In which ol’ Greywulf opens his copy of the 4e Monster Manual to a random page and sees if he can come up with a scenario idea or use for the critter that the Thumb of Fate has sent him to.
In this first, inaugural Random Monster Monday post, the Thumb of Fate has settled on: Githzerai!
Anyone remember the classic Invasion Epic Adventure that spanned a complete edition of Dungeon, Dragon and the flip-it-upside-down pages of Polyhedron? This was when they were real magazines and the content quality was 90% awesome, 10% filler. Now they’re not even printed on paper and are 100% filler, but that’s a whole ‘nuther blogpost for another time.
Anyhow. Githzerai are the Other Guys. These are the Kung-Fu cousins of the ‘Yankees, unarmed psionic ascetics who live in remote monasteries on the Astral Sea (which is now a holiday resort in the Elemental Chaos, apparently) or in your campaign world. Unlike the Githyanki, these guys are Unaligned, which is 4e shorthand for “Evil with an interesting backstory”.
Given the choice, I prefer Githzerai as the ‘Yankees are pretty much like any other evil race with plans of World Domination. They’re basically psionic Drow with a skin condition, and where’s the fun in that? In contrast, ‘Zerai are interestingly introspective psionic Drow with a skin condition, and that’s something I can work with. Thank you, Thumb of Fate.
The 4e Monster Manual gives us three statblocks to work with – the Cenobite monk, the Zerth monk-slash-elemental psychic and the Mindmage. Their levels (11, 13 and 14 respectively) put them at the low end of the Paragon Tier where they’re likely to be the one of the first plane-spanning foes your heroes encounter. Thanks to 4e’s dead easy monster levelling rules, the Githzerai could easily scale all the way through the Paragon Tier or even drop down into the Heroic Tier should you so decide. Me, I think they’re placed just right and serve as a great Paragon-level monster with which to hint at planar adventures in the PC’s future.
Picture the scene. On a remote island far from known civilization squats a volcano, and high up one side is the Nexus Priory. This is a secretive sect of Githzerai exiles led by The Vansheen, an ancient and powerful Mindmage who figures that if he cannot enter the Elemental Chaos, he will make the Elemental Chaos come to him. The location has been carefully chosen as it is a confluence of Earth, Air, Fire and Water and draws all manner of Elemental creatures like moths to a flame (or waterspout, tornado or earthquake). The volcano is surrounded by jungles populated by all manner of elemental creatures.
Enter the PCs who have been sent by an ally (a Druid, Wizard or anyone else likely to be sensitive to changes in the elemental balance) to investigate what is happening far out to sea. He has given them a set of co-ordinates, but little information to work with. Before they arrive, their ship is attacked by powerful water and air elementals. These far exceed the PC’s ability to fight back – make it a Skill Challenge. If they succeed, they ride out the elemental storm and bring the ship into safe harbour on the island. If not, they’re holding onto driftwood as they wash up onto the beach.
Can your heroes survive the Elemental Isle, battle Cenobite hunting parties, make it to the monastery and stop The Vansheen’s plans to turn the world into a new Elemental Chaos realm with himself as Emperor?
Phew! One scenario outline, done.
Look out for Random Monster Monday next week, and see where the Thumb of Fate sends us next time.