I had rather wear out than rust out - Richard Cumberland (d. 1718)
For this week’s throwback we take a look at one major anathema of adventurers, the rust monster! I have always loved this beastie because it remains one of those constants in the universe. Old rusty creates wide eyes and guarded play regardless of character level.
My favorite aspect however of the rust monster remains in its origins. I actually remember having the very toy the rust monster was created from as a child. Gary Gygax recalled the history of our ferrous eating friend and was quoted in Dragon Magazine #346:
There isn't much to relate regarding the rust monster, truth be told. When I picked up a bag of plastic monsters made in Hong Kong at the local dime store to add to the Sand table array-we were playing Chainmail Fantasy Supplement miniatures at a 1:1 scale, there was the figurine
that looked rather like lobster with a propeller on its tail.
As we assigned names and stats to these critters, bulette and owl bear for instance; nothing very fearsome came to mind regarding the one with the projecting feelers. Then inspiration struck me. It was a "rust monster," a thing whose touch turned ferrous metals to ferrous oxide, even magical steel armor or enchanted iron or steel weapons.
The players soon learned to hit one with spells and arrows so as to slay it at a distance. When one appeared in the D&D game, usually in a dungeon setting, there was great haste to remove from its vicinity if there was no sure and quick means of destroying it at hand.
It really is fun to think that such a classic monster of the Dungeons & Dragons game was inspired by a bag of cheap plastic monsters. It just goes to show what you can do with some imagination and a trip to the local dollar store.
Recently there as an interesting article floating around the web about a plant in the Philippines which eats metal. As soon as I read about the Rinorea niccolifera I just knew I had to somehow turn it into a monster. After all something as innocuous as a plant is usually the unexpected adversary which catches players off guard. So below I present you with a new perennial plant to hide among the red and orange autumn leaves.
Armor Class: 14
Hit Points: 40 (4d10 + 16); see Traits below
Speed: 30 ft.
Senses tremorsense 100 ft.
Str 18 (+4) Dex 16 (+3) Con 18 (+4)
Int 12 (+1) Wis 10 Cha 9 (-1)
Hide in Plain Sight: The rustent can hold itself so still that it appears to be a tree. A DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals that the tree is, in fact, a rustent
Damage Resistance: The rustent is resistant to bludgeoning damage.
Vulnerability: The rustent is vulnerable to fire.
Rust: Each time the rustent hits a suit of armor or metal weapon with its hyperacccumulator tongue, the armor or weapon is rusted. If the armor or weapon is magical, its wearer or wielder can make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. Successful Save: The armor or weapon is not rusted.
A rusted item takes a cumulative and permanent –2 penalty. In the case of armor, the penalty applies to its AC, and if penalties from rust reduce the target’s AC (ignoring Dexterity) to 10 or less, the armor is destroyed. In the case of a weapon, the penalty applies to damage rolls made with the weapon, and if the penalties from rust reduce the weapon’s damage result to 0 or less, the weapon is destroyed.
Melee Attack—Slam: +4 to hit (reach 10 ft.; one creature).
Hit: 16 (3d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage.
Ranged Attack—Tongue: +3 to hit (20 ft./40 ft.) one creature wearing metal armor or carrying a metal weapon). Hit: The target’s armor (01–75 on a d100) or weapon (76–00 on a d100) is rusted (see the Rust trait).