Thursday, 1 May 2014

Ammonites for Dungeon Crawl Classics


An ammonite is a prehistoric cephalopod mollusc, similar to a chambered nautilus in appearance, but related to squid and octopi.   An ammonite has a large, spiral shell resembling a tightly-coiled ram’s horn and numerous long tentacles.  They attack with grasping tentacles and a sharp jawplate structure called an aptychus.  Smaller ammonites only attack in swarms, while larger ones can attack individually. 

Depending upon the size of the ammonite, the tentacles may be used merely to grasp, or may also constrict and rend for additional damage.  Damage from constriction and rending is automatic to any creature struck by a tentacle attack, taking place each time the ammonite has initiative.  A captured target can escape by making an Agility or Strength check (using an Action Die; DC determined by ammonite size).

A Large or a Huge ammonite can hold multiple opponents, although it can only bite one at a time.  A Large ammonite can hold two creatures; a Huge ammonite can hold four.  An ammonite with a bite attack can only bite a held opponent, and it can do so once per round without using an Action Die.

If its morale fails, an ammonite releases a cloud of black ink into the water, creating an area of total concealment four times as large as the originating creature.  This ink cloud disperses after 1 round per Hit Die of the ammonite creating it.  Each ammonite holds enough ink to create 1d4 ink clouds.  It takes from 1 hour to 1 day, depending upon the size of the ammonite, to create enough ink for an additional usage, with smaller ammonites recharging their ink clouds more quickly than larger ones.  The ammonite uses the opportunity so created to escape.

Ammonite swarms share the common characteristics of all swarms:  They are effectively immune to weapons damage and spells without an area effect.  A creature caught in the area of a swarm must make a DC 10 Fort or Will save in order to take any action, or the Action Die is lost.  A swarm automatically attacks any creature in its area each round.

5% of Medium ammonites gain an evil intelligence.  As ammonites grow, this chance increases by 5% with each size category, so that there is a 10% chance of Large ammonites being intelligent, and a 15% chance of Huge ammonites being so.  Intelligent ammonites gain 1 levels of the wizard class if Medium, 1d4 levels if Large, and 1d5+2 levels if Huge.  The manifestations of an ammonite’s spells should always match the creature’s nature – related to water, tentacles, the ocean, clouds of ink, its spiral shell, and darkness.  An ammonite wizard can only use one of its Action Dice to cast a spell in any given round.  Ammonite wizards are Chaotic.


Ammonites simply grasp their prey, drawing it close enough to bite, until driven off or slain.  If an ammonite can hold more than one creature, it will bite at the creature it bit last 50% of the time, and bite a random held creature 50% of the time.  An ammonite that fails a Morale check releases its ink cloud and flees in a random direction.
Shared via GNU Free Documentation License, author Nobu Tamura


“Size” is not normally used in Dungeon Crawl Classics the way it is used in SRD-based games.  I used it in this case to allow

Ammonite swarm (5’ radius swarm of six-inch-long ammonites):  Init +3; Atk swarming bite +0 melee (1d3); AC 16; HD 2d8; swim 10’; Act special; SP swarm traits; SV Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +0; AL N.

Ammonite swarm (10’ Radius swarm of foot-long ammonites):  Init +2; Atk swarming bite +1 melee (1d5); AC 14; HD 3d8; swim 20’; Act special; SP swarm traits; SV Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +0; AL N.

Ammonite (Small):  Init +6; Atk grapple +2 melee (1d5) or bite +0 melee (1d4+1); AC 14; HD 1d8; MV swim 30’; Act 1d20; SP grapple (DC 10 to escape); SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +0; AL N.

Ammonite (Medium):  Init +4; Atk grapple +6 melee (1d6) or bite +3 melee (1d5+2); AC 14; HD 2d8+2; MV swim 40’; Act 2d20; SP grapple (DC 12 to escape), 5% are intelligent with 1 Wizard level; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +2; AL N.

Ammonite (Large):  Init +2; Atk grapple +8 melee (1d7+1) or bite +4 melee (1d6+2); AC 16; HD 3d8+6; MV swim 30’; Act 4d20; SP grapple (DC 16 to escape), constrict and rend, 10% are intelligent with 1d4 Wizard levels; SV Fort +8, Ref +1, Will +4; AL N.

Ammonite (Huge):  Init +0; Atk grapple +12 melee (2d6+2) or bite +4 melee (3d5); AC 20; HD 8d8+24; MV swim 20’; Act 8d20; SP grapple (DC 20 to escape), constrict and rend, 15% are intelligent with 1d5+2 Wizard levels; SV Fort +12, Ref +0, Will +6; AL N.

R’yalas, Lord of the Drowned Ones

This huge, ancient ammonite wizard is a suitable opponent for powerful PCs.  He dwells in a deep grotto beneath the warm seas of a “Lost World” region teeming with gigantic amphibians and huge saurian monsters.  This creature keeps the Malachite Rod within its lair, allowing it to animate and control drowned sailors as guardians and servitors.  The wealth of a dozen or more wrecked ships awaits whoever can defeat R’yalas. 

They will need some form of diving gear first.

In writing stats for R’yalas, I used Umwansh, Father of the Waves, from Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between, as his patron.  This was merely so that invoke patron results for a maritime patron would be readily available to the harried judge.  However, if the judge has the time and inclination, a more specific patron of warm seas, un-dead sailors, drowning, madness, and molluscs would be even better.  Cthulhu, anyone?

R’yalas, Lord of the Drowned Ones (Huge ammonite wizard 5):  Init +0; Atk grapple +14 melee (2d6+2) or bite +6 melee (3d5); AC 20; HD 8d8+5d4+39; hp ;79; MV swim 20’; Act 8d20 + 1d14; SP grapple (DC 20 to escape), constrict and rend, spells (+6 to spell check:  Animal Summoning, Choking Cloud, Flaming Hands [energy substitution – freezing hands], Magic Missile, Invoke Patron (Umwansh, Father of the Waves), Patron Bond, Invisible Companion, Nythuul's Porcupine Coat, and Fireball [energy substitution – acid ball]); SV Fort +14, Ref +1, Will +9; AL C.


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  1. Hmm. Then what was St. Cado thinking when he turned adders to ammonites? Assuming he did not turn them into the old testament Ammonites. (St. Cado of Brittany, miracle mentioned in The pilgrim's way by John Adair.)

    1. "Ammonites on land can't do much harm, I guess, and besides they are going to be fossilized anyway. I am sure I won't get any Disapproval from this....."

    2. Besides, as long as they are not too large, there isn't a chance of them turning into evil Chaotic sorcerers of the deep.