Homebrew A Leveled Up Bestiary

Faolyn

(she/her)
The next monster is the behir. “But wait!”, you say, “the behir is already in the Monstrous Menagerie. So what gives?” Well, this article is The Ecology of the Behir (I miss that series) and it includes behir age categories and two new behir variants. So why not convert them? I like behir. I’ve never actually used them, but I like them. The article actually assumes the behir in the Monstrous Compendium are the oldest, so here’s the juvenile behir, and three behir variants: the elder behir (an elite monster), the desert behir, and jungle behir.

I just realized something. The behir has like twelve legs and no claw attacks. What gives?

Next up are more dragons, so I’ll take a day or two off to get them ready.

Behir Variants
The Ecology of the Behir, Dragon Magazine #156

Created by Tony Jones

Like most creatures, behir produce young that are smaller and weaker than it—but that are still subjected to their natural drive to eliminate dragons.

Additionally, not all behir live in caverns. Some live above the ground, in deserts and jungles.

Behir Encounters
CR 5-10
Juvenile behir.
Treasure: 280 gp, tattered book of dragon-lore (worth 100 gp), spell scroll of beacon of hope, +1 crossbow bolts

CR 11-16 2 juvenile behirs
Treasure: 120 pp, 500 gp, 6 ambers carved into animal shapes (150 gp each), potion of gaseous form, potion of stone giant shape

CR 17-22 Elder behir
Treasure: 5,000 gp, flawless ruby (5,000 gp), suit of half-plate armor with gold filigree and gold dragon emblem on it that has been damaged (1,000 gp if repaired), barbed devil’s bracelet

Juvenile Behir
Large monstrosity

Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)
AC 14 (natural armor)
HP 102 (12d10+42; bloodied 36)
Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 16 (+3)
INT 10 (+0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 11 (+0)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 15
Saving Throws Dex +6, Int +4, Stealth +6
Skills Athletics +9, Perception +7, Stealth +6
Damage Immunities lightning
Senses darkvision 90 ft., passive Perception 17
Languages Common, Draconic
Serpentine. The behir can move through a space as narrow as 3 feet wide, vertical or horizontal, at full speed, without squeezing.
Spider Climb. The behir can use its climb speed even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings

Actions
Multiattack.
The behir makes a bite attack and then a constrict attack.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (2d12+4) piercing damage. If the target is a Small or smaller creature grappled by the behir, and the behir has not swallowed anyone else, the target is swallowed. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained, it has total cover from attacks from outside the behir, and it takes 14 (4d6) acid damage at the start of each of the behir’s turns.
If a swallowed creature deals 30 or more damage to the behir in a single turn, or if the behir dies, the behir vomits up the creature.
Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10+4) bludgeoning damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 15) and restrained while grappled.
Lightning Breath (Recharge 5–6). The behir breathes a line of lightning 5 feet wide and 20 feet long. Creatures in the area make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw, taking 42 (12d6) lightning damage on a failed save or half damage on a success

Behir Variant: Elder Behir
The elder behir is an elite monster, equivalent to two CR 11 monsters (41,000 XP). It is Huge and has 336 (32d12+128; bloodied 168) hit points. The behir has the following additional bonus actions, which it can only use while bloodied:

Elite Recovery. The elder behir ends one negative effect currently affecting it. It can use this bonus action as long as it has at least 1 hit point, even while unconscious or incapacitated.
Rending Bite. The elder behir makes a bite attack against a creature it is constricting. On a hit, the bit inflicts an additional 26 (4d12) slashing damage and the target must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of its next turn.
Trample. The elder behir moves up to its speed in a straight line. It can move through the spaces of Large and smaller creatures. Each of these creatures must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw, taking 16 (2d10+5) slashing damage and falling prone on a failure.

The elder behir also has the following reaction, which it can only use while bloodied:

Lightning Retort. When the elder behir is hit by a melee attack by a creature within 10 feet of it, it spits lightning at that creature. That creature must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw, taking 11 (2d10) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

Behir Variant: Desert Behir
Desert behir are yellow to orange in color, with fiery red belly scales and a breath weapon to match. It is slightly smaller and weaker than the common behir.

The desert behir is CR 9 (5,000 XP) and has 147 (14d12+56; bloodied 73) hit points. Its armor class is 17. It is immune to fire damage instead of lightning damage, and its breath weapon is a 20-foot cone that inflicts fire damage. A juvenile desert behir is CR 5 (1,800 XP) and has 85 (10d10+30; bloodied 42) hit points. Its armor class is 15.

Behir Variant: Jungle Behir
Jungle behir are larger and stronger than common behir. They are primarily emerald green, with a copper-green underbelly.

The jungle behir is CR 13 (10,000 XP) and has 199 (19d12+76; bloodied 99) hit points. Its armor class is 20. It is immune to acid and poison damage instead of lightning damage, and it is immune to the poisoned condition, and its breath weapon inflicts acid damage. A juvenile jungle behir is CR 7 (2,900 XP) and has 119 (14d10+42; bloodied 59) hit points
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
Next up is the gorynych. It looks like a dragon but isn’t, so I imagine it’s in the same pseudo-dragon family with behirs, hydrae, wyverns, and chimera. It’s dragon-like, but has multiple heads and multiple tails. Gorynych—full name Zmei Gorynich—is a creature from Russian folklore. The folkloric version has some shapechanging ability which the AD&D version lacks. They do have the ability to constrict targets in their tails and, gruesomely, if two heads bite the same target, they can use a trait called Wishbone to tear the target apart.

The article cautions that it only has a single brain and, “unlike some monsters with multiple heads, the gorynych cannot be defeated by setting up arguments between the different brains of its body,” and also notes that all three heads need to sleep at the same time. How many people here have tried to defeat an ettin or other multi-headed creature getting the heads to fight? I really want to give it a shot, next time I have a DM throw one at me.

The gorynych’s article contains an amusing sub-system. If a target is grappled by the tail, there’s a 10% chance of being held in an awkward position and can’t fight (or 25% chance if the target is “smaller than man-sized.”). But it doesn't grapple tiny creatures because then its tail would get in the way of its bite. Such an odd attention to detail!

1665697820069.png

Art by Tony Dykstra

Gorynych
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #158
Created by Spike Y. Jones.

Although they bear a passing resemblance to true dragons, gorynyches can never be confused for one. They have three almost wolf-like heads atop long, serpentine necks, and their three thick tails split into four thinner ones, giving them twelve tails in all. They are covered in small, blue and green scales that makes beautiful, almost feathery patterns, especially on their wings, which are said to resemble a peacock’s tail. Gorynyches are fiercely competitive with each other and even force hatchlings out of the lair as soon as they are able to fend for themselves. They reach maturity in less than a decade and can live for 400 years.

Three Heads Are Better Than One. Despite gorynyches having three heads, they have but a single mind and single personality. This means that, unlike many other multi-headed creatures, all heads need to sleep at once—but at the same time, all three heads work in concert; a gorynych never disagrees with itself, and all three pairs of wolfish ears and keen draconic eyes work together to spot prey, treasure, or dangerous travelers.

Solitary Predators. Gorynyches live alone, generally in mountains and caves, in places far from civilization. They stay away from roadways and small villages. And while they are willing to consume a lone traveler or two or an unprotected merchant caravan should they come across them, they otherwise rarely attack humanoids, or for that matter, do anything else with humanoids. While they can speak, they do so haltingly, since they so rarely choose to communicate with anyone else. They even throw their own young out of the lair at an early age. Fortunately for them, it only takes a decade for a gorynych to reach adult size.

Territorial. Should a large predator of equal power to its own move in a gorynych’s area (such as a giant or an older dragon) or should humanoids attempt to build a settlement too close, they will form a fierce rivalry, doing everything in its power to drive that creature away—even going against their own loner instincts to ally with other creatures.

Small Hoarders. Like the dragons they are very distantly related to, gorynyches keep hoards. They take their treasure from abandoned tombs, temples, and settlements they come across and from the rare intelligent creatures they kill, rather than go raiding. They keep the inside of their lairs fastidiously clean, throwing out old bones and unwanted treasure. Among their hoarded treasures they often keep pets—large and aggressive beasts that they use as watchdogs.

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

DC 10. Gorynych are three-headed, 12-tailed draconic creatures that prefer to stay away from other intelligent beings. Although intelligent and capable of speech, they hate talking.

DC 15. Although they resemble dragons, gorynych lack a breath weapon. They use their many tails to constrict creature and their multiple heads to pull people apart.

DC 20. Despite having three heads, a gorynych only has one brain and one personality. All three heads act in accordance, and losing one head doesn’t cripple the beast.

Gorynych Encounters
Terrain:
forest, hill, mountain

CR 5-10 Juvenile gorynych; juvenile gorynych and giant boar
Treasure: 1,500 gp, silver crown (250 gp), masterwork steel hauberk, 3 potions of healing, potion of frost giant strength, robe of useful items.

CR 11-16 Gorynych; gorynych and cave bear
Treasure: 300 pp, 8,500 gp, 3 alexandrites (100 gp each), jade necklace (2,500 gp), 2 signet rings from a merchant company (50 gp each), gold-trimmed chariot, javelin of lightning, +2 battleaxe.

Signs
1. With a DC 15 Nature check, a lack of large predators in the area.
2. A pile of bones, loose treasure, and other refuse.
3. Shed scales.
4. A giant, felled tree with enormous claw-marks gouged into it.
5. A damaged merchant’s back, abandoned in the roadway.
6. The corpse of an ogre, literally torn in two.

Behavior
1-2. Patrolling its territory; will watch the party for a while before determining if it will attack or not.
3. Flying overhead; hunting.
4. Hungry; will attack on sight.
5. Approaches the party in humanoid form; asks to help in slaying another large monster.
6. Sleeping on its treasure.
7. Singing (badly) to itself in 3-part harmony.
8. Cleaning out its lair.

Names
Berjoza, Boch, Fikatsiya, Krizantam, Sator

Gorynych
Huge monstrosity

Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
AC 19 (natural armor)
HP 225 (18d12+108; bloodied 112)
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR 22 (+6) DEX 12 (+1) CON 23 (+6)
INT 10 (+0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 13 (+1)

Proficiency +5
Maneuver DC 19
Saving Throws Dex +6, Con +11, Wis +8
Skills Perception +8 (+1d6), Stealth +6
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 21
Languages Common, Draconic
Reactive Heads. The gorynych can take three reactions each round, but not more than one per turn.
Three Heads. The gorynych has advantage on Perception checks and on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, and knocked unconscious, and it can’t be flanked.

Actions
Multiattack.
The gorynych makes three bite attacks and three tail attacks.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit:22 (3d10+6) piercing damage. The gorynych has advantage on Bite attacks made against a creature it has grappled in its tails.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d8+6) slashing damage.
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d8+6) bludgeoning damage, and if the target is Large or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 19) and is restrained while grappled. The gorynych has twelve tails, each of which can constrict a single target.

Bonus Actions
Wishbone.
If the gorynych has made a successful bite attack against a single target with two or more heads, the gorynych tries to pull the target apart. The target must make a DC 19 Strength saving throw, taking 22 (4d10) slashing damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

Reactions
Snap The Whip.
When a creature the gorynych can see within 10 feet hits the gorynych with a melee attack, the gorynych makes a tail attack against it. It can’t use a tail that is constricting a target.

Combat
Fearless fighters, gorynyches first use their tails to entangle opponents, then bites and claws at grappled foes. It will try to fly away when bloodied.

Variant: Shapeshifting Gorynych
Some gorynych develop the ability change their shape, and they often take on the form of a forest hermit, and often a grumpy one. These gorynych are often slightly more social than others of their kind. While they still prefer being alone, they are more willing to communicate with other, weaker natives of the forest, such as druids, fey, and lycanthropes. Shapeshifting gorynych gain the (Shapechanger) tag and the following new trait:

Change Shape. The gorynych magically takes the shape of a Medium humanoid or Medium or Large beast, or changes back into its true form. It reverts to its true form if it dies. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying is absorbed or borne by the new form (gorynych’s choice). In the new form, the gorynch’s stats are unchanged except for its size, and in beast form, it can make no more than 1 bite attack and 1 tail attack, and its reach is reduced to 5 feet. In humanoid form, it can attack only with its weapon.

The gorynych gains a new action and reaction, which it only use while shapeshifted.

Quarterstaff (Humanoid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d6+6) bludgeoning damage.
Parry (Humanoid Form Only). If the gorynych is wielding a quarterstaff , it can use its reaction to add 2 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it.

*

Juvenile Gorynych
Large monstrosity

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
AC 16 (natural armor)
HP 85 (10d10+40; bloodied 42)
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 12 (+1) CON 19 (+4)
INT 10 (+0) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 13 (+1)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 15
Saving Throws Dex +4, Con +7, Wis +4
Skills Perception +4 (+1d6), Stealth +3
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17
Languages Common, Draconic
Reactive Heads. The gorynych can take three reactions each round, but not more than one per turn.
Three Heads. The gorynych has advantage on Perception checks and on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, and knocked unconscious, and it can’t be flanked.

