Wandering Monsters: Turned To Stone

Wandering Monsters
Turned To Stone

By James Wyatt

Sometimes adventurers end up as so much statuary. This week, James writes about those creatures that can cause a player character to meet such a fate.

Talk about this column here.

Fairest of Them All

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

I expect some controversy over that last point. One of the things that we've been thinking a lot about is that we are creating—and facilitating the creation of—fantasy worlds. The monsters of D&D aren't races of aliens in a sci-fi setting. They don't all need to have logical biology.



Very much agree with that last point . Many of the more dangerous monsters of D&D were built with the mindset of creating villains, hostile characters for the PCs to surpass; an explainable and functioning "ecology" is not required to merit such a character's (reiterate: not just any creature's) existence. It strains the suspension of disbelief to imagine how any human civilization could have any chance surviving a world where they're neighbored by entire societies filled with hostile supervillains possesed of superior intelligence and great mystical powers (beholders, mind-flayers, yuanti, and the aforementioned medusa come to mind).

It's okay to have curses or specific sorceries as the origin of some monsters, but it's easy to take that too far and just ignore the perfectly reasonable questions that some people might raise. The more unique origins there are out in the world, the less significant any of them become; most monsters should just be mundane beings, or else you end up with the Forgotten Realms and I can't take any of it seriously anymore.
The metagame is not the game.
It's okay to have curses or specific sorceries as the origin of some monsters, but it's easy to take that too far and just ignore the perfectly reasonable questions that some people might raise. The more unique origins there are out in the world, the less significant any of them become; most monsters should just be mundane beings, or else you end up with the Forgotten Realms and I can't take any of it seriously anymore.



i agree and they are doing another cataclysm to fix what the last one did  and with novel support haha
It's okay to have curses or specific sorceries as the origin of some monsters, but it's easy to take that too far and just ignore the perfectly reasonable questions that some people might raise. The more unique origins there are out in the world, the less significant any of them become; most monsters should just be mundane beings, or else you end up with the Forgotten Realms and I can't take any of it seriously anymore.



That's true as well. We shouldn't expect the default world to look like the Marvel universe, where the world is littered with disparate superheros/villains and you can come across one at a random intersection by chance. There's a certain balance to all this.

Still, I draw the line at incredible latent magic abilities and superintelligence. A race of such creatures would have a much more profound effect on the world than usually depicted.

I know everybody is sick of talking about it, but I still intensely dislike reading about single-sex creatures that have no good reason to be single-sexed. I have zero trouble imagining a male medusas, though this is where things get a bit muddy, as D&D actually does have a tradition of sexual dimorphism here (as opposed to sexual exclusivity).

That aside, I don't know of the "Gorgons" as depicted here having any traction. I'd rather they be scrapped or renamed, with the Medusa species being renamed as the Gorgon species and "Medusa" returning to being the name of one specific Gorgon.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
* Basilik means "little king" because it head a mitre- or crown-shaped crest.

I imagine basilik like a "pokemon" linked to defiler magic from Dark Sun, with a natural enemy, the weasel (beast linked to sorcery) who eats a "mutant" ruta/rue plant flower. 

The oil got by that ruta can be used like ingredient to create a potion that give save bonus againt pretrifying effects

If basilik can eat petrified preys.. why hunt when ordinary stones can be eated? Maybe petrifaction is a temporal effect, only the necesary time to give a poisonious bite.

For dark night, when basilisk can´t see....can be hunted because its powers is less dangerous? 

Can petrifitied a earth half-elemental (template from "Manual of the planes") creature or humanoid? If it is inmune, it could hunt basilisks, couldn´t it?



The basilisk from real world.


The dracolisk.

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I think the cockatrice powers is at will active, I meant it only is used when cockatrice wanted it, because it doesn´t wish petryfiying its preys.

I imagine a lesser version like a magic pet (only a soft power of temporal paralitation). 

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The D&D gorgon (=dreadful) is linked to the khalkotauroi (=bronze bull).

