Homebrew A Leveled Up Bestiary

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I just really like the art and concept here; it’s almost body horror-esque, and reminds me of the Cylon Raiders from the 2004 Battlestar Galactica. I should watch that again. I don’t have a lot to say about this monster other than that when I originally made this for o5e, its CR was 10, and now it’s 6. I can’t help but wonder which one was wrong, or if o5e just hopelessly over-CRs things.


Artist: Roger Raupp

Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #42
Created by Phil Meyers

An uneasy blend of once-living tissue and metal components, the necroton is a foul construct designed to gather treasure for its master. It resembles a hunchbacked crab made of armored clockwork, but the legs and claws are filled with muscle and tendon. A humanoid’s eye, grossly enlarged, adorns the front of its body, and beneath its metal carapace lies pieces of humanoid gray matter. Its eye glows eerily in the dark.

Controlled Thieves. Each necroton has a small crystal behind its oversized eyeball, which is paired to a larger crystal ball. The necroton’s creator can use the crystal ball to see through the necroton’s eye, in much the same way that a person can look through their familiar’s eyes. They can also use the crystal ball to give the necroton orders. Most of the time, though, the necroton is merely sent out to follow its orders: find treasure, especially magic items, and collect them, no matter what type of item or who is currently holding it. Although they are more than capable of defending themselves and their loot, necrotons are usually paired with other minions both as bodyguards and to help soften up targets for the necroton’s main attack.

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

DC 10. Necrotons have the primary purpose of collecting magic items and other treasure for their creator.

DC 15. Although they are primarily made of metal, they are also contain undead flesh and can be turned as undead.

DC 20. Necrotons are controlled through the use of a special focusing crystal. The necroton’s creator can also see through the crystal and issue it orders.

Necroton Encounters
CR 6-7
1 necroton; 1 necroton with 1 thug.
Treasure: 120 sp, 80 gp, gold ring (75 gp), small silver idol (75 gp), dust of sneezing and choking, potion of healing, bag of holding, necklace of adaptation.

CR 8-11 1 necroton with 1-3 thugs and 1 bandit captain.
Treasure: 700 sp, 500 gp, a gold and ruby pendant (750 gp), wand of magic missiles, ring of mind shielding, a silver-and-iron-alloy bastard sword +1 called “Strangebane.”

1. Looted corpses.
2. A broken wand that was discarded by the necroton instead of taken.
3. An empty treasure chest that has had its lid ripped off.
4. Strange footprints (that belong to the necroton) mixed with bootprints (of the creator’s other minions). A DC 13 Survival check will reveal that the strange footprints are rather crab-like.

1-2. Heading straight towards the characters, as it has sensed magic on them.
3. Stripping a corpse of any valuables.
4. Lying motionless; will animate if a creature with a magic item comes within 30 feet.

Large construct (undead)

Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)
AC 18 (natural armor)
HP 95 (10d10+40)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 21 (+5) DEX 10 (+0) CON 18 (+4)
INT 1 (-5) WIS 7 (-2) CHA 1 (-5)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 16
Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, necrotic, thunder; damage from non-magical, non-adamantine weapons
Damage Immunities poison, psychic
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive
Languages understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak
Fire Weakness. If the necroton takes fire damage, it is slowed until the end of its next turn.
Immutable Form. The necroton is immune to any effect that would alter its form.
Magic Resistance. The necroton has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Once-Living. The necroton is subject to effects that turn undead and cannot enter areas barred to undead creatures.
Sense Magic. The necroton senses magic within 120 feet of it at will. This trait otherwise works like the detect magic spell but isn’t itself magical.
Storage Container. The necroton has a storage container located in its back. It can up to 200 pounds worth of non-bulky items in the container. It won’t place living creatures in its storage container.
Self-Destruct. When the necroton dies, it explodes. Each creature within 10 feet of it must make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The explosion ignites flammable objects in that area that aren't being worn or carried, and it destroys any nonmagical objects that are within the necroton's storage container and damages all magical objects. The necroton’s master can order the necroton to self-destruct at any time.

The necroton makes two claw attacks, or makes one claw attack and uses its paralyzing ray.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d10+5) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled and restrained (escape DC 15). The necroton has two claws, each of which can grapple only one target.
Paralyzing Ray (Recharge 5-6). The necroton emits a paralyzing ray out of its eye. The targeted creature must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Bonus Actions
Fire Burst (1/day, while bloodied).
The streak of fire blasts from the necroton’s eye to a point within 60 feet and explodes in a 15-foot-radius, spreading around corners. Each creature in the area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) fire damage on a failed save or half damage on a successful one.

The necroton’s strategy is determined partially by its programming, but may change if its master is currently watching through its eye. Typically, the master will battle until the necroton is bloodied, then use its Fire Burst ability and leave with any treasure it had previously obtained. In most cases, the necroton’s first action is to use its paralyzing ray on targets as often as possible. Once a target is rendered helpless, the necroton then loots it and leaves, unless the controller orders it to kill.
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The tolwar is basically magical wildlife, and I feel there’s always room for that, at least in settings where background magic is rampant. Possibly even more importantly, it’s not a carnivore and not vicious, making it quite unlike owlbears, griffons, and the like.


