|Alan Craddock cover art.|
Book 5 and we're introduced to another new adventuring Profession, the Elementalist.
Basically a Sorcerer, the Elementalist has a specialist element and two secondary elements they can cast spells with. DW has five elements (though only four basic Elementals), with Darkness as the element of evil and spookiness.
You can't combine opposed elements (standard drill) and you can only take Darkness as your specialist element. Darkness Elementalists are powerful, but channelling their element corrupts them, in the form of negative geasa (loss of shadow, permanent intangibility, intermittent heliophobia, becoming a wraith etc) - PCs are not meant to pick Darkness.
The power of Darkness also corrupts the Elementalist secondary element spells, generally making them more powerful but obviously tainted.
The 10th level summoning spell for Earth, Air and Fire Elementalists each call up a statted monster. Water gets a natural disaster (tsunami) instead, and Darkness gets to summon Balor (the Prince and/or Power of Darkness) and kill everyone (summoner included and no save) within 20m (don't know how this reconciles with Balor being asleep and imprisoned, as we learn in the adventures).
The Man of Stone.
BAB +19 AC +6 att. fists d8(d14) HD 5.3 Rank (10th Rank spell)
Titanic figure made of rock, conjured from a sufficient quantity of available material.
If not under the control of a summoner, it can only travel in a straight line. Able to break through walls... burrow through cliffs and subterranean tunnels.
The Darkness-tainted version battens on the flesh of living men, delighting in grinding their bones between its stony jaws.
BAB +6 AC +1 att. special HD 4 Rank (10th Rank spell)
An animate vortex of violent, shrieking wind.
Summoned to relentlessly pursue a single victim to death. Presumably, defeating or dismissing the Banshee is the only way to prevent this.
The Darkness-tainted Banshee will do as bid for the first victim, but then will be freed from control and not leave this plane until it has totalled 100 kills.
The Man of Fire.*
BAB +21 AC +6 att. fists of fire d10(d16) HD 6.2 Rank (10th Rank spell)
A 3m+ (c. 10') figure entirely composed of elemental fire. Material component: the bones of one who has died by fire.
The Darkness-tainted variant will serve its summoner for 1 hour, but then spends the rest of the day setting fire to everything it can because that's how it feeds/gets its jollies.
*It's called The Holocaust in the text, as in the original burnt-offerings sense of the word, but maybe you'd rather not call it that.
After the Elementalist Profession and the new spells, we get a chapter on Madness for when spells and horror twist the mind. Standard use of recent contemporary language for each disorder, and portrayal of schizophrenia as being a split personality.
You'd probably do it differently now.
The Prince of Darkness.
This seven part adventure/campaign is set in Glissom, a part of the world lying to the north of The Elven Crystals adventure sites and also contains the Lost City of Nem, where big old bad boss, Balor, is imprisoned.
Head north to rescue a King (if he isn't already dead - which he is), recover a relic and hopefully put paid to the dastardly plans of the Darkness Elementalists, thereby saving the world from being stared to death by Balor, the Prince of Darkness of the title.
Like with The Elven Crystals, there're hints this was originally written for another system/ system neutral. Tonally, it is more of a romp than my personal core four DW scenarios - though there's more sense of the integral setting than in Crystals.
Part 1 - The King's Tower.
If you stick to the read-aloud text (something I'm not keen on, generally), the PCs are about to fail to earn the 100 Florins they're each being paid to guard the King during an important festival.
Then evil Hawks swoop down to carry off/kill the King and snatch the sacred Hearth Fire. Even if you uncover the secret plot and villains at this early stage, you still get an offer of 100,000 Florins (silver pieces)* to head north and set things right.
*enough to buy 40 Warhorses or 200 suits of chainmail or 1,000 crossbows or 1 million slingshots.
Hawks of Balor.
BAB +7 AC +3 (+7 vs. missiles) att. claws d6(d8) HD 4.6 Rank 7th
Giant Hawks in the service of Balor. There might be no more than 6 of them and they might be magical creatures.
Any survivors from the initial attack turn up outside the Lost City of Nem, but they just cast their spooky shadow on you as they fly over: save to resist or you're subjected to madness (or equivalent).
Their AC vs. missiles is because of their speed in flight and semi-camouflage in poor light.
Part 2 - The Inn of Chang.
More of an encounter than an adventure.
Don't show the players the illustration or you'll give the whole game away.
Part 3 - The Siren Woods.