* I would like a modular monster stats system, to change special attacks. I would like their powers could be replaced easily by weaker or more powerfuls (or a variant like psionic) with the right alteration of XPs value.

* Medusa means "guardian". They can be the protectress of temples and sacred places, like a curse and divine punishment or vengeanze, or a victim of yuan-ti´s experiments...

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

I like single sex races and races with magical origins.  The assumption that races must produce sexually is unnecessary.  I'm not happy with the medusa being described as a single creature although giving each one its own background is fine.  I'm fine with minotaurs being a race born of a curse.  And weren't cockatrices born from magical cockerels eggs in myth?
It's okay to have curses or specific sorceries as the origin of some monsters, but it's easy to take that too far and just ignore the perfectly reasonable questions that some people might raise. The more unique origins there are out in the world, the less significant any of them become; most monsters should just be mundane beings, or else you end up with the Forgotten Realms and I can't take any of it seriously anymore.

It depends on whether you are designing your own campaign with only 6 adventurers where it is not too weird if they meet all 10 unique monsters or when designing a setting that might need to design hundreds to cover all potential regions ;) Mind you, I fail to see how the FR is weird because of its unique monsters, or do you mean that there are way too many different races and monsters in that setting?

Personally I find the comparison with SF a bit funny. Magical creation of a creature is no different then genetic modification, and as such there really is no difference between the two. Also, the biggest reason for me to have unique monsters like a medusa is that from a world forming logic they make a lot more sense as a somewhat unique being caused through magic (whether as a curse, or ritual). It saves you from adding all kinds of details to explain why the race has not yet dominated the world or destroyed the ecology.

In my own campaign world I use magic from the planes that sometimes infuse creatures that come into close contact with it as the most common reason for the appearance of "magical" monsters (borowing both from Eberron's manifestation zones, and the Storytell setting fomorians). You can have hundreds of different magical creatures, from dire wolves to basalisks and from shambling mounts to werewolves, but all with the same origin. There is an organization that specializes in hunting down these things before they do permanent damage to society (and tracking down manifestation zones either to close them or permanently guard them).

As for gorgons, never liked the idea of iron plated bulls whose breath could petrify ;)

I expect some controversy over that last point. One of the things that we've been thinking a lot about is that we are creating—and facilitating the creation of—fantasy worlds. The monsters of D&D aren't races of aliens in a sci-fi setting. They don't all need to have logical biology.



This I disagree with. Fantasy worlds ought to obey certain rules. They needn't be realistic or foolproof rules, but they need to be consistent. Otherwise, the world is revealed to be a sham, and players and DMs have no hope of making sense of it all.

Perhaps medusas are not born from mother medusas, like other humanoids. That's fine, but I want some explanation for their continued existence. Let's say it's a curse. If a medusa curse exists, then I want to ask more questions--what spell level is that curse? Who casts it: wizards or clerics? Can the curse be removed, and if so, how? Does the medusa want it removed, or has it learned to live with its condition, or does it not have a choice? Perhaps turning people to stone somehow sustains the medusa, and if she is left without victims, it will shrivel and die. In other words, why does the medusa do what it does? Are there male medusas? If not, why not? Perhaps they exist, but only in small numbers because 95% of males die during the transformation process, thus a male medusa would make an excellent trophy for the girl who has everything...

Answer those questions, and the medusa has suddenly become a real part of the world. An evil player could acquire the spell and turn his enemies into loyal medusas. Another player may want to find a way to redeem a medusa and quest for the cure. An NPC medusa might employ good PCs in a quest for the perfect mate. Any of that is much more interesting than "she was born from an evil monster mom and likes turning people to stone, so go kill her."

I liked that certain 3E treasure charts included manuals of golem construction. I like when monsters had access to certain monster feats (flyby attack!) that reflected their role in battle yet meshed with the game system. I like when the description of monster habitats can give inspiration for a quest.

TL;DR: Deus ex machina explanations for monster origins is lame. Fantasy worlds need good hooks to draw players in, but they also need to obey consistent rules. Good rules can be inspired by monster ecology and monster ambitions.
The classic myths can totally different of D&D canon.

