Random Monster Monday

Welcome to the first Random Monster Monday of 2011! Every Monday I let the Thumb of Fate loose on the 4e Monster Manual and try to come up with a scenario or use for whichever critter it finds.

This week, the Thumb of Fate brings us………

The Roper!

This stalagmite with an attitude problem has been a part of D&D for a very long time – since 1975 according to Wikipedia – and rates as one of the iconic creatures of the game. Any old schooler will tell you tales of their entire party being wiped out by a Roper. Good times.

The Fourth Edition version of the Roper is much the same as it always has been, though its placement at Level 14 in the Paragon Tier gives me pause for thought. I would have expected Ropers to first make an appearance around Level 4 (just as the heroes are beginning to get cocky) and lose their usefulness in the low-Paragon Tier when adventurers move out of the Dungeon and on to pastures new. A Level 14 Elite Roper would be something I would use to remind them that even the lowly monsters they have fought before can level up too. This would be a Friday Night Special Roper that has lurked in the deepest Underdark and eaten more adventurers than they have had iron rations. Your run-of-the-mill Roper though – Level 6 and ass-scary for a 4th level party who are still wet behind the ears.

One quick trip into the Monster Builder, and…..

roper

There. Done. Much better.

When it comes to tactics, Ropers have two important though oft-neglected features: Darkvision, and Spider Climb. Quite why you would want to climb spiders is beyond me, but put those two together and you have a monster that looks like a stalactite, can hang from the ceiling like a stalactite, lurk in the deepest darkest corners like a stalactite and attack unwitting adventurers with their tentacles like a stalactite. Sneaky things, those stalactites.

The only other thing you need is an NPC. Give the PCs a henchman just so he can mysteriously disappear from the back of the group while they’re not looking. Then pick off the Wizard – with just a roll of the dice he’s hanging 25’ up above with tentacles wrapped around his limbs. Until he breaks free (don’t forget the falling damage) he’s unable to cast spells and the other PCs are going to need to watch their area attacks. Oh, and don’t forget that the Ropers are lurking in pitch darkness so the other heroes don’t have a clue what is above them.

Add in a few other ground-based critters that come out of the walls to clean up the mess (Giant Rats, for example), and you have what I believe is called a situation.

Nice.

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4 Responses

  1. Zero_Armada says:

    Muahahaha! Great monster build! Gonna try to work one into a cavern crawl when my party gets to level 4.

  2. Kensan_Oni says:

    I always had thought of Ropers as this dangerous hazard of the underworld. With the design paradigm that you go underdark and fight drow and those kinds of critters, placing the roper at that level makes sense to me.

    Of course, I never did like the Roper. The Flailing Immobile Rock never seemed like a monster I would ever want to use.

    My only critique is that it needs a longer range. At this point, it’s no threat to anyone who stands away, and it basically is an extensive trap instead of a monster. While I have no problem designing a roper as a trap, I still think it should throw some magic or something to encourage the whole “Don’t stay away and zap it from range” line of thinking.

    • greywulf says:

      I agree. The Roper is much more like a trap than it is a monster. If pushed for time, I would be tempted to run it just like that – an obstacle to be bypassed rather than a critter that needs to be hit until dead.

      Heck, you could even run one as a Skill Challenge requiring Acrobatics, Athletics, Stealth, Nature (for knowledge checks), etc to bypass. That would be fun too, with the right players.

      The Level 14 Roper in the MM has Reach 10 for its tentacles, which I found pretty unrealistic (as much as anything to do with a stalagmite-with-tentacles can be realistic). Tentacles, yes. But 50′ long tentacles? I’m not so sure. It’s my guess that they made them so long for exactly the reason you say – to make it a threat across the entire battlemat so that ranged attackers aren’t at an advantage.

      A better solution is to build the Encounter with Ropers paired with more agile monsters who can move around the area effectively and keep the heroes on their toes. An Encounter featuring Ropers and a colony of Stirges would be pretty challenging. Now there’s a thought…….

  3. Mica says:

    I love the Monster Builder! I’ve been using it for the past year to create my own creatures and to mod creatures to make them better fit my PCs level. Good job on the Roper. I’ll be using him the next time my PCs head underground.

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