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  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual 3: Oblivion Moss

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    This post is part of a series! Click here to see the other.

    This based on the Obliviax, a monster that showed up in the 1e MM2. It’s completely changed for this edition, though.

    The Lore

    Oblivion moss, sometimes also known as memory moss, is a sapient predatory plant that lives in the depths of old forests. It looks like a carpet of moss, but it can perceive its surroundings and move around slowly in search of prey. The creature feeds on memories, which it strips from the brains of its victims. It derives sustenance from those stolen thoughts, and can also use them to spawn humanoid simulacra that help it defend itself and find more food.

    The memory stripping process is not actually fatal or permanent, but it’s still very traumatic. Stolen memories return at different rates. An adventurer’s knowledge of combat spells and maneuvers might come back after mere seconds, still in the middle of the fight. Important personal memories (“who am I?”) come back after a day or two, but smaller details (“what does my mother look like?”) can take weeks to be restored. Of course, the moss and its constructs are quite capable of fighting to kill, and might choose to kill a victim anyway after stealing their memories.

    Dryads and Treants cultivate patches of oblivion moss close to their own territories, as a security measure. Invaders who stumble upon them have their memories ripped away and end up turned around, leaving the forest without knowing what they were doing or where they went while inside. Even if the knowledge comes back later, very few people are keen on repeating the experience. As the book says, in places where oblivion moss grows, lost ruins tend to stay lost.

    You can turn the memory stealing around, too. The remains of a slain patch of oblivion moss retain memory fragments from its past victims, and if someone eats those bits they can acquire those memories. While the fragmentary memories of a bandit might not give you their entire guard rotation or the map of their stronghold, they might give you the combination to their main vault or to a secret door. That can be useful, though eating a sapient being presents obvious ethical problems.

    The Numbers

    We get a bunch of different stat blocks here, one for the moss itself and five for the humanoid minions it can build from stolen memories. The minions can be generated mid-fight by the moss, or they might be placed as normal monsters in an encounter with or without their master.

    Oblivion Moss Mindmaster

    This is the moss itself, a Large Fey Magical Beast (plant) and a Level 12 Elite Controller with 250 HP. It perceives the world with Blindsight 20, and moves around at a glacial ground and climb speeds of 2. It does have Forest Walk, though, so it’s not further slowed down by difficult terrain in its natural habitat.

    The moss projects a Mind Blindness Aura (1) that makes it invisible to enemies that start their turns inside until the end of the enemy’s next turn. It can defend itself in melee with a Corriding Touch that does immediate and ongoing acid damage, but it really wants to use its psychic powers instead.

    It has two basic ranged attacks: Scramble the Mind and Scour the Mind. Both to the same amount of psychic damage. Additionally, Scramble slides the target 5 squares and Scour makes the moss or one of its allies invisible to the target for a turn.

    Its ultimate attack is Absorb Memories, a ranged attack vs. Will that does no damage. A hit prevents the target from using encounter or daily attack powers (save ends). Hit or miss, the moss then creates a mossling duplicate of the target, which uses the most closely matching mossling stat block (see below). This recharges when there are no created mosslings in the field.

    The mindmaster can spend a minor action to Direct a mossling, allowing it to move its speed as a free action. And it can also Absorb Damage as an interrupt, taking into itself the damage from an attack that would hit a mossling.

    So a moss mindmaster would only be able to keep a single mossling around at a time. If you want there to be more of them, add some as part of the initial encounter makeup. Those don’t count as “created”, so the moss doesn’t have to wait to use Absorb Memories.

    Mosslings

    Mosslings are Medium Fey Humanoids, and all of them are Level 12 Minions. They’re meant to be copies of people whose memories were absorbed by the oblivion moss - the creature is smart enough to seek out competent combatants for this purpose, since they make for more powerful mosslings.

    Their signature passive trait is Mindmaster’s Thrall - if the mossling in question was created by an oblivion moss mindmaster, it acts immediately after its creator’s turn. They all have Forest Walk too, and a basic tendril attack that does minion-tier damage and has a rider compatible with their role. But the real star of the show here is the Simulacrum Attack, which allows them to copy an at-will power from a PC!

    If the mossling was created by Absorb Memories during this fight, it will be a power from the PC that attack targeted. If you’re adding the mossling as part of the encounter, pick a PC whose class is similar to the mossling’s role and give them one of that PC’s powers. The attack targets AC and its bonus is based on the mossling’s level as normal, but the damage and all other effects are identical to the PC’s, as if it was the PC who hit. Some of them copy melee attacks, others copy ranged attacks, but the match-up is not a problem because you always use a mossling archetype compatible with the power you want to replicate, not the other way around.

    The book recommends having the players themselves roll and resolve the mossling’s attacks, to reinforce the feeling that they’re fighting themselves. That’s clever!

