Jul 27 2015

Monster Monday: My Little Monster Studies

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Okay, okay, it’s not a monster writeup. But it has a monster in it, and it’s Monday. So deal with it!


My Little Monster Studies: Displacer Beast by the-gneech on DeviantArt

Commission for Miertam, possibly the start of a new series, of Twilight learning all about monsters… the hard way. This episode’s entry is that adorable little six-legged tentacular light-warping critter, the displacer beast. Fluttershy, of course, thinks it’s adorable… and clearly Twilight is speechless with admiration!

Such a weird-honkin’ monster and one of my favorites, even if I rarely actually use them. 😀 Inspired originally by “Voyage of the Space Beagle” by A. E. van Vogt if my memory serves correctly, modified slightly and now immortalized by Dungeons and Dragons. Aside from its devious nature, the displacer beast has a permanent illusion of being some distance from its actual body. I never really thought that would actually be that confusing until I started drawing this, but now I can totally see it.

On an artistic note, for this pic I decided to do a piece that used the pony character models but drawn in my own style rather than trying to simply mimic the MLPFIM style. Whattya think?

-The Gneech

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Jul 20 2015

Monster Monday: Tentamort for 5E

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One of my old Fiend Folio favorites, brought to the new edition. The flavor text is not mine, I just did the stat conversion. NOTES: Is it nuts that a CR 2 creature can have 55 hit points? That seems nuts to me. 5E, you have strange math.

Attack of the killer mustache!

Tentamort (CR 2; 450 XP)

Medium monstrosity, unaligned


Armor Class 12
Hit Points 55 (10d8+10)
Speed 10′, climb 10′


Str 15/+2, Dex 14/+2, Con 13/+2, Int 3/-4, Wis 14/+2, Cha 5/-3


Skills Stealth +4
Damage Resistances poison
Condition Immunities prone
Senses darkvision 60′, passive Perception 12
Languages


Retraction. The tentamort may compress itself and all of its tentacles into small crevasses in rocky, swampy, or otherwise suitable terrain. Doing this gives it AC 15 and advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks but renders it immoble.

Spider Climb. The tentamort can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Tentacle Sever. The tentamort’s tentacles may be targeted in combat. Each one is AC 12, 15 hit points. Damage done to a tentacle counts against the creature’s total hit points. A severed tentacle is destroyed and cannot attack. It regenerates severed tentacles over the course of three days.


Actions


Multiattack. The tentamort makes two attacks, one with each tentacle, or two with its poison tentacle against a grappled target.

Grasping Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 15′, one creature. Hit: 11 (2d8+2) bludgeoning damage and the target is grappled (escape DC 12) if it is medium or smaller. While grappling the target, the tentamort has advantage on attack rolls against it and can’t use this attack on other targets. The tentamort may attempt to push or pull the target 5′ per turn as a bonus action if it defeats the target in a contested Strength check.

Poison Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 15′, one target. Hit: 11 (2d8+2) piercing damage and the target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for ten minutes. While poisoned, the target takes 9 (2d8) damage at the beginning of each of their turns and cannot recover hit points. The target may make a new saving throw to overcome the poison at the end of each of their turns.

(Text from the Pathfinder PRD.)

Tentamorts are eerie ambush predators, preferring to let prey come to them rather than seeking food out, and relying on their excellent senses to warn them of approaching meals. A tentamort possesses several tentacles, most of which are used for locomotion but two of which have evolved for singular purposes in securing food. One of these longer tentacles is covered with tiny, sticky nodules and is capable of constricting prey, while the other ends in a long, thin stinger. The tentamort’s method of attack is to grab its prey with its constricting tentacle and sting the grappled target with the other. Tentamort poison is particularly horrific, as it swiftly liquefies the creature’s internal organs into a rancid slurry the monster can then drink with the same stinger, siphoning out the fluid with foul sucking sounds. Larger creatures often require multiple stings (and multiple failed saving throws against the venom) before they can be fully absorbed by a tentamort. Tentamorts are almost mindless, possessing just enough intellect to make crude animal judgments about peril and food. Once a tentamort has grabbed prey, it tends to focus entirely on that creature, ignoring attacks upon it from other sources as long as its current victim remains a source of nutrition. After a tentamort finishes consuming a creature, all that typically remains are the bones and skin.

