Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Art of Being a Monster: Androsphinx


This entry is not limited to just those of you of the Sphinx family but more generally to any of you territorial creatures their makes living hunting humanoids using a combination of cunning, monstrous abilities, and magic. This includes Naga, Drider, Hags, Medusa, Lamassu, Lillend, and Sphinx.
Your general strategy is first and foremost to be the master of the terrain in which you fight. As a master manipulator and savage hunter, you must choose your lair and hunting grounds carefully. Disregard your pride and flee if the terrain is not to your advantage or you are caught out of position. Your legacy will be all of your successful hunts that ended when you died of old age. A great hunter is a failure as soon as they die on a hunt or worse, while hunted.
An advantage you have over lesser monsters is your cunning and silver tongue. When you encounter a group of well armed creatures, it is best if you stall with a riddle or parley offer. Use this time to size them up and maneuver, calmly, into an advantageous position. If the party can be sized up and seems safe to engage, fight without mercy, turn from a moment of levity to bloody fury in a split-second. Otherwise, you should pretend to be amused or content with the ‘answer’ to the riddle or parley. This encounter may yet be salvaged if you can negotiate a gift from the adventurers. Always exude a calm confidence, like you know something the adventurers do not, even when outmatched. Fear or doubt will get you killed. The following are suggested tactics to counter basic adventurer strategy.
F: Front-line warriors will be detrimental to your mobility and uninterrupted spellcasting. Keep them busy with difficult to maneuver terrain: deep water, thick sand, rubble, choke-points, vegetation, etc. Outpace them with clever maneuvering  and then hit them with your spells. Spells that strike their mind will generally work the best against these tin cans. If mind-control or charms are part of your spell list, these foes work wonders when turned upon their former allies.
T: Flanking tricksters will gut you quickly if not kept in check. Luckily, your choice of terrain should give you options to keep your flanks covered and limit the flanking enemy’s movement. If they become a threat, focusing your damaging abilities and spells toward this enemy will quickly neutralize them, as they cannot withstand much punishment. It may be to your advantage to purposefully leave open a flank to draw them out into position.
R: A ranged foe can and will interrupt your magical abilities and hit you from afar, ignoring many of your terrain advantages. Making good use of cover can quickly negate the ranged foe’s weapons. They have a similar weakness as the frontline fighter, but should only be targeted when the frontline fighter is disposed of. Always keep another enemy, minion, or piece of cover between you and this enemy.
C: An enemy spellcaster will be a tough enemy to face. To deal with their spells, treat them as a more dangerous ranged enemy, putting priority on keeping cover between you and them. Abilities that bypass or ignore their high mental resistance should be used to target them. Those that deal ongoing damage make it difficult for them to cast spells. If the opportunity presents itself, they are physically much weaker than you and can be engaged to great advantage one-on-one.

An Intelligent Androsphinx's Rules

-I will have a good supply of open ended riddles that allow me to manipulate the answer to my liking, allowing any reasonable answer to be ‘correct’ or any answer to be ‘wrong’ as I desire. Those seeking treasure or glory are vain and easily persuaded to show their mental acuity by solving riddles. I will use this to manipulate them to my advantage.
-I will not express fear or doubt unless it is likely to gain an advantage. Mystery and aloofness are part and parcel to my magical arsenal. I will not be foolhardy in this, merely calm in the face of danger, lest I invite in aggression from adventurers.
-I will change my hunting patterns regularly to avoid becoming too predictable, and thus subject to being ambushed myself. Adding to this, I will occasionally make it look like another monster killed my prey.
-I will not keep notable trophies of my prey unless absolutely required, as these have occasion to draw reprisals or retrieval missions. When I do keep these, I will keep fake copies on open display while keeping the real ones safe and hidden. If I have advance notice one is being sought, I will gladly surrender it, possibly with a delayed effect curse where useful.
-My lair will not have easy exits or features for my prey to use. I will have a plan of attack if ambushed in any given chamber or area of my domain. Any place I do not have a plan of attack in, or one where my plan of attack becomes unusable, will be retreated from as soon as possible.
-If I must hoard treasure or trophies, I will incorporate them into my lair in a fashion that shows them off but makes them hard to steal or remove. This will deter treasure hunters and thieves.
-I will not target royalty or other well-connected and rich persons as my prey as they generally have the wealth and power to reciprocate. If I desire powerful or wealthy prey, I will prepare for their eventual revenge and take precautions by improving my magic, leaving misleading clues, and leaving behind false curses. I will not let a temporary victory over such prey cloud my judgement about their power.
-Where possible, I will spread the rumor that my species are merely humans cursed by magic beyond our control. This will help garner sympathy that will spare a kill blow in lieu of attempted curative magics. Up against a very powerful foe, it may even be wise to stage a fake death leaving behind a human corpse to strengthen this belief.

