Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Gazebo: "A little vocabulary is a dangerous thing."

Why does the mention of gazebos set off knowing chuckles among so many long-time Dungeons & Dragons players? Because it's one of the classic humorous stories of the role-playing hobby, a story about how players can completely overreact to mundane things when they don't take a moment to get even the most basic information.

I first came across the story in the form of "Lair of the Gazebo," an installment of the Knights of the Dinner table comic published in Dragon Magazine. (That link goes to a redrawn version of Jolly R. Blackburn's 1994 original. Go read that comic, then come back here. You'll thank me.)

That comic was inspired by an earlier account by Richard Aronson, "Eric and the Dread Gazebo." Between these two tales, the gazebo became an enduring in-joke among the RPG community. When the Munchkin card game, which satirized numerous Dungeons & Dragons tropes, was released in 2001, it naturally included a Gazebo monster card:

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Munchkin is copyright Steve Jackson Games

Over the years since, there have been a number of attempts at producing actual monster stats--as well as miniatures--for a gazebo, for use in D&D and other game systems. Perhaps the only one that could be considered "official" is the Gazebo entry in the d20-based Munchkin RPG's Monster Guide.

However, I haven't read that book and can't resist taking my own stab at the creature. My go-to system these days is Pathfinder, so I'll use that system. The simplest interpretation of a gazebo that actually poses a threat is an animated object (see Bestiary 14, with additional options from Ultimate Magic 111*).  Assuming a typical gazebo is 12-15 feet across, that makes it a Huge animated object. Spend its 4 Construction Points on augmented critical* (1 CP), improved attack* (1 CP), and trample (2 CP).

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This rare Horned Gazebo lures in its prey by
posing as a Pokemon gym in my neighborhood.

GAZEBO (CR 7)

XP 3,200
Huge animated object
N Huge construct
Init -; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception -5
Defense
AC 15, touch 6, flat-footed 15 (-2 Dex, +9 natural, -2 size)
hp 78 (7d10+40)
Fort +2, Ref +0, Will -3
Defensive Abilities hardness 5; Immune construct traits
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +15 (2d6+15/19-20)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks trample (2d6+15, DC 23)
Statistics
Str 30, Dex 6, Con --, Int --, Wis 1, Cha 1
Base Atk +7; CMB +19; CMD 27
SQ construction points

This stat block can easily be altered by adding templates, from the obvious (advanced, fiendish, giant) to the frightening and absurd. Useful templates from Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary include the transforming construct template to allow it to change into more versatile forms, the lifespark construct template to give it intelligence, and the amalgam template to combine it with any (and I mean any!) other creature your demented imagination desires.

More links of interest to gazebo scholars:







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