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Undeads can´t be petrificied, can they?...can ghouls try hunt cockatrices? 

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I have got a new crazy idea...what is worse that being turned into stone? Being turned into a zombie. Don´t worry, I am not talking about zombies medusas..(what about a half-vampire/dhampire medusa who snake hairs who drink blood?) but the petrificied victims being used like petrislaves, stone slaves..(like a statue with spell antimate construct). They wouldn´t be undead but living constructs. Why meduses would create stone slaves? Because their victims´souls are caught within, like batteries to get arcane energy, residium, maná (do you rebember matrix?)... and because some slaves have got enough intelligence to be romantic parnents..  

 Other option is meduses are linked to a renegade yuan-ti cult. The meduses would be "blessed" priestess ruling a cryptocrazy (secret goverment, or power behind the throne), and some medusas´ daughters would be (technically yuan-ti humanoid) spies or secret agents..

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I like the idea of monster template of alternative shape.. it could be like summoning a monster, but the monster can change to a normal humanoid shape...do you rebember the aliens living hidden among humanos in the Men in Black franchise?



Medusa Incognito, picture from "Urban Arcana" art gallery.


Picture from d20 Modern.



Medusa (Ultimate marvel universe).


 



Gorgon (Adonis Bal) from DC 

and don´t forget that boy from Monster High. 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

I know that there's almost no chance of this happening, but is there any way we can fix D&D's Gorgon nomenclature? I normally don't get too worked up about what things are called, but "Gorgon" is a sufficiently well-known term, and it's a sufficiently well-known term for not a weird metal stone-sneeze bull. We don't even have to change what Medusas are called; keep calling them Medusas. I'm fine with that. But it's weird to have a specific creature type name that's fairly resonant and then to use it to refer to something else. Heck, give it a name that's close to Gorgon in the alphabet so it'll still be there when people try to look it up. It just seems like something that we might as well fix at some point.
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I expect some controversy over that last point. One of the things that we've been thinking a lot about is that we are creating—and facilitating the creation of—fantasy worlds. The monsters of D&D aren't races of aliens in a sci-fi setting. They don't all need to have logical biology.



Very much agree with that last point . Many of the more dangerous monsters of D&D were built with the mindset of creating villains, hostile characters for the PCs to surpass; an explainable and functioning "ecology" is not required to merit such a character's (reiterate: not just any creature's) existence. It strains the suspension of disbelief to imagine how any human civilization could have any chance surviving a world where they're neighbored by entire societies filled with hostile supervillains possesed of superior intelligence and great mystical powers (beholders, mind-flayers, yuanti, and the aforementioned medusa come to mind).




True they all don't need to have logical biology, origons, and eology. But 90% of the montrous humaniods and super beast don't need to be one-ofs from a curse or mutation. My created setting has a quartet of medusa, a whole race of medium sized minotaurs, and a single giant beholder.

But there are ways to suspend disbelief of supervillians in the darks. Afterall Default D&D has not 1 but 2 areas where nothing but evil creatures and their spellcaster masters reside: the 666 Layers of the Abyss and the 9 Hells of Baator. We always have to make up an escuse why they can't just teleport to the Material Plane and start the End of the Wolrd Battle.

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The D&D bullish Gorgon is actually a classical gorgon/khalkotauroi hybrid.

Count me among those who think it should be renamed something more evocative and consistent with what it actually is.

Gorgon illicits 'Medusa' in my mind. 

Danny

That aside, I don't know of the "Gorgons" as depicted here having any traction. I'd rather they be scrapped or renamed, with the Medusa species being renamed as the Gorgon species and "Medusa" returning to being the name of one specific Gorgon.

Yeah, I wonder how the gorgon of D&D came to be developed, cuz it certainly doesn't come close to the actual myth. I would love to see at least a sidebar following your suggestions.

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The D&D bullish Gorgon is actually a classical gorgon/khalkotauroi hybrid.

