Homebrew A Leveled Up Bestiary

Faolyn

(she/her)
Up next is The Dragon Bestiary, which is, I think, really starting to get to its fully polished “final” form of numerous monsters that are tied into the theme of the issue. In this case, it’s the high seas and sea creatures. The first creature I’m converting is the hilariously-named giant carnivorous clam. Since this is a beast, I’m going to dispense with most of typical monster block entries.

For the record, actual giant clams can be nearly four feet across and weigh more than 440 pounds. Here’s a video of one opening up. The monster clams are bigger and much faster. I like to imagine it Pac Man'ning it's way towards the party.

I did some research, and it turns out that maybe one in ten thousand clams produce pearls (and only a fraction of those produce jewel-quality pearls; the numbers seem to be the same for oysters as well), but that’s modern-day real world numbers, where over-fishing and pollution and whatnot have probably skewed those numbers down. Giant clams, however, are a bit more prolific when it comes to pearling themselves.

Giant Carnivorous Clam
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #116
Created by Gregg Chamberlain

Giant carnivorous clams resemble their smaller kin and seem to come in as many different varieties. Many are solitary, while others live in small clusters of up to a dozen. They are as edible as regular clams. Although primarily filter feeders, they will gladly eat larger animals as well. They clamp down on any creature that swims close, wait until its stopped struggling, and then draw the potential meal into its body.

Giant Clams, Giant Pearls. A small number of giant clams (about one in a hundred) produce pearls. They usually have a lustrous brown or reddish sheen to them. These pearls are worth quite a lot, although they aren’t as high a quality as the pearls produced by regular clams. More often, they produce nacre—mother of pearl—which is less valuable but still in high demand for use in ornaments and jewelry. About one in twenty giant clams produces usable nacre.

Giant Carnivorous Clam
Medium beast

Challenge 1 (200 XP)
AC 10 (natural armor), 17 (when shell is closed)
HP 26 (d8+8; bloodied 13)
Speed 20 ft.

STR 19 (+4) DEX 9 (-1) CON 13 (+1)
INT 1 (-5) WIS 8 (-2) CHA 1 (-5)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 14
Condition Immunities blinded, deafened
Senses tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 8
Languages

Actions
Ram.
Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target that is behind it. Hit: 9 (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage.
Clamp Down. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit. 9 (2d4+4) bludgeoning damage and the creature must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or have one limb, determined randomly by the Narrator, caught in the clam’s shell. The creature is grappled (escape DC 14) and is restrained.
Siphon Toxin (Recharge 5-6). The clam releases a poison into the water around it in a 5-foot radius sphere. The area becomes lightly obscured and each creature in that area must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be incapacitated for 1 minute. A creature may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Bonus Actions
Clammed Up.
The clam shuts its shell. Until it opens up again, its AC is 17, its speed is 0 and can’t increase, it has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws, can’t take reactions, and the only action it can take is a bonus action to emerge.
If the clam is currently grappling a creature that is Medium or smaller and it has not swallowed anyone else, that creature is swallowed by the clam. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained, has total cover from attacks outside the clam, and takes 5 (1d10) acid damage at the start of each of its turns.

Combat
The giant carnivorous clam starts by releasing toxins, then rams creatures that are still trying to attack it. It usually says its Clamp Down attack for creatures that attempt to touch it while it is filter feeding.
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
So fun fact, the word torpedo originated in the 16th century and refers to a state of inertia, or to be paralyzed (I did not know this, although it makes sense, what with the word torpor). It was first used to name the following creature: the electric ray, also known as the crampfish or torpedo ray, which make up the Torpediniformes order. It’s a ray that shoots electricity. Depending on the species, between 8 and 220 volts. 30 volts is dangerous to humans.

The reason I mention this is because the creator of this article mentioned that electric rays are known as torpedo rays “on some planes of the multiverse,” which suggests that maybe they thought it was named after the weapon. So just in case you’re wondering, you can probably get away with using the word torpedo in your game without having to worry too much about anachronisms.

Real-life folklore decided that these rays were magical (since they could numb fishermen without touching them), but this particular monster is pretty mundane. The article lists them as being non-intelligent, but I’ve read that rays are actually really smart and may be self-aware (they pass the mirror test).

Electric Ray
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #116
Created by Gregg Chamberlain

Electric rays, also called crampfish and torpedo rays. They have rounded fins, and most species have brownish hides that are dotted, splotched, or ringed with other colors, although a few are blue, green, or gray. They spend much of their time buried under the sand on the ocean’s bed, only rising to stun their prey with an electric shock.

Electric Ray
Medium beast

Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
AC 11
HP 11 (2d8+2)
Speed 0 ft., swim 30 ft.

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

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 11
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +3
Senses tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages

Actions
Electric Shock.
The ray emits electricity in a 10-foot radius. Each creature in that area must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, taking 5 (2d4) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. A creature that fails its save is also stunned until the end of its next turn.

Combat
Electric rays attack from hiding, often without even emerging from the sand. They flee if injured.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
OK, this is very weird. When I post, I'm only getting half the thing I'm posting. But when I go to edit, it shows me everything I copypasted in, but stripped of all formatting.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
OK, I have no idea what's going on here. Maybe a glitch in the forums. I'll wait until later to try again.

