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

Cleon

Adventurer
Before I get too distracted, I'd better add the Nandie-Bear (Kerit) to the White Dwarf Conversion Index and the Completed Fifth Edition Creatures Index

…Done!​

Right - so after discussion I did make it Medium so has 45HP average (6d8+18) - changed walk/climb speed to 30/30

Yes, we agreed on that. I'll tweak the Gu'en-Deeko working draft to match.

These were your working points:
  • A gu'en-deeko gains proficiency in any skills possessed by a humanoid whose brain it eats.
  • A gu'en-deeko gains the memories, knowledge-based racial traits and languages of any humanoid whose brain it eats but does not gain any physiological traits of the humanoid's race. For example, if it ate a dwarf it would gain Dwarven Combat Training, Tool Proficiency, Stonecunning and Languages, but it would not gain a dwarf's Ability Score Increase, Size, Speed, Darkvision or Dwarven Resilience.
  • In addition, a gu'en-deeko gains the class abilities of any humanoids of level # or lower whose brains it eats. These abilities never stack, if it gains multiple abilities only the highest level one applies. For example, if it ate the brains of a 2nd-level cleric, a 3rd-level bard, and a 3rd-level druid a gu'en-deeko gains 3rd-level Spellcasting, not three separate sets of Spellcasting (see below for how Gu'en-Deeko spells function). It could, in theory, gain multiple abilities that use spells provided they are different types of magic-use. For example, it could possess the Innate Spellcasting from multiple sources, such as a Drow Elf and a Svirfneblin.
  • If a gu'en-deeko eats the brain of a humanoid of level #+1 or higher, if gains the class abilities of that humanoid until it eats the brain of another humanoid of the same level or higher. If that happens, the gu'en-deeko gains the class abilities of the new brain and the class abilities it gained from the previous high-level brain are reduced to a #-level character of that class.
  • If a gu'en-deeko eats the brain of a humanoid whose level exceeds its [6] Hit Dice, the gu'en-deeko must make a DC 15 wisdom roll or go insane and believe itself to actually be the individual whose brain it ate, despite any evidence to the contrary [I prefer this as a high probability not a foregone conclusion]
Other issues - do the skills/abilities "fade" after a time or just get overlain...

The Gu'en-Deeko also gets increased Hit Points by eating brains.

Rather than a flat DC 15, I preferred the "save for insanity" be higher for victims with lots of levels and/or strong personalities, maybe base it on the brain donor's proficiency bonus and mental ability modifiers?

Other issues - do the skills/abilities "fade" after a time or just get overlain...

I was thinking the abilities/skills/abilities of a low-level brain fade after a year but those from a high-level brain are permanent until replaced by another high-level brain, which reduces the old high-level brain to 3rd level.
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
I'm wondering whether we've given the Gu'en-deeko too high a CON.

The original monster had 5D8 Hit Dice, so it didn't have any adds to that.

An AD&D Carnivorous Ape also has 5d8 Hit Dice. The closest official 5E equivalent to that is the Ape, which has STR 16 (+3), DEX 14 (+2), CON 14 (+2). That's a Medium sized beastie like the Gu'en.

The Tome of Horrors non-official Dire Ape is a 5E interpretation of the Carnivorous Ape but looks more powerful than the AD&D and 3E versions, being more like the giant Gray Ape in that Iron Shadows Conan tale.

So I'm wondering about giving our boy similar Dexterity and Constitution to a 5E Ape, let's say DEX 14, CON 15?

If we lower the CON I'd increase the number of Hit Dice to compensate. Maybe to 45 (7d8 + 14) if we want to keep the HP the same? If we aim to increase the HP, we could go for 52 (8d8 + 16) or even 65 (10d8+20).

Also, a Gu'en-deeko should probable use Fist like an Ape rather than Claw like a Bear. There's nary a mention of claws in the monster's description, which says it attacks with "powerful hands". The damage of a pair of 1d6+4 fists/claws is also a bit low for Challenge 3. Maybe increase that to 1d8+4 or 1d8+6?

I'm also tempted to give it a weak ranged weapon such as a Nandie-Ape's rock throwing.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I'm thinking Challenge is too high for the basic Gu'en-Deeko numbers.

