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

Faolyn

(she/her)
i know dragon eggs in base a5e has an associated cost, so maybe throw in costs for drake eggs (similar, costs to have these as mounts).
Good point! I keep forgetting about that list.

I don't think drake eggs would be as expensive as dragon eggs, but they would be a bit more than a gryphon's egg.
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
OK, so at some point between Monday and today I accidentally deleted my preface for this monster. So here's me writing on the fly.

The next few monsters are adapted from Planescape: Torment, a game I own but have barely gotten anywhere in. I'm outside the Mortuary and in Sigil proper, and kind of at a loss as to what I should do next. It's a cool game, I'm just not particularly good at it, at least not without a walkthrough. Anyway, this particular creature is the gronk. It's an aggressive creature, yet more scavenger than predator, but what really makes it interesting is that the article goes into depth as to its life cycle. In fact, all the monsters in this article have a lot of detail given to them that didn't make it into the game, and that's all the more interesting because the article's writer, Chris Avellone, was apparently one of Tormet's devs. Whether he came up with these ideas while working on the game or afterwards, while writing the article—kudos to you, Chris. You made these creatures feel very alien in a very Planescapian way.

The article lists an artist as well, but the pictures are all screen grabs. I have no idea if the credited Eric Campanella in fact just took images from the game or if he actually worked on the game's animation. Either way, the picture used for the gronk is extremely muddied--quite possibly an artifact of it being in a magazine—so I'm using a better image I found online.

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Gronk
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #262
Creature by Chris Avellone; art by Eric Campanella

Gronks are large, squat beasts that look something like stone-scaled toads, which is what gives them their nickname of “hopping rocks” or “stone frogs.” They’re known for being extremely aggressive creatures and will attack nearly anything—only truly large foes, such as dragons or giants, give it pause. If the gronk is in a bad mood and there’s another creature around, they will simply headbutt it to death—but they won’t chase fleeing prey, as, despite their large, frightening-looking teeth, they’re omnivores, leaning towards herbivores. They’ll eat a creature they kill and carrion they come across, but almost never actually hunt for meat.

Photophobic. Although they aren’t harmed by bright light, gronks are greatly irritated upon seeing one, and if targeted by an attack or spell that relies on bright light, they go into a violent frenzy. Even a simple light spell is enough to drive a gronk into a rage—so much so that they may even attack each other out of sheer anger.

Spawned From Anger. While a gronk is willing to attack anything, they creatures they fight the most are each other. In large part, this is because fighting is how they reproduce. Their reproductive organs are in the spikes that cover their heads, and when they headbutt each other, these spikes break off and lodge in the other gronk’s head, where they're fertilized and begins to develop into a fetus. Eventually, this spike drops to the ground and corkscrews its way into the dirt or sand. A few months later, a baby gronks emerges and quickly grows to its adult size. Eventually, enough spikes break off that the entire headplate cracks and flakes off, exposing the creature’s brain, which quickly kills it. Most gronks only live a few years.

Climate/Terrain: subarctic, temperate; desert, plain, hill, mountain

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

DC 10. Also called “hopping rocks,” gronks are easily irritated, aggressive creatures. They attack by headbutting its target to death.

DC 15. Gronks have special glands along their necks. When they headbutt, these glands activate, producing a violent bang! that can knock the target back.

DC 20. Gronks are nearly deaf and dislike bright lights, which can drive them into a frenzy wherein they blindly attack anything nearby.

Gronk Encounters
Challenge Rating 1-2
1 gronk

Challenge Rating 3-4 2 gronks

Challenge Rating 5-10 3-5 gronks

Signs
1-2. Loud “gronking” noises nearby
3. With a DC 15 Perception or Nature check, strange horn-like objects half-buried in the ground. If unearthed, it squirms slightly and is revealed to be a keratinous, tadpole-like creature—an infant gronk
3. A mortally wounded gronk with a cracked headplate; it is incapable of taking any actions.

Behavior
1-2. Sparring with one another for dominance or over the scraps of a meal
3-4. Irritable; will attack on sight.

Gronk
Medium beast; Challenge 2 (450 XP)
AC
14 (natural armor)
HP 45 (6d8+18; bloodied 22)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 10 (+0) CON 16 (+3)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 4 (-3)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 14
Skills Perception +3
Damage Resistances thunder; bludgeoning
Condition Immunities frightened, deafened
Senses passive Perception
Languages

Poor Senses. The gronk has disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on hearing and on saving throws to avoid being blinded.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) piercing damage

Headbutt. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage plus 5 (2d4) thunder damage. If the target is a creature and the gronk moves at least 20 feet strait towards that target before the attack, the target takes an additional 5 (2d4) bludgeoning damage and must make a DC 14 Strength saving throw, falling prone on a failure.

Vaulting Leap. The gronk jumps up to 20 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically. If it is within 5 feet of a creature, it can make a headbutt attack against that creature with advantage.

Bonus Actions
Opportune Bite.
The gronk makes a bite attack against a prone target.

