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


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Cleon

Legend
Gnoll Beast Shaman
Medium humanoid (gnoll), chaotic evil
Armor Class 16 (demonhide)
Hit Points 117 (18d8 + 36)
Speed 40 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
17 (+3)​
12 (+1)​
15 (+2)​
10 (+0)​
16 (+3)​
15 (+2)​

Saving Throws CON +5, WIS +6, CHA +5
Skills Arcana +3, Perception +6, Survival +6
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Abyssal, Gnoll
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP) Proficiency Bonus +3

Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the gnoll beast shaman hits with it (included in the attack).

Demonhide. A gnoll beast shaman's skin is supernaturally tough and covered in shaggy fur, the shaman's AC can't be less than 16, regardless of what kind of armor it is wearing.

Fast Movement. The gnoll beast shaman's speed increases by 10 feet while it isn't wearing heavy armor (included in its speed).

Rampage. When the gnoll reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack on its turn, the gnoll can take a bonus action to move up to half its speed and make a bite attack.

Speak With Hyenas. The gnoll beast shaman can communicate simple concepts to hyenas (both living and undead) when it speaks in Gnoll.

Spectral Pack. The gnoll beast shaman is surrounded by a ghostly pack of hyenas. Normally insubstantial and harmless, the shaman can summon spectral hyenas from this pack to serve it on the Material Plane. The number of hyenas the beast shaman can summon may never exceed eight. If the shaman summons more, they must dismiss some of the materialized hyenas to make the total eight or less. The beast shaman can send any spectral hyena it summons back to the spirit realm as a free action.
 A spectral pack hyena can be "killed" on the material plane, but this only returns it to their original ghostly form; the spectral hyenas also vanish if the gnoll beast shaman who summoned them is killed or knocked unconscious.

Innate Spellcasting. The gnoll beast shaman's spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 14; +6 to hit with spell attacks). The shaman can innately cast the following spells, requiring only verbal components:
  • At will: detect magic, hunter's mark, ray of frost (3d8 damage)
  • 3/day each: dispel magic, locate animals or plants
  • 1/day: contact other plane
Actions

Multiattack. The gnoll beast shaman makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its flail.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4 + 3) piercing damage.

Flail. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

Howl From the Grave (Recharge After a Short Rest). The gnoll beast shaman unleashes an unearthly call. Any living creature that is not an ally of the shaman within 120 feet must make a DC 14 Charisma saving throw and a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. If the target fails the Charisma saving throw, it takes 3 (1d6) psychic damage, or 7 (2d6) psychic damage if it failed the saving throw by 5 or more. If the target fails the Wisdom saving throw, it become frightened until the end of the shaman's next turn, it is also paralyzed for the same duration if it failed the saving throw by 5 or more.
 The call summons six spectral hyenas from the shaman's Spectral Pack. Each spectral hyena appears on its turn at a spot within 120 feet of the shaman that the shaman can see. The hyenas arrive exactly where the gnoll beast shaman desires.

Jaws of Ruination (Recharge 4–6). The gnoll beast shaman makes three ranged spell attacks (+6 to hit) with a range of 120 feet. On a hit, the target takes 7 (2d6) necrotic damage. Each attack also teleports a spectral hyena of the shaman's Spectral Pack from a spot within 30 feet of the shaman to a spot within melee range of the target; the hyena teleports regardless of whether the attack hits or misses.

Summon Spectral Pack (Recharge 4–6). Up to six spectral hyenas from the shaman's Spectral Pack materialize within 30 feet of the gnoll beast shaman.

Bonus Actions

Conjure Hyenas. The gnoll beast shaman summons one or two spectral hyenas from their Spectral Pack, which appear within 30 feet of the shaman.

Hunting Cry (18 Dice, Recharges After a Long Rest). As a bonus action, the gnoll beast shaman utters a horrible hunting cry and forms a hunting pack that targets one creature the shaman chooses as its prey; this may be a creature within 150 feet who the shaman can see or smell, or a creature whose trail the shaman can see or smell within 10 feet. The tracks may be up to 24 hours old (at the DM's discretion a strong or weak trail may change this time limit). The scent of worn items such as clothes or footwear can be used to set prey.
 The gnoll beast shaman has a pool of 18 hunting dice that replenishes after a Long Rest. With each hunting cry, the shaman can choose three creatures for its hunting pack up to a maximum of nine (the shaman plus eight allies), each of which is assigned one hunting die. The shaman cannot assign a pack member more than one hunting die.
 If a pack member loses consciousness, abandons the hunt (a free action) or stops for a Long Rest, they leave the pack and lose the hunting die they were assigned. If the gnoll beast shaman leaves the hunting pack the pack disbands and all other pack members lose their hunting dice (the shaman retains any unassigned dice left in its hunting pool).
 If the prey drops to 0 hit points, the shaman must use a hunting cry to assign at least one hunting die and choose new prey for the pack or else the pack disbands as above. The shaman has 10 minutes to find new prey, during which it has to maintain Concentration as if hunting pack were a spell.
 A pack member must spend its assigned hunting die to add 2 (1d4) to either the attack or damage roll of the first melee attack it makes against the prey creature. The hunter rolls to hit first: if the attack hits, they add their hunting die to damage; if the attack missed, they add their hunting die to the attack roll, even if this has no chance of hitting. The shaman can use hunting cry to assign a new hunting dice to pack members who have spent theirs.
 As long as the hunting pack is active, all pack members temporarily gain the following trait:
Predatory Senses. The creature has advantage on any Wisdom (Perception) or Wisdom (Survival) check it makes to find the chosen prey.

