Converting monsters from Dragon magazine

Shade

Monster Junkie
Echohawk pointed out our complete lack of elementals over the past year, so here's one...

Dust Devil
Created by Bruce Sears
FREQUENCY: Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 4
MOVE: 15”
HIT DICE: 6 + 2
% IN LAIR: 5% (see below)
TREASURE TYPE: See below
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: See below
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Asphyxiation
SPECIAL DEFENSES: + 1 or better weapon to hit
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Immune to control spells; otherwise standard
INTELLIGENCE: High
ALIGNMENT: Neutral
SIZE: S
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense modes: Nil

The Dust Devil is an elemental combination of earth and air. Although not as strong as its cousins, the air elemental and earth elemental, it is far more intelligent than either. The Dust Devil only appears on the Prime Material plane when it wishes to search for treasure. It will almost always appear in a desert or other arid locale. (Optional: There is a 10% chance of a Dust Devil showing up in place of a summoned earth or air elemental. If this occurs, the Dust Devil is not controlled by the summoning character.)

On the Prime Material, the Dust Devil appears as an amorphous, roughly spherical cloud of dust which can be seen through to some degree. When in motion, it skims along just off the surface of the ground, and can change direction abruptly to match changes in the terrain it is moving over. It cannot move directly away from the surface of the ground (vertically) or hover more than a few inches off the surface it is traveling over, unless it is attacking. When it attacks, the Dust Devil will first form itself into a more compact spherical shape, roughly 6 inches in diameter. This process takes one round to accomplish after the Dust Devil has moved adjacent to its intended victim. During this round of transformation into its attacking form, the Dust Devil cannot move, but also cannot be attacked successfully. No blow will score a hit on the Dust Devil until it has compressed itself and levitated to where it can surround a victim’s face in an attempt to asphyxiate the character. Thereafter, only magical weapons of + 1 or better can hit the creature. To accomplish its suffocation, the Dust Devil needs only to hit armor class 10 in order to do damage. The only adjustments allowed to this hit probability are dexterity bonuses, rings of protection, invulnerability, or swords of defense possessed by the attacked.

A Dust Devil will abandon its victim only when that character is dead, or until the character falls unconscious if there are more potential victims in the vicinity to be dealt with. The creature can be driven away from a victim if attacks upon it remove more than half of the hit points it had when the attack began. If driven away from one victim, the Dust Devil will attempt to attack the character who administered the blow that caused it to abandon its previous attack. This process will continue until the Dust Devil is killed or until it has rendered all members of a party unconscious or dead. The damage inflicted by the Dust Devil’s attempt to asphyxiate is administered as follows: In the first round after attaching itself to a victim’s face, the victim will take no damage. Starting with the second round, the victim will take 1d12 damage for each round the Dust Devil sustains its attack; i.e., 2d12 in the third round, 3d12 in the fourth round, and so on, until the attack is broken off. The Dust Devil cannot be successfully attacked by its current victim. Any other character who strikes at the creature while it is attacking can hit it, but also risks hitting the head of the victim. Any weapon swung at the Dust Devil which misses has a chance of hitting the victim instead. The victim’s head is considered to be armor class 2 if wearing a helm, AC 5 with a helmet, and AC 10 if bare-headed or wearing no substantial protection. The only adjustments possible to this armor class are from protection rings and invulnerability which may be possessed by the victim. Dexterity bonuses, swords of defense and any other defensive advantages possessed by the victim do not alter this hit probability.

The Dust Devil can travel at will from the Prime Material plane to the ethereal plane,. from where it makes its way back to either the elemental plane of earth or the elemental plane of air. However, becoming ethereal takes a full turn for the Dust Devil to accomplish, and the creature can be attacked while this transformation is in process. A Dust Devil which is reduced to 10 percent or less of its original hit points will automatically attempt to escape to the ethereal plane, or it may choose to attempt to escape earlier than that if it judges its adversaries to be too strong. A Dust Devil regains all its lost hit points, back to its original number, upon reaching one of the elemental planes.

The Dust Devil is motivated by its desire to possess precious metals and gems, which it can detect at distances of up to 6”. It can transport up to 1,000 g.p. of treasure, but cannot attack while “carrying” anything. The creature does not have a “lair” on the Prime Material plane in the truest sense of the word, but a repository for any treasure it can acquire which it uses between attacks to store its property. At any given time, a Dust Devil’s “lair” will contain all the treasure it has acquired during its current visit to the Prime Material plane. The creature’s greed will prompt it to try to gain all the treasure it can, even though it can only take 1,000 g.p. along each time it vacates the Prime Material plane. Normally, a Dust Devil’s visits to the Prime Material will not last longer than a couple of weeks and it is liable to stay away for 1-4 months, returning sooner only if it senses that its Prime Material “lair” is being disturbed.

