- Gnome Stew - http://www.gnomestew.com -

D&D Burgoo (4.0): A Howling Success?

Posted By Troy E. Taylor On October 20, 2008 @ 6:06 am In GMing Advice,Specific RPGs | 3 Comments

Some could argue that the Fourth Edition designers took the bite out of Lycanthropes — literally. The Monster Manual lists only two, the wererat and the werewolf. And making the condition hereditary rather than an affliction makes them no different than shifters, at least thematically.

The two shifter templates, for the longtooth and razaorclaw versions, provided in the racial traits section of the Monster Manual, can serve in a pinch, though.  They’re a serviceable overlay for any characters the DM chooses to have “afflicted” by lycanthropy, if the DM wishes to apply some of that old-school flavor. Conversely, you could apply the class templates to one of the two lycanthropes if you wish.

(Of course, the reverse argument could be made about the Third Edition lycanthropy template, which despite being more versatile, is just a tad unwieldy. Get out your slide rules and calculators, please. While a greater variety of werecreatures are detailed, the “curse” of lycanthrope means a DM must utilize them with greater restraint. A failed Fortitude save is a pretty thin line in keeping any bitten character from joining the pack.)

In any event, the Halloween season is a fun time to put the moon-hunters into play. Is that blood-curdling howl in the distance just a lone wolf — or is it something more sinister, a human giving over to its snarling and ravenous bestial nature?

Shifters by a harvest moon

The biggest fear of pioneers in the borderlands is being caught between two rival shifter tribes. It happens more often than you’d think. As the shifters range farther from their summer territory in a bid to track game, rival shifter bands often encounter one another. If the availability of game is scarce, especially with the winter months looming, expect there to be clashes. Sometimes shifter tribes will gain the support of others in the wilderness, such as bloodthirsty warbands of gnolls.

Longtooth Hunters, medium natural humanoid, shifter, Level 6 soldier

Razorclaw Stalkers, medium natural humanoid, shifter, Level 7 skirmisher

Gray Wolves, medium natural beast, Level 2 skirmisher

Dire Boars, large natural beasts (mount), Level 6 skirmisher

Gnoll Huntmasters, medium natural humanoid, level 5 artillery

My Grandma, what big ears, yellow eyes
and sharp teeth you have!

It’s a bit of a gotcha scenario, but revealing a longtime ally or relative of the player characters to be a wererat or werewolf can be more than scandalous, it can be dangerous. That’s especially true if the werecreature can’t control its nature or retain the memory of friends. The lycantrhope attacks with abandon. Will the PCs meet the challenge in kind, or will they stay their blows, knowing its their friend or loved one, who can’t control their transformation? Beware of your friend’s faithful hound, which is more dangerous than you might have thought.

Werewolf, medium natural humanoid (shapechanger), Level 8 brute

or Wererat, medium natural humanoid (shapechanger), Level 3 skirmisher

Shadow Hound, medium shadow magical beast, Level 6 skirmisher

The Pied Piper of Ratdom

Who occupies the underbelly of the city with a plan to undermine the government from within? Well, the wererats, of course. They’ve infiltrated many of the city’s important bureaus, ministries and counsels. And they’ve seized upon a plan, with the help of a satyr ally, who wants revenge on the city folk for encroaching on his wilderness. Naturally, the satyr has his own plans, which includes a treacherous turn against the wererats as well. But for the time being, he’s willing to go along with the scheme to overrun the city with rat swarms. The well-placed wererats will smooth the way for his appearance as a piper adorned in motley, who offers to lure the rats away. In exchange for “saving” the city, the wererats must be given authority in the city. As for the piper, the satyr’s a lusty fellow, and if after doing the deed his demands for bacchanal delights aren’t met, he just might channel his desire for debauchery into revenge on ratkind.

Rat swarm, medium natural beast (swarm), Level 2 skirmisher

Dire rats, medium natural beast, Level 1 brute

Giant rat, small natural beast, Level 1 minion

Wererat, medium natural humanoid (shapechanger), Level 3 skirmisher

Satyr Piper, medium fey humanoid, Level 8 controller (leader)

A force of nature

It’s entirely possible for a werewolves pack to be caught up in the frenzy of the whirlwind of an  eladrin lord’s desire for revenge. They’ll support a greater creature’s need to riot against the forces of civilization. Of course, if that means razing a few barns and villages along the way, so be it.

Bralani of Autumn Winds, medium fey humanoid, eladrin, level 19 Controller.

Wild Hunt Hound, medium fey magical beast, level 21 skirmisher

Common Roc, huge natural beast, level 14 elite skirmisher

Werewolves, medium natural humanoid (shapechanger), Level 8 brute

About  Troy E. Taylor

Troy's happiest when up to his elbows in plaster molds and craft paint, creating terrain and detailing minis for his home game. A career journalist and Werecabbages freelancer, he also claims mastery of his kettle grill, from which he serves up pizza to his wife and three children.




3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "D&D Burgoo (4.0): A Howling Success?"

#1 Comment By itliaf On October 20, 2008 @ 11:04 am

Good call on shifters as werecreatures, Troy.
I find it interesting that you suggest such a wide range of levels within a single group of monsters. So far, when building encoutners, I have kept the range of monster levels in an encounter within 5 levels or less. Has anyone else dming in 4e seen successes or pitfalls with wider–even double digit–level spreads? In theory, that sort of spread might be a good approach for a halloween game, as the main monster might be so high level that he can laugh off most attacks.

#2 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On October 20, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

I think encounters with creatures of multiple levels works — so long as the boss creature falls within a target range of the party — and the added monsters don’t tip the scales too much.

One of the weaknesses of 4E — and this is my opinion — is that while there is a wide range of monsters to select from — finding monsters that group together thematically while still remaining within the same challenge range is tougher to accomplish.

I’d say that DMs should freely adjust hit points, as well as selectively use powers, if trying to scale monsters. Generally, that makes more sense (weakening creatures accordingly) than trying to apply templates to toughen up monsters.

You can go either way, of course. But I find with 4E, scaling down is less cumbersome than scaling up. Others may experience it otherwise.

#3 Comment By Adalore On October 21, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

Aye, they REALLY simplified thrianthropes, having were-wolves and etc give the ‘curse’ to others makes were-creatures such to me. Soo I can see making house rules for it, going to wait until I have some true DM experience how ever. Just gotta write out every ones character ability’s on easy to read index cards.

Who I am playing with, they are as green as I am. /smirk
Ought to be fun at least.


Article printed from Gnome Stew: http://www.gnomestew.com

URL to article: http://www.gnomestew.com/gming-advice/dd-burgoo-40-a-howling-success/

All articles copyright by their individual authors. All rights reserved.