Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mini Hiatus (just this week)

I'll be taking a break from blog posts this week as I move apartments. Hopefully the manual labor will give me some distance and I'll dive back in next week with some amazing ideas. In the mean time, go check out the blogs I follow in the sidebar and consider sharing or following my blog if you like the content I create.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Art of Being a Monster: Elemental

Fire. Slime. Air. Lightning. Metal. The infinite planes of pure elemental energies mix and swirl into still more infinite combinations of goals, treatises, and ideals. This guide will seek to perfect the tactics of those beings originating from the elemental planes of energy far beyond the reckoning of the mortal world. Take note of these archetypes and see how your abilities will best trump their powers, so that you may act unopposed.
F: As your attacks are physical and in only some cases will you have superior mobility, you will be forced to attack through the fighter. This opponent has strong defenses and is tough, and will force you to waste your time while their allies strike at you. Use the terrain to your advantage, taking cover from the fighter’s allies while you fight this armored foe. If this is not possible, consider using your elemental abilities to damage the fighter through their armor, ensnare them, or evade them. Ranged attacks from cover can be a useful opening salvo or even a powerful strategy if you can keep the fighter from engaging you. This foe will be your biggest challenge, as they will attempt to keep you locked into fighting them, protecting their allies.
T: Your elemental form is going to be mostly or entirely immune to any sort of back-stabbing and your physical might too strong for a weak flanking enemy to risk getting near you. If the thief shows capability to do grave harm, ready an attack for when they come near. Otherwise, this opponent is a very low priority to eliminate. Keep in position, if possible, to make it hard for them to attack you.
R: Measly arrows and slings from a ranged enemy will do little to harm you, but they add up if the ranger can sit behind the protection of a fighter. Do your best to keep cover in mind when defeating the fighter, but you can usually wait to engage the ranger until after the bigger threats of the fighter and wizard have been defeated. Keep changing your angles of cover so that the ranged enemy must keep moving, unable to steady their aim.
W: Spell-casters will have a difficult time harming you, with your many resistances to elemental damage and inherent toughness. They do present a unique threat of banishing spells to which your only defense is to prepare the battlefield with anti-magic effects, beat through the fighter to eliminate them, or simply have a good backup plan for what you do after you are banished. It may help to invest in magic that improves your chances of resisting banishment. After negating the fighter’s protection, immediately engage the caster.
The Ideal Elemental’s Forms
A keen elemental will take heed of the following mental forms to adjust their actions to suit their purposes. The direct path or the obvious path has often lead past elementals to fail in their pursuits and bring ruin to their plane. It is best to put forth as much energy to sculpt plans to fit the forms and ideals presented below. Your element is perfection and your plots will bring it closer to dominion over all existence.
-My own element is the most powerful there is, but to truly increase its glory, I must not be afraid to utilize the lesser elements in my strategies and tactics. I will gather magic and mundane items that expand my attack types outside of what would be expected by my opponents. For example, ooze elementals for example should seek out ways to turn solid rock or steel to their advantage or fire elementals attacking enemies recently frozen with blasts of extreme cold.
-Elementals are often subject to dangerous conditions and my plans always include some risk of being killed. I will keep on hand planar teleporting abilities, illusion spells, or the like to make a quick escape. Methods that mimic the appearance of death are preferable in that they keep enemies from searching for me, and elementals leave no particularly distinguished corpse upon death, making it easier to fake.
-The only creatures that can match my power are other extraplanar or elemental creatures. I will maintain, to the best of my ability, a solid reputation for following through on my promises. To support this goal, I will only make promises I intend to keep. This allows my threats and bribes to carry the weight I intend. Additionally, this means having a network of alliances and friendlies I can call upon as I desire. This should be doubly true for natural allies to my element.
-Any material plane lair will be designed to be totally inscrutable and uninhabitable by material plane creatures. The only exceptions to this rule are where material plane minions are needed, the resources required for such a design are too costly, or where I need to lure material plane creatures for my schemes. No matter what, my inner sanctum and most valuable assets will be as inhospitable to mortals as possible: inside solid rock, in frigid ice water, or in unbearably hot magma rooms, etc.
-The other, lesser elementals and extraplanar creatures can make good momentary allies so I should not be afraid to work with them. It can surprise my foes from unexpected directions but I should not rely on them or leave their portion of a plan without redundancy. Despite their inferiority, it advances my cause little to remind them of this inferiority. I will give the appearance of earnestly listening to their ideology to befriend them.
-If I can, I should give off the illusion of being of another elemental type or especially a non-elemental, mortal creature to throw off any would-be-slayers. An easy example of this would be occupying objects with my shapeless form or disguising myself. Giants, oozes, plants, undead, or creatures weak to elemental damages make good disguise choices. Slayers might waste their precious magic or attacks using inefficient damage types before they realize their mistake. I should supplement this belief by stocking my lair appropriately and leaving fake evidence of my disguised form.
-Any cultists I might attract will absolutely not allowed to be Evil™. Even if our goals are diametrically opposed to the survival or enjoyment of material plane creatures, it is stupid to be open about it. Needless aggression and destruction only attracts the attention of would-be-heroes and monster hunters. I will couch my cult’s language in things that hold the highest regard for whatever values the local kingdom upholds, twisting them to my own ends. If they are too difficult to twist, material plane minds are easily tricked into holding two contrary ideals without seeing the contradiction.
-It is much easier to convert from a seemingly neutral point of view. I will at least pretend to be interested in the ideologies of other creatures and planes. It will serve me best if I have a good understanding of the beliefs behind my enemies actions. Intolerance is unlikely, if ever, to result in a beneficial outcome compared to tolerance. Understanding others’ motivations only makes it easier to convert them to my side by showing them how their internal motivations line up better with my plans or ideology, even as a lie.
