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


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Cleon

Adventurer
Shadowdancer
Large fiend (demon, shapechanger), chaotic evil
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 25 (3d10 + 9)
Speed 50 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
13 (+1)​
16 (+3)​
16 (+3)​
8 (–1)​
13 (+1)​
13 (+1)​

Saving Throws Dex +5, Con +5
Skills Acrobatics +5, Athletics +5, Performance +5, Stealth +5
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks that aren't adamantine
Damage Immunities poison, psychic
Condition Immunities exhaustion, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Understands Abyssal but cannot speak
Challenge 1 (200 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Alive in Moonlight. A shadowdancer "comes alive" when touched by moonlight. When it is out of moonlight, the shadowdancer is paralyzed and gains immunity to all forms of damage.

Elegant Acrobat. Climbing and non-magical difficult terrain does not cost a shadowdancer extra movement. In addition, when a shadowdancer make a running jump, the distance it covers increases by 5 feet.

False Appearance (Statue Form Only). While the shadowdancer is not animated by moonlight, it is indistinguishable from an ebon statue.

Magic Resistance. The shadowdancer has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. The shadowdancer's weapon attacks are magical.

Actions

Multiattack. The shadowdancer makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d6 + 1) slashing damage.

Description

Inhumanly tall and slim creatures of fiendish origin, an inactive shadowdancer is indistinguishable from a ebon statue of unearthly dark beauty. These "12 foot tall statues" move when touched by moonlight, walking with an elegant skipping gait as if they were dancing. Active shadowdancers become demonic-looking; their hawk-like face reveal flame-red eyes and a fanged mouth, and their hands are armed with sharp claws.

Blood Under the Moon. Shadowdancers are always based in a demonic shrine dedicated to some Dark Lord of the lower planes whom they serve. When frozen in statue form they are nigh-indestructible. When animated by moonlight they set out to shed humanoid blood for their master. Shadowdancers prefer to capture living victims to kill in their lair, which will have some ghastly device for this purpose, such as a manacle-equipped altar to their lord. Once their unholy sacrifice is complete, the ebon fiends celebrate by dancing and exulting in the moonlit night.

(Originally spelled "Shadow Dancer"; first appeared in White Dwarf Magazine #18 (Apr/May 1980), as part of "The Halls of Tizun Thane" by Albie Fiore.)
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Nandie-Bear (Kerit)
Large monstrosity, chaotic evil
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 60 (8d10 + 16)
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
18 (+4)​
13 (+1)​
14 (+2)​
6 (–2)​
13 (+1)​
14 (+2)​

Saving Throws Con +4
Skills Athletics +6, Intimidation +6, Perception +3, Stealth +5
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Kerit (sign-language only, cannot speak)
Challenge 3 (700 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Stealthy Predator. The nandie-bear gains Advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks in its natural habitat of rocky hills, forested badlands or jungle.

Unsettling Aura. The nandie-bear has a malign aura: any animal of Int 8 or below within 400 feet must succeed on a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw or be skittish and unsettled. Animal handlers are at Disadvantage to control tame animals.

Actions

Multiattack. The nandie-bear makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be grabbed (escape DC 14) and take an additional 1d6 slashing damage.

Haunting Howl (Recharge 5-6). A nandie-bear's horrible call is loud and resonant, it can be heard up to one mile distant. Any animal that hears this howl will become skittish, as per the nandie-bear's Unsettling Aura ability.
 All creatures within 300 feet other than nandie-apes and nandie-bears must succeed at a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw upon hearing the howl or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature who fails this save gains Disadvantage on subsequent saving throws against a nandie-bear's haunting howl. If such a creature succeeds on three successive saving throws against haunting howl, they conquer their fear, and from then on will not gain disadvantage should they fail their initial save against a howl. A frightened creature can make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending its frightened condition on a success.
Nandie-apes can be frightened by haunting howl (as above), but unlike the standard frightened condition, the apes may willingly move towards the source of the howl, and their frightened state only gives them disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls against the nandie-bear.
 If the nandie-bear rules a nandie-ape colony, its haunting howl also calls the colony's nandie-apes to come to its assistance. Typically, 1d4 nandie-apes will arrive per round for 1d3 + 3 rounds, for a total of between 4 and 24 nandie-apes. If a nandie-bear is close to its nandie colony, 1d4 nandie-apes (or more) will arrive every round until the colony's entire population has turned up.

