A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Thread Eleven. This time around, we'll be tackling the remainder of Libris Mortis, as well as a few variants it provides for older classics.

    If you're new here, you'll want to at least read through the "Clarification" section of the archive thread to get a feel for what we're doing.

    Please place your votes in bold. This isn't required, but it makes things easier on me when I go for the final counts.

    And it's about time to start thinking about which book to do next. Not counting the aforementioned variants, we've only got ten monster entries left for the Book of Bad Latin.

    ---

    Skulking Cyst

    Size & Type: Small Undead
    Face/Reach: 5'/5' (I love this typo, and I especially love that it's happened multiple times in this book.)
    HD: 4
    Speed: 30', Climb 30', Swim 30'
    Ability Scores: Str +0, Dex +8, Con -, Int +2, Wis +4, Cha +6 - Net +20, no penalties
    Natural Armor: 4
    Natural Weapons: Two Primary... "Intestine Loops" (1d4)
    Skill List: Climb, Hide (+8 racial), Listen, Move Silently (+8 racial), Search, Spot, Tumble
    Body Shape: ...Not even sure how to describe that.
    Speech (Languages): No (Understands Common and whatever languages it spoke in life)
    CR: 4
    WotC LA: -
    Our LA: +0

    So these creatures are the eventual result of the Necrotic Cyst line of spells. Good ability scores, 60' Blindsight, fire resistance 5, and +2 turn resistance make for a nice chasis. It can attach itself to a target after hitting with one of its intestines. It appears to lose its Dex to AC while attached, but this isn't actually stated (instead it just says that an attached Cyst has an AC of 15). Maybe this is meant to be akin to grappling, but again, this isn't actually written anywhere. There is no way to forcibly detach a Skulking Cyst mentioned anywhere in the monster entry. Each round it remains attached, it deals 1d4 Constitution damage, which sates its Inescapable Craving for blood. Once it has "drained" seven points of Con, it uses its Necrotic Cyst SLA and runs off. Note the word "drained", because this thing can't actually inflict Ability Drain. RAI is clear, but RAW is silly. Like the Skin Kite before it, it's unclear if detaching after seven points is required or just behavioral.

    Speaking of SLAs, a Skulking Cyst can cast Darkness three times per day, and Necrotic Cyst once daily, both at CL 3.
    Last edited by Debatra; 2021-06-02 at 11:18 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Small size with no speed penalty, and Climb and Swim speeds to boot, stealth and observation skills, +4 Natural Armor, a quite mad +8 Dex, +2 Int, +4 Wis, and +6 Cha. This thing is very, very well built to be a Rogue, having +9 AC, an Intelligence bonus, +12 to stealth skills, and +2 to sensory skills... And +3 to UMD in case you want to try and do something with your SLA. You lose 2d6 Sneak Attack (average -7 damage) and gain 1d4 Con damage per round. You have, to top it off, 3/day Darkness and the ability to ignore it.

    I'd say give this LA +0, as the lost Sneak Attack dice get outmoded by the Con damage (-2 Con is -1 per HD, so the break-even point is all of 7hd targets), and you're the ultra-stealth form of Rogue that only suffers HP damage when things have gone extremely wrong so the lack of Con is a simple tradeoff instead of a crippling detriment.

    Also, can I call out the weirdness with how there's just the one Skulking Cyst? There's a whole line of spells that do different things with them, requiring a "Mother Cyst" feat, and yet there's just the one same monster whether you violently explode them or feed their soul to the thing in a fashion so absolute that True Resurrection doesn't work. And for some reason Necrotic Bloat doesn't work, you need to spend a 6th-level Save Or Die.

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    Post Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Skulking Cyst

    • Small Undead
    • 4 RHD (d12 hp, poor BAB, one good save, 4 skill points/"level")
    • 30 ft speed, climb 30 ft, swim 30ft: extra movement modes are always nice.
    • +4 natural AC.
    • 2 intestine loops 1d4 plus attachment (ewwww).
    • Attach: attach on an intestine hit, after which it presumably starts draining blood.
    • Blood drain: 1d4 Con/round, drop off after 7 points.
    • Spell-like abilities: 3/day darkness, 1/day necrotic cyst; CL 3. Decent, but not at all OP.
    • Blindsight 60 ft.,darkvision 60 ft.: good senses.
    • Inescapable craving: blood.
    • Resistance to fire 5.
    • Undead traits.
    • +2 turn resistance.
    • Dex +8, Con --, Int +2, Wis +4, Cha +6: net +16, one non-aiblity, no penalties.
    • Decent racial skill list. +8 racial bonus to Hide and Move Silently.

