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

Cleon

Legend
Will likely increase the "time of death" to 12-18 minutes, which could be rolled as 2d6×5 + 2d6 + 108 rounds (2d6×5 is 10-60, plus 2d6 is 12-72 plus 108 is 120-180 rounds and there's 10 rounds to a minute) or more simply 2d4 + 10 minutes. Either way, an average of 15 minutes. Gives a rescue party a little longer to arrive at the scene.

Scrub that, 3d20 + 1d4 + 116 gives a much nicer probability distribution for 120-180.

One that's actually a proper bellcurve, for a start!

The large sized dice also make it nice and flat, so there's a reasonable 1.84% chance of them surviving till the final minute or dying in the first minute (589 permutations out of 32,000 to be precise).

It's not as likely as the 6.25% of just rolling 2d4 for the minutes followed by a d10 for the round in the minute, but that gives an equal chance per round in any given minute, while the above four dice has the odds decrease for each and every round away from the midpoint of 150.
 

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Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Right - yes love the sprucing up of the enslaver- otherwise it is just pretty inert. I realise Roger E. Moore must have got some inspiration from Heinlein, given the nickname and form etc. Your changes make it a little more faithful to Heinlein and alot more interesting. Have added some biology into it to give it a bit of a rationale for what it does. I still think it fills an interesting niche in gameplay. Just realised the dominate power and damage buff it to CR 1
 

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Cleon

Legend
Right - yes love the sprucing up of the enslaver- otherwise it is just pretty inert. I realise Roger E. Moore must have got some inspiration from Heinlein, given the nickname and form etc.

Well the fact Moore called it a "Puppet Lord" is a bit of a giveaway!

Your changes make it a little more faithful to Heinlein and alot more interesting. Have added some biology into it to give it a bit of a rationale for what it does. I still think it fills an interesting niche in gameplay. Just realised the dominate power and damage buff it to CR 1

Not really, the novel versions were "touch your skin and you're enslaved", so they were like the save-or-suck version you posted first.

The pseudopods & higher speed were the movie version, to make them more "cinematic". Having an enemy only capable of slithering very slowly is incompatible with kinetic drama, I suppose.

Just realised the dominate power and damage buff it to CR 1

Looks nice.

Let's see…

Tiny ooze
Come to think of it, it doesn't have to be an ooze. It could be an aberration (it is an alien, being from outer space!) or perhaps a monstrosity?

Ooze is fine, unless you prefer aberration.

Speed
Maybe make the swim 20 ft. so it's as fast as its land speed?

Skills
It seems odd for a Genius level sapient not to have any skills. The ones in the book learned how to build spacecraft!

Any ideas for a skill or two? Stealth would be a start. Guess it needs Deception to pretend to be its host.

Resistance/Immunities
You've given this thing an awfully large pile of these - one Damage Resistance, two Damage Immunities and nine Condition Immunities. The original White Dwarf monster had none of them.

My guess is you used an "Ooze template" and forgot to change them.

I'd be tempted to cut those all out, but upon reflection leaving it Condition Immunities charmed, frightened would be fine.

Dominating Touch (pseudopod).
I made this a Melee Spell Attack in my proposal to justify it using its Int bonus (hence the "+4 to hit"). I'd be game to increase that further to +5 or +6 to hit, any I'd also increase the base damage. You want these to do enough psychic damage they have a good chance of enslaving someone.

Let's see, Ghouls are Challenge 1 and do 2d6+2 with their bite, and their claws do 2d4+2 plus paralysis (DC 10). So maybe 1d10 or 2d6? I'd be game to go higher to 2d8, but that'll likely increase the creature's Challenge.

Adding pseudopod in brackets looks a bit clunky, so maybe just Dominating Pseudopod without the Touch?

Description
There's some good stuff here, I especially like the "hosts released from an enslaver's control" in Description although (a) the Con DC seems a bit high and it could maybe do with some tidying up.

However, that paragraph better belongs in the Stat Block, as it will hopefully be used in play when the PCs free someone from enslavement!