Description

A kerit, commonly known as the nandie-bear, is a loathsome carnivore that inhabits rocky hills and tropical forests. A nandie-bear's favorite food is humanoid flesh, they prefer to eat victims from the head downwards.
 Their appearance is hard to describe, a terrifying mixture of gorilla, bear and hyena that varies from individual to individual. Nandie-bears have shaggy black or red-brown fur and large curved claws like a bear or sloth. Some have disturbingly human faces reminiscent of a malevolent neanderthal. A nandie-bear normally walks on all fours, with its back sloping upwards as its forelegs are longer than its hindlegs. It can rear up on its hindfeet to stand 8 feet or so tall, but usually only does so to fight or scan its surroundings.
 Nandie-bears have a curious semi-parasitic relationship with nandie-apes (also known as koddoelo). They either live alone or as the leader of a colony of nandie-apes. They never associate with their own kind except to mate. The females abandon their babies to be raised by nandie-apes, like a cuckoo leaves her eggs in another bird's nest.
 A nandie-bear is eerily silent, the only sound they ever make is a horrifying howl that is one of the most terrifying sounds of the jungle. Despite their bestial appearance they are about as smart as an orc and possess keen instincts and bestial cunning. While they cannot speak, they are able to communicate in the Kerit sign language with other nandie creatures.

Tyrant of the Apes. If there's a nandie-ape colony within a nandie-bear's territory, the nandie-bear will almost invariably have taken it over. They rule the colony by terror, forcing the apes to collect food for it. If they fail to satisfy its hunger it will go hunting or devour one of its nandie-ape followers.

Solitary Hunters. A nandie-bear always hunts alone even if it rules a nandie colony, if only because the nandie-apes incessant chattering would warn away prey. They only hunt at night and are astonishingly stealthy. If a nandie-bear encounter powerful prey they use their Haunting Howl ability before attacking, to demoralize and scatter their opponents (and summon nandie-ape reinforcements if they rule a colony).

(Originally appeared in White Dwarf Magazine #18 (Apr/May 1980) as part of "The Halls of Tizun Thane" by Albie Fiore.)
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Challenge 1 (200 XP) [make higher?] Proficiency Bonus +2

I think we should definitely make this monster higher than Challenge 1. It's a decent step up from a Nandie-Boss.

Stealthy Predator. The nandie-bear gains Advantage on Stealth checks in its natural habitat of [rocky hills, forested badlands or jungle].

Didn't care for "Stealthy at Home" as a special trait name.

Multiattack. The nandie-bear makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

Your rough draft has:

Multiattack. The nandie-bear makes two claw attacks.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) cold damage.

However, the original monster had a claw/claw/bite AND a rending special attack, so it was pretty much the same as a Brown Bear, which in 5E is:
  • Multiattack: The bear makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.
  • Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage.
  • Claws: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage.
It doesn't strictly speaking need Rending, but I'd be game giving it a special extra along those lines if you're interested. Maybe.

Multiattack. The nandie-bear makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be grabbed and take an additional 2d6 [bludgeoning? or more slashing?] damage.

Haunting Howl. [needs work!] The nandie-bear's cry can summon 1d4 nandie apes per round. Loud and resonant, it can be heard up to one mile distant. Every creature of Int 8 or below within 300 feet of the nandie bear that can hear the howl must succeed on a DC [12?] Wisdom saving throw or be compelled to flee in panic until the wail ends; acting as if they had failed their save against a suggestion spell telling them to "run in terror".