A well-fed tentamort uses the hollow corpse of its meal as a sort of incubator for its eggs, injecting the body with a caviar-like mass of black eggs that mature in the rotting carcass for several weeks until a dozen or so hand-sized tentamorts hatch and crawl out of their host’s orifices. Depending upon the availability of other prey, anywhere from one to six of these may survive, feeding on rats and Tiny vermin, until they eventually grow to adulthood. Tentamort young look like dark blue starfish with a single red eye in the center—they do not possess their longer, specialized tentacles until they mature. A young tentamort often attaches itself to a larger predator, clinging to it much the same way a remora clings to a shark, dropping off to feed innocuously on its host’s kills while the creature sleeps.

Some tentamorts grow much larger than their human-sized kin. Known as greater tentamorts, these ogre-sized creatures have at least [18] Hit Dice and are Large sized. Their two specialized tentacles grow to 20 feet long, providing the creature with greater reach than a Large monster normally possesses. Greater tentamorts are never found in groups, for these creatures can only achieve such monstrous size through cannibalism, as if there were some key nutrient in another tentamort’s body that allows them to exceed their typical physical limitations. Some of these creatures have mutations giving them two tentacles and two stingers. Yet the most disturbing quality possessed by these monsters is their unexpected intellect—greater tentamorts are often as intelligent as humans, or more so. They cannot speak, but possess an eerie form of telepathy that works only upon creatures they are in physical contact with—a feature they often use to “chat” with their food as they eat.

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Jul 06 2015

Monster Monday– Goblin Mobbers for 5E

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When goblins go to war, they quickly learn that in a fair fight with, well, just about anyone, they are going to get their clocks cleaned. So obviously the answer is to never fight fair! To that end, goblins organize in small mobs (they’re too rowdy and undisciplined to be properly called a “squad”), with each mob going after a single combatant or group of combatants.

Within a mob, most members are pretty ordinary goblins, of the variety found on page 166 of the Monster Manual. However, there are some other specialized mobbers that also show up, especially once goblins are seriously on the march.

Goblin Trappers

These annoying pests hurl a bag of wet and sticky goo made from monstrous spider glands and web fibers that act similarly to tanglefoot bags at their foes, so that their allies can then attack at range with impunity.

Goblin Trapper (CR 1/4; 50 XP)


Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral evil
Armor Class 13 (leather armor)
Hit Points 7 (2d6)
Speed 30′


Str 8/-1   Dex 14/+2   Con 10/+0
Int 10/+0   Wis 8/-1   Cha 8/-1


Skills Stealth +4
Senses darkvision 60′, passive Perception 9
Languages Common, Goblin


Nimble Escape. The goblin can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.


Actions
Sticky Goo (Recharge 5-6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 30’/60′., one creature. Hit: The target is restrained by the sticky goo. As an action, the restrained target can make a DC 12 Strength check, tearing free of the goo on a success. The goo can also be attacked and destroyed (AC 10; hp 5; vulnerability to fire damage, immunity to bludgeoning, poison, and psychic damage).
Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5′, one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+2) slashing damage, or 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage if used one-handed.
Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80’/320′, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage.


Reactions
Fling the Goo! If the goblin trapper’s Sticky Goo ability is available, the goblin may use it as a reaction on any creature that moves within 30′ of it.

Tactics: A goblin mob that has trappers will let them act first (using a Delay action if necessary), preferably throwing their pots of goo from ambush. This in turn sets up the lobbers (see below) to fling their own pots, and then the regular goblin soldiers to rush in and finish the job. The goblin trapper avoids melee if at all possible, hanging back and plinking away with its bow while scrambling to get another pot of goo ready to fling.

Goblin Lobber

This annoying little grub has a backpack full of alchemist fire bombs and flings them as fast as it can prime and light them. However, not being the brightest of creatures, they have more than once been known to accidentally blow themselves up.

Goblin Lobber (CR 1/4; 50 XP)


Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral evil
Armor Class 13 (leather armor)
Hit Points 7 (2d6)
Speed 30′


Str 8/-1   Dex 14/+2   Con 10/+0
Int 10/+0   Wis 8/-1   Cha 8/-1


Skills Stealth +4
Senses darkvision 60′, passive Perception 9
Languages Common, Goblin


Nimble Escape. The goblin can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.
Oops. If a goblin lobber is blinded, frightened, incapacitated, or knocked prone, it accidentally immolates itself, doing 7 (2d6) fire damage to itself and every creature in its space, and doing 3 (1d6) fire damage to every creature within 5′ of it.