-I will have some sort of bargain with another intelligent extraplanar that I can run my larger schemes past. A reciprocal relationship between us should allow us to help remove blind spots from our plots we may have based on our narrow upbringings. Ideally, it would be best to have a triad of such ‘advisors’, which is not so many that it becomes unwieldy to return the favor but not so few that mistakes can go easily unnoticed. These should be those whose interests are so far removed from me as to be neutral. They should neither be allies nor enemies. Even after confirming my plans with them, I will still not assume my plans are flawless.
-I will maintain a solid base of operations on my home plane or at least a fall back shelter in case I get banished from the material plane, whether on purpose or by accident. At a bare minimum, this should include redundant abilities to contact my next in command, redundant ways to return to whatever plane I was one, backup copies of vital equipment, protection against magical detection, and a way to heal.
-Seeing as my major escape tactic and powers I use rely on the ability to connect with other planes, I will have numerous tests to determine whether my foes have an ability that negates this connection like a planar anchor. Illusion effects, minions, and magic are good ways to test this, but are never entirely accurate. They will throw difficult or seemingly difficult challenges at my foe that are easily beaten with a banishing-type effect, hoping to draw out such an ability before it is used to surprise me in combat. I will always assume that my enemies could have some sort of back up plan to knock out my connection with my plane, and will thus have independent means to reassert my connection with my plane or escape.
-If I am relying on permanent magic such as portals for any part of my plans, I will both ensure that I have a redundant, separate source of power to draw upon should the first fail as well as providing numerous false, fake, or unnecessary copies of the device or enchantment. Fake portals will cause my enemies to waste their dispelling magic while false mechanisms delay them while I escape with the real one or organize a counterattack. The real device or enchantment will be designed so as to appear as a broken or lesser part of another device. Dispelling or destroying the ‘main’ mechanism will make it appear stopped or stop it temporarily until the saboteurs leave.
-Money is valuable to material plane creatures so I will keep a good amount around in nigh-inaccessible areas to use for bargaining, bribery, or mercenaries. I will not hoard it in the open except as a distraction or as cover for suspicious treasures or traps elsewhere in my lair.
-I will freely seed rumors about magical rituals I need to perform to complete my goals. They will be of varying degrees of credulity with varying but seemingly symbolic timelines and ingredients. This will make it very difficult for my enemies to determine how to actually stop any necessary rituals from taking place. I will perform some of these fake rituals as if they were as important as the real ones. I will keep fake ingredients, prisoners, equipment, and tomes scattered about my lair.
-My successful plans and enchantments will be ‘secretly’ leaked with ways to undo them that are arduous but seemingly logical: return this ring to a volcano, find a rare flower in the distant marsh, etc. I will couch these rumors in vague and mysterious language so that adventurers will think themselves clever for having deciphered them, while foolish ones never even think to attack me. This will keep my enemies focused on the wrong task if they do try to fight me. I will not gloat or do nothing with this extra time, I will use it to research my foes and prepare my defenses or flee.
-My abilities are supernatural and thus continue to function in anti-magic zones or under the effects of creatures that create such effects. I will utilize the means at my disposal to gather anti-magic effects as normal material plane weapons are much less lethal against me than their enchanted counterparts. This has the added benefit of giving enemy magic users a hard time and making any elemental style hazards more difficult to bypass.
-I have little to no need of armor or weapons, so I will not keep those or other useful items around in my lair except where needed by my minions. For those necessary pieces of equipment, I will try to make sure they are as inconvenient for outsiders to use as possible. This might include things like getting all armor custom-fit to my minions, training my minions to use exotic weaponry, or even enchanting them to fall apart if someone else tries to use them. Likewise, treasures and magic items will be sold or destroyed if they are not serving some purpose. Better that than to give invaders free resources to use against me. Adventurer corpses will be cleared from my lair on a regular basis, both to withhold their post-mortem equipment from future invaders as well as to disguise the lethality of any particular section of my temple.
-If possible, I will ally with a powerful magic user, pretending to be their servant or pet. The power they wield can easily be twisted to suit my ends, as they are almost entirely prideful and curious creatures with weak wills for flattery and inquiry. They will defend their own towers, leaving me free to spend more of my own energy on my own matters, retreating to my real lair if the mage should lose. Even better, I may be able to turn against my former ‘master’ and gain the alliance of even more competent adventurers, repeating this cycle to gain more and more powerful allies, each time playing the role of the bound servant.
-I will propagate the idea that summoned elementals are bound to their master’s whims and it is only freak accidents that allow elementals to attack or betray their summoner. This is a secret all elemental kind benefits from, as the summoning spells use the caster’s magic to get us to the material plane instead of us having to expend our own energies getting here. It also gives a great excuse to not be killed, that we should be held as blameless servants with no free will to act outside of our summoner’s command. Creatures look at the chains around our necks and think on us no more, paying no mind to the fact that there is no lock.
-My advantages lie in my control over elemental energies. I will keep sizeable amounts of accessible elemental sources nearby me at all times, or retreat if I do not. My lair will feature large quantities of usable material of this type for my advantage. To make sure that this is not obvious to foes, I will do this in the most inconspicuous manner possible. This might mean, for example, hiding great ramparts of stone or earth behind a thin facade of paper or wood. Extra-dimensional space items are unsurpassed advantages for just this purpose, allowing me to instantly transform a battlefield to my favor. Finally, I will also make sure to have access to magic that can transform my immediate environment to suit my purposes, allowing me to swing otherwise unwinnable fights in my favor.
Shape yourself up, lest you fall apart to return in spirit to your plane. Worse yet, fail repeatedly and you may find your energies repossessed by your home plane. These forms are the ideals that will bring you ever closer to perfection.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Art of Being a Monster: Dragon