Artist: Todd Lockwood

Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #43
Created by Todd Lockwood

The size of a draft horse, these creatures resemble trunkless, tuskless elephants with yellow-gray skin. Although they look like more-or-less normal animals, they are creatures with an innate psychic ability: they can levitate objects. While they mostly use this ability to feed themselves, they can also use it both offensively and defensively, throwing rocks and other objects at foes and creating shields to prevent them from being harmed by ranged attacks.

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

DC 10. Tolwars are herd animals with magical telekinetic ability. They can be very protective of their herds and aggressive towards hostile creatures, but are otherwise playful creatures. They telekinetically throw rocks at attackers.

DC 15. Although it’s difficult to train one, a tolwar that’s properly raised from a calf and befriended can make for a loyal mount. Calves can be worth up to 5,000 gp to the right buyers.

Tolwar Encounters
grasslands, settlement
CR 1-6 A herd of 1d6 tolwars.
CR 7-12 A herd of 1d6+6 tolwars.

1. With a DC 15 Engineering or Survival check, several rocks that have been dropped from a height.
2. A group of hunters who are following a herd of tolwar.
3. A herd of tolwar on the horizon.
4. With a DC 15 Perception or Survival check, what look like elephant tracks, but far too small.

1-2. Grazing by telekinetically pulling up grass to bring it to its mouth.
3. At the edge of a river, rolling in the mud or throwing balls of water at each other.
4. Throwing rocks at a predator in order to chase it away from the calves.

Large monstrosity

Challenge 1 (200 XP)
AC 12 (natural armor)
HP 30 (4d10+8; bloodied 15)
Speed 40 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 10 (+0) CON 14 (+2)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 8 (-1)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 14
Senses passive Perception 10
Keen Hearing. The tolwar has advantage on Perception checks that rely on hearing.

Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 20/40 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must make a DC 14 Strength saving throw or fall prone.
Stomp. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage.
Telekinesis. The tolwar telekinetically moves an object of 50 pounds or less up to 30 feet in any direction, but not more than 60 feet away from the tolwar. If the object is worn or carried by a creature, that creature can make a DC 14 Strength check. On a failure, the tolwar pulls the object away from that creature and up to 30 feet away.

Bonus Actions
The tolwar makes a stomp attack against a prone creature.

Deflect Missile.
The tolwar can telekinetically deflect a missile when it is hit by a ranged weapon attack. It reduces the damage it takes from the attack by 1d10+4.

Tolwar try to keep their distance from attackers and usually start combat by throwing rocks and then retreating. However, if a calf is endangered, they will fight to the death.
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I kind of waffled about doing this next creature, the gaund, since it doesn’t really fill any unused niche. It’s kinda cool, but it’s a fiery lizard. We already have, like, a bunch of ‘em. But then I discovered that it’s basically vanished off the face the internet. I tried to do some research on it. Google replied, “Do you mean Gond?” Same no matter what keywords I used. Only once, on the second page of a google search—and who goes there?—did I finally find one link to MC 11: Forgotten Realms Appendix on DriveThruRPG and another to Mojobob’s monsters. It appears that nobody has really bothered to expand upon this monster much over the decades. So I clearly have to save it for future generations of adventurers, right?

The monster is also great for playing Moral Dilemma Theater: they have useful (and tasty!) body parts—both their original writeups and their entry in MC 11 say this—and yet are intelligent beings. While I don’t suggest using them to play gotcha! with the PCs (although you can…), it can be interesting to see how the PCs react to NPCs who do use hunt them for their body parts, once they realize that the gaund are intelligent.

The article in Dragon #46 says that they’re hermaphroditic, but this was lost in MC 11. I decided to keep both ideas. In the process, I also expanded their territory to be more than just dungeons.

I always really liked the artwork for the gaund that was in MC 11.


Art by Mark Nelson

Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #46
Created by Ed Greewood

Gaund are large lizards with three glowing eyes and three long, whip like tails. They scuttle around hot caverns, in deserts, or on the slopes of volcanoes. Primarily quadrupedal, they occasionally rise up on their hind legs in order and can even walk on two legs. They have equal numbers of males, females, and sequential hermaphrodites--these gaund can change between male and female as necessary. Their leathery skin is dull yellow splotched with reds and oranges, which brightens to a fiery orange in those females who are producing or caring for eggs, as a warning to potential predators.

Keen Senses. Gaund appear lazy, but that’s only because their senses are so keen they can easily detect approaching danger. Not only do their three eyes grant them excellent vision, but their skin is so sensitive that they can detect the slightest footstep from a long distance away.

Actually People. Although they resemble nothing more than strange animals, gaund are fully sapient. They have a simple culture, are not a particularly imaginative people, and make few or no tools, but they are intelligent enough to tell stories, have legends, raise animals for food, use other people’s tools. They have a fondness for gems and coins, primarily for their beauty since they neither know nor care about how much they’re worth to other beings, and are more than willing to trade for food and services.

Fiery Attackers. Gaund love the heat, although they are not entirely immune to fire. They use heat as their primary weapon: their central eye produces a beam of burning heat. They use this heat freely when attacking, preferring it over physical combat.

