109 Responses to 735 – White Smoke Mountain • 102

    • The best part is, there’s probably the same expression in the player’s face, too.
      Minus the gaping skull wound.

      I imagine the following scene:
      Unseen DM: “Suddenly you feel slimy tentacles grasping your head and a strong, painful pressure on your skull…”
      Martin’s player: “Wait, what’d you mean, what’s going on?”
      Unseen DM: *holds up an apple* “Here, let me demonstrate.” *heartily bites into it* CRUNCH!

            • And any thought that the length of the nose is constantly changing from strip to strip(and sometimes between panels) is just an optical illusion too.

              • …I feel the need to point out that’s not the kind of wound which would be left by mind flayers given their canon descriptions… IE, that they have lamprey like mouths and brain-liquefying acidic saliva…

                • It’s obviously not a mind flayer. Mind flayers are the intellectual property of Hasbro (via Wizards of the Coast) and not part of the open source material for D20.

                • Even the canon stuff is not consistent on that. Look at various pictures of Mindflayer prey in the Monster Manuals and D&D supplements like i.e. Underdark; some D&D artists drew skulls with puncture wounds but otherwise intact, which is more in line with how the feeding process is described, but I also remember other pictures, like the one with a kneeling Mindflayer who is holding the limb body of its latest snack, a drow, in its arms, and the drow’s head is missing the top of the skull (and the brain of course).

                  I always found the “bone-dissolving tentacles” idea a tad weird, but… why not, it has to get the prey’s skull open somehow and that’s faster for game purposes than using its teeth like a hole saw to mibble a hole into the skull in 3d10 rounds.

                  But as a biologist I draw the line when D&D writers claim the mindflayer uses the same tentacles like a straw to feed… sorry, now. That’s what the mouth is for. That’s like children and ignorant people thinking elephants eat and drink through their trunks!

                  • yeah, of course there could be a cultural thing where they eat like Sylar, but as far as how it’s described, dissolve a hole, or use it along with razor sharp teeth like a bone saw, liquefy the brains, and just suck out like eating a pudding cup sans spoon. minus the squeezing.

                    …of course these are mind flayers, they may have telekinesis, I honestly can’t recall.

                  • Speaking of silly biology in D&D, lets look at the Mindflayer’s happy neighbors, the Drow. Why are they, the cave dwelling people who shun the light, dark skinned, while their cousins who live topside are fair? And it’s not camouflage since they have white hair.

                    • I have never said that Erias is a mind flayer. It is in fact not legally possible for him to be so, therefore there should be little expectation that his feeding habits should be the same.

                    • The explaination is that the underdark is saturated with a type of radiation that gives the Drow their tan, and also empowers their equipment…any Drow equipment loses it’s bonuses over time if removed from the Underdark’s unusual energies.

                    • Inability to properly digest carbon, which is execreted into their skin, giving it it’s characteristically black colouration.

                    • and fair enough on the mind flayer thing, Kevin. I didn’t think about that.

                      …hm, how do star spawn feed?

                    • Wow, good to know that, Elfguy(heard their gear degrades on the surface, but not why), but shouldn’t they have figured out already that living inside the remains of underground nuclear testing sites is what gives them that brittle white hair and chars their skin black?
                      Not to mention the half-spider mutations…

                    • @Korbl: You know, carbon is, like, a major part of your body’s make-up. IIRC, carbon, with its 4(?) possible atomic links is the glue that holds the rest of the atoms in your body in place. You’d literally crumble without it.
                      That’s like saying they can’t absorb water they drink or are allergic to oxygen.

                    • http://www.tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=50915&highlight=drow
                      Take it up with the Med School student who wrote the following in the above link:
                      “they have black skin because they are tunnel adapted. They don’t have dark brown skin (from excessive melanin production to protect against sunlight), they have black skin – a result of a build-up of microscopic carbon dust in their skin. They live in tunnels, and rather than getting “black lung” they get “black skin” that is totally harmless. ”

                      There’s also the fact that with your reasoning, no one would ever die just for working in a coal mine.

                    • Oh, come ON Korbl, the Underdark Radiation explaination is from actual AD&D source material…it’s been nearly 15 years ago since I read it, but it was in there somewhere, because I was the DM and I had to make sure I knew what was up with the place.

