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[Let's Read] AD&D 2e Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix: Terrors of the Desert

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
#1
Welcome to my next Let' Read! Due to popular demand, we will take a closer look at the monsters of Dark Sun this time.



I have to admit that I never ran a campaign a in Dark Sun. I read a couple of the source books, though, and checked out the PC RPGs. Anyway, I hope you're in. :)
 

DarkMoc

Registered User
Validated User
#2
If there is a drinking game, the "finish your drink" criteria needs to be if there's a creature that doesn't have psionics.
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
#3
Animal, Household



We start with a number so-called household animal. These are small animals that are aloud to live in people's homes as they provide certain benefits. They aren't cuddly toys, though, as "as no such creature may be found anywhere on Athas". Yes, no cuddling on Athas because Athas is serious business.

Anyway, the first household animal is the hurrum, a beetle and white noise generator. It has 1-1 hit dice, so from a mathematical point of view, you roll actually roll up an unconscious hurrum. Hurrum are valued for the pleasant humming sounds they make. The sound has an almost hypnotising effect on targets that fail a WIS check. This makes me wonder what WIS scores the hurrum's prey has.

Why does the beetle need to "cool itself" by beating its wings? Aren't beetles poikilothermic? Well, maybe that's not enough for the hurrum, as expose to direct sunlight for one hour kills it.

The hurrum also attracts mates with the sounds it makes. However, if two hurrums of the same sex make music together, the soumd will be "atonal and unpleasant". This explains the Athasian bias against homosexual hurrums.

Next is the critic. Like so many Dark Sun creatures, it is a psion. I read The Complete Psionics Handbook more than once, but I always found the psionics rules cumbersome, inelegant and just not interesting enough, so I can't comment on the effectiveness on the monster's psionics.

Anyway, the critic (why is it called that?) is a multicoloured lizard and valued as a guard. It has Danger Sense, Poison Sense and Spirit Sense, which are all very useful abilities. Apart from that, there's not much to it. I'm amused by the entry calling its bite (which inflicts a single point of damage) "inconsequential". Yeah, it kills the average commoner with three hit or less, but it's "inconsequential".

The renk is a gastropod that has a symbiotic relationship with humanoids. It has only a quarter of a hit die and not attack, but stores water. The renk is sometimes "consumed raw" on long desert trips.

Wait a second, that is your idea of a "symbiotic relationship"? Being eaten alive? Isn't that more of a prey/predator relationship? Or does "symbiotic" include all species interactions?

There is a funny, almost comedic rule for the renk: When present while fight takes place, it has cumulative 10% chance of being killed accidentally. Just like that.

The last household animal is the ock'n, a snail-like creature. It communicates by moving its eye stalks. ock'n taste bad, but leave a slime trail behind that eventually will turn into a light, amber-like material that is used to make jewellery. It also saves as a stone, in case you wanted to know that.

Bottom line: I like these animals. They add flavour and give the feeling that no every creature in Dark Sun is aggressive and murderous (just most of them).
 

Crinos

Be inspired!
Validated User
#4
Ah Dark Sun, I never really got into this setting. It was too.... out there for me. Plus the Psionic rules never really clicked with me (Don't get me wrong, I was glad to have the option, but there wasn't ever enough to set it apart from magic aside from the point system).

Incidentally, and I have said this before, in Golarion, I would place the vast majority of these critters in the mana wastes, since that is the place in Golarion I would imagine is the most likely to have psionics develop, what with no magic and all.

As for the Renk, I think its a symbiotic relation in the same way we have a symbiotic relation with most farm animals like cows: We feed them, give them shelter, keep them clean and healthy, keep them safe from predators, and in exchange.... we get to eat them when the time comes.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
#5
We start with a number so-called household animal. These are small animals that are aloud to live in people's homes as they provide certain benefits. They aren't cuddly toys, though, as "as no such creature may be found anywhere on Athas". Yes, no cuddling on Athas because Athas is serious business.
Which is odd considering that there are rodents that could be made into pets.

Why does the beetle need to "cool itself" by beating its wings? Aren't beetles poikilothermic? Well, maybe that's not enough for the hurrum, as expose to direct sunlight for one hour kills it.
Bees keep their hives cool with wing beats and many termites die in sunlight.

Yeah, it kills the average commoner with three hit or less, but it's "inconsequential".
Commoners died out thousands of years ago.