    Very non-standard body type. I doubt intestine loops can wield or manipulate items very effectively. Does not speak, but understands common.

    There's a solid chassis here: low enough RHD to be manageable, nice ability mods, and a great setup for a stealthy character. Attaching/grappling is less than ideal for small creatures with no racial bonuses, though. As noted, the exact mechanics of maintaining the attachment aren't very well defined, which may work in your favor. Also comes with decent movement modes, senses, and little resistances.

    Class progression? I dunno, sneak attacker? Standard skillmonkeying may be hampered by lack of manipulative digits. I would recommend Hands of Man/Arms of the Naga or similar as soon as you can afford them. Lack of speech poses a problem for casting, as usual. Amulet of Freedom of Speech would help, if you have the slot for it.

    I'm leaning towards LA +1, or +0. Going +0 for now, but will review further...

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Oh, yuck. That image.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Caelestion View Post
    Oh, yuck. That image.
    Indeed. I literally had a knee-jerk reaction to vote for LA -0 just for that - and no I'm not actually going to go through with it, I just mean it's disgusting.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    This monster... Eugh!

    Have you ever wanted to be a cancer? No, let me rephrase. Have you ever dreamt of giving a cancer to everyone you touch?... That wasn't much better.

    This monster is frightening. Not only is it the rotting remains of your kin that was probably killed by a necromancer, it is cunning! Even more so than the human it probably comes from. Bonuses in all three mental stats. Imagine having this pursuing you. You can't hide, it's intelligent enough to find you and can even ambush you with Hide and Move Silently (+8 in Dex also helps) so that you'll never see it coming at night. You can't outrun it, it is as fast as a human. Can you imagine this thing running behind you, and you just can't outrun it, and you know it will never tire, never give up, until you, or someone, ends between drained by it. And especially, you can't find a safe place. That thing can swim and climb as fast as it can run. Nightmarish.

    Two interesting natural attacks with Con damage and a poorly written ability that may mean it grapples without check and onto any size, which is incredible, or just that it loses its Dexterity bonus to AC everytime it attacks, which is pretty bad.

    But even without that, the skulking cyst has hands, or at least the body that it controls has hands, so it can wield weapons, so that's great.

    Really, I see nothing to hate here (except -2 BAB, but with so few RHD that's only a minor drawback). Or, you know, everything to hate, since this is one of the most horrific monsters in D&D and I really don't want to fight it.

    I vote LA+1, maybe even +2 if you count as grappling when attached to a creature Medium or less.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    Very non-standard body type. I doubt intestine loops can wield or manipulate items very effectively. Does not speak, but understands common.Standard skillmonkeying may be hampered by lack of manipulative digits.
    It has hands (or at least one), it even uses them to crawl on the picture. How it can crawl with a 30ft speed, though, is beyond me.

    Also, Face: 5' is especially hilarious here, since its face is literally 5' large.

    And for the next book, why not the Monster Manual II ? If I'm not mistaken, we jumped from the first to the 3rd, which doesn't make much sense.
    Last edited by Beni-Kujaku; 2021-06-01 at 05:26 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Beni-Kujaku View Post
    It has hands (or at least one), it even uses them to crawl on the picture. How it can crawl with a 30ft speed, though, is beyond me.
    It also have like... half a foot, I think. I imagine it moves by the foot basically flapping nonstop and the arm grabbing/pushing to control where it's going. Sort of like a motorboat, with the foot as the propeller and the hand as the rudder. The sound alone should probably induce some sort of deliberating nausea (which goes nicely with the apperance. Yeesh. ) .

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Beni-Kujaku View Post
    It has hands (or at least one), it even uses them to crawl on the picture. How it can crawl with a 30ft speed, though, is beyond me.
    "The horrible creature walking into view is a mass of free-roaming intestines, flaccid organs, and a few odd rib bones. Dragging behind it like a dead weight is a lolling, maggot-ridden humanoid head."

