Converting monsters from Tales From The Infinite Staircase

Cleon

Adventurer
Looks good so far!

I guess we might as well go ahead and finish up the valgoss themselves. Tactics: Valgoss not typically predatory and avoid conflict when possible. When forced to defend themselves, however, they bite and burrow into their opponents.
The "not typically predatory" is odd for a creature that normally only eats algae and swamp slime. Tactics wise, the original has "Even an outright attack probably just induces them to flee underwater or, barring that, fight back to the death. Spells or psionic abilities that allow a body to read the creatures’ minds reveal that while both possess intelligence, neither is even aware of the PCs’ existence. Essentially, *** the characters are beneath notice—not even worth considering."

So maybe…

Valgoss ignore other creatures unless directly interfered with, which prompts them to try to swim away underwater. If a valgoss cannot escape an attacker it fights to the death, biting and burrowing into its opponent.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Sure, works for me. I was trying to get at something like that, just not in so many words.

Host description: A human with a lumpy pink arc of flesh across its body. ?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Sure, works for me. I was trying to get at something like that, just not in so many words.
Updating Valgoss Working Draft.

Sure, works for me. I was trying to get at something like that, just not in so many words.

Host description: A human with a lumpy pink arc of flesh across its body. ?
I wouldn't restrict it to a human.

How about:

The creature has a slimy pink band of flesh arcing across their body. The wormlike arc of flesh twitches and squirms occasionally as if it has a life of its own.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
That'll work --- sufficiently descriptive and just gross enough. :p

I think all that's left is some background. Any thoughts on that?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I think all that's left is some background. Any thoughts on that?
I'm thinking we should modify the mention of Hanim to give some hint who they are.

i.e. change:

The Hanim have developed a secret process that allows a living creature to form a symbiotic union with a valgoss. The candidate must perform an hour-long ceremony and then enter water populated by valgoss. The Hanim usually accompany this ceremony with incense and the music of hide drums, but this is not necessary for success.

To:

A tribe of humans who call themselves the Hanim have developed a secret process that allows a living creature to form a symbiotic union with a valgoss. The candidate must perform an hour-long ceremony and then enter water populated by valgoss. The Hanim usually accompany this ceremony with incense and the music of hide drums, but this is not necessary for success.

We could make it more generic (see below), but then we'd have to rephrase the "Hanim Gift" part of the Slaiyith Gift section.

At least one tribe of humanoids has developed a secret process that allows a living creature to form a symbiotic union with a valgoss. The candidate must perform an hour-long ceremony and then enter water populated by valgoss. The ceremony is traditionally accompanied by incense and the music of hide drums, but this is not necessary for success.

I think all that's left is some background.
Not quite. We need to set the CR and LA and work out a sample creature - I was assuming we'd do a human for that since it can represent a Hanim character.

Any thoughts on that?
Valgoss are wormlike creatures that live in a demiplane called Maelost, a dismal realm of harsh rocky ridges and abundant swamps in which the aquatic valgoss thrive. They eat slime and algae.

Despite their modest appearance, valgoss are as intelligent as many humanoids. They communicate with each other using hive telepathy and lack any interest or ability to speak to other creatures. Like the mighty tentacled beings called slaiyith who also dwell in Maelost's swamps, valgoss consider humanoids as being unworthy of their attention. Slaiyith greatly respect valgoss for the vital role they play in sustaining the ecosystem of their world and consider creatures who have formed a symbiotic bond with a valgoss as being worthy of their gifts (see Valgoss Symbionts, below).
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
I'll agree with the change for the Hanim text, adn I don't think we need to make it more generic. But I don't think it would be too hard to rephrase the gift section if we are worried about WotC IP.

Flavor looks fine.

For the host, CR+0 and LA+0 seem appropriate, I think. The advantages are not big, and there are compensating disadvantages. I guess I could be persuaded of CR+0 and LA+1 or something.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I'll agree with the change for the Hanim text, adn I don't think we need to make it more generic. But I don't think it would be too hard to rephrase the gift section if we are worried about WotC IP.
It wasn't the IP issue I was worrying about but that when a random person reads the monster entry they likely won't know who the Hanim are and think "What's a hanim? I can't find them in any monster lists!"

Explaining they're humans makes it a lot clearer.

Flavor looks fine.
Updating Valgoss Working Draft.

For the host, CR+0 and LA+0 seem appropriate, I think. The advantages are not big, and there are compensating disadvantages. I guess I could be persuaded of CR+0 and LA+1 or something.
I was instinctively going to suggest the LA +1 version to discourage mini-maxing but having only one of the Gifts work outside Maelost means it isn't worth bothering with. It's like the special equipment drow have that evaporate outside the Underdark - "just for the adventure items".

