[Let's Read] AD&D 2e Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II: Terrors beyond Tyr

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Welcome to my next Let' Read. It's time for more Dark Sun, so let's have a look at Terrors Beyond Tyr.



This book is in full colour and does look a bit different than previous MCAs. I'm pretty sure it's made with Adobe design software (how did they make books in the 80s, anyway?). Whether or not it actually looks better is debatable. Let's dive right in before that magma guy steals my nose!
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Aarakocra, Athasian



We start with the Dark Sun version of the aarakocra. It's tougher than the common aarakocra, but this is Athas, so that's not surprising. It does look a lot more like a vulture, which I like. For some reason, the oen pictured here looks friendly, almost happy.

Aarakocra leaders have a couple of psionic powers, standard aarakocra do not. They speak they own language and that of vultures. Vultures have their own language? Is that a thing? I know that the 5e dire vulture is evil and intelligent, but is that a common thing for D&D vultures?

Anyway, aarakocra aren't all that strong due to their lightweight build - something that 95% of all aerial D&D creatures ignore. They like to use nets, darts and spear to maximise their advantage of being aerial, which sounds sensible to me. Interestingly, aarakocra alignment has switch from True Neutral to Any, so running into a group of them doesn't have to result in combat. Even if it does, your character might just be taken hostage.

Evil tribes tend to be nomadic, good tribes like to live in the highest mountains. All of them are xenophobic and demand high tolls from caravan. Evil tribes are not above waylaying. Lots of plot hooks right here in the monster description. The aarakocra are pretty atmospheric as well: They worship the sun, their shamans can summon air elementals via summoning rituals and they like to hunt slit drakes.

Bottom line: A good monster update. It takes the best from the original aarakocra and adds Dark Sun bits that make it fit in and give the PCs a reason to interact with them.
 

Spatula

More Ideas Than Time
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Leonaru & Dark Sun - two of my favorite things together, once again.
 

junglefowl26

Registered User
Validated User
In all fairness, True Neutral isn't an "automatically fight" alignment either. But yeah, they definitely improved upon the old monster.
 

Mark Hope

None More Black
Validated User
Interesting to see as well that there are no rules to support the "fragile bones" idea yet. With the revised DS box, they gave aarakocra PCs the weakness that bludgeoning weapons do an additional 1d4 damage. Cool to see that they were developing the idea already here. Also interesting to see that the revised box makes to mention of their beak attack (attacks at -1 for 1d2), which are specifically called out here. Had an aarakocra PC in an old DS game - the aerial aspect of the character was very enjoyable to DM for :).
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Animal, Domestic



We continue with more Athasian life stock: The aprig is a pig-like animal (probably the one on the right). With 1d5 hit points, it's not exactly a powerhouse, but its shell gives it AC4, which is pretty good. The aprig (a pig?) has a weak bite, but it comes with a 5% chance of getting infected and being incapacitated for 1d4 days. Depending on the situation, 1d4 days can be more than inconvenient.

The carru is a bovine-like (?) creature with two skin bag for storing fluids. They are pretty versatile and can be used as beats of burden or to power mechanisms such as water wheels. They aren't great combatants, but pretty tough (3+3 hit dice) and can supply adventurers with water. Kind of like a mix between hamster and camel.

The mulworm is an oversized caterpillar. It "lives only to become a butterfly". While waiting for that to happen, mulworms hang out in fruit trees, secreting Type A Poison. Killing a mulworm requires a DEX check lest you get poison in your face. However, the poison also nourishes the trees the mulworm lives on, and as long as the mulworms aren't disturbed, the trees can be safely farmed. Oh, and don't eat mulworms. Not even drakes do that.

The sygra (also depicted above) is the best fighter among these animals. It has a hoof/hoof/bite routine plus a gore special attack. However, they don't like bipedals, so getting attacked by a sygra flock is unlikely. Sygra cannot truly be domesticated, but sometimes hang around a farm, eating everything that they can find. That makes them useful for waste disposal.