Actions
Multiattack.
The gorynych makes three bite attacks and three tail attacks.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit:15 (2d10+4) slashing damage. The gorynych has advantage on Bite attacks made against a creature it has grappled in its tails.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) slashing damage.
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning damage, and if the target is Medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 15) and is restrained while grappled. The gorynych has twelve tails, each of which can constrict a single target.

Bonus Actions
Wishbone.
If the gorynych has made a successful bite attack against a single target with two or more heads, the gorynych tries to pull the target apart. The target must make a DC 15 Strength saving throw, taking 8 (2d10) slashing damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
This article is called “That’s Not in the Monstrous Compendium, and is a “sequel” of sorts to an article called “That’s not in the Monster Manual!”, written in #37, which introduced the gem dragons. Both articles are written by the same person, Aaron McGruder, so these are about as official as those are. The article says that psionic-using neutral dragons are possible (using the 1e rules, since The Complete Psionicist’s Handbook wouldn’t be out until the following year). Sadly, it doesn’t say what sort of powers they would have, just how many minor and major powers they have, so I hope I’m able to make their psionics feel appropriate to them. Let me know if you think they should have different powers!

Anyway, the first dragon up is the pearl dragon. I looked up some myths about pearls to help figure out what sort of psionics they should have. One spirituality site said that you shouldn’t buy pearls because it’s bad luck, but only get them as gifts. A jewelry store site said you should never give or accept pearls as gifts because it’s bad luck, but buy them for yourself. Although it also said that’s just a myth. Most of the sites say pearls represent tears, but also spiritual insight. The end result is… kind of a depressed cultist-dragon. Who collects pearls. I’m not quite sure how it got that far. Blame it on converting monsters that don’t have all that much to them in the first place.

I won’t be doing the jade dragon, BTW, since that’s far too similar to the emerald dragon—it’s even described as the “Oriental cousin” of the emerald. Even if I try to throw in information from the Mystaran jade dragon, it didn't work. That dragon's breath weapon is like the green dragon's poison breath, but on a failed save it causes a "flesh-rotting disease." I thought about having the breath cause a mind-rotting disease, but even that's too close to Level Up's emerald dragon and it's sanity-warping breath. So… just imagine a less glittery, less paranoid emerald dragon?

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Art by Tony DiTerlizzi

Dragon, Pearl
That’s Not in the Monstrous Compendium!, Dragon Magazine #158
Created by Aaron McGruder

Among the smallest and weakest of dragons, pearl dragons are beautiful creatures. Their scales look as if they have thousands of pearls pushed into their skin. While a majority of them are a lustrous, creamy white color, some have rose, golden, or even black overtones. Pearl dragons lack horns but have a noticeable pelican-like gular pouch on their lower jaws that makes them instantly recognizable, even without their beautiful hides.

Beach-Dwellers. Pearl dragons live on steep, rocky coastlines, as have a deep love of salt air and open ocean, a far cry from other gem dragons who tend to leave deep underground. Their diet consists almost entirely of fish and oysters. They spend much of their time diving for pearls or tending to cultivated oyster beds. They hunt their territories to exhaustion; should a stretch of ocean run out of fish or pearls, they simply pack up and move out, carefully ensuring that every single object in their lair is moved with them. Pearl dragons and bronze dragons sometimes share territory—although bronze dragons rarely tolerate a pearl dragon’s carelessly destructive behaviors for long.

Piratical. Although they have little to do with humanoids, pearl dragons have been known to attack both merchant and pirate ships—any ship that seems as if it would have valuable cargo. They are generally kind enough to request that the ship’s crew to hand over the valuables before resorting to violence, though, and rarely use more violence than is needed to secure the wealth.

Pearls of Wisdom and Despair. Many myths about pearls describe them as being the tears of a god, and as such, the represent spiritual insight and bring both good and bad luck. These myths have their origins in the pearl dragon, who seek to learn the knowledge that could make a god weep. Their psionic powers open up a creature’s mind to the minds of the gods, and while some affected creatures have great insights from these probings, most find themselves overcome with confusion and misery… and still other creatures find such a vision brings with it terrible luck.

Pearl dragons always seem a bit mad. There’s a methodical, obsessive madness, where they seek to learn more knowledge. While they love pearls because these gems resemble their own scales, they also love pearls because they believe that they contain the knowledge of the gods, even if it is knowledge so terrible as to cause such beings sorry.

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

DC 15. A pearl dragon is great collectors of both natural pearls and of knowledge, but it gains much of their knowledge from unearthly sources. Its breath weapon is made by psychically agitating the air’s molecules until they become burning hot.

DC 20. The oldest pearl dragons can blast a creature’s mind with such horrific knowledge, causing it to make terrible blunders and to succumb to misery.

Pearl Dragon Encounters
Terrain:
coastline, Plane of Water, ocean

CR 3-4 pearl dragon wyrmling with 3-4 merfolk; 2 pearl dragon wyrmlings
Treasure: 250 sp, 2 pearls (100 gp each), cloak of the manta ray

CR 5-10 young pearl dragon; young pearl dragon with 2 steam mephits or merfolk knight; young pearl dragon with 2-4 coralfish
Treasure: 120 gp, 450 sp, 9 pearls (100 gp each), 2 midnight pearls, spell scroll of thunderwave, vial of beauty, pearl of power.

CR 11-16 adult pearl dragon
Treasure: 800 gp, 3,500 sp, 21 pearls (100 gp each), pearl-studded silver cup (500 gp), +1 breastplate, chime of opening, ring of warmth

CR 17-22 ancient pearl dragon; adult pearl dragon with coven sea hag or chuul
Treasure: 150 pp, 4,000 gp, 55 pearls (100 gp each), dragon-shaped figurine carved out of coral (1,000 gp), history book on an ancient and forgotten tragedy that occurred in the area (500 gp), bowl of commanding water elementals, pearl of power, spell scrolls of gust of wind and moonbeam.

CR 23-30 ancient pearl dragon with giant lanternfish, merrow mage, or water elemental
Treasure: ancient tome of tales of the downfall of gods, as written by a god (2,000 gp), 87 pearls (100 gp each), egg-sized green-black pearl (1,000 gp), arrow of slaying, ioun stone of absorption, spell scroll of control weather.

CR 31+ ancient pearl dragon with aboleth, marid, or merclops
Treasure: 11,000 pp, 17,000 gp, 400 pearls (100 gp each), opera necklace of black pearls (10,000 gp), large coral statue of a weeping god (worth 7,500 gp), scrimshawed whalebone on which are writings that leads to the discovery of a rare 7th-level spell, manual of stone guardians, potion of cloud giant strength, robe of stars

Signs
1. Light fog obscures the coastlines, hiding dangerous reefs, choking sea weeds, and venomous sea life.
2. Creatures in the area have sad dreams full of longing and loss.
3. Enormous piles of empty oyster shells.
4. Pearlescent fog.
5. The sound of a sorrowful song being carried on the wind.
6. A pearl, dropped (but not forgotten) by the dragon while it was moving its hoard.

Behavior
1-3. Diving for pearls.
4. Carefully moving its treasure to a new lair.
5. In a trance, communing with otherworldly beings.
6. Sorting its collection of pearls by color, shape, or other criteria.

Pearl Dragon Lair Features
The save DC for the following effects is 13 + the dragon’s proficiency modifier. Choose or roll one or more of the following lair features:

1. Pearlescent fog blankets the lair, causing the area to be lightly obscured. Within the mist are steam mephits, who watch an intruder’s every move and telepathically report back to the dragon.
2. Strange writings that speak of mind-bending things cover the walls. If a creature other than the dragon attempts to read the writing, it must make a Wisdom saving throw against the lair’s DC, taking a level of strife on a failure.
3. Bizarre architecture, combined with walls that are covered in reflective nacre, make the lair a veritable maze. When a creature tries to reach a specific location in the lair or leave it, it must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failure the creature ends up back where it started a few minutes later.
4. The dragon employs creatures whose minds have been destroyed by its mental manipulations. Once per day, when the dragon would use Pearls of Wisdom, it can summon three creatures that have the attributes of aboleth thralls, except their Int, Wis, and Cha are all 7 (-2). Creatures summoned in this way fight until killed or the dragon dismisses them as a bonus action.

Names
Bearach, Ghitredel, Iridess, Pinctada, Opaline

Variant: Pearl Dragon Spellcaster
Some gem dragons develop the ability to psionically cast spells. A pearl dragon’s spellcaster ability is Charisma. It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components. Each age category knows its own spells and those of younger age categories.

Young (save DC 15): 3/day each: tearful sonnet, detect thoughts
Adult (save DC 19): 3/day each: commune, dominate person
Ancient (save DC 22): contact other planes, feeblemind

Ancient Pearl Dragon
Legendary Gargantuan Dragon

Challenge 20 (25,000 XP)
AC 21 (natural armor)
HP 315 (18d20+126; bloodied 157)
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft., swim 40 ft.

STR 24 (+7) DEX 10 (+0) CON 25 (+7)
INT 17 (+3) WIS 19 (+4) CHA 26 (+8)

Proficiency +6
Maneuver DC 21
Saving Throws Dex +6, Con +13, Int +9, Wis +10
Skills Insight +10 (+1d6), Perception +10 (+1d6), Persuasion +14, Stealth +6
Damage Immunities fire
Senses blindsight 120 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 23
Languages Aquan, Common, Deep Speech, Draconic, telepathy 120 ft.
Amphibious. The dragon can breathe air and water.
Insightful Mind (3/Day). If the dragon makes a successful Insight check against a creature, then for the next hour, that creature has disadvantage on saving throws against the dragon’s Pearls of Wisdom and Tears of Despair actions.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the dragon fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead, and some of its scales lose their luster and fall off. If it has no more uses of this ability, its Armor Class is reduced to 19 until it finishes a long rest.
Psionic Powers. The dragon’s psionic abilities are considered both magical and psionic.
Water Vision. The dragon’s blindsight only works while underwater.

Actions
Multiattack.
The dragon attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws. In place of its bite, it can use Tears of Despair.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 29 (4d10+7) piercing damage plus 9 (2d8) fire damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d8+7) slashing damage.
Boil. The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet, forcing it to make a DC 21 Constitution saving throw, taking 22 (4d10) fire damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.
Steam Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon exhales a blast of steam in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 21 Constitution saving throw, taking 72 (16d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

Reactions
Curse of Ill Luck (While Bloodied).
When a creature the dragon can see damages the dragon, the dragon plants a shred of divine knowledge in the target’s mind that causes the target to doubt its place in the universe. The attacker must make a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, then until the end of its next turn, it has disadvantage on all ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws it makes, and whenever the creature rolls a 1 on a d20, of if both dice roll a 5 or lower and the roll is a failure, it takes a level of strife.

Legendary Actions
The dragon can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. It regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Create Fog. The dragon exhales a cloud of steam in a 90-foot cone which lasts until the end of the dragons’ next turn. The area is heavily obscured. Misty shapes, taken directly from each creature’s mind, appear within the cloud, and each creature in the cloud when it appears is rattled until the start of their next turns.
Pearls of Wisdom (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet, forcing it to make a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the target’s mind is opened to the sorrow of the divine, and the creature becomes confused. When rolling to determine its actions, treat a roll of 3-4 as a result of 5. It may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Boil (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon makes a Boil attack.
Tears of Despair (1/Day, Costs 3 Actions). The dragon psionically emits a wave of despair. Each creature within 20 feet must make a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the creature takes 1 level of strife. Creatures confused by the dragon make this saving throw with disadvantage.

*

Adult Pearl Dragon
Legendary Huge Dragon

Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
AC 19 (natural armor)
HP 212 (17d12+102; bloodied 106)
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft., swim 40 ft.

STR 20 (+5) DEX 10 (+0) CON 22 (+6)
INT 15 (+2) WIS 17 (+3) CHA 23 (+6)

Proficiency +5
Maneuver DC 20
Saving Throws Dex +5, Con +11, Int +7, Wis +8
Skills Insight +8 (+1d6), Perception +8 (+1d6), Persuasion +11, Stealth +5
Damage Immunities fire
Senses blindsight 120 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 21
Languages Aquan, Common, Deep Speech, Draconic, telepathy 120 ft.
Amphibious. The dragon can breathe air and water.
Insightful Mind. If the dragon makes a successful Insight check against a creature, then for the next hour, that creature has disadvantage on saving throws against the dragon’s Pearls of Wisdom and Tears of Despair actions.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the dragon fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead, and some of its scales lose their luster and fall off. If it has no more uses of this ability, its Armor Class is reduced to 17 until it finishes a long rest.
Psionic Powers. The dragon’s psionic abilities are considered both magical and psionic.
Water Vision. The dragon’s blindsight only works while underwater.

