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Blight Belchers

by Bruce Heard

The Heavy Belcher: This is the one that is mentioned in Champions of Mystara. A belcher consists of a heavy metal rod resting on a swivel so the clerics can easily point them at a target. The rod is gold-plated and engraved with clerical runes on its surface. The heavy belcher has a permanent power that functions once per day (or once per period of 24 hours outside Mystara). In order to discharge the belcher's power, a priest of Vanya needs to utter a short prayer. (Need to check the description of the disintegrate spell for some tweaks).

The Light Belcher: Although it looks a lot like its heavier version, it is silver plated and works very differently. As with the heavier version, the light belcher requires a short prayer to activate its power. It has a maximum of 12 charges which can be recharged, usually before leaving on a mission. If all twelve charges have been fired, the silver plating tarnishes, blisters, and flakes away as the rod itself begins to rust. After a few hours, the rod disintegrates into a pile of rust powder.

The light belcher affects living tissue and organic material. When discharged a faint aura of greyish darkness materialises a few feet in front of the magical rod, extending to the target, causing anything within the aura to warp, wither, and possibly die. The aura vanishes almost as soon as it appears, except for an odious, raspy hiss that lingers on for a moment longer.

The light belcher has two different modes of operation depending on the cleric's prayer. The first is called the "Holy Glaive" and the other the "Shield of Death". As their names imply, they have specific uses on a battlefield.

The glaive enables the belcher's magic to shoot forth as far as 120' away; no attack roll is needed. The grey aura is no more than a foot wide and tapers off at its end. The cleric must define this target in the prayer used to discharge the belcher. The cleric needs to have a clear line of sight to this target. The glaive inflicts 8d6 points of withering damage. The victim gets a saving throw vs. spells for half-damage (Dex. bonuses apply). If the saving throw succeeds, the aura causes no further damage. If the save fails, one part of the victim's body is severely scarred or withers away entirely. Roll 2d6 -- 2: head (scars halve Charisma), 3-6: an arm/shoulder or a wing (destroyed), 7-11: a leg (destroyed), 12: chest (scars; internal damage halves Constitution). Specific withering damage requires a heal spell for the chest or the head, or a regeneration spell for a destroyed limb. Rolling a critical failure (a 1 on a d20) on the save means the victim dies as the aura consumes an essential portion of its body. Note that no one else but the target is affected when using the Holy Glaive.

The Shield of Death instead covers a cone-shaped area of effect, 60' long and 30' wide at its further point. All creatures in the cone automatically suffer 4d6 points of damage from the aura. A saving throw vs. spell halves the damage; failure does not cause any other specific damage.

In either attack form, organic material gets a saving throw vs. spells. If it fails, the portion of the material warps and withers, including the point of impact and all organic material within a foot of the aura. So a direct hit on a ship's hull would cause a three-foot-wide gap (or as much as 33' if a cone was used). The withering aura effectively goes through intervening obstacles, until it reaches the target defined in the prayer. If the target is beyond range, the aura extends to its maximum range and ends there.

Undead creatures are immune to the light belcher, as are non-organic materials -- essentially metals and minerals and all constructs made from these materials. So for example, an iron golem is immune, but not a flesh- golem. A shambling mound is at risk, but not an earth elemental. Light belchers cannot be used against a fortress's walls but could warp the wood in a drawbridge.

Since there are different types of blight belchers, I would assume that one out of four belchers is a heavy, disintegrating version.