Reactions
Photophobic.
If the gronk is targeted by a spell from the prismatic or radiant schools or takes radiant damage, it may move up to its speed straight towards a creature it can see. At the end of that movement, it makes a bite attack at advantage.

Combat
Gronks fight without tactics and don’t retreat.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Today’s Planescape: Torment monster is the grillig and is the type of weird creature that 2e Planescape really excelled at, since it exists only in two dimensions rather than the typical three. I’ve always preferred the “weird” Planescape/Outer Planes monsters over the more popular demons/devils/angels, anyway. The grillig is not the first 2D Planescape monster—there’s also the moignos, living mathematical equations from… Planes of Law, I believe. We’ll (possibly) get to that when I do the Monstrous Compendia. I wish more monsters were weird like that.

These monsters are also said to be able to travel through the angles of space, and their climate/terrain is listed as “any angled terrain,” for all your Tindalos needs. Grilligs aren’t hounds, though; they’re more like lizard-gorillas. Hopefully I made them live up to their strange natures!

As a note, I included the idea of "living angles" as an associated creature. There isn't any canonical reason for this; I just wanted to make them weirder.

As with yesterday's monster, the article's illustration isn't very clear, so here's one from online.

1708713273718.png


Grillig
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #262
Creature by Chris Avellone; art by Eric Campanella

Grilligs are reptilian creatures that resemble green-brown gorillas. They walk on their forelimbs, which end in hands with three spindly digits and a thumb, while their hind legs—which end in three large, vicious claws—are kept free and used to attack. Their face is mostly a wide, flat-toothed grin; their beady eyes are almost lost among the thick scales and ridges on their heads.

Grilligs don’t seem to keep lairs. When they need to rest, they simply find a likely spot and hunker down for a while.

Angled. Grilligs have a fascination for geometric shapes that borders on fanatical. Although they are only about as intelligent as an ape and lack a true language, they seem to intrinsically understand geometry with a high level of skill. The area around a herd's favored structure is well-protected with simple traps, such as spiked pits or boulders or even landslides ready to be dropped. They lack the intelligence to make more complex traps, but have an innate knack for simple ones. When not building traps or hunting, they spend much of their free time drawing or carving complicated, geometric figures on any flattish surface they can find, or building strange, angular structures out of branches or piled stones.

Strangest of all, these shapes sometimes come alive. How this happens is unknown, but wherever there are grilligs, there are things that look like wire-frame models that move about and can become violent when outside forces threaten the grilligs.

From Unknown Planes. Nobody is quite certain where grilligs came from originally, although most suspect it is either the Far Realms or the Plane of Space. Whatever the answer is, it is certain that they are not natural creatures. They are seemingly two-dimensional beings. No matter how one looks at a grilling, one sees them as a flat image rather than as a three-dimensional being.

This strange biology seems to be the reason for their even stranger traits. They are utterly immune to edged weapons—sharp edges just seem to pass through them. Their fascination with angles has another purpose beyond a merely artistic one—they can teleport to any area that has two or more lines meet in an acute angle.

When a grillig dies, it almost immediately dissolves into fine sand, making it impossible to study them in-depth.

Pests Who Hunt. These creatures are often considered to be pests. Upon finding a structure, they will draw shapes on it or even rebuild it to be more properly geometric, without regard for what the structure is or who owns it. They end up destroying a great deal of personal property, and more than one person has ended up homeless or without livestock because a herd of grilligs has decided to rearrange their properties. And once they set sight on a particular structure, they can’t be convinced to leave it—unless a more interesting structure is nearby.

Grillig are notoriously cowardly; a single grillig will flee from danger and will rarely even defend themselves if cornered, preferring to cower and snarl in attempt to scare its attackers off. When in a herd, however, they have the bravado of bullies. They seek out powerful creatures and gang up on them, tearing them to shreds… and then just leaving the corpses there. Grilligs seem to somehow gain sustenance from the act of killing—they certainly never eat the creatures they kill. They aren’t cruel sadists, though, and kill no more often than any other apex predator would; their kills are just much bloodier.

Climate/Terrain: any climate; cavern, dungeon, hill, mountain, ruin

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

DC 15. Grillig are strange creatures from an unknown plane of existence. Edged weapons simply pass through their bodies. They are fascinated by geometric designs and are adept at building traps.

DC 20. Grilligs like to hunt powerful creatures, but don’t eat what they kill. They are capable of teleporting through angles. Sometimes, somehow, these angles come alive.

