October 21, 2010

Karax nee Karalel

You've betrayed Shiva and/or Orcus!

I am convinced that Karalel, the dreaded villain of 4E's debut Keep on the Shadowfell, is based off of Mola Ram of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

The evidence is overwhelming.

With that in mind, I wanted to revamp Karalel's stats to do a little more justice to one of the coolest enemies that Indy has had to stare down. The first step was to rename him. I felt that Karalel, with three (!) syllables is far too difficult. And then the double-L, it's just hard on the tongue. I opted for something somewhat similar, Karax, and with a nice hard X at the end. The X is for evil. Next, I stepped his level down a notch. As an 8th level elite, as written, he's just too hard to his for most groups (who are presumably at 3rd level) to take. A lot of frustration and boredom came out of adventuring groups just waiting to see how long it took before they could roll a 15+ just to hit this guy. Next, I adjusted the stats based on the new MM3 guidelines. Finally, I took a page from the Mindflayer Mastermind, normally an 18th level Elite Controller from the Monster Manual. The mindflayer has an ability to eat a PC's brain, killing the PC instantly. I felt like that could really play well to represent the mechanics of Mola Ram/Karax/Karalel ripping Indiana Jones' heart out of his chest. While I certainly didn't slavishly recreate a mindflayer at a lower level, but many of the abilities of the mind flayer have been reflavored and repurposed for our dread cult leader. Enjoy!

Karax                                                                    Level 5 Elite Controller
Medium natural humanoid, human                                                  XP 400
HP 138; Bloodied 69                                                                  Initiative +3
AC 19; Fortitude 18, Reflex 17, Will 19                             Perception +7
Speed 5
Saving Throws +2                                                               Action Points 1

O Whispering Prayers (psychic) + Aura 1                                               
Karax whispers the prayers to Orcus, sustaining his ritual. An enemy starting its turn in the aura takes 5 psychic damage.

STANDARD ACTIONS                                                                                
M Black Hand of Doom (necrotic) + At-Will                                              
Attack (one creature): Melee 1; +8 vs. AC
Hit: 1d8 + 5 necrotic damage, and the target is grabbed (until escape).
m Kali Ma! + At-Will                                                                                        
Requirement: Must target a grabbed, immobilized or stunned creature
Attack (one creature): Melee 1; +8 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d8 + 10 damage, and the target is stunned (save ends). If this power reduces the target to 0 hit points or fewer, Karax tears out the target’s still beating heart. The target is killed instantly, and Karax regains 17 hit points.
c Dread Curse (psychic) + Recharge 56                                                      
Attack: Close blast 5 (each enemy in blast); +8 vs. Will
Hit: 1d10 + 7 psychic damage, and the target is dazed (save ends).
Miss: Half damage.
r Enslave (charm) + Recharge when a target saves out of this condition
Ranged 10; +8 vs. Will; the target is dominated (save ends). While dominated, the target is immune to dread curse and gains a +2 bonus to all defenses while within 10 squares of Karax.
a Grasping Black Claw of Orcus (necrotic) + Recharge 56                    
Attack: Area burst 1 within 10 (each creature in burst); +8 vs. Will
Hit: 1d10 + 7 damage, and the target takes ongoing 5 necrotic damage and is immobilized (save ends both).
IMMEDIATE ACTIONS                                                                                
Contingency (teleportation) + Encounter                                                   
Trigger: Karax is first bloodied.
Effect (free action): Karax teleports to a square adjacent to the Black Portal.
Skills Religion +12                                                                                        
Str 18 (+6)     Dex 12 (+3)    Wis 21 (+7)                                                      
Con 21 (+7)    Int 15 (+4)      Cha 17 (+5)                                                     
Alignment Evil                           Languages Common, Draconic, Goblin


  1. Really ought to give [Kali Ma] a save vs. death. It's a little strong, IMO.

  2. Thanks for reading! Although I must disagree with you both in an academic sense and in practice.

    On paper, 'Kali Ma!' is modeled exactly after the Mind Flayer's 'Extract Brain' ability, scaled down for Karax's level. If it's good enough for WotC, it's good enough for me!

    In actual practice, when I ran this for my group, I found the power to be a bit UNDERwhelming. It hurt and did some damage, but having a grabbed requirement means that the dungeoneers end up having ample time to wriggle their way out of Karax's grasp.