Release the Hounds! Any spectral hyena of the shaman's Spectral Pack within 10 feet of the gnoll beast shaman teleports to a spot within 120 feet of the shaman that the shaman can see. The hyenas arrive exactly where the gnoll beast shaman desires.

Spirit Strike. The gnoll beast shaman spurs a spectral hyena it has summoned from its Spectral Pack to attack a creature, both the hyena and its target must be visible to the shaman and within 300 feet. The hyena teleports to within melee range of the target and then makes a bite attack with advantage. It automatically scores a critical if it hits, doing 7 (2d6) necrotic damage.


Description

A gnoll beast shaman always wears a cloak made from the decomposing skins of their humanoid prey. This gnoll appears twisted and decrepit with age but is faster and stronger than a normal gnoll and possesses dark demonic magic. They regularly leads hunting packs of hyenas and gnolls, both living and undead.
Chosen by the Lord of Gnolls. Gnoll tribes use trained hyenas for war and hunting. A gnoll beast shaman can bind the spirits of the best of these beasts to serve the tribe after death. The Prince of Beasts occasionally grants this power to a gnoll who sacrificed most of their life to that demon lord.

(Inspired by the Chosen of Yeenoghu in 4th Edition's Monster Manual 3 (2010).)
 
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Cleon

Legend
Okay, the CR Calculator says the above is Challenge 7 with 45 DPR.

How about adding Abyssal to the languages?

Instead of bite/quarterstaff plus a bolt Multiattack, I'm thinking we should go bite AND weapon for the Multiattack and separate out the bolt.

Also I'm tempted to make the weapon something a bit more interesting than a staff. Perhaps a flail since that's Yeenoghu's token?

I'd be inclined to fiddle the Multiattack DPR so it's around 45.

Let's see, a bog standard approach would be…

Multiattack. The beast shaman makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its flail.​
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.​
Flail. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) bludgeoning damage.​

That's only 17.5 DPR though, so we need anouther 27.5 to hit 45 DPR. Spirit Strike is worth 7 necrotic damage which leaves 20.5 or so. If we add the Brute trait for an extra dice and toss on a proficiency bonus to the damage…

Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the beast shaman hits with it (included in the attack).​
Multiattack. The beast shaman makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its flail.​
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d4 + 5) piercing damage.​
Flail. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage.​

That's 38 DPR. Add another 7 for the Spirit Strike is 45.

There's a slight issue that its Bolt attack does a point more DPR than the above Multiattack.

I'd rather it either do slightly less damage or have a "cooldown" (i.e. a Recharge number) so it's not the optimal attack each round. Maybe 35 (10d6) or the current 39 (6d12) with Bolt (Recharge 4-6)?
 


Cleon

Legend
recharge 4-6 sounds good - could make it do a bit more even with recharge....

The CR calculator says we have a bit of room to maneuver, with a CR 7 range of DPR from 45 to 55.

That means the 45 point DPR is at the lowest end of the scale.

How about increasing the Strength to 17 (+3) for another 3 points of damage on the Multiattack and +6 to hit.

That's 41 damage, for DPR 48 including a Spirit Strike.

So if we make the Bolt around 45 and Recharge 4-6 then the average DPR is 50 per round give-or-take. Which would mean 10d8 damage for the Bolt.

Oh, can it combine Bolt and Spirit Strike so the Hyena Spirit that is "blinked" to the enemy target by the bolt bites it as part of the bonus action?

Should we place a maximum on the number of Hyena Spirits the Beast Shaman can have summoned at any given time?

Would you be tempted by giving it an Innate Spellcasting style ability to summon a small pack of Hyena Spirits instead of limiting it to one spirit per Bonus Action?
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
So the 4e statblock had "call beyond the grave" - summon 4 at once, once per encounter, as well as one per round - could have both...?

NB: changed STR to 17
 

Cleon

Legend
So the 4e statblock had "call beyond the grave" - summon 4 at once, once per encounter, as well as one per round - could have both...?

I'd go for both.

Presumably it'd be once per Short Rest rather than Encounter, since that's more a 5E approach.

I'd be OK making it a normal Action, but it can't increase the number of Hyena Spirits in play above X (say 8 at a time?), although it can opt to summon 4 in a new position by having some vanish. So if it had 6 hyenas on the field, it could have two of them vanish when it uses Summon Hyenas to have 8 on the field.

Like a normal summons the hyena spirits would vanish if the summoner dies or is knocked unconscious, the spell ends, et cetera.

Four CR 1/4 are equivalent to a 3rd-level slot summon monster spell so it's reasonably balanced.

However I'll need to check the CR Calculator. Those Hyena Spirits have a lot of defenses and smell more like CR 1/2 to me, which may require a bit of adjustment to the numbers.

NB: changed STR to 17

Edited Gnoll Beast Shaman.
 

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
The original also had it so the gnoll suffered damage when the spirits were killed (like familiars I guess)...could incorporate that or does it get too messy I wonder...
 


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