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[Let's Read] Planescape Monstrous Compendium I-III

Thordic

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I’ll finish off Aasimon and give it the weekend, hopefully we get some participation. Maybe Aasimon just aren’t peoples cup of tea. Hopefully it wakes up a bit by the time I hit Baatezu.

Aasimon, Solar

Now we finally get to the big bads (big goods?)

Solar’s are the cream of the crop when it comes to celestials. These guys are practically gods themselves, and probably could be if they wanted the power.
They appear as clichéd as you’d imagine – tall beautiful humans, flowing locks of golden hair. Huge white wings. The works. They have a charisma of 24, which actually makes them more charismatic than most statted gods I’ve seen.

They have a host of powers. Like I said, they are close to divine, and their package of abilities shows it. They can put up, at will, a 70’ radius of Protection from Evil, Protection from Normal Missiles, and Minor Globe of Invulnerability.

They are the only Aasimon who can summon allies: ki-rin, phoenix, or titans, depending on alignment.

They are only affected by fire, and regenerate 7hp/rd.

You do NOT want to get into hand to hand with one. With four attacks a round and a 0 THAC0, they put out 72 – 224 damage per round.

But staying out of hand to hand is even worse. They can instantly create an arrow of slaying for any creature desired. And they won’t miss very often. You read that right. Instant kills on 4 creatures per round.

They cast spells as 15th level clerics, but no mention is given as to what wisdom score they have. Odd since it was listed for Planetar. Normally you’d set it the same as the monsters intelligence (or at least, I usually have), which would make it 19-20, but that’s a point lower than the Planetar. DM discretion here, I suppose.

They, of course, have a large pool of innate spells as well. One very interesting bit – they can cast permanency 3/day. One would assume if they can cast it 3/day, their constitution wouldn’t suffer for it. There’s an adventure there.
They can also cast Wish once per day. Again, another adventure hook.

I think these guys are clearly too powerful to be useful as a common component in a campaign. Even in a high-level campaign, these guys are above and beyond what’s needed. A Planetar may work as an intermediary for a high-level party, but even a 20th level paladin would probably have to petition for an audience with a Solar. They do serve a great tool for a DM who wants to somehow get a deity involved in a campaign, but thinks bringing in an avatar of the deity itself would be too over the top. This allows an easy out.

One last power that I thought was cool: Solars can lay their hands on any creature and give it the ability to survive under any conditions for up to 100 years. There’s a lot there. Maybe a powerful NPC was blessed at birth. Maybe a blessed NPC has gone bad, and the DM wants to interpret it that the NPC is immune to fire/electricity/cold, etc and the solar who blessed him asks the players to take him out and fix his mistake. Or maybe a powerful demihuman NPC has been blessed in the past, and is about to come up on his 100th anniversary, and his enemies have something planned. Or perhaps the blessed demihuman is a powerful figure on an elemental plane and his blessing running out will ruin his business/political career/etc and he needs the PCs help. I just think theres a lot that can be done with this one basic power.

I think that closes out the Aasimon, hopefully some people can jump in with adventure hooks, etc. Or even how you’d used aasimon in your own campaigns.
 

Ithaeur

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I guess the trouble with aasimons is that "beings of pure Good" are hard to use in a non-obvious fashion: either as the NPC backup for some event, or as the (by now cliched) angel about to fall / already fallen.

That said, I didn't remember the planetars and solars were so damn powerful already in 2e; they're real powerhouses in 3e, but I recalled them as weaker in PS.

Oh, right - now I did remember an idea I had about these beings! A campaign setting with no gods on either side; just the angelic Aasimon, and the various fiendish races, struggling to conquer / destroy / preserve the universe as they see fit. I'm not sure how different it would end up being in practice, but I liked the idea of going from the standard vague polytheism of (A)D&D right through the monotheism and into atheism-with-great-and-powerful-planar-thingies. :)
 

Pete Whalley

Has Destrucity!
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Aasimon, Planetar
Way back when, our long running 3e Realms game took a sojourn to Sigil and the PCs ended up dead broke.

