This blog is laden is Wyatt-isms. Wyatt-isms are things I repeat often. For example, whenever I write about monsters, I will inevitably proclaim that I don’t like classics like kobolds, orcs, gnolls, etc. This Wyatt-ism in particular has prompted a lot of mail about just what it is I like then, if I dislike so many classic monsters. Well, we’re about to answer that curiosity.
I love Bulettes, especially their D&D 4e incarnation. These are basically landsharks, creatures which burrow underground and stalk enemies, leap out and chomp on them with huge jaws. They have a really cool monster design, with mole claws and a shark-like front, with rock skin that crests out slightly at the back of the head. In 4e, they are fast, brutal elite burrowers who can deal loads of damage and confound their enemies with hit and run tactics, as well as being able to heal themselves by taking a second wind.
I like the design of the Glabrezu demon because it’s so otherworldly. It has an ugly dog face with huge bat ears, pincer arms, but also humanoid hands. It has those enormous pauldrons of skin. Glabrezus in 3.5 were pretty cool, with the ability to grant a wish, and were generally dicks who manipulated people. I always thought they fit better as Devils. I guess I never saw Demons, with their chaotic evil MURDER RAPE KILL RAPE AGAIN mentality to be much for scheming.
I posit that instead of goblins and kobolds, most low level encounters should be about humans fending off attacks in a world where FRICKIN’ DINOSAURS walk alongside man. D&D 4e needs more dinosaurs (you can find them under Behemoth these days, I guess dinosaurs aren’t trademarkeable enough for Wootsie, or maybe it’s hard selling huge dinosaur minis or something). You could have all sorts of dinosaurs that’d be exciting encounters, from classics like the T-Rex to Spinosaurus and so on.
Pretty much the only aberration that was not ruined for me by the 3.5 supplement “Lords of Madness” and actually was made cooler by the book, these lovecraftian whale-like beasts are really interesting. I love the idea of them having their own civilization beneath the waves just waiting for the stars to be right. They also make great villains, though being that they are fat disfigured dolphin things like 10 feet all around, it takes a specific environment to use them properly. Still, they’re cool.
Missing In Action so far in 4e, Tsochari were introduced in “Lords of Madness” and are one of the coolest creatures in the book. Tsochari are like a huge batch of tapeworms glued together, and these parasitical aberrations enter a humanoid creature and can either act as a symbiont of sorts, or just replace the brain and nervous system with themselves and take over the whole body. They are intelligent, psionic and extremely fragile outside of a body. They are the reason I kept my “Lords of Madness.”
Big ugly crawling crab/reptile/spider things. The Kruthiks are my favorite swarming monster even though they’re kind of boring powers-wise in 4e, mostly just basic attacks and some very minor range and really only suited for the low heroic tier around level 3 and 4. Still, the design and behavior of the Kruthiks is really interesting and I often create my own Kruthiks (such as a jumping Kruthik and a tunnel-attacking skirmisher Kruthik) to supplement the other ones.
An incorporeal (nowadays Insubstantial) undead like the Wraith, Allips are also MIA from 4e far as I know. Allips are undead born from the souls of people driven to suicide, and they drained Wisdom and babbled like crazy, their tormented voices able to induce hypnosis in people who listened. I’m sure someday we’ll get one – maybe a Wraith-like being that Dazes a LOT instead of Weakening – and that I probably wouldn’t use it in 4e because it’d make for grindy, frustrating battles like the Wraith, but the Allip is still lore and design-wise one of my favorite ghostly undead.
Despite all the freaky monsters on the list, animals are still a really cool challenge. There’s nothing like punching a shark in the god damn face, because it’s something that ties back into an adventurous reality you can’t really have. Well, you could go punch a Shark in the face, but could you brutalize it with your sword or mace and smash every bone its body, then drag the carcass back to shore? Not without PETA getting on your ass. My favorites are Reptiles, Bears, and huge birds, fish and bugs. That being said, I’d try to go for a King of the Jungle approach in a D&D game before murdering every animal I meet. Show them your humanoid superiority, but leave them alive, and have them walk away with the newfound knowledge of who’s really King of D&D.
2. Red Dragon
I like all the Chromatic Dragons in general, so count them here, but the Red one I like best. It has the most regal and graceful design in my opinion and it really looks like a creature that is naturally superior to you. I also like the idea of the Fire Breath which can melt artifacts, which I recycled into Spirit of Eden’s Apekar spirit in the Monsters of Eden: Those Earthbound page. In 4e the Red is the higher level Dragon, which is good. The first Red exists right in that sweet spot at level 7 where you have enough Encounter powers to fight in interesting ways, and enough Daily powers so you can use them sparsely, but you can’t really spam, and you have enough so you don’t hoard all of them forever.
You can boost it to level 9 easily and keep using it in high-Heroic. I don’t like some of the in-depth fluff of Dragons where they’re incredibly antisocial and greedy “just because.” I like to think that every Dragon’s dream is to build up so much money that they can buy a whole bunch of servants to be superior towards every second of every hour of every year for eternity, or something along those lines. It’s more endearing than YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN, AND YOU TOO WIFE.
Avolakia are aberrations who’s main power is being completely awesome. They are sadly MIA from 4e and I’m not sure they would ever back. Praying for Monster Manual 3 maybe? They are found in the 3.5 MM2. To begin with, they can shapechange into humanoid creatures for any period of time, so that hot chick at the bar could actually be a horny writhing acid-covered wormspider. So could your wife. Avolakia are necromancers – in 3.5 they had Animate Dead and Create Undead as spell-like abilities, among other things like at-will Chill Touch. They often raise mummies and ghouls and things to serve them.
Avolakia are also picky eaters. Things that are just dead are not to their taste. Instead they raise their kills as undead with all the delicacy of a master chef preparing its meal, and then they eat them. Because humans are peasant food, zombies are where it’s at. Avolakia are often clerics of Kyuss, and are featured in that psychotic nintendo hard Age of Worms campaign. I love permanent shapeshifters, especially if the thing under the shapeshift is really horrible. The fact that Avolakia also cast spells made me really love them too. They are definitely my all-time favorite D&D monster.