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

DC 10. Gaund are three-eyed, three-tailed lizards with an affinity for hit and a fearsome, burning gaze. They are usually found in large groups. Despite their carnivorous appearance, they are actually omnivores and enjoy fruit and green plants as much as meat.

DC 15. Their teeth are often used in constructing blades and arrowheads, and their fatty tails are highly prized for their succulent meat. They ferociously guard their young and eggs, which are covered in a clear, spicy-scented jelly that can be harvested and used as a fire retardant.

DC 20. Despite appearances, gaund are actually intelligent beings with a language of their own.

Gaund Encounters
Caverns, deserts, mountains

CR 1-2 1d4+1 gaund and 2d4 camels, giant rats, goats, or giant fire beetles
Treasure: 3 agate gemstones (10 gp each), 2 obsidian gemstones (10 gp each).

CR 3-4 2d4+2 gaund and 1 rhinoceros
Treasure: 2 citrine gemstones and 1 carnelian gemstone (50 gp each), a copper bracelet that looks like twined branches and leaves (25 gp)

1. A metal weapon or tool that has been warped due to high heat and discarded.
2. The corpse of a tailless, toothless gaund.
3. A notice of a bounty for gaund tails.
4. Thin shards of what look likes amber or tourmaline. A DC 13 check made with jeweler’s tools reveals that they aren’t gemstones at all, but eggshells.

Lone Behavior
1. Tending to its eggs or young.
2. Wandering around, looking for food.
3. Basking itself on the rocks.
4. Fighting a goblin who was trying to steal its eggs.

Group Behavior
1. Apparently lazing around while some herbivorous animals graze nearby. The animals are its livestock, and the gaund are watching out for poachers.
2. Making lizardy noises at each other. They are actually engaging in story-telling.
3. Fighting against a group of hunters.
4. Devouring a wild animal. A DC 15 Insight check reveals that the gaund are actually butchering the animal in a way that ensures that each member of the group has a share.

Gaund names are an untranslatable string of clicks and whistles.

Medium monstrosity

Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
AC 11
HP 22 (4d8+4; bloodied 11)
Speed 40 ft.

STR 12 (+1) DEX 12 (+1) CON 12 (+1)
INT 9 (-1) WIS 11 (+0) CHA 10 (+0)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 11
Skills Perception +12
Damage Vulnerabilities cold
Damage Resistances fire
Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 90 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Gaund
Jumper. The gaund can jump up to 15 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically without a running start.
Keen Vision. The gaund has advantage on Perception checks that rely on vision.
Nictitating Membrane. The guand has advantage on saving throws against effects that would blind it.

Tail Whip.
Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8+1) bludgeoning damage.
Heat Gaze. The gaund targets a creature it can see within 90 feet. That creature must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, taking 5 (2d4) fire damage on a failed saving throw or half as much on a success. On a failed save, one metal object the creature is wearing or carrying becomes burning hot, and at the start of the gaund’s next turn, the creature takes an additional 5 (2d4) fire damage. If the object is being held, such as a weapon, the creature also drops it.

If the gaund takes damage from a creature within 5 feet of it, it makes one Tail Whip attack against it.

Gaund usually try to remain at a distance and use its Heat Gaze. They are implacable foes, especially if their eggs, livestock, or treasure is in danger, and will fight to the death.

Variant: Frost Gaund
As its name suggests, the frost gaund live in arctic areas. They have resistance to cold damage and vulnerability to fire damage, and their Heat Gaze inflicts cold damage, but they are otherwise identical to their fiery cousins.

Edit: I always forget the bloody bloodied hp.
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Level Up cosmology doesn’t really include all the different planes of the Great Wheel D&D cosmology. And sadly, the new planes introduced in T&T (Time, Life, Space, Death) aren’t as fleshed out as they should be. (Hint, hint, design team: let’s see a planar book!) Anyway, the mapmaker is a planar creature originally from Pandemonium. As someone who much prefers the Lower Planes that aren’t the Abyss or Hell, I always love new monster specifically for those planes.

This monster also required me to dig out 1e psionics rules to figure out what its abilities actually are. The answer is: damage resistances and condition immunities.

Also, apologies may be in order: this is the third monster I’ve created with the Chaotic alignment. I’m sure I’ll eventually find some interesting Lawful monsters to convert.

This monster also comes with a fun magic item!


Artist: Dave LaForce

Creatures from elsewhere, Dragon Magazine #47
Created by Patrick Amory

A mapmaker can be described as being a cross between a frilled lizard and a weasel, roughly humanoid in form, with bulging eyes, an extendable lamprey-like mouth, and a pair of fan-like wings. They smell strongly like fresh hay. They come from other planes of existence that have impossible, chaotic geography. As a result, their thinking process is bizarre and seemingly disjointed and even deranged at times.

Cartophile. As their name suggests, mapmakers have an unrivaled passion for maps. They make them, collect them, and frequently steal them. The maps they make are typically intricate and beautifully drawn, as if all the chaos in their minds becomes order once spilled out onto a page. But these maps often completely inaccurate and reference places that don't seem to exist. Nobody, including the mapmaker, knows if these places exist only part of the time, existed when the mapmaker made the map but have since vanished, are a complete fabrication designed to mislead people who try to follow the map, or exist only in the mapmaker’s mind.