Edit again: Nevermind. Sorry, Morrus, if you got this. I think I figured it out. I put a note for myself--a double pair of square brackets--to stick an URL in there, forgot to actually put the URL, and apparently that screwed everything up.

A doggo today. The article is subtitled “three unusual dogs for the AD&D game,” but only one dog is actually all that unusual. Two of the dogs are for gith; the githzerai’s dog is, honestly, kind of boring—it’s a dog that changes its appearance randomly, because tHe cHaOs OF lIMßo. It’s a shtick that keeps getting used whenever anything from Limbo shows up, and its predictability is the antithesis of that plane. So, no conversion there.

The githyanki’s dog is the kaoulgrim, and it’s slightly more interesting—interesting enough that it’s going to be treated as a variant on the wolf. If you have converted the gith for your game, or use the star-rovers I developed for my Handbook of Heritages, then the kaoulgrim can be found with them. Or really, with any unusual type of people. If seelie fey have cooshees, then maybe unseelie fey use kaoulgrims. Because githyanki were, of course, Always Evil back in 1e, the article goes into detail about how they mistreat kaoulgrims in order to turn them into Bad Dogs.

The third dog lives underground and is basically a normal, xolo-like dog with echolocation, so conversion isn’t all that necessary. Take a mastiff, slap the giant bat’s echolocation onto it, bam! you’re done.

The only illustration is this article is for the underground dog, and it’s a bat head in profile, so I’m sure it’s left over from the artwork for the all-bats article from a while back.

Wolf Variant: Kaoulgrim

Hounds of Space and Darkness, Dragon Magazine #117
Created by Stephen Inniss

This fierce canine was bred by people native to the Astral plane, although they have since been spread to other planes as well. They almost look more like lions than like dogs. These large animals have black and golden fur and a heavy mane. Their tongue and lips are blue-black, they smell of musty salt, and their small eyes glow with a red light; their appearance leaves many to believe that they are the result of a breeding wolves with hellhounds. While they are utterly loyal to their masters, they are usually quite aggressive towards others, which is often taken as another sign of hellish heritage.

A kaoulgrim uses wolf attributes. Its Intelligence is 4 (-3) and its Strength is 16 (+3), it is resistant to psychic damage and immune to the charmed, confused, frightened, and paralyzed conditions, and can’t take levels of strife. It has darkvision to 60 ft. and telepathy to 30 ft. (can transmit but not receive emotions and images), and its bite attack has been altered.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) piercing damage, and the kauolgrim can choose to knock the target prone or to hold it in its jaws. If it chooses to knock the target down, the target must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw or fall prone. If it chooses to hold the target, the target is grappled (escape DC 13), and until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and the kauolgrim can’t bite a different target.
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
This issue’s The Dragon’s Bestiary is a bunch of spiders, but any arachnophobes reading this will be happy to know there’s only a single piece of generic artwork and none that illustrates any of the actual creatures. The first of these is Ed Greenwood’s opilionid, or cave harvester. Or rather, it’s a giant cave harvester, which is still easier to spell than opilionid.

It has the ability to spit acid, and don’t I know if this a typo in the original or a problem with when this issue was scanned for the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM archive, since that happened sometimes, but it can do so once every 66 turns. With one turn being 10 minutes, it can spit acid once every 11 hours. Why not just say once per day or once every 12 hours, Ed? How long did you expect combat to take? And opilionids aren’t even spiders! Geez! Might as well have mites and scorpions here!

…not that any of the other spiders in this article are particularly realistic.

Cave Harvester
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine 118
Created by Ed Greenwood

Cave harvesters superficially resemble their smaller harvestmen kin, but are far larger—each of their eight limbs can be up to 16 feet in length. They have mottled, lichen-gray bodies and thin, striped legs. They wander constantly, looking for food. As omnivores, much of what they eat is fresh or decayed vegetation and fungi, but they also eat carrion and, when they can catch it, any living prey. Despite their long legs, they carry their bodies low to the ground.

Magically Altered. Ages ago, cave harvesters were magically created, altered from their original, tiny form by an arachnid Unseelie archfey to serve as hunting hounds and shepherding dogs. The natural ability of the daddy long legs to squirt out a stinking liquid to deter predators was altered, allowing them to spray out foul acid. Likewise, where harvestmen often lived in large groups, the cave harvesters were changed to have a true pack mentality. Since then, they spread out into the wild, and as they mate and reproduce often, they have spread throughout the worlds. But even now, some fey continue to use these creatures to hunt.

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

DC 10. These creatures are enormous versions of the more common daddy long legs.

DC 15. Cave harvesters will eat nearly anything and are attracted to light. They typically hunt in packs.

DC 20. Cave harvesters were magically created by an archfey to be a hunting and shepherding beasts.

Cave Harvester Encounters
Terrain:
caverns, Feywild, forests, ruins, Shadowfell

CR 1-2 1-2 cave harvesters

CR 3-4 3-4 cave harvesters

CR 5-10 1d4+4 cave harvesters

Signs
1-2. A high-pitched chittering noise in the distance.
3. A recently-severed cave harvester leg, still twitching.
4. A half-eaten corpse. A DC 13 Nature or Survival check will reveal that the toothmarks indicated that wasn’t eaten by a mammal, reptile, or bird.