Bottom line: The domestic animals add a little flavour to your campaign. Since normal animals like cows and pigs would look out of place in Athas, including them here was a good idea.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Mulworms are... strange. They seem to combine parasitic wasps with mycorrhizal fungi (i.e. they protect and enhance the growth of the trees they live on) rather than be what real caterpillars are- leaf munching machines that can kill trees with enough time and numbers. With the name, I was expecting them to produce some kind of super silk (silk worms eat mulberry leaves).

Sygra seem perfect for Athas- a high dangerous animal that kills other dangerous animals (and plants), thus being attractive to rural communities.
 

MacBalance

Registered User
Validated User
Aarakocra, Athasian
We start with the Dark Sun version of the aarakocra. It's tougher than the common aarakocra, but this is Athas, so that's not surprising. It does look a lot more like a vulture, which I like. For some reason, the oen pictured here looks friendly, almost happy.
I feel like the Aarakocra are a good addition to Athas. They're generally scaled for mid-level adventurers, I think, and can be used in several interesting ways, especially with the tweak you note to Any alignment. They're a good fit, being desert dwellers that aren't the insects and reptiles that I think the Dark Sun monster books trend to.

Aarakocra leaders have a couple of psionic powers, standard aarakocra do not. They speak they own language and that of vultures. Vultures have their own language? Is that a thing? I know that the 5e dire vulture is evil and intelligent, but is that a common thing for D&D vultures?
It is now!

Maybe the intent was to give them 'unreliable minions' of normal vultures that could be used akin to giving other nonhuman monsters wolves companions or similar. They aren't controlled, but they do share a bond with the aarakocra.


Anyway, aarakocra aren't all that strong due to their lightweight build - something that 95% of all aerial D&D creatures ignore. They like to use nets, darts and spear to maximise their advantage of being aerial, which sounds sensible to me. Interestingly, aarakocra alignment has switch from True Neutral to Any, so running into a group of them doesn't have to result in combat. Even if it does, your character might just be taken hostage.
On the other hand, while comparatively fragile some birds are pretty strong, but usually in very specific ways that a single 'Strength' score may not be the best way to model. Some have very strong beaks or claws, for example.

However, just this weekend I got to go see some large bird up close, including a vulture! I don't remember the specific species, but this one was actually pretty attractive (other than possessing the common defense trait of regurgitating to dissuade attackers) with a multi-colored head and iridescent feathers. It's a type native to South America. One thing I took away is that some vultures have specialized: This guy was extremely gifted in the sense of smell department, but had weak claws and beak. So it had a sort of arrangement with the bigger, stronger vultures who would watch the lessers find a target large dead animal, go in and eat their fill, ripping the carcass open for the rest.

The aarakocra perhaps just got the brains (and prehensile limbs) but could be part of an 'ecosystem' with them using some smaller and larger vulture-like birds (Maybe scaling up to Rocs?) as hunting beasts, guard animals, etc.
 
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Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
The sygra (also depicted above) is the best fighter among these animals. It has a hoof/hoof/bite routine plus a gore special attack. However, they don't like bipedals, so getting attacked by a sygra flock is unlikely. Sygra cannot truly be domesticated, but sometimes hang around a farm, eating everything that they can find. That makes them useful for waste disposal.
Based on "flock", are they some kind of sheep?
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Leonaru & Dark Sun - two of my favorite things together, once again.
You're welcome. :)

In all fairness, True Neutral isn't an "automatically fight" alignment either. But yeah, they definitely improved upon the old monster.
I meant that they can be good and not initiate a fight at all - provided your PCs are good too, obviously.

Interesting to see as well that there are no rules to support the "fragile bones" idea yet. With the revised DS box, they gave aarakocra PCs the weakness that bludgeoning weapons do an additional 1d4 damage. Cool to see that they were developing the idea already here. Also interesting to see that the revised box makes to mention of their beak attack (attacks at -1 for 1d2), which are specifically called out here. Had an aarakocra PC in an old DS game - the aerial aspect of the character was very enjoyable to DM for :).
They do have 2+2 hit dice, which isn't all that much. No special rules for fragile bones, though.

Based on "flock", are they some kind of sheep?
Could be. The one depicted here looks a bit ram-ish.
 
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