Wingless Wonder

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Wingless Wonder
Climate/Terrain:Any except arcticAny
Frequency:Very rareRare
Organization:Solitary or mated pairSolitary
Activity Cycle:AnyAny
Intelligence:Low (5-7)As previously possessed
Treasure:Q×4Any (likely Nil)
Alignment:Chaotic neutralAs previously possessed
No. Appearing:1-21
Armor Class:88
Movement:6, Sw 46, Sw 4
Hit Dice:2+2As previously possessed
No. of Attacks:1010
Damage/Attack:2-8/1 ×92-8/1 ×9
Special Attacks:Psionic blast, wild magicSee below
Special Defenses:Anti-Magic ShellNil
Magic Resistance:90%90%
Size:S (4' tall)S (4' tall)
Morale:Fearless (19)As previously possessed
XP Value:975Varies

The alkada, or “wingless wonder”, is a comical beast that resembles a walking egg (which it has also been called). It stands rather unsteadily on two weak legs that end in rubbery, sticky pads, and has two small arms, which it flaps constantly; hence its most popular name. The only sound it can make is a high-pitched chittering.

Wonders are blue-green in color, with purplish undersides. They redden slightly when angry or excited. A wonder's mouth is atop its head, surrounded by nine tentacles (old tales and records suggest that there was once a related species that had twelve tentacles - and additional powers not possessed by wonders today).

These pitifully clumsy, waddling misfits of nature are often more deadly than they appear. Many of them are in reality far more powerful, transformed creatures - such as high-level wizards.

Combat: Wingless wonders are curious, shortsighted (10' or so effective vision and infravision), and seemingly fearless. They wander through life feeling along everything they come into contact with, employing their mouth-fringe of nine rubbery, retractile tentacles.

A wonder's tentacles are 2 to 12 feet in length, extending or shortening as it desires, and serve to handle food and to aid the wonder in moving about. Their ends are rubbery and sticky, able to grasp and hold anything they touch (a Strength of 13 or greater can break a wonder's grip, as can alcohol and oil of slipperiness). Curiously, wonders cannot be held by any sort of webs, or by sovereign glue or viscid globs (produced by the wand of the same name, detailed in FOR2/The Drow of the Underdark), although spells such as entangle do affect them.

A wonder can extrude a bony hook from deep within each tentacle, to grasp struggling food or to slash when fighting off a foe. This does 1 hp of damage. In any round of combat, every tentacle can strike at a foe (or multiple foes, if the wonder is surrounded), twice. The first attack does damage (1 hp per successfullystriking tentacle). The second attack is an attempt to grasp the foe: roll d20 for the target, and d10 for the wonder, adding to the wonder's total the number of tentacles it's using (tentacles engaged against another foe, or holding items, cannot participate). If the target's total is higher, the target tears free of the tentacles; if the wonder's adjusted total is higher, the target is dragged within reach of the wonder's mouth, and automatically bitten (for 2d4 damage). The wonder always releases a target after one bite.

Foes attempting to sever a wonder's tentacles will find that they have an effective Armor Class of 3 (able to suddenly retract from harm), and one can only be severed if it is dealt 7 hp of damage or more in a single round (total hp damage to tentacles does not matter, except to kill the wonder by damage accumulation).

Wingless wonders radiate a continuous, natural anti-magic shell, that stops all magical attacks inches from their skins. This aura is visible as a faint purple-white faerie fire glow around any wonder that is carrying an egg (developing young inside itself).

This is doubly curious, as wonders seem to be creatures possessing natural “wild” magic. Once per day, a wonder can unleash a random minor magical effect - akin to the powers unleashed by a wand of wonder. Such an effect will be at the time of a wonder's choosing, but it can't control just what will occur. The magical effect seems to draw power from the anti-magic shell, which flickers and pulses visibly. The round in which the wild magic effect manifests is the only time spells can penetrate the shell, to affect the wonder itself, although foes of a wonder will have to discover this for themselves.

Wonders regenerate naturally, regaining 1 lost hit point every 2 rounds. This healing power does not seem to extend to the delicate, fuzz-covered outer skin of an alkada: it does not heal quickly, and many wonders are bleeding copiously when found, leaving a bloody trail wherever they go. Wonders are immune to damage from all forms and sources of fire.

Wingless wonders also exhibit a permanent, seemingly-unbreakable mind bar. This functions as the telepathic devotion (detailed in PHBR5/The Complete Psionics Handbook), but attempts to engage a wonder in psionic combat always fail; the wonder's mind seems to “slip” away. In similar fashion, magical spells that aim to contact or influence the mind fail when used on a wonder; there is a momentary impression of colorful mental chaos, and then the wonder's mind seems to “slip” away.

The only other psionic activity that a wonder ever exhibits occurs if it is slain: a “dying scream” directed at its killers. This is similar to the mental blast of a mind flayer: it manifests as a cone, aimed by the dying wonder, 60 feet long, 5 feet wide at the base, and 20 feet wide at its end. All creatures in the area of effect must save versus wands at -4 or be confused (as in the wizard spell confusion) for 1d10+2 rounds. They must also save vs. breath weapon or be feebleminded (as the wizard spell). A creature who fails both saves is not mentally affected at all, but is “mind-burnt” for a physical loss of 2d12 hp.

Wonders cannot be stunned or subdued by magical or physical means, and seem mentally unaffected by disasters or great violence occurring around them, chittering and waddling unconcernedly in the midst of a battlefield, or trotting in the heart of an attacking dragon's breath weapon!

