N is for Nerras, Shiny and Chrome

I have a reason for liking the minotaur: it’s basic and it’s functional. I have a reason for liking kruthiks: they gave me one of the most epic player stories I have. Almost everything I talk about this month had some application in-game that let to my opinion of it. Today’s monster didn’t. I just thought they looked cool.

Nerras are a race of mirror-people from the rarely-used Plane of Mirrors. They’re smooth, glasslike, almost-featureless humanoids with a ludicrous amount of elemental resistances, laughably inflated level adjustments, and spell resistance that reflects spells back on their caster. They can teleport using reflective surfaces, they have glass weapons, and basically everything they do has “mirror” in it somewhere because culture is hard. They’re supposed to be insistently neutral in alignment, but they tend toward voyeurism, kidnapping, arrogance, and sometimes massive interplanar invasions, so take that with a grain of salt.

They’re also not very good as monsters. Almost every power they have is defensive, including their spell-like abilities, so fighting them is a slog. Their mirror jump lets them flee battles, so pinning them down for an actual fight is difficult. They weird shard weapons, special blades that deal Constitution damage except when players wield them, so battling them has long consequences. They work best as hidden foes subtly working in the background of a campaign, but because of everything above, getting your hands on a nerra for the payoff battle isn’t terribly fun or satisfying.

But I didn’t recognize any of this early in my career, and I like metal and glass things aesthetically, so nerras become one of the recurring threats in my first campaign. Luckily the players tended toward physical damage and had a decent healer on staff, so only the sorcerer was really put out by them. All told they were pretty lackluster, and I doubt my players would even remember they were in the campaign given how little they contributed to the plot.

Except for one. Through actions lost to history, the players managed to befriend a kalareem, a nerra front-line fighter who dual-wields longswords, a laughably bad idea at its level only feasible at all because the game designers made a rules error and allowed it to use Weapon Finesse. Suddenly pressed to give a personality to this random encounter, I named him Charlie Sheen, because “sheen” is a word you could use when discussing mirrors and “sheen” and “kalareem” are half-rhymes. He traveled with the party for the rest of the session, fighting alongside them albeit ineffectively. When they group killed some giant shocker lizards and skinned them to make jackets, they gave one to him as a sign of solidarity. That nerra they remember, but only alongside those jackets.

For sake of comparison, the party consisted of Lucien Taylor, a tailor, Rei Halfly, halfling ray specialist, Gary “Smasher” Stubblefeld, who thought the epithet “Smasher” was especially clever, and Meldran Karameikos, who was named after the kingdom of Karameikos in Mystara even though the character and campaign had nothing to do with Mystara. It was not our finest hour in character naming.

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