A Bandit Captain is CR 2 and has more HP and damage output. The basic Gu'en-deeko is looking like a CR 2 to me.

Gu'en-deeko that eaten high-level brain will presumably be higher Challenge. A 6th-level or so spellcaster is about CR 3, and the "wizard" version I intend to represent Thaak should be at least that level.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Your rationale for dropping CON is sound. Regarding HD, am thinking it depends on where the critter will be most interesting to play. It is introduced in a low-level adventure, but as an end-adventure quasi-boss encounter. Hence am in two minds (literally, could go either way on this) regarding HD.

Giving it some rock-throwing is good as as I DM more am seeing alot of PCs manouevring out of melee range (more than 1-2e!)

Fist rather than claw makes sense too.

Strongly agree with variable DC save dependent on high-HD/lvl brain eaten. Had forgotten we'd discussed before
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Your rationale for dropping CON is sound. Regarding HD, am thinking it depends on where the critter will be most interesting to play. It is introduced in a low-level adventure, but as an end-adventure quasi-boss encounter. Hence am in two minds (literally, could go either way on this) regarding HD.

Well maybe it gains Hit Dice if it eats high-level brains as well as gaining HP? If it gains the abilities of, say, a 15th level character does that mean it becomes a 15 HD creature?

Whatever, the original Thaaak was the end-of-adventure boss more or less, so the "Wizard version" we do should be of a respectable Challenge Rating. Maybe aim for 4 or so?

I think it should be tougher than the Nandie-Bear since the Kerit has all those monkeys to back it up while Thaaak is a solo encounter.

Giving it some rock-throwing is good as as I DM more am seeing alot of PCs manouevring out of melee range (more than 1-2e!)

Well the rock-throwing will only be a fallback for ranged engagements. Most Gu'en-deeko will have missile weapon and/or spell attacks gained by brain-eating.

Fist rather than claw makes sense too.

Time to update the Gu'en-Deeko then!

Upon reflection, it should have Athletics proficiency in its Skills as it's a climber like an Ape.

Also not sure about the proficiency in Stealth, since the original monster had no increased odds of surprise. Might leave that out.

Oh, and I removed the Damage Resistance cold as it's unsupported in the original text.

Strongly agree with variable DC save dependent on high-HD/lvl brain eaten. Had forgotten we'd discussed before

Yup, I was thinking the DC would be 10 + victim's proficiency bonus (PB) + victim's highest mental ability modifier.

Taking some official 5E NPCs as examples: a Bandit Captain is merely DC 14 from its +2 PB, CHA 14 (+2); while a Mage is DC 16 from +3 PB, INT 17 (+3); and an Archmage or Hierophant is DC 19 from their +4 PB and INT 20 (+5) or WIS 20 (+5).

We'd need some criteria for when insanity checks are necessary. Most likely, it's a risk either [#1] if the save DC or the brain's level/CR is above a certain number, or [#2] if the victim whose brain is eaten is higher HD or Challenge Rating than the Gu'en-deeko currently, or [#3] some combination of the two, like if the save DC OR level/Challenge of the new brain is higher than the current brain's save DC?

It depends on whether we want there to be a risk of a personality from a slightly lower-level but more mentally prominent creature overwriting the current personality?

i.e. if a Gu'en-deeko ate an 11th-level WIS 15 fighter's brain and then ate a 9th-level CHA 20 bard's brain, is there a chance the bard's more powerful personality will take over?
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Oh, and what mental attribute will control its Spellcasting? Currently it's only worthwhile Mental stat is Wisdom.

If it uses the standard fallback of Charisma, we either need to give it a higher CHA stat or say its CHA increases with brain eating. Maybe its CHA equals the highest spellcasting stat of any brain it's eaten? So if it ate a INT 20 Archmage it gains CHA 20?

The Gu'en-deeko doesn't become more Intelligent from eating brains - Thaaak is still Low intelligence despite thinking he's the wizard Tizun Thane, who presumably had an INT higher than 7!
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Agree on dropping stealth (and adding athletics) for reasons outlined (I like the idea of DC being 10 + victim's proficiency bonus (PB) + victim's highest mental ability modifier)

I'd say sanity check on eating the risky brain - so once only (per risky brain).

