• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[Let's Read] 4e Dragon & Dungeon Magazine: Monster Articles

VoidDrifter

Registered User
Validated User
Dungeon #195: Eye on Dark Sun: Terrors of the Silt Sea
This is one of three monster-focused articles in this one article, and like the Dark Sun Threats article from Dungeon #187 that I covered on page 26, it's a very meat-and-potatoes sort of article; you got two new monsters to pad out your list from the Dark Sun Creature Catalog; enjoy.

As the title suggests, both of these monsters are native to the Silt Sea, and add an extra level of danger to that locale. I actually can't recall any monsters indigenous there other than silt runners, silt horrors, and... silt floaters? The giant floating jellyfish things. So, I presume these are actually fairly welcome.

The first of these monsters is the Azraloka, colloquially known as the "decksweeper" by silt skimmers. These are Athasian sharks that have mutated to thrive in the silt - an idea that I admit is kind of goofy, but it's such a classic pulp fantasy image that I just have to say that I love it. Interestingly, the Dark Sun Creature Catalog features a "Silt Shark", complete with artwork, as a sample Customized Monster, and I can't help but wonder if the Azraloka isn't an expansion and canonization of that early monster.

Anyway, azralokas are pretty much pack-hunting sharks, traveling in schools of 4-10 sharks and hunting by vibrations. They specialize in breaching attacks, similar to our own world's Great White, leaping high out of the silt in order to grab prey before their weight pulls the shark and its victim back into the silt. They are particularly adept at snatching sailors from the decks or riggings of ships as well as flying creatures that get too close to the surface. They have been known to trail the larger and more deadly silt horror to feed on its scraps, and silt giants have been known to encourage azralokas to nest near their islands - though too big to be taken down, they carry heavy shields to bat leaping azralokas aside if they try to attack them. Some of these giants have even managed to train their azraloka schools, in a similar manner to a pack of vicious hunting dogs.

Mechanically, the Azraloka is a Medium Natural Beast. It's a level 10 Skirmisher with Speed 3, Burrow 8, and Fly 8 at Altitude 0. It attacks with a Bite or by making a Sailing Grab, both at-will.

Our other monster is the IOasis Beast, a bizarre ambush predator that resembles an enormous, vaguely newt-like lizard with a large, bulb-tipped fleshy plume dangling down over the crowd of its head. This plume can generate a flickering orange-red luminescence, and is integral to the beast's hunting strategy; it emerges at night or during silt storms, partially submerging itself on the surface before allowing the bulb to glow. Combined with its primitive hypnotic impulses, it presents the mein of a small island with a campfire burning on its shores. When travelers get too close, it lunges at them, seeking to snatch, grab and devour what they can. With slow metabolisms that can allow them to go days between meals, or up to a month with sufficient food, these ambushes succeed often enough to keep the beasts fed. Fortunately, they are solitary creatures; whilst they may attract smaller scavengers, they rarely work in concert.

This Large Natural Beast is a Level 13 Elite Lurker, with Speed 2 and Burrow 8. It has the Combat Advantage (+4d10 damage) trait and the False Oasis Trait, which mechanically enforces its ability to disguise itself as a fake island. In combat, it can Bite or use its Flickering Lure to charm-pull victims within range. As a Move Action, it can take a Deep Plunge, burrowing up to its full burrow speed and gaining Resist 15 (All) until the start of its next turn, as well as setting itself up for a Rising Burst attack, which is an explosive burst-affecting tackle that deals damage and pushes those it hits.

Like I said at the start of this Let's Read, it's a meat-and-potatoes article; not fancy, not elaborate, but it's a good, solid article that knows what it wants to do - give you two solidly designed new monsters for your Sea of Silt sessions - and lives up to it. If you want to run games on the Sea of Silt, grab this article.
 

Talisman

The Man of Talis
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The first of these monsters is the Azraloka, colloquially known as the "decksweeper" by silt skimmers. These are Athasian sharks that have mutated to thrive in the silt - an idea that I admit is kind of goofy, but it's such a classic pulp fantasy image that I just have to say that I love it. Interestingly, the Dark Sun Creature Catalog features a "Silt Shark", complete with artwork, as a sample Customized Monster, and I can't help but wonder if the Azraloka isn't an expansion and canonization of that early monster.
That name. Where did they come up with that name? Because I will always confuse it with the aarakocra, D&D's bird-people who I believe also show up in Dark Sun. This is a perfect example of how "realistic" names can backfire: it makes perfect sense that the natives of Athas would have their own name for silt sharks, but unless that name is catchier or easier to say than "silt shark," you might as well not even bother.

