Returning The Horror – Giving the Rust Monster its Bite Back

One of the D&D tropes that never stops making me smile is the fact that a paladin in +6 full plate, would rather go toe to toe with the most malevolent entities of the Abyss, than face a lowly Rust Monster. Since OD&D, these shuffling, armoured monsters have quite rightly sowed utter horror amongst player characters, both in the pen and paper version of the game, and in many electronic adaptations.

And yet, in 4th Edition, the hideous Rust Monster got a bit of a downgrade, with the ability of players to recover enough residuum from their guts to restore their lost items. Now, I understand that losing an item to one of these (or a Xaver – hands up if you remember them), is a horrible experience, but I think it's an iconic one, and as such, as part of my tailoring 4th edition, I'm bringing in some new house rules with respects to Rust Monsters...

Damaging Armour, Shields and Weapons

The mechanic for an item rusting stays the same. It's nice and elegant, gives players chance to change tactics before they lose a cherished item, and captures the feel of the afflicted item slowly corroding before falling to bits. The two modifications I have made to my version of Rust Monsters is that they can use their Dissolve Metal multiple times (Recharge 4, automatically when first bloodied), instead of once per encounter, and medium armours can be affected as well as heavy.

I am also tempted to say that the penalties inflicted on the items affected by its Bite and Rusting Defence stay in place until the items are repaired by an individual who possesses and uses one of the following rituals; Enchant Items, Forge Armour or Forge Weapon (the last two are found in Martial Power 2). The cost of repairing the item would be equivalent to 1/10th its normal value.

Residuum in the Belly

I like, to a degree, the idea of the dissolved weapons enchantment being held within the monster for a while, but hate the fact that you can simply recover the entire value without effort. So, in my campaigns to recover any residuum, a check must be made (and 5 minutes spent in the efforts).
The check will be either an Arcana, Dungeoneering or Nature check.

  • A check Vs a moderate D.C. Of the slain monster's level allows 20% the value of the devoured items to be recovered in residuum.
  • A check against a Hard D.C. Of the monster's level allows 50% the value of the devoured items to be recovered.
  • A check against Hard D.C. +5 allows 75% of the value of the devoured items to be recovered.
  • A check against Hard D.C. +10 allows the entire value of the lost items to be recovered in residuum.

If the check is failed, either the monster has already consumed the residuum, or the material has become hopelessly lost within its guts. The item is lost, and is impossible to recover without a fabled Wish or similar.

Effects on the Game?

Yes, if a character is silly enough to gamble and lose their most potent item, this could make the rest of the adventure very unpleasant. However, a lot of players keep a few backup weapons, or bits of armour (usually with the intention of breaking them down into residuum at the first chance), so they should be able to cope. If you use Inherent Bonuses, there will be no impact at all really.

A DM with at least a little light in their blackened soul might want to place some of the following items into their games in order to give a little protection against the horrible doom of Rust Monster bites...

(please note, Bluesteel items are from 3.0 / 3.5 D&D, and possible earlier editions too. I just converted them to 4th Ed).

Additional Thoughts

Harsh though it is, certain slimes and oozes could be given back their old weapon and armour damaging powers. Black Puddings used to scare the life out of players once they had experienced their weapons turning to smouldering gunk in their caustic bodies, and tactics used to change massively when they shrugged into view.