Converting monsters from Tales From The Infinite Staircase

Cleon

Legend
Here's a couple more Homebrews for the Slaiyith and Valgoss.

I'm toying with the idea of statting the Hanim as a race, although they'd work OK as normal humans.
 

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Cleon

Legend
Valgoss Homebrew

Original Stats
Valgoss range from two to six inches long, are pinkish white in color, and have powerful jaws, surrounded by tiny tentacles, on either end of their bodies. Blind, they swim in the water and sense the presence of other creatures through movement. Valgoss feed upon tiny algae and various slimes that grow in the water, Their presence will be detected by those watching the surface of the water carefully, as they come up to feed and slither along the top or the nearly opaque water

The PCs can do little to attract the attention of the slaiyiths or the valgoss. 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, both types of creatures feel that the characters are beneath notice—not even worth considering.

VALGOSS: AC 8; MV 3, Sw 6; HD 1+1; hp 8; THAC0 19; #AT 1; Dmg 1d2 (burrow); SZ T (2-6” long); ML unsteady (7); Int avg (10); AL N; XP 35.

Homebrew Conversion

Valgoss
Diminutive Aberration (Aquatic, Symbiont)
Hit Dice: 1d8+4 (8 hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares), swim 20 ft., burrow 5 ft.
Armor Class: 14 (+4 size), touch 14, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +0/-16
Attack: Bite +2 melee (1d6-4)
Full Attack: Bite +2 melee (1d6-4)
Space/Reach: 1 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Attach, burrow, slaiyith gift
Special Qualities: Blind, blindsight 10 ft., hive telepathy, host bond, scent, symbiont traits
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +4
Abilities: Str 2, Dex 11, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 10, Ego 10
Skills: Climb +7, Escape Artist +7, Listen +6, Swim +8
Feats: Great Fortitude, Weapon Finesse, Toughness
Environment: Temperate aquatic
Organization: Solitary or communion (5–100)
Challenge Rating: 1/4 or host +0
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: None
Level Adjustment:

A thick-bodied fleshy-pink worm about as long as a human hand. It has a mouth surrounded by a frill of tentacles at each end of its body.

Background

A valgoss is about 6 inches long and weighs a few ounces.

Combat
Tactics

Attach (Ex): If a valgoss hits with a bite attack, it uses its teeth and mouth-tentacles to latch onto the opponent’s body. An attached valgoss is effectively grappling its prey. The valgoss loses its Dexterity bonus to AC and has an AC of 12, but holds on with great tenacity.

Once attached, a valgoss will Burrow into its victim (see below). It continues to make bite attacks against the attached opponent using its second mouth, and if that attack hits the valgoss will attach itself with both its mouths.

An attached valgoss can be struck with a weapon or grappled itself. To remove an attached valgoss through grappling, the opponent must achieve a pin against the valgoss. The valgoss uses its Escape Artist skill (typically a +7 check modifier) to oppose creatures attempting to pin them.

Blind (Ex): Valgoss are immune to gaze attacks, visual effects, illusions, and other attack forms that rely on sight.

Burrow (Ex): An attached valgoss can burrow into its opponent, dealing 1d2 points of damage in any round it begins its turn attached to a victim. If it is attached to its opponent with both its mouths it does this damage twice (total 2d2 damage).

Hive Telepathy (Ps): A valgoss is in constant telepathic communion with all other valgoss within 50 miles. If one is aware of a particular danger, they all are. If one in a group is not flat-footed, none of them are. No valgoss in a group is considered flanked unless all of them are.

Host Bond (Ex): 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.

The valgoss will only bond with healthy hosts – they reject candidates who is diseased, wounded, poisoned, or sickly (Con of 7 or less). If a candidate meets their approval, a valgoss will bite their host-to-be with the mouths at the opposite end of its wormlike body and burrow into their flesh, inflicting 1d2 points of damage with each of its two mouths. The valgoss then fuses with the host, becoming a slimy pink arc of flesh that loops across the host's body, with an occasional squirm or twitch. This bonding permanently inflicts 2 hit points of damage per mouth to the host (so 4 hit point damage in total). This damage cannot be healed by any means as long as the valgoss remains bonded. Even if the host bond is broken and the valgoss removed, the injury can only be removed by a heal, miracle or wish.