    "Though often cloaked in the detritus of a previous victim, the skulking cyst’s true 'heart' is a 1-foot-diameter spherical sac that contains fluid and semisolid necrotic flesh, which slowly undulates as if in a mockery of breath."

    Bolding mine.

    I kind of get the impression the creature itself is just a ball of innards, flesh and such: the ribs, hand and head seem to be non-functional remains of the creature it spawned out of. That's my take, at least, it's certainly open to interpretation.

    On an unrelated note, I wonder if he's friends with the intenstines-Cthulhu guy from Underdark?


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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Beni-Kujaku View Post
    And for the next book, why not the Monster Manual II ? If I'm not mistaken, we jumped from the first to the 3rd, which doesn't make much sense.
    It makes sense once you factor in that MM2 is 3.0 material. I think it's logical to do the 3.5 content first and then swing back around to the unupdated 3.0 stuff later. I like doing MM4 next.

    I agree with the conservative +1 here. This is just better than a lot of other undead in its HD range. It shouldn't have any trouble keeping up with an ECL 5 party. Net +20? That's kind of nonsense right there.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    You know, I was kinda expecting these to be smaller. Size as a mechanic is poorly defined(look at the MM drawing for golems, both of which are technically Large), but it's weird that a Cyst spawned from a halfling is going to be the same size as one spawned from a half-ogre, for example.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    In retrospect, it's amazing we didn't use "Better LA'd Than Never" before now.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    True - the fact it comes with a 2 Int may also make bull more likely than Minotaur.
    Since when does the intelligence of an undead have anything to do with its skull's former intelligence? There are plenty of undead templates which outright set specific mental ability scores—specific undead like the skirr are no different.

    (I think it is a bull, but I also think it's bad practice to only argue against bad arguments when they're made by people you disagree with.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Tzardok View Post
    After a truck load bandages fell in.
    Yeah, the bandages mark out the Skirr as an obviously artificial undead. Or at least the result of natural necromantic energies animating an artificial thing made out of bones, mummy-bandages, and other undead-y things.


    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    Very non-standard body type. I doubt intestine loops can wield or manipulate items very effectively.
    The image does include something that looks like a hand, but it doesn't have any kind of arm behind it, so I can't see it being useful for much beyond obscene gestures even if the cyst can control it like a normal hand.


    Quote Originally Posted by danielxcutter View Post
    You know, I was kinda expecting these to be smaller. Size as a mechanic is poorly defined(look at the MM drawing for golems, both of which are technically Large), but it's weird that a Cyst spawned from a halfling is going to be the same size as one spawned from a half-ogre, for example.
    There are a lot of things like that. Most things that are created from humanoid creatures and aren't mechanically represented as templates (and there's a lot of those) default to Medium, even though there are both larger and smaller humanoids.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Blade Wolf View Post
    Ah, thank you very much GreatWyrmGold, you obviously live up to that name with your intelligence and wisdom with that post.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Also anything killed with negative levels turn into Medium-sized wights which gets ridiculous fast when you think about it for more than ten seconds.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by danielxcutter View Post
    Also anything killed with negative levels turn into Medium-sized wights which gets ridiculous fast when you think about it for more than ten seconds.
    I think there's a wight template in this book to ameliorate that piece of missing realism.

    Incidentally, I think I agree with +1.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzardok View Post
    I think there's a wight template in this book to ameliorate that piece of missing realism.

    Incidentally, I think I agree with +1.
    No, don’t think so. There’s a stronger version of a wight but that’s about it.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzardok View Post
    I think there's a wight template in this book to ameliorate that piece of missing realism.
    For some reason, only the ghost brute, mummified and umbral templates were ported in LM, while the spectral template was updated in Dragons of Faerun of all places. Wight and wraith templates seem to remain in Savage Species (unless the monster index is broken or incomplete).



