Black//Purple Update #003 and Being Angry with God
-The usual Rhapsody stuff
–Above the Winter Moonlight by Dragonforce
–The Black and the Purple D&D Campaign: Adventure #1 — 90% complete!
–Readings for 3rd year classes –90% for first quarter readings
–Readings for 1st year classes — ready for reproduction
As I reviewed the statblock I had prepared for Grimgashr, a major villain in the The Black and the Purple, I came to realize that he simply wasn’t strong enough for the challenge rating that I had assigned to him. The thing about Challenge Rating is that it’s very much like cooking–it has some elements of exactness, but in the end it’s about what you (the DM) feel works. There are ingredients (monsters) and recipes (templates) and you want to put together a series of memorable, challenging and unique fiends as enemies for your players. However, just as a chef cannot properly prepare a fantastic dish if his ingredients are spoiled, neither can a DM put together an awesome monster concept if the base creature is not properly made.
Unfortunately, I discovered that the current RAW Ogre Mage in the 3.5 Monster Manual was not really a good monster at all.
Its challenge rating (8) means that it is designed to be a suitable, challenging threat for an 8th-level party. However, it has dismal hit dice, HP, attack bonuses, and typically advances as a Sorcerer–which means it has d4 hit dice after its initial 5d8 of Giant hit dice. Very un-giantlike. To make matters worse, its spell-like ability list seemed very random. It had a really good one, Cone of Cold, but the rest of its abilities, such as Sleep, would not even work on a party of 8th-level PCs.
It was really unfortunate, since my original concept for Grimgashr was that he was a half-fiend ogre mage warlock of incredible power. Warlock was very similar to Sorcerer, but received better hit dice (d6) and Base Attack Bonus progression, so I thought it would be a good associated class for the OM. This, however, gave him a point-for-level increase in his challenge rating. With a base CR of 8 and receiving a +1 increase to challenge rating for every warlock level plus his half-fiend template, his CR went up very quickly and at some point ended up at 23.
At first I thought that he was powerful–he had regeneration and many other abilities from his Ogre Mage base, as well as the ability to fly. Furthermore he had a wicked cool sword and various other powerful abilities bestowed by the Warlock class.
And then I put together the statblock for the blue dragon boss, Al’Lashvahazred. Being a wyrm blue dragon, he also had a challenge rating of 23—but double the HP, double the AB, and even double the number of attacks per round. Don’t even get started on his arcane spells, his cleric spells, his various spell-like abilities, massive AC, and lightning breath weapon. On top of that, Grimgashr’s saves were horribly low for a CR 23 monster and would probably be beaten by the PCs in saving throw rock-paper-scissors[link]. With the two monsters side by side, Grimgashr did not deserve a CR 23 at all.
Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast came up with this article[link] which deconstructs and rebuilds the Ogre Mage into a lower CR monster with more synergy among its parts. Put together, the redone Ogre Mage is lowered to a CR 5 monster that relies more on its combat prowess than spell-like abilities that wouldn’t work in the first place, but is still a far more intelligent opponent than a regular Ogre.
Because of this departure from the original “wimpy giant spellslinger” concept, I felt that Warlock was no longer an associated class. This halved the challenge rating the class gives for 6 levels. The dramatic drop in CR allowed me a lot of room to add another class that contributed physical prowess, sneakiness and better saving throws: the BLACKGUARD. This was also consistent with Grimgashr being a powerful general–why would the average Zhentarim grunt (who is very well-trained as private armies go) follow an Ogre Mage who has worse AB than him?
The result is now a much more cohesive and challenging monster without a bloated CR. What do his stats look like? Oh, you’ll find out soon enough. 😀
So where’s the part about being angry with God? Well, I figured that it was probably too emo for casual readers to want to read, so it’s hidden behind this More tag. Click below to read the emo part and about God’s faithfulness.
It’s so easy to say that we will praise God no matter what, but very difficult to bring ourselves to surrender when we are confronted by the harshness of life. Last night was the climax of a three-day bout of emoness. I was lashing out in white hot fury, cursing this world and cursing myself, frustrated with myself and with humanity and angry at the emptiness I experienced after I asked God to remove her from my life.
I knew that I was no longer attracted to her, but the void left by that removal led to a painful, yawning chasm that I had to deal with. Perhaps I had thought too highly of other people and what they could do to support me. Perhaps I thought that I needed them just as much as I need God.
I was talking to a student over YM and she was offering some consolation which was not really helping–until she reminded me that I should pray, just as I had reminded her so many times. And so I did, crying, seething, weeping in my loneliness, standing in front of the juggernaut of my emotions and begging God to save me. And He did, with a tiny whisper, as He always does.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be praised. —Job 1:21
I remembered that God was doing as I had asked Him to, and that He was doing it because it was time that I lived without it. I had been focusing my life on that one person for so long and now that this fixation has been brought to an end, I lost my balance and fell over. But God was faithful to pick me up, and quickly this brought a sense of calm to me. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness.