Don’t you just hate obvious blogpost titles? I do.
Picking my fave from the 4e Monster Manual is tricky, as it boils down to two which I love and would use every session, given the choice. Boy would my players get bored quickly! Me, I’d be cackling all the way to the dice bag.
In the green corner we have the lowly Spiretop Drake, and in the red corner there’s a whole nest of Kruthik.
DAZ Studio, no postwork. Click to embiggenfiy. Go on. It’s worth it. You know you want to.
Spiretop Drakes have everything. They’re 1st level critters which are great for reinforcing the fantasy feel in any city; they can make the difference between your city being Yet Another Pseudo Medieval Locale, and one where drakes circle the highest towers and swoop down on the residents. In other words, pure D&D. They can fly (pretty rare for a 1st level opponent), and possess a nifty flyby attack meaning they have a serious edge over your melee machine PCs, forcing them to think tactically about the encounter. They’re also very minionable (a lovely, 4e birthed word meaning “GM gets to throw LOADS of monsters at the PCs and not worry about the math”) monster meaning you can toss masses of Spiretop Drakes into an encounter. Seriously, they’re the Stirge of the 4e age. And they’re micro-draconic. What’s not to love?
Spiretop Drake Minion
Level 1 Skirmisher Minion, Small natural beast (reptile), XP 25
Str 11, Con 13, Dex 18, Int 3, Wis 16, Cha 11
HP 1 (minion), init +6, Perception +3
AC 16, Fort 11, Ref 14, Will 13, Speed 4, ?y 8 (hover)
Bite +6 vs AC, 5 dmg
Snatch /at-will +4 vs Ref, 1 dmg, and the spiretop drake steals a small object from the target, such as a vial, scroll, or coin.
Flyby Attack /at-will The spiretop drake flies up to 8 squares and makes one melee basic attack at any point during that movement. The drake doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks when moving away from the target of the attack.
Spiretop Drakes are interactive scene dressing that can be anything from a line of descriptive text to a nuisance encounter right up to being the focus of an entire series of adventures. Here’s a handful of suggestions…….
- Someone is training Spiretop Drakes to steal for them, and using them to commit apparently impossible crimes (a diamond from a sealed room surrounded by an anti-magic shell, for example) in return for shiny but valueless baubles. When he falls ill, the Spiretop Drakes go on a crime frenzy all of their own in an effort to please their ailing keeper. Will the PCs follow the trail and save the life of the criminal mastermind in time, or will he die under a pile of gems brought by his eager Drakes?
- One Spiretop Drake is bigger, cleverer and more cunning that its kin. Give it an INT of 12 and add a class template. A Spiretop Drake Warlord would make a truly fearsome (and unusual!) low-level foil for the players; she could watch the movements of the city below before ordering her loyal Draconic foes to strike when the city is at its weakest – during a plague outbreak, perhaps.
- The Spiretop Drakes are protected by City Edict and are viewed a symbol of the city’s independence. Legend has it that when the Spiretop Drakes leave, the city will fall. They’ve left and the city is in panic. The PC’s job is to find out where they’ve gone, and bring them back before the legend becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Then, there’s Kruthiks.
But that, I’ll save for another time.
What’s your favourite critter from the 4e Monster Manual, and why?