Converting First Edition Monsters


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Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Okay - another go at description for boalisk:

The boalisk is a serpent-like creature that reaches lengths of 25 feet. It resembles an enormous bulky constrictor snake with sombre-colored scales of green, brown and grey, and striking luminous yellow eyes. Unknowing adventurers have sometimes mistaken this beast for a basilisk, leading to a not uncommonly held belief that basilisks are snakelike in appearance.



(Not sure whether to put this at bottom with another header...) The boalisk inhabits dismal swamps and jungles, generally in warmer climates. Its origin is unknown, but thought to be from similar processes or dark magic that created the basilisk.



Visual Digesters. The boalisk has a gaze as hazardous as its near-namesake, afflicting victims with a rotting condition rather than petrification, which enables it to feed upon animals too large for it to kill in direct confrontation. After biting prey, the boalisk stalks them until they succumb to the rot, and eats their easily-digestible remains. Unlike basilisks, boalisks have a brille (clear membrane) over their eyes that prevents them being affected by their own gaze. This body part is valued by wizards and alchemists as it can be used to make eye cusps that prevent gaze attacks from affecting the wearer.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Okay - so you can see it laid out...
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Okay - so you can see it laid out...

The statblock looks fine and matches the Enworld Boalisk.

As for the description…

The boalisk is a serpent-like creature that reaches lengths of 25 feet. It resembles an enormous bulky constrictor snake with sombre-colored scales of green, brown and grey, and striking luminous yellow eyes. Unknowing adventurers have sometimes mistaken this beast for a basilisk, leading to a not uncommonly held belief that basilisks are snakelike in appearance.



(Not sure whether to put this at bottom with another header...) The boalisk inhabits dismal swamps and jungles, generally in warmer climates. Its origin is unknown, but thought to be from similar processes or dark magic that created the basilisk.



Visual Digesters. The boalisk has a gaze as hazardous as its near-namesake, afflicting victims with a rotting condition rather than petrification, which enables it to feed upon animals too large for it to kill in direct confrontation. After biting prey, the boalisk stalks them until they succumb to the rot, and eats their easily-digestible remains. Unlike basilisks, boalisks have a brille (clear membrane) over their eyes that prevents them being affected by their own gaze. This body part is valued by wizards and alchemists as it can be used to make eye cusps that prevent gaze attacks from affecting the wearer.

Hmm, most of that isn't from the original monster (the AD&D version makes no mention of their colour, origins, being mistaken for basilisks, of using their gaze to digest prey.

While the latter is tempting (and I like the idea of external digestion), the boalisk's gaze turns its victims to dust like a mummy, which doesn't sound very digestible.

Furthermore, if I remember my AD&D lore correctly*, regular Basilisks aren't able to eat creatures they petrify. They use their deadly gaze for "defense" but only use their jaws against prey.

*After checking, I was thinking of Ed Greenwood's "The Ecology of the Basilisk" in Dragon #81 (January 1981) which says:

Dragon #81 said:
Petrified creatures cannot be eaten by basilisks, and they will therefore strike with their petrifying gaze only at creatures who by size or aggressive behavior seem threatening to them.

So I'd think Boalisks are the same and rely on their fangs and coils for feeding.

How about:

Description
A boalisk is a serpentine monster almost indistinguishable from a large constrictor snake apart from its possession of a deadly gaze attack. These creatures are about 25 feet long and live in any tropical habitat that will support a constrictor snake of its size, such as a jungle, swamp or savannah.
Deadly Eyes. A boalisk has a gaze attack rivaling the lethality of their near-namesake the basilisk. Rather than petrification, victims of its eyes slowly decompose until they're nothing but dry dust. This supernatural curse has symptoms indistinguishable from the deadly touch of an undead mummy. A boalisk cannot digest flesh that's rotting away to dust, so uses fangs and coils to catch food like a regular python. Its gaze attack is reserved for enemies; the boalisk can activate and deactivate its eyes at will.
 Unlike basilisks, boalisks cannot be harmed by reflecting their gaze with a mirror. A boalisk's eyes are covered by transparent scales that protect them from many attacks that affect the eyes. Called brille, these membranes are actually permanently fused clear eyelids, so a boalisk has its eyes closed but can still see. These organs are valued by wizards and alchemists as they can be enchanted into eye cusps that provide similar protection to their wearer. Ordinary snakes also possess brille and are immune to a boalisk's gaze attack.
Social Serpents. A curious trait of boalisks is they sometimes congregate with their fellow serpents, either other boalisks, normal or giant constrictor snakes, or a combination of animals. Such groups are still very small, containing no more than three boalisks and a similar number of constrictor snakes. A single boalisk accompanied by one or two normal constrictor snakes is far more common. Some scholars theorize that the "normal constrictor snakes" are actually juvenile boalisks and these monsters don't acquire their deadly gaze until adulthood, so the young might travel with their elders for protection.

EDIT: I'd be fine removing the last sentence since it's entirely of my own invention, i.e.:

Social Serpents. A curious trait of boalisks is they sometimes congregate with their fellow serpents, either other boalisks, normal or giant constrictor snakes, or a combination of animals. Such groups are still very small, containing no more than three boalisks and a similar number of constrictor snakes. A single boalisk accompanied by one or two normal constrictor snakes is far more common.
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
 Unlike basilisks, boalisks cannot be harmed by reflecting their gaze with a mirror. A boalisk's eyes are covered by transparent scales that protect them from many attacks that affect the eyes. Called brille, these membranes are actually permanently fused clear eyelids, so a boalisk has its eyes closed but can still see. These organs are valued by wizards and alchemists as they can be enchanted into eye cusps that provide similar protection to their wearer. Ordinary snakes also possess brille and are immune to a boalisk's gaze attack.