Many mapmakers get a thrill in stealing travelers’ maps and then basking in the confusion and chaos the lack of map engenders in their victims.

Solitary Travelers. Mapmakers travel the multiverse alone and go out of their way to avoid others of their kind. Once every 25 years, however, they gather in their homeland, a plane of labyrinthine tunnels, for a great meet-up. There, they tell stories of their travels, exchange maps (the only time they will willingly give up a map), and reproduce. It’s not clear how they reproduce, but they only ever do so at these meet-ups.

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

DC 10. Mapmakers have a passion for maps and always carry at least one. They are willing to beg, buy, or steal a map whenever and wherever they find one.

DC 15. Mapmakers carry a magical stick—an item coveted by many cartographers—that can write on any surface.

DC 20. The maps a mapmaker produces are beautiful works of cartographic artwork—but also often reference landmarks and destinations that don’t actually exist. Many of these maps are totally accurate in all ways, but a few are complete fabrications.

Mapmaker's Stick
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement; cost 2,000 gp)
This object has three forms, and you can use a bonus action to change it to a different form.

Tool Form. The stick transforms into a set of cartographer’s tools. You gain an expertise die when using this set. While attuned to this item, your expertise in cartographer’s tools can become a d10, exceeding the usual limit on expertise dice.

Pen Form. You can use this pen to write permanently on any surface, including flesh, and it will leave a permanent mark behind. A mark must be targeted by a dispel magic before it can be washed off.

Stick Form. The stick turns into a club +1, and has the finesse property. It inflicts force damage instead of bludgeoning damage.

Mapmaker Encounters
Abyss, caverns, ruin, sewer, Shadowfell, tomb
CR 5 1 mapmaker, mapmaker with porter and pack animal.
Treasure. 1d8 maps, consisting of local maps (20 gp each), distant maps (75 gp each), frontier maps (200 gp each), or planar/deific domain maps, which include the locations of portals to that plane from the Material (1,000 gp each), and 1 compass or a finder gremlin.

1. Spilled ink.
2-3. A lost group of travelers; their maps were stolen.
4. Cartography markings written in black ink on a surface that shouldn’t be able to take ink.

1-3. Drawing a map
4. Approaching the party to ask if they have any maps for sale. If so, they will offer a pittance and then try to steal the party’s map.
5. Looking over their collection of maps.
6. Investigating an area for a planar portal that they sensed.

Avrotrix, Jetriatlipse, Kymalmain, Saiwildisla, Saidoron, Vetterled,

Medium aberration (fiend)

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
AC 17 (natural armor)
HP 85 (10d8+40; bloodied 43)
Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft.

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

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 15
Skills Arcana +6, Perception +5, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +6, Survival +5 (+1d4)
Damage Resistances psychic
Condition Immunities confusion, charmed, rattled
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Abyssal, Deep Speech, Common, Mapmaker, Undercommon
Chaotic. The mapmaker radiates a Chaotic aura.
Magic Resistance. The mapmaker has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Measurer. The mapmaker gains an expertise die (+1d6) when using cartographer’s supplies or navigator’s tools.
Pandemoniacal . The mapmaker has advantage on Strength checks and saves to avoid being knocked back or prone, on saving throws to avoid being blinded or deafened, and on saving throws against effects that would cause it gain levels of strife. Additionally, magical darkness doesn’t impede the mapmaker’s darkvision.
Sense Portal. The mapmaker knows if there’s a planar portal within 100 feet of it, and if it is natural or created. It doesn’t know the portal’s exact location, merely its existence.

The mapmaker attacks twice: once with its tail and once with its mapmaker’s stick or with its bite.
Mapmaker’s Stick. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d4+6) force damage.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d4+5) piercing damage.
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) bludgeoning damage, and the target must succeed on DC 13 Strength saving throw or be moved 5 feet towards the mapmaker.
Psychic Pandemonium (Recharge 5-6). The mapmaker targets a creature it can see within 60 feet of. That creature must succeed on a DC 14 Intelligence saving throw, taking 18 (4d8) psychic damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. In addition, a creature that fails its save is stunned until the end of its next turn and must use its reaction to move 10 feet in a random direction determined by the Narrator.

Bonus Actions
Scintillating Frill.
The mapmaker spreads its wings and frill, which shimmer with metallic, ever-changing colors. Each creature within 30 feet of the mapmaker that can see it must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature becomes charmed for 1 minute. While charmed, the creature is incapacitated and has a speed of 0. A charmed creature may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, and whenever it takes damage, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Parrying Tail.
If the mapmaker can see their attacker, they add 3 to their AC against one melee attack would hit them.
Reactive Bite. The mapmaker makes a bite attack on a creature it has dragged towards it with its tail.

Mapmakers start off combat with their Scintillating Frill to incapacitate attackers, then using Psychic Pandemonium on a target that wasn’t affected by its frill. They flee when bloodied.
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The next monster is the oculon, and it’s yet another guardian-type of construct. They’re more intelligent than a typical guardian-née-golem, and they can shoot magic missiles out their eye, but there’s not actually all that much special about them. So why am I converting them? Because a couple of years ago, for reasons that entirely escape me, I drew one. In color. Maybe I was testing out my art app. I can’t recall. But I’m converting this for the sole purpose of showing off my rare color artwork.

