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[Let's Read] D&D 4e Monster Manual 2?

JohnBiles

Registered User
Validated User
He has an encounter power that blasts an enemy with radiance, then marks them; and a minor action (at-will, 1/round) that pulls the marked enemy a single square closer, though I shouldn't think that one would ever be particularly handy. I mean, you already marked them, so what's one square really worth? His last encounter
One square can make all the difference in the world. Pull someone into position for flanking. Pull them AWAY from flanking so the enemy can no longer sneak-attack one of your buddies. Pull them away from a friendly artillery so it can shoot them. Pull them next to a bunch of your friends so they can easily unload on someone because now more squares around them are empty. Wreck your foes' clever defensive positioning.

The possibilities are vast.
 

Inyssius

thermonuclear catsplosion
Validated User
I really want to wring as much discussion as I can out of angels, because they're so damn awesome. But I'm bored, and this thread has fallen low on the page, so let's move on.

ANKHEG

Our second entry: the ankheg, a much less interesting topic than the angels I mentioned above. They come in two varieties: your standard ankheg, and a much smaller ankheg broodling.

The Ankheg is a classic, a traditional staple of the game, a far less interesting brother to the Rust Monster. It doesn’t appear to have changed one iota since its inception thirty-two years ago; for all this time, it has been focused with razor-honed intensity on one single concept. To quote this thread’s much-lauded elder sibling, “The Ankheg is an "enormous many-legged worm" which lies underneath the ground, then bursts out and GETS you with acidic spit and big mandibles.” That’s all there is to it. There doesn’t appear to be anything else you can actually say about ankhegs, as that other thread demonstrated—and it appears they had a much larger amount of information, so I think I can conclude that the ankheg is just kind of inconsequential. Ah, poor redundant ankheg; no one has ever cared about you, but you’ve soldered on despite that for thirty long years.

The appearance has evolved interestingly over the ages, so for your viewing pleasure: the first second appearance ever, a full-page Erol Otus spread in Dragon #005; its second third appearance, ten years later, in the AD&D2e Monstrous Compendium; a brief appearance in the 3.0 Monster Manual, where its current form was finalized; and a much bigger if slightly less informative action shot in this very book. Also, this bitchin' pic from the Practical Guide to Monsters, which I discovered while searching for the other pictures and now must possess. But I digress.

The mechanics fit the concept and history exactly, which is interesting; based on many of the other creatures you’ll encounter, you would expect a monster to change slightly over four or five editions; but this ankheg can do exactly what ankhegs could do in every prior incarnation, no more and no less. It reminds me rather of a shark, or coelacanth. But I digress: the ankheg is a level 3 Elite Lurker, with resistance to acid, a burrow speed of 4 (with tunnelling, a trait that I absolutely love for the terrain-altering possibilities it bears), and a normal speed of 8 squares to dart back into its hole after grabbing a victim. It has an acid spray attack which recharges when bloodied, and slows the target (save ends) in addition to the expected ongoing damage—no doubt that will create very interesting “oh crap he’s getting away with the fighter” situations in combat. A minor action attack (and let me interrupt again to say that I love minor action attacks) deals 1d8+2 damage, 5 ongoing acid, and shifts both it and its victim 2 squares each. And, to make it even worse, its badly-worded Mandible Carry power lets it move at full speed while “carrying” a Medium or smaller victim.

Raging fanboi makes one more appearance here to give two enthusiastic thumbs up, for a monster whose mechanics fit so perfectly with the fluff that I actually want to use it despite the fact that I’ve never had any interest in it at all before now.



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Second, there’s the Ankheg Broodling, a level 1 Minion Brute which lives at the bottom of ankheg tunnels and will fuck you up if you’re the unlucky breakfast that Mommy A. brought home today. They get a +4 bonus to attack rolls against targets that are grabbed by an ankheg, and whoa can I ever see that ruining your day real fast. Their Mandible Rip attack deals 6 damage, with a splash effect on a critical hit; this seemed downright counterproductive to me (can you say “minion-killer”?) until I remembered that ankhegs are resistant to acid. Still, be careful about using them in conjunction with less resistant allies, unless you’re really looking forward to some hilarious anti-synergy.



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Next up, four giant ants and nine assorted archons. My hands are beginning to hurt already.
 
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Rosti

Not a spy
I don't have a copy of MM2 yet (YET!), so I can only be vague but here's my thoughts:

- Excellent thread; nice to read some ordered thoughts on monsters (which I find hard to digest in one big chunk) and get a little discussion going.

- Angels: Big fan of the Angel of Concept thing that's going on, although I've only fielded them as NPCs and 'allies' so far. Looks like a good set of bonus angels there, possibly enough to make me want to start building up towards an angelic crusade in early Epic play.
Also, there are templates in MM2? Why did no one tell me about this sooner; that's fantastic news. Between this and the 'monster themes' guidance in DMG2 I'm a happy bunny.

- Ankheg: As a new D&D'er, I've got no prior knowledge of this monster, but exciting picture and low level make it quite attractive. Might tunnel-kidnap someone in the middle of a fight for giggles. And then eat them, obviously.