Thanks to Dragon's Flagon for the original post that inspired this series!
Your battle tactics need to utilize your mobility, the terrain, and your supernatural powers. Your fearsome presence, lair attacks, and breath weapon work best against enemies grouped closely together. Try to force enemies through choke points and tough terrain to make your breath weapon usage as efficient as possible. These points also cancel out any numerical advantage your enemies might have against you, letting you engage a few of them at a time and making it hard to flank. Take full advantage of your flight to reposition or keep to the skies, dive-bombing your prey with unavoidable attacks. Look below to see how the archetypes of your foes fall before you.
F: Make quick, devastating hit and runs in between flame attacks against the well armored fighter-type enemy. They will generally get in the way of your attacks against weaker enemies and are resistant to direct physical attacks. Use their protective impulses to get them near their allies and strike them all with your breath attack at once. Remove their offered protection by killing them, disabling them, or maneuvering around them. Since your attacks are mostly physical this is probably your first priority target, as other enemies won’t be able to stand up against your attacks but fighters will get in the way of you dealing with them.
T: While thief-type flanking enemies will have trouble piercing your thick armor, your attacks are mostly direct so you will be vulnerable to their flanking tactics when you attack. While their attacks can be negate with your flight and good tactical sense, it makes sense to keep their position in mind when you attack their allies. If they prove particularly troublesome, attack the fighter in a position that offers only one or two flanks, then retaliate with your full attacks as soon as the thief moves into attack.
R: A ranger is usually a low priority enemy. While they are able to target you in flight, you are simply too strong and well armored for them to present a significant threat. Their weak damage can be shrugged off until you have dealt with their higher damage allies. Take them out quickly if they prove otherwise by maneuvering around their fighter to trap them apart from their allies and unleash your full force down on them.
W: You have very strong resistances to magic and as a singular combatant are not particularly worried about area attacks. Wizards and other spellcasting enemies are not a great threat. Spellcasting enemies can be taken down at your whim with a single barrage of attacks that they are powerless to stop or block thanks to your wings. Use cover to break their line of sight and force them into a position near their allies if you want to use your breath attack or apart from their allies if you want to strike at them.
A Dragon’s Collected Thoughts
With your combat dominance so assured, your cunning has already turned to your plots and schemes that encompass much more of your interest. It is here that these closely guarded secrets will be shared, secrets that would have swept away the follies of lesser dragons. The plots of your enemies will be like so many mewling kittens compared to the dragonic roar of your brilliance.

