Last time we began looking at the monsters I consider the new iconics of the 4e Monster Manual. These are the critters who deserve much more love and merit a place at the top table in the gaming hall of fame. So, without further ado, here’s the next batch.
Eladrin: Ghaele of Winter
Ice Queen! Ice Queen! Ice Queen! If you want Narnia in your D&D, this is the one you want. Incidentally, 4e D&D would make a fantastic Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe role-playing game right out the box. If, of course, it came in a box. Which is doesn’t[1. Apart from the Starter Kit, of course, but now you’re just being picky.].
Add a Portal to the Feywild at the back of your favourite piece of furniture, and you’re all set.
Incidentally, while I love almost all of the statblocks for the Eladrin provided in the Monster Manual, the Eladrin Fey Knight just doesn’t work for me. This is a critter whose main trick is to stick his Longsword into a foe and it gets stuck. What’s that about? Given that this guy has a marking ability too, how in the blue heck does he wallop foes who don’t target him when he’s just lost his only frickin’ weapon? It’s easily fixed by giving him a longbow or dagger, but still.
It’s a skull that flies, lobs fireballs and bites stuff. Oh, and it glows brightly yet still somehow manages to have Stealth +12. With INT 22 they’re total genuises too. You gotta love the whole old school insanity of it all!
Give me a Flameskull who inhabits a flame-retardant robe (using his Mage Hand to animate it), add a veritable horde of Skeletal Minions and I’ll give you a scenario worthy of Gygax’s holy name.
Boo frickin’ yah!
Horse? Horse! Horse? Yes, Horse.
Check out that suggested Warhorse encounter – 3 Warhorses and 3 Human Guards. That’s death on horseback, pure and simple. The mounted riders can Charge down on your poor heroes, do a shedload of damage with their Halberds (Reach 2, Powerful Strike for 1d10+12!!!), knock them prone and trample next turn. Hero puree. There’s a reason why horses were so popular in combat, and this statblock is it.
Do this just once, and pretty quickly your adventurers will be wanting Warhorses of their own. Betchya.
I have photocopied the two pages of Human statblocks and stuck them in my spiralbound notebook, and you should too. I’ve run off-the-cuff scenarios using just those statblocks and nothing else. They’re the modern day equivalents of the Classic D&D stats for Normal Humans, Acolytes, Bandits and Nobles – and I love ’em all.
Give me a Human Mage and an infinite supply of Rabble, Lackeys and Guards and you’ve got a complete low-level adventure setup in a small town or keep. Just add Drakes and other sundries, and you’re all set.
Yes folks, Humans are an iconic monster again, thanks to 4e D&D – and no time-eating GM preptime required!
At last we meet my favourite – the Kruthik. Damn, these critters are good.
For a start, these are monsters clearly Not Of This Earth (or Faerun, or Oerth, or wherever). They are Alien with a capital A, and in a fantasy realm that’s a wake-up call for your players. Orcs attacking a village means it’s business as usual. Kruthiks hatching in the mines means that something Very Wrong Indeed is occuring.
Aside from Dragons (which basically get bigger and meaner), Kruthiks are the only critters in the Monster Manual that evolve as they age. Just like the iconic Aliens from that movie of the same name, Kruthiks have a distinct lifecycle which means that the players just know they’re on a rollercoaster and there’s no stopping until they reach Destination:Big Momma.
If you want to freak out your players, have a Kruthik Hatchling burst out of a Gnoll’s chest halfway through combat. They will love you for it. Really they will. After they’ve stopped pelting you with peanuts, that is.
Kruthiks deserve a LOT of love. They deserve entire supplements devoted to them. They deserve a whole adventure path where they take over Faerun (skewering Drizzt with their pointy acidic spiky things along the way) and generally go all the way through the entire range of Tiers. I WANT MY EPIC KRUTHIK GOD OF AWESOME ALIEN BADASSNESS AND I WANT IT NOW!
I’m going to lay down now. More, next time.