    Here are the different varieties:

    • Mossling Guardian: Soldier, speed 6. Has an aura (1) that slows enemies. Tendril attack allows it to shift 1 square and pull an enemy into the vacated space. Copies a melee power. Use to copy PC defenders.

    • Mossling Creeper: Skirmisher, speed 8. Deals extra damage with combat advantage. Tendril strike allows it to shift 2 squares. Shifts 2 squares when missed by a melee attack. Copies a melee power. Use to copy rogues and other melee strikers.

    • Mossling Hurler: Artillery, speed 6. Explodes on death, dealing a bit of psychic damage and inflicting Daze (save ends) on a Close Burst 2. No riders on tendril attack. Steals a ranged power. Use to copy ranged strikers.

    • Mossling Grower: Controller (Leader). Has an aura (1) that grants +2 defense to plant allies. Tendril attack slows for a turn. Gives 20 temporary hit points to every nonminion plant ally within 3 squares on death. Copies a melee power. Use to copy warlords and other leaders.

    • Mossling Vinecaller: Controller. Has an aura (1) that makes the covered spaces difficult terrain. Makes a Close Burst 1 in to difficult terrain for the rest of the encounter on death. Tendril strike slides target 2 squares. Copies a ranged power. Use to copy wizards and other controllers.

    Final Impressions

    I think the mossling mechanic is really clever, particularly the bit where players roll and resolve their duplicate’s attacks. It helps ease the GM’s cognitive load a bit since mosslings are kinda finnicky even before you factor the copied attack in.

    As I mentioned above, a moss mindmaster can only keep one mossling around at a time. If you want to have more of them in play, the easiest way is to add more of them as standard minions to the encounter. In this case I guess they would have their own Initiative rolls, and would be worth XP as normal, but the mindmaster could still target them with Direct Mossling and Absorb Damage.

    Another option might be to turn the Mindmaster into a solo! Aside from the usual adjustments, you would want to make Absorb Memories at-will and remove the limit on the number of created mosslings in play. Maybe also turn Absorb Damage into a Free or No Action to make it usable as many times per turn as the moss wants.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual 3: Nymph

    This post is part of a series! Click here to see the others.

    Nymphs have been in the game since the beginning, and they were always one of its many, many “seductress” monsters. The only reason I can think for there being so many of them is that Gygax had issues.

    The Lore

    In Fourth Edition, Nymphs are fey descended from some of the oldest primal spirits: the Sisters of the Four Seasons, and the Brothers of the Four Winds. Thus they combine their mothers’ beauty with their fathers’ impulsive and fickle personality.

    After the Dawn War ended and the Four Seasons took upon themselves the work of maintaining the world’s natural cycles, the nymphs withdrew into the Feywild and spent a long time living there in harmony with nature. However, they’re not content with just staying quiet forever, so they eventually began to range further afield in search of fun.

    Nymphs just love mortals. They make such wonderful toys, you see. It’s very easy to convince them to do stuff, and to swear eternal loyalty and love. Toys sometimes break, but that’s just how things are.

    Nymphs are divided into subtypes corresponding to the four seasons, each with a different basic personality but sharing the same disdain for mortals. There’s also a fifth type that explains where dryads come from.

    The Monsters

    Nymphs are Medium Fey Humanoids with Low Light Vision and Forest Walk (meaning they ignore forest-themed difficult terrain). All of their other abilities vary per stat block.

    Spring Nymph

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    Spring nymphs are always seeing new life appear everywhere to replace the old. They have power over flowers, and adorn themselves with them. They are the most childish and romantic of the bunch, so they enjoy seducing mortals and playing mind games with them to get those mortals to chase her and to fight each other for her favor. Spring nymphs will often ensure the prettiest mortal survives these contests, and will then permanently dominate them through constant exposure to the nymph’s psychotropic scent.

    Spring Nymphs are Level 5 Controllers with 63 HP and Speed 6. Their powers are all seduction and flower-themed, making them some of the most stereotypical nymphs.

    They have a Charmed Defense passive that gives them +3 to all defenses while adjacent to a creature dominated by them. Their basic melee attack is Passion’s Kiss, which targets Will, does low psychic damage, and dazes (save ends). Their basic ranged attack is Song of Spring, which is similar but does a bit more damage and slows instead of dazing.

    When she doesn’t have anyone dominated, the spring nymph can use Floral Perfume to rectify this situation. This is a ranged attack vs. Will that must target a dazed or slowed creature, and on a hit pulls the target 3 squares and dominates them (save ends).

    Finally, once per encounter, the nymph can use Cloud of Blossoms, a ranged area attack that targets non-dominated enemies, attacks Will, and slows on a hit (save ends). After the first failed save, the target becomes unconscious instead. So this is more of an emergency escape hatch than an opening strike.