Count me among those who think it should be renamed something more evocative and consistent with what it actually is.

Gorgon illicits 'Medusa' in my mind. 

In all fairness, khalkotauroi is a crappy name in my opinion ;)

If basilik can eat petrified preys.. why hunt when ordinary stones can be eated? Maybe petrifaction is a temporal effect, only the necesary time to give a poisonious bite.

I thought the same thing when I read the article. Would be better if the gaze was a defence mechanism rather than a precursor to dinner -- or, rather than truly petrify, just stun into immobility -- since it's so slow, it would have to have a way to cause its prey to not run away from it.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

Or the rock dissolves into flesh inside the basilisk's stomach acids.
Mostly good stuff. The idea of the Medusa not being a race but rather a specific curse is interesting, and I actually think D&D needs more of that. A magical world or a world with active classical gods should have such creatures. The only problem is that Medusa are fairly well known and used a bit to widely for it to be easy to make them a unique curse. There might have to be some compromise where Medusa are both created and can reproduce under certain circumstances.

As a side note, if Medusa are a specific curse that might be used on anybody, then they shouldn't come with an assumed alignment. If the gods usually curse those that are evil or being cursed drives them to be evil, then they could be listed as "any usually evil" or such. For sentient creatures the game needs to find a good way describe creatures that lean towards one alignment but are not always of that alignment. I also noticed that Medusa are listed as "Medium Monstrosity" rather then medium abberation. Is that a small change in terminology, random article quirk or is there some distinction between abberation and monstrosity?

The article ignores the deeper question of mechanics. How does turn to stone work and how can it be remedied? Save or die, multiple saves, stages of effect? Is it permanent or temporary? This is an important question in general, but very important on the Cockatrice. The Cockatrice is low enough level that parties running into one probably won't have stone to flesh available to them. Balancing the mechanics of instant death attacks is tricky.

"The monsters of D&D aren't races of aliens in a sci-fi setting. They don't all need to have logical biology. "

I have been waiting to hear this from designers for a long time.  I find often the logical biology that writers try to ascribe to a creature fails when taken in context with the environment where the creature is found.  The D&D monsters can exist in strange environments because they are magical.  No need to make feeble attempts to describe a logical biology which usually upon analysis is just as illogical as "Magic did it."

A thank you from the biologists in the hobby.
CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
I expect some controversy over that last point. One of the things that we've been thinking a lot about is that we are creating—and facilitating the creation of—fantasy worlds. The monsters of D&D aren't races of aliens in a sci-fi setting. They don't all need to have logical biology.



Very much agree with that last point . Many of the more dangerous monsters of D&D were built with the mindset of creating villains, hostile characters for the PCs to surpass; an explainable and functioning "ecology" is not required to merit such a character's (reiterate: not just any creature's) existence. It strains the suspension of disbelief to imagine how any human civilization could have any chance surviving a world where they're neighbored by entire societies filled with hostile supervillains possesed of superior intelligence and great mystical powers (beholders, mind-flayers, yuanti, and the aforementioned medusa come to mind).



D&D exists in a magical world.  With all of the lore of creation from gods and creation from magic the biology does not need to make sense.  We live in a world where biology makes sense because everything evolved from a common ancenstor and every living organism has self replicating DNA, or other form of Nucleic acid.

The D&D World does not share a common genetic mechanism (If genetics even plays into origin:  Are Orcs and Humans the same?  They have to be if we can get a half orc.  By extension, if Half Elves exist, then Orcs, humans, and elves are all members of the same species, because Half elves and Half orcs both can reproduce.)

As a scientist, I would claim for D&D the best explanation is BECAUSE it is magic.  So often what one considers a "rational" explanation for monsters is only rational on the surface.  Upon further discussion, in context of the monster's environent, it is soon discovered the rational explanation fails, and "Magic made it" is better.

The Force from Star Wars never needed a scientific explanation.  People were turned off by mediclorions in Phantom Menace because there was now an attempt to rationalize the Force.  Star Wars ceased to be a magical universe and became one explained by poor science.

