5E: Converting Monsters from White Dwarf Magazine for Fifth Edition

Cleon

Adventurer
Right then, published Here - thanks again for all the input - made it a much more interesting monster :)

Nice!

I've updated the Completed Fifth Edition Creatures Index and the White Dwarf Conversion Index.

Almost done with the Pine Kindred Description - it's ending up a lot wordier than I originally planned, since I keep on coming up with ideas for additional bits of background and flavour text unsupported by the bare-bones original monster.

In other words, I'm over complicating things like usual!
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Okay, I've posted the Description I came up with for the Pine Kindred.

The other varieties should have much shorter Descriptions (hopefully!) since most of the ideas I came up with are for the regular Kindred and its leader-types, so I'll be putting in "see Pine Kindred" for much of the background.

The "Placeholder" rough draft was as follows, for the sake of posterity.

Description
What they look like.

The Gift of Nidhogg. Myth & flavour text about Necrotic Sap Infusion.

Kindred of the Pines. Description of basic Kindred/Thane/Jarl social structure.

Nourished Like Trees. Need soil/water/carbon dioxide/sunlight like a pine tree? No, make it soil/water/carbon dioxide since they are just as active in winter.

Regrowth. Can regrow lost body parts like a tree replaces a lost branch. Very slowly.

Unseelie Allegiances. Sometimes cooperate evil fey such as green hags. Cooperate with evil undead on rare occasions. Undead allies are usually types not driven to destroy humanoids, such as ghouls, since that ruins potential initiates. Maybe wights or a lich?
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Hmmm - "gory" makes me think of shredding or slashing victims. This seems like a grim quasi-surgical procedure. I'd prefer "gruesome" myself. Also, pine bark I never think of as particularly smooth, actually the ost common I see is something like this but then again I am in Oz (land of eucalypts) and we only have northern hemisphere pines in plantations. Still, Wollemi Pine has interesting bark too. Getting nutrition from the earth is a good idea.

Also, the other undead they may associate with may include needle spawn, needle lord, or needle blight (?)
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Hmmm - "gory" makes me think of shredding or slashing victims. This seems like a grim quasi-surgical procedure. I'd prefer "gruesome" myself..

Gruesome's fine.

Also, pine bark I never think of as particularly smooth, actually the ost common I see is something like this but then again I am in Oz (land of eucalypts) and we only have northern hemisphere pines in plantations. Still, Wollemi Pine has interesting bark too. Getting nutrition from the earth is a good idea.

Hmm, reflecting upon it when I was thinking "skin like bark" I was imagining it as being thick, grey and smooth like London plane or birch bark.

But neither of those trees are pines, or even conifers! They're both deciduous trees.

It seems simpler to just cut out the "smooth" and say "like the bark of a pine tree."

Also, the other undead they may associate with may include needle spawn, needle lord, or needle blight (?)

Well I thought about including a reference to the needlefolk (i.e. the needle lord & needle spawn) although those are Plant monsters not Undead, but I decided it was best to stick to creatures that are in the SRD and preferable ones in the first Monster Manual, since those would be easier for a DM to refer to.

Come to think of it, I should include plant monsters in that list of allies. The various blights seem the best pick from the MM since they're evil.

I'll make some tweaks!
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
..actually given the original had no colour described, we could say they have orange-brown or grey teselated skin with deep crusty furrows (like pine bark). And have amber-brown resin - forget all the green as a trope!

Other creature they may associate with is a Green Hag (basic rules) i guess.

And also highlight the really strong smell of pine/conifer from them (I did this when DMing them and describing them to players - got them puzzled :giggle:
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Description

Inhabitants of dark pine forests, pine kindred resemble dried corpses with grey-brown skin like the smooth bark of a pine tree. Their hair is matted into spikes that match the pine needles on their forest's trees, including the color. They have pine sap for blood and a smell of fresh conifers and decaying wood. The wounds of an injured pine kindred will ooze trails of sap or be scabbed over with dried resin.

 Undead with strange plant-like traits, pine kindred are created by gory humanoid sacrifices in a forest grove. They use weapons and equipment like humanoids. A novice or low ranking pine kindred will possess the ragged remains of garb and gear it had when alive, but seasoned pine kindred acquire equipment made by the kindred. Pine kindred have no need of clothing for warmth or modesty, but wear harnesses for weapons and equipment plus personal possessions. Important kindred will have raiment and ornaments to display their status and accomplishments.