In addition to the injury, the host suffers a –1 penalty to all Charisma-based skills except for Intimidate unless the target of the skill is also the host of a valgoss. These penalties are cumulative, so a host with three valgoss will have 12 hit points of wounds and a –3 penalty to those skills.

The valgoss's host gain the ability to communicate with the slaiyith, and their union with a valgoss means they will never be attacked by the Taker of Life. In addition, they gain a +2 insight bonus on Listen, Spot and Survival checks while on Maelost. The greatest benefit of the host bond, however, is that bonded valgoss can receive supernatural gifts from the slaiyiths (see Slaiyith Gift).

Once bonded, the valgoss is sustained by the host's body and does not need to eat, drink or breath. The valgoss can voluntarily break the bond with its host, but will only do so its host is dying or suffering from a terminal disease (one that has reduced the host's Con to 5 or less).

Slaiyith Gift (Su): The host of a valgoss beseech the oldest and most powerful of the slaiyiths, the master slaiyiths, to gift their valgoss symbiont with a supernatural power. The master slaiyiths can bestow 10 different gifts to a valgoss, although one gift is only available to valgoss with Hanim hosts. Each valgoss can only bear a single gift. A host can bond with multiple gifted valgoss, but the gifts must be dissimilar. Under no circumstances can a host bond with two or more valgoss bearing the same Slaiyith Gift. A bonded valgoss will lose its gift if it is killed or separated from its host.

Nine of the Slaiyith Gifts only function on the plane of Maelost. The Gift of Maximization is the exception and has a limited functionality on other planes.

The available gifts are:

Hanim Gift
Gift of Personality Exchange: Because of an ancient pact the master slaiyith made with the Hanim they will only grant this gift to valgoss with a Hanim host. This ability allows two valgoss hosts who both possess a valgoss symbiont with the Personality Exchange gift to exchange their minds. Both hosts must be willing to exchange minds and be within 60 ft. of each other.
Personality Exchange brings about the same changes as the mind switch psionic power: each mind gains the type and physical characteristics of the assumed body as well as that body's extraordinary abilities (but not its supernatural or spell-like abilities). They gain the possessions and equipment of the assumed body (which includes the valgoss the body's bonded with and its Slaiyith Gifts) while retaining their own hit points, base saves, class abilities such as spells and powers, supernatural and spell-like abilities, skill ranks, and feats. Feats or abilities whose requirements are not met by the assumed body become temporarily unavailable.
Personality Exchange relies on the valgoss's Hive Telepathy, so the exchange ends if the telepathy is suppressed (e.g. an antimagic field or a mind blank spell). Personality Exchange also ends if a host dies, loses its Personality Exchange valgoss, or ceases being willing to continue the exchange. The host minds immediately return to their original bodies if the Personality Exchange is broken. If the death of a host forces the exchanged minds to return, only the original mind of the slain body is killed.

Physical Gifts
Gift of Strength: The host gains a +2 inherent bonus to Strength.
Gift of Dexterity: The host gains a +2 inherent bonus to Dexterity.
Gift of Constitution: The host gains a +2 inherent bonus to Constitution.
Gift of Speed: The host gains an inherent bonus to their land, swim and burrow speeds. Speeds from 5 ft. to 15 ft. gain a +5 ft. bonus; speeds from 20 ft. to 35 ft. gain a +10 ft. bonus; speeds from 40 ft. to 55 ft. gain a +20 ft. bonus; and speeds of 60 ft. or more gain a +30 ft. bonus. This gift only increases existing natural modes of movement; it does not increase movement granted by magic (such as a beholder's fly speed or the +30 ft. speed bonus of a haste spell), nor does it grant the host any additional modes of movement (e.g. it will only increase a host's existing swim speed if they already have a swim speed).