Between you and the next destination are Elf-haunted woods with magical traps and an undead warrior-king.
The Elves are Ranked characters (Sorcerer and warriors - presumably Knights) and have invisible elven strands that hold you fast until you roll 2d10 < STR to break free. They also have blow pipes with poison darts: save or die with advantage/bonus if 1-2 darts hit, normal chances 3-4 darts, and at disadvantage/penalty 5-6.
Also: whether or not the poison gets you, save vs. magically-induced hallucinations (dispel magic or similar to relieve). Roll d6:
- Totally devoted to next person of opposite sex you meet.
- Next creature you meet is a Basilisk so you keep your eyes averted.
- 10% each minute you experience intense vertigo and throw yourself to the floor.
- Fall asleep for 2 days (cannot be woken) and forget the past year.
- and 6. All your companions are your enemies, so kill or be killed. Spell Expiry Roll or 2d6 rounds.
BAB +15 AC as armour att. weapon +2 HD 6.2 Rank ?
A green-faced, humanoid creature with white flowing hair and overlong nails dressed in verdigris-stained armour of an antique fashion.
Dissolves into greenish gas when slain. Undead and corporeal, but the monster isn't the corpse buried here (even though it is, if you know what I mean).
Part 4 - The City of Mimir.
Side trip to a dungeon with monsters, treasure and traps. Haunted by an ancient demon that pretended to be (or was somehow believed to be) a benevolent deity.
Necrophobius (Physical Incarnation of the Demon Shader).
BAB +17 AC +8 att. forelegs d6(d6) mandibles d8(d20) HD 5.5 Rank ?
Necrophobius is its name: a giant praying mantis about 5m [c. 16'] long... has long forelegs and razor-sharp mandibles that can cut through bone.
The Demon Shader exists as a Green Devil Face/Blikdak-type thing in The Sanctum of the God (it's just a dungeon room), waiting for Necrophobius to bring it brains to consume. Looking into the eyes of this extrusion/image/manifestation requires a save vs. madness.
BAB +7 AC +1 att. weapons x2 + grapple HD 2.6 Rank ?
Naked, pink-skinned creatures, with four long arms and a tail and monkeylike face.
As presented, they're just demonic guardians/servitors, but the name, abilities and appearance are suggestive of a much more interesting monster.
Superficially, they're not obviously very sexy (except possibly in a Slaaneshi or Silent Hill way) but I suppose - this being Dragon Warriors - maybe it's the coming into the bedroom by walking through the wall and then wrestling with you that gets the stories started.
A cool monster that you could get more out of.
BAB +5 AC unarmoured att. fangs d8(d12) + shock HD 4.8 Rank ?
Large brown eel... 6m [c. 20'] long... two pin-sized eyes and huge circular mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth. Characters will only see a disturbance in the mud as it approaches them.
Suggestion that it might be intelligent (treasure-hoarding) and magical, though maybe making its bite a MAGICAL ATTACK was for mechanical convenience.
Part 5 - The Mountains of Brack.
You need to cross these to get to the Lost City of Nem. There's a convenient and dangerous dungeon that is apparently the only way. No-one's ever returned and a sort-of Roman legion wasn't able to do it.
If you don't want to run this as written, do a resource-management and random encounter expedition over the mountains instead.
BAB +11 AC +3 (or special) att. talons d8 + special HD special Rank (6th Rank Darkness Elementalist)
Creatures of shadows brought together by the highest necromancy known in the occult arts. A mage will enter an unconsecrated burial ground and, using a summoning, bring the shades from the graves till they form a dark, almost solid body. This gradually takes a humanoid shape with two small holes where light can pass through, where the creature's eyes should be. Someone seeing a Gaunt flitting down a dark alleyway would take it to be a tall, cloaked figure until they turned and saw the hollowness of the creature's eyes. Sometimes, if there is light behind them, rays of light will pass through these eyeholes, but no light will pass through the creature's inky-black body.
This one's my favourite, less because of how it plays in the adventure (it's just an interesting monster obstacle), than because of the possibilities in other situations.
Its AC+ comes from high DEFENCE, but it also has one of the highest EVASION scores in the game (better than a 12th Rank Assassin) so you could give it more +. Or you could apply that +3 as a bonus to all saves instead. Both options work.
BAB +9 AC +6 att. fist d8(d8) HD 7.3 Rank ?
3m (c. 10') tall animated/living statue of ice. Implied to be humanoid, but no other details given.
