Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition



Climate/Terrain:Temperate/urban (City/library)
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Any
Diet:Life energy
Intelligence:Semi- (2-4)
No. Appearing:1
Armor Class:10
Hit Dice:1-10
No. of Attacks:1
Special Attacks:Absorption
Special Defenses:Immune to fire and edged weapons
Magic Resistance:10%
Size:S (varies)
Morale:Unsteady (5)
XP Value:1 HD: 270
2 HD: 420
3 HD: 650
4 HD: 975
5 HD: 1,400
6 HD: 2,000
7 HD: 3,000
8 HD: 4,000
9 HD: 5,000
10 HD: 6,000

A palimpsest is a sheet of magical, carnivorous parchment or paper that has become semisentient and animated by the magical runes it contained for long ages. It is mobile, able to rutle its way from shelf to shelf and desk to desk (as if blown about by a stray breeze), but is otherwise indistinguishable from normal paper or parchment.

Combat: Palimpsests reveal their true natures only when they feed. Generally, they hide in books, scroll cases, or loosely-wrapped folders of loose parchment. Palimpsests sense sound and movement, and attack only when their victim is still (or performing minor movements such as writing or drawing). As a result, they attack by surprise on a roll of 1-8. They attempt to absorb their victim, drawing the hapless target into their pages on an attack roll of 4 more than what is required to hit the victim. As the victim is absorbed, his feature become part of the palimpsest, appearing as a sketch or illumination derived directly from the victim’s features. The palimpsest can do nothing else while absorbing its victim, and the process takes 2 full rounds; the creature is vulnerable during this period, so it prefers to attack solitary creatures.

If a successful attack roll fails to draw the victim in, the palimpsest simply inflicts deep paper cuts that bleed for several hours, inflicting 1d3 hit points damage. The blood that spatters the page is soon absorbed, leaving no trace to warn further victims.

After a victim is complekly absorbed within the palimpsest, life energies are slowly eaten, a process that takes 1 day per level or Hit Die of the victim. Thereafter, the victim can only be restored by a wish spell; all other spells and methods, including resurrection, are useless. A palimpsest can absorb one victim per Hit Die at a time; thus, a 3 Hit Die palimpsest can devour the energies of three trappcd victims at once, though it can absorb only one victim every 2 rounds.

Victims absorbed into a palimpsest magically become part of its decorations while the creature absorbs the victim’s life force. For example, the parchment may include a variety of fantastic illummations, with mice screeching to get out, or a scribe screaming in terror among the fanciful scrollwork. While victims are in this state, it is very difficult to restore them to normal form. Raise dead has no effect, and limited wish is likewise useless. The only known way to free a palimpsest victim (other than a full and carefully worded wish) is this specific series of spells: A remove curse spell animates an illustrated victim, an abjure spell allows him or her to be lifted off the page, and a resurrection spell restores his or her true form (or else the victim remains only a colorful, lifeless paper doll).

Palimpsests are immune to edged weapons and normal and magical fire; electricity has a chance of releasing partially absorbed victims. Shocking grasp has a 20% chance to release a creature partially absorbed by the palimpsest, though the caster risks being consumed himself unless the spell is cast through a spectral hand. A lightning bolt spell has a 50% chance to release a partially absorbed victim, and chain lightning has a 90% chance to release its most recent victim (and a 10% chance each of releasing one other victim who the palimpsest absorbed and still remains among its illuminations). If the palimpsest is killed, its victims are irretrievable without a wish spell.

Habitat/Society: Palimpsests have no society to speak of, since they live alone. They do not repduce sexually, though there are reports that large magical libraries or good food supplies lead them to split frequently, as amoebas do.

Ecology: Palimpsests are, in fact, creatures created in the Ethereal plane. Instead of drawing power or matter from other planes to a mage, palimpsests are capable of doing just the opposite, drawing mages into other planes.

A few rumors claim that palimpsests are creations of the arcane, who use them to gather magical energies. Others claim that they are minions of a magical Power, sent as retribution against those that offend. There are also persistent rumors of an entire false library of these creatures. Adventurers claim that the volumes are enticingly labeled, such as Manual of Bodily Health, Libram of Gainful Conjuration, and Elminster’s Black Book.

Last Modified: January 21, 2014, 12:07:08 GMT


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