Monstrous Compendium Ch5 bit – Purple

For one instant, the darkness went purple-white; lightning striking from Argo’s fingers to the thorax of a black-faced, horribly humanoid shape.

<<Pollista the Psiwasp Queen.>>

The queen’s icon was purple.

We’re dead.


The fading glow was just enough light to see Kirito and Klein charge the queen.

They’re out of their minds. We’re dead. She’s purple, no one’s getting out of this unless they run

Only if Klein ran, he’d leave two of Fuurinkazan behind. And that was not happening.

Buzzing rose behind him, and chitinous claws gripped Dynamm’s shoulders, trying to drag him away from the fight. He struggled, for all the good it did; punching at the mind-blurrer on the outside and gritting his teeth against the invading :sleep: on the inside.

Through the buzz and yells and clashing he could still hear Argo chanting; loud and sharp and longer than any spell he’d ever heard Issin cast. What was taking her so long?

“Everybody, grab onto something!” Klein snarled.

“-Fflam sīllif bod!”

And there was light.

Blue flame sliced through the nest wall like a giant’s sawblade, severing the lower part of the hive in one roar of elemental fire.

They did it. Stheno found herself gaping, as dark paper began to fall. They actually did it. Modified a fireball from a sphere to one flat disk, and set it off exactly where they wanted it.

She’d heard Kirito and Argo hashing it out, in those last few minutes revising their hasty rescue plan. But she hadn’t believed. Who could? Modifying an enchantment was highly advanced spellcasting. It could take months, even years, to perfect a new variant of a spell. Everyone knew that.

Argo and Kirito had done it in less than ten minutes.

That… magic doesn’t work that way, it can’t

Instinct bashed stunned reason over the head, and reminded her that getting back might be an excellent idea.


65 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch5 bit – Purple

      1. –__–

        You ether have a source of really nice homebrew, or are better than me at digging stuff up.

        Side note: I want that Shadow invocation.

        Side, side note: Someone asked about liches. If mindflayers and dragons have them, I see no reason why a yokai could not.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I’ve mentioned the Arcana Evolved offshoot of d&d before, but it really does make this sort of thing easier. Most everything about casting is controlled by feats, with casting classes simply giving you the appropriate feats. And they’ve got a lot more variety and control even in core AE, than d&d does without going “all the third-party splatbooks!”

        Liked by 2 people

  1. by the time they get to aincrad actual, in ebberon, the players will be such an outside context problem it will be beyond hilarious, and the youkai who have observed them will not be believed about it, even the lords.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh good grief. Thirty. Xanatos. Pileup. Those //always// hurt, especially with multiple Xanatos-type persons in the mix.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. He thinks he has. This is how we know he has not. I’m prepping popcorn for when sh*t goes up like a firecracker​ under the Bastard’s arse.

        Honestly I’d be more worried if Kayaba answered the ‘have you really thought this all the way through?’ question with: ‘Of course not. I’ve thought it as far as can but who knows what they’ll think of? That’s the beauty of this plan: anything is possible at the end of it. I’m just seriously committed to not letting my surprise keep me from acting or reacting. And making sure to double back-up all of my failsafes. Triple redundancy is barely sufficient.’

        Because Xanatos Gambits and Manipulative Bastards are one thing. Xanatos Speed Chess and Magnificent Bastards are another.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. That… magic doesn’t work that way, it can’t–

    Well . . . it just did.

    Guess Stheno hasn’t been witness too many “That’s impossible!” or “That shouldn’t have worked.” from our heroes yet.

    Plus desperation added to Iron Will can be a powerful combination. Not going to die here! can be powerful stuff too.

    Through I think Vathara mentioned in comments somewhere about Kayaba fiddling with the magic system . . . all part of his Cunning Plan I’m sure . . . well, the magic being different. I’m confident our heroes will throw him a ringer or two with their own Cunning Plan.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. There’s also Achievements in Ignorance coupled with gamer culture that’s conditioned these people to really /look/ at the rules and /find/ loopholes that thoroughly violate /spirit/ of the Rules As Written while still holding to the word.

