Level Up (A5E) A Leveled-Up Bestiary: Volume Two


Welp, I'm back.

Or I will be. Starting with the New Year's, I will once again go back to converting old (A)D&D monsters from Dragon Magazine, and eventually from other source as well. Not quite as often as I used to; I'm going to try for once or twice a week this time around. I'm currently trying to build up a backlog.

But first, I uploaded a pdf of all of my previous monsters to the Resources section. Counting variants and age categories and the like, there are over 230 monsters in it. You can find it here. I went through and fixed mistakes, although there are probably more. Let me know if you find one.

Foulwing (CR 8)
Grillig (CR 1), Herd of Grilligs (CR 8), Living Angle (CR 1)
Trelon (CR 6)

Sirrush (CR 5) and Devolved Sirrush (CR 7)

Drake (CR 3), Arsalon (CR 3), Fumarandi (CR 3), Kavainus (CR 3), Rechtenbeast (CR 3), Silslithis (CR 3), Vandalraug (CR 3)
Hai-Riyo (CR 20)

Troll Variants: Phaze Troll (CR 4), Gray Troll (CR 6), Stone Troll (CR 7), Fire Troll (CR 5)

Necromantic Sludge (CR 3), Gestalt Necromantic Sludge (CR 6)
Lich's Blood (CR 4) (plus elite Lich's Ichor)

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Distracted DM

Distracted DM
Woah woah woah, what? I didn't know this was a thing!

Question: do any monsters take advantage of A5e's particular mechanics, such as causing Strife?


Woah woah woah, what? I didn't know this was a thing!
Yeah, I stopped a while ago due to health issues and negative spoons, but I've gotten a few calls recently for me to start again, so...

Question: do any monsters take advantage of A5e's particular mechanics, such as causing Strife?
Yep! Several of them can cause strife or exhaustion, because I love those mechanics.


As promised, here’s the first of my second group of converted monsters. Happy New Years! I'm going to try for a new monster every 2-3 days. I have a bunch prepped already, but I don't want to go too fast and get burned out.

This is the tymher-haid, a creature that exemplifies why “swarm” is such a useful way to do groups of monsters. An individual tymher-haid is a tiny, glowing spark of an undead that, in 2e, has 1 hit point and does a whopping 1/10th of a point in damage. And they travel in swarms of up to 100 individuals. The description says to take the number of tymher-haids appearing and divide by 10 to determine their monster level, so a swarm of 56 of them counts as a 5 HD monster, has 56 hp, and inflicts 5 damage. But each physical attack made against them appears to only affects one tymher-haid at a time, and a cleric turning them or a splash of holy water only affects 2d6 of them. And they’re immune to poison, psionics, and fire, so that lets out a bunch of common area spells. I imagine that an actual combat against these things was a terrible slog.

Fortunately, in these modern times, we have swarms.

(It also makes me think that “battlefield” or “graveyard” should be an official Terrain type.)


Tymher-Haid (Ghost Swarm)
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #186
Creature by Spike Y. Jones; art by Scott Rosema

Many an evil overlord has employed or press-ganged an army of mooks, thugs, and minions to do their bidding. And many a righteous warrior has slain them en masse, then left their bodies on the battlefield for the ravens and ghouls. These minions, filled with anger over their servitude towards a thankless master in life and the poor treatment of their bodies in death, often rise as undead, scores of beings who have joined into a single, spectral entity. If a battle was large enough, multiple swarms may rise, working together in eerie tandem.

Beautiful Deadliness. An individual tymher-haid resembles a colorful, gossamer firefly, and they are never found alone—they travel in great, multihued swarms that swoop and twirl in dazzling displays, and they make a sound like a finger on the rim of a wine glass when they move. It’s difficult to see a swarm of them without being enchanted by their beauty… and for many people, that enchantment is literal, causing them to stand helplessly while the swarm descends to sting them to death.

Rage-Filled. The tymher-haid knows nothing but anger. It views all living beings as its enemies, unable to tell the difference between the people who caused its death and everything else. It will attack anything alive and moving without preference. To the swarm, a hapless woodland animal is as much as a target as a strapping adventurer. The land where a tymher-haid has risen can easily become devoid of animal life.

Fortunately, tymher-haids are susceptible to water, even ordinary water. Most swarms are destroyed by rainstorms than by adventurers or clerics.

Climate/Terrain: any climate; any land.

Legends and Lore
With an Arcana or Religion check, the characters can learn the following:

DC 10. The tymher-haid, also called a ghost swarm, is a spectral undead made of the souls of many individuals slain at once.

DC 15. Made of ghostly fire, the ghost swarm is incredibly vulnerable to water.