A purple, tentacled monster, its body covered with mauve polyps and suckers and with two octopoid heads.
It's the monster component of a trap, attacking with 4 tentacles (BAB +2 HD 1.7). No damage but if you are struck twice, you are dragged into its watery lair which instantly freezes, instantly killing you.
8 hp damage to destroy/sever a tentacle, and I'd rule that any tentacle that's hit a target cannot attack another - you could also use grappling rules for this instead.
Destroy all 4 tentacles and it will disappear forever into the depths of the fountain. Saves as a 10th level Fighter/10 HD monster if you try an alternative to hack-and-slash - but no stats for the body.
Their razor-sharp teeth give them great armour penetration: +3 to Armour Bypass, automatically beating DW padded or hardened leather, and ring mail. Resolve in D&Dish as simple bonus to Hit.
The bite is infected with a strong poison - whether that means disease or not, the save-or-die is at disadvantage/penalty.
Survivors end up with deathly pale skin and a strong aversion to sunlight (either -3 penalty to Hit and AC, or borrow something from a pre-existing heliophobe). They're not vampires, but maybe Pseudo-Vampires (AD&D 1e Monster Manual 2), and the population of DW is somewhat ignorant of the nuances of monster classification - expect to be blamed for any outbreak of pernicious anaemia wherever you go now.
BAB +8 AC unarmoured att. special HD 2.2 Rank ?
Spectral arms burst from the ice, and attempt to drain mortal warmth in the form of hp. The Ice Spectre does not get its instant death ability until it has drained min. 10 hp and is able to manifest fully.
Once manifested it can claw and clutch at your heart with its icy claws, and can potentially absorb limitless amounts of hp as long as there are warm bodies to drain.
No more details, not even if it's actually undead - a variant of the Spectre in Book 1. Pretty cool, though, pun acknowledged.
I like to imagine it gets bigger and more like a living blizzard the more warmth it devours.
BAB +8 AC +9 att. tail d10(d6) HD 10.2 Rank ?
Also referred to as an Ice Serpent and a Giant Ice Snake, it's a 20m [c. 65'] long crystalline being. It's eyes... [glow] redly in any light. Anyone not caught with its coil and breath is lashed by the giant armoured tail.
It might also have the ability to cast an illusion of a treasure hoard as a lure, but this isn't specified - it's a component of the trap/trick the monster is a part of.
The text baldly states the party don't stand much chance of defeating this monster in a straight combat. No suggestions apart from escape. Whether that applies to D&Dish characters, I don't know.
BAB +14 AC unarmoured att. weapon HD 8 Rank ?
It's not much like the normal DW Wraith: no death spell and it fights with a physical weapon. It is very definitely the ghost/remnant/revenant of someone once alive - in this case, a warrior named Valhar.
Presumably, other Rime Wraiths would resemble who they were in life.
Interestingly, Valhar's Wraith is a separate entity from his spirit/soul, as that is hidden in an Amulet of Soul Storing elsewhere and will attempt to possess any mortal who dares to put it on. There are no details as to his personality or goals, living or undead. Described as a warrior, he's classed as a 5th Rank Mystic.
Part 6 - The Hall of the Frost Giants.
Repurposed as a lair by two Frost Giants, this site was originally something to do with Valhar and/or his culture/faith. You don't absolutely have to explore this place, but you might encounter the Frost Giants later if you don't deal with them here.
Frost Giants don't always have to be fought to the death because of their code of honour (see Book 1). However, they do keep an extensive larder that is recognisably human.
One Giant wields a trident. In DW a spear is a 2d4 Armour Bypass and 4 damage weapon. Conversion to D&Dish and the Giant's STR bonus to one side, the trident has d8 Armour Bypass and inflicts 2 damage per prong - roll d3 to see how many hit home, and it's automatically all three if you're helpless. Which I think is an interesting way of mechanically differentiating the two weapons.
BAB +1 AC unarmoured att. bite d12 HD 3.5 Rank ?
They're big dogs that fight to the death unless called off.
Possibly supernatural: unlike ordinary dogs their breath is cold.
Part 7 - The Temple of Balor.
The Lost City of Nem awaits, along with Darkness Cultists (ninjas) and three potential setting-derailing monsters (with Balor being the only explicit one). Okay, maybe Krang isn't but I like to think He could be.
BAB +3 AC +6 att. bite d6(d4) HD 0.6 Rank 2nd
Normal-sized snakes made of frosty, crystalline substance and powered by some ancient sorcery.
