5E: Fifth Edition Monster Variants Inspired by Fourth Edition Sources

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Mist, Crimson Death
Medium monstrosity, neutral evil

Note: This conversion is based on AD&D's versions of this monster, which was a living vapor. In Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons the Crimson Death became an incorporeal undead, see the "Scarlet Death" for a conversion.

(Originally appeared in Monster Manual II (1983) by Gary Gygax.)
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Casimir Liber

If we're doing 5E interpretations of both types of Vampiric Mist as an undead Scarlet Mist and monstrosity Blood Mist, will we be doing the same for the Crimson Death and doing an undead Scarlet Death and a monstrosity Crimson Death?

EDIT: Might as well do a placeholder for the latter.

Yeah I was thinking along these lines too...

Were you happy with my CR 7 statblock for scarlet death mist or did you want to buff it a little...


Yeah I was thinking along these lines too...

So do you have any changes for the rough draft Scarlet Mist proposal?

If not, it just needs a Description.

Were you happy with my CR 7 statblock for scarlet death mist or did you want to buff it a little...

You mean this one?


Not particularly.

If we're hewing close to the original monster, it doesn't need the Forbiddance or Sunlight Hypersensitivity. None of the earlier edition versions of the Crimson Death had those vampire-like vulnerabilities.

It ought to be Medium not Large.

Armor Class seems too low. The AD&D original was a hard nut to crack, with AC 0, and the 3E version had a respectable AC 17 (5 from Dex, 2 from Cha as a deflection bonus).

To be true to the earlier versions it needs to be able to grab and lift an opponent it hits with its blood-draining tendrils.

Oh, and a Crimson Death was stealthy unless it has fed recently.

I might have raised some of these issues in earlier posts.

One final point is the AD&D Death had its defenses lower once it had gorged itself on blood, but the 3E version of the Death was as combatworthy when full of blood as when running on empty.

Since this is an undead death, I'd not give it the original version's vulnerability after feeding.

Counterwise, neither of the original Deaths gained hit points by feeding on blood. The flavour text says they feed on blood, but the only mechanical rules for that is that they attained solidity after feeding.

I'm inclined to give our interpretation the ability to gain temporary hit points from draining blood since that's a trait of the 4E Vampiric Mist (as per my proposed Scarlet Mist) and without it the Scarlet Death wouldn't be able to provide blood transfusions to its allies with Lair Actions like we've been musing about.

EDIT: Oh, and Crimson Deaths were always Neutral Evil, not Chaotic Evil.
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Finally, I did wonder about how nasty an opponent to make it.

My current thinking is to make the monstrosity version significantly higher Challenge than the undead version, since (a) the AD&D version has better defenses and arguably higher lethality than the 3E one and (b) giving them significantly different CRs offers a wider range of encounters for this tranche of monster conversions.


So overall, I'd rather build the Scarlet Death from scratch while cribbing any bits we like from the rough drafts we've come up with so far.

To start us off, are you OK with "Medium undead, neutral evil" for Size type & alignment?


Okay, continuing with the Scarlet Death.

I think it prudent to base it on the Third Edition version from Monster Manual II (2002), since that's the only official version that's explicitly undead.

Here's the original stats for our convenience:

Monster Manual II said:
Death, Crimson
Medium-Size Undead (Incorporeal)
Hit Dice: 13d12 (84 hp)
Initiative: +9
Speed: Fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Armor Class: 17 (Dex +5, deflection +2), touch 17, flat-footed 12
Attacks: 2 incorporeal touches +11 melee
Damage: Blood drain
Space/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Blood drain, seize
Special Qualities: Incorporeal subtype, lift, undead traits
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +11,Will +10
Abilities: Str —, Dex 21, Con —, Int 17, Wis 15, Cha 14
Skills: Concentration +14, Hide +21*, Intuit Direction +7, Listen +20, Search +13, Spot +20
Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Expertise, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes (B), Mobility, Spring Attack (B)
Climate/Terrain: Any marsh
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 11
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: 14–26 HD (Medium-size)


Blood Drain (Ex): A crimson death drains blood, dealing 1d4points of Constitution damage immediately upon seizing an opponent with a tendril. Each round thereafter that the opponent remains seized, the creature automatically deals an additional 1d4 points of Constitution damage. The crimson death craves blood, so it usually presses its attack until it can deal at least 12 points of Constitution damage.
Seize (Ex): When a crimson death makes a successful incorporeal touch attack, one of its tendrils wraps around the opponent. The two creatures are not considered grappled, but the opponent can break free with a successful Escape Artist or grapple check (grapple bonus +11). Upon seizing an opponent, the crimson death begins draining blood (see above).
Incorporeal Subtype: –SNIP–
Lift (Sp): As a free action, a crimson death can telekinetically lift another creature or an object weighing up to 300 pounds. This ability works like the telekinesis spell (sustained force version, caster level 12th), except that it works only on an opponent already seized by a tendril of the crimson death. Against a struggling opponent, use of this ability requires a successful grapple check (grapple bonus +11).
Undead Traits: –SNIP–
Skills: *A crimson death’s misty form makes it difficult to spot in fog. Before feeding, the creature receives a +8 bonus on Hide checks in smoky or foggy areas. After it has fed, the bonus drops to +4 because of its red coloration.

The incorporeal traits could easily be represented in 5E by the various damage resistances and immunities of your last draft, but I'm more inclined to give it the "full incorporeal suite" of a Wraith:

Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained​

I'm inclined to make it susceptible to fear rather than immune to the frightened condition, since the original monster was a cautious combatant that "prefers to attack from ambush, and it avoids physically powerful targets that might easily break free of its grasp."

I'll consider Abilities next.

The proposals for the undead "Blood Mist" are Str 9, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 9, Wis 14, Cha 9 which are too low for my taste, especially some of the mental stats.

The early versions of the Crimson Death are super smart. They have "INTELLIGENCE: Genius (17-18)" in AD&D; in Third Edition, a Crimson Death has Str —, Dex 21, Con —, Int 17, Wis 15, Cha 14.

I think those 3E ability scores work fine in 5E, so it just needs a Strength and Constitution.

The CON 16 of the proposed 5E version is fine by me, but I'm tempted to make it CON 18 like a Vampire.

That just leaves a Strength score.

The AD&D Death "possesses strength equal to a normal human. It is able to carry a passive weight equal to an adult human." That suggests STR 10 (+0) or so.

The 3E Death can "lift another creature or an object weighing up to 300 pounds" and has a +11 grapple. That means it has a +5 modifier on its grapple as its Base Attack Bonus is only +6 (due to undead having pathetic BAB in 3E). I presume they just had it use its +5 DEX modifier for grapple checks and forgot to mention it in the text. Giving the 5E version STR 20 (+5) seems WAY too high.

How about we average the "virtual" STR 21 of the 3E Crimson Death with the STR 9 of your Blood Mist and round to even, which results in STR 14 (+2).

That's enough for it to haul victims about, but isn't too overpowered.

It's worth pointing out that the 5E Carrying Rules say "You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet." Meaning a STR 10 (+0) Scarlet Death would be able to lift a 300 pound weight and move it around like the 3E one can, just more slowly (at speed 5 ft, so 10 feet if it dashes). A sustained 3E telekinesis moves objects at 20 feet per round.

Overall, I prefer the STR 10, CON 18 arrangement.

Anyhow, putting the above together would make:

10 (+0)​
21 (+5)​
18 (+4)​
17 (+3)​
15 (+2)​
14 (+2)​
or 14 (+2) ?
or 16 (+3) ?

Does that look OK to you?

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