Sunday, November 29, 2015

Monsters in The Arduin Adventure

Art by J. Allen St. John

Chapter VIII of The Arduin Adventure (hereinafter ArdAdv) is titled “Monsters and Other Creatures.”  It contains listings for two dozen 'monster' species (or 'creatures' it would be indecorous to label as 'monsters' but nonetheless could pose a threat to player characters).  Chapter XIII is titled “Additional Overland / Special Encounter Monsters” and has listings for a half-dozen 'monsters' not addressed in Chapter VIII.  (I suppose that – similar to Chapter VIII – the Chapter XIII entities are not necessarily 'monsters', but to suggest that they might otherwise be 'creatures' would be gauche.)  In all seriousness, the only reason to segregate the Chapter VIII beings from the Chapter XIII organisms would seem to be editorial.  The Chapter VIII descriptions are in alphabetical order and Chapter XIII is exactly one page.  I suspect that, when establishing the layout for the book, there was room for an additional page of material, but alphabetically integrating a page worth of listings into Chapter VIII was not feasible (perhaps due to time constraints).

Still, while Chapter VIII begins straightaway with the first listing (“Black Lion”), Chapter XIII starts with the following:
These monsters are given to help your game play and show you some of the wide variety available to the GM.  Each has been chosen especially to 'trigger' your imagination into certain areas, so that you can then 'build' your own creatures.  It's not hard, so read on, then create away!
With regard to creating new monsters, Chapter VIII concludes with the following statement:
The GM is encouraged to 'invent' encounter creatures himself.  Things like Giant Rats, Huge Amoebas, Large Lizards etc.  Simply use the preceding monsters as guidelines or try the hundreds of creatures listed in the ARDUIN TRILOGY.

We also recommend the many, many monsters to be found in ALL THE WORLD'S MONSTERS...
Hargrave encourages the Do-It-Yourself ethic but also manages to put in plugs for two products, one of which is his own.

Here is a sample listing:
Desert Saurigs are tail-less and much less bulky than their aquatic brethren.  They stand 5' to 6' tall and are a pale to dark tan color with yellowish stomachs.  They average 36 HP and have DEX / AGIL of 15 each.  They use round shields and a weapon called a Jhang (which is a broad bladed wooden sword with obsidian “teeth” imbedded in its edges.  Consider it as a broadsword for attack but give it 2 extra points for damage).  Their favorite mode of attack is to leap up and kick with their clawed feet (4 points damage each) hoping to knock their opponent or his shield down.
Perhaps the most distinctively Arduin creatures are Phraints – “Bright metallic blue or green, upright man-sized insect warriors.”  Hargrave explains, “They are cold and emotionless warriors with great intelligence who know no fear.”

Hargrave provides some interesting details about monsters of greater familiarity in contrast to standard D&D descriptions.  For instance, he points out that faeries “excel in vexing and pestering dogs and cats (the latter of which has been known to hunt them).”  Cats hunt faeries.  I like that idea.

In our world, a wraithe is a “coarse comb used on a form of warp-dressing or-beaming machine to keep the warp-threads apart.”  However, in Arduin, a wraithe is a wraith.  (I suppose that the 'E' is silent.)  Rather than drain experience levels, Arduin wraithes drain Constitution.  Lost Constitution can be regained at a rate of one point per week of immediate rest; not resting can result in permanent loss.

Giants “are probably the most common of all mythological monsters.”  Additionally, “They are not simply oversized humans, but are entirely different race descended from the Gods and Demi-gods of Old.”  ArdAdv indicates four types of giants but does not provide any specifics about the differences.  The types of giants are:  Desert (or Dune), Forest, Mountain (or Krag), and Sea.  Titans “are sometimes erroneously referred to as 'STORM GIANTS', but are a separate and distinct race.”  They “are wise, but cruel blue-skinned beings...” and they “live only in the far polar reaches or atop the highest mountains.”

Other monster details of interest:  “Usually,” zombies are “found in groups of 13 and 7 only.”  Giant scorpion venom “is fatal to all creatures of less than 51 HP.”  Trolls have “bat-wing like ears.”  Vampire Bats have a “15' wing span.”  Dragons have a number of Hit Points equal to three times their length in feet.

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