• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

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

Gore. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8+5) piercing damage. If the sa’ir moved at least 20 feet strait towards the target immediately before the hit, the sa’ir takes an extra 9 (2d8) piercing damage and must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
I think it should be that the target takes an extra 2d8 piercing damage and can be knocked prone, not the sa'ir ;)

log in or register to remove this ad

Ah, Ed Greenwood. You never fails to create some truly strange monsters. I like that—I wish there were more just weird creatures and fewer creatures from real-world myth in D&D. This article seems to be the genesis of the flameskull, the flying, flaming, undead skull that has made it into both the 5e Monster Manual and the Level Up Monstrous Menagerie, as well as the banelar, a naga-like thing allied by the Realmsian god Bane. I’m focusing on the foulwing, a nasty, misshapen monster used as a mount by the vilest of riders. It’s also one of the few times where I prefer Tom Baxa’s art to Tony DiTerlizzi’s; TD did the art for them when they were reprinted in Monster Compendium Annual Volume 1, and he made them took too clean, almost too pretty. Baxa made them look like misshapen, radioactive mutants, the type you’d find in bad sci-fantasy movies from the 70s and 80s, and I appreciate that.

View attachment 343053

Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #197
Creature by Ed Greenwood; art by Tom Baxa

Foulwings are hideous creatures thought to have originated from another plane. Their bullet-shaped heads sport three toothy maws from which loll barbed, blood-sucking proboscises, and an uneven number multifaceted, glowing red eyes bulge from wherever their mouths aren’t. The rest of their body is toadlike and covered with wiggling, spiraling horn-like growths that grow in disturbing patterns unique to each individual. The only part of their body that is truly symmetrical is their pair of short wings. They have no language, simply making guttural squawks, and they reek of ammonia.

Destructive Hunters. Foulwings act as horribly as they look. They love tearing things apart, caring little if their target is an object or a living being. They are as just happy to eat carrion and rotting logs and leaf piles as they are to eat fresh meat and plants, and they tend to be messy and wasteful eaters. They will gladly slaughter a creature, take a few bites, and then go off to hunt some more, this time stealing away their prey to keep alive a few days until it grows hungry again.

Strange Steeds. Despite their terrible appearance, smell, and behaviors, foulwings can be tamed and make for surprisingly tractable mounts; as long as they get food to eat and the occasional thing to destroy, they’re happy. Their strangely horned hide makes for an uncomfortable ride, requiring custom saddles. Between that and their general unpleasantness, few beings are willing to use them, and those that do are usually are far worse than their steeds.

Stranger Bedfellows. They’re generally solitary beings, but tolerate each other and other predators in their territories, as long as other creatures don’t try to steal their kill. Oddly, though, they have been known to form close associations with creatures such as chimeras and wyverns. These associations take the form of small hunting parties, but foulwings have also been known to mate with them. Their offspring closely resemble their non-foulwing parent, but typically have extra mouths and bulging, multifaceted eyes.

Climate/Terrain: arctic, subarctic, temperate, subtropical; desert, grassland, hills, mountains, ruin, The Bleak Gate, tundra

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

DC 10. Possibly originating on another plane of existence, foulwings are cruel-minded, malformed creatures that are often used as mounts by warlords and fiends.

DC 15. The foulwing constantly exhales ammonia; those bitten by one are at risk of being blinded and poisoned by the fumes.

DC 20. Foulwings are always hungry and are destructive and violent predators. They eat meat and vegetation, and drink blood, and are known to keep “larders” of captive creatures.

Foulwing Encounters
CR 5-10
1 foulwing

CR 11-16 1 foulwing and blackguard, cambion, or champion warrior rider; foulwing and ogre mage rider; foulwing and chimera or wyvern; fowlwing and 14d+1 harpies
Treasure: 700 gp, 500 ep, two topazes (500 gp each), gold armlet (250 gp), pouch of gold dust (250 gp), vial of faerie dragon euphoria gas, 2 potions of poison, shield +1

CR 17-22 1 foulwing and chain devil or khalkos; foulwing and erinyes; foulwing and 2 wyverns
Treasure: 800 pp, 9,000 sp, platinum-tipped scepter (2,500 gp), book which leads to the discovery of a rare 3rd-level spell, +2 lance, oil of slipperiness, pipes of the sewers, scroll of ice storm

1. The stench of ammonia lingering in the air.
2. A pile of foul-smelling droppings.
3. A clutch of unattended eggs; the mother is nearby.
4. A bulbous shadow flying overhead.

