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Messenger Snake MCA III

RichGreen

Explorer
Hi,

I've been reading an old Dungeon magazine (#67) I bought on ebay which features an interesting monster I hadn't come across before: a messenger snake, originally featured in Monstrous Compendium Annual III. Can anyone provide me with any info? Has the creature been converted?

Thanks


Richard
 

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freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Well, I only looked in the December version of Echohawk's index (most recent version here), but it doesn't seem to have made it to 3e yet... Maybe Shade will add it to the request pile for you.
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
RichGreen said:
I've been reading an old Dungeon magazine (#67) I bought on ebay which features an interesting monster I hadn't come across before: a messenger snake, originally featured in Monstrous Compendium Annual III. Can anyone provide me with any info? Has the creature been converted?
The messenger snake actually originally appeared in the Ruins of Zhentil Keep boxed set, before being reprinted in the Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three the following year. But, as freyar already noted, it has not yet been updated to 3rd Edition. Would the original stats for the creature be of any assistance in the mean time?
 

RichGreen

Explorer
Echohawk said:
The messenger snake actually originally appeared in the Ruins of Zhentil Keep boxed set, before being reprinted in the Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three the following year. But, as freyar already noted, it has not yet been updated to 3rd Edition. Would the original stats for the creature be of any assistance in the mean time?
Yes, that would be great. The idea of sending a flying snake to deliver messages just appealed to me somehow!

Thanks


Richard
 

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
Snake, Messenger

Climate/Terrain: Any
Frequency: Very rare
Organisation: Solitary
Activity cycle: Any
Diet: Omnivore
Intelligence: Highly (13-14)
Treasure: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
No. appearing: 1
Armor class: 4
Movement: 6, Fl 24 (B)
Hit dice: 3
THAC0: 18
No. of attacks: 1
Damage/attack: 1d6
Special attacks: Poison
Special defenses: Chameleon
Magic resistance: 30%
Size: S (2' long)
Morale: Steady (11-12)
XP value: 975

For reasons never explained, Zhentish wizards dislike working with most birds. There are times, however, when messages need to be carried, and magic can be undependable and erratic, or is needed for other purposes. For these situations, a strange little reptile was bred: the messenger snake.
Messenger snakes are 2 feet long, and their coloring is a metallic jade green. They have light green feathery wings resembling those of a parrot. They mimic human speech, speaking in a soft, hissing voice. Messenger snakes also have infravision (60-foot range) and an uncanny sense of direction.

Combat: Messenger snakes were not made for combat. However, in order to protect themselves, they have a bite that causes 1d6 points of damage and injects the target with venom that paralyzes a victim for 1d4 hours, unless the victim make a successful saving throw vs. poison.
The snake's coloration shifts and changes as necessary, making it 50% undetectable by casual sight. Add to this the fact that the snake's flight is 75% silent, and it makes for a very effective messenger. The snake can even blend in with the color of an overcast sky, so that persons looking up from the ground would have a hard time telling that one of the snakes was flying above their heads.
In order to help it on its appointed rounds, the messenger snake can detect lie at will, and it always asks the intended for identification (a name or code word that it has been taught with the message). The snakes also have a special find the path ability that has a 100mile radius and can only be used to find the person they are told to seek. The snakes can fly 200 miles a day. They must rest for an hour after 100 miles of flight before continuing on.

Habitat/Society: The messenger snake can carry up to 2 pounds of weight in its coils. Most of the time, the burden is a scroll with a written message. The item can be seen as normal, despite the snake's blending ability. However, the snake is also able to repeat a verbal message of up to 100 words, giving it only to the one person it was intended for.
Messenger snakes are never encountered in the wild. They are all raised by wizards who keep close tabs on them. The snakes mate, laying a clutch of 2d4 eggs once a year.
The original secret of breeding messenger snakes from a root stock of other snake species has been lost. There is talk that Zhentish mages are searching diligently for it, and will pay handsomely for any such information or its possible location.
Whenever a messenger snake is encountered, there is a 50% chance that it is carrying a small bundle. Roll 1d10 and consult the chart below:

1d10 Roll Bundle Contents
1-2 A scroll, containing a letter
3 A scroll with 1d4 wizard spells of level1d8
4-5 Some odd trinket or personal article
6 A pouch with spell components
7 A potion bottle (roll randomly)
8 A small pouch with 20 pp
9 A pouch with 1d4 gems worth d100x10 gp
10 A small magical item (ring, figurine, etc.)

Ecology: The messenger snake is found wherever Zhentish mages are found: Zhentil Keep, the Citadel of the Raven, and Oarkhold. They have also gained a measure of popularity in Mulmaster, Hillsfar, T antras, Ravens Bluff, and the nations nf Thay and Calimshan. Many nations and regions dislike messenger snakes. In Waterdeep, the Oalelands, and Cormyr, messenger snakes are shot down. In the Great Gray Land of Thar, the snakes are considered a delicacy. Messenger snakes eat plants, insects, and small rodents, and live for about four decades. Rumor has it that the reason the Zhents are so frantic to find information on the origins of messenger snakes is that the snakes are becoming more intelligent, developing their own language, and refusing to serve. No one has ever been able to get a messenger snake to speak a word on its own, though, to confirm this. Messenger snake eggs can be sold for up to 1,000 gp each; hatchlings fetch 2,500 gp.
 

RichGreen

Explorer
Thanks Echohawk!

I like the idea of using these in my Parsantium campaign - something a bit different.

Cheers


Richard
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
Since we've got a request and stats, we might as well convert 'em. ;)

Tiny magical beast?