Grillig Encounters
Challenge Rating 0-2
1 grillig

Challenge Rating 3-4 2-3 grilligs; 1 grillig and 2-4 dust or ice mephits

Challenge Rating 5-10 herd of grilligs; herd of grilligs and 1-2 living angles

Challenge Rating 11-16 2 herds of grilligs and 3-4 living angles

Signs
1. Strangely geometric symbols carved into a cliff-face.
2. Dozens of strange handprints surrounding a nearly-shredded stone giant corpse
3. With a DC 13 Perception check, spent arrows
4. The sound of guttural growls and hoots

Lone Behavior
1-2. Scouting for potential prey; will retreat if seen
3. Scouting for potential threats; will hiss and threaten if seen
4. Fleeing from a pack of hunters

Herd Behavior
1-2. Setting up an ambush point
3. Angry; will attack on sight
4. Building a strange, angular structure
5. Restructuring a standing building
6. Pursuing a young red dragon

Grillig
Medium aberration; Challenge 1 (200 XP)
AC
12
HP 26 (4d8+8; bloodied 13)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 14 (+2) CON 14 (+2)
INT 6 (-2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 10 (+0)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 13
Saving Throws Dex +4
Skills Engineering +0 (+1d6 mathematics), Perception +3
Damage Immunities damage from piercing and slashing weapons
Condition Immunities paralyzed, petrified, strife, unconscious
Senses blindsight 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages

Cowardly. The grillig has disadvantage on saving throws to avoid being frightened.

Dimensional Dash. If the grillig takes the Dash action, it becomes surrounded by a nimbus of dimensional energy. When it moves within 5 feet of a creature, that creature takes 5 (1d10) force damage. This movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.

Actions
Multiattack.
The grillig makes four talons attacks.

Talons. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4+3) slashing damage

Bonus Actions
Angles of Space (Recharge 5-6).
The grillig teleports to a space it can see within 120 feet of it, as long as its destination is a place where two lines meet at a 90° or smaller angle.

Reactions
Fission (1/Day).
If a grillig that is not bloodied is subjected to fire, force, lightning, or psychic damage, it splits into two grilligs. Each new grillig has half the original’s hit points (rounded down).

Combat
A lone grillig flees at the sight of danger. A herd of grillig fights to the death and will focus on whoever seems to biggest threat at the time.

Herd of Grilligs
Large group of Medium aberrations; Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
AC
12
HP 130 (20d8+40; bloodied 13)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 14 (+2) CON 14 (+2)
INT 6 (-2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 10 (+0)

Proficiency +3; Maneuver DC 14
Saving Throws Dex +4
Skills Engineering +0 (+1d6 mathematics), Perception +3
Damage Immunities damage from piercing and slashing weapons
Condition Immunities paralyzed, petrified, strife, unconscious
Senses blindsight 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages

Area Vulnerability. The herd takes double damage from any effect that targets an area.

Dimensional Dash. If the herd takes the Dash action, it becomes surrounded by a nimbus of dimensional energy. When it moves within 10 feet of a creature, that creature takes 5 (1d10) force damage. This movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.

Squad Dispersal. When the herd is reduced to 0 hit points, it turns into 2 (1d4) grilligs, each of which are bloodied.

Squad. The herd is composed of 5 or more grilligs. If it is subjected to a spell, attack, or other effect that affects only one target, it takes any damage but ignores other effects. It can share its space with Medium or smaller creatures or objects. The herd can move through any opening large enough for a Medium creature without squeezing.

Actions
Multiattack.
The grillig makes four talons attacks

Talons. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (5d4+3) slashing damage

Bonus Actions
Angles of Space (Recharge 5-6).
The herd teleports to a space it can see within 120 feet of it, as long as its destination is a place where two lines meet at a 90° or smaller angle.

Living Angles
When grilligs congregate and build strange structures, sometimes the angles of those structures come alive. They look like masses of lines made of the same material as their surroundings, constantly shifting and changing. They are mindless entities that react to the emotions of the grilligs that accidentally created them. When the grillig is peaceful, the angles remain in place, quivering slightly, looking all the world like living modern art study of line and movement. When the grillig is angered, the angles attack.

A living angle uses the stats of a shadow, with the following changes: it is an aberration, its Intelligence is 1 (-5), it is vulnerable to force damage instead of radiant, it doesn’t have the Sunlight Weakness trait, and its Claw attack doesn’t curse the target or cause a slain target to rise as a shadow.
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
And now, another horse-like creature from the Outer Planes: the sohmien. Between nightmares, pegasi and unicorns, sohmien, the wind steeds from my first volume of monsters, the equar from earlier, and the other horse-like creatures from the Planescape books, and whatever monsters we’ll encounter later on, you will never, ever, run out of extraplanar ungulates. Sohmien are notable for being evil creatures who seem to hate other evil creatures, especially nightmares. Unlike the first two creatures, I actually found some interesting art of the sohmien, not just screengrabs. As a trade-off, I didn't really find any clearer screengrabs, so I'm using the image from the article.

I’ve also realized that all of the monsters from this article were given the Morale of Fearless (19-20), and I have to assume that this is because the game’s AI didn’t give these creatures many options other than attack.

1708976810843.png


Sohmien
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #262
Creature by Chris Avellone; art by Eric Campanella

Nightmares, it is said, are created out of a tortured and corrupted pegasus. But should a nightmare in turn be destroyed by a traitorous rider while in Hell, the Abyss, or the Bleak Gate, then where its blood spilled, sohmien will pull themselves from the ground and ride forth. Perhaps they remember when they were a pegasus, because while they loathe fiends, they save their greatest hatred for nightmares.

