Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grognard's Grimoire: Caryatid Column

I'm very fond of animated statues as opponents in D&D, perhaps because I loved The Golden Voyage of Sinbad as a child. When I first started playing the game, it struck me as odd that, aside from golems, there weren't any stats for animated statues in either Holmes or the Monster Manual. It wasn't until got my hands on a copy of Moldvay's Basic Rulebook that I had official write-ups for animated statues.

Interestingly, the Fiend Folio, whose contents I generally don't find to my liking, included the caryatid column, a creation of Jean Wells and an opponent I've often used to good effect. What follows is the version of this magical construct that I use in my Dwimmermount campaign.

The material in the quote box below is hereby designated Open Game Content via the Open Game License.

Caryatid Column

Number Appearing: 1d12 (1d12)

% in Lair: Nil
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1D8
Save: F5 (see below)
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: None
XP:
500

The caryatid column is akin to the stone golem in that it is a magical construct created by a spellcaster. Caryatid columns are always created for a specific defensive function. The caryatid column stands 7 feet tall and weighs around 1,500 pounds. Its smooth chiseled body is shaped as a beautiful woman. The column always wields a weapon (usually a longsword) in one of its hands. The weapon itself is constructed of steel, but is melded with the column and made of stone until the column animates.

Caryatid columns are programmed as guardians and activate when certain conditions or stipulations are met or broken (such as a living creature entering a chamber guarded by a caryatid column). A caryatid column attacks its opponents with its longsword. It does not move more than 50 feet from an area it is guarding or protecting.

Any weapon that strikes a caryatid column has a 40% chance to shatter into pieces. Magic weapons have a 5% less chance to shatter for each point of its combat bonus. Thus, a +2 sword has only a 30% chance to shatter. Due to their sturdy construction and magical nature, caryatid columns gain a +4 bonus to all their saving throws.

16 comments:

  1. One interesting wrinkle from "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" was that the first animated statue, the ship's figurehead, was more the result of a spell animating an existing piece of sculpture than a specifically created magical creature. Perhaps something could be made of that as well.

    Tom Baker as Kouras the Black Prince was a choice bit in that movie.

    ReplyDelete
  2. (1) Shouldn't the % in Lair be 100%. After all, it isn't going to move from it's assigned spot, is it?

    (2) In the LBB set, it took ages for anyone to notice that the appropriate stat was % In Liar, which, if implemented, really does change one's perspective of the game, in a rather amusing way. [Although one is amused that it became % In Laie for Eldritch Wizardry, which was a good indication of how pissed off the demons and astral monsters were when you summoned them from their holiday in Hawaii.] <grin>

    ReplyDelete
  3. When my players saw statues like these, they automatically assumed animated statues. (We'd all see the Sinbad movies.) I had to give them lots of "real," non-animated statues to lull them into a sense of security before finally springing caryatid columns on them.

    Tangent: Is there a post where you discuss your criticisms of the Fiend Folio? I know a lot of people dislike it, but, Flumphs aside, I never found it particularly odious, and some of the entries I liked quite a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Statues inspiring player paranoia fulfill the traditional role of the gargoyle, is it live or memorex?

    ReplyDelete
  5. The problem I've always had with the caryatid column is that they're more structural than the average animated statue; why doesn't the ceiling or door lintel or whatever fall down when they move?

    ReplyDelete
  6. They could be purely decorative columns...

    Or just maybe it's just "magic"

    ReplyDelete
  7. Could also be a clue for a Dwarf or someone with engineering or architectural skills. (*gasp* He said "skills"...)Caryatids that aren't structurally significant would be ones to be wary of.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Shattering the characters' magic weapons is one of those gotcha! abilities I dislike. Other living art or golems don't have it (IIRC) so what's the origin of this kick below the belt?

    That said, I like living statues almost as much as arcane plants.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've always been fond of having both animated statues and golems as two separate monster types. In a playtest I'm currently running, the party just encountered an animated stone statue. They assumed it was a golem until the lava shot out at them! =)

    That and the less common golems -like bone and amber- in the B/X games are wonderful surprises. They always assume the bone golem is some sort of undead, and the amber golem's detection and tracking abilities can be quite Terminator-scary.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @kelvingreen
    Cave-ins caused by load bearing animated statues is a feature, not a bug, if you're a certain type of DM...

    ReplyDelete
  11. @BigFella

    It would also wonderfully recreate a Harryhausen-style scene.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Male caryatid columns are usually atlantids (ie, shaped like Atlas carrying the globe).

    They had some in the first Tanya Grotter book. Very effective big scene toward the end. The load-bearing thing did have an effect that was very bad, but what would have happened otherwise would have been worse....

    ReplyDelete
  13. BigFella, a very fine point!

    Verification word: Sphinf. A slightly softer, more friendly sphinx? Or a sphinx with a lisp?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tangent time:

    James, I noticed in the side bar you're now using Labyrinth Lord rules. IIRC, you've gone from Swords and Wizardry to OD&D to OD&D plus supplements (I think) and now to Labyrinth Lord. First, what prompted the change, your enjoyment of the new Advanced Edition book? Secondly, when you do change rules sets in the middle of a campaign, does it require any major reworking of your campaign, such a character powers, hit points, or available spells?

    ReplyDelete
  15. James, I noticed in the side bar you're now using Labyrinth Lord rules. IIRC, you've gone from Swords and Wizardry to OD&D to OD&D plus supplements (I think) and now to Labyrinth Lord. First, what prompted the change, your enjoyment of the new Advanced Edition book?

    There were a couple of factors. I mentioned in a post that I disliked the single saving throw mechanic of S&W and was importing OD&D's standard approach back into my game. Then, as I started gearing up to publish Dwimmermount, I decided I'd be wise to tie it to a published rules set rather than leave it "generic." Since I can't claim compatibility with S&W unless I use both ascending and descending AC, I wasn't going to go that route. LL includes both descending AC and a full range of saves. Plus, as you say, I love AEC, so it was a no-brainer.

    Secondly, when you do change rules sets in the middle of a campaign, does it require any major reworking of your campaign, such a character powers, hit points, or available spells?

    Given that OD&D, LL, and S&W are all about 90% the same anyway, it's not a big deal. Generally, though, I don't change rules I've already established as working a particular way in the game unless the players want me to do so. Consequently, though I'm using LL as my base nowadays, it's not really had a huge effect on actual play.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @KelvinGreen

    A sphinx with a speech impediment sounds like a rather dangerous thing. (They'll repeat the riddle 1d4 times before giving up in exasperation and just killing you...)

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.