Dungeons & Delvers: Remorhaz Redo

The primary goal of Dungeons & Delvers—as I imagine is the case for talented, disciplined creators—was to create a version of Dungeons & Dragons that I've always wanted. The cyclical process of writing, playtesting, modifying, playtesting, adding and discarding content, more writing, and further playtesting also fulfilled a kind of subconscious, secondary objective, resulting in something that is more than a mere clone, hack, or retro-retread.

Dungeons & Delvers is a game that is both familiar yet distinct, with its own flavor and identity that helps it stand on its own from its inspirations and derivatives. Some of this can be found in the game's mechanics, such as magic and combat, though I'd say it's most evident in some of the races, pretty much all of the classes, and many monsters.

Mind you, I didn't set out to change the mechanics and flavor for it's own sake. Rather, if something didn't make sense (like pseudo-Vancian magic), or I found or thought of something more interesting, I changed the mechanics, flavor, or, as was most often the case given that I like to ensure one supports the other, both.

When it came to monsters, I researched every iteration I could find throughout the editions, and also looked to mythology if it was based even loosely on a "real life" monster, using what I liked and either changing or discarding the rest. This is why, among other things, ghouls are shapeshifting demons, angels aren't all just winged humanoids, and kobolds aren't little draconic humanoids. Of course I didn't restrict myself to the original sources, adjusting things if I thought it made them more interesting, which is why owlbears can glide great distances.

An unexpected example of this was the remorhaz, a monster I think I've only encountered once in 3rd Edition, and maybe used once in 4th. Essentially, a remorhaz is an arctic invertebrate noteworthy for its considerable size and length, as well as the intense heat it radiates once agitated, which provides both utilitarian, defensive and even offensive functions.

The 2nd Edition description mentions that it uses "small wings" to elevate the front part of its body, but while working on the art, and I forget why or when exactly, I ended up discarding them for something that I felt was both more interesting and made more sense for something that likes to spend much of its time burrowing through and buried under snow: steam.

Given all the snow and its internal heat, the remorhaz could easily consume snow to build up steam, releasing it in powerful jets. These could be used to raise the front part of its body, but it could also use them for offensive and defensive purposes, scaling creatures that get too close, or using the cloud to mask its escape. Or both, really.

In retrospect this could have given it a number of different abilities, such as very limited flight, or a jet-propelled charge. Ah, well, can always add that in pretty easily (have all of them use the same Recharge trigger) and give it a slight XP bump.

By itself its not much of a change, certainly not revolutionary—I essentially took the base remorhaz, changed its appearance, and gave it a sort of breath weapon/fog cloud mechanic—but its one of many changes that helps set Dungeons & Delvers apart. 

Here's the final art from the book, colored as usual by Melissa:

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