Bone-Spiked Beasts. Sohmien vaguely resemble horses, in the sense that they have four limbs that end in plate-sized hooves. Their leathery hides are ashen, and they have large, dead-fish eyes, and they lack tails. They have long, forward-facing bone-iron spikes erupting from their necks and shoulders. They can fire the two largest spikes long distances and they make a horrible whistling noise when they fly through the air, then shriek when they embed themselves in a target’s body.

The sohmien is constantly surrounded by a thin mist; the longer it stays in one spot, the thicker the mist grows. When it runs, the mist fills with the sound of agonized wails.

Revengeful Traitors. Sohmien will allow themselves to be ridden, but only by those who seek vengeance against someone, and only within the confines of the lower planes—they will not travel to another plane. They will aid their rider in killing the creature, but will never make the killing blow—that is for the rider to perform. Once their rider achieves their revenge, the sohmien will abandon them, no matter where they are. The legends say that if their riders die from this abandonment, or refuse to kill their target for any reason, they or their body vanishes, and their voice join the wails that follow it.

Sohmien are inherently treacherous beings, however. Should their rider’s target swear revenge against the rider, the sohmien will immediately turn against the rider. They only care about vengeance, not about who wants it or why.

Climate/Terrain: Abyss, Hell, The Bleak Gate

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

DC 15. Creatures of vengeance, sohmien are created out of the blood of a nightmare killed by its rider.

DC 20. Sohmien only allow themselves to be ridden by those seeking revenge on someone. There are rumors of magic items and spells that will tame a sohmien, allowing it to be used as a steed any time.

Sohmien Encounters
Challenge Rating 1-2
sohmien

Challenge Rating 3-4 sohmien and spy; sohmien and berserker
Treasure: 200 sp, 5,000 cp, map of a distant land (75 gp), spirit lantern

Challenge Rating 5-10 3-5 sohmien; 1-2 sohmien and 1-2 wights; sohmien and blackguard, cambion, or champion warrior
Treasure: 800 gp, 5 bloodstones (50 gp each), poisoner’s kit, shadow elf poison, osseus warhammer, spell scrolls of conjure aberration, infernal weapon, and wall of flesh

Signs
1. A shrieking, whistling sound, followed by the sounds of pain
2. Large hoofprints
3. With a DC 13 Perception check, a shed spike. It evaporates into mist after a day or two
4. Humanoids or animals that have been trampled to death

Behavior
1. In battle with a nightmare.
2. Galloping and trampling everything that is in its path
3. Attacking a minor fiend; will attack the characters next, whether they help or not
4. With rider, seeking a specific creature

Sohmien
Large fiend; Challenge 2 (450 XP)
AC
14 (natural armor)
HP 51 (6d10+18; bloodied 25)
Speed 50 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 16 (+3)
INT 4 (-3) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 7 (-2)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 14
Skills Perception +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Damage Immunities cold, fire
Languages

Concealing Mist. The sohmien is surrounded by mists to a 10-foot radius. If it doesn’t move on its turn, the mists provide half-cover.

Evil. The sohmien radiates an evil aura.

Fiendish Nature. The sohmien doesn’t require air, sustenance, or sleep.

Iron Spikes. The sohmien’s spike attacks do double damage to fiends.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage

Spikes. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage. The sohmien can throw up to 2 spikes, and then can’t throw another one until it completes a long rest. If the sohmien scores a critical hit, it rolls the damage dice three times instead of twice.

If a spike is thrown and hits a creature, it buries itself into the target’s flesh, doing 3 (1d6) ongoing piercing damage. A creature can use an action to make a DC 13 Medicine check to remove a spike.

Trample. The sohmien moves up to its speed in a straight line. It can move through the spaces of Medium and smaller creatures. Each of these creatures must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or take 9 (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage.

Fearful Bay. The sohmien emits a scream and all creatures within 90 feet who can hear it must make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of the sohmien until the end of its next turn.

Bonus Actions
Hooves.
Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage.

Opportune Bite. The sohmien makes a bite attack against a creature it has hit in melee combat with a spike attack.

Combat
Sohmien begin combat by baying and throwing spikes before moving into melee range, trampling other creatures as they do so. There, it uses its melee spikes and bites.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I apologize in advance, but I had to make this next monster less cool, because I honestly don’t know how to stat them up as written. They’re the trelon, and their shtick is that they have the ability to choose whether they exist or not. They don’t exist, a creature shows up, bam! they exist. Then they attack, eat their prey, and stop existing again.

The limited amount of information I found on them online doesn’t mention this ability, so I have to imagine that it’s a Planescapian interpretation of the game’s sprites being coded so that the trelons simply appeared and disappeared instead of fading into the scene or crawling out of the ground or something else “realistic.”

You have to admit, this is a really cool idea for a setting where belief actually shapes reality and thoughts can come alive: a creature that can believe itself in and out of existence, even though at times, it doesn’t actually exist and, logically, therefore couldn’t believe itself to exist again! But as I said, I have no idea how to stat that, so I just gave them Ethereal Jaunt. Sorry.