    When building an encounter with spring nymphs, you can add any number of sapient humanoids of any species to Team Monster. These are her permanently dominated pawns, and they should definitely count as “dominated” for the purposes of Charmed Defense even if they act normally otherwise. Lacking any of these, the nymph will do her best to keep a PC dominated and stick close to them. Spring nymphs don’t do a lot of damage on their own, so they need the help of their pawns. An encounter against multiple spring nymphs is very dangerous, though, since they’ll be able to dominate multiple PCs.

    Autumn Nymphs

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    These are the most melancholic members of the family. Autumn is the season when leaves are reaching the end of their lives and remembering their pasts. Autumn nymphs are always in that mood, and love collecting and remembering the stories of mortals’ lives. Autumn nymphs trade in secrets, one for one. This makes them good sources of information, but you have to be willing to share your own secrets in exchange. If you don’t, their vengeance can be terrible and persistent as they turn their secret-themed abilities against you.

    Autumn Nymphs are Level 8 Skirmishers with 89 HP, a ground speed of 6 and a flight speed of 6 (clumsy, like a leaf in the wind). Their basic attack is a strike with their Oaken Strength, which damages and pushes the target 1 square. Their other abilities are all secret-themed spells.

    Dark Revelation (recharge 6+) is a melee attack that causes light psychic damage and stuns (save ends). It represents the nymph using contact telepathy to fill the victim’s head with, well, fake news.

    Whisper Game is an interesting ranged attack. It inflicts immediate and ongoing psychic damage (save ends). Until the end of the encounter, or until the nymph drops to 0 HP, any time a creature saves against the ongoing damage the condition “jumps” to the nearest of the victim’s allies within 10 squares. When the nymph drops to 0 HP, whoever is suffering from this ongoing damage takes 15 psychic damage. This psychic hot potato recharges if the nymph misses with it.

    As a move action, the nymph can use Autumn Winds to either shift 1 square or move her speed, and then use Oaken Strength for free. And when an enemy misses her with a melee attack, she can use Secret of Autumn Leaves as a reaction to shift 3 squares.

    The nymph’s first priority should be to get the Whisper Game going, then stun someone with Dark Revelation whenever it’s available. After that she wants to move around and herd the PCs using Oaken Strength so all of them remain close enough to catch the Whisper Game damage. Autumn Nymphs don’t go for domination, but they can still have willing fey allies to help with all that. Multiple autumn nymphs in the same encounter means multiple Whisper Games and multiple save-ends stuns in a round, so only do that if you really want to make your PCs suffer.

    Wood Nymphs

    Sometimes, an autumn nymph’s melancholy gets the better of her. She grows tired of her games, or discovers she had actual fondness for a mortal that escaped her clutches. These nymphs cast off their humanoid guises and give themselves over to their wild natures, slowly transforming into trees. They stay for a long time in this in-between state, and some go on to become dryads. The Wood Nymph stat block represents the in-between state, where the nymph can leave its tree body to attack trespassers or despoilers, but can’t move too far away from it. This is actually closer to a mythological dryad than the D&D dryad is.

    Wood Nymphs are Level 10 Soldiers with 104 HP and speed 6. They are Treebound, which means they’ll be always encountered close to their tree. This tree occupies 1 square on the battle map. The nymph can enter it and gains full cover while inside. It also counts as an ally for the purposes of flanking. While adjacent to or inside the tree, the nymph has Regeneration 5.

    The nymph’s first priority in battle is to tag someone with Trapped in the Wood, which does no damage but teleports the target inside the nymph’s tree. This removes the victim from play (save ends). The nymph can teleport 8 squares to a space adjacent ot the tree as an effect. A successful save places the victim back on the map, adjacent to the tree.

    She can also hit a PC with her Lonely Keening, an encounter ranged attack that deals psychic damage on a hit. The interesting thing about it is its effect, though, which happens even on a miss. Until the end of the encounter, or until the nymph drops to 0 HP, the victim takes 5 damage at the end of any turn in which it’s not either adjacent to the nymph or closer to her than they were at the start of the turn. An excellent attack to use on those ranged PCs.

    Finally, the nymph can teleport up to 6 squares to a space adjacent to the tree as a move action.

    Not that the victim of Trapped in the Wood is not considered to be in the tree’s space for game purposes! They’re removed from play. Which means the Nymph can hit them with Lonely Keening, trap them in the tree, and stay adjacent to the tree to keep her regeneration while damaging the victim at the same time.

    Appropriate buddies for wood nymphs include full dryads, wood woads, and other treelike fey who are hanging around their new sister.