The reproduction bit might be better in the Stat Block too.

Some of the text is a bit wordy, and I think it should keep the "blob of mercury" look of the original White Dwarf monster so the Heinlein ripoff is a bit less obvious.

The "scholarly speculation" at the end is surplus to requirements, but leave it in if you like.

I don't think we need to mention Heinlein in the credit. Neither Moore or Fiore bothered in One-Eye Canyon!

Reworking…

Enslaver
[Tiny aberration or Tiny ooze (choose one!)]

Saving Throws Int +6
Skills Deception +6, Stealth +6
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened
Senses Passive Perception 14
Languages able to speak and understand the languages of its host
Challenge 1 (200 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Actions

Dominating Pseudopod. Melee Spell Attack, +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10+4) psychic damage, if the damage reduces the target to 0 hit points the enslaver can use Enslave (see Reactions). This psychic damage cannot reduce the target to negative hit points.

Reactions

Enslave. If an enslaver is in contact with a target reduced to 0 hit points or less by Dominating Pseudopod, the target must succeed at a DC 16 Wisdom check or be dominated for as long as the enslaver remains in contact with them. When an enslaver dominates a target, its new slave immediately regains any hit points of psychic damage they took from Dominating Touch. If the target makes the save, they must save again every round the enslaver is in contact with them.

An enslaver-dominated host gains the enslaver's immunity to being charmed or frightened and cannot be harmed by psychic damage.

Hosts released from an enslaver's control make a DC 14 Constitution save to avoid taking 1d10 psychic damage and being stunned for 1d8 rounds. Hosts that fail the first save must make a second DC 14 Constitution save to avoid an additional 5d10 psychic damage that renders them unconscious for 1 minute, and after they regain consciousness they will be stunned for 2d8 rounds. This psychic damage cannot reduce the freed host to negative hit points, but a freed host who is reduced to 0 hit points by it must succeed at another DC 14 Constitution save or die from the shock.

Split. If an enslaver controls a host with 7 or more Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, then every 2d4+2 weeks the creature enslaves its host it splits into two new enslavers, one of which leaves the host to seek its own victim.

Description

Also known as a Puppet Lord, the enslave looks like an amoeba-like creature made of mercury about 9 inches in diameter. It normally moves by rolling or inching along like a caterpillar or worm. When it attacks, it launches a pseudopod resembling the extendable tongue of a frog.

Body-Controlling Parasites. The touch of an enslaver, regardless of body part, results in the opponent being subjected to a blast of psychic energy that attacks their consciousness. A victim who takes enough psychic damage becomes the creature's mentally dominated slave for as long as the enslaver keeps touching their skin. The puppeteered host will collect the enslaver and conceal it on their body, under clothing or other cover, allowing the enslaver to maintain continuous contact. This will be done secretly if possible.

Malevolent Masters. Enslaver-dominated people do not react to pain or similar stimuli, but otherwise act much as before. Enslavers seek to destroy good aligned creatures where possible. They do not care for a host's condition, unconcerned if their puppet is injured or destroyed. There are always other hosts. An enslaver's skill at hiding on a host means that only thorough examination will discover it, and the host will do everything the enslaver can think of to avoid exposure.

Mitosis. After an enslaver has fed off a sapient being for a few months, they will have gained enough surplus vitality to reproduce. Less intelligent creatures do not give off sufficient psychic energy to sustain an enslaver. However, at a pinch an enslaver can control an animal to escape a difficult situation or find a better host. [Scholars have postulated that enslavers' rarity is due to the long period required to reproduce, and behavior that often gives away a host's abnormal condition before reproduction is possible. (maybe cut this?)]

(Originally created by Roger E. Moore, appearing in White Dwarf Magazine #21 (Oct/Nov 1980) as part of the Fiend Factory D&D scenario "One-Eye Canyon" by Albie Fiore.)

EDIT: After posting the above, I decided it was easier just doing a full monster since I can edit it as needed for use as the Enworld version of this conversion. See the following post.
 