- Giant Ants: 2 words that make oh-so-much sense together.
 
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MadMac

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Validated User
Cool thread. It's worth mentioning that the new angels are all low-level epics, compared to the angels in the 1st MM, who cut off at upper paragon. So it's a definite expansion of usefulness for angels just for that. It also makes angels a little less weak looking compared to say, devils, although there still aren't any angels that can match up to top level devils like the Pitfiend. The Archangel template is still lame, though.

The Ankheg is just mean for low level parties, but in a good way. I love the synergy with the broodling minions.
 

Dormammu

Sorcerer Supreme
Validated User
The appearance has evolved interestingly over the ages, so for your viewing pleasure: the first appearance ever, a full-page Erol Otus spread in Dragon #005; its second appearance, ten years later, in the AD&D2e Monstrous Compendium; a brief appearance in the 3.0 Monster Manual, where its current form was finalized; and a much bigger if slightly less informative action shot in this very book. Also, this bitchin' pic from the Practical Guide to Monsters, which I discovered while searching for the other pictures and now must possess. But I digress.
Surely the first appearance ever was Trampier's illustration in the 1E AD&D Monster Manual. (Sorry, can't find a link to it on Google.)
 

Inyssius

thermonuclear catsplosion
Validated User
Damn, I must be more tired than I thought. The illustration in that publication would be this one, yes?



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ANT, GIANT

Third on our tour of the Monster Manual 2, we encounter a quintet of giant ants; specifically, they—what's that? Hive worker (minion), hive warrior, and hive queen (size Large, empowering aura, Elite Leader), you say? Wow! You must be psychic! The other two are the hive soldier and winged drone, if you're wondering.

In the real world, ants are damn awesome. I don't need to go into that; it would take me years, I would still explain it all badly, and this is what Wikipedia is for. Few nuggets of awesome are elaborated upon here, but they really don’t need to be; this is a Monster Manual, not a nature documentary. Nevertheless, I believe there is a failing here both in description and in art. See, I prefer my animal-intellect social-insect underground hive enemies to be slightly more like kruthiks—skittering, screeching, strange-looking creatures capable of boring through rock; or Half-Life 2 antlions—buzzing, leaping, venom-spitting hive beetles with tremorsense. Either way, the overall aesthetic of those giant ant knock-offs is that of “unforeseen consequences”, glimpses of an alien ecosystem merging with ours to form a strange new equilibrium. These giant ants seem to lack that, which is strange because even real life ants can reliably provoke that otherworldly chill. As a DM I would seek to rectify this before all else, were I to use them in a game.

Though they have fixed colonies, these ants seem rather like safari ants (siafu) due to their penchant for streaming out of their burrows in huge waves, stripping and devouring anything they swarm over as they move. They also, in breeding season, apparently produce hordes of winged drones, flooding from the hive on iridescent wings. That’s a beautiful image, and it seems like it would go excellently with an image of red soldiers carpeting a whole valley, flooding over the occasional burning wreck of a town and stripping it to the bedrock. Eerily beautiful stuff, you know?

Minor amusement of the day: "giant ants live in hives consisting of hundreds of members". That's not a swarm, that's not "overcoming any foe with sheer numbers", that's just plain silly.
 
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MadMac

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Giant Ants have some of the worst art in the book, which is weird for something that should be easy to pull off. They don't convey any sense of perspective, either, so they don't even look big. :(

The stats aren't bad though. It's interesting how their hive frenzy ability leads to a literal frenzy of movement every time an ant dies. I also like how the Hive Queen has an aura that helps her lesser ant minions keep up with her in a fight.

I think the biggest problem with Giant Ants is that there is only one real story to tell--you invade the nest and kill the queen, or plant a magic bomb or some other mcguffin to take out the hive.

You can't realistically take out an entire hive of ants yourself, (whether they come in hundreds or thousands) and they don't really have any potential for negotiation or mystery, for the most part. They aren't likely to work in concert with anything else.

I do like the level range. Formians always seemed a little high level for giant ant storys, and the level range was ridiculously wide. With Giant Ants you can start fighting workers at 1st level and work you way up to the queen inside a single adventure, probably gaining 1-2 levels in the process.
 

Andurion

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Validated User
Nice thread. :) I can't wait until you get to metallic dragons - they are some of the kewlest monsters in the book.

Having read through MM2, I feel like it has a bit more spirit than MM1. I can't quite place it, but I think it has to do with the reappearance of old favorites (bullywugs, rust monsters, myconids, green slime, etc.) and how metallic dragons aren't, by default, good. Whatever it is, I definitely think this MM was steeped in stronger mojo.
 

Rosti

Not a spy
Whilst I'll admit that 'kill the queen!' is the archetypal mission for ant adventures, there's a lot of space for interesting interactions drawing from ants of the world. My players will have to deal with giant ants that farm alongside goblinoids and maintain some form of plant-monster as an internal defence and food source.

That, or it'll be more feywild-y with ants and gnomes cooperating up until a parasital infection starts sending them loopy. If nature can come up with this, I reckon there's a good amount of space for interesting events.
 
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