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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Wrestling with Giants

No jokes about bigger boats please. We've had enough of them already.
There comes a time in D&D and many other fantasy role playing games when the heroes, such as they are, the players control end up fighting against some sort of large/giant beast or monster. An earthshaking creature of immense size with nigh impenetrable scales or hide. Yet in Dungeons & Dragons, especially OD&D and BECMI, treats fights against giant creatures the same as fights against tiny little pissant weakling kobalds and goblins. I see this as a bug and not a feature.

I've told you my problem with this, now's the time for the solution. These are the behemoth rules. Think of it as an attempt to make a build your own kaiju/giant subsystem. Some of it involves the d20 Star Wars Saga condition track to work.

When scholars and naturalists claim that the tarresque is a unique creature, one of its kind, they are partly right. There is only one tarrasque but there are many creatures of around its power and status or even greater through out all Creation. While most often they are not gods their terrible strength may lead many to believe they are. A great multitude of peoples and civilizations have fallen before these beasts. Whether fashioned by man, created by the gods or shaped by beings much older and grander these monstrosities have made their presence known in the cosmos and are all but bound to leave destruction in their wake.
-Professor Elias Zahn, A Treatise on Behemoths


Behemoth is a catch all term for large demi-godlike or godlike beasts. Think on the scale of Godzilla or Shub-Niggurath. From the typical brutish hill giant all the way to Surtr, king of Muspellheim. Great imposing creatures whose mere presence alters the land they dwell on. Their footfalls rumble the earth and the sheer size of these beasts can blot out the sun. The rules for behemoths are simple, it should be great in scale and or godlike in power, a truly epic foe or ally. Other than that the DM/Labyrinth Lord/Mutant Lord has free reign in designing the behemoth. Behemoths should seldom if ever be random encounters. So if you feel like statting a behemoth of your own feel free to do so.

Behemoth Creation Rules

  • A behemoth must have at least for hit dice and be Large-sized (at least 8 feet tall).
  • All behemoths have either d8, d10 or d12 hit points per hit die depending on type. These types with examples are:
    • Fae: nuckelavee, ogres, d8 or d10
    • Demonic: oni, balor/balrog, d8 or d10
    • Elemental: elder elementals, d8 for air and fire, d10 for water and d12 for earth
    • Deific: titans, d8 or d10
    • Draconic: Need I explain? d10
    • Plant: Hellboy II: The Golden Army's forest god, d8
    • Beast: rocs, giant eagles, elephants, the Tarresque, King Kong, d8
    • Humanoid: hill giants on up, d8
    • Construct: several golems, d12
  • If giving the behemoth ability scores use this method. For the behemoth's Strength start with a base of 15. For Large sized behemoths add a d8 to this number, increase to +2d8 for Huge behemoths, +3d8 for Gargantuan behemoths and +3d10 for Colossal ones. Repeat for Constitution. Otherwise roll 4d6, dropping the lowest, and arrange to taste. Or figure out whatever system works out best for you. I'm still tinkering with this one.
  • If it makes sense for the behemoth to be a spellcaster or have any class abilities of any sort give it appropriate spellcasting or class abilities equal to half, 3/4 or even full casting per level of pseudo-class level the behemoth has. In other words figure out what level the creature would be closest to give it what ever its level in class abilities you deem fit if any.
  • Behemoths possess multiple hit point pools based on size. Large sized behemoths possess two or three hit point pools while Huge behemoths possess four. Gargantuan behemoths have five pools while Colossal behemoths possess a grand total of six.

