constructs made of light in wizard of the coast are all incorporeal)
    Also another oddity is that all wizard of the coast constructs made of light are good aligned while having an int of _.
    Do not forget artificial creatures are very magical so light constructs being able to go through walls is not incoherent.
    Yes, thanks!

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    .
    It's not claerly stated what harms them and to what degree.
    I'm assuming they're completely immune to acid, but I'm not sure how they react to electricity.
    Likewise, magical weapons tend to harm incorporeal creatures (probably by disrupting the magical energy that holds them together), but you said they're categorically inmune to weapon damage.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsi View Post
    .
    It's not claerly stated what harms them and to what degree.
    I'm assuming they're completely immune to acid, but I'm not sure how they react to electricity.
    Likewise, magical weapons tend to harm incorporeal creatures (probably by disrupting the magical energy that holds them together), but you said they're categorically inmune to weapon damage.
    Swarms of creatures small enough are immune to weapon damage.

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    tongue Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by rferries View Post
    Oh, you! :D


    Actually, I might drop the speed to 20 ft.

    Right now, this feels a lot like a "puzzle" enemy, in that it requires a particular class of attack to deal with, but is otherwise relatively straightforward. A speed drop would help this a bit, because it allows players to run away and think of solutions.

    My other thought is that I feel this should have some kind of weakness to darkness effects. As a player, my first thought against a fire or cold aligned creature is to use the opposite energy, and it seems as though darkness is an extremely natural "counter". However, this creature is immune to both light and darkness effects.
    My one piece of homebrew: The Shaman. A Druid replacement with more powerlevel control.
    The bargain bin- malfunctioning, missing, and broken magic items.
    Spirit Barbarian: The Barbarian, with heavy elements from the Shaman. Complete up to level 17.
    The Priest: A cleric reword which ran out of steam. Still a fun prestige class suitable for E6.
    The Coward: Not every hero can fight.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by aimlessPolymath View Post


    Actually, I might drop the speed to 20 ft.

    Right now, this feels a lot like a "puzzle" enemy, in that it requires a particular class of attack to deal with, but is otherwise relatively straightforward. A speed drop would help this a bit, because it allows players to run away and think of solutions.

    My other thought is that I feel this should have some kind of weakness to darkness effects. As a player, my first thought against a fire or cold aligned creature is to use the opposite energy, and it seems as though darkness is an extremely natural "counter". However, this creature is immune to both light and darkness effects.
    Done and done, thanks. I've slowed it down, modified the daylight effect, and added a darkness vulnerability.

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    I think the creature is too weak for its current CR. It compares badly to an elder air elemental (CR 11), despite the swarm's advantage of being incorporeal. Area force effects can deal with incorporeal swarms with more ease than a CR of 12 would suggest, since area effects deal +50% damage to swarms.

    I tested your creature's CR using Vorpal Tribble's method to make sure (nested in the spoiler). I think the creature's CR should be 11 at most (maybe 10).
    Spoiler
    Show
    Method:
    #1. Divide creature's average HP by 4.5 to 6.5.
    4.5 for 5 HD or lower, 5 for 6-10 HD, 5.5 for 11-15 HD, 6 for 16-20 HD., 6.5 for 20-25 HD.

    #2. Add 1 for each five points above 10 its AC is, subtracting 1 for every 5 below.

    #3. Add 1 for each special attack (+2 to +5 or more if its got a decent number of spells in its spell-like abilities).

    #4. Add 1 for each quality unless you deem it worthy of more. Add 1 for each resistance and 10 points of DR it has, and 2 for each immunity. Subtract 1 for each vulnerability.

    #5. Add 1 for every two bonus feats it has.

    #6. Divide total by 3. This should be its rough CR


    Calculations:
    #1. 132 hp/6.5 = 20
    #2. +3
    #3. +2 (distraction, positive energy swarm)
    #4. 2 (construct traits) -1 (darkness vulnerability) +2 (daylight) +2 (light affinity) +2 (immunity to weapon damage) +2 (incorporeal traits) = 9 (darkvision and low-light vision don't count; they are redundant with daylight)
    #5. -
    #6. 20 + 3 + 2 + 9 = 34
    34/3 = CR 11,3
    Last edited by Network; 2018-08-02 at 02:16 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Razanir View Post
    "I am a human sixtyfourthling! Fear my minimal halfling ancestry!")
    Quote Originally Posted by Zweisteine View Post
    So the real question is, what is a Ling?