If we're explaining the Brille in the Description we can trim down the text in the Special Traits:

Brille. A boalisk's eyes are covered by transparent scales that grant it immunity to attacks that require eye contact or direct line of sight, such as some gaze attacks (e.g. the petrifying gaze of a basilisk or medusa). The eye-covering scales also protect the boalisk's eyes from dust and other irritants. Brille are actually permanently fused clear eyelids, so a boalisk has its eyes closed but can still see.

Brille. A boalisk has immunity to attacks that require eye contact or direct line of sight, such as some gaze attacks (e.g. the petrifying gaze of a basilisk or medusa). The brille also protect the boalisk's eyes from dust and other irritants.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
The last bit of social serpents is good as it explains why it is with some "normal" constrictor snakes. I kept it in
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
The last bit of social serpents is good as it explains why it is with some "normal" constrictor snakes. I kept it in

Looks good, although I'd tweak the credit to "(Boalisks first appeared in the 1st edition Monster Manual II (1983) by Gary Gygax)" as the great EGG had his name on the cover!

There was one other point I thought interesting. The 1E Monster Manual II boalisk has DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-3 (bill)/2-7 (constriction). Attacking with a "bill" rather than a "bite" suggests the original version of the boalisk had a beak like a bird or a cockatrice, implying a somewhat avian head.

Do we want to do anything with that?

Maybe say some Boalisks have scaled but birdlike heads whose toothy jaws end in a chicken-like beak?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Better get around to updating the Boalisk with the current Description and amended Brille.

Oh, and as for:

Looks good, although I'd tweak the credit to "(Boalisks first appeared in the 1st edition Monster Manual II (1983) by Gary Gygax)" as the great EGG had his name on the cover!

I prefer the current Enworld Boalisk credit of "(Boalisks first appeared in Monster Manual II (1983) by Gary Gygax.)"
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Ok updated credit and published.
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Ok updated credit and published.

Okay!

I'm fine not bothering to do anything regarding the bill mentioned in the MMII.

There was one other point I thought interesting. The 1E Monster Manual II boalisk has DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-3 (bill)/2-7 (constriction). Attacking with a "bill" rather than a "bite" suggests the original version of the boalisk had a beak like a bird or a cockatrice, implying a somewhat avian head.

Do we want to do anything with that?

Maybe say some Boalisks have scaled but birdlike heads whose toothy jaws end in a chicken-like beak?

Although I'm still slightly bothered about that last sentence of Social Serpents speculating a bit too far and am tempted to stick in the old "the truth is out there" chestnut, i.e.:

Social Serpents. A curious trait of boalisks is they sometimes congregate with their fellow serpents, either other boalisks, normal or giant constrictor snakes, or a combination of animals. Such groups are still very small, containing no more than three boalisks and a similar number of constrictor snakes. A single boalisk accompanied by one or two normal constrictor snakes is far more common. Some scholars theorize that the "normal constrictor snakes" are actually juvenile boalisks and these monsters don't acquire their deadly gaze until adulthood, so the young might travel with their elders for protection. Other sages claim boalisks have deadly gazes from the time they hatch, like their relative the basilisk, and any attendant snakes are ordinary reptiles such as pythons. Whether either theory holds any truth is unknown..

Incidentally, the aforementioned Ecology of the Basilisk provided that titbit that basilisks can petrify opponents from birth.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
I never noticed the bill mention. The illustration just looked like a normal snake (sans bill). I like the added bit that adds uncertainty ( some scaffolding for new DMs or hooks for experienced DMs)

So added - new link
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I never noticed the bill mention. The illustration just looked like a normal snake (sans bill). I like the added bit that adds uncertainty ( some scaffolding for new DMs or hooks for experienced DMs)

So added - new link

Yes, the 1983 original's illustration just looks like an ordinary boa, that and the fact there's no mention of beaks or birdlike features in the text of any version of the boalisk is why I was quite willing to drop the idea.

So shall we agree this serpent is finished and add it to the 5E Creatures Index?

The D&D Beyond version looks done to me. I need to update the Description in the Enworld Boalisk, but that'll only take a moment.
 


Cleon

Adventurer
Social Serpents. A curious trait of boalisks is they sometimes congregate with their fellow serpents, either other boalisks, normal or giant constrictor snakes, or a combination of animals. Such groups are still very small, containing no more than three boalisks and a similar number of constrictor snakes. A single boalisk accompanied by one or two normal constrictor snakes is far more common. Some scholars theorize that the "normal constrictor snakes" are actually juvenile boalisks and these monsters don't acquire their deadly gaze until adulthood, so the young might travel with their elders for protection. Other sages claim boalisks have deadly gazes from the time they hatch, like their relative the basilisk, and any attendant snakes are ordinary reptiles such as pythons. Whether either theory holds any truth is unknown..

Dang it, I've got a double period at the end from copy-pasting it.

Never mind, it's the proper single full stop in the D&D Beyond Boalisk and Enworld Boalisk. I'll resist the urge to correct it in post #8542473!
 


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