I could see a character with multiple worms being a higher CR. The Slaiyith's gifts are functionally equivalent to magic items. The physical gifts aren't that great, mostly being equal to the weakest versions of a stat-boosting item (ie a Gift of Dexterity gives the same bonus as a 4,000 gp pair +2 gloves of Dexterity). The magic-boosting ones are based on metamagic rods though, so a spellcaster with the Gift of Empowerment effectively has a 73,000 gp greater metamagic rod of empower.

The Enlarge and Extend gifts match less powerful 24,500 gp rods.

The bigger issue is the worms are equivalent to SLOTLESS magic items so, so a character can benefit from them all simultaneously rather than only be able to wield one at a time like a metamagic rod. that's 224,000 gp-equivalent if you use the SRD "double price for no space limitation" rule, which'll put NPC-type characters well above their wealth by level. Even a 20th level NPC is only supposed to have 200k worth in gear.

The question is how much does the 4 hp per worm cost balance that, especially when it can be partially or entirely offset by a Constitution worm? A 12th level caster with a Con worm plus two magic worms has the same HP as a "wormless" character.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Yeah, the symbiosis is pretty valuable, but I'm not sure they really make the characters so much more powerful on their own in terms of CR. We could do something like +1 CR and/or LA per two bonded valgoss. What would you think?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Yeah, the symbiosis is pretty valuable, but I'm not sure they really make the characters so much more powerful on their own in terms of CR. We could do something like +1 CR and/or LA per two bonded valgoss. What would you think?
That might be a bit too steep.

How about:

Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature for a host with one or two valgoss symbionts; as base creature +1 for a host with from three to five valgoss symbionts; or as base creature +2 for a host with six or more valgoss symbionts.

For the LA, I'm tempted to have it start at +1 to discourage PCs from exploiting single symbionts. Maybe:

Level Adjustment #1: Same as the base creature +1 for a host with from one to five valgoss symbionts; or as base creature +2 for a host with six or more valgoss symbionts.

or:

Level Adjustment #2: Same as the base creature +1 for a host with one or two valgoss symbionts; as base creature +2 for a host with from three to five valgoss symbionts; or as base creature +3 for a host with six or more valgoss symbionts.
 
Last edited:

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
That CR sounds fair.

Hmmm. I'd go with your first LA proposal.

Then I think these are done, right?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Ooops, yes. Human warrior, non-elite array?
Human Warrior is fine. The question is do we want to make them a Hanim? (i,e, the humans of the plane that Valgoss are native too). That would have the benefit that anyone who wants to run the adventure using our conversions (like Oryan77) can use the Valgoss sample creature stats for those NPCs.

In the original adventure the Hanim were described as follows:

Having undergone the Scouring ritual of the Dark Dweller, most of the Hanim have hairless bodies with smooth, muscular skin. They wear leather and hides, using insect carapaces to make armor and shields. Their weapons and tools come from bone and stone. Many Hanim carry torag poles made from bones wrapped in cured leather and decorated with feathers, chitin, and stones. These items possess some strange abilities that seem almost magical—a Hanim can alter the length from 5 feet to almost 10. In combat, they strike as +1 staves.

TYPICAL HANIM WARRIOR (Pl/♂ or ♀ human/F4) (1d12 or 1 per PC): AC 8 (leather armor); MV 12; hp 26 each; THAC0 17 (16 with pole); #AT 1; Dmg 1d6+1 (torag pole); SZ M (6′ tall); ML champion (18); Int avg (9-10); AL N; XP 175 each.

I can see the above as being either Warrior 4 or Fighter 4. The "torag pole" can be an exotic weapon capable of changing its Reach (say, as a swift or move action?). For the "strike as +1 staves" I'd either make them masterwork weapons that do 1d6+1 base damage OR simply make them +1 magical weapons, depending on your preference. I prefer the first option, since the "seem almost magical" line makes it sound like they're technically mundane items.

In addition, the tribe of Hanim the PCs encounter are led by a Wizard/Cleric who's declared himself to be "Lord of the Worms" and has
five new spells of his own creation.

ZOPHIEL (Pl/♂ Human/W9, C4): AC 10; MV 18 (valgoss enhanced); hp 7; THAC0 15); #AT 1; Dmg 1d6 (staff); SA All 10 valgoss abilities (see page 55); MR 10%; SZ M (5′ 5″ tall); ML unsteady (5); AL NE; XP 2,000.

S 11, D 12, C 10, I 17, W 15, Ch 4 (14 to Hanim)

Special equipment: wand of negation (21 charges), folding boat, wings of flying (damaged and no longer functional).