The oculon does have a fairly disturbing twist to it, however.

FYI, I'm taking tomorrow off because I have a ton of writing I need to do today.


Oculons are weird constructs made of a combination of once-living material and magical chemicals. Standing around four feet tall at the shoulder, oculons have a roughly humanoid shape but could never be mistaken for one. Its arms are long, flexible flippers and its short legs resemble those of an elephant’s. Their neck is actually an eyestalk. It’s as long as the rest of their body and ends in a single, very large human-like eye. Their thick, purple-gray hide covers a boneless body, giving them both amazing flexibility and a great deal of protection from attacks.

Clever Creations. Surprisingly intelligent, oculons are loyal to their creators but also quite good at adapted their commands and operating on their own. Despite their lumpy, awkward shape and flipper-shaped hands, they are also surprisingly agile and dexterous; their coloration allows them to blend in with the shadows, and they are able to slip out of nearly any restraint with ease. Part of the process of making an occulon requires using the brain of a thief and the eye of a beholder, which is what gives them their remarkable abilities.

Adept Combatants. Although they are usually made to be assistants and simple laborers, oculons are also decent at battle. They have a knack for striking from hiding and with incredible precision, and they can also fire magic missiles from their oversized eye.

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

DC 10. Oculons are constructs designed to be servants and bodyguards and are very loyal to their creators. Their rubbery-skinned bodies have no bones, leaving occulons extremely pliable and resistant to impact weapons.

DC 15. An oculon’s powerful eye can fire bolts of magical force identical to a magic missile. They are more intelligent than a typical guardian and are capable of using tactics and interpreting their orders.

DC 20. One of the reagents used to make an oculon is the brain of a humanoid thief. The thief’s mind and roguish abilities remains intact within the oculon, but its mind and emotions are flattened and it has been mind-controlled into to be loyal.

Oculon Encounters
CR 4-5
1 oculon, 1 oculon and 1-2 apprentice mages
Treasure: jeweled collar (150 gp), potion of healing, spellbook, spell scroll of identify.

1. Known thieves, cutpurses, and burglars have gone missing; when their corpses are found, they are missing their brains or heads.
2. Round, flat footprints.
3. With a DC 15 Investigation check, a hidden stash of coins and cheap but shiny trinkets, carefully hidden.
4. The sound of distant zapping. With a DC 13 Arcana check, it sounds like a magic missile being fired.

1-2. Guarding an area, attacking trespassers on sight.
3. Carrying boxes of laboratory equipment and vials of chemicals. If the chemicals are dropped, the vials shatter and a puddle of noxious liquid fills a 5-foot square. A creature that ends its turn in the liquid takes 2 (1d4) acid or poison damage (Narrator’s choice).
4. While in hiding, makes a Sleight of Hand roll and attempts to pick a character’s pocket.
5. Hiding under furniture in the form of a flat puddle.
6. Stationary; only attacks if intruders take certain forbidden instructions.

Medium construct

Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
AC 15 (natural armor)
HP 53 (7d8+21; bloodied 26hp)
Speed 40 ft.

STR 14 (+2) DEX 15 (+2) CON 16 (+3)
INT 8 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA X (-3)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 14
Skills Perception +2, Sleight of Hand +4 (+1d4), Stealth +4 (+1d4)
Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical, nonadamantine piercing or slashing weapons.
Damage Immunities bludgeoning; poison
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, frightened, rattled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages understands the languages of its creators and Thieves’ Cant but doesn’t speak
Constructed Nature. The oculon doesn’t require air, sustenance, or sleep.
Immutable Form. The oculon is immune to effects that would alter its form.
Magic Resistance. The oculon has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Malleable. The oculon can move through a space as narrow as 1 foot wide without squeezing. Additionally, it can stretch its neck up to 10 feet, or flatten its body into a circle 5 feet in diameter and 1 foot high. While flattened like this, the oculon’s speed is reduced to 20 feet. The occulon also has advantage on saving throws and checks to escape grapples and restraints.
Slippery. The occulon has advantage on Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks made to escape restraints and end grapples.
Sneak Attack (1/Turn). The occulon deals an extra 14 (4d6) damage when it hits with its slam attack while it has advantage on the attack, or when the oculon’s target is within 5 feet of an ally of the oculon while the oculuon doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack.

The oculon makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +4, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) bludgeoning damage.
Magic Eye (Recharge 6). The oculon fires six bolts of magical force and one to six targets within 120 feet of it. Each bolt automatically hits and inflicts 3 (1d4+1) force damage

Bonus Actions
Shadow Stealth.
While in dim light or darkness, the oculon can take the Disengage or Hide action.

The oculon begins combat by using a sneak attack whenever possible, then hiding in the shadows. They will then use their magic eye from hiding before stealthing again in order to use another sneak attack.
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The gem vars—which so needs a hyphen in my mind—is technically a construct, but it seems to straddle the line between construct and elemental. Since I already have several other constructs, I went with elemental. I have a fondness for gemstone-based creatures. A later issue of Dragon (which I had read long before this issue) has a bunch and they kind of looked like living viruses to me, which made the Officially Cool in my book. But the only other “mineral elemental” I can think of is the tsnng from Planescape in 2e.