Tymher-Haid Encounters
CR 0-2
1 tymher-haid

CR 3-4 1d4+1 tymher-haids

1. A recent battlefield, covered in corpses left to rot.
2. The land is eerily devoid of living beings.
3. The corpse of an animal or humanoid, covered in hundreds of tiny burn marks.
4. A delicate, high-pitched humming noise.

1-2. Attacks on sight.
3. Attacking an animal; will attack the adventurers once the animal is dead.
4. Attacking a straggler from the same battle that created the tymher-haid.

Tymher-Haid Swarm
Medium swarm of Tiny undead; Challenge 1 (200 XP)
HP 22 (5d8; bloodied 11)
Speed 0 ft., fly 40 ft. (hover)

STR 3 (-4) DEX 20 (+5) CON 10 (+0)
INT 4 (-3) WIS 8 (-1) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 15
Damage Resistances cold, lightning, psychic, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
Damage Immunities fire, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, fatigue, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained
Senses blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 9

Swarm. The swarm can occupy another creature’s space and move through any opening large enough for a Tiny creature. It can’t gain hit points or temporary hit points.

Turn Resistance. The swarm has advantage on saving throws against being turned.

Undead Nature. The swarm doesn’t require air, sustenance, or sleep.

Water Weakness. The swarm takes 4 (1d8) acid damage if it enters or starts its turn in a body of water, is splashed with at water, and each time it ends its turn in falling rain. They take double damage if splashed with holy water.

Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6+5) fire damage, or 8 (1d6+5) fire damage if the swarm is bloodied.

Enchanting Sparkle (1/day). The swarm swirls in a colorful, enchanting pattern. Each creature within 30 feet of the swarm that can see it must make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed for 1 minute. While charmed, a creature is incapacitated and its Speed is reduced to 0. The creature may make a new saving throw each time it takes damage or when another creature uses an action to shake it out of its daze.

Tymher-haids simply attack anything living, with no regard to tactics—they’re simply too filled with rage. They attack a single target until its dead, then focus on another one, even if there are multiple swarms present.


This next monster is an evil fey, but unusually, one who’s about fire and burning things to the ground instead of trickery, illusions, poison, or any of those other things normally associated with evil fey. It’s called the kruel, which may not be the most imaginative of names, but it’s definitely apt and honestly a pretty interesting monster. I used it in a game once and it went well—but then again, I like playing evil fey.


Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #187
Creature by Malcon Bowers; art by Tom Baxa

Once upon a time, it is said that there was a group of kindly fey folk who represented fire in the way that dryads represent trees and satyrs represent the power of song and dance. They were the fey of hearth and forge, and as such, were powerful and appreciated by mortals. But some of these fey began to become entranced by fire’s dangerous aspects. They stopped caring about fire’s life-giving aspects and lost themselves in the dancing flames. Over time, they changed, in mind, body, and soul, and took their current name, the kruel, to reflect their new love of flame’s chaotic, destructive nature.

Noble Mein. Kruel believe themselves to be, and act like, noble fey. They resemble sharp-featured, green-skinned elves, although they have cow's ears and pure red eyes that contain a look of madness. They usually have wide, toothy grins on their faces. Their legs are bird-like, with long, sharp talons, and green scaled. Kruel typically dress in fanciful, brightly colored outfits, including feather-decorated hats, and when they speak, they do so with highly upper-crust accents and turns of phrase.

In reality, kruels are thieves and butchers. They enjoy stealing finery from others but can't help to ruin it with their gauche manners and lack of care. They often enslave others and turn them into “the help” in order to fuel their illusion of nobility. Kruels typically live in caves or rocky areas, or in stone houses, where they can burn things to their hearts’ content without having to worry about uncontrolled flames destroying their lair.

Fire Burns All. These fey are predators. They are vegetarians, surprisingly, but love the smell of burning flesh. They make nothing or themselves and steal everything they want from others, burning what they don’t want until its ash.

Pyromaniacs. Kruel enjoy watching things burn. However, they enjoy spreading the destruction out over a period of time—burning a farmstead one acre or cow at a time—in order to keep the fun going for as long as possible.

Climate/Terrain: temperate; forest, hill, settlement

Legends and Lore
With an Arcana check, the characters can learn the following:

DC 10. Kruels are pyromaniacal fey who love to steal and burn. They typically dwell on the outskirts of civilization.

DC 15. Kruels typically dwell on the outskirts of civilization. Being chaotic creatures, they may ignore a nearby

DC 20. These fey can cause any blade they wield to burst into flame and can turn a pebble into a burning coal with a touch.