    Winter Nymph

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    Winter nymphs live in cold and remote regions, and like their linked season they’re cruel and harsh. Winter nymphs are all about reveling in the survival of the strongest. They run ahead of the Wild Hunt, dressed in buckskin, their nettle hair spreading out behind them in the wind. They seek the toughest and most cunning opponents as their prey.

    Winter Nymphs are Level 15 Artillery with 116 HP, a ground speed of 7, and a fly speed of 10. Unlike their sisters, they fight with weapons. Their basic melee attack is a Hunter’s Knife that damages and allows them to shift 1 square on a hit. Their basic ranged attack is a longbow that shoots arrows laced with Winter’s Wind, doing cold damage and slowing on a hit.

    If too many enemies crowd their space, they can use a Nettling Wind (recharge 5+) to target up to 3 creatures in a Close Blast 5. On a hit, this does physical damage and immobilizes (save ends). And once per encounter they can fire a Hail of Arrows that works like like Area burst 3, Range 20 attack. It targets enemies, does physical damage, and inflicts ongoing physical damage (save ends). That’s a good opening strike.

    Appropriate companions for winter nymphs are, of course, the Wild Hunt. Paragon-tier fey hounds and perhaps some eladrin or firbolg hunters.

    Summer Nymph

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    Spring is about the potential of the future; autumn about reflecting on the past; and summer is the present. Summer nymphs are among the eldest and wisest of the seasons’ children, for they see everything as it comes to pass. Though they love to play games with mortals just as much as their sisters, their own games are much more complex, some times spanning multiple worlds and vast stretches of time. They are the nymph’s equivalent of board game geeks, and they love playing live-action Twilight Imperium and Diplomacy. Their motivations and goals are always hidden from those she uses as playing pieces, and might look inscrutable.

    The nymph portrayed here is a legit demigodess, a Level 25 Controller with 233 HP and the Leader keyword. She is peer to elder dragons and to the greatest among angels and devils, and she could end up interacting with gods or exarchs directly. Not being an elite or solo, she’s not as individually powerful as some of those dragons and immortals, but she can command nature itself in the form of large hosts of animals, fey, and plant creatures.

    The summer nymph projects an aura of Renewing Growth (5) that makes its covered area into difficult terrain for enemies. Any enemy inside the aura who doesn’t move during their turn is slowed until the end of their next turn.

    Her attacks do below-average damage, but have powerful control effects. Her melee basic attack is Wisdom’s Touch, which damages and dazes for a turn. Her basic ranged attack is Eyes of Summer, which deals radiant damage and blinds (save ends). She can also Call Storm Winds (recharge 5+), a ranged area attack that deals lighting and thunder damage to enemies, and slides them 3 squares on a hit. The storm persists for a turn and can be sustained with a minor action, which also allows the nymph to slide anyone inside it 3 squares.

    As an at-will move action, the nymph can employ her Omniscient Strategy to shift 1 square and allow one of her allies to move their speed.

    The summer nymph is a mastermind, so PCs will likely come into contact with her minions and with the edges of her scheme long before they fight her in person. If that happens, she will certainly be accompanied by a bodyguard of similarly epic fey, including elder treants, mythical beasts, and eladrin nobles.

    She can also be used in a more ambiguous role, as a dangerous source of information. She is guaranteed to know the answer to any question about the present state of the universe, but the favors she asks in return are also guaranteed to advance some obscure scheme of hers and make pawns of the PCs.

    Final Impressions

    I’m pleasantly surprised that out of the five nymph variants we saw here, only one of them is actually a seductress. And even that one is more about floral-scented mind control than the “she’s just that sexy” trope of old D&D nymphs. As a bonus, the text never mentions the gender of the hapless mortal victims, so this is equal-opportunity mind control.

    My favorites are the winter and summer nymphs, who do the most to break that old stereotype. The wood nymph comes next for her tree-based shenanigans, though narratively she’s very redundant with 4e dryads.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual 3: Norker

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    This post is part of a series! Click here to see the others.

    Norkers have been around since the days of AD&D, where their major mechanical distinction was that they were stronger goblins with AC 3. They play a significant role in The Forgotten Temple or Tharizdun as the rank and file of the occupying force the PCs need to clear out before they can delve the temple.

    The Lore

    Norkers in 4e are descendants of goblins who emigrated to the Elemental Chaos and sought shelter in deep caves in order to survive the harsh conditions of that plane. The earth-aspected ambient energy of their chosen habitat mutated them over generations, granting them stony skin and minor earth-based powers.

    Norker populations have since crossed back into the middle world, where they live in mountainous regions, in the Underdark, and near fonts of earth-aspected elemental power. Some sages speculate that the original norkers lived near sites of power related to Ogrémoch, the Evil Elemental Prince of Earth, because modern norkers are often found working for his cultists or those of the Elder Elemental Eye, guarding his forgotten temples in another very obvious historical reference.