-I will not curse creatures with long lasting hexes. There is nothing worse than creating a foe who will spend their entire life trying to track me down and kill me. Short term, conditional hexes, when direct violence fails, are much better to getting dangerous enemies to move on.
-I will not chase away other monsters and predators in my territory as they obscure my kills and make hunting me more difficult. Monsters that attack me or interfere with these rules are the exception to this rule.
-Illusions and fake spells will be intermixed with my own abilities to ensure that my enemies will not know the true extent of my abilities. These illusions and fake spells will sometimes cover real effects, traps, and spells to maintain my mysterious nature.

-I will seed false rumors of weaknesses and vulnerabilities to local taverns, rumor-mongers, and gossips. These rumors will range from ridiculous to plausible. Some of them I will support with falsified evidence and pretended fears or obsessions. The plausible theories should require any would-be hunters to inconvenience themselves: lugging around a barrel of salt water far from the ocean, seeking out a thrice-wedded gown, attacking under the full-moon, keeping no gold coins on their person, etc.
-I will not occupy historical sites, places of power, or ruins. These places are magnets to hunters, treasure seekers, and adventurers. If such a place is otherwise ideal or necessary, I will seed rumors of the place being boring, looted, and empty. I certainly will not attempt to dissuade interest by spreading rumors of dangerous beasts, cursed magic, or haunting spirits.
-I absolutely will not seed rumors of my evilness, about my lair or hunting grounds being haunted, or any other similar nonsense that is likely to attract attention from adventurers. Where such rumors naturally arise, I will falsely seed rumors about other wild superstitions and explanations for such disappearances. To improve the misleading nature of these rumors I will include some truths about similar predators as myself and clues aboutthe other monsters living in my domains.
-I will treat other intelligent creatures and monsters similarly to adventurers. I will not serve any such creature unless they follow a set of rules aimed to catch their mistakes. I will flee or escape, at the first opportunity, from more powerful creatures that would jeopardize my health by breaking my rules.
-I will not keep the entirety of my wealth in one place, but I will split up my treasures, preferably mixed with illusory or fake treasures to bolster their apparent value. If I lose one hoard, I will therefore not lose my entire wealth. Additionally, this gives me a better bargaining chip against stronger foes, namely “all” of my wealth.
-I will find and protect/steward a source of healing or goodly magics. If confronted, I can use this to show my goodness in protecting such a delicate source of magic from those who would abuse it. Of course those that overpower can then be placated by saying they have “passed the test”.
-I will keep in touch with others of my kind or disposition, to ensure I have allies to call upon in times of need. Of course, this will require reciprocating the favor. I will not associate with those who put themselves at needless risk.

-I will not mock, toy with, or humor my prey. If I require a soliloquy or to prove my masterful cunning, I will find a suitable companion to show off to rather than creatures which may turn such a weakness to their advantage. Adventurers and foes are not safe avenues for this. An exception is when I use long winded speech of this type to distract my foes until I can gain advantage.
-When I take prisoners, work with hirelings, or command subordinates, I will treat them kindly. Doing so will encourage sympathetic actions on their part if the situation is reversed. Also, it will contribute to my efforts to be thought of as an afflicted human. Lastly, it will make them less likely to betray me lethally.

Follow this guide and wherever you are mentioned in the tales of bards, it will not be for the sound you made as you took your last breath upon the point of some human's sword.

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