Originally appeared in Dragon Magazine #45 (1981).
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
Since it blends air and earth, perhaps a middle ground between these two?

Small Earth Elemental: Str 17, Dex 8, Con 13, Int 4, Wis 11, Cha 11
Small Air Elemental: Str 10, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 4, Wis 11, Cha 11

Thus...

Str 13-14, Dex 12-13, Con 11-12, Int 4, Wis 11, Cha 11

Int is listed as High, though, so is 13-14. Maybe boost other mental stats to a similar range? Thus...

Str 13-14, Dex 12-13, Con 11-12, Int 13-14, Wis 13-14, Cha 13-14
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Since it blends air and earth, perhaps a middle ground between these two?

Small Earth Elemental: Str 17, Dex 8, Con 13, Int 4, Wis 11, Cha 11
Small Air Elemental: Str 10, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 4, Wis 11, Cha 11

Thus...

Str 13-14, Dex 12-13, Con 11-12, Int 4, Wis 11, Cha 11

Int is listed as High, though, so is 13-14. Maybe boost other mental stats to a similar range? Thus...

Str 13-14, Dex 12-13, Con 11-12, Int 13-14, Wis 13-14, Cha 13-14
I feel it takes after an air elemental more in its physical abilities than an earth elemental, so I'd lean its ability scores in that direction.

Since it mostly seems interested in killing & stealing gems I don't think it's extraordinarily personable, so I'd pull back the Wis and Cha a bit.

How about:

Str 13, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 12

Its suffocation is obviously some form of touch attack.

I'd also it a Gaseous Form or Incorporeality SQ, from the "No blow will score a hit on the Dust Devil until it has compressed itself and levitated to where it can surround a victim’s face in an attempt to asphyxiate the character." bit.

It also appears to be able to plane shift to and from the ether at will - a modified form of ethereal jaunt that's of less use in combat?
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
I don't like the total invulnerability, and they don't sound incorporeal, but gaseous as the gaseous form spell sounds good to me.

These seem a bit weird. They're true neutral, but they seem to like killing everybody, and they have a pretty rigid strategy. They're also of higher Int, but they don't really seem to use it. I don't get it.
 

RavinRay

Visitor
The creature that comes closest to it in earth/air nature is the dust mephit, and that has the Air subtype. Although both are neutral, the devil behaves a bit more impishly (pun intended).

It has a gaseous form, and a compress ability (which we can adapt from the psionic power of the same name ;) )
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
That's an apt comparison. In that case, gaseous form seems the best option, although I'm also a bit fond of the airy quality (from the plague brush, et. al) for them.

Airy (Ex): Since a dust devil's anatomy is made up of a (relatively) small amount of earth matter and lots of empty space, it is difficult to know where to attack the creature. Any melee or ranged attack with a piercing weapon directed at a dust devil has a 20% miss chance. The blow or missle may pass through the creature's body without harming it. Even a true seeing effect is useless for determining where and how to strike the creature.

Also, the dust mephit's ability scores are worth considering:
Str 10, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 15

Compare to Cleon's suggestion:
Str 13, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 12

That's pretty close. Maybe bump Dex a tad closer to the dust mephit's?

freyar said:
These seem a bit weird. They're true neutral, but they seem to like killing everybody, and they have a pretty rigid strategy. They're also of higher Int, but they don't really seem to use it. I don't get it.
They are a bit of a "kitchen sink" monster. :confused:

Its behavior seems a lot more chaotic evil than neutral, or at the very least chaotic neutral.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
That's an apt comparison. In that case, gaseous form seems the best option, although I'm also a bit fond of the airy quality (from the plague brush, et. al) for them.
Using gaseous form is my favourite.

Also, the dust mephit's ability scores are worth considering:
Str 10, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 15

Compare to Cleon's suggestion:
Str 13, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 12

That's pretty close. Maybe bump Dex a tad closer to the dust mephit's?
That'd be fine by me. The only reason I didn't raise Dex any higher was I was reluctant to make them too much like an Air Elemental.

Dex 15 or 16?