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Cleon

Legend
Enslaver
Tiny aberration, chaotic evil
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 18 (4d4 + 8)
Speed 20 ft., burrow 10 ft., swim 20 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
5 (–3)​
13 (+1)​
14 (+2)​
18 (+4)​
14 (+2)​
15 (+2)​

Saving Throws Int +6
Skills Deception +6, Perception +4, Stealth +5
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, frightened
Senses blindsight 30 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages able to speak and understand the languages of its host
Challenge 1 (200 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

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

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

Split. If an enslaver Enslaves a host with 7 or more Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma, then after every 2d4 + 2 weeks of enslavement the aberration splits into two new enslavers, one of which leaves the host to seek its own victim.

Actions

Dominating Pseudopod. Melee Weapon Attack, +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d12+4) psychic damage and stunned for 1 round, if the target succeeds at a DC 12 Wisdom save they take half damage and are not stunned. The psychic damage cannot reduce the target to negative hit points. If the damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the enslaver can use Enslave (see Reactions).

An enslaver cannot use Dominating Pseudopod while it has a creature dominated with Enslave.

Reactions

Enslave. If an enslaver is in contact with a target reduced to 0 hit points or less by Dominating Pseudopod, the target must succeed at a DC 14 Wisdom check or be dominated (as per the dominate monster spell) for as long as the enslaver remains in contact with them. When an enslaver dominates a target, its new slave immediately regains any hit points of psychic damage they took from Dominating Pseudopod. If the target makes the save, they must save again every round the enslaver is in contact with them. An enslaver can only enslave one creature at a time, and must release its current host before trying to enslave another.

An enslaver-dominated host gains the enslaver's immunity to being blinded, charmed or frightened and cannot be harmed by psychic damage.

Hosts released from an enslaver's control must make a DC 14 Constitution save to avoid taking 1d12 psychic damage and being stunned for 1d8 rounds. Hosts that fail the first save must make a second DC 14 Constitution save to avoid an additional 4d12 psychic damage that renders them unconscious for 1 minute, and after they regain consciousness they will be stunned for 2d8 rounds. This psychic damage cannot reduce the freed host to negative hit points, but a released host who is reduced to 0 hit points by it must succeed at another DC 14 Constitution save or die from the shock.


Description

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. It normally moves by rolling or inching along like a caterpillar or worm. Enslavers are rarely encountered in groups of more than two or three.

Body-Controlling Parasites. The touch of an enslaver, regardless of body part, results in the opponent being subjected to a blast of psychic energy that attacks their consciousness. A victim who takes enough psychic damage becomes the creature's mentally dominated slave for as long as the enslaver remains in contact. The puppeteered host will collect the enslaver and conceal it on their body, under clothing or other cover, allowing the enslaver to maintain continuous contact. This will be done secretly if possible.

Malevolent Masters. Enslaver-dominated creatures do not react to pain or similar stimuli, but otherwise act much as before. Enslavers seek to destroy good aligned creatures where possible. They do not care about the host's condition and are unconcerned if their puppet is injured or destroyed. There are always other hosts. An enslaver's skill at hiding on a host means that only thorough examination will discover it, and the host will do everything the enslaver can think of to avoid exposure.

Mitosis. After an enslaver has fed off a sapient being for a few months, they will have gained enough surplus vitality to reproduce. Less intelligent creatures do not give off sufficient psychic energy to sustain an enslaver. However, at a pinch an enslaver can control an animal to escape a difficult situation or find a better host.

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.

(Originally created by Roger E. Moore; appeared in White Dwarf Magazine #21 (Oct/Nov 1980) as part of the Fiend Factory mini-module "One-Eye Canyon", edited by Albie Fiore.)
 
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Cleon

Legend
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 19 (3d4 + 12)

Okay, transcribing the above made me realize it didn't have (natural armor), which is presumably why it's AC 14.

Also, doesn't Constitution 18 feel too high? They don't seem to be hardier than a regular creature.

Maybe give them lower Con and more Hit Dice?

