Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spider Monsters for 4e Part 4 - Tarantella

Digging all the way back to my Moldvay Basic Set book, I found one of the worst puns ever inflicted on us by a monster designer: the tarantella, a spider whose poison makes you dance. This gimmicky creature screams to me to be brought forward to 4e. Apparently it didn't scream to anyone else, since I don't think I've seen it in any monster book other than the basic set, even my beloved Tome of Horrors.

I like the way the dance is infectious to the viewers, so I want to capture that.
A tarantella is a huge, hairy, magical spider with magical poison in its fangs. The poison afflicts its victims with painful spasms which resemble a frantic dance. The dance affects onlookers, and they may start to dance the same way.

Level 5 Controller
XP 200
Medium natural beast (spider)
Initiative +4 Senses Perception +3; tremorsense 5
HP 61; Bloodied 30
AC 19; Fortitude 17, Reflex 17, Will 16
Speed 6, climb 6 (spider climb)
mBite (standard; at-will) * Poison
+10 vs. AC; 1d6 + 2 damage, and the tarantella makes a secondary attack against the same target. Secondary Attack: +8 vs Fortitude; the target takes ongoing 5 poison damage and is dancing (treat as dazed, save ends both). First Failed Save: The target is stunned instead of dazed (save ends) and all non-spiders in a close burst 3 of the target are attacked by the secondary attack at +6 vs. Fortitude instead of +8. Second Failed Save: The target stops taking damage, but is helpless instead of stunned (save ends). Saving throws made against the tarantella's poison take a –2 penalty.
Alignment Unaligned Languages -
Skills Athletics +9, Stealth +9
Str 15 (+4) Dex 15 (+4) Wis 13 (+3)
Con 13 (+3) Int 1 (-3) Cha 11 (+2)

Tarantella Tactics
A tarantella wades into combat, attempting to bite as many foes as possible. It will attempt to drag off the first one to fall helpless.

Tarantella Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature check.
DC 15: The tarantella is a strange magical spider whose poison makes victims dance until they drop from exhaustion, at which point the spider devours them.

Encounter Groups
Tarantella are often encountered alone, but sometimes other creatures will take advantage of their attacks to try to drag off helpless victims.
Level 5 Encounter (XP 1050)
* 1 tarantella (level 5 controller)
* 1 narleth (level 6 elite brute)
* 2 deathjump spiders (level 4 skirmisher)
There's a lot of text packed into that bite, but it's pretty much all this thing does. I'm not as pleased with it as I was with the narleth, but I think it's better than my attempt at the aranea.


Mike Mearls said...

Wow. I never "got" that joke. That is really cool.

I like the monster. It might be kind of neat if the spider slowed and slid the target rather than dazed, to represent a poor adventurer shimmying around. It also lets the spider slide a PC into the middle of a group and then use its secondary attack.

Gregor LeBlaque said...

Holy cow, Mike Mearls not only commented here, but wrote an entire post inspired by one of my posts at his blog?

Welcome, Mike, I've been a big fan since Iron Heroes.

I used dazed because the only game effects the original monster's dance inflicted were to-hit and AC penalties. I thought about using restrained with a "can still be slid" caveat (to get closer to the penalties the original inflicts), but that seemed overly complicated.

I love the slide, though. How about slide and restrained? Or maybe slide and a specially defined "tarantella dancing" condition? I was originally thinking about basing the contagiousness of the effect on the Death Beetle Contagion condition on the Lamia DDM card, but that version didn't make the Monster Manual and I couldn't find an example in the MM of defining your own condition for a monster to inflict.

In case you actually check back, Mike, what happened to Death Beetle Contagion? I thought that was a really cool power.