Magical Gifts
Gift of Spell Resistance: The host gains a spell resistance equal to their Hit Dice plus 5 (maximum 25).
Gift of Empowerment: The host can cast up to three spells per day that are empowered as though using the Empower Spell feat.
Gift of Enlargement: The host can cast up to three spells per day that are enlarged as though using the Enlarge Spell feat.
Gift of Extension: The host can cast up to three spells per day that are extended as though using the Extend Spell feat.
Gift of Maximization: The host selects one spell with a spell level up to 2 lower than the maximum spell level they can cast (e.g. a 3rd level spell if they can cast spells of up to 5th level). Whenever the host casts the selected spell it is automatically maximized as though by the Maximize Spell feat. In addition, the host can prepare the spell without referring to a spellbook.

The Gift of Maximization is the only Slaiyith Gift that functions outside the plane of Maelost. If a host casts the selected spell when they are not on Maelost, the spell is not automatically maximized but instead is unaffected by the planar traits Impeded Magic, Limited Magic or Wild Magic.

Symbiont Traits: While bonded to a host, a valgoss acts on its host's turn each round, regardless of its own initiative modifier. It is not flat-footed unless its host is, and it is aware of any danger its host is aware of.

A bonded valgoss symbiont is treated as if it is part of its host for targeting purposes, so opponents cannot attack it separately from the host creature.

A symbiont never takes damage from attacks directed at the host. Like a worn magic item, a symbiont is usually unaffected by spells that damage the host, but if the host rolls a 1 on its saving throw, the symbiont is one of the "items" that can be affected by the spell. A symbiont uses its host's base saving throw bonuses if they are better than its own.

Any spell the host creature casts on itself automatically also affects the symbiont. Additionally, the host may cast a spell with a target of "You" on the symbiont instead of on itself. The symbiont may do likewise with any spell or spell-like ability it uses. The host and symbiont can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the host's or the symbiont's type. Spells targeted on the host by another spellcaster do not affect the symbiont, and vice versa.

Skills: A valgoss has a +6 racial modifier on Climb checks and Escape Artist checks and a +4 racial bonus on Listen checks.

A valgoss has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line. A valgoss uses its Dexterity modifier instead of its Strength modifier for Climb and Swim checks.


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

Cleon

Legend
Original Stats
Slaiyiths have round, bulbous bodies from which they can extend pseudopods. These armlike extensions end in chomping maws filled with chitinous teeth. Six reddish eyes dot the slaiyith’s gray body, spaced equidistantly around the globelike mass. A few of the local Hanim claim to have seen slaiyiths measuring more than 50 feet in length (pseudopod tip to pseudopod tip). Most, however, are only 30 feet long. They can form up to four pseudopods at a time, although normally they have only two. Despite their vicious mouths, slaiyiths feed on grubs and insects that dwell on the bottom of the pools in which they live. Except for the occasional pseudopod that breaks the surface, planewalking visitors to Maelost may never see the slaiyiths.

The PCs can do little to attract the attention of the slaiyiths or the valgoss. 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, both types of creatures feel that the characters are beneath notice—not even worth considering.

SLAIYITH: AC 4; MV 3, Sw 12; HD 16; hp 80; THAC0 5; #AT 2-4; Dmg 2d4 each (bite); SA bite drains blood for 2d4 points of damage each round once mouth has latched onto victim, ESP at will, casts spells as an 8th-level wizard; SD +1 or better weapon to hit, immune to fire, cold, and acid, regenerate 1 hit point per round; MR 25%; SZ G (30-50’ long); ML avg (10); Int genius (18); AL N; XP 18,000.

Notes: In one round, a slaiyith can attack with all of its arms and cast no spells, or cast one spell and make one physical attack, or cast two spells and make no physical attacks. All slaiyiths can use telepathy at will.

Typical spell selection (4/3/3/2): 1st—charm person, detect magic, magic missile, shield; 2nd—invisibility, Melf’s acid arrow, web; 3rd—dispel magic, hold person, spectral force; 4th—dimension door, fear


