During our most recent Cabin Trip, we drew to a close our epic saga of both personal and social redemption in a distant desert kingdom. A large focus of this game was on Chase’s character, the conscripted commander of an elite cavalry regiment. In an earlier post, I detailed a custom mount that I created for use by his character in this campaign. This freedom to tailor a creature or character to a unique setting or purpose is one of the things I really enjoy about role playing games.
Since it worked so well for the start of the campaign, I decided to customize a creature at the climactic end as well. Given the potent imagery invoked by the setting of “famed tribal horsemen, the demons of the desert” and “mounts carrying riders from the west like a shrieking simoom”, I thought it fitting to use some version of a horse-like creature to vex the party during their final battle.
Using the “Nightmare” creature from the D&D 4E Monster Manual (p. 196) as a base, I tweaked and teased it into a more theme-appropriate version. The final product proved to be fairly balanced, and survivable enough to do what I intended it to do. I threw six at the party initially; however, in the future I think they would be even more menacing and effective in larger numbers.
These incorporeal mounts shrouded in necrotic energy are said to bear the souls of the impure dead to the afterlife, so that their sins may be burned away and they may be joined with the light. Their ghostly visage is said to spark horror and dread in any living witness who has yet to purge any darkness from their souls.
|Spirit Steed, Level 17 Skirmisher (XP 1600)|
|Large shadow magical beast|
|HP 170; Bloodied 85 AC 31 (33 vs. AOO) Initiative +14|
|Senses Perception +14; darkvision|
|Fortitude 30, Reflex 29, Will 28|
|Resist Insubstantial; see also riders of the pyre|
|Speed 10, teleport 10|
|*Hooves (standard; at-will) * Necrotic|
|+22 vs. AC; 1d8 + 8 damage, & ongoing 5 Necrotic dmg (save ends)|
|*Riders of the Pyre (interrupt, 1/round) * Insubstantial, Mount|
|Trigger: A character in melee combat with the Spirit Steed misses with a basic melee attack|
|Attack: The Spirit Steed attempts to wrap up its attacker in its shadowy form; +15 vs. Will.|
|Effect: 1d8 + 5 necrotic damage, and the target is grabbed; when the Spirit Steed moves it carries any grabbed target with it as if mounted, and the target is counted as being insubstantial.|
|The target may choose to dismount the Spirit Steed as a full-round action; this action provokes an AoO from the Spirit Steed.|
|Ashes of the Pyre (standard; recharge 5 or 6) * Fire|
|The Spirit Steed moves up to 10 squares. Each square the Steed leaves is filled with ash & smoke to a height of 10 feet until the end of the Steed’s next turn. Any creature that hits the Spirit Steed with a melee attack during this move, or that enters one of the smoking squares, takes 10 fire damage.|
|Alignment Unaligned Languages —|
|Skills Endurance +21|
|Spirit Steed Tactics|
|These incorporeal mounts shrouded in necrotic energy are said to bear the souls of the impure dead to the afterlife, so that their sins may be burned away and they may be joined with the light. Their ghostly visage is said to spark horror and dread in any living witness who has yet to purge any darkness from their souls.|