A confession. I have long thought beholders to be one of the dumbest monsters around. Maybe more silly than dumb. A flumph is dumb. Anyway.
My FLGS was having its annual Christmas sale (75% off selected merchandise) and I picked up The Complete Guide to Beholders (Goodman Games). The approach therein is to see beholders as a serious monster with genuine horror potential, not just a collection of special attacks. Anyway.
I noted that the Epic Handbook describes a "super beholder," the Gibbering Orb. Anyway.
My thought is that where you have a monster that appears in various incarnations, and more importantly Challenge Ratings, you have a unique "epic opportunity." Rather than saying to the players, "Your characters are of epic level, here come epic monsters!" you can naturally build toward epic monsters as a natural seeming extension of lower level monsters of the same general type that they have been encountering for some time.
So, to take the beholder example, the PCs start encountering beholders at 13th level or beholder-kin types at even lower levels. They keep encountering them. Not all the time but often enough to be memorable. By the time the party has reached epic level and the Gibbering Orb (Int 40) appears, the party is not thinking outside the game in "epic" terms. They are seeing the Gibbering Orb as connected to or an extension of the beholder types they have been encountering at lower levels. Even better if all the beholders are somehow working together.
I think this may be one "classic," if I can use that term, way to set up an epic campaign.
Other monsters that can "grow" with the characters as in the example above?
A simple use of the advancement chart and /or additions of classes can make those monsters familiar to PC's stay around well into and beyond epic levels. Its easy to take an orc throw 30 levels of classes on them and use them as a major opponent in a game, githyanki as a race are tougher than orcs and a large astral fortress crewed but minium level githyanki of 6th-18th level gish and knights would make a tough lair based game for any epic party. Use the paragon template on a mind flayer and you have an ulithid capable of tearing an epic party asunder singly. Many tough monsters can be advanced right out the MM into epic levels and made into a formidable opponents, albiet larger and much more capable, without having to create a whole new epic monster. Remember that most of the monsters in the MM are just the basic type of creature and in many cases the weakest type shown.
But to give a more specific example, the atropal; sealed away for centuries, in its dreams gives rise to the White Kingdom; a kingdom of flesh eaters in the Underdark. Its sleepless slumber gives direction to a crazed animus in the North Kingdom, a line of cults of Nerull trying to reach the dark dreamer locked away beyond the reach of spells, intelligent undead seeking to come closer to the demiurge that whispers in their dark thoughts. This way not only do the PC's face undead and dark preists, but also come to a climatic encounter with a lurking undead menace that they have been opposing indirectly all their careers. In this way undead and morbid preists are a factor all through a continuing campaign, not just introduced as monsters of the week syndrome. _________________ Canonfire Community Supporter and Forum Justicar
Last edited by Dethand on Tue Nov 30, 2004 5:14 am; edited 1 time in total
Beholders are one of those love em or hate em creatures methinks. As for myself, in my last epic campaign I cooked up a pseudonatural beholder. Anything with the epic pseudonatural template is cool, but somehow coupling those two concepts was extra scary.
I like beholders, but use them sparingly. A possibility to advance a beholder is a racial prestige class called Ocullar Master (IIRC) described a while ago in a Dragon Magaine. _________________ Kneel before Rahu!
A simple use of the advancement chart and /or additions of classes can make those monsters familiar to PC's stay around well into and beyond epic levels. Its easy to take an orc throw 30 levels of classes on them and use them as a major opponent in a game
This is one of the issues I have with 3rd Edition "epic" rules - adding levels to an otherwise ordinary monster to make it epic.
There is a movie called "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist." It is a takeoff on martial arts movies. In perhaps the signature scene, the Bruce Lee - like "hero" engages in a Matrix-like martial arts battle with . . . a cow. And not just any cow, its a dairy cow, a Holstein, I believe. The scene is brilliantly crafted to make the (digital) cow a martial artist and very funny because this is a cow we are talking about.
My point? Take a Guernsey and give her 20+ levels of Monk. You have an epic martial artist . . . cow. I see too much of this in the 3rd edition "just add levels" philosophy. This is not to say it can't be done and done well, but I do not find it particularly satisfying beyond a certain point.
My preference is for uniquely epic monsters - like the Atropal (brilliant "White Kingdom" idea btw). For this reason, when I can build to the epic monster with lesser kinds of that monster, I am most satisfied. (Btw, there is now some kind of "lesser" atropal, I think, but its name and book escape me at the moment).
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