The original writeup also had an interesting feature: their AC went from -7 (!) for diamond gem vars to a mere 1 for ruby gem vars. Even though the type of gemstone used to make one doesn’t matter anywhere else and a ruby is only one less on the Mohs scale than a diamond is. For such a huge difference in AC, I’d expect the scale to be more Diamond to Pyrite.

The gem vars are also fun because they’re like three feet tall and can heft a greataxe like an seven-foot orc.

However, I’m going to take this moment to vent about the way 1e monsters are written up. Its damage is listed as “1-10 (or by weapon), without any indication of what the “1-10” is for. This comes up a lot in these old entries. There’s a great deal of information on how to make a gem vars and what spells are needed, but nothing as to what this non-weapon attack is like. For those of you who played 1e or 2e, was this info useful for you? Did you as players make a lot of constructs? It never came up in any of the 2e games I played.


Gem Vars
Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #56
Created by Michael C. Reed

Gem vars resemble small, angular humans made entirely out of gemstone; they stand anywhere from two to four feet tall. They lack ears and hair, and their small eyes glow brightly in the dark. Each is a brilliant, translucent, jewel-tone color. They wear little in the way of clothing besides hooded cloaks, but most carry a weapon of some sort: battleaxes and bastard swords are common, usually honed to razor-sharpness. Despite their small size, gem vars carry large weapons with ease.

Elementals Constructs. Gem vars have an unusual way of reproducing: they literally build their offspring by magically altering a large gemstone and then imbuing the new creation with an elemental spirit. The new gem vars is then completely loyal to its parents. Some mortal wizards have discovered ways to create their own gem vars, and these offspring are equally as loyal to them.

Unlike many elementals and most constructs, gem vars need to eat. They usually eat coal and clear stones such as quartz. While they can eat more expensive gems, they refuse to, seeing it as a waste of a beautiful resource.

Sell-Swords. Should a gem vars’ parent or creator die, they usually seek out others of their kind and band together, forming a new family. But whether they join with other gem vars or they remain alone, more often than not, they will seek out a new employer. They demand competitive rates, paid in gemstones, and are not too picky about who they work for.

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

DC 10. Gem vars are elemental creatures made of gemstones. Despite their small size, they are outstandingly strong. When a gem vars dies, it breaks apart into gemstones.

DC 15. Gem vars frequently are employed by spellcasters as servitors. Those who are not employed frequently hire themselves out as mercenaries.

DC 20. Gem vars are made out of gemstones with an elemental spirit bound inside. It is possible for a spellcaster to create a body out of gems and bind a spirit to it, thus making a servitor gem vars.

Gem Vars Encounters
Caverns, Desert, Forests, Hills, Laboratory, Plane of Earth, Settlement, Tundra

CR 5-10 gem vars; gem vars with earth elemental; gem vars with basilisk; gem vars with 8 guards.
Treasure 500 gp, jeweled necklace (250 gp), 6 garnets (100 gp each), ring of free action, midnight pearls
CR 11-15 2-3 gem vars; 2 gem vars and hound guardian; gem vars with 2 guard squads

Treasure 80 pp, 1 chrysoberyl (100 gp), aquamarine (300 gp), 1 spinels (500 gp), 3 jeweled gold rings (150 gp each), a jeweled shortsword +1, necklace of fireballs, cloak of protection.

CR 16-20 3-4 gem vars; 2 gem vars with 2 solider squads; gem vars with divi.
Treasure 600 gp, 110 pp, 2 amethysts (100 gp each), 3 topazes (500 gp each), 1 emerald (1,000 gp), set of ivory dice carved from opal (2,000 gp), ruby and gold pendant (750 gp), elemental gem (earth).

1. A calling card, indicating that the gem vars is available for employment, and where they can be found.
2. A pile of gemstones (worth 10 gp each) and gem dust: a gem var’s body.
3. Small footprints near a recently-slain humanoid, one who looked well-off. The humanoid seems to have not been looted, but a DC 20 Investigation check will reveal indications that they once had jewelry that has been removed.
4. People discussing a mysterious small hooded figure who has been buying up gems.

Behavior When Employed
1-2. Guarding their parent or creator; will warn off, then attack, any intruders.
3. Doing simple chores for their employer.
4. On break, eating coal and playing games with their fellows.
5-6. On a mission to find and capture (or kill) an enemy of their employer.

Behavior When Freelance
1-3. Actively searching for a new employer; will approach the characters and ask them if want to hire the gem-vars.
4. Engaging in weapons practice.
5. Negotiating with the owners of a gem mine.
6. Hunting down someone who stole for them, preparing to show the thief no mercy.
7. Trying to steal jewelry.
8. Polishing and sorting their gem collection.

Crystal, Topaz, Aventurine, Tourmaline, Kyanite, Zircon

Gem Vars
Small elemental (construct)

Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)
AC 18 (natural armor)
HP 104 (16d6+48; bloodied 52)
Speed 25 ft.