    The Numbers

    Norkers retain their conceptual role as rank-and-file opposition for paragon-tier (AKA “name level”) characters, which in 4e means they’re much stronger than they ever were. Their levels range from around 12 to 15 here.

    They’re Small Elemental Humanoids with Low-Light Vision and Speed 6, with abilities combining martial training and minor earth magic.

    Norker Stone Shield

    Stone Shields look like an unruly mob at first glance, but they’re professional soldiers trained by those elemental cults and other earth-themed villains. Their training and equipment allows them to fight a bit like a roman legion, keeping tight formations, throwing javelins and them closing in to batter enemies with their short clubs and shields.

    Stone Shields are Level 12 Soldiers with 124 HP, which means a sizable group of them can eat most typical human military units for breakfast. Their basic attacks are a club and a javelin, both of which mark for a turn on a hit. If a marked enemy adjacent to the norker shifts, it can attack them with a Shield Slam vs. Fortitude that damages and knocks prone on a hit. And if someone hits them in melee they can respond with an Elemental Rebuke, a reaction that attacks AC and does some minor damage.

    Norker Grunt

    Fortunately, it seems stone shields are rarified elites. The actual rank and file of a norker force will be made of of these guys, who are far less organized and prefer to use “charging horde” tactics with their clubs. Their natural strength and toughness still makes them a very hard problem for human militaries, and even PCs don’t want to get surrounded by them.

    Grunts are Level 15 Minion Brutes, and their only active ability is their Club attack. Their Harrassing Brute trait is what makes them truly dangerous. All of the grunt’s allies get a damage bonus against enemies equal to twice the number of grunts adjacent to that enemy.

    Let’s unpack that for a moment. Let’s say 4 grunts are adjacent to the party’s fighter. Each of those grunts will get a +8 damage bonus when they attack the fighter. So will the grunt’s artillery and controller bosses who are 5 squares away from this scrum. And so on.

    Ideally, grunts want to slip past the front line and harrass the enemy squishies, but as we can see from the example above they can still do pretty well against defenders if Team Monster decides to focus fire.

    Norker Stone Walker

    Stone Walkers norkers who received proper training in earth magic, and who combine that with a mobile fighting style. They’re Level 15 Skirmishers with 150 HP. They can attack with handaxes in melee or at range, doing extra damage if they have combat advantage. They also have a +4 AC bonus against opportunity attacks.

    Magic-wise, they have the same Elemental Rebuke reaction as the Stone Shield, and they can also use Earth Glide as a move action to move their speed and phase through earth and rock during this movement.

    That last one makes them excellent additions to an underground encounter. Place a couple of them behind a thin rock wall and have them flank the PCs after the stone shields and grunts begin their frontal assault.

    Final Impressions

    Tough norkers still fill more or less the same narrative role as before, they do so in a very different way. I think my favorites are the grunts; the damage bonus they grant is both very distinctive and terrifying to players. When scaling their level, I’d probably make it +1/tier instead of a flat +2.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual 3: Nerra

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    This post is part of a series! Click here to see the others.

    This is the first I’ve heard of Nerras, though it’s possible they originated in a previous edition. If they did, their lore was completely different.

    The Lore

    Many ages ago, a sect of mortal invokers called the Sect of Seventy came to believe that the gods had grown too detached from the middle world in the aftermath of the Dawn War. They had become incapable of defending it from the many threats and hazards that lingered from those terrible battles.

    The Sect of Seventy decided to claim for themselves the role of protectors of the middle world, and set about building a grand work that would allow them to keep watch over all reality. They used their divine magic to build an astral dominion they named The Constellation of Eyes. Located far from all the other known dominions, it consisted of a central reflective crystal sphere around which orbited uncountable mirrors that reflected different parts of the universe and could be used as portals to reach those places.

    In other words, the Constellation is the ultimate panopticon, capable of maintaining surveillance over the entire universe and allowing its owners to instantly deploy to places of interest. The Sect intended it to be the perfect “superhero base” from which they would keep watch over reality, but other interested parties had far more nefarious uses in mind.

    The Sect was unknowingly infiltrated by a small group of priests of Asmodeus, who intended to seize it for themselves and use it to open a permanent portal to the Nine Hells that would give devils free access to the rest of the multiverse. The invokers only managed to discover this after the final ritual had already began. The ensuing battle was every bit as epic as you imagine, and the resulting flare of divine energy from both sides was strong enough for the other gods to notice and send their angels to investigate.

    The angels would have been a great help, but they arrived too late. As far as they were able to determine, the invokers realized they were losing the battle, and enacted a desperate ritual of their own that would bring terrible ruin upon all that were in the Constellation of Eyes. The ritual worked. It turned both the invokers and the Asmodean priests into the creatures now known as Nerras.