You decide whether they're magical creatures, constructs or elementals. Doesn't say whether they are related to the Giant Ice Snake, though they're clearly similar.
The Grey Hood.
HD 1.7 (8 Health Points)
A grey swirling barrier of energy through which it is not possible to see.
As long as you're coated in a certain substance (no more defined in the text than as a pool of dark viscous water - but outside the adventure it could be wine, vinegar, oil, tar, butter, mashed garlic, the Black Ichor etc), you can pass through that barrier - it parts to allow passage.
If you're not coated, it pulls its substance into a bag/hood over your head (and it can attack multiple/separate targets) and you are subjected to a high-pitched screaming sound as the creature begins to suck away [your] lifeforce.
Save vs. spells each round or death so instantaneous that observers cannot tell that the Hood has destroyed and replaced the brain with its own substance. The victim is now a puppet of the Hood and will attempt to kill unpossessed characters. Once only puppets remain, they travel to the surface world to capture/lure more potential hosts.
Hosts can be recognised by the grey film over their eyes. Do they retain languages, memories, skills, spells? Is the Hood an intelligent parasite? No details.
The Grey Hood is vulnerable to metal, so can be ripped from the victim's head in 4 person-rounds if the rippers are wearing mail or plate gauntlets. If using a weapon, make a DEX check to not injure the victim underneath.
This vulnerability implies other possible solutions to passing through the barrier (which is 10m or c. 30' across in the adventure) and possibly indicates that the dark water is full of dissolved/suspended metallic minerals. A full suit of plate might work to pass, but might also just hide the fact the Hood has infiltrated the closed helmet through a chink.
Reminds me of the Krask, in that it seems somewhat out of place in the broader sensibility of the DW setting - an alien and sci-fi inflection that works in isolation.
Krang, The Flesh Eater.
BAB +19 AC +6 att. pincers d8(d10) HD 10.2 Rank ?
A fierce monster with turkeylike wattles of flesh about his neck and an elaborate horned breathing apparatus that connects his nostrils with his mouth. Wide-set eyes and a row of spiky mounds on top of his head, a long lizard-like tail, with an armoured scaly body, complement the horrible picture.
And pincers, number unspecified.
In the adventure, if you fail to close some bronze doors Krang will come shuffling up the stairs after ten rounds (1 minute) and pursue you. The text then goes on to say that walls and metal are no obstacle to Krang once He has the delicious scent of humans in his horned breathing apparatus.
Krang was fettered here by Balor, Prince of Darkness, countless centuries ago but may not be an actual prisoner, as it seems to otherwise be able to come and go from its lair in a frozen grotto deep beneath the Lost City of Nem.
There's about Krang something of the Tarrasque and the exuberant profusion of less well known Great Old Ones and I like Him for it.
BAB +5 AC unarmoured/special att. special x8 HD special Rank ?
A giant octopoid creature with quivering greenish-mauve skin [and] eight long translucent tentacles.
Has 40 Health Points in its body and 40 spread across its tentacles, so it could be a 17.7 HD monster if you want; I'd go with 8.8, counting the body only. If you can inflict 40 hits on the body, it will die, and it will retreat if you destroy its tentacles (not specified, but it hasn't any other attacks).
There is a possibility that the tentacles are missing a DEFENCE and/or Armour Factor score, but it otherwise seems that you auto-damage this monster. The text seems to suggest that being close enough to attack the body is more risky than just being in range of the tentacles - maybe this could be resolved as whether you're pulled into the acid pool at the end of the next round or the end of this one.
It's an obstacle/trap monster, with a similar MO to the Allansian Blood Beast, and I like it.
Balor, Prince of Darkness.
A gigantic being covered with coarse, goatlike hair.
No stats are given for Balor, as no weapons or spells known to man can defeat or injure him in any way.
Balor breathes out every 6 rounds (30 seconds), with a great sigh delivering a blast of poisonous breath down the tunnels to his prison: save to evade to avoid taking a breath, then save to resist or die (I think) and save vs. madness, too.
At the very doors to Balor's prison, every exhalation is accompanied by an aura of shining darkness in the form of his leering face: d20 fright attack (save vs. fear at disadvantage/penalty or die/go mad) if you look directly at it.
If you decide to enter the chamber where his massive head is (taller than a house with his chin resting on the black marbled floor), roll for surprise (or DEX save) to see who accidentally looks directly into Balor's eyes burn[ing] with coal-red fire: save vs. magic at disadvantage/penalty or instantly and irrevocably dead by fiery disintegration.