      Considering that in at least one Rules As Written D&D edition it’s possible to use grappling rules to kill a dragon /without/ being Epic Level then it stands to reason that doing things everyone /knows/ you can’t do is simply a matter of looking at the Rules and coming at them from the direction of “Okay, what does this /specifically/ say that I can’t do?” and being crazy enough to experiment from there.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. The funny thing is that DnD is – especially in 3rd Ed. and it’s​ derivatives – as mentioned elsewhere in comments on this blog, designed to reward system mastery. The more you know the system the more you know it’s loopholes the more you can play reality like a trumpet for your own benefit.

        This is the world Kayaba thought it was a good idea to introduce a bunch of gamers to.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. “‘No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style”?

        Other pithy sayings the immigrants will bring, “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying hard enough”, “If it sounds crazy but it works, it’s not crazy”, “Never tell me the odds.”

        Liked by 5 people

  3. My gaming group has three people who can take the rules of any system and bend them into pretzels. It doesn’t surprise me that people would do that, especially given how much system mastery helps in D&D.

    I suck at it, to note, but I’ve found a few combos like that myself.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My most impressive breaking of the system (fantasy craft) was an accident. I was making a “greatsword” (nagamaki) mook-cleaver/sword-dancer specialist, which was going just fine until one level-up I got just the right feat to complete the exploit (I got it entirely because of RP chargrowth over the last adventure, even tho I had been looking forward to a different feat, simply because it made the most in-character sense)… and suddenly I was bullet-time “cleave everything, having an average of 3-4 turns worth of time in a single turn”.

      It had been entirely unintentional, but was impressive enough to require both nerfing of one of the abilities involved, and a specific plot bit where I sacrificed another part of it for a dramatic “use this to save them” CMOA, just so it wouldn’t disrupt the game too badly. (the char still cleaves through mooks fast, but now it’s back down to only 2 turns worth of action in a single turn, and the AoE nuke-mage is now able to kill more in a single round again)

      Liked by 2 people

    2. It’s definitely a gamer thing. To quote the Munchkin card game: ‘Invoke Obscure Rule: Go up a level’

      I’ve got a few gaming buddies who do that, and one rules lawyer who has sworn to only use her powers for JUSTICE! Order. She rules lawyers against fellow player, GM, and her own characters without preference or expectations of favored treatment.

      This caused one of her characters shoulders to explode once.

      Another time it lead to her character Shotputting. A baby. Because ‘it was was her only legal in character option by her character’s strict moral code.’

      T.T I was the GM for that and will never be over it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. … Last I checked, isn’t that an *Archmage* perk?!

        Dear gods. Yeah, so, it turns out that sixty years of dedicated CS research matters a *hell of a lot*!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. >Considering that in at least one Rules As Written D&D edition it’s possible to use grappling rules to kill a dragon /without/ being Epic Level>
    You should see one D&D campaign retelling I ran across. To quote the blurb:
    Playing half-orc monk. Decided to play something beyond weeaboo ‘i am master of martial arts’. Spent 100gp on an inlaid mask with intricate tribal designs sewn on the sides with a ‘fin’ on top. Thus I became LOS TIBURON, THE SHARK OF THE LAND, MASKED WRESTLER. I took all my feats revolving around grappling. Grappled EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. EVERY. ****ING. THING. Including, but not limited to, a bear.

    Final part of the campaign: OH SHIT DRAGON. Dragon acts like a fa***t, ducking into the water and popping out for breath weapon. **** that; I’m charging its ass. My brother was playing a warforged fighter and assists my MIGHTY LEAP into the air, where I pose mid-air and shout about the HONOR OF THE MASK. That’s how I TACKLED A ****ING DRAGON. Dealt unarmed damage, latched on, and took a deep breath to prepare for the underwater struggle.

    Dragon goes up. Forgot they can actually fly. DM gives me the option to let go before he goes up. **** that, I’m still wrestling! 200 FEET IN THE AIR, STILL WRESTLING A DRAGON AND DEALING UNARMED DAMAGE! Dragon actually starts hurting me; I need a plan. That’s when brilliance strikes me:

    “I roll to pin.”