1709157118216.png


Trelon
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #262
Creature by Chris Avellone; art by Eric Campanella

It is said that trelons were created to hunt magic-users, although whether they were created by mortals or by the gods is unknown. These creatures have a roundish body dominated by a wide mouth, a pair of mandibles, and huge, glowing eyes. From the top of their body emerge two limbs, each of which ends in a huge blade, not unlike the claws of a praying mantis.

Trelons are said to be hive-minded; they certainly can communicate with each other through both vocal and telepathic means, but it’s unclear as to how much of a mind they actually share with one another.

Here/Not Here. Trelons lair in shadowy places and spend much of their time hibernating in a hazy space between the Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane. They only emerge from this state when they sense the presence of magic nearby. Then, they appear as if from thin air—those who survive their attacks describe the encounter as if the trelon simply came into existence right next to them.

Mage-Haters. Trelons are nearly blinded by their hatred of magic. When they sense magic nearby, they will appear and attack the user en masse, paying minimal attention to non-magical creatures nearby. They can see through illusions and are resistant or outright immune to the effects of many spells, making their targets nearly helpless against them. When they succeed on seriously wounding or killing a caster, the entire group of trelons will gather around to devour the victim, often very messily. Trelons care nothing for treasure, although their lairs are often littered with coins and other objects from previous victims. Magic items, however, are always destroyed to the best of the trelon’s abilities. If they come across an item they can’t destroy, they will leave it where it is and move their lair elsewhere.

No Trelon Left Behind. Like with many monstrous beings, the parts of a trelon are in high demand by crafters and casters alike. Their talons are well-suited to being turned into swords and arrowheads and when enchanted, always seem to be more damaging to spellcasters—rumors say weapons made out of trelon talons will even twist in their wielder’s hands and strike at casters instead of their intended target. Even their blood is favored for making poisons who are especially harmful to magical beings.

However, there are nearly as many rumors that claim that trelons always seek revenge against those who have taken their body parts, even if just as trophies, and that wizards who have tried to use trelon parts as components for spells not only have their spells fail catastrophically, but summon swarms of trelon for revenge.

Climate/Terrain: subarctic, temperate; the Bleak Gate, cavern, Ethereal Plane, forest, hill

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

DC 10. Trelons live in darkness and strongly dislike any light brighter than a torch

DC 15. Trelons always attack magic-users first and will converge on them.

DC 20. Trelons can see through illusions and invisibility them; and not only that, they seem to hate that sort of magic, and any magic that relies on shadow or light, and will target any caster who uses spells such as that. They can communicate telepathically and will call for any reinforcements should they detect such magic.

Trelon Encounters
Challenge Rating 5-10
trelon

Challenge Rating 11-16 2 trelons
Treasure: 1,900 gp, 7,000 sp, sapphire (1,000 gp), black pearl nose ring (750 gp), vial of faerie dragon euphoria gas, bronze incense burner (250 gp)

Challenge Rating 17-22 3 trelons
Treasure: 6,050 gp, aquamarine and 4 topazes (500 gp each), peridot ring carved with a family crest (750 gp), fine mithral-inlaid lute (2,500 gp), platinum chain bracelet (750 gp), treasure map which leads to the discovery of a 3rd-level rare spell, purple worm poison

Signs
1. Broken magic items
2. A cold, ethereal mist
3. The sound of clicking and chittering
4. Gouges and scrapes in the rock walls and floor

Behavior
1-2. Chasing after a spellcaster
3-4. Lurking ethereally; will attack if there are any casters in the party

Trelon
Large aberration; Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)
AC
15 (natural armor)
HP 104 (11d10+44)
Speed 30 ft.

STR
21 (+5) DEX 16 (+3) CON 19 (+4)
INT 9 (-1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 9 (-1)

Proficiency +3; Maneuver DC 16
Saving Throws Dex +6, Wis +5, Cha +2
Skills Arcana +2, Perception +5, Stealth +6 (+1d6)
Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, strife
Senses truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Trelon

Fear of Light. When the trelon takes fire or radiant damage, it is rattled until the end of its next turn.

Limited Telepathy. The trelon can telepathically communicate with other trelons with a range of 1 mile.

Magic Resistance. The trelon has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

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

Sense Magic. The trelon can pinpoint the location of a spell being cast within 300 feet of it.

Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the trelon has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Perception checks that rely on sight.

Actions
Multiattack.
The trelon makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its swordarms.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d4+6) piercing damage

Swordarm. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d6+6) slashing damage.

Bonus Actions
Reality Jaunt.
As long as the trelon is in dim light or darkness, it magically shifts from the Material Plane to a shadowy, featureless demiplane or vice versa. Another creature can’t follow the trelon to this demiplane. If within melee range of an enemy, it makes a swordarm attack with advantage.

Reactions
Reactive Slash.
If the trelon takes damage from a melee attack made by a creature it can see, it makes a swordarm attack against the creature.