-My kind has long been the target of specialized hunters and numerous enchantments, rituals, and items have been created specifically to target me. I will ensure that I have a reliable way to detect the presence of magic and reliable methods of scouting the existence of such armaments. One way I may accomplish this is to trick my enemies into using them against dragon-like minions such as drakes, illusioned animals, or clones. I will ensure that I have effective means to dispel or negate the advantages such armaments bring. If I do not have such, I will evade where practical or eliminate their wielder with my highest priorities.
-Where possible, I will convert my treasure hoard into things not easily stolen. Art, inlays, gilding, and other avenues of opulence are both more grandiose than piles of treasure but also more tactically sound. I will never keep damageable treasure in a place I think combat could possibly take place in. I will keep such treasures locked or protected in a place that requires going through me to get to, it does no good to protect such things from my own might only to have them stolen by others.
-In my dealings with various underlings, servants, henchmen, mercenaries, and pets I will strive to be as kind, gentle, and generous as possible. Not only will this reduce the inevitable likelihood of their betrayal, but it will make their betrayal more conflicted, giving me more fore-warning of any treason. Additionally, this policy will make it easier to recruit and retain my forces, counter-intuitively making their overall cost cheaper with a non-stingy policy compared to a stingy one (in most cases). No matter how well I pay or trust my followers, I will never trust them well enough to make them the single point of failure in any one of my plans.
-A silver tongue, fierce roar, strong bite, and thick hide will serve to not only physically describe me, but will be my guiding motifs for my diplomatic efforts. I will cultivate strong alliances and agreements with all the surrounding political bodies. I will use whatever methods work, not afraid to play the part of the flatterer or to shrug off insults strategically. Those avenues of diplomacy will not be tossed away out of pride but because they have been considered and found wanting. Keeping my word is paramount to my ability to negotiate, so I should consider my promises for a long time before uttering them, including my threats. A strong diplomacy will keep me informed of what is happening around me, lets me build up buffer states, influence regions, and increase my schemes’ reach.
-What the more foolish of my kind often neglect out of petty color bias is working with my fellow dragons of other colors. While the chromatic versus metallic divide is one of philosophy, I will make my most sincerest efforts to ally with dragons of the other elements. Not only will our abilities strike past resistances of foes specializing in fighting one elemental type of dragon, but our combined strength and intellect will be greater than the sum of its parts. The only competition we might have is for the limited amount of treasure, subjects, or food in a given area, but that loss will be more than negated by the greater reach our combined efforts offer. Lastly, even in a looser alliance, having fall-back lairs and allies lessens the probability of any one of us perishing. With fewer dragons perishing, it will be harder for dragon-slayers to gain a foothold. Those who won’t help a fellow dragon against a slayer need only remember whose cave the slayer will travel to next should its location accidentally be uttered in the dying breath of a dragon.
-I will follow up on the theme of co opting other elemental types into the design of my lair. I will not theme my own lair around the exact types of elemental damage of my breath weapon. Any enemy that is prepared will have protection abilities ready to use against that type of element. If they are unprepared or can be tricked into using up their preparation on measly traps, then they don’t warrant designing my lair’s defenses around as they will likely be dispatched with less costly methods. I will incorporate traps, magic, and minions that offer a range of threats that can affect someone prepared to fight against my own powers. In doing so, I will not overly focus on one other type that could be easily prepared against. Some could include necrotic undead amongst a fire dragon’s lair or acidic lizards inside a lightning dragon’s cave. In no case will I populate the lair with elemental types which are both strong against me and able to be used against me. These can be used but should be immovable or unable to target me.
-My lair and hoard will feature large and mostly useless collections of magic junk, trinkets, and other magical ‘noise’. I will make it difficult for outsiders to utilize powerful magic I collect by hiding it amongst junk magic of similar appearance. Also, this will confound any effort use magic senses or knowledge to determine danger, traps, power, or my presence by this sense alone.
-I will take it upon myself to secretly supply the anti-dragon or elemental protection magics and magic items in the surrounding region. These will be designed to function normally until they are actually used against a dragon or will otherwise be able to be rendered useless. This will functionally undercut other purveyors of these types of items in this area, as I will subsidize their price, and make sure I have a good knowledge of the types and quality of similar items through my business subsidiaries. In public, I will try and usually fail to have these manufacturers and merchants destroyed, undermined, and defeated to create the illusion of their effectiveness while giving cover to my destruction of any real purveyors of such items.
-I will seed false rumors of things like missing scales over my heart or other such fake weaknesses to keep opponents poorly prepared against any real weaknesses I may have. These falsehoods will range from believable to ‘well-supported with facts’ to completely outrageous. The spread of such weaknesses will cause my enemies to have trouble distinguishing truth from falsehood and thinking themselves wise when they pick the most believable lie from amongst my many lies. Even if they rightfully believe all of them are lies, they can never be completely sure.
-I do not anticipate my demise, but I will be prepared for all eventualities. I will have a clone, illusion, simulacra, or fake that I can utilize if everything else has failed and death seems certain. I will fake my own death against superior foes that have the upper hand. It is best to do this in a way that is difficult or impossible to verify such as falling into lava or being disintegrated. At worst, this strategy may require severing a limb or two.
-My young will be treated well and educated properly. A strong family and its bonds of loyalty will be earned through my behavior and not expected by blood. Family are not only useful allies, but are also a strong deterrent against enemies that have to account for vengeful dragons.
-Greed may be my motivation but I will not overlook solutions that cost gold or treasure. Leaving whole areas of strategy out of consideration not only lessens my power but also reduces the net amount of treasure I can accumulate. It is best to be efficient in both the grand scheme and in the fine details, but in the cases where a choice must be made, I will opt to favor long term returns over short term gains.
-Any hunting of local livestock I do will be purely for reasons other than food. My food and water supply should be under my complete control. I will not allow other creatures to be able to interrupt my supplies or to leave a strategic weak-point to be exploited. If I do hunt, I will not make a predictable schedule out of the act. Finally, I will take care in what harm I impose on the local population. Reckless damage to the locals increases the likelihood of an attack against me.
-It is better to be feared than loved, but it is best to be both. I will establish the area around my lair as protected or do something like taking up a local monastery as my protectorate. This gives people a good reason to not trust dragon slayers and creates fewer opportunities for the creation of enemies. Using these protectorates grants me a casus belli for my conquests and demands of tribute from their enemies with fewer normal feelings of unjust oppression. This policy may even lead to new areas begging for my protection and generosity. I will be prudent and cautious in my ruling decisions.
-I will not build areas in my lair that are only accessible by my minions or creatures their size. If I must, I will make sure that such a place has as few entrances to my living quarters as possible. Those small entrances should present significant tactical problems if creatures try to use them to attack me. It is preferable that these tactical problems are not immediately apparent, so as to trick enemies into thinking their position is better than it is.
-No matter how much I have invested in a plot, lair, or kingdom, I will not hesitate to abandon it in favor of marshalling my forces or changing my plans should the odds turn against me. I will set my threshold of riskiness as an objective standard at the beginning of when I set a plan in motion, I will not try to judge riskiness while I am executing a plan.
-I will keep on hand numerous escape plans. This will include things such as regeneration potions to regrow lost limbs, fake corpses, self-destructing lairs (which I survive/ and can use the ruins to heal), teleportation, or polymorph. This is not an exhaustive list and they should have redundant backups.
-I will be a patron of the local adventurers guild or should one not exist, I will start one myself. By giving missions to adventurers, I help influence what sorts of enemies they specialize against, what type of magic items/treasure they find, and what sorts of ventures they consider profitable. Additionally, the weight of such organization can often fill my coffers while keeping out rival adventurers that I do not have influence over. If possible, I should run this openly and in dragon form, but prudence may require I do this in my human polymorphed form. A fallback plan can be to call upon adventurers I have befriended, patroned, and supported for help against those who would hunt me.
-My influence will be well spent as a supporter of the arts. Having bards, musicians, painters, poets, and writers think favorably of me will be a strong disincentive against glory seekers to hunt me down. It may provide a limited benefit of giving any treasure stolen from me a distaste in the local people’s mouths (limited because gold is gold, after all). Favorable propaganda makes my job in controlling the local populace, gathering intelligence for my plots, and providing for my defense and the defense of my realm. If I ever should find extremely talented artists, I will bankroll them as much as I can, as their influence is worth the kingdoms they will sway to my side.
-Polymorph and shape changing effects are very powerful in that they allow me to take other forms for subterfuge or combat ambushes. I will not polymorph into a situation that will put me in a significant tactical disadvantage or will make it impossible to change back. I will take this as a general rule to never enter a space not able to fit my full draconic glory, unless it is specifically required. I should keep a ready stock of different humanoid and animal forms that I am familiar with so I can use and dispose of these disguises as needed. I will keep these disguises fresh, have them regularly interact with normal townsfolk, and do my best to integrate them thoroughly into the world around. My disguises will be so complete, if they are discovered, it will be suspected that I replaced an existing person not that I established them from nothing. These abilities will be greatly improved if I can seed the rumor that dragons can only shapeshift into one human form.