Charisma idea is a great fit - Cha = highest spellcasting stat of any brain it's eaten whose abilities are still "active". So if it is eating grunts for a few months it loses its abilities (and charisma) again. And all its spellcasting uses charisma modifier.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Agree on dropping stealth (and adding athletics) for reasons outlined (I like the idea of DC being 10 + victim's proficiency bonus (PB) + victim's highest mental ability modifier)

I'd say sanity check on eating the risky brain - so once only (per risky brain).

Well I wasn't planning on having it save multiple times for the same brain!

The main question is what constitutes a "risky brain" that risks personality-overwriting insanity. It doesn't happen if it eats the brains of run-of-the-mill victims but only particularly strong willed creatures.

Charisma idea is a great fit - Cha = highest spellcasting stat of any brain it's eaten whose abilities are still "active". So if it is eating grunts for a few months it loses its abilities (and charisma) again. And all its spellcasting uses charisma modifier.

It'd be easier if it keeps the highest spellcasting stat of a brain it's eaten as long as it retains any Spellcasting ability rather than keep track of each spellcasting brain's stat and when it ate them, then reverts to its base CHA as soon as it loses its spellcasting.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Noticed an error with the Fircarl. Its WIS saving throw should be +1 not +0.

Also thinking the Resin-Thrall should be stupider than INT 7 (−2) since it's little better than a Zombie, so have changed it to 5 (−3) so it's halfway between a Fircarl and the Resin-Hound's INT 2.
 



Cleon

Adventurer
Better get on with that description for the Jarl!

Okay! Here's what I've come up with:
A pine kindred jarl is a mighty undead chieftain who rules a tribe of pine kindred. These spellcasters look like pine kindred thanes but often have elaborate crowns, horned headdresses, carved staffs and other complex paraphernalia that reflect their status, especially when the jarl performs spells or ceremonies.​
Pine Kindred Creation. The jarl is usually the only pine kindred in a tribe able to create full-blooded pine kindred using the Pine Kindred Initiation power. Due to this, the tribe’s pine kindred view the jarl not just as their ruler and prophet, but as their parent; considering themselves all to be daughters or sons of the jarl (Note this disregards the gender of the humanoid the tribe member was when alive: thus, If the jarl is viewed as female, all the tribe members are “daughters”). Powerful jarls are also able to produce full-blooded pine kindred using a Dark Druidic Mystery spell called create pine kindred, similar to the necromancy spell create undead.​
Groves of Death. A jarl performs most of their important magics, especially the Pine Kindred Initiation ritual, in an unholy grove. These are gruesome places where ancient living and dead pine trees loom over blood-soaked altars, ancient stones and wooden idols, all carved with occult runes. The jarl and their attending thanes dwell nearby in the Jarl’s Hall.​
Jarldoms. The territory of a jarl is called a jarldom. A pine forest may contain a single jarldom, but large and ancient forests may have multiple jarls within them. If two or more pine jarldoms exist in close proximity, they will either be deadly rivals or one of the jarls will rule over the others. Such a pine king may be no more powerful personally than its subordinate jarls, although it often is, and is almost always the ruler of the oldest and largest pine kindred tribe. The jarls under the king’s command are usually former thanes of his that progressed far enough in the Dark Druidic Mysteries they became jarls in their own right. Once a pine kindred becomes a jarl they found their own tribe of pine kindred apart from their parent community. Relations between jarldoms can be as complex as mortal politics, with much jockeying for power and prestige, which often includes espionage to try stealing the magical secrets of a rival jarl. It’s rare for a subordinate jarl to not be a descendant of the king’s sapline, such jarldoms are effectively conquered territories and far more likely to rebel.​