Combat
Trelons phase into the Material Plane close to their targets and attack. They focus their attacks on known casters, only changing targets when that creature is dead, another caster reveals itself, or they take radiant damage from a different creature. They retreat into the Ethereal when bloodied.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
At this point, my backlog has practically run out so I’m going to take a couple of weeks off to take a breather, make some more monsters, and work on my new LU campaign more. Victorian-era magic, tech, and society (minus the discrimination), lots of social unrest because of the $&@* nobility (and most of the PCs are criminals), plus two neighboring countries are at war and there's ongoing colonization of a neighboring plane, which I'm basing very loosely off the Sunset World from Dragon #140--the pre-Far Realms home of the mind flayers (although with things other than mind flayers, since as much as I love aberrations, the illithidae have never been my favorite; when it comes to monsters, I'm a wee bit of a hipster and mind flayers are too mainstream for me ;) ).

Our next Dragon’s Bestiary is by the prolific Gregory Detwiler and is about dungeon monsters. As he puts it, “The ‘perfect dungeon monster’ doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘perfect character-killer.’ Instead, it’s a creature adapted to living in underground environments.” The first two pages are dedicated to describing how creatures adapted for underground living would eat, navigate, reproduce, and so on—a useful tool for many GMs.

This particular article, and many of the previous articles, and many 2e monsters in general, goes into detail about what parts of what animal could be used for making mundane and magical items, or how much the young go to. Of this, I’m of two minds—it’s cool to see how fantastic beasts would be used in a fantastic economy, but of course in the real world, too many animals have been hunted to near or total extinction for the exact same reason. And since many of the monsters are intelligent, it brings in the horrors of slavery or collecting trophies from murdered people as well. And I hate the idea of trophy hunting in general (if you’re going to eat the animal you kill, that’s different; if you’re killing it just to stick its head on the wall, that’s gross). On the other hand, D&D monsters are far more powerful than real-world animals (and thus able to defend themselves far better than) and are often a genuine and active threat to people and other creatures around them, and probably a lot of them would collect humanoid bits themselves. So… I have no idea where I was going with this. It’s mostly just a stream of consciousness. What are your thoughts on collecting monster parts?

Anyway, here is the tunnermouth dweller, a ginormous toad-thing with a 10-foot-wide mouth. The only way to keep it from swallowing someone whole, the article says, is to jam a pole or polearm in its mouth. You know, considering how many monsters swallow people whole in this game, or have breath weapons, maybe there should be actual rules for jamming things into mouths. Maybe it should be turned into a basic maneuver. You can jam a weapon into a creature’s mouth, and it has to save against your maneuver DC. On a failure, it can’t close its mouth, swallow anything, or use a bite attack or breath weapon. But you lose your weapon whether it fails or succeeds (you can retrieve it later). There’d have to be rules for the size of the creature versus the size of your weapon, probably, since you’re not going to be stopping a dragon from biting you by using a dagger, but it could be done. Ideas?


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Tunnelmouth Dweller
Dragons’ Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #267
Creature by Gregory W. Detwiler; art by Bob Klasnich

Resembling a huge, scaly, eyeless, stone-colored toad, tunnelmouth dwellers are native to deep caverns and dungeons. They are little more than a mouth and stomach, with four short, splayed legs attacked. Their mouths are lined with rows of backwards-facing teeth and are indeed tunnel-like and are ten feet in diameter, which easily takes the entire width of a typical dungeon corridor. Should a creature venture near, flaps on the inside of the tunnelmouth’s mouth dart out to encase the creature and force it down the tunnelmouth’s throat, where it is quickly shredded and then dissolved by stomach acids.

Fortunately for subterranean creatures, the tunnelmouth dweller is extremely solitary. They rarely move from their chosen hunting ground, and rarely need to; their metabolism is so slow that they need very little food. They only move to reproduce (females will lay a clutch of eggs and then leave, and a male, smelling the eggs, will approach and fertilize them) or in an attempt to flee a superior foe.

Climate/Terrain: temperate, subtropical, tropical; cavern, dungeon, Underland

Tunnelmouth Dweller
Huge beast; Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
AC
18 (15 inside of mouth)
HP 187 (15d12+90; bloodied 93)
Speed 10 ft., swim 20 ft.

STR 26 (+7) DEX 7 (-2) CON 22 (+6)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 4 (-3)

Proficiency +4; Maneuver DC 19
Skills Perception +5, Stealth +2 (+1d6)
Damage Resistances cold, fire
Condition Immunities blinded, prone
Senses tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages

Tunnel-Sized. Creatures have disadvantage on any check made to move through the tunnelmouth’s space, and the tunnelmouth has advantage on opportunity attacks made to attack a creature that is trying to move through its space.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 34 (6d8+7) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it is grappled (escape DC 19). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and the tunnelmouth can’t bite a different creature.

Swallow. The tunnelmouth makes a bite attack against a Large or smaller creature it is grappling. If the attack hits and the tunnelmouth as not swallowed another creature, the target is swallowed and the grapple ends. A swallowed creature has total cover from attacks from outside the tunnelmouth, is blinded and restrained, and it takes 17 (5d6) acid damage at the start of each of the tunnelmouth’s turns.