Behavior
1-2. Hiding in a dark corner; will ambush anything that passes by
3. Devouring rotten plants
4. Wandering in a pack and hunting; will attack on sight.

Cave Harvester
Large monstrosity

Challenge 1 (200 XP)
AC 14 (natural armor)
HP 30 (4d10+8; bloodied 15)
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 17 (+3) DEX 16 (+3) CON 14 (+2)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 13
Saving Throws Dex +5
Skills Stealth +5
Condition Immunities paralysis, stunned
Senses tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages
Communal. A cave harvester cannot be compelled, even magically, to attack another cave harvester.
Pack Tactics. The cave harvester has advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the harvester’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and not incapacitated.
Spider Climb. The cave harvester can climb even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings.
Stench. A creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the cave harvester must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, it is poisoned until the start of its next turn. On a success, it is immune to any cave harvester’s Stench for 24 hours.
Web Walker. The cave harvester ignores movement restrictions imposed by webs.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4+3) piercing damage.
Leap (Recharge 5-6). The cave harvester leaps up to half its Speed horizontally and half its speed vertically without provoking opportunity attacks, and can land in a space containing one or more creatures. Each creature in its space when it lands must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 10 (2d6+3) bludgeoning damage and being knocked prone on a failure. On a success, the creature takes half damage and is pushed 5 feet to a space of its choice. If that space is occupied, the creature is knocked prone.

Bonus Actions
Acid Spray (1/Day, when Bloodied).
The cave harvester emits burning acid in a 5 feet wide, 15 feet long line. Each creature in that area must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 5 (1d10) acid damage and 5 (1d10) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. In addition, a creature in that area is doused in the cave harvester’s stench. Until it has been cleaned off, other creatures have advantage on Perception checks made to locate the affected creature by smell.
Opportune Bite. The cave harvester makes a bite attack against a prone creature.

Reactions
Autotomy.
The cave harvester can remove one of its own legs without suffering any ill effects or change to its Speed.
Frenzy (1/Day). When attacked by a creature it can see within 20 feet, it moves up to half its speed and makes a bite attack against that creature.

Combat
Cave harvesters typically start by leaping onto a target, then biting it. It attacks whoever damaged it most recently. When bloodied, it uses Acid Spray and then retreats.
 


Faolyn

(she/her)
The previous monster was made by fey, but this monster was made by a mad wizard. Enter the spider cat, which does whatever a spider cat does. Perhaps sadly, it’s bigger than a tiger, which makes it unsuitable for being a lap-spider cat. But anyway, it’s another fun, animal-intellect hybrid monster for all your monster needs. It’s also pretty powerful, and that’s after I nerfed it a bit from its original form (which, for no good reasons was immune to fear and illusions and required +2 weapons to hit and had 30% magic resistance).

Spider Cat
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine 118
Created by K.L. Campbell

Spider cats resemble tremendous golden-furred tarantulas with the head and mane of a lion—although they have chelicerae instead of a lion’s mouth—with retractable, feline claws on each of its eight legs and four eyes. They are said to have been created by an insane wizard, with the legends suggesting that they were meant to out-do owlbears. They are much rarer than owlbears are, but also much deadlier.

Acidic Venom. The spider cats’ venom, transmitted in their bite is horrifically painful. And worse, it dissolves creatures from the inside out, leaving nothing but goo behind that the cat can then lap up with their long, spiky tongue. They will gladly eat anything except undead, which they take pains to avoid.

Prideful. Like the lions they resemble, spider cats live in prides. They hunt as a pride as well, viciously attacking nearly any creature that comes near. Like actual spiders, they are liquivores. Their venom dissolves their victims entirely, though, rather than leaving a dried-out husk. Because of this, they prefer to wrap their prey in webbing and keep them for later. Additionally, the magic that created the spider cats instilled in them a desire to eat solid meat, but their spider-like mouthparts make that impossible. They are just smart enough to become frustrated by that inability, and they angrily tear their prey apart to vent their frustrations before their venom turns their prey to goo. Spider cats are always hungry and always vicious.

Webbed Lairs. Spider cats usually build complex lairs out of their webbing, similar to a much-larger funnel spider’s web. These lairs are wrapped around tree stumps or rocky outcroppings and are often clearly visible, as spider cats fear nothing. In addition to being plainly visible, there are also often trails or even pools of dried blood and viscera and dropped treasure leading up to and even inside their lairs.

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

DC 10. Spider cats are monstrous beasts that blend the traits of a lion and a giant tarantula, but are larger than the largest great cat. They can spin webs but are more likely to hunt like lions than wait for prey to stumble into their webs.

DC 15. Always hungry, spider cats use their corrosive venom to dissolve their prey, then lap up the liquified remains, as they can’t eat solid food. They hunt in packs like lions.

DC 20. Spider cats are aggressive. They breed quickly, but they also readily eat their own young if there isn’t enough food.

