Dark Sun Threats

I've already got the Dark Sun itch, and this article is a painful reminder. It's short, featuring all of four new monsters and a pair of themes, but damn is it good. Going in order, we start with monsters.

  • The aarakockra darter is a controller that can throw poisonous darts and and a death sentence barbed nets to easily fulfill its role. The darts work like drow poison, dealing ongoing damage and slowing you, before knocking you out if you botch even one save. The the net locks you down, and if you fail that save, you end up restrained. Yeesh. Finally, it has a limited use shift-and-fly maneuver in case it gets overwhelmed.
  • Gith dust racers, as their title implies, can run insanely fast, shift after every attack, have recharging flight, and deal bonus damage if they take psychic damage. Oh, and enemies treat adjacent squares around them as difficult terrain, so ha. These things would be murder for a party with one or more psychic characters.
  • In a world that is a giant desert, a human fire elementalist isn't unexpected, and neither is their suite of abilities. They can hit you with a fiery staff, have a basic ranged attack that only deals ongoing fire damage, an encounter-area burst that creates a zone that deals automatic damage if anyone enters it, or ends its turn there, and a smaller area burst that deals damage, slides, and dazes if you were taking ongoing fire damage. To make matters worse? They have an aura that imposes fire vulnerability. I like a monster that has a lot of synergetic abilities, even if it's a theme that's been done many times before.
  • Finally, the thri-kreen hunter has both a basic claw and chatkcha attack that you'd expect from the mantis folk, and it can also throw two chatkcha with a single action. Not so bad, considering it's an artillery. Oh, wait, it also has a recharging ability that lets it throw three per round? It's not even an elite, mind you. To round things out, it can also shift quite a distance and throw thankfully just one (and can only do so at best twice per encounter due to the limited recharge). If things get to hot, it can also jump its Speed without provoking opportunity attacks.

After monsters are themes, the first of which is Defiler Monster.

There's a lot of powers to choose from, so I won't go over them all. For starters, this theme gives monsters a +2 to Arcana and Bluff. The attack and utility powers focus on draining life to gain various benefits. Two of the attacks are contingent on defiling attack, which works with any attack that isn't a charm, and deals damage other than psychic or radiant damage. Like arcane defiling, the attacker gets to roll twice for the attack, and deals bonus damage to the target and one of the attacker's allies.

Now, there are a pair of Defiler Monster attacks that also work with this: one lets you target any enemy you want within range, imposing ongoing necrotic damage, while the other causes the target to gain necrotic vulnerability. As if that wasn't enough, you can really give your players a bad day by adding soul tug to the monster, which causes all of its attacks to deal necrotic damage, and that's just the attacks.

The utilities let you do stuff like deal damage to an ally in order to make an immediate save, gain necrotic resistance, deal damage to the nearest creature to avoid dying, and gaining a necrotic aura when bloodied. You know what? A lot of this would also be great for undead (except for well, the one that just gives you necrotic resistance, they shouldn't have to pay for that) or necromancer-type monsters.

Last but not least, the Templar Monster theme. This obviously works best for monsters that have reason to serve a sorcerer-king, which means humanoids are the ideal fit. It gives an Arcana and Diplomacy bonus, and also recommends scoping out the Defiler Monster theme for some extra ideas.

For attacks, you can deal automatic psychic damage when bloodied, use an area burst that deals radiant damage, immobilizes, and allow an ally to gain temp hp if it makes an attack before the turn starts, add a kicker effect to your basic attacks that deals automatic psychic damage plus slow to an enemy you hit, and grants an ally an attack bonus, or a use an area burst that targets only enemies, slows, and grants an ally an attack bonus.

Unfortunately, there's only two utilities. One is an encounter power that causes an enemy to grant combat advantage for a turn, and lets an ally make a free attack against the target after you do. The other is also an encounter powre, and grants an ally an attack and damage bonus if it ends its turn next to a creature that you just attack.

There's a lot of leader-type powers in there, and like the Defiler Monster, the stuff in here provides a great foundation for giving leaders thematic powers. I could see this stuff being used for a archetypical villain as he orders his lackeys to "stop the cursed do-gooders".

The first half of the article is great if you're running Dark Sun or use monsters from it. The latter half, while likewise intended for Dark Sun, is great for any campaign.

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