 Fighting a Behemoth

  • Attacks against a Huge or greater sized behemoth's extremities cause no hit point damage in and of themselves. Instead the damage that would be inflicted is compared to the condition threshold (renamed damage threshold) of the limb attacked. If the attack's "damage" is equal to it's damage threshold it suffers at least one wound to that limb. Two wounds to a limb can disable it, a third will sever or cripple it.
  • Behemoths that suffer the loss the of a hit point pool are dazed for 1d4 rounds. During this time the behemoth cannot move or attack and is at a disadvantage to Strength or Dexterity checks for grappling and resisting grappling attempts. This should make climbing and holding on a lot easier.
  • Speaking of climbing, scaling a behemoth involves a grapple check, and a Climb Sheer Surfaces attempt if the behemoth slayer possess that thief skill. The Climb Sheer Surfaces check suffers a -2% penalty for every point the behemoth's Strength score is over 10. If successful the climber scales the beast by five feet per round for 3-4 rounds, until another grapple and or Climb Sheer Surfaces attempt. Succeeding the grapple by at least five points, or the CSS attempt by 25% doubles the climber's speed. A thief or similar character only needs to pass one of them.
  • To actually damage a behemoth it's would be slayer must reach the exposed portions of the head, neck and torso. This means somehow getting around any shell, bone plates and wings in the way. I know, easier said than done.
  • These big bastards have some weak spots and attacking them causes at least twice the damage hitting them elsewhere would cause. These spots can include the neck, the soft pallet, lower back and mid chest.
  • Attacks made by behemoths tend to come in two forms, sweeping and lunging.
  • Last but not least, as a result of their size, Huge or behemoths only suffer a fifth normal damage from non-siege weapons unless attacking one of its weak spots.
Attack hit roll by size
Four sizes smaller than target3d20 take the highest +4
Three sizes smaller than target3d20 take the highest
Two sizes smaller than target2d20 take the higher
One size smaller than target+1
Same size as targetnormal
One size larger than target-1
Two sizes larger than target2d20 take the lower
Three sizes larger than target3d20 take the lowest
Four sizes larger than target3d20 take the lowest -4

Behemoth Slam

Behemoth's and creatures of similar size can leave devastation in their wakes. With a mighty stomp or slam a behemoth can sunder armies in two. All non-incapacitated creatures within the radius of the behemoth's smash attempt must pass a save vs. stun or suffer the same damage of a behemoth's normal attack and be rendered prone. After three rounds the behemoth has fully regained his bearings and can make another smash attack. In addition, a smashing behemoth can make no other attacks in that round.

Behemoth slam attack area by size
Creature SizeStomp RadiusSaving ThrowTime Prone
Large10 feetVersus Stun1d3 rounds
Huge20 feetVersus Stun -11d4 rounds
Gargantuan30 feetVersus Stun -31d4+1 rounds
Colossal40 feetVersus Stun -61d6+1 Rounds

Sweeping Strike

A behemoth can scatter armies with a single swing. Instead of lashing out at a single foe a behemoth can make a swiping attack at all creatures with in cone-like spread with a length equal to the behemoth's reach. There are two main way of resolving this. One, make a single attack roll and compare it to the ACs of all creatures in reach. Anyone who would be hit by a normal attack of this type takes normal damage. Or require a Save vs. Stun/Reflex Save (10+Str mod.+BaB)/Dexterity Save (8+Str mod.+proficiency bonus) to avoid being hit. Here are some pseudo-tables below to give you an idea about how the area of Sweeping Strike might look.

For Large Behemoths
- h h h h -
- - h h - -
- - b b - -
- - b b - -

For Huge Behemoths
h h h h h h h
- h h h h h -
- - h h h - -
- - b b b - -
- - b b b - -
- - b b b - -
For Gargantuan Behemoths
h h h h h h h h h h
- h h h h h h h h -
- - h h h h h h - -
- - - h h h h - - -
- - - b b b b - - -
- - - b b b b - - -
- - - b b b b - - -
- - - b b b b - - -

For Colossal Behemoths
h h h h h h h h h h h h h h h h
- h h h h h h h h h h h h h h -
- - h h h h h h h h h h h h - -
- - - h h h h h h h h h h - - -
- - - - h h h h h h h h - - - -
- - - - - h h h h h h - - - - -
- - - - - b b b b b b - - - - -
- - - - - b b b b b b - - - - -
- - - - - b b b b b b - - - - -
- - - - - b b b b b b - - - - -
- - - - - b b b b b b - - - - -
- - - - - b b b b b b - - - - -

Double the arms, double the rock throwing and flesh ripping fun.
Thanks due to Ators Commander for his Defiant Creature template, the advice I got updating and improving giants on Giant in the Playground forums, the creators of Star Wars Saga Edition for their Condition Threshold rules and all the assistance from Dragonsfoot and Goblinoid Games forums.

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