Archive for June, 2013

Rock Your Body

June 9, 2013

Now that’s what I call a rock star.

The medusa is an iconic creature in D&D lore, something appropriated whole-cloth from her even more iconic position in Greek mythology (save for D&D making her a type of creature, rather than a specific individual). Far less obvious is the origin of her male counterpart, the maedar.

The maedar is something of an anti-medusa; not only is it uniquely male, but it has no snakes for hair (or any hair at all, for that matter) and no ability to petrify. Indeed, its signature power (it has several additional minor ones) is that it can turn stone into flesh; this is explained in that it will smash victims a medusa has petrified, and then de-petrify the pieces, which are then eaten.

For this post, I’m going to put together an Eclipse-based write-up for the maedar. This isn’t strictly necessary, as the maedar has 3.5 stats (found in Dragon #355) which can be used in an Eclipse d20 game without any conversion necessary, but deconstructing its abilities this way is a useful exercise in how to make races using Eclipse. One thing to watch out for is that the 3.5 stats give the maedar a level adjustment of +4, so we’re going to try and aim for that same range in its racial stats.

Of course, since the maedar isn’t Open Game Content, we’ll call this build by a more prosaic name: the male medusa (I was going to call it the “male-dusa,” but even I couldn’t stomach a pun that bad).

Male Medusa

Okay, so what powers does a male medusa have? Well, looking over its 3.5 stat block, it has 60 foot darkvision, for one.

  • Occult Sense/darkvision 60 ft. (6 CP).

It also has +3 natural armor. We’ll bend the rules here and call this one Defender; that gets less of a bonus at low levels, but more of one at higher levels, so it evens out.

  • Defender/natural armor (6 CP).

It’s immune to the poison of a medusa, as well as to paralysis, petrification, and “movement-inhibiting” magic, which is apparently meant to be indicative of magic that directly impacts movement (e.g. a slow spell) rather than spells that indirectly cause it to be unable to move (e.g. web).

Okay, we can pretty safely fold the immunity to paralysis in with the immunity to movement-inhibiting magic. The immunity to medusa poison is pretty specific, as is the immunity to petrification, so no problems there.

  • Immunity to medusa poison (uncommon/major/major – 6 CP), petrification (uncommon/severe/great – 18 CP), and movement-inhibiting magic (common/major/great – 18 CP).

Now we come to its ability scores. The listed ability scores are Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 12. That translates to the following bonuses, each with the following costs (luckily, these costs are halved, since they’re part of a racial build):

  • Str +6 (36 CP), Dex +4 (24 CP), Con +4 (24 CP), Int +2 (12 CP), Wis +2 (12 CP), Cha +2 (12 CP) (120 CP total).

Male medusae can strike with their natural weapons as per adamantine for overcoming damage reduction and hardness; hence how they’re able to smash statues. While Imbuement is usually limited to plusses, we can call this the equivalent of a +1 bonus.

  • Imbuement (adamantine) (6 CP).

Oddly, male medusae are listed as being able to fight without penalty even when below 0 hit points. On the surface, this doesn’t seem to be too intuitive; presumably it has something to do with the enduring nature of earth and stone (which these cthonic creatures are affiliated with). Still, it’s easy enough to do in Eclipse.

  • Stoic (3 CP) with Ferocity (3 CP).

It’s signature power of using stone to flesh can be done five times per day. That’s not hard to do using Inherent Spell, though we’ll need to tweak it a bit since it’s using only that power and no other.

  • Inherent Spell (6 CP) with Advanced added thrice (18 CP)/specialized for half-cost, only for a single sixth-level spell (stone to flesh) (12 CP), plus the Multiple modifier (6 CP) (18 CP total).

One of their stronger powers is the ability to earthwalk; that is, to move through solid earth and stone (but not metal) the way a fish does through water, leaving no tunnel or visual indicator of its passage.

Okay, that’s a little harder. We’ll call that a use of Celerity, since it’s a new movement mode, with a base rate of 0 ft. That means that the inital use of Celerity will get it’s speed up to 10 feet, and then we can bump it up from there to a total of 30 ft.

  • Celerity (6 CP) plus double Improved (6 CP) plus Additional (earthwalking) (12 CP).

Male medusae are treated as being regular medusa for all effects related to race. Easily done, again.

  • Privilege/treated as a medusa whenever favorable (3 CP).

Finally, male medusae have an odd ability to cheat death. If they would die when they’re in contact with the earth, they can let their life force travel through the ground until it reaches a crystal, which then becomes its new body. The crystal is trapped until mined, and at that point can move itself or anything that it’s set in.

Alright, surviving your own death is Returning, and changing your abilities like that is an instance of the Rewrite modifier, hence:

  • Returning (6 CP) with the Rewrite modifier (6 CP)/specialized and corrupted, must be in contact with natural earth, rewrite features are set (4 CP total).

Altogether, this comes out to 235 CP, which makes it a +7 ECL race. Luckily, the entire package is corrupted for two-thirds cost/male medusae are antisocial, driven to seek revenge for perceived slights, unable to reproduce except for with normal (female) medusae, and despise being subservient to other creatures.

That brings the cost down to 157 CP, which is within the 159 CP limit for +4 ECL creatures. Perfect.

As we noted, a male medusa that uses its returning power has its features set for its new incarnation. It can also reallocate up to one-fourth of its points when it does, but these are in a set amount.

In this form, the male medusa gives up its immunities to medusa poison (-6 CP) and petrification (-18 CP), since its crystal form has no Constitution score. It also therefore loses its Constitution bonus (-24 CP), Stoic and Ferocity (since it can’t survive below 0 hit points in its crystal form; -6 CP), and it can’t return to life again, sacrificing Returning and Rewrite (-4 CP).

That’s a grand total of 58 CP, or 39 CP after the reduction for the build’s corruption…which is almost exactly one-fourth of its total. Perfect again!

In exchange for these powers, it gains the following (in addition to the remaining racial traits above):

  • Occult Sense/low-light vision (6 CP).
  • No Con score (0 CP) plus size-related bonus hit points (12 CP) (these are based on the size of the item (if any) that the male medusa’s crystal form is attached to).
  • Skill Emphasis (Use Magic Device) (3 CP) and Skill Focus +3 (Use Magic Device) (6 CP), both specialized for double effect/only if the male medusa crystal is affixed to the magic item.
  • Immunity to being unable to move (very common/major/great) (30 CP). This last item allows the male medusa crystal to fly when on its own, and otherwise animate items that it’s affixed to, using its stats.

These abilities have a total cost of 57 of its 58 CP – almost an exact match – and reducing it for the corruption brings that to 39, thanks to rounding. An exact match.

To be fair, we are eliminating the damage reduction 8/adamantine that the male medusa is supposed to gain in this form. On the other hand, we’re also eliminating the restriction that it can only have a flat 5 hit points in this form, which is a far greater liability than the DR is a benefit, so that certainly evens out. There’s also nothing here about the size of the crystal that the male medusa’s life force inhabits, but that matches with the source material, since it can be anything from a tiny crystal to being set in a large statue.

Note that a male medusa crystal has the same corruption to its racial package as a normal male medusa, save only that it cannot speak, and rather than being unable to reproduce except with a medusa, it now cannot reproduce at all.