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    Canonfire :: View topic - Shambling Mounds
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    Shambling Mounds
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    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:47 pm  
    Shambling Mounds

    Nasty pieces of work, they are. Incredibly tough on paper, and positively deadly if you DM them as I find myself doing in a current campaign. In reading their many immunities, it states they take no damage from fire or blunt weapons, only half from cold and slashing/piercing weapons. God help you if you actually try to electocute one since it increases their HD!!!

    Ok, here comes a small avalanche of questions for which I am notorious. Obviously, no right answers (as far as I am concerned), but just want some input from a variety of sources:

    1) If they are immune to fire, does this mean even something as potent as Fireball, Meteor Swarm, or even something as deadly as red dragon breath?! After all, the thing is a moving mountain of wet plant material, not some Hellish fiend of the Lower Planes!
    I would think there's GOTTA be a limit to which the wet slime of a shambler offers it complete immunity to fire (I've got some ideas on how to 'rule' that)...

    2) If they are immune to blunt weapons, doesn't this likewise translate over to spell effects that simulate blunt attacks such as Force magicks (Magic Missile and Lance of Disruption?) I would think so.

    3) Wouldn't the power and intensity of the lightning-based attack determine the growth and enhancement of the shambling mound? For example, wouldn't a Lightning Bolt cast at 9th lvl have a MUCH greater (positive) effect on a shambling mound than, say, a meager 5th lvl caster's bolt or a Shocking Grasp? Can you imagine what would happen if a blue dragon tried its breath weapon on a shambler!?! Shocked

    Your turn now.

    -Lanthorn
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    Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:12 pm  

    Lanthorn,

    You pulled another query for us to ponder. I shall answer the questions in the order you ask them.

    1) I would remove immunity to fire and replace it with damage reduction. Due to its wet nature the shambling mound only takes a 1/4 of the damage delivered by fire. Half damage for cold and piercing is fine. Though I would rule slashing weapons deal regular damage. Blunt weapons causing no damage is fine.

    2) Yes, I would rule immunity to force damage as well. Because force damage is considered blunt as far as how it delivers its damage. However, if a blunt or force attack moves its target due to impact. I would allow the mound a saving throw bonus or be moved by the attack.

    3) I agree the power of the jolt should effect growth. So I would rule that for every eight points of electrical damage the mound adsorbs it gains one hit die.

    I hope this helps.

    Argon
    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:43 am  

    Argon, thanks for your input. To respond,

    1) I was thinking of treating its fire immunity like the clerical spell, Protection from Fire, equating the shambler's HD as it's 'caster level.' Thus, an 8 HD shambler is protected from 8x12 = 92 pts of fire damage. OR, if that seems too extreme, perhaps some other type of variant on that theme.
    I actually have no problem with the damage reduction of slashing and stabbing weapons. After all, the thick, gnarled, woody constituents that make up that beast's body should be tough to hack, cut, and chop apart. Ever try felling a decent sized tree? Takes a while...
    I'm also OK with the partial immunity to cold.

    2) Excellent! You and I totally concur on this point (Boy is this gonna mess with my player's mage whose magic missiles are his first line of attack)!

    3) I very much like your suggestion about 8 pts of electrical damage equates to 1 HD and foot of growth to the shambling mound. Happy I imagine this growth and enhanced power is NOT transient, but a PERMANENT effect upon the creature.

    -Lanthorn, Monster Botanist
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:03 am  
    Re: Shambling Mounds

    Mostly, I agree with you and Argon, Lanthorn, but I'll add a bit below.

    Lanthorn wrote:
    1) If they are immune to fire, does this mean even something as potent as Fireball, Meteor Swarm, or even something as deadly as red dragon breath?! After all, the thing is a moving mountain of wet plant material, not some Hellish fiend of the Lower Planes!
    I would think there's GOTTA be a limit to which the wet slime of a shambler offers it complete immunity to fire (I've got some ideas on how to 'rule' that)...


    I like your solution. It seems to me that the rulebooks sometimes simplify things to the point that they don't make a lot of sense, realistically. I try to tweak these kinds of rules in the same manner you and Argon have devised in order to make the workings of a fantastical world seem more believable.

    Quote:
    2) If they are immune to blunt weapons, doesn't this likewise translate over to spell effects that simulate blunt attacks such as Force magicks (Magic Missile and Lance of Disruption?) I would think so.


    Here, I will disagree. To me, it depends upon the type of force weapon doing the damage. For example, a Magic Missile, a Force Lance, a Wand of Force used as a bastard sword, or a Mordenkainen's Sword would do piercing or slashing damage, even though it is technically 'force' damage. Thus, I would treat damage from such spells as piercing or slashing damage, respectively. After all, what's the point of creating a magical piercing or slashing weapon if it will hit like a club? However, force damage from items like Spiritual Hammer, a Ring of the Ram, or Bigby's Clenched Fist would count as blunt weapon damage and be ineffective against a shambling mound. Just one more reason for a spellcaster to carefully consider which spells s/he memorizes. It is also perfectly reasonable to allow a spellcaster to reseasrch/pray for an alternate version of any particular spell that does a type of damage the caster desires. In 3.5e, Spiritual Hammer is changed to Spiritual Weapon and appears as the prefered weapon of the cleric's god. Thus, a cleric of Heironeous casting that spell creates a force longsword, not a hammer.