Spider Cat Encounters
Terrain:
caverns, grasslands, hills

CR 5-10 1-2 spider cats; 1 spider cat and 1d4 spider cat cubs (use giant spider statistics)
Treasure: 175 gp, masterwork longsword with gold filigree, in need of sharpening and cleaning, potion of animal friendship.

CR 11-16 2-3 spider cats
Treasure: 400 gp, aquamarine pendant (worth 1,000 gp), scrolls of faithful hound and wall of fire in scroll case made of rare woods, a badly-injured merchant, wrapped up in webbing.

CR 17-22 3-4 spider cats
Treasure: 875 gp, holy symbol (random religion) made of carved bone, garnet-studded signet ring of a prominent guild on a mostly-intact skeletal hand (worth 500 gp), a treasure map which leads to the discovery of a rare 3rd-level spell, dented but fixable armor of resistance.

Signs
1. A strange chittering noise that blends into a horrific leonine roar.
2. Clumps of old, dried webbing.
3. Large footprints that sort of look like a great cat made them; with a DC 13 Nature check, it’s observed that the creature had eight legs.
4. Pools of liquefied tissue and blood, recently dried (or perhaps still moist), scattered around.
5. A trail of dropped coins or small objects, leading to the spider-cat’s lair.
6. Trees gouged with claw marks.

Behavior
1-2. Hunting; will attack on sight.
3. Sleeping off its last meal in the sun.
4. Repairing the webbing of its home.
5. Fighting with one another; will stop fighting and attack anyone who comes near.
6. Tearing apart a creature it just killed.

Spider cat
Large monstrosity

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
AC 14 (natural armor)
HP 85 (10d10+30; bloodied 43)
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.

STR 21 (+5) DEX 16 (+3) CON 16 (+3)
INT 3 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 5 (-3)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 16
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +6
Senses blindsight 10 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages
Fearless. The spider cat has advantage on saving throws to avoid being frightened.
Keen Smell. The spider cat has advantage on Perception checks that rely on smell.
Pack Tactics. The spider cat has advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the spider cat’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and not incapacitated
Spider Climb. The spider cat can climb even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings.
Web Sense. While touching a web, the spider cat knows the location of other creatures touching that web.
Web Walker. The spider cat ignores movement restrictions imposed by webs.

Actions
Multiattack.
The spider cat attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10+5) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) poison damage, and the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. While poisoned, the creature takes 3 (1d6) ongoing acid damage. If this damage reduces a creature to 0 hit points, it dies and after 1 minute, melts into goo.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8+5) slashing damage. If the spider cat moves at least 20 feet straight towards the target before the attack, the target must make a DC 16 Strength saving throw or fall prone.

Bonus Actions
Opportune Bite.
The spider cat makes a bite attack against a prone creature.
Web (Recharge 5-6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 20/60 ft., one Large or smaller creature. Hit: The creature is restrained by a web. As an action, a creature can make a DC 16 Strength check, breaking the web on a success. The effect also ends if the web is destroyed. The web is an object with AC 13, 5 hit points, and immunity to all forms of damage except slashing, fire, and force.

Combat
The spider cat attacks the closest creature. It only retreats if it is close to death and not within 5 feet of an enemy.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
You know what annoys me about most arctic monsters in D&D? The fact that most of them use cold-based attacks. Everything that lives in the fantasy arctic is immune or at least resistant to cold damage, so why is it that so many arctic monsters use cold to attack? Seriously. Yeti: chilling gaze; white dragon and winter wolf: cold breath; winter hag: cold-based spells. Of all the energy-attack-using arctic monsters, really the only unusual one is the heat-using remorhaz. I guess arctic monsters just attack each other with tooth and claw.

Anyhow, the final spider is the polar spider, which at least relies on its venomous bite and nasty spurs. This is actually going to be a combination of two monsters: the polar spider from this article and the snow spider from Dragon Magazine Annual #2 (which I just made bigger). A third version appeared in 3x’s Frostburn, and very similar to the one from issue #118. I don’t know if it was based on that spider or if there’s only so much you can do with an artic spider, however.

Polar Spider
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine 118, and The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine Annual #2
Created by K.L. Campbell and Belinda G. Ashley

The polar spider, or snow spider, is an enormous beast found only in the coldest and most remote arctic forests and mountains. They don’t build webs and instead are roaming hunters. They live in small packs, and while they mostly hunt alone, they will sometimes gang together to bring down larger prey.

Despite appearances, snow spiders are warm-blooded mammal-arachnid hybrids. Their fur is silvery white with pale brown banding on their legs, and their eyes are pale blue. They have both toothy jaws and chelicerae, which are ivory white and overly long. Although they are not very intelligent, polar spiders have their own language, a combination of clicking noises and gestures. They can learn to understand other languages, but not speak them.

Feared Hunters. Polar spiders have a potent venom so deadly that it’s even a danger to much larger creatures such as giants and dragons. They are smart enough to avoid healthy individuals, but a giant or dragon that has been weakened in some manner is fair game to them. Their favored attack isn’t their venom, though, but the sharp, retractable, bone spur sheathed within each of their legs. Fortunately for other creatures, polar spiders spend the warmer months of the year hibernating.