Its behavior seems a lot more chaotic evil than neutral, or at the very least chaotic neutral.
I'd like to make them Chaotic Neutral, it seems a better fit to their behaviour.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Or a form of grapple?

Regards
Mortis
Ah, but a standard grapple is a form of touch attack, since it requires a touch attack to initiate it.

Still, it's worth thinking about using grapple as a model. One problem is Dust Devil's have a pretty poor grapple modifier as they're weak and have 3/4 BAB.

I was wondering whether we could adapt the Breathstealers' Steal Breath special attack? There's certainly some similarity.
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
Added to Homebrews.

Here's the breathdrinker's ability:

Steal Breath (Su): As a full-round action, a breathdrinker can attempt to suck the air from the lungs of any helpless creature within reach. The target must make a successful Fortitude saving throw (DC 17) or take 1d6 points of Constitution damage. The target dies when his or her Constitution score reaches 0. The breathdrinker heals 5 points of damage for each point of Constitution the target loses, gaining any excess as temporary hit points. So long as the target remains helpless, the breathdrinker continues to use this attack against that creature every round until it dies.

Another possible source of inspiration:

Smoke Claws (Ex): A belker in smoke form (see below) can engulf opponents by moving on top of them. It fills the air around one Medium or smaller opponent without provoking an attack of opportunity. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or inhale part of the creature. The save DC is Constitution-based. Smoke inside the victim solidifies into a claw and begins to rip at the surrounding organs, dealing 3d4 points of damage per round. An affected creature can attempt another Fortitude save each subsequent round to cough out the semivaporous menace.

Oh, and for the gaseous form...

Smoke Form (Su): Most of the time a belker is more or less solid, but at will it can assume smoke form. It can switch forms once per round as a free action and can spend up to 20 rounds per day in smoke form. A belker in smoke form can fly at a speed of 50 feet (perfect). The ability is otherwise similar to a gaseous form spell (caster level 7th).

...or...

Gaseous Form (Ex): A phiuhl's insubstantial form grants it immunity to critical hits. A phiuhl cannot run, but it can fly (slowly), and it is subject to winds. It cannot wear armor, manipulate solid objects, or enter water or other liquids. It can pass through small holes or narrow openings--even mere cracks. It also can occupy squares occupied by enemies.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Steal Breath is a good idea. I say go for it.

I think LN or LE is the best fit, at least if we want them to keep to such a rigid attack routine. Otherwise NE or CE.

Edit: I'd go with either the belker's or phiuhl's gaseous form and some kind of change shape/size ability for the whirlwind business.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Smoke Claws (Ex): A belker in smoke form (see below) can engulf opponents by moving on top of them. It fills the air around one Medium or smaller opponent without provoking an attack of opportunity. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or inhale part of the creature. The save DC is Constitution-based. Smoke inside the victim solidifies into a claw and begins to rip at the surrounding organs, dealing 3d4 points of damage per round. An affected creature can attempt another Fortitude save each subsequent round to cough out the semivaporous menace.
This appears a much better match to the original, I'd rather use it than Steal Breath.

Smoke Form (Su): Most of the time a belker is more or less solid, but at will it can assume smoke form. It can switch forms once per round as a free action and can spend up to 20 rounds per day in smoke form. A belker in smoke form can fly at a speed of 50 feet (perfect). The ability is otherwise similar to a gaseous form spell (caster level 7th).

...or...

Gaseous Form (Ex): A phiuhl's insubstantial form grants it immunity to critical hits. A phiuhl cannot run, but it can fly (slowly), and it is subject to winds. It cannot wear armor, manipulate solid objects, or enter water or other liquids. It can pass through small holes or narrow openings--even mere cracks. It also can occupy squares occupied by enemies.
I think the Smoke Form is the closest, except the Dust Devil's works the other way round - most of the time it's in gaseous form. If we follow the original it takes it a full-round action to become solid enough to attack.
 

RavinRay

Visitor
Since it spends more time in gaseous than compact form, we'd have to reverse the description of dust form/gaseous form as per Cleon's suggestion. I think we also need a change in size from Small to Tiny (6" diameter).
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Since it spends more time in gaseous than compact form, we'd have to reverse the description of dust form/gaseous form as per Cleon's suggestion. I think we also need a change in size from Small to Tiny (6" diameter).
I'd be game to have it shrink when it's using its "throttle" attack (whatever we decide to call it).
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
Updated.