    These mirrored crystaline humanoids still dwell in the Constellation of Eyes. With no apparent memory of their previous lives, they spent the following eons acting as dispassionate observers of the multiverse. Their observations are recorded in specially constructed glass tablets that can only be read from a slanted angle, and their collected store of information is one of the greatest in existence.

    Relatively recently, though, the nerras have changed their behavior and become more proactive. They’ve taken to crossing their mirror portals and kidnapping certain powerful and influential individuals. Back at the Constellation, the nerras use their magic to create a perfect duplicate of the subject, with a diametrically opposite moral outlook. Then they send both back home. This predictably causes a lot of problems.

    Nerras target both terrible villains and virtuous heroes in equal measure. Those scholars aware of their history theorize that ancient memories of the nerras’ former lives are resurfacing and causing divisions among them, and that their new activities are an experiment to see which between good and evil is stronger.

    Nerras also travel to places they consider interesting to monitor things from up close, and sometime they interfere in local events for inscrutable reasons. Sometimes their interference ends up causing wars and disasters, some times they prevent them.

    Nerras despise demons, devils, and creatures of the Far Realm, but they ally with other creatures when their goals happen to align. Even their occasional allies have little insight on their true motives, which they keep to themselves.

    The Numbers

    Nerra are Medium Immortal Humanoids, with Speed 6 and human-standard senses. Their signature ability is Mirror Step, an at-will move action that allows them to teleport 5 squares to a space adjacent to a mirror or to another nerra. This means a group of nerras finds it very easy to maintain a cohesive formation, and that their preferred battlegrounds have lots of mirrors that they can use for extra mobility. All of the ones we see here are Unaligned, and they speak Supernal.

    All of their other abilities vary per stat block, though they all tend to share a strong “mirror” theme. Their levels cover the mid-to-late Paragon tier.

    Varoot Nerra

    Varoots are elite scouts and spies. They’re the first to venture forth from the Constellation of Eyes to lay the groundwork for a nerra expedition. Their ability to copy the appearances of others makes them great infiltrators.

    Varoot Nerras are Level 16 Lurkers with the Shapechanger keyword and 116 HP. Their main weapon is a shard blade similar to a longsword. Their Reflection Theft ability allows them to perfectly duplicate an enemy within 10 squares of it. The effect lasts until the end of the encounter, or until the varoot attacks. If the varoot is adjacent to the copying enemy, it gets to roll a save against any melee or ranged attack that targets it, with a success forcing the attack to target the copied enemy instead. It also gains a +2 bonus to attack and a +5 bonus to damage against the copied enemy.

    Its last ability aside from Mirror Step is Mirrored Grasp, a minor-action power that lets the nerra teleport an unattended object of up to 20 pounds / 10kg that’s within 10 squares and line of sight to its hand.

    In combat, the Varoot does it’s Lurker routine by “hiding” next to a PC it’s copying, attacking the copied PC with a damage bonus, and teleporting away using Mirror Step so it can transform and try again.

    There’s no way to pierce the varoot’s disguise with a skill check, at least in the ability’s combat form. It would make sense to rule that outside of combat this works like a doppelganger’s transformation: it lasts a long time and can be contested with Insight vs. the nerra’s Bluff of +20.

    Meerak Nerra

    Meeraks are the rank and file of a Nerra strike force. They charge into the enemy to cut it up with their spiked, jagged bodies, softening them up for the more powerful individuals that always follow close behind them.

    Meeraks are Level 18 Minion Soldiers. Their Mirror Slash basic attacks mark on a hit, and their Mirror Defense ability is an interrupt that triggers when they’re hit by a melee attack and deals 10 damage to a different enemy within 10 squares. The meerak is still going to die from the hit, but not before reflecting some damage to a PC.

    Kalareem Nerra

    Kalareems are elite knights among the nerra. Unlike a lot of their crystalline relatives, they look like they’re made out of mirror-smooth liquid metal. This makes them hard to hurt, and they can also briefly solidify parts of their bodies to launch a spray of deadly metal shards.

    Kalareem Nerras are Level 19 Soldiers with 175 HP. Their liquid metal construction doesn’t translate to specific abilities but it’s a nice in-character explanation for the high defenses and HP a level 19 Soldier has. Their basic attack is a Shard Blade that damages and marks on a hit, as do the Shard Blasts they can fire at-will in a Close Burst 3 pattern.

