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WIR 4th Edition Monsters Manual

MadMac

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#1
I know I know, I'm not the first person to attempt this, and these projects tend to fizzle out quickly because holy crap so many friggen monsters, but I'm made of iron and will power and mostly just sheer stupid stubbornness so I'm confident I'll see this through to the end. Probably. Maybe. Someday. I'm saying there's a chance, okay?

For tonight I'll do a quick writeup of a some goofy monster no one cares about and ah dammit. Aboleths on the first page? Really? I can't have the bird guys with the two A's and the name I could never possibly be expected to spell?

Oh be that way, stupid book...

Aboleths They're like slimy frog whales with tentacles or something.

Truth be told, I don't think I've ever actually used Aboleths in any edition, no matter how classic they may be. Party it's because I don't do high-level play a lot, and mostly it's because it's damn hard to use Aboleths in anything but an adventure about Aboleths.

I mean, they're not only supposed to be ancient and vanishingly rare, they're also evil mastermind slime whale things who only function underwater. No one walks into a bar and picks a fight with an Aboleth. You aren't going to kick open many dungeon doors and have an Aboleth drop from the ceiling on you. You can't leave an Aboleth in a small room guarding a pie and expect anything but a slimy sentient pie monster by the time you come back to check on it. The Aboleth is probably not going to be hired by the BBEG to assassinate the party.

Plus the whole water thing. At least a Kraken can sink your ship or just eat sailors until someone decides to start swinging at it's tentacles. Sahaugin can raid boats and coastal towns. Aboleths on the other hand, are the kind of monster left sitting in a pool of water and wishing really really hard that some stupid adventurer comes down to play with them.

But setting all that aside, lets look at the actual entry.

The basic writeup indicates that Aboleths are:

A. Big
B. Amphibious (Ok, so they're more like limbless frogs then Whales. Fair enough.)
C. Far Realm. Of course.
D. Underdark. Here we get specific mention of Aboleths crawling through narrow tunnels leaving nasty mucus trails behind them like slugs or snails. I double check the entry and sure enough, they actually have a land speed now. This is somewhat of an improvement, although on land they're still slow, and frankly, not as menacing. No one wants to be reminiscent of the Flail Snail, even by accident.
E. Not just evil, but super duper evil and they turn perfectly good slaves into useless slime puppets, because Aboleths are all about leveraging the very thematic combination of slime and mind control. And tentacles. Aboleths are very bad people.

We get pictures instead of descriptions these days, but I note that Aboleths apparently have a whole bunch of eyes and a tentacle mustache.

Aboleths have two primary racial traits--Telepathy out to twenty squares, and Mucus Haze, an aura 5 that projects difficult terrain, even outside of water. So presumably they may be slow on land, but running away could be difficult if they ever manage to catch up to you. Meh, they're still twice as cool in water.

We have three main varieties here, a level 17 brute, a level 17 Artillery (leader) and of course the Level 18 Elite Controller (aka the real Aboleth)

Aboleth Lasher This is our brute monster. Brute+Ancient cunning evil is not a intuitive combination but even Lashers are telepathic super-geniuses so whatever. They just like to violate things with their tentacle mustaches, apparently.

As Brutes go, the Lasher is actually unusually solid, I'd say. It's basic attack inflicts save ends daze, it does almost double damage against dazed targets, and it gets a second attack with combat advantage. The last one is a big one, I think--Brutes with multiple attacks fare a lot better in my experience, since they have less chance of whiffing entirely round after round.

On a really good round, the lasher can potentially attack a dazed target twice for 4d8+8 damage an attack, which is not bad for level 17. Not bad at all.

I should also mention that all Aboleths like to train in Arcana, Dungeoneering, and Insight. Only insight provides any meaningful advantage outside of roleplaying cues, I think.

Slime Mage They've always had slime, but 4th edition really ups the ante for Mucous Mischievity. Despite the leader designation, I don't see anything obviously leadership based in the stat block.

The Slime Mage's primary trick is at-will range domination limited to a single target at a time. Everything else can be considered a stalling tactic while it abuses this trick for all it's worth. It's tentacle attacks are crap, but do inflict daze and do extra damage to dazed targets, as all Aboleths seemingly do. The only explanation I see for this is the bit about Lashers covering their enemies with slime, (Evil Slime can do anything!) before tearing them apart, so I suppose that's the reasoning.

They have an at-will range attack with Slime Orb which is acceptable if unimpressive. It does inflict save ends slow to try and keep more dangerous enemies at bay. They do have an encounter power which is just a massive range burst (Burst 4!) of even more slime that hits enemies only and has a nice double whammy of Save ends Immobilize paired with Aftereffect Save Ends Slow.

Seriously though, it's a level 17 standard monster with at-will dominate. That's almost mean enough to make me want to use Aboleths by itself.