    If this thing had hands, it'd be a nice skillmonkey and probably worth more than four rogue levels. Without weapon usage though, I'm not too sure. How important is level progression for warlocks and the like? Are they like casters, who shalt not forsake 9ths, or could four levels be compensated with 3/day darkness and the really good bonuses to dex and cha?
    Last edited by Lilapop; 2021-06-01 at 11:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lilapop View Post
    If this thing had hands, it'd be a nice skillmonkey and probably worth more than four rogue levels. Without weapon usage though, I'm not too sure. How important is level progression for warlocks and the like? Are they like casters, who shalt not forsake 9ths, or could four levels be compensated with 3/day darkness and the really good bonuses to dex and cha?
    Absolutely not. At level 5 warlocks have 3d6 points worth of eldritch blast, Deceive Item and they are getting their lesser invocations (some of which are really good) next level.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilapop View Post
    For some reason, only the ghost brute, mummified and umbral templates were ported in LM, while the spectral template was updated in Dragons of Faerun of all places. Wight and wraith templates seem to remain in Savage Species (unless the monster index is broken or incomplete).



    If this thing had hands, it'd be a nice skillmonkey and probably worth more than four rogue levels. Without weapon usage though, I'm not too sure. How important is level progression for warlocks and the like? Are they like casters, who shalt not forsake 9ths, or could four levels be compensated with 3/day darkness and the really good bonuses to dex and cha?
    There is gravetouched ghoul template in this book too.

    Quote Originally Posted by danielxcutter View Post
    Indeed. I literally had a knee-jerk reaction to vote for LA -0 just for that - and no I'm not actually going to go through with it, I just mean it's disgusting.
    It has no knees to jerk...

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    I would recommend Hands of Man/Arms of the Naga or similar as soon as you can afford them.
    AFB but if I remember correctly hands of man only works with claws so it isn't viable here.

    Its hard to say if this thing has hands or feet, it is one of those screwy ones where the descriptive text doesn't match the picture. I think in the past we have ruled in favor of ignoring picture and going with text but can't specifically remember.

    If we go purely on text then this has neither hands nor feet which begs the question how it moves, I imagine mass of wriggling slithering intestines surging forth. Anyways since text does agree that it has a head even if it is just a rotting head being dragged behind it, we should be safe getting all the head related item slots and might be able to substitute ear rings for standard rings and probably a neck slot too, besides that maybe a belt slot, and a body slot but that is probably it on the slots so you are missing around half the item slots which sucks.

    Over all it is a pretty good package, I think +16 net ability mods is just where you want to be for 4 rhd though no con score should be penalized, +4 NA is pretty good for four rhd, so are the skill bonuses, Undead traits are pretty nice, and while undead RHD suck 4 isn't too hard to swallow. Down sides are can't speak, no con mod, low hp (this is really going to be a glass cannon if you are going rogue with d6 hd and not much better if you are going swordsage with d8), missing half your item slots, and 4 rhd.

    I am thinking best build might be something like Zhentarim Soldier Dirty fighter thug 3/unarmed Swordsage 2/Swashbuckler 11 to keep your hp high with Daring Outlaw to increase your sneak attack, taking Martial Study (any shadow hand maneuver) gives us hide skill to all classes, and I think there are a couple other ways to get that too.

    All and all I think given that there are definite downsides to this thing like loosing half your item slots +0 LA is reasonable.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    +0 Leaning towards -0. No speech, questionable item slots and questionable ability to manipulate objects. Difficult to see if it can use weapons or just its natural attacks. Undead meldshaper maybe but thats a rules mess. SLAs are nice but not enough to carry it. A lot of barriers to entry for a PC.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    In retrospect, it's amazing we didn't use "Better LA'd Than Never" before now.
    honestly though, because of the pun, it actually gets funnier the longer we put it off, because it just keeps getting later.

    As for this...thing were rating. I'm still unsure where I fall on it. Its weird.

    Quote Originally Posted by Efrate View Post
    +0 Leaning towards -0. No speech, questionable item slots and questionable ability to manipulate objects. Difficult to see if it can use weapons or just its natural attacks. Undead meldshaper maybe but thats a rules mess. SLAs are nice but not enough to carry it. A lot of barriers to entry for a PC.
    yeah this is where I'm leaning atm too.
    Last edited by Remuko; 2021-06-01 at 12:29 PM.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    It has no knees to jerk...
    I have no knees and I must jerk.

    ...I really wish you had picked any other verb, but here we are.