Let's see, to keep it at around 19 hit points, our options are:

Hit Points 22 (4d4 + 12)
Constitution 16 (+3)

Hit Points 18 (4d4 + 8)
Constitution 14 (+2)

Hit Points 17 (5d4 + 5)
Constitution 12 (+1)

Hit Points 21 (6d4 + 6)
Constitution 12 (+1)

Hit Points 20 (8d4)
Constitution 10 (+0)

Do any of those appeal to you?

I like the 18 hp (4d4+8), Con 14 (+2) one the best, followed at a distance by the 20 hp (8d4), Con 10.

There are creatures with 8d4 Hit Dice in the 5eSRD, but I can't find any that aren't Third-Party Products. There are none in the core 5E Monster Manual.

The MM does have Tiny monsters with MORE Hit Dice thought, topped by the Demilich with 80 hp (32d4), Con 10 (+0)!

The closest that book has to 8d4 plus nothing HD is the Will-o'-Wisp with 22 hp (9d4), Con 10 (+0).

A Flameskull has 40 hp (9d4+18), Con 14 (+2), showing you can have Tiny monsters with decent Constitutions.

The Intellect Devourer has 21 hp (6d4+6) like one of the Options, except it has Con 13 (+1) instead (not that that matters for this comparison).

EDIT: I only linked the Will-o'-Wisp above, since many of the monsters are covered by Product Identity. Thus they are either missing from the 5eSRD.com or are versions from Third Party Publications which have different stats to the official creatures in WotC publications.

For example, the 3PP Intellect Devourer [8d4+16, Con 14 (+2)] by Frog God Games and Demi-Lich [hp 110 (20d4+60), Con 17 (+3)] by Necromancer Games, both of which have more hp than the sanctioned versions.
 
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Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Ok - did most - you're right, I lifted ooze template.Made it an aberration as it suited it as alien mind cotroller more than ooze - and liquid metal went more with that (could argue either way I guess). I made it resistant to fire and cold as it is a metal - so figured it would bemore resistant to temperature change than organic critters.

It has no eyes..how can it be blinded..?

I figured on 18 CON as it was made of metal (iron golem has 20 CON)...can't think of any other metallic monsters...? Will look at some other examples. Happy to reconsider...
 

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Casimir Liber

Adventurer
living iron statue has 18 CON, Iron cobra has 14...

why does the 18 hp (4d4+8), Con 14 (+2) one appeal to you the most? Honest question and happy to be swayed by answer/reasoning.
 
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Cleon

Legend
Ok - did most - you're right, I lifted ooze template.Made it an aberration as it suited it as alien mind cotroller more than ooze - and liquid metal went more with that (could argue either way I guess). I made it resistant to fire and cold as it is a metal - so figured it would bemore resistant to temperature change than organic critters.

It has no eyes..how can it be blinded..?

I figured on 18 CON as it was made of metal (iron golem has 20 CON)...can't think of any other metallic monsters...? Will look at some other examples. Happy to reconsider...

living iron statue has 18 CON, Iron cobra has 14...

why does the 18 hp (4d4+8), Con 14 (+2) one appeal to you the most? Honest question and happy to be swayed by answer/reasoning.

It only looks like mercury, it's not made from that element. It's amorphous alien flesh in a shiny skin. Even if it was literally made of metal, Mercury is not noted for it resilience to damage, being liquid at normal temperatures and all. No-one talks about something being "as tough as mercury".

My preference for 4d4+8 and Con 14 was initially because that gave the result closest to the original hit points of 19 and I didn't want to stray too far from that. That still reduced the Con to something more typical of a low- to mid-HD creature that's much smaller than a human.

The Iron Cobra you referred to has Con 14, same as my proposal. By the way, to what version of the Cobra do you refer? The Iron Cobra on 5eSRD.com is a 3PP Tome of Horrors version with Con 13 not 14.

I also like the 8d4 and Con 10 version because (a) having lots of Hit Dice seems more suited for a creature with a powerful special ability, while (b) having a mediocre Con matches the gelatin-like body I imagine (or remember?) the original Heinlein monster having.