Actions
Fire Bomb (Recharge 5-6). The lobber flings a fire bomb at a designated spot within 60′ of itself. All creatures in a 5′ sphere centered on that spot must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) fire damage on a failure, or half that amount on a success. All creatures within an additional 5′ radius of that spot take 3 (1d6) damage (no saving throw). The fire spreads around corners and ignites flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried. If a character is restrained by a goblin trapper’s goo, that goo takes the fire damage as well.
Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5′, one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+2) slashing damage, or 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage if used one-handed.
Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80’/320′, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage.


Reactions
Out With a Bang! When the lobber is reduced to 0 hit points, it may choose to set off a fire bomb with its dying breath as a reaction, doing 7 (2d6) damage to itself and every creature in its space, and doing 3 (1d6) fire damage to every creature within 5′ of it.

Tactics: The lobber will wait for a trapper to successfully trap someone, then throw its fire bomb at that creature, hoping to catch as many targets in its blast as possible. Like the trapper, the lobber will avoid melee, hiding behind cover if it can in order to prepare its next bomb. Lobbers don’t always have the best fire discipline, and may happily catch their own allies in the blast if it means hitting more enemies in the process.

Goblin Mob Encounter Templates

Attack Mob (875 XP encounter budget, 350 XP award)
This is a fairly typical hit squad, often sent with orders to take out a specific target (such as the party cleric or spellcaster). Once the objective is complete, the mob will scatter.

  • 2 Goblin Trappers (CR 1/2; 50 XP each): Attack first, immobilizing objective, then retreat with Nimble Escape
  • 1 Goblin Lobber (CR 1/2; 50 XP): Fling their bombs at the target, then retreat with Nimble Escape
  • 4 Goblins (CR 1/2; 50 XP each): Surround and attack the target.

Harassment’R’Us (600 XP encounter budget, 300 XP award)
These jerks don’t necessarily want to kill their foes (although they probably wouldn’t mind), so much as to slow them up and waste their time, or soften them up for a bigger fight to come.

  • 3 Goblin Trappers (CR 1/2; 50 XP each): Attempt to immobilize any foes who appear to be melee specialists
  • 3 Goblins (CR 1/2; 50 XP each): Attack with bows, preferably from cover to snipe with Nimble Escape, targeting any spellcasters or ranged specialists

Grappers’s Slappers (2,650 XP encounter budget, 1,060 XP award)
Grapper is a notorious bugbear mercenary, hiring himself and his squad of obnoxious little brutes to thieves’ guilds, orc armies, drow spies, or anyone else willing to pay the price. Although perfectly capable of stand-up fighting, their inclination is more towards commando-style missions to assassinate enemy leaders, destroying fortifications, or even just wanton mayhem. Their tactics depend on their goals, but generally Grapper prefers to sneak around and come at the target from the back in order to gain a surprise attack, while sending his Slappers to make a frontal assault or attack from ambush. Grapper also makes a great recurring villain, so feel free to assume that with time and cash he can recruit any other support he might need.

  • Grapper (Bugbear Chief, MM p. 33, CR 3; 700 XP):
  • 2 Goblin Lobbers OR 2 Goblin Trappers (CR 1/2; 50 XP each)
  • 4 Goblins (CR 1/2; 50 XP each)
  • -The Gneech

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Jun 29 2015

Monster Monday– Burning Skeleton for 5E

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We Are Legion by zilla774
We Are Legion by zilla774

An animated skeleton wreathed in hellfire and pungent black smoke, this horrific monster seeks to feed all living things to the eternal flames which consume it.

Burning Skeleton (CR 1; 200 XP)


Medium undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 22 (5d8)
Speed 30′


Str 12/+1   Dex 16/+3   Con 11/+0
Int 3/-4   Wis 10/+0   Cha 4/-3


Damage Vulnerabilities cold, bludgeoning
Damage Resistances piercing and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities fire, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned, exhaustion
Senses darkvision 60′, passive Perception 10
Languages understands Common but can’t speak


Heated Body. A creature that touches the skeleton or hits it with a melee attack while within 5′ of it takes 3 (1d6) fire damage.
Death Blast. When a flaming skeleton is reduced to 0 hp, it explodes in a fiery blast, doing 3 (1d6) fire damage to every creature within 5′ of it.


Actions
Multiattack. The skeleton makes two attacks with its flaming scimitar or its flame orb, or one attack with each.
Flaming Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5′, one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) fire damage.
Flame Orb. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 30’/100′, one target. Hit: 7 (2d6) fire damage.

Designer Notes

It’s no secret that I love, love, love Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition, but like everything it’s not without its flaws– mostly in the encounter and monster variety area, which in my opinion has needlessly abandoned some of the few really good ideas from 4E. Fortunately, these are easily fixable without messing around with the rules, it’s just a matter of building the content to fill the gaps.