The medusa is a classical mythical monster.  These monsters in the article were created at a time of Myth when science was inadequate to explain the world.  D&D codified them into the monster manual.  Asking the monsters to be "rational" is like demanding people that study the classics to give an explanation for the myths.

Rational explanations are not needed, often done insufficiently, and they break the paradigm of the fantasy world.
CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
How well does the basilisk described here match with your sense of the iconic D&D creature?
Yeah, I recognize that as a basilisk.

How well does the cockatrice described here match with your sense of the iconic D&D creature?
Yeah, I recognize that as a cockatrice.

How well does the gorgon described here match with your sense of the iconic D&D creature?
I have breathed deep of the gorgon and been turned to stone.

And finally, do you think I’m crazy with the whole “only one medusa” thing? 
Yes, you’re crazy, and I want to see the maedar too! 

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter



If basilik can eat petrified preys.. why hunt when ordinary stones can be eated? Maybe petrifaction is a temporal effect, only the necesary time to give a poisonious bite.

For dark night, when basilisk can´t see....can be hunted because its powers is less dangerous? 

Can petrifitied a earth half-elemental (template from "Manual of the planes") creature or humanoid? If it is inmune, it could hunt basilisks, couldn´t it?




I think there are tons of answers a DM can come up with for all of this.  I don't think that needs to be codified.  That is one thing that drives me nuts about Pathfinder, they feel they have to make rational explanations for everything.

For the first point:  Maybe the Basilisk can only eat stone with Life force in it. 

Dark night?  Gaze attack from the eyes.  Or maybe the DM wants to rule the PC's have to SEE.

Petrified creatures immune?  If you go with my first explanation than they are even worse off, because they are stone with life force in it already, so the basilisk wo0uld activiely hunt them.



CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
As a scientist, I would claim for D&D the best explanation is BECAUSE it is magic.  So often what one considers a "rational" explanation for monsters is only rational on the surface.  Upon further discussion, in context of the monster's environent, it is soon discovered the rational explanation fails, and "Magic made it" is better.

Using "A wixard did it" as a rational too often is bad also. The problem is that if everyting is arbitary magic (random magic storm, god's curse, insane wizard, whatever) then there is no logic and consistency to the world. That greatly limits the characters and players ability to plan or think ahead, they just have to deal with everything as it turns up. That gets in the way of running campaigns with long term story arcs or where players/characters are actually trying to control events. Not everything in a magical world needs a rational explanation, but the game can't just resort to arbitrary events all the time either.

Yes, you’re crazy, and I want to see the maedar too! 



Yes I have nice memories of the medar our Dm used one as a enemy.
He posed as a sculpter selling realy life like statues of creatures to the city ( monsters turned to stone my medusas) then one night started to revert them all to their natural frorm using them as a distraction to steal a powerful relic that was kept in a temple in the city.
 
As a scientist, I would claim for D&D the best explanation is BECAUSE it is magic.  So often what one considers a "rational" explanation for monsters is only rational on the surface.  Upon further discussion, in context of the monster's environent, it is soon discovered the rational explanation fails, and "Magic made it" is better.

Using "A wixard did it" as a rational too often is bad also. The problem is that if everyting is arbitary magic (random magic storm, god's curse, insane wizard, whatever) then there is no logic and consistency to the world. That greatly limits the characters and players ability to plan or think ahead, they just have to deal with everything as it turns up. That gets in the way of running campaigns with long term story arcs or where players/characters are actually trying to control events. Not everything in a magical world needs a rational explanation, but the game can't just resort to arbitrary events all the time either.



I agree with this as well.  Mostly what I am addressing is monster origins.  Maybe beasts and natural creatures should all be beholden to our biological ideas.  A griffon though?  A medusa?  How do we reconsile the impossibility of a dragon?  A dragon as described in D&D is not consistent with reptile metabolism.  Once we start scientifically rationalizing the dragon we need to address their metabolism.  How does a white dragon exist in cold.  Or a remorhaz?