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Network View Post
    I think the creature is too weak for its current CR. It compares badly to an elder air elemental (CR 11), despite the swarm's advantage of being incorporeal. Area force effects can deal with incorporeal swarms with more ease than a CR of 12 would suggest, since area effects deal +50% damage to swarms.

    I tested your creature's CR using Vorpal Tribble's method to make sure (nested in the spoiler). I think the creature's CR should be 11 at most (maybe 10).
    Spoiler
    Show
    Method:
    #1. Divide creature's average HP by 4.5 to 6.5.
    4.5 for 5 HD or lower, 5 for 6-10 HD, 5.5 for 11-15 HD, 6 for 16-20 HD., 6.5 for 20-25 HD.

    #2. Add 1 for each five points above 10 its AC is, subtracting 1 for every 5 below.

    #3. Add 1 for each special attack (+2 to +5 or more if its got a decent number of spells in its spell-like abilities).

    #4. Add 1 for each quality unless you deem it worthy of more. Add 1 for each resistance and 10 points of DR it has, and 2 for each immunity. Subtract 1 for each vulnerability.

    #5. Add 1 for every two bonus feats it has.

    #6. Divide total by 3. This should be its rough CR


    Calculations:
    #1. 132 hp/6.5 = 20
    #2. +3
    #3. +2 (distraction, positive energy swarm)
    #4. 2 (construct traits) -1 (darkness vulnerability) +2 (daylight) +2 (light affinity) +2 (immunity to weapon damage) +2 (incorporeal traits) = 9 (darkvision and low-light vision don't count; they are redundant with daylight)
    #5. -
    #6. 20 + 3 + 2 + 9 = 34
    34/3 = CR 11,3
    Good analysis! I think the swarm is a bit tougher than the result though - the only reliable way to harm it is 1) ghost touch weapons with at least one energy type i.e. flaming , 2) area-of-effect-force spells (of which I think explosive runes is the only core source?), 3) [Darkness] spells, all of which are somewhat niche.

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by rferries View Post
    Good analysis! I think the swarm is a bit tougher than the result though - the only reliable way to harm it is 1) ghost touch weapons with at least one energy type i.e. flaming , 2) area-of-effect-force spells (of which I think explosive runes is the only core source?), 3) [Darkness] spells, all of which are somewhat niche.
    The effects you mentioned are the core attacks that can damage the photon swarm most of the time. The photon swarm can still be incapacitated with spells such as Resilient Sphere, Sanctuary or Wall of Force. Furthermore, many core effects still have a 50% chance to affect the creature, including: Control Winds, Gust of Wind, any magic weapon with at least one energy type, and area of effect spells that aren't [Force] effects (such as Fireball).

    An elder air elemental has 50% more hp, dr 10/-, and does not take +50% bonus damage from area effects. Either creature would take approximately the same number of hits to take down if no weakness is exploited.
    Quote Originally Posted by Razanir View Post
    "I am a human sixtyfourthling! Fear my minimal halfling ancestry!")
    Quote Originally Posted by Zweisteine View Post
    So the real question is, what is a Ling?

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    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    The normal idea of "challenge rating" applies less to this creature anyway, since it's so binary- either players can get around it or apply one of the spells that can effectively harm it, and it takes time and a few spell slots, or they can't, and it's nigh-invincible.

    Thinking of it as a monster is less relevant than thinking of it as a puzzle, and I would give xp based on the party level:

    Hard to Challenging encounter (CR of APL+1 or 2) at levels 3-6 ish, where the players are unlikely to be able to actually kill the swarm- they'll most likely have to find a bypass (invisibility, alternate routes) or run through and hope they can outheal the damage.
    Average encounter(CR of APL) at levels 7-13. At this level, I would assume they can dig up a means of dealing with it.
    Easy encounter at levels 14-15.