Ability scores of similar creatures:

Flying snake (Small): Str 6, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2
Tiny viper: Str 4, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2

We know Int is 13-14, they are "were not made for combat", so maybe...

Str 3, Dex 19, Con 11, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 12?
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Rumor has it that the reason the Zhents are so frantic to find information on the origins of messenger snakes is that the snakes are becoming more intelligent, developing their own language, and refusing to serve. No one has ever been able to get a messenger snake to speak a word on its own, though, to confirm this.
I'd say Int 14 is already pretty intelligent! :)

Tiny magical beast and those stats look good.

The snakes can fly 200 miles a day. They must rest for an hour after 100 miles of flight before continuing on.
Just use the normal overland movement rules? I haven't converted the speeds, so I don't know how that works out.

The snakes also have a special find the path ability that has a 100mile radius and can only be used to find the person they are told to seek.
We can probably borrow this ability from the revenant (or revenant-magna).
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
Added to Homebrews.

I'm not sure about overland flight. Perhaps check out true dragons?

I'll look up the revenant-manga for that ability.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
I'll try to take a look at Draconomicon tonight. At a 60ft movement rate, that corresponds to just 48 miles in 8 hours using the normal overland movement rules (for walking, though).
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Silly me, just needed to look in the SRD, not the Draconomicon. Well, I don't understand that table; the distance a dragon can fly is not linear in its fly speed (?!). However, if I scale down the 120 miles a dragon with a 100ft fly speed can fly in a day, I get 72 miles per day for the messenger snake. Do we just want to leave it at that?
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
I get the impression that the dragon overland flight table doesn't follow the exact formula, but is another way of making dragons special.

What if we just make is a special ability?

Strong Flier (Ex): Messenger snakes are exceedingly strong flyers and can cover vast distances quickly. Its overland flying speeds are 25 miles per hour at a normal pace, and 50 miles per hour as part of a hustle. It can travel 200 miles per day with overland flight. Messenger snakes do not tire as quickly as other creatures when moving overland on the ground. If a messenger snake attempts a hustle or a forced march, check for nonlethal damage once every 2 hours instead of every hour.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
This gave me an idea! What if we revise as so:

Strong Flier (Ex): Messenger snakes are exceedingly strong flyers and can cover vast distances quickly. Its overland flying speeds are 12.5 miles per hour at a normal pace, and 25 miles per hour as part of a hustle. It can travel 200 miles per 8-hour day when flying at a hustle. Messenger snakes do not tire as quickly as other creatures. If a messenger snake attempts a hustle or a forced march, check for nonlethal damage once every 2 hours instead of every hour.

So they get 100 miles if they don't need to rest, but they normally hustle to cover 200 miles per day and generally need to rest sometime in the middle due to nonlethal damage. How's that sound?
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
Yeah, I think that'll work. :)

Here's the revenant-magna's ability for finding things:

Find the Guilty (Ex): So long as the revenant-magna and its killer are on the same plane of existence, the revenant-magna knows in which direction its killer can be found and how far away he or she is. Depending on the magical abilities of the base creature, this extraordinary sense may even be made to work across planar boundaries. The revenant-magna's thirst for revenge is so strong that should its killer be slain, its find the guilty ability extends to its killer's killer (and so on, should that creature be slain, until this chain of vengeance can be completed).
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Ok, should be easy enough (but why oh why did we make this Ex for the revenant-magna?):

Locate Recipient (Su): So long as the messenger snake and the intended recipient of its message are within 100 miles, the messenger snake knows in which direction its recipient can be found and how far away he or she is.

We should remember to give these a discern lies SLA at will, CL 3(?).
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
I think we went with Ex because that's what the official revenant did. :heh:

Updated.

For the poison, initial damage 1 Con, secondary paralysis for 1d4 hours?
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
Huh, wonder why WotC went with Ex for that?

That sounds good for the poison.

We might want to note that a light load for these is 5 lb.

The snake's coloration shifts and changes as necessary, making it 50% undetectable by casual sight. Add to this the fact that the snake's flight is 75% silent, and it makes for a very effective messenger. The snake can even blend in with the color of an overcast sky, so that persons looking up from the ground would have a hard time telling that one of the snakes was flying above their heads.
Some sort of camouflage and a Move Silently racial bonus (+8?)?
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
Going with the usual snake skill modifiers, it gets +4 on Hide. We could increase that, or give them concealment due to the constantly-shifting scales.

They mimic human speech, speaking in a soft, hissing voice.
However, the snake is also able to repeat a verbal message of up to 100 words, giving it only to the one person it was intended for.
Rumor has it that the reason the Zhents are so frantic to find information on the origins of messenger snakes is that the snakes are becoming more intelligent, developing their own language, and refusing to serve. No one has ever been able to get a messenger snake to speak a word on its own, though, to confirm this.
Messenger snakes speak their own language, but never do so when creatures of any other race are close enough to hear them?

How's this?

Perfect Messenger (Ex?): A messenger snake may perfectly recall a message of up to 100 words, which it will deliver only to its intended recipient. Any attempts (magically or otherwise) to coerce the snake to repeat the message for anyone else automatically fails. The snake repeats the language in the same language as spoken by the sender, even if it cannot understand the language itself.
 

freyar

Extradimensional Explorer
I like the idea of giving them concealment. I also like the language and Perfect Messenger (which should be Ex, I think).
 

Shade

Monster Junkie
How's this?

Blending Scales (Ex): A messenger snake's coloration shifts and changes to match its environs, granting it continuous concealment (20% miss chance).
 

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