    Aside from the standard nerra Mirror Step, they also have two other mirror-themed abilities that make them good bodyguards. Mirror Image is an interrupt that triggers when a marked enemy makes a melee or ranged attack that doesn’t include the nerra as a target. It makes the enemy target the nerra instead. Mirror Defense is another interrupt that triggers when the kalareem is hit by a melee attack. The creature can then make an attack against the Will of the triggering enemy, which on a hit deals the same damage inflicted by the triggering attack. This is an interrupt, so the attacker gets damaged before the nerra, and if they get reduced to 0 HP the kalareem wouldn’t suffer the damage.

    Sillit Nerra

    Sillits are nerra spellcasters, who often act as field agents and mystically-oriented scouts. Like other spellcasting monsters, out of combat they should have access to whatever rituals are required by the story. In combat, they use mirror-themed spells and specialize in forcibly teleporting enemies.

    Sillits are Level 19 Controllers with 181 HP. Even their basic attack is a Mirror Portal that targets Will, and on a hit damages and teleports the target adjacent to one of the sillit’s allies within 10 squares. Their basic ranged attack is Warped Image, which targets Fortitude and on a hit damages and teleports the target 3 squares.

    Their special attack is Captured Image (recharge 5+), a ranged power that targets Will. On a hit it removes the target from play (save ends), trapping it within the mirrors that make up the sillit’s body. While the target is captured, it takes 20 damage whenever the sillit is damaged. The effect ends when the target successfully saves, or when the sillit is reduced to 0 HP. When this happens the target appears on a square of the sillit’s choice within 5 squares of the sillit itself. Yes, it’s entirely possible that a sillit who gets lucky with its recharge rolls will manage to capture multiple targets at the same time.

    Sillits have the standard Mirror Step power, and the same Mirrored Grasp power of the Varoots.

    Judging from their powers, Sillits love to fight in maps containing plenty of hazardous terrain, and accompanied by bruiser allies. They’ll use Captured Image as soon and as often as they can, and then move to the front lines to dare PCs to attack them. Inconveniently strong melee PCs can be teleported next to the bruisers with Mirror Portal, and Warped Image is good for disrupting the remaining PCs if no other opportunities arise. Hazardous terrain on the battlefield makes those forced teleports more dangerous.

    Delphar Nerra

    Delphars are the officers and commanders of nerra forces. They’re similar to kalareems in their training, but they’re much larger and their mere presence has bolstering effects on the abilities of their allies.

    Unlike other nerra, delphars are Large and have Speed 8. They’re Level 20 Soldiers with 187 HP and the Leader tag. They project a Mirrored Rampart aura (5) that extends the range of other nerras’ Mirror Step to 10. They fight with a Shard Blade and Shard Blasts that have the same effects as those of kalareems, with slightly higher numbers.

    They have a different way of punishing marked enemies, though: Mirrored Grasp triggers when a marked enemy within 10 squares ignores the mark, and teleports the enemy adjacent to the delphar.

    Teltarym Nerra

    You would expect the strongest monster in the entry to be some sort of dread overlord, but we’re talking about topsy-turvy mirror people here. Teltarym are the nerra’s manual laborers, joining the fight either because they must defend themselves or because they were ordered to. Despite not being formal combatants they’re very strong and aggressive, charging in to smash enemies with their huge fists, and reflecting their own wounds back at their attackers.

    Teltarym are Level 21 Brutes with 237 HP. Like delphars, they’re Large and have Speed 8. Their basic attack is a Hammer Fist that damages and pushes 1 square, and they can use it twice in the same action. Reflected Pain is a reaction that triggers when they’re hit by a melee attack, and which inflicts half the damage they suffered to the attacker. This recharges when they’re first bloodied. Their last ability is Mirror Step, so like most brutes they’re fairly simple to run.

    These are the perfect bruiser allies for Sillits!

    Final Impressions

    I like the lore of the nerra quite a lot. It’s nice and epic and introduces a new and interesting location on the Astral Sea. I also like how they’re depicted as enigmatic instead of evil. A campaign against nerra is one where violence might be necessary to drive them off, but where true victory can only be achieved through unraveling their mysteries.

    Mechanics wise it seems varoots are a bit too low level to hang out with their nerra buddies, so you’re going to meet them alone at the start of a nerra-focused story arc. They might be accompanied by local agents or mecernaries. The others are all of a level range where you can use them to build all-nerra encounter groups.

  • Let's Read the 4e Monster Manual 3: Nagpa

    Copyright 2010 Wizards of the Coast.

    This post is part of a series! Click here to see the others.

    Back in 1982, there was a movie named The Dark Crystal. It introduced these cool villainous vulture people called the Skeksis, which became kind of iconic. D&D wanted in on some of that action, so it added a species called the Nagpa to Mystara. Nagpas are to Skeksis what Halflings are to Hobbits, which means that they started out just barely different enough to avoid a lawsuit and got significantly changed in each subsequent edition. This is their 4e debut.