+SNIP+​

Unseelie Allegiances. Pine kindred treat humanoids with no compassion or honor, and will use any disgraceful ploy to capture them for sacrifice. They are not innately hostile towards all life like some undead, and even value trees and sylvan creatures that they find useful. Trees are cut for wood, fuel and sap, while animals (plus other creatures) may be hunted for leather and bone. Woodland creatures of no threat or usefulness are generally just ignored. Pine kindred sometimes treat with wicked sylvan creatures, usually evil fey like the green hag. For example, they might sell weapons to buy captured humanoids with the cash, trade turpentine for ore, or cooperate against a common enemy. On rare occasions, pine kindred will work with other intelligent undead. Undead allies are usually types who are not driven to kill humanoids, since that ruins potential pine kindred initiates, nor will they be indiscriminately destructive undead that threaten the forest. A banshee or bone naga is a more likely undead ally than a corpse-eating ghouls or pyromaniac flameskull.

Okay changed the above so it's not smooth but is gruesome, plus added plants & blights.

Also tweaked some of the other wording a bit, by removing the "will" from "will work with other intelligent undead" and changing "that threaten" to "who threaten" and swapping "ghoul" for "ghouls" to match the singular used for the other undead.

In my first draft I used "A banshee or wight is a more likely undead ally than a pack of corpse-eating ghouls or a pyromaniac flameskull" but (a) that seemed a bit too long, and (b) 5E wights turn their victims into zombies, so they'll be competitors for humanoid "recruits" as far as the Pine Kindred are concerned.

However, that "a pack of corpse-eating ghouls or a pyromaniac flameskull" is quite nice, and it's not like the Description's not already long! I think I'll put that in!
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
And also highlight the really strong smell of pine/conifer from them (I did this when DMing them and describing them to players - got them puzzled

Wouldn't their scent only stand out when they are outside their pine forests?

In their natural habitat they're surrounded by trees that also smell of conifer, since they are conifers!
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Wouldn't their scent only stand out when they are outside their pine forests?

In their natural habitat they're surrounded by trees that also smell of conifer, since they are conifers!
hmm - hadn't thought about that. I told the party they smelt really strongly and they were in the pine forest already. I think it adds atmosphere...
 

Cleon

Adventurer
hmm - hadn't thought about that. I told the party they smelt really strongly and they were in the pine forest already. I think it adds atmosphere...

I'll be happy to make it "They have pine sap for blood and smell strongly of fresh conifers and decaying wood" if you like.

In fact, I might as well just do that…

EDIT: …and it's done.​
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Well I thought about including a reference to the needlefolk (i.e. the needle lord & needle spawn) although those are Plant monsters not Undead, but I decided it was best to stick to creatures that are in the SRD and preferable ones in the first Monster Manual, since those would be easier for a DM to refer to.

Incidentally, Needlefolk were also Fiend Factory monster and one of the early ones too boot.

They debuted in White Dwarf #6 as "The Needleman" that was a "spined zombie" made from an imperfectly raised corpse that somehow was not undead.

So they were practically cousins to the Brothers of the Pines from White Dwarf #21.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Yeah - I was aware and had forgotten until I saw them in the fiendish folio.

Just realised - was looking at one eye canyon and it described the enslaver as having treasure type Qx5 (i.e. 5-20 gems) and the illustration has it nestled among a few gems....initialy thoughts are that it is hard to shoehorn into the description somehow. "The enslaver collects gems as it likes them/metabolises them/feels good with them" ...or just drop it.

Long descriptions are great if they are pertinent and give flavour that helps a DM make an engagig meaningful encounter with players I reckon...so size is no limit if good (bring on Elminster...)
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Just realised - was looking at one eye canyon and it described the enslaver as having treasure type Qx5 (i.e. 5-20 gems) and the illustration has it nestled among a few gems....initialy thoughts are that it is hard to shoehorn into the description somehow. "The enslaver collects gems as it likes them/metabolises them/feels good with them" ...or just drop it.

Hmm… problem is, as far as I can tell 5E monster writeups usually don't bother with specifying what type of treasure they collect, it's usually nothing or something vague like "loves treasure", "will fight if given treasure" or "collects treasure to give X as tribute."

It seems easier to just drop it.

If you want to add some treasure comment in the Description, I'd go for the collecting jewels approach rather than the enslaver eating them. While there's no mention of a mineral dietary requirement in the original monster, the flavour text does say they "conceal themselves in rocky areas, in small niches where they collect gemstones."

So it's not all about enslavement and wanting to kill nice people!

Perhaps they just appreciate the aesthetics of gemstones? They could serve as bait to lure intelligent creatures within pseudopod reach, but other types of treasure could serve that purpose just as well.

Oh, and the original text says "They have a little-understood sensory system that makes them very highly aware of their physical surroundings within 30′ of their position" so maybe they deserve blindsight 30 ft. if you're editing in a Gemstones paragraph?

Dang it, I've just noticed something else "They are 90% likely not to be detected by sight because of their ability to appear to be part of a rock or large stone." That sounds like a special trait to me! So does "They may flatten themselves to pass under doors or through cracks" for that matter.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Heck, let's rough something out.

It looks like the Enslaver wasn't as Completed as we thought!

Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 14

For the traits, I'd just steal borrow those of the Gray Ooze.

Amorphous. An enslaver can move through a space as narrow as one-eighth of an inch wide without squeezing.

False Appearance. While an enslaver remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a shiny rock.

Split. [unchanged]

Description

In Nooks piled with Jewels. Enslavers live in rocky terrain and prize shiny stones for reasons of aesthetics and camouflage. They collect precious gemstones and worthless but attractive crystals in their lair – usually a simple niche in a rock wall or cave – and then conceal themselves among their stones to wait for victims.
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Okay, so shall I edit any of the above into the Enslaver?

If so, how much of it?

Dang it, we also forgot that they're "grey-coloured mercury", not the mirror-sheen of actual mercury.

How about changing the first line of the Description to "Also known as a Puppet Lord, the enslaver is an amoeba-like creature about 9 inches across, its dull gray body can flow like a blob of mercury."
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Senses blindsight 30 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 14

False Appearance. While an enslaver remains motionless, it almost indistinguishable from a shiny rock.

Crevices scattered with Jewels. Enslavers live in rocky terrain and prize gemstones for unknown, possibly aesthetic reasons. They collect gems in their lair – usually a simple niche in a rock wall or cave – and then conceal themselves among the stones to wait for victims.

Alternatively, we could keep them as being able to see like the current version:

Senses blindsight 30 ft., passive Perception 14

I've realised that False Appearance had a typo from an earlier draft left in it, and changed it to:

False Appearance. While an enslaver remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a shiny rock.

I also tweaked the "Crevices scattered with Jewels" bit to "In Nooks piled with Jewels":

In Nooks piled with Jewels. Enslavers live in rocky terrain and prize shiny stones for reasons of aesthetics and camouflage. They collect precious gemstones and worthless but attractive crystals in their lair – usually a simple niche in a rock wall or cave – and then conceal themselves among their stones to wait for victims.
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
I was tempted to use "one-twelfth of an inch" or "one-tenth of an inch" in Amorphous instead of "one-eighth of an inch."

A gray ooze isn't given a size in 5E but in earlier editions they are usually 4 to 12 feet long and 6 to 8 inches thick, averaging about 8 feet. The 1E AD&D version specifies they are long and narrow (the largest are "fully 3′ wide and 12′ long") but they're just "long" in 2E. They are round in BECMI.

The 5E gray ooze is Medium size, so if it it were, say 6 feet in diameter while being able to easily fit through a one inch gap, an enslaver is eight times smaller at nine inches diameter. Which suggest it can manage gaps of one-eighth of an inch without squeezing.

If a gray ooze 8 feet like in BECMI, a nine-inch blob is 10⅔ smaller, which means one-tenth of an inch if we keep the proportions, but that just seemed an odd ratio to me, which led me to wonder about using 1/12th.

Checking around the doors in my house, most of them have at least some areas with 1/8th inch gaps, but a few are tighter fitting than that.

Come to think of it, the Enslaver can just use "Squeezing into a Smaller Space" to fit through a narrower gap, so I'm not sure why I'm fussing so much.

Apart from that I've got too much spare time today!
 

Cleon

Adventurer
..actually given the original had no colour described, we could say they have orange-brown or grey teselated skin with deep crusty furrows (like pine bark). And have amber-brown resin - forget all the green as a trope!

Upon reflection, I'll just drop the colour and have "gnarly skin like the bark of a pine tree" instead. then it can be whatever colour and texture the local pine trees are…

…Okay, that's in the Pine Kindred now.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
I was tempted to use "one-twelfth of an inch" or "one-tenth of an inch" in Amorphous instead of "one-eighth of an inch."

A gray ooze isn't given a size in 5E but in earlier editions they are usually 4 to 12 feet long and 6 to 8 inches thick, averaging about 8 feet. The 1E AD&D version specifies they are long and narrow (the largest are "fully 3′ wide and 12′ long") but they're just "long" in 2E. They are round in BECMI.

The 5E gray ooze is Medium size, so if it it were, say 6 feet in diameter while being able to easily fit through a one inch gap, an enslaver is eight times smaller at nine inches diameter. Which suggest it can manage gaps of one-eighth of an inch without squeezing.

If a gray ooze 8 feet like in BECMI, a nine-inch blob is 10⅔ smaller, which means one-tenth of an inch if we keep the proportions, but that just seemed an odd ratio to me, which led me to wonder about using 1/12th.

Checking around the doors in my house, most of them have at least some areas with 1/8th inch gaps, but a few are tighter fitting than that.

Come to think of it, the Enslaver can just use "Squeezing into a Smaller Space" to fit through a narrower gap, so I'm not sure why I'm fussing so much.

Apart from that I've got too much spare time today!
Been offline - went with this....
Nice buff
 


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