1. Hunting; will attack on sight.
2. Being trained by a potential rider; will attack on command.
3. Tearing up a boulder or large tree.
4. Soaring on the wind, looking for prey
5. Toying with a group of travelers.
6. Feeding on a dead hill giant

Huge aberration; Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
17 (natural armor)
HP 137 (13d12+52)
Speed 20 ft., fly 40 ft.

STR 23 (+6) DEX 9 (-1) CON 18 (+4)
INT 7 (-2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +3; Maneuver DC 17
Saving Throws Str +9
Skills Perception +4
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 14

Many-Faced. The foulwing has advantage on saving throws to avoid being blinded or deafened.

The foulwing makes five attacks: two bite attacks, two claw attacks, and one blood drain attack.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d6+6) piercing damage plus 9 (2d8) acid damage, and the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be blinded and poisoned until the end of its next turn. The foulwing then attaches its proboscis to the target. A creature can use a bonus action to make a DC 17 Strength check to detach itself, taking 3 (1d6) piercing damage on a success or failure. While it is attached to a creature, the foulwing can’t use that mouth to bite again, and a creature that is attached to the foulwing can’t move more than 5 feet from it.

Blood Drain. The foulwing drains blood from the creature it is attached to. The creature loses 11 (2d10) hit points. After the foulwing has drained 50 hit points from all creatures it is attached to, it detaches itself and can’t use Blood Drain until it finishes a rest.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d4+6) slashing damage.

Bonus Actions
The foulwing makes a bite attack against a creature within 5 feet of it. It doesn’t attach its proboscis after making this attack.

Blood Drain. The foulwing uses Blood Drain.

Foulwings prefer to fight in the air or land heavily on their prey, allowing them to use their weight to pin targets down.
Truly nasty creatures!
Heck, 5 normal attacks plus either another bite or blood drain, and 2 or 3 chances of being blinded and poisoned! With an average of 88 hp of damage per round, 1 vs 1 this creature is absolutely terrifying


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.

View attachment 342647

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!

View attachment 342646
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.)

View attachment 342645
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.
Dunno about this one. It’s a bit out landish even for a D&D game.


Tom Moldvay is back with another article on undead! This time he chose wights, wraiths, and mummies to focus on. Honestly, most of the undead are fairly dull—they’re just more powerful versions of regular mummies, wraiths, and wights.

The one I’m converting is the angreden, based on part of the Icelandic saga Grettissaga. They’re basically what would happen if the Hulk became undead (I’m sure Marvel has done that at least once). According to the saga—and yes, I’m skimming it now—there was a rich man, Thorhall, who had problems, because evil spirits kept killing or scaring off his shepherds. He ended up hiring a thug named Glam to shepherd for him. Glam was a jerk and blasphemer, but he wasn't scared off and did his job—at least until he didn’t come home one day. When the other villagers found his corpse, it was blackened and swollen to the size of an ox; the translation I’m reading describes it as “he was dead, and as blue as hell, and as great as a neat.” (Neat meant ox—I’d love to know the etymology here.) His body was too big for the villagers to drag home, so they buried him right then and there. Since as we all know, an improper burial is in the Top 10 Reasons To Become Undead (“Number 6 Will Surprise You”), Glam got up and started “riding the house-roofs”, breaking open doors, smashing horses, and scaring and/or murdering the heck out of everyone, both day and night.

The saga’s hero, Grettir the Strong, heard about this and rode into town and fought Glam—apparently unarmed, since before he could draw his shortsword for the final strike, Glam cursed Grettir. The curse in the translation is long and poetic, so Moldvay sums it up as follows: “You shall possess only half the strength and firmness of heart that were decreed to you because of this night’s battle. Henceforward there shall fall upon you exile; your deeds will turn evil and your guardian spirit will forsake you. You shall be outlawed and your lot shall be to dwell ever alone.” Shaken, Grettir beheaded Glam (shortswords: not just piercing weapons!), and the body was burned to ash. But the curse came true. Grettir ended up becoming incredibly frightened of the dark and he accidentally burned down a house, killing the inhabitants. He was declared an outlaw and exiled by the Icelandic Althing, and lived alone, unhappily ever after. The saga says that this deed has become a proverb, “Glam lends eyes,” meaning that people will see things that aren’t there. Wiktionary says this is the origin of the word “glamor” meaning an illusion. Neat! (and I don’t mean like an ox.)

The saga doesn’t actually say that Glam is an angreden; Moldvay chose that name because it’s based on the Middle English word meaning “filled with anger.”


Beyond The Grave, Dragon Magazine #198
Creature by Tom Moldvay; art by Tom Baxa

Angreden are the walking corpses of those who died while filled with such anger that they can’t lie still in their graves. They were people who, while alive, were known and feared for their irrational anger, such as abusive drunks and sadistic bullies, and who were cursed by the unspoken wishes of their desperate victims. After death, they bash their way out of their grave and continue to take out their wrath on those who don’t deserve it. They are the embodiment of violence for the sake of violence, but fortunately death has stripped them of much of their cunning.