Homebrew Conversion

Slaiyith
Huge Aberration (Aquatic)
Hit Dice: 16d8+64 (136 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares), swim 30 ft.
Armor Class: 18 (–2 size, +2 Dex, +8 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +12/+28
Attack: Bite +18 melee (1d8+8)
Full Attack: 4 bites +18 melee (1d8+8)
Space/Reach: 15 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Blood drain, improved grab, quickness, spells
Special Qualities: All-around vision, damage reduction 10/magic, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 3, immunities (acid, cold & fire), thoughtsense, slaiyith telepathy 100 ft., spell resistance 16
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +14
Abilities: Str 27, Dex 15, Con 19, Int 18, Wis 18, Cha 18
Skills: Concentration +23, Knowledge (any two) +23, Listen +23, Search +8, Spot +27, Spellcraft +23
Feats: Blind-Sight, Combat Reflexes, Eschew Materials, Lightning Reflexes, Spell Focus (Enchantment), Power Attack
Environment: Temperate aquatic
Organization: Solitary or consensus (2–8)
Challenge Rating: 11
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 17–23 HD (Huge); 24–48 HD (Gargantuan)
Level Adjustment:

A bulbous grey mass the size of an elephant, encircled by a ring of wide-spaced reddish eyes. Two armlike tentacles writhe from its body, each ending in a maw full of chomping teeth. Its gelatinous flesh bulges and shapes itself into a third such pseudopod, then a fourth limb forms beside it.

Background.

A slaiyith has six eyes equally spaced around its body. Slaiyiths normally employ two pseudopods for everyday activities but can form up to four at the same time.

A typical slaiyith is about 30 feet across (pseudopod-tip to pseudopod-tip) but the largest individuals can grow up to 50 feet across.

Combat
An opponent can attack a slaiyith's pseudopods with a sunder attempt as if they were weapons. If a slaiyith is currently grappling a target with the pseudopod that is being attacked, it usually uses another limb to make its attack of opportunity against the opponent making the sunder attempt. The damage from the sunder attack is dealt to the slaiyith's total hit points, but if the sunder does at least 10 hit points of damage (15 for Gargantuan slaiyith) the pseudopod is severed or crushed, which releases any opponent it is grappling. The slaiyith can form a replacement pseudopod as a free action on its next turn.

Slaiyiths prefer to avoid confrontations by diving underwater or disappearing via dimension door or invisibility. If forced into combat they will fight to the death, never willingly surrendering to a foe. A slaiyith's supernatural quickness allows it to make multiple actions on its turn, and its genius intelligence helps it choose its actions to best effect. Their quickness allows a slaiyith to make a standard action (usually cast a spell) and make a full attack in one round, or make a move action and two standard attacks (usually two spells or a spell and a bite). They can also run or charge and still make a standard attack.

A slaiyith that's prepared for a fight will have cast eagle's splendor, shield, expeditious retreat, and resistance on itself, usually in that order. They prefer to use charm, fear hold or web to immobilize or repel opponents while attacking them with their bites, but will use acid arrow and magic missile to engage opponents at range. A fighting slaiyith is more likely to use dimension door to close with opponents than its natural movement, since they do not move exceptionally fast even with expeditious retreat. They like to use true strike and Power Attack against concealed opponents.

All-Around Vision (Ex): A slaiyith’s symmetrically placed eyes allow it to look in any direction, providing a +4 racial bonus on Spot and Search checks. A slaiyith can’t be flanked.

Blood Drain (Ex): A slaiyith can drain blood from a grabbed opponent, dealing 1d6 point of Constitution damage each round it maintains the hold.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a slaiyith must hit an opponent of any size with a bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can drain blood.

Quickness (Su): Although not particularly dexterous, a slaiyith is supernaturally quick. It can take an extra standard action or move action during its turn each round.

Thoughtsense (Su): A slaiyith can detect the presence or absence of thoughts in a 60 ft. radius sphere. It can locate any conscious creatures with Intelligence scores of 1 or higher within that area. The slaiyith can determine what 5 ft. squares each mind occupies but cannot pinpoint their location; so an intelligent opponent will have total concealment (50% miss chance) against a slaiyith that cannot see it. Thoughtsense can penetrate barriers, but 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt blocks it.

Unlike the detect thoughts spell, the slaiyith does not risk being stunned if it detects an Intelligence at least 10 points higher than itself with thoughtsense.

Slaiyith Telepathy (Su): A slaiyith can communicate telepathically with other slaiyiths, valgoss, and creatures who are hosting valgoss symbionts.

