Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Mephits!

I don’t think that I need to say too much about these jolly fellows, do I? Most of the cool demons and devils in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons were too powerful for low- to mid-level characters, and the Fiend Folio rectified this. While Dungeon Crawl Classics thinks nothing of throwing a demon at your 1st level (or even 0-level!) PCs, and will let you face the Courts of Chaos before the night soil is shaken from your gongfarmer’s boots, there is something to be said for those creatures who are, effectively, the turnip farmers of the lower planes.

I think that a word needs to be said here about the Smoke Mephit. Well, two words: Weird Frontiers. If you don’t immediately envision a Smoke Mephit in some dingy factory town, or either a Smoke or Steam Mephit on a train…well, I do.  And there is something very Screwtape Letters about Mephits strutting around in tacky garments, puffing on foul-smelling cigars. While they are certainly not the most Sword & Sorcery demons RPGs have ever statted out, they are maybe the most believably infernal…or at least the closest to the kinds of evil we encounter in our daily lives.

 


 
Mephits

Just as gongfarmers and rat-catchers fill the ranks of the mundane folk of the Worlds We Know, within the various Hells, mephitis serve as jesters, messengers, slaves, and errand-runners for demons, devils, and their ilk. It is taught by some holy folk that the mephits are themselves the transformed souls of people whose earthly existence had been particularly malign, and that, for the most part, they are tortured through being the lowest of infernal society, barely above the larvae and lost souls the mephits help to punish.

These vile beings are connoisseurs of the vulgar. They share an extraordinarily twisted sense of humor, delighting in the agony of others, and, in particular, tormenting the helpless. If they can obtain them, they will wear clothing of the most garish design and color possible, and strut around puffing upon smoking rolls of exceedingly foul-smelling dried vegetation. Their voices are shrill and mocking.

Mephits cannot travel the planes through their own power, so when they appear in the Lands We Know, they are always on some evil mission for a diabolic Power, or summoned to malignant duty by an earthly magician. The tasks they are set can be very specific, such as capturing or slaying a specific enemy of some Demon Prince, or it can be open-ended, even so far as indiscriminate looting and killing.

All mephits have a breath weapon. All are immune to fire-based attacks, but take double damage from cold. Non-magical weapons do -1d damage on the dice chain to these creatures. Although they cannot travel the planes of their own volition, all mephits may forgo all other actions to attempt summoning another of their kind once each day. This has a 1 in 3 chance of success, with the type of mephit summoned being determined randomly – roll 1d4: (1) Fire, (2) lava, (3) smoke, or (4) steam. Summoned mephits appear at the beginning of the next round and may, in turn, attempt to summon additional mephits.

 

Fire Mephit

Fire Mephit: Init +3; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d3+1) or breath weapon or spell; AC 15; HD 3d8+3; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, spells, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, flaming aura; SV Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +2; AL C.

Breath weapon (3/day): Either a 15’ long jet of flame which automatically hits (1d8+1 damage, Reflex DC 12 for half) or a 5’ square blanket of flame immediately in front of the mephit (1d5 damage to all victims, no save).

Fire mephits are surrounded with wisps of flame, so that any creature touching them suffers 1 hp damage (this extra damage is already added to their claw attacks). Fire mephits are able to cast the following spells, with a +3 bonus to their spell check: Flaming hands and scorching ray.

 

Lava Mephit

Lava Mephit: Init +1; Atk Claw +1 melee (1d8+1 plus dissolve materials) or breath weapon; AC 14; HD 3d8; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, heat aura, dissolve materials, transformation, regeneration from lava; SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +2; AL C.

Breath weapon (1 per 3 rounds): Molten blob of lava which automatically hits a target within 10’ (1d6 damage, no save). Unless the mephit is in contact with lava or magma, roll 1d8 every time the creature uses its breath weapon. On a “1”, its lava is exhausted until it can “recharge” by coming into contact with molten stone.

These mephits constantly ooze molten lava from their bodies in small drops, just as though it were very heavy perspiration. The heat from their bodies can be sensed 30’ away, and causes 1d8 damage to anyone coming in direct contact. This is already calculated into their claw damage.

Their touch can automatically dissolve materials. Some materials, such as wood and stone, dissolve slowly (1 inch per hour), but metals are dissolved quickly – each hit against an armored foe reduces the AC value of the armor by 1d3 points. If a lava mephit is hit by a non-magical metal weapon, the weapon is destroyed unless the wielder succeeds in a DC 15 Reflex save – and, even of the save succeeds, the weapon’s damage is reduced by -1d on the dice chain.

Lava mephits may change their shape with an Action Die, taking the form of a pool of molten lava (which does not count as being in contact with lava for recharging their breath weapon or regeneration; see below). In this form, they cannot make active attacks, but can be damaged – the primary benefit to the mephit is that it may hide its true nature.

Lava mephits regenerate 2 hp/round in volcanic regions where they can come into contact with molten stone, although they do not regenerate after reaching 0 hp.

 

Smoke Mephit

Smoke Mephit: Init +2; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d3) or breath weapon or spell; AC 16; HD 3d8; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 2d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, spells, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, death throes; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C.

Breath weapon (1 per 2 rounds): A sooty ball of black smoke, which hits a single victim within 20’ for 1d4 damage (no save). The victim is also blinded for 1d3 rounds (Fort DC 10 negates).

These shadowy mephits ooze smoke, and prefer to inhabit dark, smoky areas in the Lands We Know, never emerging into bright light unless forced to do so. They are able to cast choking cloud and invisibility with a +3 bonus to the spell check.

When a smoke mephit dies, it coughs up a cloud of flaming smoke, doing 1 hp damage to all within 10’ (no save).

The preferred habitation of these mephits is rare enough on most young worlds, but on planes where an industrial revolution has taken place, smoke mephits may be more common, and more bold.

 

 

 

Steam Mephit

Steam Mephit: Init +3; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d3+1 plus stun) or breath weapon or rainstorm; AC 13; HD 3d8+6; MV 30’ or fly 50’; Act 1d20; SP Breath weapon, immune to fire-based attacks, -1d damage from non-magical weapons, stun, boiling rainstorm, cold vulnerability (x2 damage), summon mephit, steaming aura, contaminate water; SV Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +1; AL C.

Breath weapon (1 per 2 rounds): A 20’ long jet of scalding water, which automatically hits a target for 1d3 damage (no save). Victim is stunned and loses their next action (Fort DC 12 negates).

These gray fiends continuously ooze hot steam and water, leaving a wet trail behind them when they move. They are hot enough that touching one causes 1 hp damage and forces the unfortunate to succeed in a DC 10 Fort save or be stunned, losing their next action. This extra damage is already calculated into their claw damage.

Once per day a steam mephit can create a “rainstorm” of boiling water that does 2d6 damage to all targets within a 30’ radius. In addition, once each hour it can contaminate all water within 60’, making it entirely unfit to drink.

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