Saturday 29 October 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Shocker, Skeleton Warrior, and Skulk

I am glad to have gotten these three in before Halloween, with a plan to start on the Slaads in November.

The Shocker is almost a trap monster – once it has discharged its shock, it is done. These creatures would be right at home in Umerica, where they are found along ancient subway tracks. They are only a little less suited for Mutant Crawl Classics, Bronx Beasts, or similar games, and even the strange West of Weird Frontiers has enough electrical potential to make the critters work.

Skeleton Warriors are a fantastic monster, and the circlets that control them are an excellent example of a magic item that requires the players to seriously weigh benefits versus risks. There is certainly some outstanding horror elements in encountering an un-dead creature that wants to kill you specifically, and once the players understand why, the tension ratchets upward as answers are not as straightforward as one might like. Trying to control something that wants to kill you is fantastic material to work with!

Archade’s Tower offers another conversion of the Skeletal Warrior here.

Finally, the Skulk could have been created as another monster, a race-class, or even a benison (ala DCC Lankhmar) and still been cool. I went with the base monster, because that is of greater value when converting adventures.





Shocker: Init +0; Atk Shocking touch +2 melee (2d10); AC 15; HD 1d8+2; MV 20’; Act 2d20; SP Shocking touch (2d10, Fort DC 10 for half), metal armor bonus, shock via attacks against it, single shock, death throes, immunities (electricity, poison, paralysis, and mind-affecting); SV Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +0; AL C.

There are those who speculate that these strange creatures are actually projection of a different being on another plane, and in truth little is known about them. Shockers appear to be humanoids with an aura of faint, light blue sparks. They crackle with electricity, and anyone with good hearing can hear a very faint crackling which increases in intensity as the shocker approaches. Shockers only successfully attack once before they are destroyed, which lends credence to the idea that they are merely organs of a much greater interdimensional being.

The shocker attacks by discharging 2d10 hp of electrical damage (Fort DC 10 for half). It actually has an easier time hitting opponents in metal armor – not only does metal armor offer no protection, but the normal armor value it a bonus to the shocker’s attack rolls. Thus, a shocker gains a +5 bonus to hit an opponent in chainmail and, if the opponent gains no other bonuses, treats the opponent as AC 10.

If a shocker and if it is struck by a metal weapon in melee combat, the attacker suffers a shock for 2d10 damage (Fort DC 10 for half), just as if the shocker has successfully attacked the weapon’s wielder.

When a shocker has delivered its charge – through a successful attack, or through an attack against it – it collapses into a fine inert dust. If it is otherwise destroyed, it simply disappears in a flash of light and static. The dust remaining from a shocker can be used to power electricity-based spells, adding a +1d4 bonus to a single spell (but being consumed in the process).



Skeleton Warrior

Skeleton Warrior: Init +4; Atk By weapon +1d6 melee (by weapon +1d6); AC 18; HD 5d12; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP Un-dead, infravision 60’, half damage from non-magical weapons, 1d6 Deed Die, crit 19-20, +10 bonus to saves vs. magic, cannot be turned, soul circlet; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +1; AL N.

These un-dead creatures were formerly powerful warriors in life. They have a Deed Die that adds to their attack rolls and damage, and can perform Mighty Deeds as they did in life. They are hard to damage, being wreathed in supernatural protections against normal weapons and magic (including spells). Clad in the rich, but faded and rotting trappings they wore in life, their sole reason for remaining in an un-dead state is to seek out an regain the circlet which contains its soul (see below).

When a soul circlet is discovered, the PCs may not recognize its significance. The linked skeleton warrior immediately begins moving toward the possessor. Establishing control over the linked warrior requires that the owner puts the circlet on their head, can see the skeleton warrior, and concentrates on establishment control over it. If the owner fails to do this, the skeleton warrior will attack them in an attempt to destroy them and gain possession of the circlet.

Soul Circlet

How skeleton warriors were trapped in their un-dead state is open to debate. Some say that they were tricked by a powerful and evil demigod. Others say they were promised eternal life by the lich Amorti. The truth may never be known, but each skeleton warrior has its soul trapped within a perfect golden circlet.

A skeleton warrior can track its own circlet flawlessly, but only when it is in the physical possession of another creature. Anyone possessing one of these circlets may control the skeleton warrior whose soul is stored therein, so long as they are within a 240’ range. The controller can see through the skeleton warrior's eye sockets when controlling a warrior in this way, but the controller may not themselves move, attack, cast spells, etc., and is not even fully aware of their own surroundings. When not making the skeleton warrior act, this restriction does not apply, but the creature is inert and the controller cannot see through it.

Control is lost if the creature possessing the circlet is ever more than 240’ from the skeleton warrior, or if it is removed from the controller's head. If the circlet ever leaves a controller’s possession, and the skeleton warrior is not controlled by another, the warrior immediately stops whatever it is doing, seeking instead to attack and destroy its former master.

Finally, if the circlet falls into the possession of the skeleton warrior, the creature vanishes, never to reappear, and the circlet turns to fine, valueless dust.

The circlet cannot be worn with any other headgear to be effective; the wearing of a helm, for instance, will nullify its powers, though the skeleton warrior will still be aware of it, and able to track the creature possessing it.



Skulk: Init +2; Atk By weapon +1 melee (by weapon); AC 13; HD 2d6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Camouflage +10, backstab, cowardly; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0; AL C.

Skulks are an offshoot of humanity whose extreme cowardice gave rise to a chameleon-like ability to blend into any background. They live by theft and murder on the edges of civilization, keeping to small bands, moving often, and camping in deep dark forests or underground lairs. Their usual tactics of attacking unsuspecting victims from behind or murdering entire sleeping families make them universally despised, and if a skulk is captured it is usually the recipient of an unpleasant death at the hands of the community.

Skulks moves quickly and quietly, freezing into immobility and near-invisibility at the first hint of danger. They can backstab as thieves, gaining a +4 bonus to their attack rolls and doing automatic critical should they succeed.  They never openly attack a powerful-looking party, though they may set an ambush in an attempt to pick off a straggler or sentry, or (even better) attack when the party members are sleeping.

Their offshoot of humanity is still extremely cowardly, automatically fleeing at the slightest wounding or setback, taking whatever treasure they can.

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