Actions
Multiattack.
The dragon attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws. In place of its bite, it can use Boil.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d10+5) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) fire damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (3d8+5) slashing damage.
Boil. The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet, forcing it to make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw, taking 22 (4d10) fire damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.
Steam Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon exhales a blast of steam in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw, taking 58 (13d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

Reactions
Curse of Ill Luck (While Bloodied).
When a creature the dragon can see damages the dragon, the dragon plants a shred of divine knowledge in the target’s mind that causes the target to doubt its place in the universe. The attacker must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, then until the end of its next turn, it has disadvantage on all ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws it makes, and whenever the creature rolls a 1 on a d20, it takes a level of strife.

Legendary Actions
The dragon can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. It regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Create Fog. The dragon exhales a cloud of steam in a 90-foot cone which lasts until the end of the dragons’ next turn. The area is heavily obscured. Misty shapes, taken directly from each creature’s mind, appear within the cloud, and each creature in the cloud when it appears is rattled until the start of their next turns.
Pearls of Wisdom. The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet, forcing it to make a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the target’s mind is opened to the sorrow of the divine, and the creature becomes confused. When rolling to determine its actions, treat a roll of 3-4 as a result of 5. It may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Boil (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon makes a Boil attack.
Tears of Despair (1/Day, Costs 3 Actions). The dragon psionically emits a wave of despair. Each creature within 20 feet must make a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the creature takes 1 level of strife. Creatures confused by the dragon make this saving throw with disadvantage.

*

Young Pearl Dragon
Large Dragon

Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)
AC 19 (natural armor)
HP 114 (12d10+48; bloodied 57)
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft., swim 40 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 10 (+0) CON 19 (+4)
INT 14 (+2) WIS 15 (+2) CHA 19 (+4)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 15
Saving Throws Dex +3, Con +7, Int +5, Wis +5
Skills Insight +5, Perception +5, Persuasion +7, Stealth +3
Damage Immunities fire
Senses blindsight 120 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 18
Languages Deep Speech, Draconic, telepathy 120 ft.
Amphibious. The dragon can breathe air and water.
Psionic Powers. The dragon’s psionic abilities are considered both magical and psionic.
Water Vision. The dragon’s blindsight only works while underwater.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d10+4) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) fire damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) slashing damage.
Steam Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon exhales a blast of steam in a 30-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 45 (10d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

Reactions
Curse of Ill Luck (1/Day While Bloodied).
When a creature the dragon can see damages the dragon, the dragon plants a shred of divine knowledge in the target’s mind that causes the target to doubt its place in the universe. The attacker must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, then until the end of its next turn, it has disadvantage on all ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws it makes, and whenever the creature rolls a 1 on a d20, of if both dice roll a 5 or lower and the roll is a failure, it takes a level of strife.

*

Pearl Dragon Wyrmling
Large Dragon

Challenge 2 (750 XP)
AC 19 (natural armor)
HP 52 (8d8+16; bloodied 26)
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft., swim 40 ft.

STR 15 (+2) DEX 10 (+0) CON 15 (+2)
INT 13 (+1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 16 (+3)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 12
Saving Throws Dex +2, Con +4, Int +3, Wis +4
Skills Insight +4, Perception +4, Stealth +2
Damage Immunities fire
Senses blindsight 120 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 18
Languages Aquan, Common, Draconic, telepathy 120 ft.
Amphibious. The dragon can breathe air and water.
Psionic Powers. The dragon’s psionic abilities are considered both magical and psionic.
Water Vision. The dragon’s blindsight only works while underwater.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d10+2) piercing damage.
Steam Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon exhales a blast of steam in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; these articles are awesome.
Thank you so much!

I fixed an error in the Young dragon's statblock, since the text of their Curse of Ill Luck didn't match up (earlier version I scrapped).
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Here’s the jacinth dragon. Jacinth is actually a type of zircon and is also called hyacinth (for which the plant was named). Even though jacinth is red, orange, or yellow and hyacinth plants are blue and purple (there may have been confusion between the jacinth/zircon stones and sapphires—or it could have been referring to the purple-red fritillary flower). Myths about jacinth say that it boosts memory, increases the intellect, induces sleep, wards against ghosts, and aids in astral projection, so that’ll help to flesh out the dragon’s powers. Jacinth also supposedly protects against lightning strikes, but that’s not really on-theme for this dragon.

Y'know, considering how many gemstones there are, I'm surprised there haven't been more gemstone dragons made. Opal, garnet, bloodstone, tourmaline... the list goes on and on.

1665869005441.png

Art by Tony DiTerlizzi

Dragon, Jacinth (Gem)
That’s Not in the Monstrous Compendium!, Dragon Magazine #158
Created by Aaron McGruder

Perhaps the rarest of all dragons, jacinth dragons dwell in caverns beneath the hottest, most desolate deserts. These small but tough dragons are extraordinarily beautiful. Their scales sparkle with oranges, yellows, and reds and shift hue and intensity with each move they make, and some of their scales seem to glow from within. They emerge from their lairs only to bask in the sunlight, not to fly off to hunt or for treasure or companionship. Their breath weapon is a blast of boiling-hot air it creates by psionically exciting the molecules within the air, and many have the ability to travel between dimensions.

Look Into My Eyes. A jacinth dragon’s psionics manifest in their hypnotic ability. With a glance or a word, they can control and alter a creature’s behaviors, implant suggestions, and recover memories. But even beyond their psionic abilities, they are extremely good at wheedling out knowledge and even deep-held secrets through sheer persuasiveness and charisma.

Special Diets. Jacinth dragons rarely eat. The younger of them consume what meat and succulent plants they find in their wasteland homes, but only in small amounts, but the older ones forego even that. They gain much of their energy from sunlight, but what they actually feed on is knowledge. Adult jacinth dragons gainffthe ability to recover memories, and a copy of each memory is stored within one of the dragon’s gemstone scales, causing that scale to gently glow. They spend much of their time in meditative trances, studying these memories and consuming their energy. Sages believe that that these scales could be taken from the dragon, either while it is alive or from its corpse, and the memories trapped within could then be studied and compiled. So far, no jacinth dragon scales have ever been taken, though, so this remains speculation.

Strange Allies. Jacinth dragons are for the most part loners, but have been known to make deals with people who dwell in the desert or Underland: the occasional assistance as a guard or psychic in exchange for new memories on which to feast. These alliances are rare, as few creatures are happy with the dragon rooting through their mind.

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

DC 15. Jacinth dragons are among the rarest of all dragons. They live to discover other creatures’ forgotten memories.

DC 20. A jacinth dragon’s breath weapon is psychically heated air, which is so hot that objects caught in the blast may spontaneously combust.

Jacinth Dragon Encounters
Terrain:
cavern, desert

CR 5-10 young jacinth dragon; jacinth dragon wyrmling with 1d4+1 dust mephits or fire mephits
Treasure: 2,500 sp, 2 carnelians (50 gp each), 1 jasper (50 gp), tome on psychology (75 gp), potion of superior healing, vicious spear

CR 11-16 young jacinth dragon with 1 azer or 1-2 gibbering mouthers; adult jacinth dragon
Treasure: 170 pp, 500 gp, 7 bloodstones (50 gp each), fire opal (1,000 gp), dust of sneezing and choking, feather token (tree), ring of X-ray vision

CR 17-22 adult jacinth dragon with salamander or cyclops; adult jacinth dragon with 1-2 intellect devourers; ancient jacinth dragon
Treasure: 500 pp, 1,200 gp, amber-studded double longsword (750 gp), 3 topazes (500 gp each), bolt of fine silk (750 gp), elemental gem (fire), lantern of revealing, potion of heroism, +2 scale mail

CR 23-30 ancient jacinth dragon with salamander noble or cyclops myrmidon
Treasure: 1,230 pp, 10,000 gp, statuette of a dragon carved from red spinel (2,500 gp), 2 topazes (500 gp each), ruby (5,000 gp), tome on the Astral plane (250 gp), figurine of wondrous power (elephant), horn of Valhalla,

CR 31+ ancient jacinth dragon with mummy lord, greater sphinx, guardian naga, or murmuring worm
Treasure: 2,000 pp, 19,000 gp, 8 jacinths (5,000 gp each), bloodstone and jade chess set (7,500 gp), two vials of wyvern poison (2,500 gp each), ruby and platinum ring (7,500 gp), bead of force, +3 hauberk, ioun stones of insight and intellect, oil of sharpness

Signs
1. The air is almost unbearably hot.
2. Heat mirages that resemble things the viewer has been thinking of.
2. A sandstorm.
4. When a character sleeps, its dreams are memories of long-ago events.

Behavior
1. Basking in the sunlight.
2. Meditating in a memory.
3. Unearthing a captive’s hidden thoughts.
4. Demands to have a conversation, which the dragon manipulates in order to get the most information it can.

Jacinth Dragon Lair Features
The save DC for the following effects is 13 + the dragon’s proficiency modifier. Choose or roll one or more of the following lair features.

1. Suppressed memories intrude upon peoples’ minds, making concentration difficult and leaving the individual open to manipulation. Creatures have disadvantage on saving throws to maintain Concentration, and if a creature succeeds on a saving throw to avoid being charmed or frightened while in the lair, it is instead rattled for the duration.
2. The dragon has burrowed a tunnel underneath its lair and filled it with sand, creating a reliable escape route. The tunnel opens into the surrounding desert.
3. The air in the lair is unbearably hot. On first entering the lair and every hour afterward, a creature without fire resistance must make a Constitution saving throw or take a level of fatigue.
3. Stray memories animate the sand, forming dust mephits, which attack at random intervals. The claws of these mephits inflict psychic damage, not slashing, and when the mephit attacks, it speaks fragments of the memory of which it is made/s

Names
Cyreliophin, Heatwave, Hyacinth, Iishen, Ivriosha

Variant: Jacinth Dragon Spellcaster
Some gem dragons develop the ability to psionically cast spells. An amethyst dragon spellcaster’s spellcasting ability is Charisma. It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components. Each age category knows its own spells and those of younger age categories.
Young (save DC 17): 3/day each: clairvoyance, zone of truth
Adult (save DC 20): 3/day each: commune, modify memory
Ancient (save DC 23): 1/day each: astral projection, feeblemind

Ancient Jacinth Dragon
Legendary gargantuan dragon

Challenge 22 (41,000 XP)
AC 21 (natural armor)
HP 388 (21d20+168; bloodied 194)
Speed 40 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 80 ft.

STR 23 (+6) DEX 14 (+2) CON 26 (+8)
INT 18 (+4) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 28 (+9)

Proficiency +7
Maneuver DC 21
Saving Throws Dex +9, Con +15, Int +11, Wis +10
Skills Deception +15, History +11, Insight +10 (+1d6), Perception +10 (+1d6), Performance +15, Persuasion +15 (+1d6)
Damage Immunities fire, psychic
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 23
Languages Common, Draconic, Terran, telepathy 120 ft.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). When the dragon fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead. When it does, its scales dull briefly, and it can’t use Blind until the end of its next turn.
Psionic Powers. The dragon’s psionic abilities are considered both magical and psionic.

Actions
Multiattack.
The dragon attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws. In place of its bite attack, it can use Blast of Hot Air.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit:28 (4d10+6) piercing damage plus 9 (2d8) fire damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d8+6) slashing damage.
Heatwave. The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet, forcing it to make a DC 23 Strength saving throw. The creature takes 22 (4d10) fire damage and is pushed back 10 feet on a failed saving throw, or takes half as much damage and is pushed back 5 feet on a success.
Molecular Agitation (Recharge 5-6). The dragon psionically causes the air in a 10-foot wide, 90-foot long line to become burning hot. Each creature in that area must make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw, taking 85 (19d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. The fire ignites flammable objects that aren’t being worn or carried.
Remember (Gaze, 3/day). The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet who it can see and who can see the dragon, and unearths that creature’s memories on a specific topic. An unwilling creature can make a DC 22 check to resist. For the next hour, the target gains an expertise die on Intelligence checks related to that topic. If the target has a memory that has been removed or altered with the modify memory spell or similar effect, the dragon may also make a Charisma ability check against the original effect’s save DC. On a success, the dragon restores the memory.

Bonus Actions
Blind.
The dragon flexes its scales and causes the light to shine blindingly off of them. A creature within 30 feet of the dragon must make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of its next turn. This ability only works in areas that are brightly lit.