Personality; Twisted, sadistic, selfish

Priest Spells (6/5/3/2/1): 1st—bless, cure light wounds (x2), faerie fire, light, sanctuary; 2nd—augury, barkskin, dust devil, hold person, summon worms; 3rd—continual light, dispel magic, pyrotechnics; 4th—cure serious wounds, neutralize poison; 5th—curse of the worms

Wizard Spells (4/3/3/2/1): 1st—burrow, charm person, sleep, spook; 2nd blindness, blur, summon swarm; 3rd—fly, flame arrow*, wormwork; 4th—ice storm, stoneskin; 5th—wormtongue

* Spell always cast at maximum efficiency

You will notice that Zophiel's listed class levels of Wizard 9/Cleric 4 do not match his spells prepared, which indicate he's a Wizard 9/Cleric 9. If we include him in the Valgoss sample creatures as a "Hanim Leader" I would make him a Wizard 3/Cleric 3/Mystic Theurge 6.

Statting up Zophiel looks like it'd be a lot of work though. Are you game?
 
Last edited:

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
We can do Zophiel, but let's start with the simpler one.

Let's make the torag pole a masterwork exotic weapon with some kind of nested cylinders or something. Let's make the sample a fighter, I guess.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
We can do Zophiel, but let's start with the simpler one.
That's what I had in mind too. Might as well begin with the regular Hanim warrior.

Oh dang it, I meant to type "Mystic Theurge 6" for Zophiel, not "Mystic Theurge 9". Unless you're really keen on giving him 12th-level spellcasting.

Let's make the torag pole a masterwork exotic weapon with some kind of nested cylinders or something. Let's make the sample a fighter, I guess.
Do you mean that ALL of these poles are masterwork weapons? I'd rather make them exotic weapons and have the sample character own a masterwork version.

Fighter 4 works for me.

So shall we crib some (or most) of the basic stats from the DMG or build this Human Fighter 4 from scratch?
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
We don't need to make them all masterwork. ;)

Let's start from scratch, I guess, though we can use the DMG for inspiration of course. Starting from the elite array, I'd go with base abilities of Str 15, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8. Work for you?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
We don't need to make them all masterwork. ;)

Let's start from scratch, I guess, though we can use the DMG for inspiration of course. Starting from the elite array, I'd go with base abilities of Str 15, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8. Work for you?
That seems fine. I'll rough out a Working Draft with a few ideas.

A 4th level character will get 1 ability advance. With those stats either Strength or Constitution look the best choice. I'd opt for Constitution - living in a swamp they probably want good Fort saves.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Valgoss Host Sample Creature Working Draft (Hanim human)

Sample Valgoss Host
The following sample creature has gained the valgoss host template.

Hanim Warrior
Human male or female 4th level fighter

Medium Humanoid (Human)
Hit Dice: 4d10+12–8 (26 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 16 (+2 Dex, +2 leather, +2 heavy chitin shield [equal to heavy wooden shield]), touch 12, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+7
Attack: Masterwork torag pole +9 melee (1d6+5) or javelin +6 ranged (1d6+3)
Full Attack: Masterwork torag pole +9 melee (1d6+5) or javelin +6 ranged (1d6+3)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft. (10 ft. with extended torag pole)
Special Attacks:
Special Qualities: Fighter class features, human traits, protection from The Taker of Life, slaiyith gifts (hanim gift, constitution, speed, strength), valgoss telepathy
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +3, Will +4
Abilities: Str 17, Con 16, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Skills: Climb +8*, Handle Animal +2 (+6 for valgoss hosts), Listen +1 (+3 on Maelost), Ride +9, Spot +1* (+3 on Maelost), Survival +1* (+3 on Maelost)
** Includes –2 armor check penalty
Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (torag pole), Iron Will, Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Weapon Focus (torag pole), Weapon Specialization (torag pole)
(includes human extra feat plus three fighter bonus feats)
Environment: Swamps of Maelost
Organization: As base creature
Challenge Rating: 5 (with 3-5 symbiotes)
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +1

A sinewy human armed with a curiously segmented pole, a quiver of stone-tipped javelins and a shield that appears to be made from the shell of a giant beetle. Dressed in leather armor, the human's equipment shows no scrap of metal, not even a buckle or pin.

Hanim warriors normally ride into battle on giant riding flies bonded to their own valgoss symbionts. This allows the warriors to use their Ride skill without the penalty applied when using a Charisma skill upon a creature that isn't a valgoss host. The giant fly mount is usually host to a single symbiont with the Gift of Constitution.

Apart from their valgoss symbionts a hanim warrior is a normal human physically, including their height and weight.

The hanim warrior presented here is a 4th-level fighter with the following base ability scores: Str 15, Con 13, Dex 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.

Combat
Hanim warriors usually fight from their giant fly mounts. They try to stay out of their enemies' reach by throwing javelins or striking with extended torag poles.