If a swallowed creature deals 25 or more damage to the tunnelmouth in a single turn, or if the tunnelmouth dies, the tunnelmouth vomits up the creature.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I think all that monster part stuff should be in there. Its authentic both to the source material and the vibe it was written to evoke (which is very important to me) and it doesn't pre-judge players and DMs who might want to make use of that information (for whatever reason). Let the reader decide whether or not to use it. Don't make that choice for them.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Hi again! I'm back--this time I'm actually trying to distract myself from overthinking and overplanning my upcoming game, so have some more monsters. Or, well, animals. Not the most exciting return, yeah, but Wednesday's should be cooler.

(Game won't even start for a couple more months and I'm driving myself to distraction with the what-ifs.)

The article is called Demihuman Pets, and it's specifically about breeds of animals bred by elves, dwarfs, gnomes, and halflings. Which is a nice worldbuilding thing--this is one of those things we rarely think about in-depth. However, in writing them up, they felt almost too magical to be proper pets. At least for the mortal peoples. Thus, I made them into wondrous fey beasts. Here's the brak twan, or tunnel hound; the twil, or pocket rat, and yyllethyn, or faerie horse.

Fey Pets
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #269
Creature by Jack Pitsker; art by David Day

Brak Twan (Tunnel Hound)
These ugly bulldogs have impressively large jaws and teeth and small, glowing silver eyes. They are primarily hairless with patches of silvery fur on their stubby tails, the top of their heads, and their bellies, and their owners—the subterranean fey—often mark their skin with runes and patterns. Brak twan often are used for for hunting and pit fighting, but they were bred to be tunnelers.

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Brak Twan
Medium beast (fey); Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)

AC
12
HP 9 (2d8; bloodied 4)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 10 ft.

STR 12 (+1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0)
INT 4 (-3) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 12
Saving Throws Str +3
Skills Perception +3
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages

Keen Hearing and Smell. The brak twan has advantage on Perception checks that rely on smell.

Loyal. The brak twan can’t be magically compelled to disobey or harm its owners.

Limited Magic Resistance. The brak twan has advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Siege Monster. The brak twan deals double damage to objects and structures.

Tunneler. The brak twan can tunnel through earth and solid rock, leaving behind a 5-foot-diameter tunnel.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must make a DC 11 Strength saving throw or fall prone.

*

Twil (Pocket Rat)
Rats can live nearly anywhere, including the Dreaming—although those that do have been altered by that plane’s fey energy. Twils, also called pocket rats, are intelligent creatures that look like regular wild rats. Their coats have the range of colors and patterns normally only found on domesticated fancy rats. Unusually, though, even though they aren’t marsupials, both sexes have a tiny pouch capable of holding a surprising amount of stuff in them. When they venture out of the Dreaming, twil often live among gnomes and other forest fey.

1711987689597.png


Twil
Tiny beast (fey); Challenge 0 (10 XP)

AC
12
HP 1 (1d4-1)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 2 (-4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 8 (-1)
INT 8 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 8 (-1)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 12
Skills Perception +2, Stealth +4
Condition Immunities charmed
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Understands Gnomish and Sylvan but can’t speak it

Fey Ancestry. The twil has advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened

Invisible to Darkvision. The twil is invisible to darkvision.

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

Marsupium. The twil has a magical pouch in which it can store up to two Tiny objects, regardless of that item’s shape or weight. While in the pouch, they do not encumber the twil.

Speak With Rats. The twil can speak to normal and giant rats.

Treasure Sense. The twil can locate by smell coins and gems within 60 feet.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage

*

1711987758617.png


Yyllethyn (Faerie Horse)
These horses are often used by faerie nobles as riding beasts. Yyllethyn resemble normal horses, although somehow more elegant and delicate in appearance. They are always uniform in color, typically charcoal gray, white, golden, roan, sorrel, or black, without any other markings, and their eyes are invariably blue-green.

Yllethyn
Large beast (fey); Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)

AC
12
HP 30 (4d10+8; bloodied 15)
Speed 60 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 14 (+2)
INT 7 (-2) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 7 (-2)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 14
Skills Perception +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages understands Sylvan but can’t speak it

Fey Ancestry. The yyllethyn has advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened

Feytrotter. The yyllethyn’s hooves make no noise when walking, and its movement is not hindered by difficult terrain made of plants, mud, or unworked stone. It can also walk on still liquids as if they were difficult terrain.

Actions
Hooves.
Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) bludgeoning damage. If the yyllethyn moves at least 20 feet strait towards the target before the attack, the target must make a DC 14 Strength saving throw or fall prone.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Finally, a plant! I haven’t had one of those yet. Or, wait, no, it’s a plant construct. Meh, well, close enough. It’s the blackroot marauder. I could have sworn that they had been in a 3e MM but I can’t find them anywhere. I guess they just have one of those faces.

Blackroot marauders are constructs created by priests of the Greyhawk god Iuz in order to go forth and wreak evil. Just for once, I’d like priests of a good god to create constructs to go forth and wreak good. I mean, why not? You go into town and there’s a construct teaching children how to manage their emotions, offering hugs, rescuing cats out of treants, that sort of thing. Good needs to be more proactive, darnit!