Legendary Actions
The dragon can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. It regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Hypnotic Command (Gaze). The dragon targets a creature within 90 feet it with whom it shares a language and issues a one-word command of the dragon’s choosing, unless the target succeeds on a DC 23 Wisdom saving throw. Undead creatures and creatures immune to being charmed are not affected, and the ability fails if the command is immediately harmful to the target.
Riddling Talk. The dragon offers a confusing riddle or philosophical conundrum to a creature within 90 feet of that can hear it. The creature must make a DC 23 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the dragon for 1 minute, or it takes damage or another creature uses an action to shake it out of its daze. While charmed, the target is Incapacitated and its Speed is reduced to 0.
Heatwave (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon uses Heatwave.
Implant Suggestion (Gaze, 1/Day, Costs 3 Actions). Each creature of the dragon’s choice within 90 feet must make a DC 23 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the dragon for 8 hours. While charmed, the dragon may convince a creature to engage in a reasonable activity as per the suggestion spell, and the target will carry out the activity to the best of its ability.

Variant: Calm The Mind
Some legendary jacinth dragons have an additional ability related to their powers of hypnosis.

Calm The Mind (Gaze, 1/Day). The dragon targets a willing creature within 30 feet and spends 1 hour sorting through that creature’s memories. It must then make an Intelligence check against a DC of the 8 + the creature's Charisma modifier + the creature's Proficiency Bonus. On a success, the dragon removes one mental stress effect from that creature by dulling the memories associated with the stress. The creature also permanently has disadvantage on rolls made to recall facts about the event that led to the stress. Once the dragon uses this ability on a creature, whether it succeeds or not, it can’t use it on the same creature until 10 days have passed.

*

Adult Jacinth Dragon
Legendary huge dragon

Challenge 15 (13,000 XP)
AC 19 (natural armor)
HP 237 (19d12+114; bloodied 118)
Speed 40 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 80 ft.

STR 20 (+5) DEX 14 (+2) CON 22 (+6)
INT 16 (+3) WIS 15 (+2) CHA 24 (+7)

Proficiency +5
Maneuver DC 18
Saving Throws Dex +7, Con +11, Int +8, Wis +7
Skills Deception +12, History +8, Insight +7 (+1d6), Perception +7 (+1d6), Performance +12, Persuasion +12 (+1d6)
Damage Immunities fire, psychic
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 20
Languages Common, Draconic, Terran, telepathy 120 ft.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). When the dragon fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead. When it does, its scales dull briefly, and it can’t use Blind until the end of its next turn.
Psionic Powers. The dragon’s psionic abilities are considered both magical and psionic.

Actions
Multiattack.
The dragon attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws. In place of its bite attack, it can use Blast of Hot Air.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit:21 (3d10+5) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) fire damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (3d8+5) slashing damage.
Heatwave. The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet, forcing it to make a DC 19 Strength saving throw. The creature takes 22 (4d10) fire damage and is pushed back 10 feet on a failed saving throw, or takes half as much damage and is pushed back 5 feet on a success.
Molecular Agitation (Recharge 5-6). The dragon psionically causes the air in a 5-foot wide, 60-foot long line to become burning hot. Each creature in that area must make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw, taking 63 (14d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. The fire ignites flammable objects that aren’t being worn or carried.
Remember (Gaze, 3/day). The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet who it can see and who can see the dragon, and unearths that creature’s memories on a specific topic. An unwilling creature can make a DC 20 check to resist. For the next hour, the target gains an expertise die on Intelligence checks related to that topic. If the target has a memory that has been removed or altered with the modify memory spell or similar effect, the dragon may also make a Charisma ability check against the original effect’s save DC. On a success, the dragon restores the memory.

Bonus Actions
Blind.
The dragon flexes its scales and causes the light to shine blindingly off of them. A creature within 15 feet of the dragon must make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of its next turn. This ability only works in areas that are brightly lit.

Legendary Actions
The dragon can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. It regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Hypnotic Command (Gaze). The dragon targets a creature within 90 feet it with whom it shares a language and issues a one-word command of the dragon’s choosing, unless the target succeeds on a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw. Undead creatures and creatures immune to being charmed are not affected, and the ability fails if the command is immediately harmful to the target.
Riddling Talk. The dragon offers a confusing riddle or philosophical conundrum to a creature within 90 feet of that can hear it. The creature must make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the dragon for 1 minute, or it takes damage or another creature uses an action to shake it out of its daze. While charmed, the target is Incapacitated and its Speed is reduced to 0.
Heatwave (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon uses Heatwave.
Implant Suggestion (Gaze, 1/Day, Costs 3 Actions). Each creature of the dragon’s choice within 90 feet must make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the dragon for 8 hours. While charmed, the dragon may convince a creature to engage in a reasonable activity as per the suggestion spell, and the target will carry out the activity to the best of its ability.

*

Young Jacinth Dragon
Large dragon

Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
AC 18 (natural armor)
HP 157 (15d10+75; bloodied 78)
Speed 40 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 80 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 20 (+5)
INT 14 (+2) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 21 (+5)

Proficiency +4
Maneuver DC 16
Saving Throws Dex +6, Con +9, Int +6, Wis +5
Skills Deception +9, History +6, Insight +5 (+1d6), Perception +5 (+1d6), Performance +9, Persuasion +9 (+1d6)
Damage Immunities fire, psychic
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 20
Languages Common, Draconic, Terran, telepathy 120 ft.
Psionic Powers. The dragon’s psionic abilities are considered both magical and psionic.

Actions
Multiattack.
The dragon attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws. In place of its bite attack, it can use Blast of Hot Air.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit:21 (3d10+5) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) fire damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (3d8+5) slashing damage.
Molecular Agitation (Recharge 5-6). The dragon psionically causes the air in a 5-foot wide, 30-foot long line to become burning hot. Each creature in that area must make a DC 17 Constitution saving throw, taking 45 (10d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. The fire ignites flammable objects that aren’t being worn or carried.
Remember (Gaze, 1/day). The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet who it can see and who can see the dragon, and unearths that creature’s memories on a specific topic. An unwilling creature can make a DC 17 check to resist. For the next hour, the target gains an expertise die on Intelligence checks related to that topic.

Bonus Actions
Blind.
The dragon flexes its scales and causes the light to shine blindingly off of them. A creature within 10 feet of the dragon must make a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of its next turn. This ability only works in areas that are brightly lit.

*

Jacinth Dragon Wyrmling
Medium dragon

Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
AC 16 (natural armor)
HP 52 (7d8+21; bloodied 26)
Speed 40 ft., burrow 40 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 80 ft.

STR 14 (+2) DEX 14 (+2) CON 16 (+3)
INT 13 (+1) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 18 (+4)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 14
Saving Throws Dex +4, Con +5, Int +3, Wis +3
Skills Deception +6, History +3, Insight +3, Perception +3, Performance +6, Persuasion +6
Damage Immunities fire, psychic
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Draconic, Terran, telepathy 120 ft.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit:13 (2d10+2) piercing damage.
Molecular Agitation (Recharge 5-6). The dragon psionically causes the air in a 5-foot wide, 15-foot long line to become burning hot. Each creature in that area must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, taking 13 (3d8) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. The fire ignites flammable objects that aren’t being worn or carried.
 
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Y'know, considering how many gemstones there are, I'm surprised there haven't been more gemstone dragons made. Opal, garnet, bloodstone, tourmaline... the list goes on and on.
I once thought about creating a new category of dragons with a druidic theme based on organic gemstones: Jet, Ivory, Amber, Coral, and Pearl.

Never got around to it. :confused:
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I once thought about creating a new category of dragons with a druidic theme based on organic gemstones: Jet, Ivory, Amber, Coral, and Pearl.

Never got around to it. :confused:
That would actually be really awesome!

Jet dragons live underground and breathe smoky fire.
Ivory dragons live on grasslands. They could breath cold or perhaps just terrible blasts of air for force damage.
Amber dragons live in forests and breathe lightning, of course.
Coral and pearl dragons are both aquatic, of course. Coral dragons breathe poison (some species of coral produce lethal palytoxins). I can't think of a good thing for pearls beyond the steam breath weapon from above, but apparently nacre is used a lot to make parts of musical instruments so maybe a sound-based attack.

Some opals are organic, so that could be a dragon too.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
You know, I thought I was done for the time being with monsters that have lots of statblocks to them… (This is my fault; the original monster was just a single statblock; I’m the one who expanded it.)

Spelljammer! Whether you love it, hate it, or are simply confused by it, you have to admit it’s one heck of a setting with a lot of very unusual monsters in it. This Dragon’s Bestiary is effectively a preview of the upcoming Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium appendix. Apparently three more Spelljammer monsters were also published in Polyhedron. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve never read Polyhedron. I don’t think my old FLGS even carried it. But a search for a list of D&D monsters in that mag brings up an old thread here on EN World that indicates that the monsters are the Venusian, Martian, and Moon Man. So, uh. I might not be missing much. They were not in the Spelljammer MCA.

Anyhoo, here’s the andeloid, a fun and rather horrific thing that assimilates new creatures and develops a composite personality based on all the creatures its eaten. This is obviously terrifying—while it’s color isn’t described, I can see it as a gray goo that consumes people instead of… everything, and that can function just as well in a dungeon or a mad wizard’s lair as it does in space. The andeloid can even become an apocalypse monster, since it doesn’t stop growing. It’s listed as having anywhere from 2-24 Hit Dice (it’s spawned with 2 HD and gains one per month until maturity) plus the sum of the hosts’ HD. I don’t know if that means that if it eats a 3 HD creature, it gains 3 hp or 3 more HD, but in either case, it was hella tough. For comparison, a great wyrm gold dragon in 2e had 23 HD.

On the other hand, the description includes the following sentence: “A composite of several intelligent beings acts as if governed by a committee,” which, if taken to an extreme, can lead to the type of goofiness for which Spelljammer is well-known. “We will need to take a vote as to whether or not we will eat you. Please be patient; our docket is quite full today.”

The Habitat/Society section of the monster specifies that since they are driven by their dominant personalities, they can be either good or evil. But because they people don’t accept them because they’re creepy gray goo, they have to resort to being monsters instead of “benign, helpful colonies.” How often was something like this ever written in AD&D? That the horrifying, people-assimilating slime-monster may in fact not be innately evil but was driven to it through xenophobia? It happened, but it’s darn rare.

Neither the original write-ups nor my version go into detail as to what happens if a spellcaster is absorbed into the andeloid. It’s possible they simply lose their ability to cast spells. But all the spellcasters in 2e had to prepare their spells and playable races didn’t have any innate spellcasting. Level Up has plenty of heritages, cultures, and classes that have innate magic or known spells that don’t have to be prepared. So maybe some andeloids can cast spells now? And maybe with so many active minds in one body, it can cast multiple spells each turn.

1665957438931.png

Art by Tom Baxa

Andeloid
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine 159
Created by Harold Johnson

Andeloids are hated and feared by most creatures because they not only devour people, but incorporate their mind and body into its own, forming a gestalt consciousness. These oozes look likes lumps of cloudy gray gelatin. The creatures it has consumed can be seen under the andeloid’s translucent skin, twitching and jerking, constantly pushing at the membrane and slowly dissolving away. Occasionally a body part—a claw, an arm, an eyestalk, a head—will break out for a moment or three before being sucked back in.

Composite Beings. The andeloid contains the minds of creatures they consume, which jumble together in a mess of personalities, each of which has a varying degree of sanity and force of will and all changed to meet the andeloid’s directives of survive and grow and reproduce. The personalities decide, as if by committee, what action the andeloid will take; when a new creature is devoured, the personalities also decide if the creature will become part of the composite or if it will be devoured for sustenance. An andeloid that goes for too long without eating begins to cannibalize itself, eventually losing its ability to think altogether.

Typically, an individual personality will remain intact for a few weeks or months; the constant influx of new minds makes the andeloid’s mind a chaotic mess that frequently changes direction and purpose. A few very powerful personalities manage to hang around for far longer—years or even longer. They become powerful forces, domineering the other personalities within it, for good or for ill. In these cases, the other minds are still aware and active, but take all direction from the dominant mind.

Effectively Immortal. Andeloids are have a definite lifespan, although its length is unknown—few people try to study them. But they are also, in a way, immortal. Andeloids reproduce by ejecting spores, and the spores contain a fraction of the parent’s thoughts, knowledge, memories, and personalities, requiring only the absorption of new minds to be able to make sense of them. It’s possible for an andeloid to have memories that date back centuries or even millennia.

Solipsistic. Andeloids recognize the spores they create as fragments of themselves, but strangely do not recognize other adults as kin, and seem almost as horrified by them as most other creatures are of andeloids. Should two andeloids meet, they usually try to avoid each other out of disgust. Depending on the nature of their dominant personality, they may flee or fight, or even try to rescue the creatures absorbed within the other. On very rare occasions, this may result in the two andeloids merging into one, creating a Unity—a very powerful individual.

Mutant Mouthers? Some people believe that andeloids are an offshoot of the gibbering mouther, one that managed to keep its victim’s minds as well as their eyes and mouthers. Others think it’s the other way around, that andeloid spores that fail to mature properly become gibbering mouthers. Perhaps both or correct—or perhaps neither are, and there are simply two very similar horrors in existence.