Methinks you've just copy-pasted the watered down scary noise used in the Pine Kindred. The Nandie-Bear, contrariwise, is reputedly one of the most terrifying sounds in the jungle so I think deserves the whole "causes the frightened condition" effect.

Also, the original affected EVERYTHING that heard it, not just animals. Animals panicked at the sound of it, but others still had to save vs. spells or be filled with fear for 10 minutes. Furthermore, if they failed their save they would automatically fail if they ever heard the nandie-bear's cry again!

For the "summon 1d4 nandie-apes per round" I'm thinking maybe we could make that a lair action? For when its lording it over a colony of pseudo-baboon homies.

Should we place a limit on how many Nandie-Apes turn up?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Gu'en-Deeko
Medium monstrosity, chaotic neutral
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 45 (6d8 + 18) [plus special, see Brain Eating]
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
18 (+4)​
13 (+1)​
16 (+3)​
8 (–1)​
12 (+1)​
7 (–2)​

Skills Athletics +6, Perception +3, [Stealth +3?]
Senses [darkvision 60 ft.?], passive Perception 13
Languages Can speak the language(s) of its victims
Challenge 3 (700 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Brain Eating. [needs something rules-related!].

Actions

Multiattack. The gu'en-deeko makes two fist attacks.

Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 ([1d8 + 4?]) bludgeoning damage.

Description

Stuff.

(Originally appeared in White Dwarf Magazine #18 (Apr/May 1980) as part of "The Halls of Tizun Thane" by Albie Fiore.)
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13

Does it need darkvision? It's not nocturnal like a nandie-bear, for whom seeing in the dark makes sense.

Languages Can speak the language(s) of most recent victim

I'd think "Can speak the language(s) of its victims (see Brain Eating)" would be better. It's not just the latest victim it retains the knowledge of, but all of them from the past year!

Brain Eating. [needs something rules-related!].

We definitely need something rules-related about its brain-eating ability.

The original version is a bit vague, but letting it gain any ability of the creature it eats has is a bit extreme. Plus it would cause weird inconsistencies like it stealing divinely-granted powers and abilities that have nothing to do with learned knowledge (like, say, having skin so tough it serves as armor, a digestive system resistant to diseased or poisoned food, and so on).

I'm thinking maybe we should model it more like a standard spellcaster who happens to change/refresh its spells by eating brains? (i.e. if a Gu'en-Deeko cast fireball it could refresh its fireball 3rd-spell slot after a long rest like a regular spellcaster, but if it ate the brains of someone with an uncast fly spell the a Gu'en-Deeko could swap that fly into the fireball's spell slot and immediately cast it.)

Maybe limit it so the total number of spell slots it refreshes cannot be greater than the level (or maybe twice the level?) of the spellcaster whose brain it ate? Or no more than one or two spell-slot of each level is refreshed per brain?

Will have to think about this one.

But I'm strongly tempted to put a level cap on the skills/abilities it can "brain eat", and if the cap is exceeded it goes crazy (like Thraaak in the module).
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Oh, and the original permanently gained 1 hp per level of creature it ate. Will we be doing anything with that?

It'd be very easily abusable if a PC gets one as a pet - just keep on feeding it goblins until its hit points are in the thousands!
 


Cleon

Adventurer
Gu'en-Deeko
Large monstrosity, chaotic neutral

You know, while monstrosity is certainly appropriate I wonder whether Medium size might be better.

Thraak was able to fit into Tizun Thane's robes after all. Implying that Gu'en-Deeko are bulkier than humans, but not ogre sized.

Apes are Medium in 5E after all, while are Large in some earlier editions.

I guess Yeti are Large, which is where you got it from (it'd explain why you gave the rough draft Cold Resistance!).

The flavour text describes it as a "giant ape-like creature" I suppose, which'd counter-argue for it being Large. Maybe they're on the small side of Large? Like eight feet or something?