Keep these treasures in your hoard, and those that would seek to slay you will be but ill-remembered piles of slag and ash.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Art of Being a Monster: Celestial


Your entire existence and purpose is bound to serving your god and your ideology. Your powers are numerous, not the least of which are resistances to many types of damage, supreme martial or magical prowess, and flight. In order to best fulfill your purpose, this guide will offer a few humble places to begin improving yourself to accomplish your goal most efficiently.
When engaged in combat, your most important strength is truly your mobility. While you are resilient, even the toughest foes can be brought down under sustained blows if caught in poor positioning. Keep aware of your surroundings and maneuver yourself into advantageous positions to strike hard and quickly. Do not hesitate to retreat when faced with overwhelming odds or to environs that suit your strengths. Utilize the following archetypes as quick counters to common types of foes.
F: When alone, it is best to fly around and out of the reach of these enemies, who can usually hit hard enough to trade you blow for blow, for a time. If you have magic or extraordinary abilities, this is an enemy that is good to immobilize, pacify, confuse, or charm. They have poor resistances to magic. They are little threat if you stay out of reach. Attacking as a host of celestials, it may be best to keep this enemy engaged with one or two angels at a time, forcing them away from being able to protect their allies.
T: Individually, a flanking enemy is generally no match for you. The only worry is that they somehow get into position to attack while you focus on another enemy. Take them out quickly if you intend to attack their allies from a position in which they can strike you, otherwise ignore them and stay out of their reach. In a group, a single angel can directly engage this enemy to neutralize them early on.
R: The ranged enemy is a dangerous enemy, as they can strike from a distance even while you fly. While your toughness tends to limit the effective use of ranged weapons against you, they can be a danger if left unchecked. Use cover where possible and engage them directly when convenient or after defeating any magic users. Against angels in a group, the ranged foe drops in priority and need only have one angel threaten them with close ranged attacks to distract them, but only if convenient.
W: Spellcasting foes will be most able to inflict lasting harm upon you. Even with your magical resistances and strong saves, it is your first priority to keep the magic user occupied. Utilize cover where possible and engage them with close range attacks. Your physical prowess will overwhelm them if you can keep away from their allies. Depending on the apparent type and strength of the caster, the ranged enemy may be more of a threat. When attacking in a host of angels, casters usually have the ability to target multiple angels at once and should be distracted or destroyed as soon as possible.
Simply mastering battle tactics will not accomplish the entirety of your goals. In the following section I illuminate a few notable areas where celestials have fallen short or been fooled. It would be a wise creature that remembers where others have failed, lest they repeat those mistakes.