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

DC 15. Andeloids are horrific, ooze-like entities that consume intelligent beings but keep them alive within itself, incorporating their minds and personalities into its own.

DC 20. The many bodies that comprise an andeloid are only kept intact and “alive” by the andeloid’s strange biochemistry. Magic that alters that chemistry—that is, healing spells—weakens the andeloid.

Andeloid Encounters
Terrain:
Astral Plane, caverns, forest, jungle, laboratory, mountains, ruin, sewer, tomb

CR 3-4 neophyte andeloid

CR 5-10 andeloid

CR 11-16 andeloid and swarm of spores; andeloid and gibbering mouther
Treasure: set of gold buttons (250 gp), liquid-damaged tome with information that leads to the discovery of a rare 3rd-level spell, necklace of fireballs

CR 17-22 andeloid and 2 swarms of spores; unity andeloid
Treasure: corroded greatsword with gem-studded hilt (2,500 gp if fixed), diamond ring (6,000 gp), osseous plate

Signs
1-2. A trail of gray slime.
3. A partially-dissolved body part, covered in gray slime, that was spat out by the andeloid.
4. A corpse where the head seems to have been dissolved away.
5. The sound of multiple gurgling voices talking at once.

Behavior
1. Hungry; will attack on site.
2. Interested in adding a new mind to its collective; will attack on site.
3. Engaging in a spirited discussion with itself; welcomes outside point of views.
4. Hiding from angry attackers.

Andeloid
Large aberration

Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
AC 10 (natural armor)
HP 168 (16d10+80; bloodied 84)
Speed 15 ft., climb 15 ft.

STR 19 (+4) DEX 7 (-2) CON 20 (+5)
INT 7 (-2) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 14 (+2)

Proficiency +4
Maneuver DC 16
Saving Throws Str +8, Dex +2, Con +9, Cha +6
Skills Athletics +8, Culture +2, History +2, Perception +3 (+1d6)
Damage Resistances fire, necrotic, psychic
Damage Immunities acid, cold, poison; damage from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities blinded, deafened, fatigue, poisoned, prone, unconscious
Senses blindsight 60 ft., blind beyond this radius, passive Perception 16
Languages Common plus 1d6 others.
Engulfing Body. A creature that enters the andeloid’s space is subjected to the saving throw and consequences of its Engulf attack.
Knowledge of the Masses. The andeloid has advantage on Intelligence checks made to recall facts known to its component creatures. It can also attune to any magic item, regardless of the item’s heritage or class requirements. It must have at least four creatures in its gestalt mind to gain the benefit from this effect.
Magic Resistance. The andeloid has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Many-Faced. The andeloid has advantage on Perception checks and on saving throws against being frightened or being stunned, and it can’t be flanked. It must have at least four creatures in its gestalt mind to gain the benefit from this effect.
Regeneration. The andeloid regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn. If the andeloid takes fire damage or is targeted by a spell from the Healing school, this trait doesn’t function at the start of its next turn. The andeloid dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate. Whenever an andeloid is reduced to 0 hit points, whether it dies or not, it releases 1d4 spores.
Sticky. A creature, object, or weapon that touches the andeloid is stuck to the andeloid. A Medium or smaller creature is also stuck to the andeloid. A creature can use an action to make a DC 15 Strength check, freeing itself or an object or creature within reach on success. A grappled creature has disadvantage on this roll. The effect also ends when the andeloid chooses to end it or when the andeloid dies.
Spider Climb. The andeloid can use its climb speed even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings.
Too Many Thoughts. A creature that attempts to magically or psionically read the andeloid’s mind or communicate with it telepathically must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw, taking 10 (3d6) psychic damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.

Actions
Multiattack.
The andeloid makes three slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) bludgeoning damage plus 5 (2d4) poison damage, and the target is subjected to the andeloid’s Sticky trait.
Engulf. The andeloid targets a Medium or smaller creature that is currently subjected to the andeloid’s Sticky trait and forces it to make a DC 16 Strength saving throw. On a failure, the creature is engulfed by the andeloid, and can’t breathe, is restrained, and takes 21 (6d6) acid damage at the start of each of the andeloid’s turns. When the andeloid moves, the engulfed creature moves with it. The andeloid can hold up to 8 Medium creatures in it.
An engulfed creature can attempt to escape by using an action to make a DC 16 Strength check. On a success, the creature moves to a space within 5 feet of the andeloid. A creature within 5 feet can take the same action to free an engulfed creature, but takes 14 (4d6) acid damage in the process.
If a creature dies because of that, then the andeloid chooses whether to digest it or incorporate it into its gestalt mind. If it chooses to incorporate the creature, the andeloid gains that creature’s mind, memories, and personality for a number of weeks equal to the total of the creature’s Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma modifiers plus its Proficiency Bonus, and the creature can’t be brought back from the dead by any spell other than a true resurrection or wish.
Only aberrations, beasts, dragons, giants, humanoids, and monstrosities can be incorporated.
Horrifying Visage. Each creature within 60 feet of the andeloid that can see it must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. The creature is rattled on a success and frightened on a failure for 1 minute, and may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, it is immune to this andeloid’s Horrifying Visage for 24 hours.

Combat
Andeloids are methodical fighters who attack from ambush. They start out with Horrifying Visage, then try to Engulf a creature, at which point they move away to digest or incorporate their meal in peace while other opponents are still cowering in terror.

Variant: Unity
An andeloid that manages to contain enough minds and maintain the gestalt for a long enough period of time may grow into a Unity. Unities also occur on the very rare occasions when two adult andeloids merge. These andeloids are much larger and far smarter and more capable of rational thought than they used to be. Rumors tell of even more powerful andeloids that exist deep in space or on other planes of existence.

A Unity is an elite monster, equivalent to two CR 10 monsters (11,800). It is Huge and has 496 (32d10+160; bloodied 248) hit points. Its Intelligence is 10 (+0), Wisdom is 12 (+1), and Charisma is 16 (+3). It is proficient in Culture, History, Insight, and Persuasion. The andeloid has the following bonus actions, which it can only use while bloodied:

Elite Recovery. The andeloid ends one negative effect currently affecting it. It can use this action as long as it has at least 1 hit point, even while incapacitated.
Lunging Attack. The andeloid moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks and makes a slam attack.
Reactive. The andeloid can take a reaction on each creature’s turns.
Too Horrifying For Words. A creature within 60 feet makes a saving throw against Horrifying Visage, even if it has already saved within the past 24 hours.

The Unity also gains the following reaction:

Create Spore. When the andeloid takes damage, it releases a spore.

*

Andeloid Spore
Resembling a small sphere of quivering, multicolored wax, spores can survive indefinitely without food or air by going into a dormant state. The application of fire or extreme heat is all that’s needed to bring it out of its dormancy. A spore can’t absorb creatures the way that its “parent” can. Instead, it kills creatures, then absorbs their brains, not their whole bodies. This jump-starts their ability to absorb minds, and it eventually, it gains the ability to incorporate intelligent beings into its mind, and it becomes a fully-fledged andeloid.

Andeloid Spore
Tiny aberration

Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
AC 11
HP 22 (4d4+12)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 11 (+0) DEX 13 (+1) CON 16 (+3)
INT 3 (-4) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 5 (-3)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 11
Saving Throws Dex +3
Skills Stealth +3
Damage Resistances necrotic, psychic
Damage Immunities acid, fire, cold, poison; damage from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, fatigue, frightened, poisoned, prone, unconscious
Senses blindsight 60 ft., blind beyond this radius.
Languages
Dormancy. The spore can survive indefinitely without air or sustenance, but it is unconscious during this time. If it is touched by fire, the dormancy ends.
Jumper. The spore can jump up to 10 feet horizontally and 5 feet vertically without a running start.
Magic Resistance. The spore has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Regeneration. The spore regains 5 hit points at the start of its turn. If the spore takes fire damage or is targeted by a spell from the Healing school, this trait doesn’t function at the start of its next turn. The spore dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate.
Spider Climb. The spore can use its climb speed even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings.

Actions
Slam.
Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage plus 2 (1d4) acid damage, and the creature takes 2 (1d4) ongoing acid damage until it uses its action to wipe the acid away.

Swarm of Andeloid Spores
Medium swarm of Tiny aberrations

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
AC 11
HP 90 (12d8+36; bloodied 45)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 11 (+0) DEX 13 (+1) CON 16 (+3)
INT 3 (-4) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 5 (-3)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 11
Saving Throws Dex +3
Skills Stealth +3
Damage Resistances necrotic, psychic
Damage Immunities acid, fire, cold, poison; damage from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, fatigue, frightened, poisoned, prone, restrained, stunned, unconscious
Senses blindsight 60 ft., blind beyond this radius.
Languages
Jumper. The swarm can jump up to 10 feet horizontally and 5 feet vertically without a running start.
Magic Resistance. The spore has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Spider Climb. The spore can use its climb speed even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings.
Swarm. The swarm can occupy another creature’s space and can move through any opening large enough for a Tiny creature. It can’t gain HP or temporary hit points.

Actions
Slam.
Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage plus 15 (6d4) acid damage, and the creature takes 10 (4d4) ongoing acid damage until it uses its action to wipe the acid away, or 6 (3d4) acid damage and 5 (2d4) ongoing acid damage if the swarm is bloodied.

Variant: Neophyte Andeloid
When a spore matures into a young andeloid, it becomes bigger and more capable, but it lacks the combined knowledge of an adult andeloid.

A neophyte andeloid is CR 3 (750 XP), is either Small or Medium, and has 55 (10d4+30; bloodied 27) hit points. Its Intelligence is 5 (-3), its speed is 20 ft., climb 20 ft., and it loses the Jumper trait. It gains the andeloid’s Engulfing Body and Sticky traits, and gains the following actions:

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (2d4+1) bludgeoning damage plus 2 (1d4) poison damage, and the target is subjected to the andeloid’s Sticky trait.
Engulf. The andeloid targets a creature at least one size smaller than it that is currently subjected to the andeloid’s Sticky trait and forces it to make a DC 11 Strength saving throw. On a failure, the creature is engulfed by the andeloid, and can’t breathe, is restrained, and takes 10 (3d6) acid damage at the start of each of the andeloid’s turns. When the andeloid moves, the engulfed creature moves with it. The andeloid can hold as many creatures as can fit in its space without squeezing.
An engulfed creature can attempt to escape by using an action to make a DC 11 Strength check. On a success, the creature moves to a space within 5 feet of the andeloid. A creature within 5 feet can take the same action to free an engulfed creature, but takes 7 (2d6) acid damage in the process.
If a creature dies because of that, then the andeloid chooses whether to digest it or incorporate it into its gestalt mind. If it chooses to incorporate the creature, the andeloid gains that creature’s mind, memories, and personality for a number of weeks equal to the total of the creature’s Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma modifiers plus its Proficiency Bonus, and the creature can’t be brought back from the dead by any spell other than a true resurrection or wish.
Only aberrations, beasts, dragons, giants, humanoids, and monstrosities can be incorporated.
Horrifying Visage. Each creature within 60 feet of the andeloid that can see it must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw. The creature is rattled on a success and frightened on a failure for 1 minute, and may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, it is immune to this andeloid’s Horrifying Visage for 24 hours.
 
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JEB

Legend
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve never read Polyhedron. I don’t think my old FLGS even carried it
No shame - the publication was exclusive to RPGA members, and wouldn't have been in stock at your store. (Towards the end it did get merged into Dungeon, but at that point it was basically the original magazine in name only, just used to publish d20 mini-games.) I've only read (non-Dungeon) issues posted on DM Guild, myself.
 

No shame - the publication was exclusive to RPGA members, and wouldn't have been in stock at your store.
Yeah, I was briefly in the RPGA (didn't go to enough conventions to keep up the membership), and ended up with a few issues. They were starting up Living Jungle around the time I was a member, so I ended up with a lot of Malatra stuff.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
No shame - the publication was exclusive to RPGA members, and wouldn't have been in stock at your store. (Towards the end it did get merged into Dungeon, but at that point it was basically the original magazine in name only, just used to publish d20 mini-games.) I've only read (non-Dungeon) issues posted on DM Guild, myself.
Huh--I didn't know that. Well, that's OK then.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I play Terraria, which for those who don’t know it, is a video game similar to Minecraft in many ways but with 2D graphics, and potentially a lot more things that want to kill you. One of the things about that Terraria (and about many other similar games) is the idea that the more valuable the metal, the better it is for making things. I.e., swords and armor made of gold do more damage and provide more protection than swords and armor made of iron.