Oh, and:

Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.

The original monster had standard human movement of 12", so it should be Speed 30 ft. Also note there's no mention of it climbing, although it it's a mountain dweller a climb speed would be appropriate.

That also applies to the Nandie-Bear.

How about having them match the Speeds of the 5E Ape/Yeti and Brown Bear respectively:

Gu'en-Deeko Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

Nandie-Bear Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) slashing damage.

Why the 1d6? The original monster did 1d8 damage.
 
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Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Right - I agree with the stat changes and have done. Forgot about hte adamantine thing and have added. Also skills added.

Read the stories - which has been good to embellish teh description - funny as Shadows in the Moonlight also has large grey man-ape in it (which is where Albie Fiore might have got the idea of adding the nandie-bear and/or nandie)

I also read the The Pool of the Black One - creatures there seem to have a totally diferent biology - they are a troop of black humanoids that live in a cave with a green pool where they petrify and keep their victims. They seem to play a flute which makes their victims dance and might have some other effects. Worth making a mini-scenario. Their dscription is very similar to those in the first novella.

Anyway, shadow dancer attached and demon lord anonymised. Input and leads are very valuable.
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Right - I agree with the stat changes and have done. Forgot about hte adamantine thing and have added.

Looks nice!

Last night I remembered a tweak I forgot to mention.

Gu'en-Deeko Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

Nandie-Bear Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.

The original monster has Movement 18″, so is 150% the Move 12″ of a standard-issue humanoid.

The current version has Speed 60 ft., or 200% the Speed 30 ft. of a standard-issue humanoid.

In 3E & 5E creatures with Move 18 in AD&D tend to have 40 ft. or 50 ft. speeds, so I'd consider knocking ten or twenty feet off that sixty.

I'll have a look at the Description to see if I can think of any suggestions.
 


Cleon

Adventurer
The original monster has Movement 18″, so is 150% the Move 12″ of a standard-issue humanoid.

The current version has Speed 60 ft., or 200% the Speed 30 ft. of a standard-issue humanoid.

In 3E & 5E creatures with Move 18 in AD&D tend to have 40 ft. or 50 ft. speeds, so I'd consider knocking ten or twenty feet off that sixty.

Oh, thought of something else!

I guess the 40 ft. Climb is because the original could "Climb as a 10th level thief" but thieves in AD&D like 5E didn't have an actual Climb speed, they were just skilled at "Climbing" (i.e. they had double proficiency in Athletics in 5E terms).

Incidentally, I've already given it Double Prof in both Athletics (Str) and Performance (Cha) so it's got +5 in its skills across the board.

How about giving them some perks from the Acrobat Rogue Archetype and dropping the Climb speed?

Speed 50 ft.
  • Acrobatic Moves. Non-magical difficult terrain does not cost a shadow dancer extra movement.
  • Second-Story Work. Climbing does not cost a shadow dancer extra movement. In addition, when a shadow dancer make a running jump, the distance it covers increases by a number of feet equal to its Dexterity modifier.
Hmm, I think we can combine those and simplify it a bit:

Elegant Acrobat. Climbing and non-magical difficult terrain does not cost a shadow dancer extra movement. In addition, when a shadow dancer make a running jump, the distance it covers increases by 5 feet.​

I was tempted to toss in the Dancer Rogue Archetype but decided that was going too far!

I'll have a look at the Description to see if I can think of any suggestions.

Let's see, Version 3 has this for a Description:

Of Fiendish origin, shadow dancers are from an unknown plane of evil. When dormant, they take the form of a 12-foot high ebon statue of a tall lithe humanoid with delicate vaguely hawklike features and an unearthly dark beauty. When struck by moonlight they become active; their facial features become more demonic with fanged moths and glowing red eyes, and their hands are armed with sharp claws.​
Once active, they seek to shed the blood of sentient, preferably human-like creature. They move rapidly with a elegant, skipping gait, and enjoy dancing and cavorting in the night air when not hunting for prey.​

Regarding The Pool of the Black One.