                      Just being exposed to coal dust wouldn’t turn you and your descendants’ skins pure black (and some of the color ilustrations TSR released actually had the Drow as a more standard dark brown, but that was probably just that particular artist)

                      There isn’t a single lifeform we know of that evolved darker colors living in lightless or very low light areas…the reverse is usually the case, and the presence or absense of coal veins wouldn’t be the evolutionary trigger for that anyway. He just used the PIDOOMA algorithm to come up with the “Carbon dust” explaination. Drow infants are born Dark-skinned and white-haired.

                      Well Orald, I’m presuming the radiation warnings on the old waste dump where the Drow built Menzobarenezan were either worn away, or they just couldn’t read em.

                    • “Magic Radiation” is a cop out answer, classic though it may be. Also, Frank’s explanation is essentially the same as the reason why flamingos are pink.

                    • @Korbl: Flamingos only stay pink because they keep eating the same algae goop and don’t actually pass on any kind of pink coloration to their descendants(unlike Drow).
                      That would also imply that there’s so much coal dust EVERYWHERE in the underdark that everything the Drow EAT is covered and laced with it(no wonder they’re pissed off, they can’t get good food) that they’ve turned black. Or that they purposefully eat it(because, believe it or not, even flamingos don’t absorb their pigments through the respiratory system, which in the case of humans/oids is unrelated to the digestive tract and unable to digest or drive away by coughing more than minute quantities of dust).
                      Now if it’s so much all over the place how can the Drow breath and not choke? How can the other humanoids etc down there? Are they all black like them(I know the Duergar are gray, even though you’d think with all their metalworking they’d be exposed to much more dust and soot) down in the underdark? I don’t think so. Suppose all those creatures are adapted to said dust, how can adventurers breath down there?

                      “There’s also the fact that with your reasoning, no one would ever die just for working in a coal mine.”
                      So you’re saying stabbing someone with a bone knife should be harmless, since they have bones in their own body? People can’t drown because most of their body is made up of water? Too much salt, sugar, fat in your food etc can’t hurt you because you’ve got them in your body? 20G of gravity is harmless as we’re adapted to have some all the time?
                      Not to mention the fact you’ve just about nailed down my “reasoning” there as much as Lucas nailed it with SW episodes 1-3, and it didn’t seem like you were joking about it.

                      Somewhere there’s a biologist crying for his/er field of study…

                    • The proof that the Drow’s skin coloring isn’t environmental but genetic is in the Eberron campaign. There are Drow in that campaign setting that have spent their entire lives aboveground, but still they have the pure black skin.

                      “Magic radiation” or not, the “Carbon dust” theory is clearly wrong.

                    • I’m OK with all the “wizard did it” and “magic thingamabob causes it”(oh right, “thingamabob” is approved with the FF spellchecker but you can’t put the British spelling of “Behaviour” in the OK-list?! this feature makes me so mad sometimes!), just not with sorry attempts at “real” biology/physics/chemistry that seem taken from a bad disaster/sci-fi film. It just doesn’t work.
                      Just say the evil gods they worship thought they’d look more badass and evil with black skins and changed them and be done with it.

                    • In Forgotten Realms, it was the gods that changed the Drow appearance.

                      It varies from one setting to the next.

                      woot. Post #100 for this thread.

                    • I’m done. Clearly I’m not equipped to explain an alternate interpretation of drow coloration. Seriously, if you want to argue it go take it up with the med student who wrote it on that thread

                    • @ Elfguy: Re: drow stuff
                      As for as I know D&D ditched the old “all drow equipment is destroyed or degraded by sunlight, and once brought to the surface world all magic drow items slowly lose their magical properties over time even if kept in the dark” idea completely in 3rd edition and 4th edition. The reason being, the designers argued that it is both 1) unlogical and 2) unfair to deprive the players’ characters of hard-earned loot just because they grabbed it from a drow they killed and not i.e. from a duergar. Not to mention it would totally screw up the gold-by-level ratio for how much loot certain encounter ratings should provide. It was a matter of game balance.

                      1) Unlogical because no other race in the Underdark has magic items that break down when they’re taken to the surface, so why should the drow’s; you’d think if the “magical plot device emanations” fill large parts of the Underdark, this would be an issue for all races living down there.