Which brings us to the following Spelljammer monster: the metagolem—or, I guess, the metaguardian. The more valuable the metal, the better their AC, movement, and damage. There’s a whole table for it as well, which oddly doesn’t include mithral or adamantine. I’ve streamlined it a bit. Also, the better the metal, the higher-level they count as when it comes to piloting a Spelljammer helm. Since that’s not important in 5e’s Spelljammer, just be advised they can attune to a helm.

Metaguardians, according to the Habitat/Society section, have a fondness for one another and like to relax together. They also like to join parties of adventurers and are “surprisingly amiable.” As constructs go, they’re pretty chill. Still, they have to follow their creator’s orders and thus may just pretend to be chill in order to follow those orders. They may not have free will, but they can be pretty devious.

Hmm. Metaguardians are self-aware. Does that mean that they have meta-awareness of themselves? Is their name a pun?


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Art by Tom Baxa

Guardian, Metaguardian
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine 159
Created by Troy Denning

Metaguardians are constructs made out of metal (they are hollow, not solid), exquisitely sculpted to look like short, squat humanoids of indeterminate heritage: there’s a bit of dwarf, a bit of halfling, a bit of gnome, and a bit of something else in there. There are four types of metaguardian. The weakest are the bronze metaguardians, where the details of their sculpting are picked out in copper and tin. The next are the steel metaguardians, who have silver and iron details, then the platinum metaguardians, who have gold and electrum details. And finally there are the ultimate metaguardains, who are made of a swirling alloy of mithril, adamantine, and strange extraplanar metals.

Willing Minions. Unlike most guardians, metaguardians are actually quite intelligent and can speak, although they are still built to follow their creator’s commands unquestioningly. One of their tasks is to man spelljamming helms, as their innately magical nature allows them to control such a helm. However, spelljamming is not the metaguardians only task (especially for groundling wizards).

They are sent to complete any number of tasks for their controllers. However, they never speak of their tasks, unless expressly given permission to do so, and will take any means necessary to accomplish the task. There have been reports of metaguardians committing acts of sabotage, leading rebellions, and hiring assassins and mercenaries in order to help them finish their job.

Social Constructs. Metaguardians are surprisingly friendly constructs, although they are often distrusted because it’s nigh impossible to determine the guardian’s true motivations. They are especially friendly with each other. Should two metaguardians meet, they will work together and help each other accomplish their goals. Their proscriptions against talking about their tasks don’t seem to prevent them from telling each other about it. Metaguardians who lose their masters will often join together, creating small and very secretive societies.

Walking Treasure. Metaguardians never use weapons and only use magic items if they are useful in fulfilling their goals. Despite being hollow, each one consists of over a quarter of a ton of often highly valuable metal.

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

DC 15. Metaguardians are a rare form of guardian made of valuable metals

DC 20. Although they lack free will and obey their orders without question, metaguardians are quite intelligent and can exercise a lot of ingenuity in how they go about following those orders.

Metaguardian Encounters
CR 5-10
bronze, steel, or platinum metaguardian

CR 11-16 bronze, steel, or platinum metaguardian with mage or priest; ultimate metaguardian
Treasure: 400 gp, noble cloak trimmed with owlbear fur-like feathers (500 gp), dust of sneezing and choking, spell scroll of charm person

CR 17-22 2 bronze, steel, or platinum metaguardians; 1 ultimate metaguardian and 1 bronze, steel or platinum metaguardian; 1 ultimate metaguardian with archmage or high priest
Treasure: 2,000 gp, necklace of fireballs, oil of slipperiness, wings of flying,

Behavior
1. Relaxing in a storm, hoping to get hit by lightning.
2. Approaches the party and offers to hire them for a job.
3. Engaging in an act of sabotage for its creator.
4. Hunting a target for its creator.
5. Trying to steal or purchase an item for its creator.
6. Planning out a kidnapping for its creator.
7. Acting as an ambassador for its creator.
8. Approaches the party in the hopes of learning more about them.

Bronze Metaguardian
Small construct

Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
AC 30
HP 135 (18d6+74; bloodied 68)
Speed 20 ft.

STR 17 (+3) DEX 9 (-1) CON 19 (+4)
INT 10 (+0) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 15 (+3)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 14
Skills Deception +6, Insight +4, Perception +4
Damage Resistances
Damage Immunities
lightning, poison, psychic; damage from nonmagical bronze weapons.
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., truesight 10 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages one language its creator speaks
Immutable Form. The metaguardian is immune to any effect that would alter its form.
Inscrutable. The metaguardian is immune to divination and to any effect that would sense its emotions or read its thoughts. Insight checks made to determine the metaguardian’s intentions are made with disadvantage.
Lightning Absorption. When the metaguardian is subjected to lightning damage, it instead regains hit points equal to the lightning damage dealt. Any lightning damage it takes in excess of its hit point maximum becomes temporary hit points.
Powerful Build. The metaguardian counts as a Large creature when determining its carrying capacity and the weight it can push, drag, or lift.

Actions
Multiattack.
The metaguardian makes two slam attack
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d10+3) bludgeoning damage.
Fireball (3rd-Level; V, S). Fire streaks from the metaguardian to a point within 120 feet and explodes in a 20-foot radius, spreading around corners. Each creature in the area makes a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) fire damage on a failed save or half damage on a success.
Fly (3rd-Level; V, S, Concentration). The metaguardian gains a fly speed of 60 feet.
Magic Missile (1st-Level; V, S). Three glowing arrows fly from the metaguardian simultaneously, unerringly hitting up to 3 creatures within 120 feet. Each arrow deals 3 (1d4 + 1) force damage.
Stinking Cloud (3rd-level; V, S, Concentration). A noxious cloud fills a 20-foot-radius sphere within 120 feet. It’s area is heavily obscured. A creature in the area that needs to breathe and aren’t immune to poison must make a Constitution saving throw or use its action to retch and reel. A moderate wind disperses the cloud after 4 rounds and a strong, after 1 round.
Web (2nd-Level; V, S, Concentration). Thick, sticky webs fill a 20-foot cube within 60 feet, lightly obscuring it and making it difficult terrain. The webs must either be anchored between two solid masses (such as walls) or layered 5 feet deep over a flat surface. Each creature that starts its turn in the webs or that enters them during its turn makes a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, it is restrained. A creature can escape by making a DC 15 Strength check. Any 5-foot cube of webs exposed to fire burns away in 1 round, dealing 5 (2d4) fire damage to any creature that starts its turn in the fire. The webs remain for 1 hour.

Reactions
Recharge (Recharges After A Short or Long Rest).
When the metaguardian is hit by an attack that inflicts lightning damage it can choose to regain a spell it has already cast with its Spellblast trait instead of regaining hit points.

Spellblast. If the metaguardian is damaged by an attack, it can cast one of the following spells: fireball, fly, magic missile, stinking cloud, web, as a reaction and without the need for material or seen components. Its spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +5 to hit with spell attacks). Once it casts one of those spells, it can’t cast that spell again until it completes a long rest or it uses Recharge.

Combat
Metaguardians are clever fighters, using sound tactics wherever possible. They will always flee a losing battle unless their death would bring about the resolution of their orders.

Variant: Rarer Metals
Metaguardians made out of rarer and more expensive metals are more powerful than bronze metaguardians.

The steel metaguardian is made from steel and iron, with embellishments of tin and silver. It is CR 9. It has 150 (20d6+80; bloodied 75) hit points and its armor class is 16. Its speed is 30 feet and its slam inflicts 19 (3d10+3) bludgeoning damage. They take damage from nonmagical weapons made of cold iron.

The platinum metaguardian is made from platinum and gold, with embellishments of electrum. It is CR 10. It has 165 (22d6+88; bloodied 82) hit points and its armor class is 19. Its speed is 40 feet and its slam inflicts 30 (5d10+3) bludgeoning damage. They take damage from nonmagical weapons made of gold.

The ultimate metaguardian is made from adamantine and mithril, with embellishments of white gold. It is CR 13. It has 187 (25d6+100; bloodied 93) hit points and its armor class is 23. Its speed is 50 feet and its slam inflicts 47 (8d10+3) bludgeoning damage. They take damage from nonmagical weapons made of adamantine.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I wish it were later in the month, because up next is an undead, and more specifically, an undead with folkloric roots—the ankou, of Breton, Cornwall, and Wales. The ankou is a psychopomp—appearance-wise, it’s your standard Grim Reaper, plus a black cart pulled by black horses—and according to some myths, is the very first person to die in a year and therefore has to escort the soul of everyone else who dies that year to the afterlife. Some myths say that every parish has its own ankou, which is actually kind of an interesting way to divvy up the workload.

Although as is typical for D&D, the monster has little to do with the actual myth. Here, it’s was a “miserly farmer or peasant in life” who killed their own family out of greed or let them die of hunger rather than share food with them and now is doomed to collect souls for... presumably its masters, who dwell in Tartarus/Carceri. At least that's where it goes when its banished. I guess miserly and murderous nobles and merchant-class individuals produce other types of undead.

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Art by Tom Baxa

Ankou
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #162
Created by Spike Y. Jones

Ankou are undead who were so miserly in life that they allowed people to die rather than share even a fraction of their wealth. In death, they have been cursed with unlife and a hunger for lifeforce—but they can only return to the Material to gather souls for their new fiendish masters and cannot take any for themselves.

Reapers. Ankou look much like the classical image of the Grim Reaper, and may indeed be the genesis of that image. They are emaciated and clad in dark clothes, usually with a cloak or broad-brimmed hat that hides their fiery eyes, and wielding a farmer’s scythe. They are always followed by an invisible cart pulled by an equally invisible beast of burden, usually a horse, mule, or ox. It seems that the ankou’s station in life determines the quality of the animal. To those who can see invisible things, the cart is run-down and the animal is so thin and ill-looking as to be nearly dead. Although it can’t be seen or touched by living beings, the cart’s creaking and the animal’s clopping hooves can be easily heard, even from a distance.

Soul-Takers. Ankou are allowed to roam the Material only at night. Any corpses they find or make are hauled into the cart. At dawn the ankou and its cart are pulled back to the Lower Planes. Perhaps fortunately, living creatures and objects other than corpses can’t be placed in the cart or use it to travel to the underworld. When an ankou is finally slain, its and its cart are pulled into the Lower Planes, screaming as they go.

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

DC 15. These undead are created from the souls of beings whose greed led to other creature’s death. In undeath, ankou are charged with gathering souls for the underworld.

DC 20. Ankou are filled with hatred but have no true memory; if it fails to kill a target before dawn banishes it back to the Lower Planes, it won’t try to pursue that target the next night.

Ankou Encounters
Terrain: forest, grassland, ruin, settlement

CR 3-4 Ankou.

Signs
1-2. The sound of a creaking, ox-drawn cart.
3. A line of footprints that stop abruptly; nearby are wheel ruts that fade to nothingness.
4. Blazing red eyes in the dark.

Ankou
Medium undead

Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
AC 15 (natural armor)
HP 68 (8d8+32; bloodied 34)
Speed 20 ft.

STR 22 (+7) DEX 10 (+0) CON 18 (+4)
INT 12 (+1) WIS 15 (+2) CHA 17 (+3)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 17
Skills Perception +5 (+1d4)
Damage Resistances cold, fire
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, unconscious, strife
Senses darkvision 60 ft., truesight 10 ft., passive Perception 18
Languages the languages it knew in life plus either Abyssal or Infernal
Ankou Weaknesses. Neither the ankou or its cart can cross running water. If the amkou starts its turn in sunlight, it is transported back to its home lower plane. It can’t return to the Material Plane until the next dusk at the place from which it was banished. If dispel evil and good is cast on the cart, both the cart and the ankou are banished as if in sunlight.
Eldritch Cart. Difficult terrain doesn’t impede the movement of either the ankou or its cart and beast of burden.
Turn Resistance. The ankou has advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.
Undead Nature. The ankou doesn’t require air, sustenance, or sleep.
Unearthly Strength. The ankou’s weapon attacks deal an extra die of damage (included below).

Actions
Scythe.
Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (2d10+7) necrotic damage. If the ankou scores a critical hit, the target takes a level of fatigue.

Bonus Actions
Frightening Gaze (Gaze, Recharge 5-6).
The ankou targets one creature it can see within 10 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a target’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the target is immune to this ankou’s gaze for the next 24 hours.
Scythe. The ankou makes a scythe attack.
Summon Cart. The ankou summons its cart, which appears in an empty space within 30 feet of it.

Reactions
Parry.
If the ankou is wielding a melee weapon and can see its attack, it adds 2 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it.

Combat
The ankou rarely challenges groups of travelers, unless they seem weak.

The Cart of The Dead
The ankou’s cart is an extension of the ankou, not separate objects. It travels at a pace of 30 feet and the ankou can’t move more than 50 feet away from it. The cart and the beast that pulls it are invisible and intangible, but not inaudible, and neither of them can affect anything or take actions or be affected by attacks or magical effects. An inanimate object placed in the cart becomes invisible and intangible as well.