Pack-Minded. These creatures live in small packs consisting of mostly males and one “queen,” the sole breeding female. She never leaves the lair—usually an icy cavern—and spends her time enlarging it. Twice each year, she births one or two kits, with the rarely-produced female kits usually being destroyed. If the pack becomes too large or the queen begins to grow too old, however, the queen will raise a female to adulthood and send her and a few males forth to forth to found a new pack, or allow her to take over the pack—at which point the young queen will kill and eat the older one. Despite all this, the members of a pack are dedicated to one another and will choose to die if captured and kept separated from its pack.

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

DC 10. Polar spiders are vicious, pack-oriented predators that live in remote arctic forests. Despite their name, they are not actually spiders and do not spin webs.

DC 15. Polar spiders are known for their corrosive bites and very potent venom that is difficult to treat.

DC 20. Although they look and act like animals, they are fairly intelligent and have a language of their own.

Polar Spider Encounters
Terrain:
forests, tundra

CR 3-4 polar spider

CR 5-10 2-3 polar spiders

CR 11-16 4-5 polar spiders

Signs
1. A shed bone leg spike.
2. A dead (female) kit.
3. The half-eaten remains of a moose. With a DC 13 Nature check, puncture wounds surrounded by acid-burned flesh.
4. With a DC 15 Perception check, a soft chittering noise.

Behavior
1. Hunting; will attack on sight.
2. Hibernating (summer months only)
3. Devouring the corpse of a young frost giant or white dragon
4. A young queen and her entourage, out looking for new territory..

Polar Spider
Large monstrosity

Challenge 3 (700 XP)
AC 16 (natural armor)
HP 57 (6d10+24; bloodied 28)
Speed 40 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 14 (+2) CON 18 (+4)
INT 6 (-2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 8 (-1)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 15
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +4
Damage Immunities cold
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Polar Spider
Cold Mastery. The polar spider’s movement and vision is not hindered by cold, icy surfaces, snow, wind, or storms. Additionally, the spider can choose to burrow through snow, but not solid ice, without leaving a trace.
Camouflage. The polar spider has advantage on Stealth checks made to hide in snowy terrain.
Fire Weakness. If the polar spider takes at least 10 points of fire damage, it takes 3 (1d6) ongoing fire damage until it uses an action to put itself out. While it takes fire damage, its speed is reduced by 10 feet.
Jumper. The polar spider can jump up to 10 feet horizontally and 15 feet vertically without a running start.
Keen Sight. The polar spider has advantage on Perception checks that rely on sight.
Pack Tactics. The polar spider has advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the polar spider’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and not incapacitated
Spider Climb. The polar spider can climb even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings.

Actions
Multiattack.
The polar spider makes two leg spike attacks.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) piercing damage and the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or take 11 (2d10) poison damage plus 5 (1d10) acid damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one. A creature that fails its save is also poisoned and takes 3 (1d6) ongoing poison damage for 1 minute, or until a creature makes a DC 14 Medicine check to treat the wound. Attempts to treat the ongoing poison damage through nonmagical means are rolled at disadvantage.
Leg Spike. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (3d8+5) piercing damage.

Combat
The polar spider prefers to start off combat by biting, then using its spikes while the target is still suffering from corrosive venom.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The leshy was covered three times in Dragon Magazine: for 1e, in issue #119; for 2e, in issue #239; and for 3e, in issue #290 (where it was spelled leshii). The details differ quite a bit. In their first and second appearances, they’re mischievous forest fey. Their third appearance is in an article on creatures of Eastern European mythology, and as such, are quite a bit darker in tone, although it lacks some of the (real) mythological details that were presented in #119, such as their size-changing ability. None of them were the cute little plant-people from Pathfinder. As with the púca from before, this is going to be a combination of all three versions with a heavy helping of real-world mythology thrown in.

In real-world mythology, Leshy was a patron forest deity, not just a random fey, so I’ve upped the power level quite a bit. They’re not as powerful as faerie nobles or treants, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with.

By the way, I hope I’m not making these monster entries too unwieldy and complicated. If I am, let me know and I’ll try to give streamline them more. I was surprised in reading the Spelljammer monsters at how simple some of their statblocks were. Like, look at the cosmic horror which has one and a half traits (Legendary Resistance and Unusual Nature so it doesn’t need to breathe), three actions plus multiattack, and three legendary actions. While I know that Level Up monsters typically have more to them than o5e monsters do, I worry that I’m going a bit too far.

1661284009635.png

Artist: Richard Sardhina

Leshy
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #119; The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #239; and Red Sails: Fell and Forlorn Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #290
Created by Paul Leach, Douglas Lent, and Brian Corvello

Leshy resemble wizened male satyrs with wild, tangled hair and beard and long claws on their fingers. Moss and mushrooms grow on them, making them look green. They wear no clothes, but sometimes will wear jewelry made of leather, polished stones, and amber. Leshy are typically on good terms with fey such as dryads and satyrs, who tend to hold leshy in fearful awe.