                      2.1) Unfair because as mentioned, player characters in an Underdark adventure module would get usable (and sellable) loot from everything else down there, but not from fighting drow, so why should they risk their lives and deplete their group resources fighting drow if they get nothing out of that? It’s not like drow items are so powerful and epic compared to other magical items that it’s worthwhile fighting to get them even if you can only use them while down there and can never take them to the surface. No, on the contrary, if you’re unlucky, they’re only usuable by elves. That would lead to a situation where the writer of the module or the gamemaster would have to give the drow NPCs extra gold and gems for PCs to loot just so that it would make up for the difference in gold-per-level ratio once the PCs get back to the surface and all the magic drow items lose their worth. But while the PCs are still below the surface, they would have too much loot. Or they’d be forced to sell all the drow items to some other underdark race for a loss to exchange them into gems. Just because some game designer 20 years ago, when drow were the hot shit, thought that player access to drow items must be artificially restricted.

                      2.2) Not to mention that it would be supremely unfair to drow player characters, if a game starts in the Underdark and then goes to the surface. Since 3rd edition, it was perfectly legal to play “monster” PCs, non-standard races like orcs, drow, svirfneblin and whatnot. So WotC ditched the concept of dissolving drow items.
                      Forgotten Realms even introduced a feat (“Sunlight Adaption” I think it’s called) aimed specifically at PCs from races who are normally blinded by bright light and suffer penalties to everything while in sunlight, like i.e. orcs and drow do. A player character having that feat was immune to these penalties suffered by the rest of his race and was assumed to have either being born on the surface (in the case of renegade drow refugees, of which small communities exist in Forgotten Realms) or otherwise have toughened his eyes to sunlight through training and frequent sunbathing.

                    • Eh? so they dumped the “No monsters as player characters” bit?

                      Dang…shoulda stuck with the pen and paper game…I SO wanted to play a very young Silver Dragon who spent 99% of his time in Elf-polymorph form, and only “went lizard” in extreme situations (or when the party needed someone to get up to the top of the cliff with a rope and didn’t wanna spend hours rolling for the theif to make all his climb walls rolls)

                      (Very Young dragons would only be a bit bigger than horse-sized in dragon form…about the size of Gleep ( http://www.airshipentertainment.com/mythcomic.php )

                    • Orald wrote: “Somewhere there’s a biologist crying for his/her field of study…”

                      I’m crying, trust me.

                      Elfguy wrote: “Well Orald, I’m presuming the radiation warnings on the old waste dump where the Drow built Menzobarenezan were either worn away, or they just couldn’t read em.”

                      ROTFL :mrgreen:

                      That silly “magic underdark emanations” is, I’m afraid, canon. It was also used to explain why you couldn’t teleport around within the Underdark or in or out of it but had to use special transportation portals dotted around the upper and mid-Underdark. But maybe 3rd edition ditched that concept too, I’m not sure. Back in AD&D 2nd ed, apparently the Underdark was envisioned as its own plane, as different “underdarks” from different worlds bled into each other and the Underdark was crammed full of natural portals to other planes anyway… which was needed to explain where the Underdark got breathable air, drinkable water etc from miles and miles below the surface, not to mention rivers of magma in the middle of a cave, or giant underground oceans. 🙄

                      The origin of volcanoes in standard D&D worlds is not plate tectonics, no, volcanoes sit atop planar portals to the para-elemental plane of magma (at the intersection of plane of fire and plane of earth), just like all the other para-elemental planes (Dust, Steam, Magma, and Ice, or alternatively Ooze/Silt, Smoke, Magma, and Ice). Don’t get me started. It all makes sense in Planescape. Not to mention all the even weirder quasi-elemental planes (like Vacuum) that existed on intersections between elemental planes and inner planes like the Plane of Negative Energy.

                      Eberron ditched all that crazy Planescape cosmology. Hurray.

                    • Elfguy wrote: “Eh? so they dumped the “No monsters as player characters” bit?”

                      @ Elfguy: In d20 D&D 3rd edition, you can play the weirdest shit to your heart’s content. Play monster races like kobolds, lizardfolk, centaurs or mindflayers, or add templates (like half-dragon or half-demon) to an existing race, or give your human character a bunch of heritage feats that basically do the same as a template only without a level adjustment hampering him. Also, WotC kept inventing new playable races (i.e. Silverbrow humans). Not to mention supplements like Races of the Dragon and Draconomicon allowed you to play dragonblooded creatures or even complete dragons. If that is wise, well, that’s for the group and DM to decide.

