Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rakshasas for everyone!

Rakshasas are one of D&D/Pathfinder’s iconic monsters. That means that your players known exactly each one of its strengths and vulnerabilities (which, by the way, sucks). Like trolls, I love to change classic monsters traits – in part because I like to teach my players that metagame knowledge is not something suited for every game (though fine for others); in part because in legends rakshasa are represented by amazingly different types of monsters (from brute cannibal ogres to a beautiful nymphs).

In my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign I came up with two house rules for my rakshasas. The first is a random table that defines a rakshasa’s weakness (DR). Instead of being vulnerable to ‘good and piercing’ weapons a rakshasa could, for example, be damaged by ‘holy water and piercing’.

Rakshasa Damage Reduction (d8)

1 . Good and piercing.
2 . Holy water and piercing.
3 . Salt and piercing.
4 . Silver and piercing.
5 . Fire and piercing.
6 . Wielded by a good priest.
7 . The song of a brass bell [at my game I gave this vulnerability to the Rakshasa Leader].
8 . Roll again.

Finally, I gave to each rakshasa one of the abilities below, based on its animal head.

Vulture-head (“Plague Demon”): claw attacks inflict disease and once per combat he can breathe a wasp swarm.
Orangutan- head (“Strength Demon”): the rakshasa gains what I call ‘subjective strength’. It gains a gaze attack. If the target fails at a Will save, he always fails opposed Strength-based checks (and Combat Maneuver rolls) against the rakshasa [at my game this rakshasa always attacked through grapple, the only way to get free was to use Escape Artists or to stun the demon].
Lizard- head (“Scale-folk Demon”): the rakhsasa’s tongue is a living serpent with a poison attack.
Boar- head (“Fire Demon”): this rakshasa gets hotter the longer he fights. After 1 round of combat, any natural attack (or unarmed or grapple) that hits it deals 1d6 fire damage to the attacker.  At the 3rd round, the heat is so intense that anyone at 5 feet of the rakshasa suffers 1d4 points of fire damage per round (increasing by 1d4 every 2 rounds, to a maximum of 5d4). 

The Tiger-head Rakshasa was already the encounter’s boss, with a lots of class levels, so I let him as stated (though I gave him DR that can only be ignored by the sound of a brass bell).

[Ah, in the campaign the combat against the rakhsasas was one of the hardest and by far the most memorable ones. The PCs eventually won, but tide of battle changed a lot during the encounter – there were moments where only one or two (of a total of 4 players) were standing. The battle put 5 rakhsasas, 2 asura and 1 aberration against 4 PCs and 2 NPCs (both already wounded). The best part? The rakshasa master managed to escape (without one eye due to a cool critical hit from this Pathfinder Deck), to orchestrate his revenge – a perfect conclusion for me.]