    The entire table fell silent. “I roll to ‘pin’ the dragon’s wings behind its back, so it can’t fly anymore.” THE ENTIRE TABLE LEANS FORWARD TO WATCH THIS ROLL OF DESTINY. NATURAL. ****ING. TWENTY. I pin the dragon’s wings, sending it and me hurtling into the ground. I have one combat round left to make my final statement.


    Dragon’s neck snaps on impact. Through sheer luck or GM fiat — possibly both — I survive at -4 HP. The party cleric brings me back up to 1 HP, picks me up, and holds one arm into the air. My brother the fighter immediately bangs his shield twice, making the bell noise. Party’s bard/diplomancer announces “And the winner is… Los Tiburon!”

    And that’s how I made it to level four.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. >doesn’t that sound like something /Klein/ would do?>
        More like Kirito only with less hamming it up.

        Remember the dragon-taxi incident when he was partnered with Lisbeth.

        Liked by 4 people

  5. that was great. unfortunately i rarely got the chance for such a game, and the group long since dispersed.

    we didn’t really know whatwe were doing anyway, resulting in more funny then amazing stories.
    we did managed to fail a spell into dropping a dead giant squid..on our enemies.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ngl, when I first read this and saw what Stheno’s point of view on what Argo and Kirito were up to, all I could think of was that scene from one of the Dresden Files where Harry’s playing the Barbarian in what is – given the rough timeline of when the books take place – almost assuredly 3.5 DnD with the Alphas, and Harry breaks character and session (granted, his Barbarian’s character seemed to mostly consist of shouting ‘ENOUGH TALK!’ at the top of his lungs before butchering stuff with his greatsword) to complain that magic fire still behaves like fire; in an enclosed space the fire will follow the path of least resistance​ to cover the same area even if it’s a different shape until all the force/energy is expended… exactly the way the fireball cast by their party’s in-game Wizard didn’t​.
    I remember being surprised and amused when Billy the Werewolf (and GM!) brought up that fireball and related spells did in fact work that way in previous editions, but it was specifically gotten rid of because it lead to too much bookkeeping. Given they’re playing DnD that’s saying something. (And I do consider the Dresden Files a fairly credible source of nerd lore. Jim Butcher is famously nerdy and an old school DnD fan, to the point that DnD things occasionally pop up in the Dresden Files – Ask Me for Examples!)

    The next two thoughts… Well they occurred simultaneously. One was wondering how much more effective those Spell Crafters (no pun intended) would be with some programming knowadge backing them up.

    The other thought… I am a gamer, dammit, and I need to know how much damage that spell did.

    I decided to try SCIENCE
    Math and in the process may have accidentally justified every high school math teacher who ever told anyone who’s commented here that ‘you’ll need this in life’.

    So. It took some SCIENCE! math but here’s what I’ve got:





    I have pages of notes written for both legibility and the style of commentary I leave here. Notes accumulated over roughly 3 hours of frequently interrupted work. But clearly something is wrong with my math, because the end numbers for how many d6 of damage should be dealt by a single 5ft. square of that spell?

    My math is saying 0.125d6 per square. Which I know is wrong and makes no sense.

    I think I’m running into conversion errors when I try to translate the cubic and square feet measured volume and area of fireball and it’s variant into DnD’s standard 5-foot squares, but it’s neither an error I know how to recognize or resolve​. This is annoying me enough that I’ll probably come back to find the answer later, but for now? Zilch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Per square over what height? The points of damage should have different effects spread over a small volume than over a big volume. The same amount of thermal energy will ignite or simply warm paper depending on how much paper is involved. What’s the kerf? 🙂

      Plus, this shaping effect may also be distributing the damage to solids only, and not doing much to the air. It may be strictly focused on the crosssection of the nest, making the surface exposed by the cut times the kerf about the volume affected. Think cutting a pipe. You aren’t cutting the saw through PI(OD/2)^2 of material, it is PI ( (OD/2)^2 – (ID/2)^2 ).