Wise Tenets for Humble Celestials

-I will not be tempted to let petty kidnappings or minor harms delay me from fighting the evil force causing them. Evil can use these as distractions to cause greater harms that I could prevent. By giving in to this tactic, I encourage more harm against other innocents.
-My moral nature is fixed but other creatures are not. Recognizing this and working with other creatures makes it more likely they will help towards my ends, not less. Being hard-headed about my morals will most likely result in a net loss of progress.
-I will not listen to intermediaries when it comes to my mission or goals. The assigning deity or power is plenty capable of contacting me themselves or working out a method which assures the veracity of their orders. Gods respect followers that verify their orders rather than risk following false orders.
-I will trust creatures that claim to be good or in alignment with my principles but I will verify their claims before putting myself in any compromising positions or taking any decisive actions. Evil creatures are often flexible enough to pose as good to gain my confidence.
-Other ideologies are not as pure or true as mine, but I will not deceive myself into believing its adherents are willfully malicious or inferior. Whatever their reasons for following an inferior ideology, I will not assume that it is a negative mark on their inherent abilities or intelligence. I will not use it as a reason to underestimate my opponents.
-When working with those of my kind, I will not assume to know their motives or ideologies. Earning my trust is not automatic, even for fellow celestials. I will not assume that they are above betrayal or underhanded strategies.
-I will attempt no magic rituals, bindings, or be involved in any magical enchantment voluntarily which I do not understand. My very essence is magical in its nature, including my purposes and celestial nature, getting involved in mysterious magics voluntarily has a chance to corrupt, turn, or manipulate me.
-Greed, sloth, envy, and other such lesser evils (depending on my specific ideology) are worthy of condemnation and recourse, but not at the expense of my greater goals. Making numerous enemies by scolding those who do these lesser evils while a greater enemy looms is dulling the axe trimming thorns off of briars before severing it from its roots.
-I will not trust good relics, spells, or magic to be an indicator of the trustworthiness of another creature. Those things can be faked and tricked. If I am to trust another creature, it will be by their actions and nothing else.
-I am a powerful being of good energy, but I am not immortal or invincible. I will not martyr myself for my cause, as I am almost always more valuable to my cause for my remaining long life than I am dying at this moment. I will avoid any strategy that requires martyrdom.
-Being direct and straightforward in my strategies is noble but utterly predictable and defeat-able. There is a wide range between evil and immaculate goodness, I will make use of it. Staying on the straight and narrow path of righteousness will weaken my cause and cause me to neglect strategies that could win. I will not ignore ‘mean’ solutions to problems categorically.
-I will ensure I have an objective standard of goodness to compare my actions to. Subjective standards or interpretations that fluctuate can mean I accidentally do evil or unfairly avoid strategies that are not actually bad.
-I will not be goaded by insults of my beliefs or purpose into doing something against my beliefs and purpose. No matter what one may say or insinuate, I am confident in my actions and choices. Where I am not confident or I am remorseful, buying into such attacks does nothing to fix my mistakes.
-One mistake will not break me of my purpose or divinity. I will never let one mistaken or even purposeful action destroy my entire being. I will work to correct my past wrongs, but I will not let them haunt me or control me. That makes me easy to manipulate into doing even more evil things.
-When I work with hirelings, pets, or others I will never allow myself to trust them completely. No matter how good, they can still be mind controlled, threatened, bribed, copied, or converted. I will not leave my entire plans up to any creature other than myself unless absolutely necessary.
-The areas in my fortress or temple will have areas that are either large enough for me to fly freely in or small enough to just accommodate me walking around. No intermediate sized areas that hinder my full advantages while not so limiting my opponents will be built or used. Important areas will not be accessible except by flight, but I will not rely totally on this protection for them.
-I will use traps and locks for areas I design which need protection. If the thing is important enough to build protection for, it is important enough to use lethal, cunning, and painful traps or magic. I will not make the traps fair or the puzzles solvable if protection is what is important. If I am seeking out a specific quality of person, I will resolve that in ways that sort persons by those qualities and cannot easily be faked or mistaken. I will test my sorting method on persons of recorded qualities that will then be checked afterwards to ensure my method works for selecting the type of person I desire. Most importantly, I should test my methods to find ways to try and get the wrong type of person through them, rather than seeing if they select the right person.
-When something amiss or weird happens while under orders or while on my divine purpose, I will confer and report back to the source of my orders. Should the source of these orders come from objective texts, I will consult objective third parties about the meaning of the texts before setting out and afterwards to ensure I am staying in line with what is expected. Under no circumstances will I ignore or try to explain away that occurrence.
-My god or purpose can be wrong. I will not hesitate to question or be skeptical of odd or mistaken orders. Plans will be scrutinized for weaknesses and flaws. A perfect god or purpose would not make mistakes, so I must be vigilant that I am truly serving one. If that purpose is afraid of my skepticism or ignores these rules without good reason, I will seek out the truth.
-I will not treat others callously in pursuit of my goal, when possible I will explain the reasoning behind my actions and seek allies in my plans. At least as much force opposing me can come from the many others who are neutral to my goals as from a minority who directly oppose it. It is is a mistake to discount the complacency and hostility I can breed from careless costs I impose on those who are neutral to me. Conversely, I should not be afraid to do so if the benefits outweigh the costs.