I do like how sharks are second only to spiders in ecological vigor in D&Dland. You've got your sharks, your silt sharks, your landsharks, your flying sharks . . . I'm pretty sure there are lava sharks and ice sharks buried in some splatbooks. People love their sharks.

Our other monster is the IOasis Beast, a bizarre ambush predator that resembles an enormous, vaguely newt-like lizard with a large, bulb-tipped fleshy plume dangling down over the crowd of its head. This plume can generate a flickering orange-red luminescence, and is integral to the beast's hunting strategy; it emerges at night or during silt storms, partially submerging itself on the surface before allowing the bulb to glow. Combined with its primitive hypnotic impulses, it presents the mein of a small island with a campfire burning on its shores. When travelers get too close, it lunges at them, seeking to snatch, grab and devour what they can. With slow metabolisms that can allow them to go days between meals, or up to a month with sufficient food, these ambushes succeed often enough to keep the beasts fed. Fortunately, they are solitary creatures; whilst they may attract smaller scavengers, they rarely work in concert.
My bold.

Only in D&D. Most natural animals will avoid fire; it's one reason our ancestors were able to thrive and expand. The oasis beast clearly and only preys on humanoids, since they're the only creature type that would reliably move toward a fire. Just another example of the utter weirdness of D&D's ecology.

As a Move Action, it can take a Deep Plunge, burrowing up to its full burrow speed and gaining Resist 15 (All) until the start of its next turn, as well as setting itself up for a Rising Burst attack, which is an explosive burst-affecting tackle that deals damage and pushes those it hits.
I'm sorry; if my giant fire-headed desert newt has just burrowed forty feet underground, it doesn't get Resist 15 (All); it's flat-out immune to attacks unless those attacks require neither line of sight nor line of effect. You want to convince me your fireball should hurt it, first show me that you can vaporize forty feet of sand.
 

Bira

Registered User
Validated User
I'm sorry; if my giant fire-headed desert newt has just burrowed forty feet underground, it doesn't get Resist 15 (All); it's flat-out immune to attacks unless those attacks require neither line of sight nor line of effect. You want to convince me your fireball should hurt it, first show me that you can vaporize forty feet of sand.
My understanding was that both things happen! You have neither line of sight nor line of effect to the newt while it's underground, and should you still be able to do something to hit it that way, it gets Resist 15 against the attack.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
I'm also pretty fond of vampire roses, just thematically. I'd probably make them a terrain feature rather than a monster, though. Giving them an initiative number doesn't quite sit right for me.
I don't really understand why vampires cultivate a plant that needs to drink the same scarce resource they do.
 

Bira

Registered User
Validated User
So they can eat the blood-soaked petals later, perhaps. Could be a vampire delicacy.
 

ESkemp

Registered User
Validated User
I don't really understand why vampires cultivate a plant that needs to drink the same scarce resource they do.
There weren't any vampires in Palace of the Silver Princess, and the vampire rose makes a pretty good generically fantasy plant -- it's actually great for that fairy-tale vibe, so would be a lovely thing to be planted by wicked fey. Not unlike the archer bushes they debuted alongside.

But if you need vampires to be attached, then clearly they're a form of status symbol. Blood isn't a scarce resource if you have enough peasants and peons, like any proper aristocrat of the night should. You're so well-off, you can water the roses with blood when the occasion demands and leave them a charming white the rest of the time. Having to scrounge and scavenge and worry about where your next drink is coming from? How very... common.
 

s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Or they're an unwanted part of the vampire's curse (along with other things that people would never want, like great strength, turning into a wolf, and immortality). The vampire's possessions are doomed to become as unnatural and hungry as themselves. This can take thousands of years in the case of inanimate objects, but a rose bush is organic and can replace its tissues in mere months.
 

t@nya

Asgardian rainbow dragon
RPGnet Member
Validated User
So, for vampires who lives long enough you end up with vampiric castles.
 
Top Bottom