    The Lore

    Once upon a time, during the Dawn War, the Primordials realized they needed servitors that could act as special forces. They already commanded uncountable hordes of elementals, but they were mostly dumb as rocks and only good as shock troops. Giants and djinns were smart and individually powerful, but too few in number.

    So they decided to take a page from the playbook of the gods and create a servitor species they named the nagpas. Created to be as beautiful as nymphs and as clever as devils, the nagpas readily took to their new role and proceeded to wreak havoc on the armies of the gods for a time.

    However, when the Dawn War was nearing its end, the nagpas were clever enough to realize that their side would lose. And so it was that they made a deal with the gods to betray their masters. However, they were caught, and the primordials cursed them.

    The curse took away the beauty of the nagpas, turning them into horrid vulture-like beings. It also doomed them to never touch that which they desired the most. A nagpa who loved fine food and wine would always taste foulness when he tried to eat or drink. One who loved art would see it crumble at a touch.

    Nagpas were either already immortal, or were made so by the curse. Even when slain, they reincarnate within a few decades with all memories of their previous lives and deaths. Every nagpa alive today remembers their life before the curse, and is obsessed with those things it cannot have. They tend to destroy mirrors or any other surface that can show them their own faces.

    The primordial curse angle is interesting. Without it, you could argue that their vulture-like appearance is a subjective thing. Some people think they’re ugly, they themselves like it just fine. But a curse might make them “axiomatically” ugly: not only are others unable to see beauty in them, they are incapable of seeing it in themselves.

    The Monsters

    Nagpas are Medium Elemental Humanoids with Low-Light Vision and a speed of 6. Everything else comes from training and varies per stat block. The two stat blocks here have a wizardly bent, and use magic with a corruption and decay theme.

    Nagpa Corruptor

    The Nagpa Corruptor is given as an example of an art-loving nagpa. Its lair looks like a museum, with cordoned-off works of art on display (but no reflective surfaces!). It employs a large number with a similarly evil disposition to protect its collection and acquire more pieces for it.

    Corruptors are Level 9 Controllers with 97 HP. Their basic attacks are a withering staff that deals necrotic damage and pushes 2 squares, and a ranged Withering Blast that deals necrotic damage and immobilizes (save ends).

    They can also use a ranged Devouring Fire (recharge 5+) spell that deals fire damage and ongoing fire damage (save ends). Each failed save also deals a bit of fire damage to up to 3 enemies adjacent to the target. The text says “each ally” but I’m interpreting that to mean “each ally of the target”.

    Their strongest attack is an encounter power named Corrupting Curse, a close blast 5 that deals necrotic damage and creates a zone that prevents enemies inside from regaining HP. It lasts until the end of the encounter. Their other encounter power is an Enervating Blast. It’s another close blast 5 that can be cast as a minor action, deals no damage and weakens those it hits for a turn.

    Corruptors let their hired muscle do most of the fighting, hitting their enemies with opportunistic spells from afar. They’re one of the rare monsters that include more specific “director’s notes” in their text, though: if the fight happens inside the corruptor’s lair/gallery, PCs should be able to its beloved art objects. The first time one is destroyed, the corruptor becomes dazed for a turn.

    Nagpa Carrion Lord

    This one is a gourmand who loved good food and drink, but who is cursed to only taste ashes and filth when it eats. It still likes holding feasts, but its inability to enjoy them fill it with rage and frustration, which it takes out on any nearby PCs.

    The Carrion Lord is a Level 14 Artillery monster with 111 HP. All of its abilities have a “rot” theme, starting with the Rotting Staff basic melee attack that targets Fortitude and does necrotic damage. Its basic ranged attack is the Bolt of Putrescence, targetting Reflex and doing, you guessed it, necrotic damage.

    Hand of Ruin (recharge 5+) is a ranged attack that changes things up a little and does acid damage. Consuming Shadows (encounter) is a ranged area attack that deals immediate and ongoing necrotic damage, and creates a zone that blocks line of sight to the carrion lord’s enemies. Its allies can see through it just fine, though. It lasts for a turn and can be sustained with a minor action. The lord’s last encounter power is Ghostly Escape, a minor action that gives it insubstantial and phasing for a turn.

    The Carrion Lord likely opens the fight with Consuming Shadows, and then keeps using its two ranged attacks from beyond the sight of the PCs while its melee-oriented bodyguards keep them pinned in place. Ghostly escape is reserved for doing what its name says, and letting the nagpa get away after it sees the fight is lost.

    Final Impressions

    I’m going to say the same thing everyone who has reviewed a Nagpa entry always says: they’re skeksis. The way in which they’re skeksis tends to vary with the edition, though. I think the ones from the source material were pursuing immortality. These ones achieved it, but found that it brings them no joy.

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