    Quote:
    3) Wouldn't the power and intensity of the lightning-based attack determine the growth and enhancement of the shambling mound? For example, wouldn't a Lightning Bolt cast at 9th lvl have a MUCH greater (positive) effect on a shambling mound than, say, a meager 5th lvl caster's bolt or a Shocking Grasp? Can you imagine what would happen if a blue dragon tried its breath weapon on a shambler!?! Shocked


    I offer the same answer here as I did regarding the shambler's immunity to fire above. I think it is reasonable for any DM to alter the ability from its letter to better fit the spirit of the rule and Argon's suggested method is a very good one.

    SirXaris
    GreySage

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    Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:08 am  

    SirXaris,

    Thanks for adding your comments.

    In retort, I don't think that Magic Missiles or Lance of Disruption ever cause piercing or slashing damage. At least, not in 1 and 2e rules. They cause blunt force trauma only. Same is true, as you noted, for Spiritual Hammer in the traditional sense (though I do like your modifications based on other faiths...I do a similar alteration, too, where it makes sense).

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:16 am  

    Lanthorn,

    Technically (ie. by the letter of the rules), I believe you are correct about force weapons all causing blunt damage. My argument is simply that it is more reasonable to make a small change to that rule like you are making to the immunity to fire rule and the benefits gained from electricity rule. If it makes sense, go ahead and do it.

    SirXaris
    GreySage

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    Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:34 pm  

    Also wondering why treants, likewise composed of solid vegetable matter (and probably far more resilient woody constituents) do not enjoy benefits of reduced damage due to mundane (blunt, slash, hacking) weapons. Seems counterintuitive to me.

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:21 pm  

    This is just an explanation from my own imagination. I have no idea if it was what the designers were thinking.

    A treant is a tree and its toughness is accounted for in its hit dice. You can do as much damage slashing/hacking at a trunk or its branches as you can slamming a mace or morning star into it. Stabbing it with a spear or an arrow may not do so much, though. However, that is assuming that a treant is of the same consistancy as a non-sentient tree. Perhaps, treants are made of more compliant, softer, material.

    As for shambling mounds, they are made up of a mass of entertwined vines and other small brushy matter growing in very wet envirnments. Such a conglomeration is much more flexible and difficult to damage with blunt force. Being many separate vines, piercing weapons tend to slide right through (between) the matter making up the creature, thus causing little to no damage. Slashing weapons may seem reasonably effective, but not when you realize that most slashing/hacking weapons do their damage because of the force behind the blow. Hitting such a compliant mass of vegetation may cause a small cut, but as most of the force of the blow is absorbed, it won't do any more than if you just set the blade against the body and pulled it across in a sliding motion.

    If you remember LotR, the ents were not the largest of the trees in the forest. In fact, they were rather small. Perhaps their high hit dice reflects the fact that even very small trees are very tough. Instead, you could lower their hit dice and give them DR, if you thought it more appropriate.

    SirXaris

    Edit: Spelling. SX


    Last edited by SirXaris on Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:57 am; edited 1 time in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:27 pm  

    Sir Xaris,

    I agree with your take on force damage if the force takes on a piercing or slashing characteristic it should be treated as a piercing or slashing weapon.

    On another note Lanthorn I tried giving you a 2e fix that IMO works slightly better with 3e rules for the immunities. Hence I was going to suggest DR 20 to fire and blunt damage only and DR 10 to cold only. one can grant a DR 5 to piercing damage. I still think slashing since it includes axes should be regular damage. DR stands for damage reduction meaning the shambling mound must suffer greater than 20 points of fire damage a round of the fire does not harm them. Where as cold damage must be greater than 10 to harm him.

    Example: Flum the fiery casts a fireball which delivers 24 points of fire damage. The Shambling mound only suffers 4 points of damage as the first 20 are absorb by its innate immunity. You can adjust your numbers as you see fit but this was another idea I had for your query.

    Later

    Argon
    GreySage

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    Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:32 am  

    Thanks, gents.

    SirXaris, I would have to come to the same conclusion as you described earlier in order to explain the discrepancy I find between the treant and the shambling mound. Furthermore, if you compare the HD between a shambler and a treant, they are VERY close. It depends on the size of the two creatures, but they are nearly the same. A treant (OLD) can be a bit more, but not by much. Furthermore, BOTH have the exact same AC (0). Thusly, the shambler still outranks the treant, which I would consider to be the larger and 'tougher' of the two, in terms of sheer power and resilience. I don't have issue with the fact that the shambler is 'immune' to fire (makes sense given its moist innards and boggy habitat) whereas the treant is actually more flammable. What vexes me most of all is the discrepancy between the fact that the shambling mound is LESS harmed by mundane weapons whereas the treant is not! Forgive my uttering such blasphemy, but I think this is an oversight... Shocked We followers of The Summoner tend to speak out, ya know. Wink

    Argon, your suggestions are duly noted and much appreciated, as always.

