Lore for Invisible Stalkers, Lamias, Medusas, and Mind Flayers
If you've been reading the recent supplements for the D&D game, you've probably noticed that a new bit of formatting has become the norm when new monsters are provided: the Lore sidebar. This handy item takes the guesswork out of what a character (as opposed to the player) knows about a given creature and rewards those characters with ranks in the appropriate Knowledge skill. Over the course of the next few installments, we'll provide Knowledge check results for a variety of monsters, starting with some of the most iconic that lack this sidebar in the Monster Manual.
In this installment, we'll tackle a few classic mastermind monsters, including the lamia, medusa, and mind flayer. But first, the see-through invisible stalker!
Invisible Stalker Lore
These strange beings from the Elemental Plane of Air most commonly serve as summoned assassins and guardians. Remarkably intelligent for elementals, invisible stalkers track their prey with single-minded purpose. Needless to say, you won't be finding a D&D Miniature of an invisible stalker any time soon . . .
A Peek Behind the Rules Curtain
So how do designers determine the Difficulty Class for Knowledge checks about creatures? The following is excerpted from Monster Manual IV:
The description of the Knowledge skill indicates that in general, the baseline DC of checks to identify monsters and remember one bit of useful information about their special powers or vulnerabilities is equal to 10 + the monster's HD. Every 5 points by which the check result exceeds the DC yields another useful piece of information (PH 78).
As a general rule of thumb, a DC 15 check or higher will reveal all of the base creature's type and subtype traits as defined in the glossary. This often includes information about energy resistance or various immunities. For instance, a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals that dragons have high hit points (12-sided HD), all good saves, and have darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. They eat, sleep, and breathe.
Information specific to the creature, such as its type of damage resistance, spell-like abilities, or immunities come with the high DC check results.
Knowledge (the Planes)
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about invisible stalkers. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.
15 This disturbance of air is actually an invisible stalker. This reveals all elemental traits and the air subtype.
20 Invisible stalkers are so named because they have natural invisibility, remaining so even when they attack. Their attack is a powerful buffet of wind. See invisibility reveals a dim outline while true seeing shows a roiling cloud of vapor.
25 Invisible stalkers are consummate trackers and can spot even the tiniest of tracks. They can follow complex orders, but resent lengthy missions or complex tasks, which they try to distort as much as they can.
30 Invisibility purge has no effect on invisible stalkers.
Spiteful and sadistic, lamias live in order to cause misery in others. They are consummate liars and experts at setting deadly ambushes. Lamias are intelligent, and slippery, enough so that foes have a hard time finding out correct information about them -- a lamia might go out of its way to sow misinformation to throw adventurers off its trail.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about lamias. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.
15 This centaurlike cross between a human and a lion is a lamia. This reveals all magical beast traits.
20 Lamias are wicked and cruel beings that exist just to cause misery in others. They set up elaborate traps and ambushes to lure in potential victims.
25 The touch of a lamia drains Wisdom from its victims. They try to use this power early on to make foes more susceptible to mind-affecting effects, such as charm monster and suggestion.
30 Lamias can employ charm monster, deep slumber, disguise self, major image, mirror image, suggestion, and ventriloquism as spell-like abilities.
The insidious medusa often serves as a criminal mastermind or dastardly lieutenant to more powerful creatures. Despite their awful appearance, medusas possess high Charisma scores, making them smooth-tongued liars and dealmakers. Remember that while players may be fully aware of the medusa's stony gaze, their characters may not.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about medusas. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.
16 This horrific humanoid is a medusa. This reveals all monstrous humanoid traits.
21 The gaze of a medusa turns its victims permanently into stone.
26 Medusas have snakes for hair that inflict powerful poison when they successfully bite.
31 Medusas are skilled at lying and keeping their appearance hidden. They use these skills to lure victims into believing the situation is safe before using their abilities.
Mind Flayer Lore
The dreaded mind flayer has been a favorite (and hated) enemy of players for decades. Highly intelligent, motivated, and possessing powerful abilities, most players cringe at the thought of facing one in combat. Characters are wise to do the same or at least find out as much as they can about these foul aberrations before rushing into combat.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about mind flayers. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.
15 This tentacle-faced creature is a mind flayer, also known as an illithid. This reveals all aberration traits.
20 Mind flayers are so named for their ability to produce a powerful mind blast that stuns creatures. They commonly enslave sentient creatures to use as slave labor, chattel, or both.
25 Mind flayers subsist on the brains of sentient beings. Their facial tentacles can grapple with an opponent and extract the brain in mere moments.
30 Mind flayers can use their psionic ability to use the following as spell-like abilities: charm monster, detect thoughts, levitate, plane shift, and suggestion.
Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and Player's Handbook.
About the Author
Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Races of Destiny, and Monster Manual III. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Green Ronin Publishing, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle, where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.