Converting monsters from Dragon magazine


So what Dragon Magazine monster would you like to do next?

A quick glance through my "Want List" suggests the Dark Dweller or Subterranean Troll from Dragon Magazine #51, since I fancy continuing with the "Troll theme".


What about the worry-wart?
Ah yes, I recall you proposed that symbiont some time ago. While we'll have to get around to the Worry-Wort eventually, I think a Dark Dweller conversion is more likely to see use in a typical 3E D&D game.

How about we let Freyar decide?


Extradimensional Explorer
Ugh, 2.5 weeks later, I'm just getting to the question. Does either one look particularly odd or complicated? If so, let's save it. :p Or maybe we could find a spot in another thread for one of them.


Ugh, 2.5 weeks later, I'm just getting to the question. Does either one look particularly odd or complicated? If so, let's save it. :p Or maybe we could find a spot in another thread for one of them.
Well of the two the Worry-Wort looks the most "odd or complicated", but I might just be saying that because I prefer the Dark Dweller.

I'll post the original stats of the two so you have something to make your decision on.


MOVEMENT:Fly 6 (A) until merging with host, as per host thereafter
SPECIAL DEFENSES:Constant vigilance

The strange creature often called a worry-wart is in fact a tiny part of a vast, amorphous, extra-dimensional creature called a nibish-riule. The portion of the creature’s body visible in the Prime Material Plane initially appears as a quarter-inch beauty mark or mole, flying by no apparent visible means. The nibish-riule sees through this piece of itself, with infravision to a range of 60 feet. Projecting such a piece of itself into the Prime is tiring; the nibish-riule can maintain it for only an hour before it must retract to its own plane and rest for a month.

Combat: Combat with a worry-wart is usually unintentional and unnoticed, for the host is seldom aware of the creature’s existence at that point. The “flying beauty mark” lands on the potential host, and a saving throw vs. poison is made. If successful, the host’s anatomy is incompatible with that of the nibish-riule, and it seeks another host. If the saving throw fails, the beauty mark bonds to the host’s skin. From that point, the nibish-riule’s link to the Prime Material Plane is made permanent by successful merging with the host’s skin.

Habitat/Society: Once the nibish-riule “plants” its beauty mark on a host, it begins setting up an internal network. The beauty mark grows roots that burrow into the host’s body, connecting with blood vessels and nerve ganglia, and occasionally popping up to the surface of the skin to grow another beauty mark. When the network is complete about a month after infestation, the host has 1d4 +2 such beauty marks.

Once the network is complete, the nibish-riule can establish contact with its host telepathically, though only the host can “hear” the disembodied voice. Nibish-riuli are inquisitive and want above all else to learn about life on the Prime Material Plane. Typical greetings are, “What’s it like to be a human?” “Why do you move around on those two long things?” or “Doesn’t your race find it confusing having two genders?”

Assuming the host doesn’t immediately go into a screaming fit, the nibish-riule explains itself and its presence. Unfortunately for the host, by this point it’s usually too late to do anything about the worry-wart’s merging into the host’s body, as the process is irreversible without the use of wish-level magic. Smart hosts learn to make the best of the situation.

Ecology: A worry-wart’s two concerns are learning about life on the Prime Material Plane and keeping its host safe so it can learn more. Because the nibish-riule never sleeps, it keeps constant vigilance on the area around its host, peeking out of its multiple beauty mark eyes. Once it’s established its internal network in the host’s body, it can even “pop” these beauty marks out of the host’s skin on flexible eyestalks to get a better look around. The worry-wart makes an excellent lookout, telepathically warning its host of approaching danger.

Of course, there’s a price to be paid for such benefits. The worry-wart, as its common nomenclature suggests, can be a nag, becoming almost motherly in its concern for the host’s safety (If the host is killed, the nibish-riale loses its fascinating window into the Prime Material Plane.) In addition, its curiosity is insatiable, leading it to ask questions about everything it sees. (Reliable sources insist it’s worse than a two-year-old.) Finally, if the worry-wart disagrees with the host, it has the irritating habit of stretching an eyestalk around to stare the host in the face and telepathically inquiring, “Are you crazy?”

if a host perishes while linked to a worry-wart, the nibish riule loses its window to the Prime Material Plane but is otherwise unharmed. After a month’s rest, it casts another piece of itself through the planes in search of another host.

Originally appeared in Dragon Magazine #259 (“Symbiotes and Parasites” by Johnathan M. Richards, May 1999).


Dark Dweller
Created by Mark Cummings
FREQUENCY: Very rare
NO. APPEARING: 2-24 in large lairs; 1-8 wandering or in small lairs
MOVE: 12″
HIT DICE: 9-14
% IN LAIR: 80%
TREASURE TYPE: V, W in large lairs; G in small lairs; nothing on individuals
NO. OF ATTACKS: 3 (claw, claw, bite) or 1 (by weapon)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-6/1-6/1-8 or by weapon type
INTELLIGENCE: Average to high
ALlGNMENT: Lawful evil
SIZE: L (9′ + tall)
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil

Dark Dwellers are much like trolls in appearance, lending support to the theory that the two species are distant relatives. Dark Dwellers (also known as subterranean trolls) have the general physical characteristics of trolls, including regeneration, but are physically different in some respects and vastly different in overall intelligence and basic behavior.