Kruel Encounters
CR 0-2
1 kruel
Treasure: 50 gp, silver bangle (25 gp), cask of ale (2 gp), a scared, half-dead donkey

CR 3-4 1 kruel and 1-2 salamander nymphs
Treasure: 40 gp, 320 sp, 2 gold rings (75 gp each), masterwork scythe (126 gp), potions of diminution

CR 5-10 1-2 kruels and 1 fire elemental
Treasure: 300 gp, 5 onyxes (50 gp each), three sets of fine clothes (15 gp each), gold and ruby pendant (750 gp), aerodite of the autumn queen’s true name, dust of sneezing and choking

CR 11-16 1 kruel and 1 pyrohydra
Treasure: 5,000 sp, 400 gp, 8 ambers (100 gp each), a jar of preserved eyes taken from unusual creatures (Narrator’s discretion, may be used when enchanting magic items or researching rare spells), cloak lined with enchanted winter wolf fur; grants advantage on saving throws made to resist taking exhaustion due to cold weather (250 gp), feather token (whip), 2 restorative ointments

1. A pile of rocks. If touched, they are red-hot and inflict 1 fire damage.
2. A “help wanted” sign from a local farming community, desperate for someone to stop the arsonist who has been plaguing them.
3. A badly-burned, but still living, humanoid or farm beast.
4. A farmhouse on fire.

1. Approaching the party, seeking to trade. Anything they have to offer has been stolen from people nearby.
2. Setting animals’ tails on fire and laughing while they run around in panic
3. Stalking the party, looking for weaknesses
4. Preparing to “prank” a family.

Medium fey; CR 2 (450 XP)
15 (natural armor)
HP 42 (5d8+20; bloodied 21)
Speed 40 ft.

STR 12 (+1) DEX 17 (+3) CON 18 (+4)
INT 11 (+0) WIS 11 (+0) CHA 16 (+3)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 13
Saving Throws Dex +5
Skills Perception +2, Performance +5, Persuasion +5, Sleight of Hand +5
Damage Immunities fire
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception
Languages Common, Ignan, Sylvan

Fiery Aura (1/day). An aura of flame surrounds the kruel for 1 minute. A creature that ends its turn within 5 feet of the kruel, touches it, or hits it with a melee weapon while within 5 feet of it takes 5 (1d10) fire damage. The kruel sheds bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet.

Innate Spellcasting. Its spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks).
At will: prestidigitation, produce flame
3/day: alter self (as 5th-level spell)

The kruel makes two attacks.

Coal. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (2d4) fire damage, and the target it set on fire and takes 2 (1d4) fire damage at the start of the kruel’s next turn.

Flaming Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) fire damage.

Produce Flame (Cantrip; V, S). Ranged Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 30 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d8) fire damage

Bonus Actions
Artful Dodger.
The kruel takes the Dodge action.

Ignite. The kruel can use its action to touch up to three pebbles and cause them to become red-hot for 1 minute. It can then throw them with its Coal action. A creature other than the kruel takes 1 fire damage if it touches a pebble, and the pebble will ignite flammable objects that it touches. Optionally, it can cause a weapon it is holding to burst into flames, which inflict an additional 3 (1d6) fire damage on a hit.

Kruels stay as far away from their opponents as they can, hurling coals and using produce flame to attack from afar. If they are forced into melee combat, they use Dodge as a bonus action to prevent themselves from being harmed, and will flee using alter self to create a winged or aquatic form to escape when bloodied.


Three monstrous beasts today.

In real-world history, the pard is a semi-mythical creature, another name for leopard (the name pard is Greek for “male panther). If a leopard mated with a lioness, the offspring, according to the myths, would be cheetahs. Depending on which ancient bestiary you consult, the pard is either a demonic creature of evil whose many spots represented sins or vices, or as a gentle creature with sweet-smelling breath whose only enemy is the dragon.

In this issue of Dragon, the pardal has basically nothing to do with these myths. Instead, this version of the pardal is a lazy great cat with hypnotic markings.


Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #187
Creature by Spike Y. Jones

Pardals look much like jaguars, but is primarily a glossy black and covered with ginger spots. Their fangs and claws are noticeably smaller than those of regular jaguars, but they don’t rely on their natural weapons because the spots on their fur swirl in hypnotic patterns, making it easy for them to catch their prey.

Medium monstrosity; Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
HP 18 (4d8; bloodied 9)
Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 14 (+2) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0)
INT 3 (-4) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 12 (+1)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 12
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +4
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, rattled
Senses truesight 10 ft., passive Perception 14

Keen Smell. The pardal has advantage on Perception checks that rely on smell.

Scentless. The pardal can’t be tracked by scent.

Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) slashing damage. If the pardal moves at least 20 feet straight towards the target before the attack, the target must make a DC 12 Strength saving throw, falling prone on a failure.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4+2) piercing damage.

Bonus Actions
Hypnotic Fur (Recharge 5-6).
The pardal’s fur swirls and changes color. Each creature within 40 feet of the pardal that can see it must make a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, a creature becomes charmed for 1 minute. While charmed, the creature is incapacitated and has a speed of 0. The effect ends early for a creature if the creature takes any damage, if another creature uses its action to shake the creature out of its stupor, or there is a very loud noise (Narrator’s discretion) within 10 feet of the creature.


Then we have the dragonfish This is a giant version of the real life animal from the Stomiidae—the name basically means mouth and is one of those fish that cause thalassophobia among many. These guys are some of those big-eyed, glow-in-the-dark deep-sea fish that’s more fang-filled mouth than body that are capable of unhinging their jaws and opening them to over 100 degrees, and allows them to consume prey that’s as much as 50% larger than them. Perhaps fortunately, in the real world, the largest dragonfish are only about 16 inches long (that's the females; the males are 6 inches). If you go deep sea diving and encounter a dragonfish, your toes might be trouble.

The D&D version, of course, is a heck of a lot bigger—about ten feet long. And (going by the article, which I’m not), evil for some reason.

As I mentioned, dragonfish are bioluminescent. They have glowing red bars under their eyes, which they use to lure their prey. But even more interestingly, they're basically the only deep sea fish that can even see the color red. Because of the way light scatters in water, a lot of deep sea fish have evolved to be red, which looks like black and therefore hides the fish. But dragonfish can see red, and their bioluminesence is red—almost infrared, according to Wikipedia—and they use their lights not as a lure but as a searchlight. They can see their prey but are basically invisible at the same time!


Image from Wikimedia Commons

Deep Beneath the Waves, Dragon Magazine #190
Creature by Bryan K. Bernstein

Giant dragonfish are deep sea creatures, although the females—which can reach well over ten feet in length and are pure black in color—often travel to the surface during the day to hunt. They have glowing red bars under their eyes and are capable of distending their jaws and even rearranging their internal organs in order to swallow animals as big as themselves.

Giant Dragonfish
Large beast; Challenge 3 (750 XP)
14 (natural armor)
HP 60 (7d10+21; bloodied 30)
Speed 0 ft., swim 40 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 12 (+1) CON 16 (+3)
INT 5 (-3) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 4 (-3)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 14
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +3 (+1d6)
Damage Resistances cold
Senses blindsight 30 ft., passive Perception
Languages understands Aquan but can’t speak

Aquatic. The dragonfish breathes only water.

Deep Sea Stealth. When deep underwater, the dragonfish has advantage on Stealth checks.

Bioluminescence. The dragonfish sheds dim light to 10 feet.

Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) piercing damage. If the target is a Large or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 14). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and the dragonfish can’t bite another target.

Bonus Actions
The dragonfish makes a bite attack against a Large or smaller creature it is grappling. If the attack hits and the dragonfish has not swallowed another creature, the target is swallowed and the grapple ends. A swallowed creature has total cover from attacks outside the dragonfish, is blinded and restrained, and it takes 14 (4d6) acid damage at the start of each of the dragonfish’s turns. If a swallowed creature deals 20 or more damage to the dragonfish in a single turn, or if the dragonfish dies, the dragonfish vomits up the creature.

Variant: Electric Dragonfish
This species of dragonfish is smaller but no weaker than the other species, and unlike those species, it is a pack hunter. It loses the Swallow action. The dragonfish’s Intelligence is 7 (-2), it has immunity to lightning damage, and it has the following trait and action:

Pack Tactics. The dragonfish has advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the dragonfish’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and is not incapacitated.

Jolt (Recharge 6). The dragonfish emits electricity in a 30-foot-sphere centered on it. Each creature in that area must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, taking 10 (3d6) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. In addition, on a failed save, a creature is stunned until the start of its next turn.


And finally, a beast that needs no introduction: the kangaroo!

The Voyage of the Princess Ark part 33, Dragon Magazine #186
Creature by Bruce A. Heard (and Nature, © 3,000,000 b.c.e.)


By Francesco from Parma, Italy - Jumping kangaroo, CC BY 2.0

Medium beast
; CR 1/8 (25 XP)
HP 9 (2d8)
Speed 50 ft.

STR 14 (+2) DEX 13 (+1) CON 11 (+0)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 12
Skills Perception +3
Senses passive Perception 13

Keen Smell. The kangaroo has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Standing Leap. The kangaroo’s long jump is up to 30 feet and its high jump is up to 10 feet, with or without a running start.

Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) bludgeoning damage.
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