Forest-Bound. A leshy is bound to its forest and cannot and will not leave it. No forest ever has more than one leshy in it, and should the leshy die, the forest itself will spawn a new one, which emerges from the largest tree as a full adult. A leshy lives for 1,000 years. When in their lair, in the very heart of the forest, they are tremendous beings, standing nearly twenty feet tall. But when they are at the forest’s edge, they shrink to the size of a blade of grass. In most of the forest, however, they stand at roughly the same height as a human.

Merciless Tricksters. Leshy dislike humanoids for the most part, and only those who are truly part of the forest, such as druids, are accepted—and even then, sometimes grudgingly. They delight in leading unwary travelers to their doom, but are also honorable in their own way: people who leave cakes or other gifts for the leshy are left unharmed, and the leshy may even choose to grant them a boon. A leshy may even decide to befriend an individual or even an entire village for any reason or no reason at all. On the other hand, they can also be very cruel to people who are disrespectful, particularly those who over-log or over-hunt in the forest or who harm innocent fey and will play subtle tricks to lure them into danger, or into the heart of the forest where the leshy is strongest.

Child-Snatchers, Child-Saviors. Leshy have been known to abduct children, and are often used as a bogeyman to scare children into behaving. Despite parental warnings, though, leshy do not creep into houses and snatch children from their beds. Instead, they find children who are lost or abandoned in the forest, or who ran away from home, and take them in. Those that were merely lost are usually returned to their parents—eventually—while it keeps others. These children are cared for and raised, as best the leshy is capable of—leshy do not understand mortal children very well. Some of the children they choose to keep die in their care, but others flourish, and extended proximity to a leshy eventually turns the child into a fey. Not a few faerie knights, dryads, satyrs, and other fey creatures started their existence as a mortal, and it’s rumored at least one archfey was one as well.

Guardian Statues. Leshy only live in old growth forests, and they surround their lairs with wooden statues they carve out of dead tree trunks. These statues have simplified features but still manage to be disquieting and foreboding. These statues serve as a warning and a reminder to other creatures, that there is something frightening in this forest. And, on occasion, even animate, turning into walking statues that are made of wood instead of stone (armor class 14, otherwise unchanged).

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

DC 10. The deepest and oldest forests are often home to a leshy, who is a protector of that forest. They are tricksters and can be very cruel to those who disrespect the forest.

DC 15. When traveling into a leshy’s forest, it’s a good idea to leave an offering of a small cake for them. Leshy are often willing to aid with those who leave cakes and may choose to torment those who do not.

DC 20. It is possible to bribe a leshy and get it to perform a small service in exchange for cake. However, they often fulfill their end of the bargain in ways that mortals find odd or disturbing—such as by forcing other mortals to do the promised work or provide the promised substance for them.

Leshy Encounters
Terrain:
forest, swamp

CR 5-10 leshy; leshy and 1d4 dryads or satyrs
Treasure: carved agate pendant on a leather thong (worth 50 gp), tree feather token, a human child that is being cared for

CR 11-16 leshy and 1 or 2 fey knights or walking statues
Treasure: 1d4 idols of forest gods carved out of dragonbone (50 gp each), +2 dagger carved out of amber, dreamscrying bowl, pipes of haunting

Signs
1. The sound of heavy footsteps and moving branches coming from nearby, although nothing can be seen.
2. The forest is unusually dark and tangled.
3. Getting lost within the forest, even when being magically guided.
4. Interesting lights and sounds coming from deeper within the woods.
5. A small cake on shrine-like stone; surprisingly, the cake hasn’t been touched by any wildlife.
6. Old tree trunks that have been carved to resemble eldritch beings.

Behavior
1. Invisibly watching a group of lumberjacks.
2. In the form of an animal, following a group of travelers.
3. Tending to the plants.
4. Willing to strike a bargain: a good hunt in exchange for a simple task it needs performing outside the forest’s edge.
5. Carving a new wooden statue.
6. Fetching food for a child it is caring for.

Leshy
Legendary medium fey (shapechanger)

Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
AC 15 (natural armor)
HP 135 (18d8+54; bloodied 67)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 21 (+5) DEX 13 (+1) CON 17 (+3)
INT 14 (+2) WIS 15 (+2) CHA 19 (+4)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 16
Saving Throws Dex +4, Wis +5
Skills Animal Handling +4, Nature +4 (+1d6), Stealth +4 (+1d6)
Condition Immunities charmed paralyzed, poisoned, unconscious
Senses truesight 60 ft.,
Languages Common, Druidic, Sylvan
Innate Spellcasting. The leshy’s spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 15). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At Will: dancing lights, minor illusion
1/day each: confusion, conjure fey, conjure woodland beings, geas, insect plague, plant growth
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). When the leshy fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead. When it does so, it seems to shrink somewhat and some of the plants growing on them die. After using this trait for the third time, it can’t become Huge until it finishes a long rest.
Magic Resistance. The leshy has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
One With Nature. The leshy has advantage on Stealth checks made while in a forested environment and leaves no evidence of its passage. It suffers no damage or other ill effects from extreme weather. The leshy can communicate with beasts and plants.
Size-Changer (True Form Only). When on the border of its forest, the leshy is Tiny. When in the center of its forest, the leshy is Huge. When Tiny, it has disadvantage on Strength ability checks and Strength saving throws and inflicts half damage with its Claws or Ram attack. When Huge, it has advantage on Strength ability checks and Strength saving throws, its reach increases by 5 feet, and it inflicts an additional two dice of damage with its Claws or Ram attack. The leshy has no ability to control this change.