Aboleth Overseer Elite Controller/Leader. Like the Slime Mage, the Overseer is mostly a dominate platform, but with the added insanity of at-will Enslave. Enslave only targets dominated creatures, but the combination of 6d8+8 damage (Average 35 damage) combined with the ability to dominate the target until the Overseers death if they drop to zero is really nasty, especially if you back up the Overseer with dominate spamming Slime Mages.

They also have a twice per encounter close burst 10 that inflicts save ends daze, and a once per encounter invisiblity. All in all, one of the most tactically interesting and nasty monsters in the first monster manual, I think.

Of course, between all the dazing, slowing, and dominaton spam, Aboleths could likely wear out their welcome with players very very quickly.

So, on to the lore entries. The easiest entry is also the most evocative, talking about how Aboleths slip from the far realm into the deepest depths of the underdark, and how you can also find lone aboleths haunting surface lakes, temples and ruins, perhaps gathering Kuo-toa or other minions. A good way to introduce an interesting off encounter with an Aboleth, I think.

The harder entries only mention telepathy, deep speech, and slime minion molding. Yawn.

We also have a statblock for the slime servitor minion, and well, minion design didn't really take off until MM 2 I think. This is no exception. Just a basic, boring minion aside from the swim speed, bonus for fighting inside the mucus aura, and odly enough, a note about how they become basically helpless if they're ever more then 10 squares away from their master.

I need to write less for future entries...(I always say that, and it never happens.)
 
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Celisasu

The donuts speak to me!
#2
Ask not what what your mucusy overlords can do for you, ask what you can do for your mucus overlords!

Yeah, they show a lot of potential as a dangerous fight for the party but all that daze, slow, and especially dominate would make me hesitant to use them. Permanent domination especially is a kind of sucky thing to inflict upon players so I'd probably never use the Overseer.

Seeing how they're giant fish/slug/tentacle things.....do you think they taste good?
 

MadMac

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#6
Great. Now I'm just picturing some insane noble serving up plates of steamed Aboleth with creamy mucous sauce over rice, with a pinch of madness added to taste. It would be the most talked about dinner party for years.

The next monster entry is stupidly huge and I'll be breaking it up.

ABOMINATION Their only unifying trait is being ugly and epic level.

Abominations have a pretty cool backstory with the whole " Living Weapons created during the War between Gods and Primordials" thing. Some of of these weapons, however, look like they were rushed out of committee a little too soon, or else someone really should have put their foot down earlier in the initial design phase.

We get additional notes that some are more of less unique Godzilla like beings (Tarrasque!) while others were fielded as armies and some are just rejects from failed or abandoned experiments because the Gods are too busy to worry about tying up every little world wrecking loose end, m'kay?

All in all, really nice backstory. How well the individual entries fit like that, now...

Astral Stalker Weapon designation, Ninja.

I admit I have an unreasonable fondness for the Stalker based only on the fact that there was a really cool mini released for them a while back and I ended up with a couple.

Lets check the initial entry--

Devious--Int 8, Wis 15, Cha 10 This is not a high functioning ninja, but how smart do you have to be to jump out of Shadows, right?

Battle-Hungry Hunters--Slightly contradictory, I think, but OK.

Savor Challenge and Renown--Challenge I get, but renown? That suggests name dropping. "Hey man, if you want your ninja job done right, Bob the Astral Stalker is your man. He's not like Astral Stalker Steve. Steve sucks."

Serve as Assassins and Bounty Hunters I do like this bit, because hey, Epic Ninja. I wonder what their going rate is, though. Do up and coming Astral Stalkers try to underbid the competition in order to find more work?

Might do it for free, if they think the target is "worthy" Here's where the Int of 8 comes into play. If you trick a Stalker into hunting an unworthy target pro bono, do they charge you with interest after the job is done? Or do they just make you their next target?

Looking at the picture, Stalkers are basically purple hunchbacked ape people with claws instead of fingers. This is so not a tool using race. I imagine they buy their skull studded loincloths from enterprising planar merchants.

They're also not very big, only medium size. So supernaturally strong and fast ninja people with claw fingers. got it.

Stalkers have high perception, stealth, and Blindsight out to 10 squares all of which serve them well as level 22 Lurkers. They also have a climb speed, so invisibly crawling across walls and ceilings is a workable tactic, which I like.

Stalkers Quarry is a cool little flavor power, letting the Stalker track it's target across any distance, even on different planes, but they can only track enemies they've already hit with their claws once? That seems to kill most of the actual utility of the power and I'm inclined to ignore it.

Being a Lurker, naturally their basic attack is an extremely meh 2d6+8. I think their actual setup to get all their damage is a bit overdone even for a Lurker, though. The preferred set-up seems to be:

A. Turn Invisible--Standard Action
B. Shoot Throat Dart--crappy attack paired with save ends slow
C. Attack while the target is still slowed in order to get the two attacks from quick claws and also either go invisible again or Flank to get the extra 2d6.

So, yeah...probably about two rounds of not at all guaranteed to work setup in order to make two attacks for 4d6+8. For a supposed epic level elite ninja monster, that doesn't seem terribly impressive. They really need to work with other monsters that can inflict slow or immobilize to come together, I think.