Habitat/Society: Despite its seeming host of immunities and special powers, a wonder is easily killed by purely physical means, and wonders are therefore rare in populated areas.

Wonders are always curious, and are attracted to brilliant red or purple colors and flashy objects. They are fascinated by gems; any treasure a wonder carries are gems it has swallowed. These stomach-stones are typically a wide variety of pretty stones, some nearly valueless. Wonders seem to spend most of their time curiously examining things around them, and sampling them to see if they can be eaten.

Wonders are bisexual. Whenever solitary wonders encounter another of their species, the two entwine tentacles and chitter excitedly in chorus for 2 rounds. This appears to be mating contact. Wonders may wander together in mated pairs, but are usually solitary.

Wonders develop eggs within their bodies, excreting them when they are ready to hatch (gestation seems to take 6 or 7 months). An egg falls to the ground as its parent wonder wanders away, ignoring it, and splits open in 1d4 rounds, to reveal a small and even more clumsy (but otherwise fully-developed, having 1+1 HD but all the other statistics of an adult) wonder.

Ecology: Wonders eat mainly fruits and vegetables, although they will devour worms, birds, small animals that stray into the reach of their tentacles, and carrion.

The flesh of a wonder is poisonous (save vs. poison at -1, or take 3d10 points of damage, within 1d4 rounds; if the save is successful, only 1d4 points of damage are suffered, accompanied by a brief, wrenching nausea). Wonders lose their anti-magical properties immediately upon death - and if part of a wonder is cut away from its living body, that part retains no special powers or properties. A Wonder.s skin rots away in 3+1d4 days, but while still intact, it can serve as a cloak protecting (half to no damage, if saving throw successful) against non-magical fire.

Transformed Wonders

There is a 20% chance that any wingless wonder encountered will not be a “natural” wonder at all, but a transformed being. Most transformed beings are human mages. Those who encounter a wonder never know if it is merely a curious beast, a helpless victim able to unleash only random small magics, or a disguised magic user, able to cast powerful memorized spells!

Many wizards from Netheril escaped into wonder form when their kingdom fell, using a spell later (and independently) duplicated by drow mages; the wonderform spell included in TSR 1083 Menzuberranzan. Such transformed folk can speak normally, and work magic, while in wonder-shape, and escape from wonderform at will. As the being's mind is completely shielded from contact, and the wonderform spell masks its true alignment aura with a “normal” wonder's alignment, this can be a very effective hiding-place from a foe who is able to probe disguises readily.

Others are not so lucky - and they are the sort most known to surface-world humans, through tales and ballads. Several centuries ago, the notorious “spellslinger” Durshult the Mage (who made a career of challenging mages, defeating them in spell-combat, and then seizing all their magic) was turned into a wingless wonder by the sorceress Haleera Shundyl, after losing a sorcerous duel to her in Baldur's Gate. After Durshult's fate became widely known, it was for a time a fad to imprison enemies in wingless wonder form.

The infamous “Rebel Mage” Phaerl Godeep, a drow male who rebelled against the dictates of the ruling priestesses in his city, was forcibly imprisoned in wonder form - and presumably is still a helpless, ridiculed prisoner. The drow wizard known only as “the Watchspider Wizard” is known to have taken refuge in wonder form to elude a yochlol summoned and sent (by an angered priestess) to slay him. Several human mages, including Auziiyra Twelvestars of Tethyr and Brondeth of the Broken Staff, may still survive somewhere in the Underdark, in the wonder forms they assumed to escape death at the hands of drow attackers who overwhelmed the human mining community they were guarding.

In Menzoberranzan, the drow wizards Thaerlbone Faen Tlabbar and Master (of the Academy) Daethleness Tuin'Tarl are known to have escaped the justice of Lloth by taking wonder form - and Ardreyth Mizzrym, Matron of her House at the time, received a fatal surprise when she casually lashed a chittering wonder out of her path during a hunt - and it snarled and unleashed a meteor swarm that fried her and most of her family around her. When the drifting smoke thinned, the blackened wonder was seen, by the astonished drow survivors, standing unconcernedly amid the cooked carnage, having survived the full damage of its own spell. It sighed and shuffled slowly away. That transformed wonder is still out there in the Underdark, somewhere; the drow dared not try to stop it going on about its business.

Surface-world wizards have developed spells that specifically polymorph a foe into wonder-form, and drow priestesses of the Underdark also use a spell to work the same effect, which keeps the wizards alive in case their power is needed later, but as vulnerable, helpless, non-threatening things. Beings so entrapped cannot speak (though they can use sticks to write words or draw symbols) - they can only chitter, as “natural” wonders do.

Lacking any means to work spells or effectively communicate with others, such unfortunates are trapped, although they retain their human intelligence and knowledge. Existence as a wonder may drive a human insane. Check at the end of each year; to avoid insanity, a percentile roll score must exceed a total of 50 minus the character's wisdom. A trapped being can always, by force of will, unleash a wonder's natural random magical effect (as noted earlier), but has no control over what effect occurs.

The only way to free a being trapped in wonder form is during the once-daily round in which they unleash a wild magic effect. During this round, the anti-magic shell becomes visible, and flickers visibly. A dispel magic, remove curse, or properly-worded polymorph other spell cast at the wonder during this round will return the being to its true form - although the being must make a System Shock Survival roll.