                      Personally, I found the idea of a whole campaign with everyone playing dragons doing dragon stuff supremely boring. But to each his own.

                    • High Elves (good) = pale skin, black hair, golden eyes
                      Dark Elves (evil) = black skin, pale hair, red eyes

                      SYMBOLISM!! 🙄

            • It’s just that one of the axioms deals with getting royally owned by reffering to them as getting a long nose. 😆

  1. He should get stuffed. Literally.

    Then hung from his crotch outside his place.

    Just to show to all potential heroes that this guy will not just kill you.

    • I get the feeling that having Martin stuffed and mounted as an accessory on Castle Rottencore’s ramparts would just attract the wrong type of tourist. I can just imagine the tourist conversations:
      “What do you mean I can’t have that done? -HE-‘s doing it!” Or:
      “That’s not really real. It’s a dummy. Look, you can see by the way the arm flops like that…”

      And anyway, exposing a trophy like that to the elements would be totally irresponsible. Someone took the time and effort to taxidermy it, so it should be proudly on display in the front entrance. Along with the door-to-door salesmen, and the usual evangelists who try to get you to subscribe to their religion. All hung the same way, and presumably with the same gaping head wound.

        • What? Are you kidding? Waste all that perfectly good flesh golem material? All it needs is a new brain and a few other parts- Erias must be plenty powerful to do it in a snap. At the very least he could be turned into some sort of undead, like… hmmm I dunno- a wraith or a revenant or something? I guess making him a zombie would be nice and evil. So evil, and so humiliating!

          • And one of the lower types of zombies, too. The ones with 1 HD your heroes get to kill in some tavern basement right after the rats at the start of the adventure, or the ones they keep for practice in the tutorial.

            • Zombie Doorman, who’s entire job is just opening the little slit in the door and say “We gave at the office.”

              • Screw that, I just say “no”, I don’t make up excuses and I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. They should thank me for not robbing them right there and then too, the annoying pricks.

                Mind you, once in elementary school I did go around asking for money for some shitty cause(and was pretty good at it too, got around 1,500 NIS I think), but what could you do when the school makes you? Should’ve bloody stole the money I got from people who didn’t want the silly paper slips you give as proof they donated, but in my defense I was a wee boy and I’ve always had trouble with this silly conscience thing and a tendency to sometimes help people despite myself. It usually ends badly for me or at the least just wastes my time, but I never seem to learn. I blame my early education for it.

      • Along with the door-to-door salesmen, and the usual evangelists who try to get you to subscribe to their religion.

        “Have you ever tried letting Hextor into your heart, ma’am?”

  2. ok now bunker is going to be pissed and that’s bad news for Erias

    Martin may have been pretty smart but he was greedy and that’s what got him in the end, props to the DM for using Martins lust for power against him though

    • I wonder what Martin’s player is doing right now. I mean, I expected him to whine and object. Well, he did get in a “What? Wait!” comment, but then it was too late.

      Or is this happening in the Unseen DM’s head? (Because the PCs are stuck in the dungeon far far away and have no way to know what’s happening.) Somehow I hope it isn’t. 😈

      • Technically Martin would have been privy to the entire exchange as a witness, unable to do anything other than scream silently inside his own head, until the point at which his head was crushed. Now however he’s pretty well out of the action.

        You can bet that Martin’s player is having quite a bit to say right now.

        • I wonder whether he’ll complain loudest about:
          #1 Being killed without being able to fight back,
          #2 More than likely being obliged to play a character he designed as disposable and replaceable cannon fodder before she evolved on him, or
          #3 It being entirely his own fault. 😀

          • Hey, you graft “ultimate Chaotic Evil Artifacts” onto your body, particularly ones with their own agenda, and you have to know it’s not going to end well.

            This is why I’d have gone for the Wand of Orcus, or Baba Yaga’s Hut – at least with those you only have to worry about the owner showing up physically, not being actually inside your noggin.

          • Screw that, I want Martin’s player be forced to play Pink!Fleece in a teddy, not the cool Fleece with the knives! After all, the current, murderous Fleece is, as she herself pointed out, not a disposable henchwoman but a real NPC-for-hire because 4E did away with the leadership feat.

  3. Given the shape of the Bite Marks on Martin’s head, I think the question about whether Erias has a squid beak has been answered.