They are bigger and stronger than trolls, and the warriors almost always (90%) wear plate armor. They are lawful evil instead of chaotic evil in alignment.

Dark Dwellers are excellent miners and smiths. They have the following special abilities:

—All of the mining skills possessed by dwarves, according to the AD&D™ Players Handbook.
—The ability to construct secret doors that are only detectable 8% of the time by elves, and then only if they are actively seeking them. Men detect them only 4% of the time when searching for them. A sword or another magical device with the ability to detect secret doors will detect them only 33% of the time. Multiple searches of the same area are allowed.
— The ability to construct mechanical traps that will only be detected 75% of the time by a sword or a Find Traps spell. True Seeing will reveal them 80% of the time. Thieves find/remove such traps at a -20% to the score they normally need to be successful.
— The ability to construct their own arms and armor.

Dark Dwellers are very strong. Males have a minimum Strength of 19, enabling them to attack at +4, and to do an additional 8 points of damage per hit with their favorite weapon, a great sword. Their strength allows them to wear plate mail of unusual thickness and to carry great shields, which gives them an effective armor class of -4. Females have strengths of 17-18, with “to hit” and damage bonuses accordingly reduced, and do not bear such heavy armor and shield (AC 0). Males and females are equally ferocious, but the females have 9-11 hit dice while males have 12-14 hit dice each.

The main weakness of subterranean trolls is their inability to withstand bright lights. Full exposure to the light of the sun will blind. Light and Continual light spells cause them to lose their +4-to-hit bonus, However, they will not flee from light spells, and only true sunlight will blind them.

Dark Dwellers share a communal lifestyle. In a small lair, all of the inhabitants will be adults. In a large lair, one third of the creatures present will be young. They will function as regular trolls with regard to melee, etc.

Subterranean trolls are very greedy. They live in their extensive, hard-to-find underground tunnels, venturing forth at night to raid and hunt for food. Their superior infravision (150′) combines with their excellent sense of smell to make them formidable hunters. Mainly carnivorous, they will eat any kind of flesh. They live for about 200 years and have a very low rate of reproduction.

Their favorite tactic is to build a lair near a populated area. The advance team will consist of 2-12 adults. They will avoid the inhabitants of the area in an effort to expand the lair until it is large enough for the rest of the tribe to come and join them. Then they will begin a campaign of terror and destruction, living off the inhabitants and their livestock until the inhabitants drive them off (rarely) or until the inhabitants are killed off or driven out. They will then live off the game in that area while a new advance team seeks a new area to raid.

Subterranean trolls have one more ability that makes them even more fearful: the ability to domesticate the Antrodemus dinosaur as a beast of burden and as a war mount. Since Dark Dwellers must raid at night, they use these beasts to increase the range of their raids. There is a 33% chance that a large lair will contain 1-20 of these beasts.

The lair of a group of Dwellers will always be more extensive than the group needs. It may consist of many levels; subterranean trolls love to mine for the sake of mining.

All of the group’s treasure will always be kept in one central location that is well concealed and well trapped. A lair will always have more than one entrance, and these will be hard to find. There is a 1% chance to find such an entrance in an all-day search of five square miles, per every 20 men involved in the search. Additional bonuses to the chance of finding the entrance are as follows:

— Each additional day of search of the same area, plus 5%.
— Each Ranger or Druid involved in a search adds 2%; each elf adds 1%.
— If the lair contains Antrodemus dinosaurs, add an additional 10%.

Subterranean trolls will sometimes build small lairs with only one or two entrances to use when raiding areas that are more than one night’s journey away from the main lair. When Dark Dwellers leave an area, other creatures may move into their abandoned nests, bringing their own treasure with them. In this way, many networks of underground tunnels and chambers have been formed for adventurers to loot and die in.

Originally appeared in Dragon Magazine #51 (“Dragon’s Bestiary”, July 1981).


So Freyar's options are a talking beauty spot and a subterranean dinosaur-riding troll.

Which will he chose? News at ten!


Extradimensional Explorer
Oddly enough, the worry-warts actually seem simpler --- a lot of them sounds like flavor, rather than mechanics. Unless we're going to attempt a full nibish riule "conversion," anyway. Let's start with the worry-warts. If there's another appropriate thread, we can move the dark dwellers there.

I will say that we're definitely well into the odd ones.


Oddly enough, the worry-warts actually seem simpler --- a lot of them sounds like flavor, rather than mechanics. Unless we're going to attempt a full nibish riule "conversion," anyway. Let's start with the worry-warts. If there's another appropriate thread, we can move the dark dwellers there.

I will say that we're definitely well into the odd ones.
Well the rate we're processing them it might not be practical to have another thread on the go for the Dark Dweller.

The main problem with the Worry-Wart is that there's very little material to work with. Like the Skullcap Ivy it barely rates as a "creature" in 3E terms. There are quite a few "N/A" in the description. It doesn't even have Hit Dice, making it a bit hard to stat it up as a monster.

I guess we could do it as a Hazard that "infects" a host with a Symbiont.


How about the power-slug then?
The Powerslug (note spelling) is pretty much a one-trick symbiont like the Skullcap Ivy and Worry-Wart. The only actual "monster" in Dragon #259's Symbiotes & Parasites article is the Blood Pudding.

Anyhow, we've settled on converting the Worry-Wart next on this threat followed by the Dark Dweller. The 'slug and 'puddin can wait.