    Another measurement of puzzle-as-CR might be a CR of APL+2, reduced by 1 for every spellcaster in the party- with each spell list they have access to, it becomes exponentially more likely that they find a solution.
    My one piece of homebrew: The Shaman. A Druid replacement with more powerlevel control.
    The bargain bin- malfunctioning, missing, and broken magic items.
    Spirit Barbarian: The Barbarian, with heavy elements from the Shaman. Complete up to level 17.
    The Priest: A cleric reword which ran out of steam. Still a fun prestige class suitable for E6.
    The Coward: Not every hero can fight.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Network View Post
    The effects you mentioned are the core attacks that can damage the photon swarm most of the time. The photon swarm can still be incapacitated with spells such as Resilient Sphere, Sanctuary or Wall of Force. Furthermore, many core effects still have a 50% chance to affect the creature, including: Control Winds, Gust of Wind, any magic weapon with at least one energy type, and area of effect spells that aren't [Force] effects (such as Fireball).

    An elder air elemental has 50% more hp, dr 10/-, and does not take +50% bonus damage from area effects. Either creature would take approximately the same number of hits to take down if no weakness is exploited.
    Many of the effects you mention are simply delaying tactics. Note also that even if the party attacks solely with area-of-effect attacks, the swarm will still effectively have +25% hp on average (+50% damage from AOE's, divided by 50% for being incorporeal). And since the party could quite possibly run out of damaging AOE's...

    It's hard to precisely estimate CR - compare also a CR 12 leonal, for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by aimlessPolymath View Post
    The normal idea of "challenge rating" applies less to this creature anyway, since it's so binary- either players can get around it or apply one of the spells that can effectively harm it, and it takes time and a few spell slots, or they can't, and it's nigh-invincible.

    Thinking of it as a monster is less relevant than thinking of it as a puzzle, and I would give xp based on the party level:

    Hard to Challenging encounter (CR of APL+1 or 2) at levels 3-6 ish, where the players are unlikely to be able to actually kill the swarm- they'll most likely have to find a bypass (invisibility, alternate routes) or run through and hope they can outheal the damage.
    Average encounter(CR of APL) at levels 7-13. At this level, I would assume they can dig up a means of dealing with it.
    Easy encounter at levels 14-15.

    Another measurement of puzzle-as-CR might be a CR of APL+2, reduced by 1 for every spellcaster in the party- with each spell list they have access to, it becomes exponentially more likely that they find a solution.
    Yes this is probably a better way of looking at it.

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by rferries View Post
    Many of the effects you mention are simply delaying tactics. Note also that even if the party attacks solely with area-of-effect attacks, the swarm will still effectively have +25% hp on average (+50% damage from AOE's, divided by 50% for being incorporeal). And since the party could quite possibly run out of damaging AOE's...
    25% more hp than 132 is still only 176, which is slightly less than an elder air elemental's 204 hp.
    Quote Originally Posted by rferries View Post
    It's hard to precisely estimate CR - compare also a CR 12 leonal, for example.
    A leonal can cast fireball and wall of force at will, in addition to rake, pounce and improved grapple. It can fight decently at any range. It has only 114 hp, but has excellent auto-heal abilities (lay on hand, cure critical wounds 3/day, heal 1/day), so its durability is greater too. I have no doubt that a leonal could reliably defeat a photon swarm unless the environment was too narrow to attack at range.
    Quote Originally Posted by Razanir View Post
    "I am a human sixtyfourthling! Fear my minimal halfling ancestry!")
    Quote Originally Posted by Zweisteine View Post
    So the real question is, what is a Ling?

  16. - Top - End - #16

    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    This is a very interesting topic for me.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Network View Post
    25% more hp than 132 is still only 176, which is slightly less than an elder air elemental's 204 hp.

    A leonal can cast fireball and wall of force at will, in addition to rake, pounce and improved grapple. It can fight decently at any range. It has only 114 hp, but has excellent auto-heal abilities (lay on hand, cure critical wounds 3/day, heal 1/day), so its durability is greater too. I have no doubt that a leonal could reliably defeat a photon swarm unless the environment was too narrow to attack at range.
    Ha yes, my main point is that CR is a very imprecise measure - a 20th level fighter and a 20th level wizard are the same CR, though nobody in their right mind would say that they're equally powerful. A leonal, photon swarm, half-celestial roc, or dragon turtle advanced to 18 HD are all CR 12 but all have wildly varying abilities. A leonal might lose to an elder air or fire elemental but would easily defeat an elder water or earth elemental, even though the elementals are all the same CR.

    However! I honestly don't mind the CR too much so I've set it to 11 as you suggest.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Photon Swarm (incorporeal construct swarm 0.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by KateHoll View Post
    This is a very interesting topic for me.
    CR is always an tricky debate, yes!

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