    Man that Lich isn’t very smart, is he? Come on, V, you fell for the old “Spare my life and I’ll make you all-powerful” bit…that doesn’t make Erias clever, it makes YOU spectacularly gullible!

  4. ‘Twas bound to happen sooner or later. He’s been hacking to dungeon for how long now?

    BTW, how do I get a different pic for my avatar on these comments? I missed the memo somewhere.

    • They’re called “Gravatars” (Short for “Globally Recognized Avatar”)…it’s a means of setting up a “default avatar” for a lot of chat sites around the net.


      (Click on “Get your Gravatar today”)

      • Our Lich buddy pretty much failed even a Spot check.

        For someone who basically IS an EYEBALL, that’s not good.

        • I think you’re failing to give Erias any credit here. There’s no need to bend over backwards trying to figure out how stupid Vecnus is. Erias is in his seat of power, and as long as he’s there, he’s the man.

            • Lol, loved the “It’s…” reference after watching several MP episodes today.

              And I think he’s got to cut down on the hemp. 😆

              • “He’s like the caveman Shaft!”

                Long gone are the days when a self-respecting barbarian warrior could strut around in nothing but a loincloth and fur boots, showing off his oiled muscles and his d12 hit die. What a shame. Barbarian pride!!

              • Also, Yor: HftF is among the number of Scifi and Fantasy B-movies that were shot in the famous tufa stone landscapes of Cappadocia in Turkey. If you ever find yourself visiting Turkey, don’t just go for the usual ancient Greek and Roman temples, but plan a visit to Cappadocia’s famous cave dwellingsand underground cave cities that go on for miles and miles.They were cut into the soft tufa stone and were in use for several thousand years. (Up to the 20th century, because during WWII, the local people used to hide down there from soldiers.)

                If you want to see what a real fortified dwarven city might look like, go there. In times of war, the udnerground cities had rooms large enough for stores of food and to bring in all the domestic animals along with the people. They have underground cisterns and wells, air vents, and the only entrances could be shut by rolling giant millstones in front of them, with a small hole in the middle through with the defenders could shoot attackers coming down through the tunnels.

                These days, the underground cities are no longer in use and parts of them can be visited by tourists, but many of the dwellings in hollowed out tufa stone spires dotted around the craggy landscape are still in use. They provide a constant temperature, cool in the summer, warm in the winter, but have been fitted out with modern appliances like electricity etc. of course.

                • That’s interesting to know about the caves, they sound more comfortable than my place, temperature-wise. Now we know where Bin Laden must be hiding.
                  But with the current political climate I’m not sure Turkey is the best holiday destination for me.

                  I’m watching the other reviews on that site(name’s familiar but never visited there). Highlander II is just hilarious. But then I find Christopher Lambert himself hilarious in all his roles. I think it’s his voice and shitty acting. 😆

                  • My parents have been visiting Cappadocia twice now, recently, with no problems. Many Turks in Turkey are far more liberal in outlook than certain Turks born in Germany (the old “Irishmen in American are far more Irish than the Irishmen in Ireland” problem of “patriotism”-in-exile) and they’re very concerned about the political influence of religious fundamentalists and hardliners who, if unopposed, would love to turn Turkey into a theocracy, thereby destroying everything revolutionary leader General Mustafa Kemal Attatürk fought for in the National Liberation War of 1919-23. He created modern Turkey as a secular republic in 1923, abolished the Kalifate and Islamic courts, established legal equal rights of men and women, and gave active and passive suffrage to women in 1934. (Of course, there are dark points. During the 1920s, Kurdish and Greek minorities were oppressed, which as I understand goes back to political upheavals after the end of the Osman Empire. Back in 1920-21, when Great Britain and France were imperial occupying powers in the region, Greek troups had fought alongside the British in an attempt to keep Turkey occupied. And after Attatürks death, there were two military coups in Turkey in 1960 and 1980.

                    • Well there’s the difference in nationality between your parents and me. Sure, nobody would really notice since I’d be speaking English if I’d want anyone to understand me, but it was more of a half-joke anyway. A tiny forbidden jab at politics, if you may.
                      The truth is that I’m not all that excited about traveling the world, and rock formations, while interesting to look at, aren’t something that’ll make me go to another country to gaze at in person.
                      I’m sure I’ll be seeing lots of bare rock formations in the days to come right here at the Carmel. 😛

  5. If the Gm was a real dick (or penis if you are sensitive) he would make Martin start a new 1st level character.