I think that'll do.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
ok in
Okay! Here's what I've come up with:
A pine kindred jarl is a mighty undead chieftain who rules a tribe of pine kindred. These spellcasters look like pine kindred thanes but often have elaborate crowns, horned headdresses, carved staffs and other complex paraphernalia that reflect their status, especially when the jarl performs spells or ceremonies.​
Pine Kindred Creation. The jarl is usually the only pine kindred in a tribe able to create full-blooded pine kindred using the Pine Kindred Initiation power. Due to this, the tribe’s pine kindred view the jarl not just as their ruler and prophet, but as their parent; considering themselves all to be daughters or sons of the jarl (Note this disregards the gender of the humanoid the tribe member was when alive: thus, If the jarl is viewed as female, all the tribe members are “daughters”). Powerful jarls are also able to produce full-blooded pine kindred using a Dark Druidic Mystery spell called create pine kindred, similar to the necromancy spell create undead.​
Groves of Death. A jarl performs most of their important magics, especially the Pine Kindred Initiation ritual, in an unholy grove. These are gruesome places where ancient living and dead pine trees loom over blood-soaked altars, ancient stones and wooden idols, all carved with occult runes. The jarl and their attending thanes dwell nearby in the Jarl’s Hall.​
Jarldoms. The territory of a jarl is called a jarldom. A pine forest may contain a single jarldom, but large and ancient forests may have multiple jarls within them. If two or more pine jarldoms exist in close proximity, they will either be deadly rivals or one of the jarls will rule over the others. Such a pine king may be no more powerful personally than its subordinate jarls, although it often is, and is almost always the ruler of the oldest and largest pine kindred tribe. The jarls under the king’s command are usually former thanes of his that progressed far enough in the Dark Druidic Mysteries they became jarls in their own right. Once a pine kindred becomes a jarl they found their own tribe of pine kindred apart from their parent community. Relations between jarldoms can be as complex as mortal politics, with much jockeying for power and prestige, which often includes espionage to try stealing the magical secrets of a rival jarl. It’s rare for a subordinate jarl to not be a descendant of the king’s sapline, such jarldoms are effectively conquered territories and far more likely to rebel.​

I think that'll do.
ok incorporated
 



Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Updating the Pine Kindred Jarl.

We appear to have forgotten to assign the Jarl its spells. For that matter, the Pine Kindred Thane is still short two spells, since it just has a "third spell" listed as its last 1st and 2nd level spells. Oops!

Any preferences for filling those gaps?
for the thane - darkness for the 2nd level spell, and faerie fire and shield as the extra 1st level spells

I guess we assume the jarl has the same 1st and 2nd level spells...and then add sleet storm, call lightning....and...I initially had hunger of Hadar but keeping to open source rules am tossing up between fear, counterspell, dispel magic....open to spitballing here....vampiric touch maybe..?
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
for the thane - darkness for the 2nd level spell, and faerie fire and shield as the extra 1st level spells

That'd leave it a bit low on damage dealing spells though. I'd think we'd want at least one in there if not one 1st-level and one 2nd-level.

Also, we seem to be overloading it on area denial/obscuring spells - does it really need darkness, entangle, faerie fire, fog cloud AND spike growth!

How about charm person as a subtle way to capture sacrificial victims?

Will get back to you on this.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Will get back to you on this.

Okay, how's this. We where talking about making the Dark Druidic Mysteries some equivalent to Druid Circles.

A 4th-level druid spellcaster like the Pine Kindred Thane has one Circle, and normally a Circle grants two bonus spells and a cantrip at 3rd-level. The base 4th-level druid gets 2 cantrips plus spells equal to their caster level + Wisdom modifier (which is 6 spells for a Thane).

That means the Thane has 3 cantrips and 8 spells in total.

Going by examples like the Circle of Burning, Circle of the Lost and Circle of Oaks, the bonus Circle spells can be a 1st plus a 2nd or two 2nd-level spells.

We might as well give it spells that aren't on the SRD druid list as its "Circle" spells.

Why did we give it gust as the bonus cantrip again? It doesn't seem very "dark evil druid" to just puff a bit of air at a creature. Plus it's effects are really feeble.

Hmm, that Circle of the Lost seems a good source of ideas, as their powers are connected to death and undeath.

How about this for the Thane:
* Some pine kindred know spells from outside the druid's spell list (see Dark Druidic Mysteries in Pine Kindred).
 

Cleon

Adventurer
I guess we assume the jarl has the same 1st and 2nd level spells...and then add sleet storm, call lightning....and...I initially had hunger of Hadar but keeping to open source rules am tossing up between fear, counterspell, dispel magic....open to spitballing here....vampiric touch maybe..?

I'd rather mix it up a bit and give the Jarl some different spells. Maybe flaming sphere instead of spike growth?

Also, a 6th level druid gains a second Druid Circle, so the jarl might have another set of Dark Druidic Mystery bonus spells.
 


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