I am opposed to the arbitrary rationalization that leads to other factors needing to be rationalized.  IF we do that, then nothing makes sense.

If Dragons are reptiles the D&D artists are drawing them wrong.  Legs would be squat like an alligator, not upright like a warm blooded creature.  (Dinosaurs are questioned as to whether they were cold blooded because of their structure for example).  The spiral goes on and on.




CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
As a scientist, I would claim for D&D the best explanation is BECAUSE it is magic.  So often what one considers a "rational" explanation for monsters is only rational on the surface.  Upon further discussion, in context of the monster's environent, it is soon discovered the rational explanation fails, and "Magic made it" is better.

Using "A wixard did it" as a rational too often is bad also. The problem is that if everyting is arbitary magic (random magic storm, god's curse, insane wizard, whatever) then there is no logic and consistency to the world. That greatly limits the characters and players ability to plan or think ahead, they just have to deal with everything as it turns up. That gets in the way of running campaigns with long term story arcs or where players/characters are actually trying to control events. Not everything in a magical world needs a rational explanation, but the game can't just resort to arbitrary events all the time either.



Arbitrary events all the time is different then not having a scientific and systematic basis for critters and plants. Face it, in a world of devils, demons, gods, and dragons the genetics which might not even exist in D&D land become a non-factor. No classic dungeon environment or adventure could exist if rational real-world ecology and logistics were taken into account.


Arbitrary events all the time is different then not having a scientific and systematic basis for critters and plants. Face it, in a world of devils, demons, gods, and dragons the genetics which might not even exist in D&D land become a non-factor. No classic dungeon environment or adventure could exist if rational real-world ecology and logistics were taken into account.



Thank you for making my point better than I didWink

CAMRA preserves and protects real ale from the homogenization of modern beer production. D&D Grognards are the CAMRA of D&D!
Lets not forget about these two monsters, they also need love

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Greater Basilisk
The greater basilisk is a larger cousin of the more common reptilian horror, the ordinary basilisk. These monsters are typically used to guard treasure.
Combat: The monster attacks by raising its upper body, striking with sharp claws, and biting with its toothy maw. The claws carry Type K poison (saving throws vs. poison are made with a+4 bonus). Its foul breath is also poisonous, and all creatures, coming within 5 feet of its mouth, even if just for a moment, must roll successful saving throws vs. poison (with a+2 bonus) or die (check each round of exposure).
Even if a polished reflector is used under good lighting conditions, the chance for a greater basilisk to see its own gaze and become petrified is only 10%, unless the reflector is within 10 feet of the creature. (While its gaze weapon is effective to 50 feet, the creature's oddly-shaped eyes are nearsighted and it cannot see its own gaze unless it is within 10 feet.)

Dracolisk
The sages say that the dracolisk is the offspring of a rogue black dragon and a basilisk of the largest size.
The result is a deep brown, dragon-like monster that moves with relative quickness on six legs. It can fly, but only for short periods -- a turn or two at most.
Combat: This horror can attack with its taloned forelegs and deliver vicious bites. In addition, it can spit a stream of acid 5 feet wide and up to 30 feet away. The acid causes 4d6 points of damage, half-damage if a successful saving throw vs. breath weapon is rolled. The dracolisk can spit up to three times per day.
The eyes of a dracolisk can petrify any opponent within 20 feet if the monster's gaze is met. Because its hooded eyes have nictating membranes, the monster is only 10% likely to be affected by its own gaze. Opponents in melee with a dracolisk and seeking to avoid its gaze fight with a -4 penalty to their to attack rolls.



 

In addition, I like how 2e described how the creature functions differently on the Astral and Ethreal plane.  In fact, If I recal the Basilisk was on the Ethreal plane random encounter table.  Turning it to stone with a mirror was also cool

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These reptilian monsters all posses a gaze that enables them to turn any fleshy creature to stone; their gaze extends into the Astral and Ethereal planes.
...

