Monday, January 3, 2011

General Rules: Monsters - Emphemeral Swarm

Emphemeral Swarm (adapted from the Monster Manual III and Dragon Magazine #329)
Tiny Undead (Incorporeal, Swarm)

Hit Dice: 12d12+108 (186 hit points)
Initiative: +4
Speed: Fly 30 feet (good)
Armor Class: 20 (+2 size, +4 Dexterity, +4 deflection); touch 20, flat-footed 16
BAB/Grapple: +6/-
Attack: Swarm (1d6 Strength)
Full Attack: Swarm (1d6 Stength)
Space/Reach: 10 feet by 10 feet/0 feet
Special Attacks: Distraction, Strength damage
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 feet, half damage from slashing and piercing, incorporeal traits, swarm traits, undead traits
Saves: Fortitude +4, Reflex +8, Will +8
Abilities: Str -, Int 2, Wis 11, Dex 18, Con -, Cha 18
Skills: Listen +9, Spot +10
Feats: Skill Augmentation (Listen and Spot), Toughness x4-
Environment: Plane of Shadow
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 5
Treasure: None
Alignment: Usually chaotic evil
Advancement: None
Level Adjustment: -

Ephemeral swarms are the ghostly collections of many little creatures that suffered a common death. Just as when a spirit of a particular creature lingers on as a ghost when, when many small creatures die a violent death, they may linger on as a vengeful ephemeral swarm. The undead swarm is comprised of the psychic agony and anguish of the newly departed.

The physical appearance of the creatures in the swarm corresponds to what was killed. Thus, in an area where a plague killed all the cats, the ephemeral swarm will look likes a pack of cats and kittens. If a fireball spell took out a rat's nest, the ephemeral swarm would seem to be a ghostly rat swarm.

Almost all ephemeral swarms return from the dead seeking to inflict pain and suffering similar to that which they experienced upon their deaths. If the agent of their destruction is visible and recognizable by the creatures, a swarm will direct its efforts toward killing them. Otherwise, a swarm surrounds and attacks any living prey it encounters.

In order to attack, an ephemeral swarm moves into opponents' spaces, which provokes attacks of opportunity. It can occupy the same space as a creature of any size, since it swarms all around its prey, but remains a creature with a 10 foot by 10 foot space. Ephemeral swarms never make attacks of opportunity, but they can provoke attacks of opportunity. An ephemeral swarm’s attacks are nonmagical. Damage reduction sufficient to reduce the swarm attack’s damage to 0 and other special abilities usually give a creature immunity (or at least resistance) to damage from a swarm.

Unlike other creatures with a 10 foot by 10 foot space, an ephemeral swarm is shapeable. It can occupy any four contiguous space and it can squeeze through any space large enough to contain one of its component creatures.

Distraction (Ex): Any living creature that begins its turn with a ephemeral swarm in its space must succeed at a DC 20 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. Even after a successful save, spellcasting or concentrating on spells requires a Concentration check with a DC of 20 + the spell level. Using skills requiring patience and concentration requires a DC 20 Concentration check. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Strength Damage (Su): The swarm attack of a ephemeral swarm deals 1d6 points of Strength damage to any living creature whose space it occupied at the end of its move. A creature reduced to Strength 0 by an ephemeral swarm dies. This is a negative energy effect.

Swarm: A swarm has no clear front or back and no discernible anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. An ephemeral swarm is immune to all weapon damage. Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or lower causes it to break up, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple an opponent. A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects) if the swarm has an Intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells. An ephemeral swarm is susceptible to high winds such as that created by a gust of wind spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on an ephemeral swarm, treat the swarm as a creature of Diminutive size. A swarm rendered unconscious by means of nonlethal damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not reform until its hit points exceed its nonlethal damage.

Undead Traits: An ephemeral swarm is immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. It is not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage to its physical ability scores, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or death from massive damage. It cannot be raised and resurrection only works if it is willing. It has darkvision with a range of 60 feet.

Incorporeal: An ephemeral swarm can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, +1 or better magic weapons, spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. The creature has a 50% change to ignore any damage from a corporeal source except for force effects or attacks made with ghost touch weapons. An ephemeral swarm can pass through solid objects, but not force effects, at will. Its attacks ignore armor, natural armor, and shields, but deflection bonuses and force effects work normally against them. An ephemeral swarm always moves silently and cannot be heard with Listen checks if it does not wish to be.

Ephemeral swarms are extremely difficult to fight with physical attacks. They have one special vulnerability: A magic weapon with a special ability such as flaming deals its full energy damage with each hit, even if the weapon's normal damage can't affect the swarm.

Ephemeral Swarms as Familiars
Ephemeral swarms can serve as familiars for characters eligible to obtain familiars including arcane engineers, hexblades, mind weavers, shadowsworn, sorcerers, and wizards. To do so, the character must take the Improved Familiar feat, be evil in alignment, and be at least a 11th-level caster.

The ephemeral swarm remains an undead creature. Swarm familiars do not gain the ability to speak with others of their kind, and neither the swarm nor its master gains the Skill Augmentation (Listen and Spot) feat. Instead, the following special qualities are substituted for those standard familiar abilities.

Granted Abilities: In addition to special abilities gained as a result of standard familiar progression, swarm familiars also bestow the following abilities upon their masters. The ephemeral swarm's master gains immunity to her swarm's nauseating effect and its wounding attack and can occupy the same space as her familiar without suffering penalties. Swarm familiar granted abilities replace the granted abilities listed for improved familiars.

Hive Mind (Ex): Ephemeral swarm familiars gain a hive mind that connects them to each other by the arcane power of their master. The master gains an empathic link and the ability to share spells with the hive mind of the swarm familiar.

Nonhealing (Ex): When a swarm takes damage, part of it is physically destroyed. Therefore, swarm familiars cannot be healed in the normal manner. Instead, new creatures much be summoned to the swam to replace those that have died. A summon swarm spell "cures" a swarm familiar by replacing dead creatures in the swarm at a rate of 1d6 hit points per caster level. The number of hit points healed in this manner cannot exceed the swarm's maximum hit point total. Only a druid or the wizard to whom the swarm familiar belongs can cure a swarm familiar in this fashion. Summon swarm spells used to heal a familiar create no other effect.

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