STR 20 (+5) DEX 15 (+2) CON 16 (+3)
INT 8 (-1) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 12 (+1)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 16
Skills Insight +2, Perception +2
Damage Resistances thunder
Damage Resistances bludgeoning from nonmagical, nonadamantine weapons
Damage Immunities cold, fire, poison; piercing and slashing
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, petrifaction, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Terran, one of its creator’s languages
Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the gem vars hits with it (included in the attack).
Crystalline Demise. If the gem vars dies, its body disintegrates into crystalline dust, leaving behind 2d10 gemstones, each valued at 25 gp or less, and the equipment the gem vars was wearing or carrying.
Elemental Nature. The gem vars doesn’t need air or sleep.
Magic Resistance. The gem vars has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Sense Gems. The gem vars automatically detects the presence of gemstones within 30 feet.
Shatter. If a bludgeoning weapon scores a critical hit against a gem vars, it inflicts one additional die of damage.

Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8+5) damage, or 15 (2d10+5) slashing damage when wielded in two hands.
Fist. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d4+5) bludgeoning damage.
Javelin. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6+5) piercing damage.

Bonus Actions
Wound Foe.
The gem vars makes a melee attack with its battleaxe. On a hit, the target takes a wound that deals 5 (1d10) ongoing slashing damage. A creature can end the ongoing damage by using its action to staunch the wound or by giving the target magical healing.

True Neutrality (Recharges After a Short or Long Rest).
If the gem vars is targeted by a spell from the Chaos, Evil, Law, or Good school, it can use its reaction to automatically succeed on its saving throw.

A gem vars will attack whomever they are told to by an employer or parent, unless doing so puts them in grave danger—unless they are being paid very well, they have no qualms about fleeing from an overwhelming fight. On their own, they will only attack if they have superiority in combat. They generally prefer to attack in formation and use flanking and the terrain to their benefit.


This next one is slightly different because it’s a combination of two different monsters. In Dragon #57, Michael Malone wrote an adventure called “The Wandering Trees” which features the phooka. A few issues later, in Dragon #60, Michael Fountain created the pooka. Both are variants on the same mythical creature, although the two monsters are quite different in their abilities. Most noticeably, Malone’s version has 4+4 Hit Dice and is more of a tree spirit, like a male dryad, while Fountain’s version, goes the anthro animal route (specifically: a 6-foot-tall white rabbit), has 100+ Hit Dice and power to manipulate time. Fountain’s article also brings up the pooka in media (Harvey, of course, but also A Midsummer Night’s Dream), but fails to take the next logical step, which is, obviously, that Toons are pookas.

Since I like both variants and they both refer to the same mythological creature, I’m going to combine them into a single púca (plural: púcaí, according to Wikipedia). I am not an expert on Celtic myth here, although I am using the Wikipedia entry and other websites to round this entry out a bit.

Although I’m not going to give this guy a full hundred Hit Dice (I still can’t get over this! I don’t think greater gods in 1e had that many hp!), that level of power means that I’m making this a legendary creature.

(And yes, it’s another Chaotic monster.)


The Wandering Trees, Dragon Magazine #57 and Pooka, Dragon Magazine #60
Created by Michael Malone and Michael Fountain

A púca (plural: púcaí) is a rare but very powerful fey. In their true form, they look something like a goblin-y satyr: on the short side, with withered features and twisted horns, very dark or very pale hair and fur, and amber eyes. They’re rarely seen in this form, as changing shape and turning invisible are as natural as breathing to the púca. Regardless of their form, they keep their coloration—in humanoid form, the púca will have hair that is dark brown, black, or white-blond, and amber eyes. In animal form, their fur or feathers will be of similar colors.

Time-Wielders. Púcaí have the ability to bend time to their will, and they do so readily. And while they often do so for trivial reasons, such as to assist in their pranks or to drink a large amount of alcohol in a seemingly impossibly short period of time, they also are cunning in how they use this ability; in combat, they use it to seemingly dance around the battlefield, stealing objects from their foes to render them unable to battle.

Notorious Tricksters. Like many fey, púcaí love playing tricks on people. Their tricks tend more towards gaslighting their targets, using their abilities to make their target’s feel as if they’re going crazy. If their target gets angry or violent, then the púca will up their game, attacking the target with constant pranks of increasing cruelness—for a week or so, at which point the púca usually gets bored or distracted by drink and forget all about their former victim. If the target is a good sport about it, though, the púca will likely befriend them instead—and a púca is a friend for life. This is not always has useful as it might sound, though, since that doesn’t mean they stop their pranks, though.

Púcaí also enjoy manifesting chains around themselves while in animal form and scaring travelers on dark nights. Fortunately for their targets, púcaí eschew violence and physical injury in favor of embarrassment and gaslighting.

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

DC 10. A púca is a fun-loving, shapeshifting fey that is normally invisible. It generally only shows itself to a single person at a time—and usually only after that person has had a few drinks under their belt.

DC 15. Púcaí have a fondness for many humanoid vices: they particularly enjoy alcohol, gambling, jaunty music, and stage plays.

DC 20. Unlike faeries, pucaí are rarely involved in faerie politics. They enjoy messing around with humans too much for that, and very much like humanoids who are willing to be good sports about the púca’s shenanigans. They are very powerful and have the ability to manipulate time itself, and even archfey are hesitant to deal with one.