These undead look almost nothing like what they did in life; only a few hints of their living appearance remain. Their anger has caused them to grow by as much as several feet. Their bodies become swollen and terribly bloated, to the point it looks as though they might burst, and their skin is blackened, like they were suffering from severe frostbite on top of massive bruising. Their bulging eyes goggle in a sickeningly oversized head. Their hands become large, meaty fists, unable to do anything more delicate than hammering victims.

The Urge To Destroy. Angreden do not seek out those whom they believed harmed them in life; in their minds, the entire world has wronged it and so they seek to inflict their wrath upon everything, without seeming rhyme or reason. An angreden will smash animals, plants, and even buildings—but will drop everything if given an opportunity to rip apart a person and will roar out vulgarities, threats, and hatred aimed at anyone who may be listening while doing so, including the gods.

Death Curse. Anger caused the angreden to rise, and it’s a strong enough rage that even a second death isn’t enough to stop it. At the moment of its death, it regains a sense of clarity and channels its hatred in the form of a curse towards the one who killed it.

Climate/Terrain: Any climate; any land.

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

DC 15. Angreden are undead made from bullies and petty tyrants who were filled with anger in life. They wander the world, destroying everything they can until slain.

DC 20. When it is slain, the angreden will utter a terrible curse on its killer. Only a high-level remove curse or similar magic can end the curse.

Angreden Encounters
CR 3-4
1 angreden
Treasure: 300 sp, simple gold chain (75 gp)

1-2 A trail of destroyed buildings and mauled livestock.
3. Bloody, oversized bare footprints.
4. The stench of charred meat.

1. Trying to rip apart a tree or boulder.
2. Ripping the limb off a living farm animal.
3. Pounding on the door to a farmer’s hut and roaring in fury.
4. Attacks on sight.

Medium undead; Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
14 (natural armor)
HP 75 (10d8+30; bloodied 37)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 10 (+0) CON 16 (+3)
INT 8 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 17 (+3)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 14
Skills Intimidation +5
Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, fatigue, paralyzed, poisoned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages The languages it knew in life

Bloodied Frenzy. While bloodied, the angreden makes all attacks with advantage and all attacks against it are made with advantage.

Fearful Gaze. When a creature that can see the angreden’s eyes starts its turn within 30 feet of the angreden, the angreden can use a bonus action to force that creature to make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of the angreden for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Siege Monster. The angreden deals double damage to objects and structures.

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

The angreden makes two enervating slam attacks.

Enervating Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) bludgeoning damage, and the target must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, it falls prone and until the end of its next turn, deals only half damage with weapon attacks that use Strength.

Bonus Actions
Aggressive Charge.
The angreden moves up to its Speed towards an enemy it can see or hear.

Death Curse.
When reduced to 0 hit points, the angreden curses the creature who gave the final blow. If that creature is within 100 feet of the angreden and the angreden can see it, the creature must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be cursed. While cursed, the creature suffers from the following effects:
  • The angreden chooses an attribute; skill checks the target makes with that attribute are made at disadvantage.
  • The target has disadvantage on saving throws to avoid being frightened or to take levels of strife or fatigue.
  • When the target makes Perception checks and fails the roll, the Narrator should always provide false information.
The curse is permanent, although it can be ended with a remove curse cast with a 4th-level or higher spell slot.

The angreden starts off with its Fearful gaze, then uses its Aggressive Charge to move as quickly as possible to the toughest opponents and makes slam attacks against that creature.

Variant: Greater Angreden
The rage that drives an angreden continually grows within its mind, and in turn, causes it to grow physically as well. An angreden that has been in existence for a score or more of years can become truly gigantic in stature.

The greater angreden is an elite monster, equivalent to two CR 4 monsters (2,200 XP). It is Large and has and has 127 (15d10+45; bloodied 78) hit points. It has the following bonus actions, which it can only use while bloodied.

Elite Recovery. The angreden ends one negative effect currently affecting it. It can use this action as long as it has at least 1 hit point, even while unconscious or incapacitated.

Tantrum. The angreden stomps the ground, shaking the earth. Each creature within 15 feet of the angreden must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.

Kick Them While They’re Down. The angreden makes a Slam attack against a prone target.

It also gains the following reaction, which it can only use while bloodied, which inflicts an additional 7 (2d6) damage.

Vengeful Strike. When the angreden is hit by a melee attack on any turn but its own, it makes a slam attack against the attacker.

Remove ads