Torag Pole: Exotic melee weapons unique to the hanim, torag poles have the following weapon description:

Exotic Weapon
One-Handed Melee Weapon
CostDmgCriticalRangeWeightDamage Type
Torag pole*20 gp1d6×23 lb.Bludgeoning

Torag pole: A torag pole is made from bones wrapped in cured leather. A wielder with Exotic Weapon Proficiency in torag pole can change its length from its default of 5 feet to up to 10 feet long. When extended the torag pole becomes a Reach weapon. Extending or contracting a torag pole is equivalent to drawing a weapon. Wielders without proficiency in torag pole cannot alter its length.

Skills: *A hanim warrior valgoss host gains a +2 insight bonus on Listen, Spot and Survival checks while on Maelost.

This hanim warrior valgoss host has a –4 penalty to all Charisma-based skills except for Intimidate unless the target of the skill is also a valgoss host.

Originally appeared in Tales From the Infinite Staircase (1998) in Tale 3: Lord of the Worms
 
Last edited:

Cleon

Adventurer
Giant Fly Mount Homebrew

Original Stats
GIANT FLY MOUNT: AC 5; MV 6, 27 (A); HD 6; hp 32 each; THAC0 15; #AT 1; Dmg 2d8 (bite); SA attaches to opponent after successful bite attack, automatically inflicting bite damage each round; SZ L (8′ long); ML average (9); Int animal (1); AL N; XP 270 each.

Homebrew Conversion

Fly, Giant Mount
Large Magical Beast
Hit Dice:6d10+18 (51 hp)
Initiative:+2
Speed:20 ft. (4 squares), climb 20 ft., fly 70 ft. (good)
Armor Class:15 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +4 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple:+6/+14
Attack:Bite +9 melee (2d8+6 plus attach)
Full Attack:Bite +9 melee (2d8+6 plus attach)
Space/Reach:10 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks:Attach, gnaw
Special Qualities:Darkvision 60 ft., evasion, resistant to disease, scent, vermin traits, wallcrawling
Saves:Fort +8 (+12 vs. disease), Ref +9, Will +2
Abilities:Str 18, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 1, Wis 10, Cha 3
Skills:Climb +12, Listen +6, Spot +7
Feats:Dodge, Endurance, Lightning Reflexes
Environment:Any warm land (Maelgost)
Organization:Domesticated
Challenge Rating:4
Treasure:None
Alignment:Always neutral
Advancement:7-9 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment:

This massive fly approaches with a thunderous din from its rapidly beating wings.

Description.

A giant fly mount is around 8 feet long with a 16-foot wingspan and weighs about 1,500 pounds.

Combat
The giant fly mount's mandibles resemble serrated hooks, which they use to latch onto opponents and rip out chunks of flesh, leaving vicious wounds.

Attach (Ex): A giant fly mount that hits with its bite attack latches onto the opponent’s body with its powerful jaws. An attached giant fly mount loses its Dexterity bonus to AC and thus has an AC of 13. An attached giant fly mount can be struck with a weapon or grappled itself. To remove an attached giant fly mount through grappling, the opponent must achieve a pin against the creature.

A giant fly mount cannot bite another creature while attached to an opponent.

Evasion (Ex): if a giant fly mount makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, it instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a giant fly mount is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless giant fly mount does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Gnaw (Ex): A giant fly mount can automatically deal bite damage (2d8+6) each round it remains attached to an opponent. This counts as an attack of opportunity.

Resistant to Disease (Ex): A giant fly mount has a +4 racial bonus on Fortitude saves vs. disease.

Wallcrawling (Ex): A giant fly mount need not make Climb checks to traverse a vertical or horizontal surface (even upside down). It retains its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class while climbing and opponents get no special bonus to their attacks against it.

Skills: Giant fly mounts have a +2 racial bonus on Listen and Spot checks and a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks. A giant fly mount can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened.

Training a Giant Fly Mount
A giant fly mount requires training before it can bear a rider in combat.

Training a giant fly mount requires six weeks of work and a DC 25 Handle Animal check. Riding a giant fly mount requires an exotic saddle. A giant fly mount can fight while carrying a rider, but the rider cannot also attack unless he or she succeeds on a Ride check.

Giant fly mount eggs are worth 3,000 gp apiece on the open market, while larva are worth 6,000 gp each. Professional trainers charge 1,500 gp to rear or train a giant fly mount.

Carrying Capacity
A light load for a giant fly mount is up to 300 pounds; a medium load, 301-600 pounds; and a heavy load, 601-900 pounds.


Originally appeared in Tales From the Infinite Staircase (1998) in Tale 3: Lord of the Worms
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I whipped up a Giant Fly Homebrew for the sake of completion.

Speaking of completion, it's way past time for me to update the conversion list in post #2 of this thread.
 

Advertisement

Top