Púca Encounters
Feywild, Forest, Grassland, Settlement

CR 5-8 púca, púca with 1d4 satyrs or pixies.
Treasure: bag of beans, flask of inebriation, wand of wonder

1. Hoofprints that turn into booted footprints.
2. Townsfolk who say they’ve seen the same impossible creature… while they were drunk.
3. While at a tavern, full glasses of ale being drained when the drinker’s back is turned.
4. A musician whose critics suffer from amusingly ironic and embarrassing punishments.
5. An adult humanoid with a pleasant personality but who isn’t particularly bright talks about their friend only they can see.
6. A gnarled, leafless tree that one would swear wasn’t there yesterday.
7. The sound of rattling chains in the distance.
8. The smell of pipe smoke in a room where nobody is smoking.

1. In horse form, hoping to lure a humanoid into getting on their back, at which point the púca will take the rider on a wild and frightening journey.
2. In goat form, following the party around, even into places goats wouldn’t normally go.
3. In humanoid form, pretending to be uproariously drunk while gambling—yet still managing to win more than lose.
4. Moving a person’s belongings around or replacing them with nearly-identical copies.
5. Invisible and appearing to a single person while weaving illusions only they can see, in the hopes of making that person look insane.
6. Drinking. A lot.

Branwen, Brennus, Colum, Conrí, Echthigern, Énna, Gavin, Rónán

Medium legendary fey (shapechanger)

Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)
AC 14
HP 117 (18d8+36; bloodied 59)
Speed 40 ft. (varies in beast form)

STR 12 (+1) DEX 19 (+4) CON 14 (+2)
INT 17 (+3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 22 (+6)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 15
Skills Deception +9, Perception +3 (+1d6), Persuasion +9, Sleight of Hand +7 (+1d4), Stealth +7
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, rattled, poisoned
Senses truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Common, Sylvan, and up to five more
Blink Of An Eye. The púca has advantage on initiative checks.
Change Shape. The púca magically takes on one of the following forms: an animated tree (speed 20 ft.), a goat or Large giant goat, a Large draft horse, or riding or war horse (speed 60 ft.), a mastiff, a Large dire wolf (speed 50 ft.), any Tiny or Small beast (speed varies), a satyr, a pixie, a specific humanoid (one of elf, gnome, goblin, halfling, or human, speed 40 ft.) with the ears of one of the aforementioned animals, or changes back into its true form. Regardless of shape, the púca’s stats are unchanged except for its size and speed.
Chaotic. The púca radiates a chaotic aura.
Innate Spellcasting. The púca’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:
At Will: bane, druidcraft, hex, major image, minor illusion, prestidigitation, shillelagh, thaumaturgy
1/day each: animate objects, hallucinatory terrain, wall of thorns
Legendary Resistance (1/day). When the púca fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead. When it does so, it can’t use its Slip Free of Time or Dance With Me legendary actions until it finishes a long rest.
Magic Resistance. The púca has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Pink Elephants. When the púca casts major image, it can choose to make the illusion detectable by only a single creature.
Speak with Nature. The púca can communicate with beasts and plants as if they shared a language.

The púca makes two shillelagh attacks.
Shillelagh. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8+6) bludgeoning damage.

Bonus Actions
Selective Invisibility.
The púca turns invisible until its concentration ends (as if concentrating on a spell). This invisibility ends if the púca fall unconscious, uses a bonus action to dismiss the effect, or dies. Any equipment the púca wears or carries is invisible with it. Additionally, while invisible, the púca can move through objects, but not creatures, as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object. While invisible, the púca’s voice can’t be heard by any creature that can’t see invisible things, although other noises it makes can be heard as normal. Each time the púca turns invisible, it chooses one creature that can see and hear it.
Produce Club. The púca can produce a club, staff, or walking stick out of thin air. While doing so, it casts shillelagh on it at the same time.
Slow Down (Recharge 5-6). The púca targets one or more creatures within 30 feet that it can see. Each target makes a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the target is slowed for 1 minute. A target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Drop That!
After taking damage from a melee weapon, the púca causes the attacker to fumble. The attacker must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or drop whatever it is holding. The object falls into its space.

Legendary Actions
The púca can take 3 legendary actions. 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.
Shapechanger. The púca uses its Change Shape trait.
Tree Stepping. The púca transports to an empty space within 5 feet of a tree, bush, or other Small or larger plant it can see within 60 feet of it. The púca must be touching a plant, even grass, for this ability to work.
Slip Free From Time (Costs 2 Actions). The púca casts time stop. While this spell is active, the púca can affect objects worn or carried by other beings. Affecting a creature still ends the spell, however.
Dance With Me! (Costs 3 Actions). The púca casts time stop on itself and one creature of its choice. The creature may make a DC 17 Charisma saving throw to resist. The púca can affect objects worn or carried by other beings, but the targeted creature can’t.

Púcaí stay out of combat whenever possible and will flee while invisible, often while using major image to create an image of itself in its place. If forced into combat, it will use Slow Down! on a target that is either physically powerful or obviously a spellcaster, then cast hex or bane on a weaker target. They will then use Slip Free From Time or Drop It! to cause targets to lose their weapons and foci. If they have to use weapons, they prefer to pummel their targets into unconscious than kill them.
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