Echohawk pointed out our complete lack of elementals over the past year, so here's one...
Created by Bruce Sears
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 4
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
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).