One notable thing that’s missing in a big way is ranged threats to mix in to encounters. Most monsters are melee, melee, melee, with maybe a crossbow added at the bottom as an afterthought, and low-level corporeal undead are particularly egregious in this regard. So here’s something to correct that: meant to be primarily a support monster for a larger group, the burning skeleton hangs back and lobs fire orbs into the fray, only engaging in melee when forced to, and then likely to go out with a bang.

Mechanically, it’s mostly a reskinned fire snake with skeleton traits added.

I have more to say on the subject of encounter and monster design in 5E, which is for another post.

-The Gneech

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Jul 29 2013

Monday Monster: Mourning Haunt

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This is a Pathfinder adaptation of the “Mourning Haunt” creature in the “Mark of Prophecy” adventure from the Eberron Campaign Guide (4E). (Note that this is a CR 5 version, because I was running this adventure at 3rd level. For a CR 3 version, reduce it to 2 HD and lower its natural armor to +6, which will give it AC 16, hp 27, change its to-hit to +4, and change its Haunting Fog ability to DC 12, 1d4 damage.)


Demon Monkey King by ~Emerii on deviantART

A Mourning Haunt resembles a white-furred demonic ape, and is about 7′ tall. Tendrils of dead-gray mist unwind from its fur, concealing it in a cloud of fog. Its eyes are blank white orbs, and its mouth is full of long, sharp teeth. Four curling horns jut from its skull.

Mourning Haunt

CR 5/XP 1600
CE Medium Humanoid (demon)
Init +0; Senses blindsight, darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +4
Aura mourning aura (constant)


AC 18, touch 10, flat-footed 18 (+8 natural)
hp 57 (6d8+21)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +4
Defensive Abilities displacing hit (at will); Immune electricity, poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, fire 10


Speed 30 ft.
Melee Bite +7 (1d6+2/x2) and Claw x2 +7 x2 (1d4+2/x2)
Spell-Like Abilities Haunting Fog (2/combat) (DC 14)


Abilities Str 14, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +5; CMB +7; CMD 17
Feats Iron Will, Multiattack, Skill Focus (Acrobatics), Toughness +7
Skills Acrobatics +5, Climb +6, Perception +4


Displacing Hit (Reaction) (Su) When hit by a melee attack, the mourning haunt instantly teleports to a safe space of its choice up to 60′ in any direction. It does not require line of sight, but cannot teleport through force effects. The creature must use this ability when hit by a melee attack, but may choose to teleport as little as 5′ away. This is an instant reaction and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Haunting Fog (2/combat) (DC 14) (Sp) A 10′ square area is filled with swirling gray mist that burns all within and may immobilize them. Anyone who enters the fog or is in the fog at the beginning of their turn take (1/2 hd)d4 fire damage (3d4) and must make a Ref save or be immobilized. Once placed, the fog remains until the haunt dispels it or is slain. Mourning haunts are immune to this effect.
Mourning Aura (Constant) (Su) The mourning haunt is surrounded by a 10′ radius aura of swirling gray mists. It has full concealment against creatures outside of the aura, and regular concealment to creatures within it. It takes no penalties from the concealment itself and its darkvision can see perfectly through the mist.

Hero Lab® and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at http://www.wolflair.com
Pathfinder® and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC®, and are used under license. “Mourning Haunt” and its lore ©2009 Wizards of the Coast, from material written by James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Ari Marmell, and Robert J. Schwalb. This conversion is fan material only, no assertion of ownership is intended or should be inferred.

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Jul 03 2013

Monday Monster: Cthulid

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This one’s not actually mine, so instead of just copying it wholesale, I’ll link it for you:

Errant d20 Designer: Cthulid

It’s a CR 9 large humanoid, something like a cross between an ogre and a mind flayer. Not as huge and epic as a star-spawn of Cthulhu, but definitely an “Oh #&^%@!!!” moment for most parties. Makes a great solo/final boss for a level 7-8 adventure with a Lovecraftian/Howardian vibe.

It’s currently written with psi-like abilities (c/o Psionics Unleashed, which is thought of by many as the “core” psionic rules for Pathfinder, even if it’s from a third party). The ability descriptions are in the d20PFSrd, but if you don’t want to use those, they could easily be swapped out for similar spell-like abilities instead.

Created by Tim Wallace. Nice job, Tim!

-The Gneech

PS: Yes, I know it’s not really Monday. ;P

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