If the ankou places the corpse of a humanoid that has been dead for 10 minutes or less and the corpse remains in the cart until dawn, the corpse is destroyed and the soul is transferred to one of the lower planes. If the ankou is slain before then, the corpse reappears. The ankou can’t place live humanoids in the cart. While the corpse is trapped in the cart, any attempt to bring it back to life has only a 50% chance of working.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Here’s another wonderful article on undead by Tom Moldvay, this one on shadows. He points out that the AD&D shadow was invented for the game and wasn’t based on any particular legend. It was more about hey, you’re in a poorly-lit dungeon, there’s going to be shadows, so have them attack. He also mentioned that when shadows were introduced in Greyhawk, Supplement 1, they were specifically called out as not being undead, but that they became undead when Gygax wrote the Monster Manual. Honestly, I kind of wish that they had remained not-undead. That might have been really cool and have opened up the possibility of another monster category for 3x onwards, of Spirits or Animated Things or Never-Born.

Moldvay gives us a few undead in this article, none of which seem as insubstantial as shadows are. But they’re still pretty cool. The first monster is the skotos (Greek for darkness or shadow). It’s based on the shades of Hades in Greek legend—specifically, those who have escaped from Hades. They fill the same sort of niche as the Returned from Mythic Odessey of Theros, but of course the skotos are hungrier, and evil. As Moldvay says, “They can be of any […] evil alignment, for only evil creatures would voluntarily leave the afterlife to prey upon the living.” I guess that would depend on the quality of the afterlife, though. Hades was a very lifeless, colorless place, according to the myths. I’d hardly say someone was evil for wanting to escape it.

Skotos
Out of the Shadows, Dragon Magazine #162
Created by Tom Moldvay

In many worlds, the afterlife is a dreary place. The damned and blessed go to their just rewards, but for the majority of people who never made a true mark on the world, their afterlife is a gray place indeed. There, the dead wait, and wait, and wait until they are admitted into a better realm, are reborn, or until the world ends. But some manage to escape back into the world of the living.

Neither Living Nor Undead. Skotos are not undead per se; nor are they fiends. Rather, they are actually souls that have been tainted by centuries or millennia of bitterness and disappointment while waiting for a better afterlife. Skotos resemble wild humanoids with feral expressions that hold none of their original personalities, and all of color has been leeched from their bodies, leaving then entirely ash-gray—save for their eyes, which glow sickly yellow, green, or orange, but only when they smell blood.

Hungry for Blood. On those rare occasions when a door between the Waking World and the afterlife open, dozens of skotos escape at the same time. They form packs, descending en masse on any wounded creature they see, shredding it to pieces and lapping up every last drop of blood they can. Strangely, they only attack a wounded creature. Should they come across someone who is hale and hearty, they may follow that person, waiting for it to be injured so they can pounce. Because they care only for blood, their predations often attract the attention of ghouls and other scavengers that feed on the corpses they leave behind.

Unlocked Memories. A skotos that has consumed blood has their memories of life awakened, if only for a few minutes or hours, and for a brief time they feel alive again. Once sated, skotos wail and sing dirges to the sky, lamenting the loss of their life and their transformation to their current state and crying out to the gods they believe have abandoned them… until they once again grow hungry and forget who they were.

Undead Nature. A skotos doesn’t require air, sleep, or sustenance.

Legends and Lore
With a Religion check, the characters can learn the following:

DC 10. Skotos are dead souls that have escaped from the afterlife. They avoid temples, crypts, and other places were the dead are buried, lest they get dragged back to the underworld.

DC 15. Skotos thirst for blood because blood allows them to remember their previous life. When they smell blood, they go into a berserk frenzy.

DC 20. When a skotos’s body is killed, its soul returns to the afterlife it came from.

Skotos Encounters
Terrain:
caverns, forests, grasslands, hills, mountains, ruins

CR 1-2 3-4 skotos

CR 3-4 1d4+4 skotos; 4 skotos and 1 ghoul
Treasure: 3 agates (10 gp each), bronze mask (worth 50 gp),

CR 5-10 2d8+8 skotos, 1d4+4 skotos with necromancer
Treasure: copper bracelet (50 gp), obsidian earrings (50 gp), feather token (boat)

Signs
1. Glowing eyes in the night.
2. A bloodless corpse that has been torn to pieces.
3. The scent of ash, dust, and old blood in the air.
4. A wailing lament in the distance.

Behavior
1. Chasing down an injured animal or traveler.
2. Engaging in a poorly-performed religious ritual.
3. Following some travelers from afar, waiting for one of them to get injured.
4. Drinking the blood of a just-slain creature.

Skotos
Medium undead (fiend)

Challenge 1/2 (XP)
AC 14 (natural armor)
HP 22 (5d8; bloodied 11)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 17 (+3) CON 10 (+0)
INT 9 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 7 (-2)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 13
Skills Stealth +5
Damage Immunities cold, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, paralyzed, unconscious
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages The languages it knew in life.
Blood Frenzy. The skotos gains a d4 expertise die on melee attack rolls against bloodied creatures.
Keen Smell. The skotos has advantage on Perception checks that rely on smell.
Pack Tactics. The skotos has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the skotos’ allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated.
Turn Resistance. The skotos has advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) necrotic damage, and the target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage dealt, and the skotos regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. If the target is reduced to 0 hit points by this attack, it dies.

Bonus Actions
Shadow Stealth.
The skotos takes the Hide action.

Reactions
Blood Rush.
If the skotos reduces a creature to 0 hit points with its bite, it may move up to its Speed and make a bite attack on another creature.

Combat
Skotos attack viciously and fight to the death. When slain, its soul returns to the afterlife from which they escaped.
 



Faolyn

(she/her)
Up net is the sluagh (sloo-ah). Like probably many other people, my first introduction to these creatures was from Changeling: the Dreaming (I actually played a pooka). Like many other creatures of Celtic legend, they are somewhere between fairies and undead. The name itself means “host” or “army” and they literally a swarm of undead or fairies (or undead fairies) that fly in huge flocks and can pick up a person and fly them away to… somewhere else. Perhaps another part of the land; perhaps to somewhere worse.

Tom Moldvay’s sluagh is dark in color but is not a shadow. It’s described as looking like a “black sprite.” Ravenloft also had a black sprite, but that was another name for the fey they called baobhan sith (which has little to do with the mythical baobhan sith) and honestly, it’s not quite as cool as the sluagh is.

According to the article, “sluagh are sometimes led by other types of undead,” and Moldvay really plays up the “army” nature of this fey’s name. 20 sluagh will be led by a wraith lieutenant; 40 sluagh will have a vampire captain, and 80 sluagh will have a lich commander. This is a pretty cool visual—give your high-powered undead a few sluagh swarms and see how it goes.

Sluagh
Out of the Shadows, Dragon Magazine #162
Created by Tom Moldvay

From the distance, a roiling thundercloud moves across the sky, moving impossibly fast. Only when it draws near is it possible to see that the thundercloud is actually a great flock of tiny sprite-like fey—accompanied by a dozen or more flying zombies.

A sluagh resembles a sprite, but dark and shadowy, with iridescent black wings. They sport wide, needle-toothed grins and wield arrows and swords made of blackened metal. Where sprites are born from trees and other fruit- or nut-producing plants, and pixies are born from flowers, sluagh crawl out of rotting corpses and piles of filth. Their bites cause nasty, inflamed boils.

Army of the Dead. Sluagh are often in the employ of powerful undead and undeath-minded noble fey and have the task of gathering soldiers for them. They take to such a task with glee, as with a touch they can turn a corpse into a loyal, flying undead, and they love nothing more than making corpses. Even without a superior to give them orders, the sluagh are eager to kill and most swarms have a few zombies among them. If they have no one to battle, they often fight amongst themselves. Strangely, they never turn on undead; they seem to have a love and reverence for such beings, almost as strong as the love that pixies and sprites have for sylvan nature.

Stolen By Faeries. Sluagh travel in huge flocks that blacken the sky, looking for mortals to toy with. When they spot one, they descend en masse and swoop that person up and carry them away. Such people are rarely seen again alive; those who manage to escape bear the scars of having survived sadistic torture.

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

DC 10. Sluagh are evil-minded fey creatures similar to sprites. They travel in swarms, like tremendous flocks of starlings or crows.

DC 15. Almost more undead than fey, sluagh can create turn a corpse into a zombie with just a touch. A flock of sluagh is usually accompanied by several zombies.

DC 20. Many sluagh are employed by powerful undead such as liches and vampires.

Monster Encounters
Terrain:
forests, hills, mountains, Shadowfell

CR 0-1 1d4 sluagh; 2 sluagh and 2 zombies

CR 3-4 swarm of sluagh; swarm of slugah and 1d4 zombies

CR 5-10 2 swarms of sluagh and zombie horde; swarm of sluagh and necromancer
Treasure: platinum chain (250 gp), dagger of venom made of blackened silver mined from the Shadowfell, faerie love letter

Signs
1. A wheeling flock of small bird-like creatures against the evening or night sky.
2. Running tracks that stop abruptly.
3. A dead slugah.
4. A corpse covered in hundreds of tiny bite marks.

Behavior
1. Fighting one another while other sluagh watch and cheer indiscriminately.
2. Sent out to make zombies; will attack on sight.
3. Spying for their master; will attack if disturbed.
4. Torturing a person or animal they have captured.

Sluagh
Tiny fey (undead)

Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
AC 13
HP 3 (1d4+1; bloodied 1)
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft.

STR 2 (-4) DEX 17 (+3) CON 12 (+1)
INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 14 (+2)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 13
Skills Perception +2, Stealth +5
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception
Languages Common, Sylvan
Evil. The sluagh radiates an aura of evil.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the sluagh has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Perception checks that rely on sight.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) necrotic damage.
Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 40/160 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) poison damage, and the target is slowed until the end of its next turn. If the poison damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the target is stable but poisoned for 1 hour, even if it regains hit points, and is asleep while poisoned in this way.
Recruit (Recharge After a Short or Long Rest). The sluagh touches the corpse of a humanoid that has been dead for less than 24 hours and animates it as a zombie with a fly speed of 40 feet. The zombie is under the sluagh’s control for 1 week and then turns back into a corpse, unless another creature exerts control over it with a spell such as animate dead. At this time, the zombie loses its fly speed.

Combat
Sluagh typically target a single individual for special attention, ignoring other attackers. Since they usually travel with at least one zombie and often many more, sluagh rely on their zombies to attack other creatures while they focus on one. They prefer to capture a target and fly away with it so they can play with it later then face an entire group of combatants.

*

Swarm of Sluagh
Medium swarm of Tiny fey (undead)

Challenge 3 (50 XP)
AC 13
HP 55 (10d8+10; bloodied 27)
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft.

STR 2 (-4) DEX 17 (+3) CON 12 (+1)
INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 14 (+2)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 13
Skills Perception +2, Stealth +5
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, stunned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception
Languages Common, Sylvan
Evil. The sluagh radiates an aura of evil.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the sluagh has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Perception checks that rely on sight.
Swarm. The swarm can occupy another creature’s space and move through any opening large enough for a Tiny creature. It can’t gain HP or temporary hit points.
Innate Spellcasting (1/Day). The swarm can cast plane shift (to Shadowfell only), requiring no material components. The entire swarm and one creature it is grappling with Carry Away can travel to the Shadowfell. Its spellcasting ability for this trait is Charisma.

Actions
Bites.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (4d6) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) necrotic damage, or 7 (2d6) piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) piercing damage if the swarm is bloodied.
Shortbows. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 40/160 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (4d6) piercing damage plus 21 (6d6) poison damage, and the target is slowed until the end of its next turn. If the poison damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the target is stable but poisoned for 1 hour, even if it regains hit points, and is asleep while poisoned in this way.
Recruit (Recharge 5-6). The sluagh touches the corpse of a humanoid that has been dead for less than 24 hours and animates it as a zombie with a fly speed of 40 feet. The zombie is under the sluagh’s control for 1 week and then turns back into a corpse, unless another creature exerts control over it with a spell such as animate dead. At this time, the zombie loses its fly speed.
Carry Away. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target. Hit: the target is grappled (escape DC 13). The swarm then flies up to its speed in any direction, carrying the grappled target with it. If the swarm takes any damage while it is grappling, it takes half the damage (rounded down) and the other half is dealt to the grappled target. The swarm can only have one creature grappled at once.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Level Up doesn’t have mind flayers and while khalkoi have a similar vibe they also have a very distinct niche which makes them (IMO) hard to use for more general purposes. And aboleths are very, very big. So what do you do if you want to have a very alien but generally humanoid-sized entity? Well, here comes the spell weaver. Updated for 3e in Monster Manual II, spell weavers are multi-limbed creatures that have a fondness for magic items and can cast spells using only “complex arm and hand gestures”. There’s a whole series of tables for determining first how many offensive, defensive, and utility spells they get, what their max spell level is, and then what actual spells they have, and they have to use one arm per level of the spell to gesture with when casting these spells (meaning they can cast up to 6th-level spells), and then they have a spell point system for casting spells where they have a number of spell points equal to their number of hit points, and each spell costs as many points as its level. Plus they have a host of innate abilities and a magic item usable only by them called a chromatic disk which lets them cast even more spells.