Keep these humble rules in your heart, and you will never be remembered as the angel who failed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Art of Being a Monster: Bedeviling Eye

Bedeviling Eye

This guide is to reach out to you great creatures of the deep caverns, with your great magic defeating eye and many-magiked eye stalks. Your superiority is assured, as you were intelligent and wise enough to acquire a copy of this manuscript.
It is your magical abilities that give you your greatest advantage. Thus, it is always to your credit to keep it at the front of your mind in your strategies and plans. However, it is not the only advantage you have. Your flight abilities and high intelligence are formidable abilities that should not be ignored. Your focus of any combat should be to corral enemies in such a formation that your magic hits as many of them as possible while keeping your enemies from surrounding you. Observe the patterns of their attacks and remember the following tactics against these archetypes.
F: These generally slow warriors are limited to direct ground attacks. These enemies are fairly easily avoided and they present little threat as long as you stay out of their reach. Additionally, they often resist your magic poorly. Target them from a distance while moving once other, more dangerous targets have been dealt with.
T: More nimble than front-line combatants and more adept at dodging your magic rays, flanking type enemies should be dealt with by using mind-targeted effects and unavoidable area damage. Barring those two approaches, direct bites can quickly cripple an annoying flanker. Attacking from above is the easiest way to keep your flanks from their reach.

R: With powerful ranged attacks that excel against single targets and attacks that are usually not negated by your main eye, ranged enemies can be lethal. They should be kept under sustained fire from your magic rays to prevent them from gaining a good firing position. Additionally, keep moving and put cover between you and the ranged enemy until you can get close enough to threaten with your bite attacks. Direct physical threats will impair their ranged ability. Focus your attacks on this enemy where you can, dealing with other archetypes if they present a bigger threat.

W: Spellcasting enemies are your second most dangerous foes. Their magic is varied and unpredictable, but unless they are incredibly specialized, your magic negating eye will make short work of them. Some of their targeted spells may hit you too quickly to be negated, so neutralize them quickly with direct damage, especially ongoing damage likely to disrupt their casting. Avoid mental spells which they generally are strong in resisting. You can move more quickly than them so utilize cover to make it difficult for them to target you. Getting close enough to use your powerful bite can be a strong counter to frail spell casters.

