Friday, April 26, 2019

Monster Manual II: Pyrolisk

You might be familiar with the term "palette swap" -- taking a character or creature, usually in a video game, and changing its colors and stats to make a "new" one. Sometimes it's incredibly cheesy, but done right, it can be pretty awesome. The pyrolisk, a palette swap of the more familiar cockatrice, is pretty awesome.

The MMII describes the pyrolisk as nearly identical to its petrifying cousin, except for a single red feather in its tail plumage and a reddish cast to its wings. Unlike the turn-to-stone touch of the cockatrice, the pyrolisk has a gaze attack that causes opponents to burst into flames from the inside! Instead of a statue of yourself, you end up as a charred corpse. It also has the ability to cause fire sources nearby to explode into fireworks, as the spell pyrotechnics, which has no analog in B/X -- a power certainly worth translating if you can imagine the party's torches and lanterns going off like Roman candles!

Besides an interesting change-up of an otherwise familiar creature, that single red tail feather could be a prime ingredient of fire-based magical items or new spells, making an encounter with pyrolisks a potentially lucrative enterprise rather than something to reflexively run away from.

You can't see it here, but one of his feathers is definitely red.

My B/X pyrolisk would look something like this:

Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4+1**
Move: 90' (30')
     Flying: 180' (60')
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1-6
No. Appearing: 1-3 (1-4)
Save As: Fighter:4
Morale: 7
Treasure Type: D
Alignment: Neutral

Nearly identical to the cockatrice except for a reddish cast to its wings and a single red feather in its tail, the pyrolisk has a gaze that can cause a creature to burst into flames from within, killing it instantly unless a saving throw vs. death ray is made. On a successful save, the victim takes 2d6 points of damage. Any creature resistant to fire, such as from a spell or ring, is immune to the gaze attack, and an individual may only be affected once by the gaze of a particular pyrolisk. The gaze can be avoided in the usual manner, though the pyrolisk is not affected by its own reflection. If not using its gaze attack, it can cause a fire source within sight to explode into a shower of flame and sparks 10 times its original size, inflicting 1-6 points of damage to everyone within the explosion radius, after which the fire is extinguished. Pyrolisks are immune to all fire damage, normal or magical.

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