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:35 am  

    And, by your arguments, Lanthorn, I support your decision to adjust the rules for treants by augmenting their defensive powers. Wink

    SirXaris
    GreySage

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    Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:34 pm  

    Good Sir, intelligent flora around the forest thanks thee in turn for thy noteworthy allegiance. Happy

    -Lanthorn, Ent Supporter
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    Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:03 pm  

    I am not so benevolent when it comes to shambling mounds. Woe unto any party should they run into one of these. You do bring up a good point about fire though Lanthorn, what about for example, red dragon breath? Or something massive on a scale such as that?

    In all of my adventures, we've only run into a few of these beasts and the characters, once they realize fire won't work and lightning is even worse, usually run. :)

    However, if they somehow managed to charm a dragon and it breathed on the shambling mound, I would rule that it forces the creature into a dormant state for a short period. Similar to when a forest is burned over. The next spring you see new shoots coming from the blackened ground. In this case, the shambling mound would perhaps sink back into the ground, its vegetation browned, singed and whatnot only to rise again 6 to 24 turns later.

    Sure would take a lot of fire though....

    Am I the only one that sees "Man-Thing" every time a shambling mound is displayed? Laughing
    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:16 pm  

    Man-Thing, indeed! That was how I described it to my player. You must be a Marvel Comics fan, Elliva! Happy

    (Did you see that Man-Thing movie that came out a number of years ago?)

    -Lanthorn
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    Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:02 pm  

    Alas, I didn't see it. I am a comics fan and definitely Man-Thing is one character I've always enjoyed.

    Back to shambling mounds, if I were to campaign during the Greyhawk Wars (I typically set them about 10 years prior), I could see a very high level druid perhaps enlisting the aid of say 20 shambling mounds to protect swampland. I certainly wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of that fight.
    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:58 pm  

    I've had a greater appreciation for antagonistic druids ever since I played a vengeful 'hill druid' that took umbrage for all the mining (and pollution it caused) in the Cairn Hills. Her powers over Nature and shapeshifting abilities really made her a crafty and dangerous opponent! Those miners and the Cairn Hills militia never did catch and bring her to justice...

    Imagine if your said druid used Call Lightning on those shamblers to enhance their growth, size and power, too! Shocked

    -Lanthorn
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    Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:20 pm  

    Lanthorn,

    That is totally Evil Grin !

    Said druid will have an army at his disposal which could technically take over civilized towns and cities. I can see an adventure set around this scenario. What you take from the swamp it takes back ten-fold. Kind of reminds me of the nature elemental which would convert any land it came in contact with to become full and lush with grass and or trees. Basically converting the land back to its original natural space.

    Later

    Argon
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    Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:45 am  

    You have no idea, Argon. Cool

    I've had all sorts of crafty, wily, and deadly ideas...

    With respect to shambling mounds, I wonder what would happen if a druid cast an Entangle onto the creature? Would its body writhe and grapple opponents? What about casting Plant Growth or Spike Growth? Hhhmmmm....the possibilies... Evil Grin

    This is just a taste of my devious nature.

    -Lanthorn, the Cunning
    GreySage

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    Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:13 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    With respect to shambling mounds, I wonder what would happen if a druid cast an Entangle onto the creature? Would its body writhe and grapple opponents? What about casting Plant Growth or Spike Growth? Hhhmmmm....the possibilies... Evil Grin


    Very cool ideas, Lanthorn. Smile

    SirXaris
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    Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:54 am  

    Much obliged, SX. Maybe I will post a thread about inventive, experimental ideas with respect to spell casting... hhmmmm.... Idea

    Lanthorn
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    Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:20 pm  

    Hah! I could see a vengeful druid zapping a shambling mound with lightning a few times, I bet Iuz would take notice then.
    GreySage

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    Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:59 pm  

    Elliva wrote:
    Hah! I could see a vengeful druid zapping a shambling mound with lightning a few times, I bet Iuz would take notice then.


    Don't forget to play Thunderstruck by AC/DC during the battle! Happy

    SirXaris
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    Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:15 pm  

    SirXaris,

    THe Iranian's enjoyed it when their nuclear systems were hacked. Shambling mounds and Thunderstruck what a delightful combination. Shocked

    Later

    Argon
    GreySage

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    Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:39 pm  

    Would a Charm Monster work on one (only the 8 HD specimens, as the others are, I think, beyond the spell's power), or would it take a Charm Plant spell instead? Or are both spells effective?

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:01 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Would a Charm Monster work on one (only the 8 HD specimens, as the others are, I think, beyond the spell's power), or would it take a Charm Plant spell instead? Or are both spells effective?

    -Lanthorn


    I don't have the books in front of me to check the wording of the spells, but I would rule that the shambling mound is an intelligent plant so, barring contrary wording within the spell descriptions, I would go with Charm Plant.

    SirXaris
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    Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:13 pm  

    I would say that charm plant would make sense as its less likely for non-nature casters to come across said spell for obvious reasons. I agree with Sir Xaris on this one.

    Later

    Argon
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