The Wise Bedeviling Eye's Guide

As you begin to implement the above tactics into your battlefield regimen, you may notice your other, grander schemes and behaviors begin to trip you up. Take note of the following list which will highlight areas of possible weakness that an intelligent and wise Bedeviling Eye such as yourself has no doubt thought of. Who does not appreciate external confirmation of their well reasoned thoughts.
-I will never rely entirely on my own magic and magical abilities. There are numerous spells and effects that can nullify them, and I am known as a strongly magical creature. I will have non-magical backup mechanisms where possible for key parts of my lairs and plans. Additionally, it may come about that I use my own anti-magic field on my own magic or enchantment. I would not want one accidental or forced tactical decision to destroy my entire plan.
-I will not allow small tunnels or narrow passages to be built or exist around my lair. Even if they are meant entirely for lesser creatures or my pets to use, I will not build what are essentially strategically advantageous passageways for my enemies to use that I cannot.
-Kindness and trade are weaknesses of lesser creatures, to be sure, but I will not avoid using them towards my goals if they would work. I will not avoid ‘nice’ strategies unnecessarily just to protect my self-image or pride.
-Clever plots and ingenious devices need no explanation and the only ones I will give are their execution. Only unintelligent or insecure creatures need to boast of their achievements. I will show mine off by achieving them. Giving away hints and long winded speeches will only give my enemies more resources to fight me with.
-If I am interested in a fair match or a difficult opponent, I will start a competitive league as a hobby. I will not handicap myself or use anything less than my full abilities in my plots. Likewise, I will not engage an obviously superior opponent directly. I can salvage my pride by defeating them later, there is no use senselessly getting myself killed.
-I will make sure my young are treated well and have a good education. Treating them poorly or hindering their advancements are likely to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of betrayal when they grow older.
-My young will have every reason to support themselves, their family, and myself. They will understand, through careful and honest instruction, the value of allies and these rules. This will create a much stronger network of Bedeviling Eyes than any single Eye on their own.
-Alliances are powerful things that impinge upon my word. Not breaking my word is a powerful tool that cannot be regained once lost. I will not make or break any diplomacy lightly, and certainly never without a back-up plan for what should happen if the alliance dissolves.
-I will accumulate magic items, spells, and rituals which have mysterious or realistic appearances and functions. I will use these to both bolster my magical credence and to create false magical noise, ensuring that thieves and invaders will not be able to directly distinguish powerful magic from useless magic easily. This will especially help ensure my plots are harder to disrupt and my treasures cannot be used against me.
-I will not invade, attack, steal from, or harm my neighbors unless I utterly destroy them. They can recover from anything less and will harbor resentments towards me. Everything not worth destroying them for is not worth creating enemies and will be obtained in other more subtle ways.
-I am great, but my greatness will take a sharp blow if I should die, so I will not let my pride keep me from taking sensible actions. Nor will I let any challenge or retort from a lesser creature compel me by a sense of dignity or pride into doing something stupid. The only person whose opinion I should care about is my own. The exception to this rule is when I can use an appearance of prideful weakness to leverage my opponents into a disadvantageous position.
-I will not trust the effects of my magic or abilities to have thoroughly dispatched my foes. I will ensure their death with the complete destruction of their corpse once combat ends. No enemy put to sleep, turned to stone, or otherwise incapacitated will be considered defeated until they have been reduced to dust.
-Lesser races, while inferior in every way, can occasionally overcome this handicap and be useful in certain situations. I will not let their inferiority or my hatred of such distract me from the possibility of individual exceptions. I will treat these exceptions well, in so far as their merit takes them. It is for this reason that I should at least hear out an offer of parley, generally. It is not the lesser races fault they are inferior and they should be rewarded when they try to act more civilized like Bedeviling Eyes. It is not to my advantage to destroy or act with unneccessary cruelty to the lesser beings that stand out from their lowly origins.
-Other, unrelated Bedeviling Eyes are difficult to work with. They can be untrustworthy and nasty. I will maintain as near perfect a reputation as I can when working with those of my own species. Where I cannot ally or maintain neutrality, I will evade or utterly destroy the other Bedeviling Eyes I meet. I will not stay around avowed, living enemies and I will not betray sworn allies.
-While my strongest features are my magic abilities, I will make sure that I keep my physical abilities and skills strong. This allows me to surprise my foes who have come prepared with strong magical defenses. This includes creating mechanisms, controlling beasts, and setting traps that strike hardest against enemies that are protected against my normal lines of attack.
-I will never stay to fight to the death, and in anticipation of an enemy eventually gaining the upper hand, I will have a number of backup plans. My victory will only be sweeter for the temporary victory my opponents have achieved. These backup plans should have every appearance of a true defeat on my part. Suggested strategies may include things like keeping a mirror in your lair which you ‘accidentally’ strike with a petrifying ray or death ray, which is followed by an illusion to appear as such. Others would include ‘falling into’ your own trap or magical device that is actually harmless.
-I will ensure that my lair’s terrain is as hostile to my enemies as possible. As my lairs are normally deep underground, I will ensure that my lair is full of true sunlight. The sun is not dangerous to me, but to my most hated foes in the deep, it is (as well as being another sign of their inferiority). If possible, the source of this light should be able to be turned on and off at a moments notice, surprising any sighted enemy. Against my Bedeviling Eye enemies, I will have pockets of dense air or anti-gravity which will ruin their hovering abilities, trapping them at my convenience.
-Any pets or slaves I have will be treated comfortably, but never fully trusted. They should not be given undue reason to work against me or hate me, but neither will I leave critically important tasks in their hands without any redundancy. I will not keep pets that fail in their task but I will not harm those that are merely messengers of bad information.
-My treasures, while they are pleasing to the eye, will not be kept in concentrated areas or in easy to carry forms. Artwork, furniture, expensive tiling, and other lair improvements are to be prefered over easily stolen coins or gems. If I feel that I must keep portable riches for need of quick relocation, my plans have already failed and I am not in a position to be hoarding treasure.
-If schemes are so complicated that others cannot comprehend them, they probably have too many moving parts. If they contain weaknesses my pets can point out, they are poor plans. In either case, they will be reevaluated. I will balance the risk and reward ratio of my scheming with a preference for low risk and then for high reward.

Take heed what is written here, hold it true to your Axthysiol (the innermost, largest gas bladder), and only time will vanquish you.