It’s an enormously complicated sub-system for a monster that probably got far less use then it deserved. Fortunately, in Level Up, we can just say “they’re sorcerers who use somatic components only.”

I’ve never played a sorcerer before. One thing I’ve learned by making the spell weaver is, we need more minor metamagic options.

The description has the following line: “Spell weavers have left written messages for humans, but such messages are often cryptic and confusing. Infrequent alliances with humans in order to acquire magical devices have been reported, however.” When I reread that line to do this conversion, I was suddenly struck with the idea that they are oddly similar to the FriNn guys from the old Yamara comic in DragonMirth. Except those guys spoke, were tall, and I don’t think they every used mag. But big eyes, very alien-minded, multiple arms (I think), and hired Yamara to retrieve a (presumed) magic item. They have different creators, of course, and they’re not that similar—but for some reason they just seemed to mesh in my mind.

1666390501866.png

Art by Ed O'Connel

Spell Weaver
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #163
Created by Ed O’Connell

Spell weavers hail from another plane, one that is much more highly magical than this one. They can travel to and from their home plane with ease, but seem to prefer this one to their own. Their purposes on this plane, however, are all but unknown.

Alien. Spell weavers have a roughly humanoid build, but their shape and size are the only thing they share with actual humanoids. Their pale hide, which ranges from yellow-gray to blue-gray to off-white, is faintly pebbled. Their eyes are huge and multifaceted, and dominate their faces; they have only very small nostrils and a thin mouth. Their long neck allows them to twist their birdlike face in any direction. Their most notable feature is their three pairs of arms which end in delicate, long-fingered hands, with which they seemingly can pluck magic right out of the air. They stand about five feet tall. Spell weavers reproduce by budding.

Spell weavers are completely silent. They don’t speak and communicate amongst themselves with an all but impenetrable telepathy; attempts to communicate telepathically with them often fail, usually disastrously. While they sometimes will write to communicate with other creatures, their messages are often as cryptic and confusing as the rest of them.

Spell weavers have the unsettling habit of finding out-of-the-way spaces in areas of magical interest and just standing there, invisibly, for months on end. If disturbed, they respond with murderous anger. But if undisturbed, they eventually just leave, without having caused any harm. Since they have no eyelids, it’s impossible to tell if they are sleeping or simply watching.

Magic Hunters. Spell weavers possess a keen interest in magical items and phenomena of all kind. A group will organize a raid of extreme cunning and hellish ferocity in order to steal an item that has piqued their interest. This is the only time they will be seen in groups on the Material Plane; normally, they are quite solitary. They appear to be far more social on their home world. On occasion, a spell weaver will ally with a humanoid in order to acquire a magic item.

Chromatic Disks. Each spell weaver carries one or two chromatic disks, strange magic items that seem to be made of glowing, multicolored plastic. The spell weaver uses these disks to cast spells. Every time something other than a spell weaver has attempted to use one of these disks to cast a spell, or even examine it too closely, however, it explodes.

Magic Item: Chromatic Disk
Each spell weaver carries one or rarely two chromatic disks. They are foot-wide disks that shed bright light to 5 feet and dim light to further 5 feet, and shifts through all the colors of the visible spectrum (and some not visible to human eyes). If a creature other than a spell weaver attempts to use a chromatic disk, or casts identify, legend lore, or a similar spell on it, the disk explodes. All creatures within 30 feet of the disk must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 18 (4d8) force damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

It takes a spell weaver 8 hours to create a new chromatic disk and requires transmuting a Common, Uncommon, or Rare magic item.

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

DC 15. Spell weavers are intelligent beings from another plane who collect magic items. They got their name from their apparent ability to weave spells out of thin air.

DC 20. They sometimes seem to have no interest in other creatures, but other times are violently destructive.

Spell Weaver Encounters
Terrain:
any

CR 5-10 Spell weaver; spell weaver with hound guardian or bolt-thrower
Treasure: 100 gp, 1,250 sp, feather token (tree), eversmoking bottle, focusing eye, of secrets potions of climbing and water breathing, ring of free action, staff of the python, wand of secrets

CR 11-16 Spell weaver with shield guardian; spell weaver with 2 clockwork sentinels
Treasure: 200 pp, 550 gp, bag of holding, clockwork calendar, magic mirror (pocket), marble of direction, potions of growth and greater healing, wand of binding

CR 17-22 3 spell weavers
Treasure: 5,000 gp, box of bees, fizzy lifter, inkpot of the thrifty apprentice, plague doctor’s mask, portable hole, scroll of create food and water, That Which Spies From Infinity’s true name, wings of flying

Signs
1. A note written in an unknown script; if comprehend languages is used on it, the message is rambling and bizarre.
2. A rash of thefts of magic items.
3. Strange, slightly glowing runes written on a wall; trying to read the runes causes a headache and weird dreams.
4. A strangely-shaped footprints near a mangled body that has been stripped of magic items but not other valuables.

Behavior
1. Invisible, standing still, and doing nothing; will attack viciously if disturbed.
2. Attacking a group of travelers for a single minor magic item.
3. Approaches the party in disguise; hands them a note asking to hire them for a great deal of money in order to procure a magic item.
4. Infiltrating a building to steal an item.

Spell Weaver Lair
A spell weaver’s lair is usually very odd-looking and located in an improbable location.

1. In a tremendous subterranean geode.
2. In a forest, in a mutated tree.
3. In the air, on a floating platform disguised as a cloud.
4. In a room made of the magically-shaped ribcage of an enormous skeleton.
5. In a golden cart pulled by construct horses.
6. Underground, on top of a huge mushroom.
7. In a magically-hidden room in a public library.
8. In an crystal minaret that periodically teleports to a new location.

On the inside, a spell weaver’s lair is extra-dimensionally large and contains eight 10-foot-tall pillars covered in indecipherable magical runes, on which they place the magic items they find. Looking at or touching the runes causes headaches and strange dreams, and a creature who tries to read the runes must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the creature suffers one of the following effects:

1: The creature is confused for 1 minute.
2: The creature is rattled for 1 minute.
3. The creature is incapacitated for 1 minute, and while incapacitated, its speed is 0.
4. The creature is unconscious for 1 minute.

An affected creature may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success.

Spell Weaver
Medium aberration

Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
AC 19
HP 121 (22d8+22; bloodied 60)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 11 (+0) DEX 16 (+3) CON 13 (+1)
INT 17 (+3) WIS 17 (+3) CHA 23 (+6)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 14
Saving Throws Con +4, Int +6, Cha +9
Skills Arcana +6 (+1d6), Perception +6
Damage Immunities psychic
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, strife, stunned, unconscious
Senses blindsight 30 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages understands Common, Deep Speech, Draconic, Undercommon, Sylvan, and two others but doesn’t speak, telepathy 120 ft.
Aberrant Nature. A spell weaver doesn’t need sustenance.
Shielded Mind. The spell weaver is immune to any effect that would sense its emotions or read its thoughts. Wisdom (Insight) checks made to ascertain the spell weaver’s intentions or sincerity have disadvantage. A creature that attempts to read the spell weaver’s thoughts must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw. On a success, the target is rattled for 1 minute. On a failure, the attempt fails and the creature takes 18 (4d8) psychic damage and a short-term mental stress effect.
Limited Telepathy. Using telepathy, the spell weaver can magically communicate with any other spell weaver within 100 miles of it.
Magic Resistance. The spell weaver has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Mystic Defense. While the spell weaver is wearing no armor and wielding no shield and isn’t incapacitated, its AC includes its Charisma modifier.
See Invisible. The spell weaver can see invisible creatures and objects that are within 60 feet of it.
Sense Magic. The spell weaver senses magic within 120 feet of it at will. This trait otherwise works like the detect magic spell but isn’t itself magical
Sorcery Points. The spell weaver has 15 sorcery points. It regains all spent sorcery points when it finishes a long rest. It can spend its sorcery points on the following options:
Distant Spell (1 pt.): When the spell weaver casts a spell with a range of 5 feet or more, the range is doubled. Alternatively, a Touch spell gains a range of 20 feet.
Heightened Spell (3 pts.): When the spell weaver casts a spell that forces a saving throw, it can make one target roll at disadvantage on its first save against the spell.
• Persistent Spell (1 pt.): When the spell weaver casts a spell that has a duration of 1 minute or longer, the duration is doubled, to a maximum of 24 hours.
Quickened Spell (2 pts.) When the spell weaver casts a spell that has a casting time of 1 action, it can change it to 1 bonus action.
Spellcasting. The spell weaver is a 11th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks). It knows the following sorcerer spells and requires only somatic components to cast them:
Cantrips (At Will): arcane muscles, calculate, fire bolt, light, prestidigitation, shocking grasp
1st-Level (4 slots): disguise self, false life, magic missile, shield
2nd-Level (3 slots): levitate, scorching ray, web
3rd-Level (3 slots): clairvoyance, dispel magic, fireball
4th-Level (3 slots): dimension door, polymorph, wall of fire
5th-Level (2 slots): cloudkill, passwall, telekinesis
6th-Level (1 slot): eyebite

Actions
Multiattack.
The spell weaver makes six slam attacks, or it casts a spell and makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +6, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 bludgeoning damage, or 6 (1d6+3) bludgeoning damage with arcane muscles.
Planar Shield (Recharges After a Short or Long Rest). The spell weaver creates a magical field around it in a 100- foot radius sphere. Within this area, teleportation and traveling to other planes isn’t possible. Additionally, attempts to target the spell weaver or any other creature in the shield through divination magic or magical scrying sensors fail while this field is up. Once this field has been activated, it remains activated for 1 minute or until the spell weaver dismisses it (no action required).
World Weave (1/day). The spell weaver returns to its home dimension from the Material Plane, or travels to the Material Plane from its home dimension. A spell weaver may take up to six individuals with it, but a creature other than a spell weaver that travels in this manner must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or take 18 (4d8) necrotic damage and be poisoned for 1 hour. On a successful save, a creature takes no damage but is poisoned until the end of its next turn.

Bonus Actions
Invisibility.
The spell weaver magically turns invisible until it attacks or casts a spell, or until its concentration ends (as if concentrating on a spell). Any equipment the spell weaver wears or carries is invisible with it.
Chromatic Disk (Recharge 6). The spell weaver casts a spell without using a spell slot. Each time it does so, it must roll a d10. On a 1, the disk breaks.

Reactions
Cast Cantrip.
If the spell weaver takes damage from a spell, it may cast a cantrip. To do so, the spell weaver must see the attacker and must have a chromatic disk.

Weave Spell (Recharges After a Short or Long Rest). If the spell weaver sees a creature within 60 feet cast a spell, it can make an Intelligence check with a DC equal to the caster’s spell save DC. On a success, the spell fails, the spell weaver regains one spell slot of its choice, and it may immediately cast a cantrip.

Combat
Spell weavers remain invisible until ready to attack, then use their most powerful spells. If overwhelmed, they retreat until they can use World Weave to escape to their home plane.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Dragons, sapient constructs, gray-goo oozes, undead, magic-thieves from another dimension… what we need now are fish. Yep, just a fish. A giant archerfish is a nice change of pace from all the power-laden supernatural monsters from recent entries.

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Giant Archerfish
The Dragons’ Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #165
Created by Tim Malto

The giant archerfish, like its tiny cousin, is capable of spitting powerful jets of water at creatures in order to knock them in the water. Giant archerfish aim for creatures who are in trees that hang above the water or are in boats. Once its prey is in the water, the fish swallows it whole.

Giant Archerfish
Large beast

Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
AC 13
HP 19 (3d10+3; bloodied 9)
Speed 0 ft., swim 40 ft.

STR 14 (+2) DEX 16 (+3) CON 12 (+1)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 4 (-3)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 13
Skills Perception +3
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages
Water Breathing. The archerfish only breathes water.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage and the target is grappled (escape DC 13). Until this grapple ends, the archerfish can’t bit another target.
Spit. The archerfish spits water at a creature within 30 feet that is not underwater. That creature must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw or fall prone.
Swallow. The archerfish makes a bite attack against a Medium or smaller creature it is grappling. If the attack hits and the archerfish has not swallowed another creature, the target is swallowed and the grapple ends. A swallowed creature has total cover from attacks from outside the archerfish, it is blinded and restrained, and it takes 5 (2d4) acid damage at the beginning of each of the archerfish’s turns. If the archerfish dies, the target is no longer swallowed.
 

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