The Half Orc barbarian of the group decided a few muggings would get them some much needed jink and promptly picked the '8' green dude with wings' as his first mark.

This ended poorly for him. And it was a pleasant surprise to find a use for Planetar combat stats in that campaign. They ended up becoming friends, right up until said Planetar got himself decapitated by a Balor.

Good times.
 

Sleeper

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I guess the trouble with aasimons is that "beings of pure Good" are hard to use in a non-obvious fashion: either as the NPC backup for some event, or as the (by now cliched) angel about to fall / already fallen.
That's why I like the alien schtick. What kind of creature obeys with perfect obedience, but can be used to spawn lots of plot hooks?

Maybe they're a bit like robots. They're created artifical beings who have to obey their instructions; it's programmed into them. But there is some slack, they are gray areas, and there are some loopholes. And undernearth, their motivations are very alien from a human standpoint. They might be cruel, or uncaring, when not so compelled.

Or they might be slaves. A race, bound by the gods, but chafing under their rules and dictates. They might be malicious, twisting words and phases and trying to corrupt their instructions. They might actually be devils or demons, turned to Good. Their true personality is still diabolic, but they are bound to a certain set of tenets that they have no choice but to obey. But they will do their best to rules-lawyer themselves out of it.

Or they might be good, overall. They're the honored dead, the most noble of humans given an appropriate form in the afterlife. They remember their past lifes, and some are festooned with the accoutrements of that age and era, and regale the party with stories of their heroism and the heroism of their less-fortunate brethren in an attempt to inspire similar feats in the new generation. But like all falliable beings, they're less than perfect. All will have their quirks, and interpret good in different ways. Some might have drifted away from believing in Good, but as long as they still do their duty they might not be relieved of their position. And there might be many who just fell away, rebelled, or served their term and left to follow their own hearts. A range of grays, instead of just the pure Good and the Fallen.

Another twist on the honored dead concept is make them paragons... but paragons of their own time. They are still as good as they were, when they died and ascended to the higher planes. Exactly as good, in fact. Unlike mortals who change and grow, they're fixed, in a kind of stasis. They are who they were when they died, and will never change. But earthly morality and beliefs have changed over time. Their ideas are now outmoded, or obselete. Their opinions are dated, or completely bizarre. Imagine a strict Puritan, an ancient Sumerian, and a modern Zen Buddhist. Their ideals and concepts of good are so different that they might might as well be on opposing sides. Talk to two, and you'll get conflicting orders. But they all serve the same the god, so they have to find some common ground or at least keep the conflicts undercover.
 

Thordic

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That said, I didn't remember the planetars and solars were so damn powerful already in 2e; they're real powerhouses in 3e, but I recalled them as weaker in PS.
Yeah, they are beasts. A Solar could easily wipe even a high level party. I didn't even list all his spells but they are considerable. The text is right when it compares them to minor gods.
 

four willows

en faire tout un flan
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It's surprising how intense some of the celestials in PS are; it makes it pretty tough to give them reasons apart from 'deus ex machina' to interact with PCs.
 

Thordic

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Sorry for the delay, but here we go. Last entry before Baatezu!

Animal Lord

Animal lords are like totem spirits for each species of animal. The MC lists stats for four types (Cat, Hawk, Lizard, and Wolf) but there is an animal lord for each and every species of animal. They can appear in the form of the animal they represent, or in a humanoid form with characteristics of their animal form.

Aside from the characteristics of each imparted by its species (hawk lord would have good eyesight, rabbit lord would be more timid than a wolf lord, etc) they are almost identical, going by stats.

They each have an approach to combat that fits their animal. A rhino lord, for example, may rush into battle. A rat lord, on the other hand, may try to avoid combat and be a little more sneaky. You know the drill.

They share some common powers. They all share a basic spell package, which includes anti-magic shell, they are immune to all charm spells, and can summon animals of their type.

Before I get into the examplars, it's important to note that although animal lords can take human form, they are not human, and have very different motivations. They don't care about other humans or the world around them, only the animal whom they represent.