Spells: A slaiyith casts spells as a 9th-level sorcerer.

Typical Spells Known (6/7/7/7/5; save DC 14 + spell level, 15 + spell level for Enchantment spells)
0—arcane mark, detect poison, dancing lights, detect magic, ghost sound (DC 14), mage hand, read magic, resistance;
1st—charm person (DC 16), expeditious retreat, magic missile, shield; true strike;
2nd—eagle's splendor, invisibility, acid arrow, web (DC 16);
3rd—dispel magic, hold person (DC 18), major image (DC 17);
4th—dimension door, fear (DC 18).

Skills: A slaiyith has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.


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

Cleon

Legend
Conversion Notes
Both of these monsters were more or less statted up from scratch, although the Slaiyith used some bits from the SRD Giant Octopus (for the "pseudopods" and physical stats) and Choker (for the Quickness).

I toyed with the idea of giving it three bites instead of four, since that would preserve the original's options of 4 bites/bite + spell/2 spells, but as a rule-of-thumb 3E monsters with multiple combat appendages get one attack per appendage.

There didn't seem much point statting up the Master Slaiyiths. They are encountered in the adventure but it doesn't give them any stats, only descriptive text such as "these five beings are incredibly old, and their bodies bear slick, knobby crusts that make then look their age. Each of them possesses vast power, even beyond that of the other slaiyiths".

Since the Taker of Life is apparently afraid of these creatures it seems likely they're Epic Level monsters, considering the scale of the Taker.

Even if the Master Slaiyiths are not CR 20+ they're obviously way above the pay grade of the 4th to 6th level PCs the adventure is intended for, so it shouldn't be feasible for the party to fight them.
 


freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
OK, so we are now working from your homebrew of the kamerel warrior and driver? Should we just examine each of those special abilities?
 

Cleon

Legend
OK, so we are now working from your homebrew of the kamerel warrior and driver? Should we just examine each of those special abilities?

It'd seem a good idea going through that Homebrew and deciding which bits we like, then moving them across to the Working Draft.

The only special ability I haven't quite finished with it is the "Pass Into Reflection", which is still being problematic.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Well, I like most of these as abilities, but I can't remember where in the adventure each of them is implied. Can you give me your justifications for each ability?
 

Cleon

Legend
Well, I like most of these as abilities, but I can't remember where in the adventure each of them is implied. Can you give me your justifications for each ability?

Well going through them in order.

For the Enlargement, in the original source, the "rank and file" Kamerel are Small size and some of the leaders are Man-sized. There's no explicit explanation, but either high-level Kamerel are simply bigger or have magically enlarged themselves. Since we know Kamerel use size-changing magic I favored the latter interpretation.

For the Hardened Senses and other Immunities, that's a direct translation of the original Special Defence entry of "SD immune to electricity, blinding or deafening attacks, and petrification".

For the Madness, we know "their xenophobia drove them mad" during their stay in Reflection, so I thought a Madness SQ would be a good reflection of this. It's also to give them something more to distinguish them from a regular classed humanoid. Plus, the Derro have that SQ and they're white skinned 4-foot tall crazy creatures too, so they might as well be cousins! :p

For the Mirror Safety we have "The kamerel, with ages of experience around mirrors, never break them by accident" in the description of area 7: The Main Library.

The Mirrorsight ability is something I made up which seemed to fit a race that has lived as reflections for millenia.

The Mirrorwork Equipment was implied by the Kamerel's ability to manufacture goods (weapons, magic items, mirror magic components) while in Reflection a place where nothing has a material existence. I think that bit needs some work, but we can't really separate it from the Pass Into Reflection ability, so we need to decide on the nature of the Plane of Reflection to decide how the Kamerel manufacture goods in it and bring them out of and back into "normal reality".
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
I'm fine with Enlargement, Hardened Senses, Madness, and Mirror Safety. I'm a little less sold on Mirrorsight and Mirrowork Equipment. Doesn't the adventure also say that they went mad because they only existed during the rare and brief times that someone was looking into one of the mirrors in the library? That would imply they never adapted to living in the Plane of Reflections or whatever it is and that they still have their original equipment from when they lived in the Outlands.
 

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