Actions
Multiattack.
The leshy makes two claw attacks.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d4+5) slashing damage.
Ram. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6+5) bludgeoning damage, or 12 (2d6+5) bludgeoning damage if the leshy moves at least 20 feet straight towards the target before the attack.
Entangling Plants. Plants magically erupt from the ground in a 20-foot radius around a point up to 120 feet from the leshy. Each creature of the leshy’s choice in the area makes a DC 15 Strength saving throw. On a failure, a creature is restrained for 1 minute. A creature can use its action to make a DC 15 Strength check, freeing itself or a creature within 5 feet on a success. Additionally, the area is difficult terrain for 1 minute.
Shapeshift. The leshy magically changes its form to that of a beast , or back into its true form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying is absorbed or borne by the new form (leshy’s choice). In the new form, the leshy’s stats are unchanged except for its size. It reverts to its true for when it dies.
Confusion (S, Concentration). Each creature within 10 feet of a point the leshy can see within 120 feet makes a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw, becoming rattled until the end of its next turn on a success. On a failure, a creature is confused for 1 minute and can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Insect Plague (V, S, Concentration). A 20-foot-radius sphere of biting and stinging insects appears centered on a point the leshy can see within 300 feet and remains for 10 minutes. The cloud spreads around corners, and the area is lightly obscured and difficult terrain. Each creature in the area when the cloud appears, and each creature that enters it for the first time on a turn or ends its turn there, makes a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 22 (4d10) piercing damage on a failed save or half damage on a success. The leshy is immune to this damage.

Bonus Actions
Invisibility.
The leshy turns invisible, along with any equipment it carries. This invisibility ends if the leshy makes an attack, falls unconscious, or dismisses the effect.
Woodmaze (1/Day). The leshy targets up to four creature it can see within 30 feet. A creature must make a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw or be magically cursed for 24 hours. While cursed it has disadvantage on any check made to find its destination, avoid becoming lost, to use any journey activity, and on any saving throw to avoid being confused or to avoid taking levels of fatigue or strife.

Legendary Actions
The leshy 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.
Great Leap. The leshy leaps up to 20 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically without provoking opportunity attacks.
Disorienting Smite (Costs 2 Actions). The leshy makes a Ram attack. On a hit, the creature is stunned until the end of its next turn.
Hunt (Costs 3 Actions). The leshy signals to all of its allies, including creatures it has summoned, that are within 60 feet of it and targets one creature also within that range. Each ally inflicts an additional 3 (1d6) damage to the target for 1 minute, until the ally is killed, the leshy is killed, or the leshy uses this action again.

Combat
Leshy prefer to lead or drive opponents to the heart of its forest, where it is Huge sized. It casts conjure fey or conjure woodland beings to gain allies, then uses Hunt on the toughest foes before wading in itself with a Disorienting Smite and its claws. If it feels that its forest is threatened, it fights to the death.

The Changing Child
A child who has lived with the leshy for at least one month begins to turn into a fey. The change is subtle at first: a slight opalescent luster to their eyes, the ears begin to take on a point, features become exaggerated, they start to grow or shrink in height, and so on, horns may sprout from its head, and so forth. As time progresses, these changes become more and more pronounced. After three months, the child gains the following trait:

Burgeoning Fey. The child gains an expertise die on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put the child to sleep.

After six months, the child gains darkvision to 30 feet (if it already had darkvision, the range increases by 30 feet), the ability to speak and understand Sylvan, and the ability to cast a single non-damaging cantrip from any spell list, using its choice of Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as the spellcasting attribute. Its type changes to Humanoid (Fey).

If the child stays with the leshy for a year and a day, it fully transforms into a true fey of any type and is no longer Humanoid. While it retains memories of their previous life, those memories are faded and without any emotional resonance.

Prior to this transformation, if the child is removed from the leshy’s care, the changes it has undergone are permanent unless a dispel evil and good spell is cast on it with the express purpose of restoring it to its original form. After being transformed into a fey, only a wish can restore it.

At the Narrator’s discretion, humanoid children who stay with faerie nobles and archfey also change in this manner.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Now, the luposphinx. I changed this one considerably from its original treatment, where it was basically just a dull monster with a magical howl. It didn’t even need to be a sphinx. To be honest, none of the 1e sphinxes had any real flavor to them—their entry in the 1e MM didn’t even say they asked riddles!

In case anyone is interested in my thought process when I was figuring out how to make this creature interesting, it basically went like this:

“The text reads ‘there is a 40% chance that they would be accompanied by 5-20 humanoids, usually gnolls or xvarts.’ Why is this? They’re evil, they want to hang around evil people, and they’re not going to be their pet, so what do they want minions for? Standard minioning stuff? Lemme look at LU’s sphinxes. Huh, sphinxes guard planar boundaries. Hmm. Maybe luposphinxes try to break those boundaries. Why would they do that? Because they’re anti-sphinxes, except they don’t explode if they touch a real sphinx. So they put together groups of mercenaries and people who want to watch the world burn, but not xvarts because those aren’t in LU, and make planar portals. Probably using a ritual. That the Narrator can make up, so I don't have to. Now to write it up.”