Only one lore entry for Stalkers, indicating that they've become a self sustaining race in the Astral Sea, gathering in small tribes and competing to earn the best hunting trophies in order to earn leadership positions.

So basically Astral Stalkers entire purpose in life is to hit up the material plane, go hunting for the coolest looking skulls and then come home and try to brag their way into a cozy leadership position.

Next on deck, the Atropal, as in "Gruumsh maybe not smartest god, and Gruumsh lose eye but at least Gruumsh not one who screw up Atropal project, so shut up!".
 

Wolfwood2

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#7
Stalkers Quarry is a cool little flavor power, letting the Stalker track it's target across any distance, even on different planes, but they can only track enemies they've already hit with their claws once? That seems to kill most of the actual utility of the power and I'm inclined to ignore it.
This strikes me as one of those "flavor" powers that the developers swore they were trying to leave out of 4E, but that they can't resist relapsing and putting back in anyway. Pointless for fighting PCs, great for having them meet the nervous-looking fellow in the planar bar who was tagged last month and will pay any price to have the Stalker hunting him stopped.

Only one lore entry for Stalkers, indicating that they've become a self sustaining race in the Astral Sea, gathering in small tribes and competing to earn the best hunting trophies in order to earn leadership positions.

So basically Astral Stalkers entire purpose in life is to hit up the material plane, go hunting for the coolest looking skulls and then come home and try to brag their way into a cozy leadership position.
Basically, they're Predators (as in, from the movie of that name).
 

MadMac

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#8
Atropal Weapon Designation, Failure

Some Living Weapon projects were a smashing success, some were quietly swept under the rug, and some resulted in level 28 Elite Brutes with an undying hatred for everything that breathes. Good job, whoever that was.

We have one lore entry for Atropal, indicating they were unfinished "godlings" with enough divine power left in them to rise as horrible undead monster things. Some of them roam the planes freely, and some of them are still sealed away and imprisoned somewhere waiting for some stupid bad guy to free them for their own selfish ends. Atropal's are noted to specifically gather undead to themselves in order to get that "kill everything" plan in motion as quickly as possible.

All in all, not bad. They aren't BBEG material, but they work well enough as some sort of heavy hitter for a power behind the scenes.

The picture indicates that Atropal's are really, really fugly and don't even ask me about the tongue thing. Also, they float. They're extremely tough epic level brutes who float around and touch people. It's kinda weird.

Shroud of Death is their key power, giving them a powerful aura 5 that heals all allied undead (20) and damages all living creatures (10). It's a cool power and gives them nice flavor as some sort of super-energizing battery for Undead, but the fact that radiant damage shuts down their aura is a little much. It's a 28th level Elite Brute dammit, and it's going to be constantly pounded with Radiant damage just for being undead. At least let it keep it's only interesting power going for a few rounds!

It also has a touch attack that inflicts ongoing 15 necrotic damage along with a -2 penalty to attack rolls and negates necrotic resistance/immunity. (Save ends) Another pretty decent power that combo's well with other undead monsters.

It also has a close burst 5 attack for 4d8+5 damage and a healing surge, which isn't awful, although this is really more of a leader monster then a traditional brute, so I don't know how often the "enemy falls to zero" recharge will come up.

Another interesting but flawed monster, I think. Ditching the aura loss from Radiant damage would help a lot, I think. Despite their flavor text, they're really more like the ultimate support unit for undead armies rather then killing machines on their own, although it should be noted that the aura and close burst 5 attack on their own would let an Atropal literally wade through most mortal armies and cities leaving death and destruction in their wake without lifting a finger.

Stick an army of undead with them and they really would work as a world ending horror, if not a terribly interesting opponent for actual Epic Level Heroes.
 

Skiorht

Despair Shouter
Validated User
#9
So, yeah...probably about two rounds of not at all guaranteed to work setup in order to make two attacks for 4d6+8. For a supposed epic level elite ninja monster, that doesn't seem terribly impressive. They really need to work with other monsters that can inflict slow or immobilize to come together, I think.
Yup. The MM1 monsters are a bit conservatively designed. Most of them neither make good use of the action economy (there's a definite paucity of minor action set-up powers), nor take into account the fact that any power that takes two or more rounds to work will be fucked sideways by the PC powers before it kicks in.

The newer monster designs are generally better in this respect, with nicely damaging at-will flurries making their appearance in early paragon tier.
 

MadMac

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#10
Basically, they're Predators (as in, from the movie of that name).
Pretty much, yeah. Just not as cool, unfortunately.

Yup. The MM1 monsters are a bit conservatively designed. Most of them neither make good use of the action economy (there's a definite paucity of minor action set-up powers), nor take into account the fact that any power that takes two or more rounds to work will be fucked sideways by the PC powers before it kicks in.
I'm pretty sure I'm going to be griping about a lot of these monster designs in hindsight. At the very least, I think I'd make throat dart a minor action and possibly make invisibility a minor or move action with a 3/6 recharge roll.
 
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