Activity Cycle:Any
Diet:Living Essence
Intelligence:Average (8-10)
Alignment:Neutral evil
No. Appearing:1d4
Armor Class:-5
Hit Dice:9
No. of Attacks:2
Special Attacks:Energy drain, scalding, poisonous vapors
Special Defenses:+2 or better weapon to hit, immune to fire, heat and acid, ½ damage from lightning
Magic Resistance:25% or 50%
Size:L (10’ tall)
Morale:Champion (15-16)
XP Value:10,000
“Harvester of Flame”: 12,000

Dark and horrible is the realm of Gehenna, where the only source of light is the magma from the spewing volcanoes, and scalding heat and acidic condensation fill the air. From these horrible conditions, the phiuhl is born. It is a creature of misery, pain, hunger, sweltering heat, and poisonous vapors.

Known to the yugoloths as vaporous horrors and to the linquas as lingering deaths, phiuhls are horribly powerful and terrifyingly ruthless creatures. They appear as tall columns of steam and deadly green and violet vapors, swirling and churning yet retaining the basic shape of a humanoid creature. Long, vaporous arms reach out towards their foes, and dreadful black pits stare outward from what passes for a head.

The phiuhls serve no power, nor do they ally themselves with the other beings of Gehenna. The yugoloths wonder at their existence, and many arcanaloths and ultroloths attempt to capture the creatures to study them and discover their origins and nature. These examinations have always proved futile, as have the attempts made by the baatezu and tanar’ri to recruit or conscript them into their armies. No known force, diplomacy, or spell has even been known to control or influence the phiuhl, at least not for very long. A cambion sorcerer named Rgillyth once attempted to use an ESP spell to determine the nature of the phiuhl once and for all. Before he passed completely into utterly incomprehensible insanity, he muttered a few understandable phrases regarding “undead lords of brass”, “spirits or long-dead wind dukes”, and a “melded prison of steam”.

Combat: The mere presence of a phiuhl is a threat to most nonnatives of Gehenna. Those susceptible to poisonous gases and noxious fumes who have the unfortunate fate to find themselves within 50 feet of one of the creatures must make a saving throw each round or pass out from the insufferable vapors that comprise the creature. Victims falling prey to these gases die in 2d4 rounds.

As one gets closer to the phiuhl, things get worse. These creatures of steam radiate a great deal of heat. All characters vulnerable to heat take 1d6 points of damage if within 10 feet of the monster. No saving throw is allowed to resist or avoid this heat, although rings of fire resistance and the like protect the wearer.

Once a berk is actually engaged in melee with the phiuhl, things get truly horrific. In battle, it stretches out its misty arms to swipe at its foes. These steamy fists inflict 1d10 points of damage with each blow. This damage is mostly heat based, so creatures resistant to heat lake no damage but must face the other effects of the phiuhl’s attack. Those struck by both of the phiuhl’s arms are pulled into its vaporours mass and held there. Trapped victims automatically take damage from the creature’s heat (as if struck by both arms, 2d10 points of damage, and 1d6 more from simply being within 10 feet) and the phiuhl drains an experience level per round as it begins to feed upon the character’s life force. In order to escape, a victim must make a bend bars/lift gates roll, or the phiuhl must be slain.

Phiuhls are immune to heat, fire, poison, and acid, and take only half damage from lightning-based attacks. Magical weapons of an enchantment equal to at least +2 are required to harm them. All other objects simply pass through their steamy form.

Although they have a 25% resistance to magic, all spells influencing or dealing with the mind are resisted 50% of the time. Apparently, whatever a phiuhl is, its mind is an alien, almost unknowable thing. So alien, in fact, that if contact is made with a phiuhl through ESP or some other sort of telepathy, the unfortunate character must make a saving throw versus death magic or be rendered completely insane, unable to process or comprehend what he has discovered.

Despite these magical resistances, a few spells are particularly useful when combating a phiuhl. Wind wall holds a phiuhl at bay, and a gust of wind inflicts 3d6 points of damage upon the creature. Spells which obviously affect a normal, living, corporeal creature, such as hold monster, slow, finger of death, and Bigby’s grasping hand have no effect upon a phiuhl. Spells of a controlling nature such as charm monster and domination only last half as long as normal, even if they are successfully cast past the barrier of the creature’s magic resistance.

Despite rumors claiming that these creatures are some form of undead elemental, no priest has ever been able to successfully turn a phiuhl.

Habitat/Society: The phiuhl lives in the heat and steam generated throughout Gehenna’s ghastly furnaces. They are most common in Khalas and Chamada, though they travel even to Mungoth in search of prey if they must.

Normally these beings are encountered in pairs. They act with coordination, usually trapping their prey between them as they move in for the kill. Once in a while, two pairs work as teams of two. Such bands are thankfully rare, but still something to be feared. Sometimes, however, a single phiuhl is found wandering one of the volcanoes. These are usually vaporous horrors that have somehow lost their companion. Such lone phiuhls begin to lose their cohesion after many years (suggesting that the paired structure of their “society” plays some vital part in their very existence). These individuals have only half as many Hit Dice, inflict only half as much damage, and saving throws versus their poisonous gases receive a +3 bonus.

Rarest of all is if three of the creatures are encountered. The third member will be a special phiuhl sometimes referred to as a “harvester of flame”. These phiuhls have far less concentrations of noxious fumes and a greater center of heat. They appear as red-tinged humanoids of steam, slightly smaller than a standard phiuhl (sometimes a circular sphere of red-white heat can be seen in their chests). A harvester has no radius of poison gas around it, but it inflictes twice as much heat damage to those around it (2d6), as well as those struck by its limbs (2d10). Further, it can project gouts of steam up to 150 feet that inflict 6d6 points of damage to any target struck (a successful saving throw versus spell indicates half damage). Even creatures that are immune to flame and heat take half damage from the harvester’s attacks, and those with some degree of resistance short of immunity take full damage. These red harvesters work with the other, normal phiuhls to destroy their foes more quickly. The normal phiuhls then move in to absorb the fallen prey’s life essence. Without exception, these special individuals are only encountered in the company or two other “normal” phiuhls, and such threesomes are very rare.

Ecology: Anything alive is seen as a source of nourishment by the phiuhls. Some of the more powerful creatures of the Lower Planes (such as baatezu, yugoloths, and tanar’ri) are less susceptible to the Phiuhls’ attacks than other creatures, but they still fear them for their energy draining abilities and their resistance to controlling attempts. The harvesters of flame are feared by anything with any intelligence at all.

Night hags have occasionally been able to strike short-term bargains with a pair of phiuhls, offering them larvae to devour in exchange for simple things such as safe passage or small favors (“Detain those nasty gehreleths that are following me, will you, dearies…”).

Lone steam mephits have been known to be found in the company of phiuhls as well. The mephit works in conjunction with the vaporous horrors, although it is possible that the phiuhls don’t even know that the mephit is there. More likely, the phiuhls ignore the mephit as a harmless carrion feeder that helps them destroy their prey and then does what it wishes with any treasure found – something the phiuhls care nothing for.

Last Modified: June 10, 2010, 12:02:36 GMT

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition

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