      Question about D&D mechanics. How does the damage get distributed in the case of six enemy mooks in volume of effect versus eight?

      Appendix: Kerf is the width of a saw cut. PI is Pi, the constant relating a circle’s circumference and diameter. OD is outer diameter, and ID is inner diameter. I am a big silly. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah-heh. That’s the thing, DnD’s actually a relatively simplistic system – fireball (and heck with continuing to italicize it, I don’t care that it’s a proper spell name and you’re supposed to italicize proper spell names, it’s​ too much of a pain when typing on a smart phone) is listed as being a perfect sphere with a 20 foot radius. But here its shape is being converted into what’s described as a saw blade shape. We’ve got little else to go on, so we can only assume that shape is all that Argo and Kirito altered, otherwise trying to calculate for all possible other alterations makes it an exorcise in futility.

        So, assuming everything else about the spell remained the same including the volume of the area covered, we can calculate the new size of the spell. Argo and Kirito probably wanted as flat a shape as possible, but I don’t know how to convert volume to flat area like that, plus while the digital system might allow for that, I’m frankly gonna assume that Argo as spellcaster has to maintain a certain level of focus to pull this trick, and there are limits to human/adopted Medusae focus. So instead they converted a perfect sphere into as flat as cylinder as possible. At that point you figure the cylinder probably has the same total volume as the sphere and if you can figure the height – the kerf you mentioned – then you can use that and the area of the cylinder to figure the new radius of the cylinder.

        A basic google search for ‘thickness of a circular saw’ said most leave an average kerf of 1/8″ inches. So I figured ‘close enough’ and calculated that as the height of the cylinder.

        Now for more of DnDs simplicity. In DnD if you’re in the area of a spell, you take the listed damage. Doesn’t matter how big or small you are, or if you’re only partially in the area, the shape of the area, or if it’s just you, or you and 5+ of your closest nearest and dearest. The damage – theoretically the energy of the spell – is distributed evenly throughout the area the spell effects, and every one or thing takes the same amount. Here’s the another thing – DnD is supposed to be a role-playing/tabletop game, but the moment combat breaks out it turns itself into a miniatures game. The most basic unit of the terrain being the tiles – as in chess. In DnD those tiles are specifically 5ft by 5ft squares, and that’s the area that your average medium or small size category creature is presumed to take up on the battlefield. Of course, reality has three dimensions (at least) and while DnD’s combat system hates having to deal with it, in most stories dragons can fly. So while DnD refers to and thinks of them as 5 foot squares the base tile is actually a 5 foot cube. Any creature whose 5 foot cube is considered to be within the area of the fireball takes the fireball’s listed damage. That’s determined by the level of the caster, and with some guesswork one can safely presume Argo counts as a sixth level caster, so her fireballs would do 6d6. So, effectively a fireball is a perfectly spherical distribution of cubes of 6d6 fire damage. Redistributing them into a cylinder with a kerf of 1/8″inches means taking the number of 5 foot squares that cylinder is considered to cover and redistributing the d6 – because energy and volume were not described as being changed – amongst a different number of squares affected…

        Huh. I think I figured out my mistake. I was presuming as large an area as possible, matching the kerf, with the same overall volume. But unless the walls of the hive – papery though they may be – are extremely weak, 0.125d6 ain’t gonna cut it. Basically, because so many more 5 foot square/cubes are being affected, the energy has to cover all of them and ends up doing less if it’s allowed full spread possible to maintain volume. Probably what Kirito and Argo wanted was ‘wide enough to bisect the nest, thin as we can get it, and equal energy but as tightly compacted as possible so it does more damage to whatever it does hit. Well, since volume can’t be assumed to match, just energy and a safe guess at the Kerf, I have no idea what the damage is, and without a rough radius no way to calculate damage per tile, just total damage to be distributed. Ah well. At least I now know where my math went wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Makes sense! Oh, man, stacking metamagic feats gets crazy – especially if your caster did what most of my spontaneous casters preferred and took the ‘Sudden’ metamagic feats from… shoot. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I can never keep Complete Mage and Complete Arcane straight.

        Liked by 1 person

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