I also read the The Pool of the Black One - creatures there seem to have a totally diferent biology - they are a troop of black humanoids that live in a cave with a green pool where they petrify and keep their victims. They seem to play a flute which makes their victims dance and might have some other effects. Worth making a mini-scenario. Their dscription is very similar to those in the first novella.

I was thinking the beings in that story resemble the Dancers in some aspects:

a) they are inhumanly tall (the "Iron Shadows" were presumably the same height as the men they used to be).
b) the are demonic or demon-like creatures of some kind, not cursed humans.
c) they capture humans to sacrifice in their circular "sanctum" for some dark purpose. The Iron Shadows just attacked.

It's more behaviour than biology.

The strongest match to Shadows in the Moonlight is the "turning into statues" deal.

Anyhow, here goes my stab at a Description:

Inhumanly tall and slim creatures of fiendish origin, an inactive shadow dancer is indistinguishable from a ebon statue of unearthly dark beauty. These "12 foot tall statues" move when touched by moonlight, walking with an elegant skipping gait as if they were dancing. Active shadow dancers become demonic-looking; their hawk-like face reveal flame-red eyes and a fanged mouth, and their hands are armed with sharp claws.​
Blood Under the Moon. Shadow dancers are always based in a demonic shrine dedicated to some Dark Lord of the lower planes whom they serve. When frozen in statue form they are nigh-indestructible. When animated by moonlight they set out to shed humanoid blood for their master. Shadow dancers prefer to capture living victims to kill in their lair, which will have some ghastly device for this purpose, such as a manacle-equipped altar to their lord. Once their unholy sacrifice is complete, the ebon fiends celebrate by dancing and exulting in the moonlit night.​
(Originally appeared in White Dwarf Magazine #18 (Apr/May 1980) as part of "The Halls of Tizun Thane" by Albie Fiore.)​

I think that covers everything we need.
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Dancing Grace. Climbing and non-magical difficult terrain does not cost a shadow dancer extra movement. In addition, when a shadow dancer make a running jump, the distance it covers increases by 5 feet.
Blood Under the Moon. Shadow dancers are always based in a demonic shrine dedicated to some Dark Lord of the lower planes whom they serve. When frozen in statue form they are nigh-indestructible. When animated by moonlight they set out to shed humanoid blood for their master. Shadow dancers prefer to capture living victims to kill in their lair, which will have some ghastly device for this purpose, such as a manacle-equipped altar to their lord. Once their unholy sacrifice is complete, the ebon fiends celebrate by dancing and cavorting in the night air.

While out for lunch today I came up with some alternative phrases I preferred "Elegant Acrobat" and "dancing and exulting in the moonlit night."

The former because the original text used "elegant" as a descriptor twice, plus I realized "Dancing Grace" could mean many things, while "Acrobat" was clearer as to the ability's function.

The latter because "cavorting" is (a) a sort of dancing and (b) sounds a trifle twee compared to "exulting".

I'll edit in those changes.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Okay - have incorporated changes. DnDBeyond doesn't like the name "Shadow Dancer" as there is an NPC called Shadow Dancer on file :(
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Okay - have incorporated changes.

It doesn't have the change to its Speed (removing the Climb speed and reducing the ground speed by 10 or 20).

i.e. instead of Speed 60 ft., climb 40 ft. the proposed change was:

Speed 40 ft.

or

Speed 50 ft.

Of the two, I'd lean towards the 50 ft.

If you want to keep a Climb speed than the Elegant Acrobat ability would need a slight tweak, since that assumes it does not have a Climb speed. Using a Climb speed does not cost extra movement when climbing, the extra movement cost is for Strength (Athletics) climbing.

DnDBeyond doesn't like the name "Shadow Dancer" as there is an NPC called Shadow Dancer on file :(

So will we need to rename them then?
 

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