Combat: While it has strong, toothy jaws, the basilisk’s major weapon is its gaze. However, if its gaze is reflected, and it sees its own eyes, it will become petrified itself, but this requires light at least equal to bright torchlight and a good, smooth reflector. In the Astral plane its gaze kills; in the Ethereal plane it turns victims into ethereal stone. These will only be seen by those in the Ethereal plane or who can see ethereal objects.

 


And the Greater Medusa (Serpentine)

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Greater Medusa (Serpentine)
Rare medusae (10%) have serpentine bodies in place of the lower torso and legs. The entire body is covered with fine scales and measures 10 to 20 feet. The poison of these medusae is so deadly that saving throws are made at -1, and they are known to use bows and poisoned arrows. Their blood is so poisonous, in fact, that even after one has been killed, touching its body still requires a saving throw versus poison. They seldom venture far from their lairs, since they are immediately recognizable. Greater medusae have a morale bonus of +1.






The normal Medusa should be more humanoid anyway. It helps the DM surprise those unsuspecting PCs.   I also think the medusa should keep its female only form.  Lets keep the egology of the 2e medusa.  

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Habitat/Society: Medusae dwell in dark caves or the lower regions of large abandoned buildings. They arrange the lighting such that their homes are filled with flickering shadows.
The presence of petrified victims is a sure indicator of the occupant's true nature. For this, aesthetic, and other reasons, the medusa usually removes most of its victims. Those that resemble interesting statues may be retained; the rest are often broken into unrecognizable (and unrevivable) chunks.
The one form of treasure never found in a medusa's lair is a mirror. If a medusa sees its own reflection in a mirror, it turns to stone itself. Reflection in nonmetallic reflectors such as water or polished stone have no such effect. Medusae are immune to the petrifying effect of another medusa.
Medusae are infrequently driven to mate with humanoid males. The act always ends in the male's death, usually by petrification when the medusa reveals its previously hidden visage. Two to six eggs are laid one month later and hatch eight months after that. The female hatchlings appear as baby girls with stubby green tendrils. The hatchlings are revolting to look at but cannot petrify. Medusae grow at the same rate as humans. At about age two the serpentine hair becomes alive and gains its poisonous bite. The medusa can petrify with the onset of adolescence.

 



Medusa being a special creature rather than a member of a race is a great idea, really drives that point about D&D being a game of stories, not world simulation, that was greatly pushed in 4e. There's not much stupider than arguing about a lich controlling a zombie too many because rules are clear on available Hit Dice or swords ending up as better mining tools than pickaxes.
Also, if an evil mage can build golems or raise undead to his linking, why couldn't he curse a woman to be a medusa to do his bidding? Kinda makes him a bit more evil IMO.

The player characters may be mortal, but they're still unusual people, like favored paladins, clerics with divine powers or mighty wizards, not regular lumberjacks or smith helpers. As such they're bound to meet unusal things.
Motto - Don't Damn Me, Guns N' Roses http://adhadh.deviantart.com/ - my dA page adhadh.png
Now we are talking about the classic suspension of disdelief..why dragons can mate lots of different species? why zombie infection has got so short incubation period?

* I imagine petrification effect like freezing (+natural mummification). The chemical composition doesn´t change only the soft tissue becomes rigid like frozen objects (or laminated by a magical embalming). The power need contact with nervous tissue, by means of seing or bitting.

* What if a psionic survive a PG attack by he become a shardmind like secondary effect? (or because the spell stone to flesh failed) 

* I think basilisk are manavivores, they need maná or residium, magic energy, and they would rather zones with arcane radioactivity who would poison most of other living beings. The basilisks can live within zones of dead magic, but the PG is weaker, maybe almost innofensive.  

* If some plants could become earth half-elemental....basikilisk could eat them?

* Could a link between basilisks and defiler magic be possible? 

* If a humanoid is petrified by magic... could his item be got or stolen?  