Wait a second, that is your idea of a "symbiotic relationship"? Being eaten alive? Isn't that more of a prey/predator relationship? Or does "symbiotic" include all species interactions?
Definately. They are bred by humans, thus ensuring their existence and the potential for reaching new areas to colonize. If individuals die, it doesn't matter.

There is a funny, almost comedic rule for the renk: When present while fight takes place, it has cumulative 10% chance of being killed accidentally. Just like that.
I think they consider them something like clay jars.

The last household animal is the ock'n, a snail-like creature. It communicates by moving its eye stalks. ock'n taste bad, but leave a slime trail behind that eventually will turn into a light, amber-like material that is used to make jewellery. It also saves as a stone, in case you wanted to know that.
Now these have some real potential beyond the others. Consider all the different minerals they could create with the right breeding and magic. I can see farms hidden in the forest or badlands of just these creatures, each farm with its own salable mineral.

Bottom line: I like these animals. They add flavour and give the feeling that no every creature in Dark Sun is aggressive and murderous (just most of them).
Heh. I wish they had a few more pages, without stats, of animals and even plants like these.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
#6
I like the renk. They sound like a highly specialized species that easily dies when taken out of its environment. Presumably a very quiet, stable environment, like underground caves, because the noise and commotion (or since this is Athas, empathic waves of murderous intent) caused by a fight can make them curl up and die from the stress.

But they're effectively a biological replacement for the reservoirs in Dune's Fremen creches. Instead of a giant pool, have a cavern full of shells and slime, covering every surface. They're easily portable, and you don't have to worry about evaporation because, presumably, they're designed to prevent that. But since you could easily lose a whole crop from stress, the rooms would be secluded, sound (or psi-) deadening, and perhaps heavily compartmentalized. There might be a trained caste or priesthood who are responsible for handling and managing a tribe's renk reserves. These caretakers habitually speak in low voices, move slowly and carefully, and carry a strange prybar with a hasp that they use to carefully remove an individual member of their flock from the rocks, and then squeeze out a liquid.

What type of gastropod are they? A limpet-like shape could be very effective in retaining water, even on dry land. A far better choice than a slug, and perhaps even an improvement over a snail. And two could be connected at the base to form a living canteen, of sorts.

Bees keep their hives cool with wing beats and many termites die in sunlight.
I don't think it would work for an individual, however. The muscle activity would generate more heat than the beating wings would dissipate. Which suggests the hurrum exhibit some sort of social behavior, or the reports are wrong and they just raise their wings as static radiators.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

Quadruped Transhuman
Validated User
#7
Why does the beetle need to "cool itself" by beating its wings? Aren't beetles poikilothermic?
"Body temperature varies" is not the same thing as "can function no matter what temperature its body is".
I'm amused by the entry calling its bite (which inflicts a single point of damage) "inconsequential". Yeah, it kills the average commoner with three hit or less, but it's "inconsequential".
The whole "hits must cause a minimum of 1 damage" rule is one of those stupid things no one ever addresses.
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
#8
Ah Dark Sun, I never really got into this setting. It was too.... out there for me. Plus the Psionic rules never really clicked with me (Don't get me wrong, I was glad to have the option, but there wasn't ever enough to set it apart from magic aside from the point system).
I never ran Dark Sun, but I would definitely join a campaign. Bringing back Dark Sun for 4e as IMO one of the best ideas WotC had.[/QUOTE]

I think they consider them something like clay jars.
I just find the presence of an exception-based rule of death hilarious. :D

Heh. I wish they had a few more pages, without stats, of animals and even plants like these.
That's true for many setting. AD&D 2e tends to present all creatures a monsters, though, even if they are actually player character races, commoner or harmless wildlife.

I don't think it would work for an individual, however. The muscle activity would generate more heat than the beating wings would dissipate. Which suggests the hurrum exhibit some sort of social behavior, or the reports are wrong and they just raise their wings as static radiators.
The mentioning of the wings as a mean of communication and a mean of cooling are not mentioned together. It almost seems as if the author accidentally included both.

The whole "hits must cause a minimum of 1 damage" rule is one of those stupid things no one ever addresses.
Tell that to the Housecat of Wizard Slaying. :D
 

Cirdan

Lord of the Gray Havens
#9
Ah dark sun. A barren wasteland almost devoid of life.. yet filled to the brink with a DM`s wet dream of murderous mutant wildlife hellbent on tearing your party to little bits and stomp on the remaining pieces.
 
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Crinos

Be inspired!
Validated User
#10
Yeah, Athas is like one of those hell worlds that super heroes get banished to where everything is trying to kill them.
 
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