Cat Lord

Everyones favorite due to DiTerlizzi's artwork, the Cat Lord appears as a human female with cats eyes. Her cat form is a huge black panther. She has a magical sword and magical darts in human form, and has normal cat attacks in cat form (claw/claw/bite, rake if both claws hit)

Only real interesting tidbit: If you are a catlover, she has a charisma of 22. If you aren't, she "only" has a charisma of 18. If she comes into contact with a cat-loving male, she could be quite the homewrecker. Does she go into heat? Does anyone really want to explore that in D&D? I'm sure someone does. I don't want the details, keep it to yourself and your group :)

Hawk Lord

Another female animal lord, the Hawk Lord is pretty much helpless in human form. She has a THAC0 of 20 and has no weapons. Her only defense is her ability to toss out Charm Person spells. I don't get why she's so helpless in human form, it doesn't seem to make a ton of sense to me.

Her animal form, of course, is a large hawk. She gets claw/claw/bite attacks, as well as a special dive attack for 2d6 damage.

She apparently enjoys getting involved in the affairs of humans for some inexplicable reason. Shouldn't that be more reason for her to be able to defend herself in human form?

This lord in particular does nothing to justify her considerable XP.

Lizard Lord

The lizard lord appears as a human male with lizard-like skin. His animal form is a giant komodo dragon (quite cool).

He too doesn't use weapons in human form, although he COULD, since he has a normal THAC0. He relies on his hypotism gaze to protect him.

In animal form, he bites for decent damage, and on a critical hit catches his opponent in his jaws, inflicting damage every round until he escapes. He's also immune to blunt weapons for some reason. You can't kill a lizard with a baseball bat? I bet you could, but PETA girl may be upset with me if we experiment.

Wolf Lord

This lord looks like a normal human teenaged boy, and his animal form should be obvious.

He's yet another weak fighter in human form, although he does carry a pretty badass poison dagger that is perpetually coated with Class E poison (That's Death/20 for those without a DMG handy). He prefers to shift into animal form for combat though.

In animal form, he can bite twice per round for 2d6 damage, and is immune to nonmagical weapons.

Why does he prefer to fight in animal form? Unless he's fighting something immune to poison, it's way less effective. His THAC0 remains the same, and at 5, is pretty damn good. With his dagger, he gets 21-24 damage, plus a decent chance to kill the enemy outright. With his bite, he only does 4-24 damage (average of 14).

Overall, I'm not a fan of the animal lords. They have too many HD and too much XP for their overall challenge. I just find them to be a lame duck in a book full of so many overpowered baddies.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
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Everyones favorite due to DiTerlizzi's artwork, the Cat Lord appears as a human female with cats eyes. Her cat form is a huge black panther. She has a magical sword and magical darts in human form, and has normal cat attacks in cat form (claw/claw/bite, rake if both claws hit)
They made the cat lord a woman?

That's odd, because unlike the other animal lords, the cat lord was an established figure in D&D. The original appeared in the MM2, showed up fairly frequently as the patron to the eponymous character in Gygax's Gord the Rogue stories, and was even featured in at least one short story in Dragon. And all of them were roguish men. I'm surprised they went with the even more stereotypical catgirl.
Another female animal lord, the Hawk Lord is pretty much helpless in human form. She has a THAC0 of 20 and has no weapons. Her only defense is her ability to toss out Charm Person spells. I don't get why she's so helpless in human form, it doesn't seem to make a ton of sense to me.
That's pretty bad. Charming but helpless doesn't sound like it has anything to do with the animal or any of its typical mythical attributes.
 

Thordic

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Yeah, IMO the animal lord entry is poorly written, especially considering how well thought out, interesting, and cool the majority of the entries in this MC are.

I used one once as a random encounter because my players were in the beastlands and I needed to fill some time. Other than that, never used them.
 

Sleeper

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He's yet another weak fighter in human form, although he does carry a pretty badass poison dagger that is perpetually coated with Class E poison (That's Death/20 for those without a DMG handy). He prefers to shift into animal form for combat though.
So why does the wolf use poison? Nevermind...

Just wanted to say that "Death/20" is vastly superior to the "Class" nomenclature. We could never remember which class was which, and it was always a pain to find in the DMG, so we rarely bothered.
 
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