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

Medusa being a special creature rather than a member of a race is a great idea, really drives that point about D&D being a game of stories, not world simulation, that was greatly pushed in 4e. There's not much stupider than arguing about a lich controlling a zombie too many because rules are clear on available Hit Dice or swords ending up as better mining tools than pickaxes.
Also, if an evil mage can build golems or raise undead to his linking, why couldn't he curse a woman to be a medusa to do his bidding? Kinda makes him a bit more evil IMO.

The player characters may be mortal, but they're still unusual people, like favored paladins, clerics with divine powers or mighty wizards, not regular lumberjacks or smith helpers. As such they're bound to meet unusal things.



But what's wrong with having a dungeon level full of medusa?  Seems rather limiting to suggest that the medusa is only ever a special creature.   Regardless, 2e solved this problem by having two types of medusa.


I actually liked the one Medusa thing not because of tradition but because if you have one unique powerful creature Save or Die effects are more palatable and acceptable.
btw, where did this idea of the Basilisk eating its petrified victims come from? 


But what's wrong with having a dungeon level full of medusa?  Seems rather limiting to suggest that the medusa is only ever a special creature.   Regardless, 2e solved this problem by having two types of medusa.


Fill a dungeon with SoD monsters and see how far the party will venture before you're forced to eat your DM screen
Motto - Don't Damn Me, Guns N' Roses http://adhadh.deviantart.com/ - my dA page adhadh.png
I prefer it left open.

A race of manstealing medusaes for who want it.

A race of medusa and medear for who want it.

A singular medusa curse on a female for who want it.

Everyone wins?

My Medusa is the same spellcasting woman who keeps regenerating herself. She breeds true human. But her only child is a sad sad little androgynous human child who writes depressing poetry.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

But what's wrong with having a dungeon level full of medusa?  Seems rather limiting to suggest that the medusa is only ever a special creature.   Regardless, 2e solved this problem by having two types of medusa.


Fill a dungeon with SoD monsters and see how far the party will venture before you're forced to eat your DM screen



I'd kill them off with joy in my heart if they don't fight blind or use spells like Gaze Reflection. 


But what's wrong with having a dungeon level full of medusa?  Seems rather limiting to suggest that the medusa is only ever a special creature.   Regardless, 2e solved this problem by having two types of medusa.


Fill a dungeon with SoD monsters and see how far the party will venture before you're forced to eat your DM screen



I'd kill them off with joy in my heart if they don't fight blind or use spells like Gaze Reflection. 


Should have known you're one of those DMs
Motto - Don't Damn Me, Guns N' Roses http://adhadh.deviantart.com/ - my dA page adhadh.png
In all fairness, khalkotauroi is a crappy name in my opinion ;)

It's quite a mouth full, I agree.

Danny

Count me in on the "why do basilisks only eat petrified victims instead of rocks" question.  I don't recall that from previous descriptions, seems kind of odd.  i don't have a problem with it, just wondering what's the difference between a regular-rock and a used-to-be-a-person-rock.

As for the medusa single/plural question, I'll do whatever my campaign needs regardless of what's "official", so it doesn't make much difference to me.  I voted "you can't guess."  If there's only one and she's a super-villain, then awesome.  If there's several of them, maybe a minor race, then awesome.  If there are maedar, fine, I've never found a good excuse to use them though (ymmv).  I love me some fluff, but I also have no problem changing it if it doesn't suit my needs.

sidenote: I really like the idea above about selling statues then bringing them back to life as a cover for a crime, mind if I borrow it? 

What I didn't notice was any mention of how to un-petrify someone who's been turned by each of these creatures.  That's something I would like to see, particularly if it's something different for each of them.  Because once Jim-Bob the Barbarian stumbles into a nest of cockatrices and gets himself stoned, Jim-Bob's going to want to know how to undo that.
A unique medusa at this point makes less sense then a unique minotaur at this point. Being the offspring of a pair of dieties is more likely to have siblings such as the Gorgons and other undocumented siblings then a minotaur which iirc was created when a divine bull thing and a woman mated. 

Relatively iconic monsters being unique is slightly problematic, imo, for low and mid range characters.