This close, with every inhalation you risk being sucked into Balor's maw and consumed. This is automatic if subtracting the STR of the breath (12) from your STR results in a negative number. Even if it's positive, you still have to roll under that number to resist.
If the doors are open but you're not yet in the chamber when Balor inhales, you can make a DEX save to grab onto something which gives you +5 to your STR when calculating whether you get sucked in.
Close the doors and go downstairs!
Defeating Balor depends on extinguishing the magic fires and spoiling the pentacles of the ritual intended to release him. If you don't do both (though you can't really do one without the other if I'm reading it right), Balor will wake up fully (within an unspecified time) and ravage the land.
The Lands of Legend.
This book takes a look at a larger slice of Legend - a five-million-square-mile slice, in fact!
|Alan Craddock cover art|
As well as the gazetteer and other setting background, a new Profession (Warlock) and rules for languages, long-distance travel, seafaring, crime-and-punishment and social class/character background, we also get mentions of Newtlings, Night Elves, Trollbears, Eidolons, Ice Ghouls, and a/the Wendigo - all in passing and detail free.
We learn a little of the geographical/cultural distribution of some monsters via the encounter tables for waterborne adventures, including a surprise appearance by Orcs! I thought they had dropped out of DW by the end of Book 3, but here they are in the world-guide as a shipborne encounter in Uncharted Waters.
Maybe all DW Orcs are Sea Orcs or Viking Orcs or something, and just hail from Beyond the Fields We Know. Maybe all DW Orcs are Spelljammer Scro - away-teams and castaways, having their own sci-fi adventures on a threatening alien world dominated by merciless Humans.
The only statted new monster turns up in the adventure 'Mungoda Gold' as a treasure guardian. And we also learn that standard DW healing spells are less effective against tropical diseases, suggesting that the component of knowledge in a spell can be as important as reality-bending magic power.
BAB +19 AC +5 att. claws d12(d18) + strong venom HD 11.5 Rank 16th
A smoky, long-limbed monstrosity... no eyes or any other features until it opens its sharply angled maw to reveal a glowing gulf of blue light.
What Was Left Out.
Giant Spider from Out of the Shadows.
BAB +6 AC +2 att. bite d6+1 + venom HD 2.8 Rank 3rd
Missed this first time round.
A slightly stronger/tougher Giant Spider that turns up in The Sins of the Fathers adventure in Book 4.
Retreats if reduced to 4 hp, which -along with the mythic underworld/otherworld location- suggests it might have intelligence and even personality.
I always knew my D&D had a high level of DW content, but thought it was more about soulless Elves and dark supernatural flavour. Looking back, I notice that I instinctively used adventuring procedures that - though common to many fantasy rpgs - were codified in Book 1. I also think it's fair to say that it's because of DW that I always had crits on Hit Rolls, even in D&D editions that don't have it as a core rule, and why my default survivability measure is rounds=STR.
I like the profusion of multiple resolution mechanics across the six volumes. This is part of my attraction to Old School stylings/systems; universal mechanics are all very well, but they don't exercise my imagination the same way. Resolution dice are inconsistent - d20, 2d10, 3d6 - and I'd like to know the reasoning behind these choices: combat is trad d20, magic save is 2d10, poison save is 2d6 to 4d6, sometimes an ability check is one roll, then another.
Reconsidering the BAB values, I think there's a strong case for adjusting the significantly higher ones down to HD-generated equivalent levels. Possibly anything with a Rank exceeding its HD gets advantage/bonus to Hit; maybe + = Rank minus whole HD. IDK - I keep them in for illustration.
Are there any/many clones of Dragon Warriors? A very shallow search says no.
The only system I can identify having a clear relationship would be Romance of the Perilous Land (by Scott Malthouse/Trollish Delver), which is rooted in the folk mythology of the British Isles and also uses a variation of the ATTACK/ MAGICAL ATTACK/ SPEED/ STEALTH minus DEFENCE/ MAGICAL ATTACK/ EVASION/ PERCEPTION = Target Number mechanic.
A less obvious line can be traced from Dragon Warriors through to Lamentations of the Flame Princess. It's baked into both systems that Elves and Magic Users/Sorcerers are unholy, and this crops up in the text and the mechanics rather than being a forefront detail at chargen. Though this might just be a strand of Old School preference/thinking than a deliberate reference.