It has no eyes..how can it be blinded..?

That's a good point. I'm happy to give it immunity to Blindness as per your current draft.

However, the White Dwarf monster had no special resistance to damage, although it was immune to fear, charm and the like.

I've just realized I forgot a few things for the Enslaver. I'll explain in a later post.
 

Cleon

Legend
Ok - did most - you're right, I lifted ooze template.Made it an aberration as it suited it as alien mind cotroller more than ooze - and liquid metal went more with that (could argue either way I guess). I made it resistant to fire and cold as it is a metal - so figured it would bemore resistant to temperature change than organic critters.

Version #5 has the old "Reproduction" paragraph still tagged on at the end after "Mitosis." That contains nothing that isn't in Mitosis or Split, so should be cut.

I suspect Split should be a special trait, not a Reaction. It doesn't perform a reflex action to use it, per se. Just feed an enslaver enough and it grows fat and becomes two enslavers.

Still, it makes sense after Enslave since that's how the series of events in an enslaver encounter would go.

For Dominating Pseudopod, I still prefer "Melee Spell Attack: +4 to hit" over "Melee Attack: +3 to hit". Firstly, because it needs "Weapon" or "Spell" in the Attack Italic to suggest what abilities apply. Secondly, to get a +3 to hit with its –3 Strength and Dexterity modifier it would have to add a +6 proficiency bonus, which seems awfully high for a Challenge 1 creature.
 

Cleon

Legend
I've just realized I forgot a few things for the Enslaver. I'll explain in a later post.

Okay, firstly, the original monster had "will-force spell or psionic attacks, such as fear, scare, emotion, or charm, are completely ineffective against an enslaver or a person controlled by an enslaver. An enslaver may only attempt to control one person at a time."

So we should give the enslaver immunity to psychic damage as well as the host:

Damage Immunities psychic​
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, frightened​
While enslaved, the dominated host gains the enslaver's immunities to being blinded, charmed or frightened and its immunity to psychic damage.​

We should clarify Enslave only works on one creature at a time, but that makes me wonder about the details.

For example, can an Enslaver still use its Dominating Pseudopod while enslaving a host or does it have to "unplug" its pseudopod from a host before it can pseodopod-attack another?

Enslavers can deliberately separate themselves from hosts: they'd be little sense enslaving an animal to search for a new host if they were stuck to the animal.

In the novel, a Puppet Master could transfer itself from one host to another (one used a cat to enter the hero's home). Come to think of it, I also vaguely recall that a person would carry multiple Masters to spread them around.

So when an Enslaver splits, could one enslave the host while the other one just rides the host, then if they come upon another creature either one (if enslaving prevents Dominating Pseudopod use) or both (if it doesn't) can pseudopod-attack the creature so one of the enslavers can claim it as their host?

The adventure One-Eye Canyon has two enslavers, one with a 5th level fighter host and the other in the same cave with no host, but there's no mention of them co-operating.

Maybe this is the main difference between the Enslavers and Heinlein's Puppet Masters. They are not hive-mind cooperative creatures like the latter, but individualistic creatures who don't work together (hence the Chaotic Evil alignment).

Maybe they're all narcissistic tyrants? They presumably don't fight each other as much as most CE creatures, otherwise the host-riding enslaver would have killed or driven away the other one in its cave, who is presumably its offspring (or, rather, the "other half of itself" as they would be mitosis-siblings).

That suggests the Pseudopod and Enslave abilities need a little tweaking.

Maybe add the lines "Can only attack when not enslaving a creature (see Reactions)" and "Can only enslave one creature, and must release a current host before trying to enslave another" line to them and adjust the rest?

Also wondering if we should make add a comment or two about their psychology to the Description. Mostly do they work together to try enslaving as many people as possible, or are they narcisstic tyrants who ignore each other, or perhaps never attack other enslavers but often kill their hosts in power struggles?

EDIT: It seems prudent to agree on what we'd like for the above Pseudopod / Enslave / Description tweaks before working on the details.
 
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