Anyway. Unless your LU games involve Greyhawk deities, you can easily say that these are constructs of druids or primeval nature gods. Or, with their ability to sense and preference for attacking those with alignments, they could be constructs made by the khalkoi.

On a related note, while searching for info on the blackroot marauder, I discovered that TVTropes has a collection of websites that list the tropes for tons of D&D monsters. Sigh. I know what’ll be eating up my browser for a while now…

(it starts here, if you’re brave and/or foolish enough to want to read it yourself.)

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Blackroot Marauder
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #270
Creature by James Jacobs; art by Carl Critchlove

Created by servitors of primeval nature, blackroot marauders are animated thorn bushes, twisted into a mockery of humanoid form. Their blackened bark holds the faint outlines of a leering face. They are created through ancient rituals that include living sacrifices, and while many of their creators sacrifice animals to make them, more than a few rely on using the blood of intelligent beings.

Forest Wanderers. Blackroot marauders are created by druids and by clerics of primeval gods; they are let loose to roam the forests to slay any interlopers—specifically those whose supernatural origins would cause them to attempt to bend the woodlands to the side of evil or goodness, or of chaos or order. Although that is their primary purpose, blackroot marauders attack anyone or anything they have been programmed to feel are not part of nature. For the most part, only beasts, plants, and fey are safe from their predation.

Climate/Terrain: any climate; forest, jungle

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

DC 10. Blackroot marauders are constructs built by priests and cultists dedicated to sinister beings.

DC 15. Blackroot marauders are immune to damage to nonmagical weapons and lightning damage. Being attacked by fire enrages them.

DC 20. These constructs are typically programmed to hunt down and slay supernatural beings.

Blackroot Marauder Encounters
Challenge Rating 3-4
blackroot marauder

Challenge Rating 5-10 1-2 blackroot marauders and swarm of khalkos spawn; 2 blackroot marauders and 2 cult fanatics, druids, or priests
Treasure: fine leather coat (75 gp), ivory broach (75 gp), arrows +1, bracers of archery, quiver of the hunt

Challenge Rating 11-16 2 blackroot marauders and cultist execrator or high priest
Treasure: 150 gp, 2 opals (1,000 gp), dragontooth necklace (250 gp), faerie dragon euphoria gas (200 gp), carved horn and agate puzzle box (250 gp) in which are notes that lead to the discovery of a rare 3rd-level spell, tree feather token, pocket magic mirror, scrolls of conjure woodland beings and enlarge/reduce.

Challenge Rating 17-22 3 blackroot marauders and khalkos; 3 blackroot marauders and forgotten nature god
Treasure: 1,600 gp, ruby (5,000 gp), dragonhorn shield brooch (250 gp), ironwood crown inlaid with silver and gemstones (750 gp), giantbone flute inlaid with mithral (2,500 gp), +2 scimitar, amber wings, potion of giant strength, 2 potions of greater healing

Signs
1. Torn up vegetation and thorn bushes
2. A slain unicorn or hellhound
3. A corpse stuck full with venom-dripping thorns.
4. A ritual site, cleared of trees, where a new marauder is being constructed

Behavior
1. Roaming around, looking for aligned prey
2. Guarding an area; attacks trespassers on sight
3. Attacks if trespassers touch or damage certain doors or items
4. Standing still; will attack if commanded to by its handlers

Blackroot Marauder
Medium construct; Challenge 3 (700 XP)
AC
16 (natural armor)
HP 66 (9d8+26; bloodied 33)
Speed 40 ft.

STR 19 (+4) DEX 12 (+1) CON 18 (+4)
INT 3 (-4) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 5 (-3)

Proficiency +2; Maneuver DC 14
Damage Immunities lightning, poison; damage from non-magical, non-adamantine weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 120 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages

Enraged by Fire. If the marauder takes fire damage, then it takes 2 (1d4) ongoing fire damage until a creature uses its action to put it out. While it’s on fire, the marauder’s attacks are made with advantage and inflicts an additional 5 (1d10) fire damage, but all attacks made against it are made with advantage as well.

False Appearance. While not moving, the marauder is indistinguishable from a large thornbush.

Know Alignment. The marauder knows if a creature within 120 feet has an alignment.

Plant Origins. The marauder can be healed by magic that would heal plants.

Actions
Multiattack.
The marauder makes two slam attacks or two thorn dart attacks.

Thorn Dart. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 30 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage and the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or take 3 (1d6) poison damage and 3 (1d6) ongoing poison damage. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (3d6+4) bludgeoning damage

Volley of Thorns (Recharge 5-6). The marauder fires thorns all around it. Each creature within 10 feet of the marauder must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 14 (4d6) piercing damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one. A creature that fails its save also takes 7 (2d6) poison damage and 7 (2d6) ongoing poison damage. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Combat
The marauder’s strategy is mostly determined by its programming, but it will focus attacks on creatures who have alignments. They attack first by using their Volley of Thorns, then closing to melee range to attack with their thorny limbs.
 

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