I think we should give them a slam attack like most elementals. That would allow it to have a less rigid attack routine, swaying freyar to CN. ;)

Do you think we need the size change for the solid form, or can we just let that one slide?
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Slam attacks sound good, and I'll let you switch to CN if we change the flavor and tactics a little. ;)

I'm torn on the size change. I'd rather keep it simple, but it sure sounds like it's going down to Tiny.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Slam attacks sound good, and I'll let you switch to CN if we change the flavor and tactics a little. ;)
Yes that makes sense.

Two 1d6+1 slams? It'd put them about halfway between a Small Air Elemental's 1d4 and a Small Earth Elemental's 1d6+4.

I'm torn on the size change. I'd rather keep it simple, but it sure sounds like it's going down to Tiny.
Rather than having them shrinking to assume solid form, I was thinking of having them size-reduce when using their "Smoke Claws" like attack, something like this:

Dust Form (Ex): A dust devil's natural form is a vortex of whirling dust, with the same effects as gaseous form. In this form it can fly at a speed of 50 ft (perfect). A dust devil can solidify its body as a swift action, allowing it to attack with its slam attacks and dust talons. Solidifying takes 1 round, during which time the dust devil cannot attack physically but still loses the DR 10/magic of its gaseous form. A solidified dust devil can still fly, but must stay near the ground - it is unable to stray more than its Reach from the earth without collapsing back into gaseous form. A dust devil can instantaneously return to its natural dust vortex form as a swift action.

Dust Talons (Ex): A dust devil that has solidified out of its dust form (see above) can engulf an opponent without provoking an attack of opportunity, simply by moving on top of them. Its opponent must succeed at a DC X Fortitude save or the dust devil condenses itself around its target's head and forces part of its body down its opponent's mouth (or other orifice, for creatures with different anatomies). The condensed dust devil gains a +X size bonus to its AC and starts tearing at the internal organs of its opponent, dealing 3d4 points of damage per round. An affected creature can attempt another Fortitude save each subsequent round to cough out the semi-solid menace. The save DC is Constitution-based
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Hmm, I have some questions about that.

Why is assuming dust form a swift action if it takes a round? Shouldn't it be a full round action? Or something like a 1 round casting time spell?

Why does it get the size bonus to AC when using dust talons if it's not smaller? In fact, it's engulfing an opponent (or at least the head!). The belker doesn't get that. If anything, I'd say the victim of the talons takes some fraction of the damage dealt to the dust devil.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Hmm, I have some questions about that.

Why is assuming dust form a swift action if it takes a round? Shouldn't it be a full round action? Or something like a 1 round casting time spell?
It takes a swift action to start the transformation, but it takes a round to have effect. That means it can condense and move, double-move or run in the same round, but not attack, since it isn't solid yet.

Could do with some rewording to make that clearer though.

Revising...

Dust Form (Ex): A dust devil's natural form is a vortex of whirling dust, with the same effects as gaseous form. In this form it can fly at a speed of 50 ft (perfect).

A dust devil can solidify its body as a swift action, but this solidification takes a round to take effect, during which time the dust devil loses the DR 10/magic of its gaseous form but is unable to attack physically, although it can still perform actions that do not require a solid body, such as movement. A solidified dust devil can still fly, but must stay near the ground - it is unable to stray more than its Reach from the earth without collapsing back into gaseous form.

A dust devil can instantaneously return to its natural dust vortex form as a swift action.

Why does it get the size bonus to AC when using dust talons if it's not smaller? In fact, it's engulfing an opponent (or at least the head!). The belker doesn't get that. If anything, I'd say the victim of the talons takes some fraction of the damage dealt to the dust devil.
Well we can just say it gains a smaller size category if that bothers you...

Dust Talons (Ex): A dust devil that has solidified out of its dust form (see above) can engulf an opponent without provoking an attack of opportunity, simply by moving on top of them. Its opponent must succeed at a DC X Fortitude save or the dust devil shrinks itself around its target's head and forces part of its body down its opponent's mouth (or other orifice, for creatures with different anatomies) and starts tearing at the internal organs of its opponent, dealing Y points of damage per round. An affected creature can attempt another Fortitude save each subsequent round to cough out the semi-solid menace. The save DC is Constitution-based.

A dust devil becomes [Diminutive?] sized while attacking with dust talons and gains a [+3?] size bonus to its AC. It immediately resumes its normal size once it stops using its dust talons attack.
 

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