Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rhyme Stealer

Continuing in a fey theme, I dug out a rather nasty sprite I wrote up a few years back, the rhyme stealer. In two versions, the 3rd Edition original and Labyrinth Lord.

sculpture by Petra Werle
Rhyme Stealer

Small Fey (Sprite)
Hit Dice: 1d6 +1 (4 hp)
Initiative: +8 (+4 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)
Speed: 20ft, fly 40ft (good)
AC: 15 (+1 size, +4 Dex)
Attacks: Bite +5 melee; or Small rapier -1 melee; or composite shortbow +5 ranged
Damage: Bite 1d3-2 and poison; or Small rapier 1d4-2; or composite shortbow 1d6
Face: 5’x5’/5’
Special Attacks: Dissonant song, rhyme stealing, spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: SR 16
Saves: Fort:+1 Ref:+6 Will:+2

Abilities: Str:7 Dex:18 Con:12 Int:16 Wis:11 Chr:20

Skills: Bluff +9, Craft (luthier or violin maker) +11, Escape Artist +8, Hide +8, Listen +6, Move Silently +8, Perform (song) +9, Search +9, Sense Motive +4, Spot +6, Tumble +8, Use Magic Device +9

Feats: Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Weapon Finesse (bite)

Climate: Any land
Orgranisation: Solitary or heckle (3-6)
CR: 3
Treasure: No coins; 50% goods and items
Alignment: Usually chaotic neutral (always chaotic)
Advancement: By character class (Bard)

Rhyme stealers, sometimes called bardbanes or sharptongues, are prankish sprites who delight in mockery and insult. Capricious and wild at their best, rhyme stealers tend to be far more malicious and cruel than their fellow sprites, and are avoided if not despised by their brethren. It is said that some elven communities appoint archers specifically to discourage rhyme stealers from disrupting theatrical and musical festivals.

Renowned for their skill at building lutes, viols and fiddles, their cutting wit and knack for twisting a song against its singer makes them feared as well as admired among bards. A bard will occasionally seek out a gathering of rhyme stealers to challenge them at flyting, a battle of improvised poetic boasts and insults which is the rhyme stealers' favorite sport.

Rhyme stealers are slight of build, resembling pixies with black or red hair, dark eyes, long, beaky noses and sharp, needlelike teeth. Their mothlike wings are patterned in brown, black and red, and their feet are clawed like a crow's.

Rhyme stealers are generally cowardly, preferring to taunt their victims invisibly and from a distance. They have been known to harry travelers for hours in this manner. However, they can be cunning and deadly foes when necessity or whim drives them into combat. Using their dissonant song to weaken their enemies, they favor attacking with spell-like abilities and arrow fire, darting in to nip at disabled foes with their poisonous bites.
Dissonant Song (Su): A Rhyme stealer's wild and melismatic song unsettles all who hear it, causing all foes within 30 feet who fail a Will save (DC 16) to take a -1 penalty to all attack and damage rolls and a -2 penalty to saves against fear affects. These penalties last so long as the rhyme stealer sings, and for five rounds after the singing stops. Creatures who successfully save against this effect cannot be affected by that same rhyme stealer's dissonant song for 24 hours. Essentially, this is a perversion of the bardic music ability inspire confidence, and works the same with regard to actions taken while singing.
Rhyme Stealing (Su): With a successful opposed Perform check, a rhyme stealer can disrupt the effects of bardic music, using a cruel pastiche of the bard's words and music to cancel her abilities. For ongoing effects such as inspire courage, competence, or greatness, this Perform check must be made every round. Used against a bard's fascinate or suggestion abilities, rhyme stealing allows the bard's target a new saving throw.
Poison (Ex): The rhyme stealer's bite is mildly poisonous (DC 11), dealing initial and secondary damage of 1d3 Charisma.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- invisibility; 3/day -- cause fear, ghost sound, sculpt sound, shatter; 1/day -- shout. These abilities are as spells cast by a 6th level sorcerer.
Skills: Like other sprites, rhyme stealers receive a +2 racial bonus to Listen, Search and Spot checks. They also receive a +4 bonus to Craft (luthier or violin maker) checks.

Let's pare that back to something more basic:

No. Enc: 1-4 (4-16)
Alignment: Neutral or Chaotic
Move: 90' (30') Flying: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 1**
Attacks: 1 bite or 1 weapon
Damage: 1 hp or by weapon
Save: Elf 4
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: III + IV, VI (gems, jewelry and magic only)

Special Abilities: Like pixies, rhyme stealers are invisible unless they choose to be seen (or they are magically spotted). They can attack and remain invisible, and will always gain surprise unless they have already made themselves known with their singing and taunting. Their dissonant song has the effect of a blight spell within a 30' range, i.e. -1 to morale, attack rolls and damage. Their bite does only 1 point of damage but those who fail to save versus poison are cursed. Typical victims are cursed with warts and boils all over the face (-4 to Charisma), loss of control over speaking volume (affecting the victim's ability to whisper while scouting or to yell out a warning, for example), or phantom bells and laughter echoing in the victim's ears (-4 to hit, magic-users must save vs. spells to successfully cast spells).

SEE ALSO: Petra Werle's fairy sculptures, in particular the marvelous Histoire(s) naturelle(s) series. Piskies and bogans like this or these do much to dispel the gauze of cuteness usually draped over fairy folk.


ktrey said...

Excellent Critter there! Mocking and turning the singer's song against them would be really fun from the DM point of view, and a rude shock for the party.

Now if only I could convince one of my players to play a bard...

trollsmyth said...

Very nice! I'll likely combine the two versions for my Moldvay/Cook/LL hack.

Thanks again!

- Brian

Max said...

KTrey: What ruleset are you running? Is it RC, as you've been featuring at d4 Caltrops? Is there a bard in there?

The main reason my two versions aren't closer is that I wasn't sure if there was a BECMI/Labyrinth Lord compatible version of the bard. As posted, I altered the rhyme stealer to make it an interesting foe even to parties without a bard.

Trollsmyth: Cool, if you do use it I'd love to hear what you come up with!

ktrey said...

@max: Right now I have eight players on two teams winding through what's turned into a four year 3rd Edition campaign. Some of them have played OD&D (during the Gygax memorial game I threw) and seemed to like it. I've always had an idea for a Classic D&D Bard on the back burner though...