    AFB but if I remember correctly hands of man only works with claws so it isn't viable here.
    Nope!
    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Species
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    By RAW, claws are only Gloves-of-Man-compatible if they're set into paws. Or tentacles, I guess. Lizards and horses are SOL.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I have no knees and I must jerk.

    ...I really wish you had picked any other verb, but here we are.
    I'm glad that even though my thread title passed too soon, it can still haunt later threads like a skulking cyst.
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    ...I've clearly been playing D&D for too long, because that made a demented kind of sense.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Beni-Kujaku View Post
    And for the next book, why not the Monster Manual II ? If I'm not mistaken, we jumped from the first to the 3rd, which doesn't make much sense.
    I was personally hoping for a smaller book next, like Miniatures Handbook or Book of Exalted deeds.

    If we're going to tackle a large book, I hear MM6 is pretty sweet.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    I was personally hoping for a smaller book next, like Miniatures Handbook or Book of Exalted deeds.

    If we're going to tackle a large book, I hear MM6 is pretty sweet.
    I am still partial to the Unique abilities in DMGII there are only 20 of them they are all templates and right now some of them have some pretty stupid LA like +12 for Unearthly beauty. A lot of the Unique abilities would be pretty cool and fun if they didn't have so much LA.

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    Thumbs up Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    I am still partial to the Unique abilities in DMGII there are only 20 of them they are all templates and right now some of them have some pretty stupid LA like +12 for Unearthly beauty. A lot of the Unique abilities would be pretty cool and fun if they didn't have so much LA.
    Would 100% support this - I love those "pseudo templates". I use them for NPCs quite a bit.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    It makes sense once you factor in that MM2 is 3.0 material. I think it's logical to do the 3.5 content first and then swing back around to the unupdated 3.0 stuff later. I like doing MM4 next..
    Except we just did Fiend Folio before LM. I'm not sure if there was ever a particular order for books aside from MMI being first.

    MMI
    Tome of Battle
    Heroes of Horror
    MMIII
    XPH
    FF
    LM

    MMII - Beni-Kujaku
    MMIV - Troacctid
    DMGII "Unique Abilities" - liquidformat, Thurbane, InvisibleBison

    And the various online-only monsters are a good thing to point out too.

    +0 - Thurbane, liquidformat, Efrate, Remuko, InvisibleBison
    +1 - Beni-Kujaku, Troacctid, Tzardok

    Four to three so far, with several of the votes also leaning in various potential directions.
    Last edited by Debatra; 2021-06-01 at 09:32 PM.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    The skulking cyst looks like LA +0 to me.

    And I'll vote for the DMGII Unique Abilities for our next "book".
    Last edited by InvisibleBison; 2021-06-01 at 09:21 PM.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    I know MMII was mentioned multiple times in the past and the consensus/concern seemed to be that it was going to be a hard book to rate because it was 3.0 material and also has a decent number of problematic creatures in it. Granted with the number of books we have under our belt now it wouldn't be a horrible time to dive into it.
    Isn't the Fiend Folio technically a 3.5 book? It was released right before 3.5 and you could already see 3.5 influence in it.

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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Isn't the Fiend Folio technically a 3.5 book? It was released right before 3.5 and you could already see 3.5 influence in it.
    It's half and half. 3.25, if you will.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    Quote Originally Posted by Lilapop View Post
    For some reason, only the ghost brute, mummified and umbral templates were ported in LM, while the spectral template was updated in Dragons of Faerun of all places. Wight and wraith templates seem to remain in Savage Species (unless the monster index is broken or incomplete).
    I believe Libris Mortis had monster classes for other undead, instead of templates, for adding onto an existing monster. Ghoul/Ghast was there (I gave serious thought to using the Ghoul monster class for a Villainous Competition entry once); I can't remember if Wight was. Probably outside the scope of this thread to rebalance those, though.
    Last edited by PoeticallyPsyco; 2021-06-02 at 02:34 AM.
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    Default Re: The LA Assignment Thread XI: Better LA'd Than Never

    I seldom post here, but I think MM2 would be cool too if people were up for the headache.
    Some of it's entries (like Grell) were updated to 3.5 in various other sourcebooks, so it would make more sense to use these versions of them.

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