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[Let's Read] AD&D 2e Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium Appendix

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Here we are! Inspired by Noisms's Let's Read of the AD&D 2e Monstrous Manual I decided to do the same - for the Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium Appendix. In case you don't know what Spelljammer is: It is Dungeons and Dragons... in spaaaaaace!
This is my first Let's Read and English is not my first language, so please be gentle if I make embarrassing mistakes. My goal is to comment every monster of the SJMCA from A to Z, one monster per day. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the forum. :)

So, let's start with the

Aartuk

The aartuk look like a mix between a cactus and a starfish and are lawful evil "nomadic vegetables" that see war as a form of art and fight by spitting at their enemy, as their spittle becomes rock-hard by contact with air. And by entangling people with their tongue. Plus they reproduce by infecting their victims with a virus with turn them into ooze and a new aartuk will hatch from that ooze. In case they don't turn said victim into a slave to navigate their captured spelljammer space ships. Aartuk are lead by priests who/which look like the normal aartuk (= creators were too lazy to make something up) and produce air for the others and use gems as a currency.

I didn't make any of the stuff above up. In D&D space, most races will either try to a) eat you b) enslave you. You can hardly trust anybody, not even the plants, as aartuk have a 80% chance of blending into a the surrounding vegetation.
The design of the aartuk isn't bad, but it feels like the leading editor suggested that everybody shouts a random idea about a race of man-enslaving evil space spinach and every idea will be taken.

The aartuk aren't that strong, but always appear in groups of at least ten. Due to the supplies they need, they sometimes release prisoners after stripping them off their gems to save air and water. That could lead to a nice "bring back rich dude's jewel" type of quest. as mentioned above, the aartuk isn't a bad monster, as it can lead to some surprises. At least I would be surprised if the PCs would figure out what is going on they come under spit fire for the first time.
 

Dasharr

Adamant Skeptic
RPGnet Member
Validated User
This right here is why I loved Spelljammer: the very first monster is an evil nomadic vegetable! This should be a fun thread. :)
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
The only problem I have with them is they are too obvious when on spelljammers. Oh, I see a whaleship that is overgrown with vegetation. Must be those damn plants. Let's use flaming ammo for the ballista.

Now as asteroid and other small body inhabitants, they are much better. Ships that want to refresh their air will get nabbed when most of the plants rise up and attack.
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
The only problem I have with them is they are too obvious when on spelljammers. Oh, I see a whaleship that is overgrown with vegetation. Must be those damn plants. Let's use flaming ammo for the ballista.
Yeah, it might work once, but aartuk are probably not good for long-term enemies. Don't forget that the aartuk don't spelljamm but let their slaves do that for them - so you see some kind of garden ship. ;)
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Yeah, it might work once, but aartuk are probably not good for long-term enemies.
As written, no. They can be easily modified (i.e make more subraces and leader castes) to make them a major power in wildspace.

Something I just thought of are their own spelljammers (or whatever you call ships that can't reach spelljamming speed) that look like asteroids covered in plants. They simply ram other ships to board and claim the helm as well as people and treasure. "That's no ship- it's a moon!" :D
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Albari

The albari is a bird with claws attached to its wings, exceptional intelligence, a chaotic neutral aliment and "and seem to exist for no other reason but to throw other beings' lives into unrest". In other words: this bird will annoy the PCs at the DM's will because its was designed to do exactly that. It has an "almost-human face" (it doesn't in the picture). They speak their own language among many others (they have INT 16, after all).

Their like to use illusionist spells in combat and can become invisible at will (did I mention that this is an annoy-the-PCs monster?). And don't think you can kill an albari just like that. It has 75% magic resistance and six hit dice. But you also get no less than 4,000 XP for killing one - that's the XP of a young dragon!

The habitat section mentions that they mainly do two things in live: causing trouble and mating. Hmmm... getting laid and wasting other people's time. The albari are probably not the only species who likes that kind of lifestyle. The like to cast dream on captains of spelljammers to cause a change of course of the ship, but they sometimes help ships in serious trouble as well. The albari is really a monster designed to be a DM's tool: more or less random behaviour blessed by the rulebook. What more do you want? Hell, they explicitly mention that all intelligent races hate alabri!

The ecology section mentions that the albari's flesh tastes ""foul" and his feathers are to oily to be useful for anything (though certain cultures like to fill cushions with them because of their rareness. What?). Well, the bird's cadaver being useful is probably not necessary anyway since the PCs will most likely be happy by having killed a little sucker like this. Oh, and neogi kill albari on sight. I already imagine an adventure were a desperate alliance of neogi and the PCs tries to stop albari swarms from the depths of space from causing a collape of the multiverse through an annoyance overload.
 

Dasharr

Adamant Skeptic
RPGnet Member
Validated User
If I ever use an albari in any of my games, it's going to speak in a Jar Jar Binks voice...
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Ancient Mariner

Here's the first undead: the ancient mariner, a partly-transparent undead pirate from an extinct evil race (which basically looks like twisted humans). Or at least it's thought to extinct. Only your DM truly knows!
The mariners roam space in crews of d20 lead y a captain. They usually have ships, but are not bound to them. And their though causes a level drain, ugh. I always hated that. They also have the ability to create mariner shadows from enemies killed by the energy drain.

One other ability is definitely noteworthy: The mariner can make objects semi-translucent like himself, so they can pass through other objects. It even works with ships, though it takes a mariner a day to accomplish that. This opens a large variety of possibilities for interesting adventures. Imagen coming back to your ship only to find out it's a ghost ship now. Oh, and you can't touch your favourite weapon any longer.

Apart from that, there's not too much to say about the ancient mariner. But I like them. Their abilities make them more that just undeads in space. Plus they are zombie pirates. That's basically like cyborg ninjas, how can you do wrong with that?
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Argos

Next is Argos, who is a neutral evil spear-wielding flashy mass with many eyes and mouths - no doubt named after the many-eyed Argos from ancient mythology. And it looks a bit like Orukat from the Final Fantasy series:



The description says: "An argos resembles a giant amoeba. It has one large central eye with a tripartite pupil and a hundred lashes, inhuman eyes and many sharp-toothed mouths". In other word, it does NOT resemble an amoeba in any way. They can slither and fly (!) slowly and smell like a bouquet of flowers.

Wait, what?

DM: "You go through the door and finally see where the strange noise came from. In front of you stands a slimy mass of flash covered with pulsating eyes and snapping mouths. One large central eye stares at you and you feel like you're gazing into the abyss.
Oh, and there's a really nice flowery fragrance in the air. It kind of reminds you of that one warm night last summer, when you met that attractive half-elven girl with the long, blond hair and... but I digress. Roll initiative."

Do they really think they can threw in those random bits of information without me noticing it? On the other hand, that might lead to some really strange adventures: capture an argos and extract its essence to make some special perfume for the girlfriend-to-be of some rich guy. A bit like the sick D&D version of Perfume.

Anyway, the central eye of the argos can cast spell, whereas the one hundred smaller ones act like beholder eyes and have twenty special powers - because the writers couldn't think of a hundred different ones, I guess. Altogether the argos is pretty dangerous, as it can also attack with up to three weapons and swallow victims with a 20.

The ecology section is rather short, but it mentions that the argos keeps its victim's weapons and "consume(s) anything that moves and is digestible". One of the classic attack-PCs-on-sight reasons. My personal reason for the argos' aggressiveness is that it's simply insane because the many constantly moving eyes totally screw up anything it looks at.
That was the argos, my friends. Let a thousand flowers bloom.
 
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