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


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Cleon

Legend
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

Animated by 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 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 an 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. An active shadowdancer becomes demonic-looking; its hawk-like face reveals flame-red eyes and a fanged mouth, and its 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

Legend
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

Legend
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

Legend
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
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Can speak the language(s) of its victims (see Brain Eating)
Challenge 2 (450 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Brain-Eating. If the gu'en-deeko spends 10 (2d3 + 6) minutes* eating the brain of a freshly killed humanoid (one who died less than 30 minutes previously), it gains the memories and many of the abilities of that humanoid one hour later. A gu'en-deeko can absorb skills, knowledge-based racial abilities such as Dwarven Combat Training, languages and most class abilities from the brain, but does not gain any physical traits or racial abilities of the humanoid whose brain it ate such as Darkvision, racial Ability Score Increases, or Dwarven Resilience.
 *If it matters, the exact number of rounds it takes the gu'en-deeko to crack open a dead humanoid's skull and devour the brain can be determined by rolling 3d12 + 1d8 + 76.
 If a gu'en-deeko absorbs the brain of a humanoid with a level 3 or lower and a Challenge Rating of 1 or less, the skills, racial abilities, traits and class abilities it absorbed from this low-powered brain last for 1 year. The gu'en-deeko retains the brain's memories after the year ends, but none of the powers it gained. A gu'en-deeko can possess the powers of up to five low-powered brains, if it eats a sixth the new brain replace the oldest of the low-powered brains in the gu'en-deeko's repertoire.
 If a gu'en-deeko eats the brain of a humanoid with a level of 4 or higher or a Challenge Rating of 2 or more, the powers it gains last until it eats the brain of another humanoid whose level or Challenge Rating is the same or higher. If that happens, the gu'en-deeko gains the powers of the new brain and those powers it gained from the previous high-level brain are reduced to a 3rd-level character of that class, then vanish a year later (as above).
 If a gu'en-deeko eats the brain of a humanoid with a level of 6 or higher, a Challenge Rating of 3 or more, or a mental ability (INT, WIS, CHA) of 16 or higher, the gu'en-deeko must succeed at a Wisdom saving throw against a DC equal to 10 plus the Proficiency Bonus and highest Mental Ability Bonus of the humanoid the brain came from or go insane, believing itself to be the humanoid whose brain it devoured.
 A gu'en-deeko's Charisma score increases to match the highest mental ability score from the brains it has eaten. If a gu'en-deeko acquires the class feature Ability Score Improvement from a stolen brain, it always invests the improvement in a physical ability score (STR, DEX, CON) rather than a mental one, regardless of how the humanoid it stole it from invested that class feature.
 Powers gained via brain-eating never stack; if the gu'en-deeko gains the same ability multiple times, only the most powerful one applies. For example, if a gu'en-deeko ate the brains of a 2nd-level cleric, a 3rd-level bard, and a 3rd-level druid, it gains 3rd-level Spellcasting, not three separate sets of Spellcasting (see below for Gu'en-Deeko Spellcasting). A gu'en-deeko can possess multiple abilities that use spells if they are different types of magic-use. For example, it could possess Innate Spellcasting from multiple sources, such as a Drow Elf and a Svirfneblin, together with Spellcasting from a Wizard and Pact Magic from a Warlock, all at the same time. A gu'en-deeko is unable to gain class features granted by an external power without that power's permission. Thus, if a gu'en-deeko ate the brain of a warlock, the gu'en-deeko would have to strike a bargain with that warlock's otherworldly Patron to gain most of the warlock class abilities.
 If the gained power is controlled by a mental ability (INT, WIS, CHA), it uses the numerical modifiers of the humanoid it was stolen from rather than the gu'en-deeko's. A gu'en-deeko that eats the brain of a druid with Nature +6 will gain Nature +6, not the Nature +1 it would have from its own Intelligence score and Proficiency Bonus.
 If the gained power is controlled by a physical ability (STR, DEX, CON), the gu'en-deeko can use its own ability score bonuses if this would give it a better numerical modifier than the humanoid it was stolen from.
Increased Hit Points: The gu'en-deeko gains bonus hit points from brain-eating. It either gains bonus hit points that give it a hit point total equal to the highest hit points of a humanoid whose brain powers it currently possesses, or it has hit points equal its own hit points (normally 45) plus 1 hit point per Hit Dice possessed by the humanoid with the most HD whose brain it has ever eaten, whichever is higher.
Challenge Rating: A gu'en-deeko normally uses its own CR or the highest CR of the humanoids whose brain powers it possesses, whichever is greater. If the gu'en-deeko has powers from numerous brains that effectively synergy together this might increase its CR at the DM's discretion (use the Dungeon Master's Guide section on monster creation for guidance, pages 273 through 283).
Spellcasting: If the gu'en-deeko eats one or more brains with the Spellcasting power, it uses the highest spellcasting level, spell save DC, to hit with spell attacks and number of spell slots among the brains it has eaten. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma. A gu'en-deeko with Spellcasting cannot change the spells it has prepared like a cleric or wizard, but can only cast the spells the humanoid spellcasters whose brains it ate had prepared at the moment of their deaths. If a gu'en-deeko loses access to a brain's Spellcasting power, all prepared spells from that brain become one-use, fading from the gu'en-deeko's prepared spells list as soon as it casts them. If losing a brain's Spellcasting power causes a gu'en-deeko's number of spell slots to fall, the gu'en-deeko does not lose the spell slots immediately, but its surplus spell slots become one-use and are lost once they're used to cast a spell. If this causes the gu'en-deeko to lose all ability to cast spells of a given level, it also loses all prepared spells of that level.

Actions

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

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


Description

A gu'en-deeko resembles a small yeti with light grey fur, roughly the size of a bugbear. The ape-like creature is enormously strong and has deadly claws powerful enough to tear open humanoid skulls. This rare monstrosity is native to cold mountains in the far North.
Eaters of Brains. Some Northern tribes falsely believe the gu'en-deeko is a human cursed by the gods for partaking in cannibalism. Gu'en-deeko are extremely omnivorous and can survive by eating things most humanoids couldn't stomach, but their favorite food is the brain of a humanoid. If a gu'en-deeko eats a fresh brain it gains the knowledge and abilities of the dead humanoid it came from. It it eats the brain of a humanoid with a strong will or temperament, this can overwhelm the simple mind of a gu'en-deeko and cause it to adopt the personality and mannerisms of the humanoid whose brain it devoured.
Wicked Pets. While a gu'en-deeko is not intrinsically evil, they love the taste of human flesh and makes a very useful servant for an evil master. An infant gu'en-deeko can be raised as a loyal pet and fed the brains of any humanoid whose secrets its owner wishes to know. The gu'en-deeko's master should be careful when feeding it a strong-willed or antagonistic character's brain in case the gu'en-deeko copies its personality, especially if the brain donor will blame the master for their death.

(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

Legend
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

Legend
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

Legend
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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