…I never claimed my thought process was particularly sensical or in-depth.

1661382080553.png

Artist: ...you think I'd be better at recognizing art styles by now. I'm guessing Jeff Easly

Luposphinx
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #119
Created by Lance Hankins

According to legend, every time a sphinx is created, a luposphinx is also born, and where sphinxes are guardians of the walls between reality, luposphinxes are the destroyers who seek to tear down those walls and let all of reality mingle together. They are creatures of chaos, and unlike sphinxes, who are created ex nihilo, luposphinxes are literally born, pulling themselves bloodily out of a laboring mother worg, dire wolf, or other Large canid. They reach maturity within hours or days, aware of their purpose in existence.

Luposphinxes resemble feather-winged lions with the heads of wolves. Their feathers and fur are dark gray.

Connivers. Luposphinxes, like the wolves they resemble, are pack animals, but their packs consist of themselves and the dozen or so other creatures, whom they convince through promises or threats to aid their cause. Although unpleasant, destructive, and manipulative, luposphinxes are not liars. They are honest about their goals and charismatic enough to rally people to their cause.

Plane-Tearers. Luposphinxes create elaborate rituals that allow them to literally bite through reality. They send their minions to gather the necessary reagents and sacrifices needed for each ritual while they scout out the perfect location for them to perform the ritual—clearing out any creatures that live in that location first.

Twinned Creation. When a luposphinx is born, it is aware of the existence sphinx that was created at the same time of its birth and of its name—and the sphinx is aware of the luposphinx’s existence and name in return. The luposphinx considers this sphinx to be a hated sibling; the far more powerful sphinx usually views the luposphinx as a dangerous nuisance. The luposphinx and sphinx otherwise have no knowledge of the other’s whereabouts, although they become aware should the other die.

Luposphinxes are far weaker than true sphinxes, and the rituals they put on often gather the attention of armed adventurers. But luposphinxes have another trick that few know about: as long as their sibling lives, they will eventually be reborn. They remember their previous lives perfectly, and their desire for revenge on those who killed them before wars against their desire to destroy planar walls. The sphinx is aware whenever its sibling is reborn.

Like sphinxes, luposphinxes can travel through space. They lack the ability to travel through time, however.

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

DC 10. Luposphinxes have the bodies of winged lions and the heads of wolves.

DC 15. Luposphinxes usually surround themselves with a large number of minions in order to further their goals.

DC 20. The luposphinx is a dark reflection of the true sphinx; each time a sphinx is created, a luposphinx is created as well. Where sphinxes are guardians of reality, luposphinxes seek to destroy it.

Luposphinx Encounters
Terrain:
forest, grassland, hill, mountain, ruin, temple, tomb, tundra

CR 5-10: Luposphinx; luposphinx with 2d4 cultists or bandits; luposphinx with 1d4+1 gnolls; luposphinx with 2-3 jackalweres, wererats
Treasure: 3 jets (100 gp each), golden chalice (worth 250 gp), electrum coffer (100 gp), oil of etherealness, spell scroll of arcane eye, 1-2 tuning forks (for use with plane shift spell)

CR 11-16: Luposphinx with cult fanatic and 1d6+4 cultists; luposphinx with jackalwere pack leader and 1d4+2 jackalweres; luposphinx and spirit naga; luposphinx with gnoll packleader, gnoll demonfang, and 2d4 gnolls.
Treasure: diamond (worth 1,000 gp), puzzle box made of dragon horn and mother of pearl (worth 1,000 gp), immovable rod, ioun stone of protection, two scrolls of charm monster.

Signs
1. A terrible howl in the distance
2. A rash of thefts in the area; the stolen objects come from different planes of existence or have magical properties related to the planes, or else might be used as gifts to extraplanar beings.
3. The presence of a powerful extraplanar being.
4. A ransacked and destroyed library; with a DC 20 Investigation check, it’s learned that the library was a favorite of a sphinx.

Behavior
1. Attacks on sight.
2. Attempts to size up the characters to see if they’d be good candidates to convert to the cause.
3. Researching a new plane-tearing ritual.
4. Preaching to a cult of fanatical followers.

Luposphinx
Large monstrosity

Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)
AC 16 (natural armor)
HP 114 (12d10+48; bloodied 57)
Speed 50 ft., fly 60 ft.

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

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 16
Saving Throws Str +7, Dex +5, Con +7
Skills Arcana +5 (+1d4), History +5, Perception +4, Persuasion +8
Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, stunned
Senses truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Abyssal, Common, telepathy 120 ft.
Innate Spellcasting. The luposphinx’s spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 13). It can cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At Will: detect evil and good, detect magic
3/day: dispel magic
1/day each: banishment, planar ally (The luposphinx can also summon aberrations and constructs with this spell, in addition to celestials, elementals, fey, and fiends, and it must provide the necessary gifts needed to bargain with the creature it summons.)
Inscrutable. The luposphinx is immune to divination and to any effect that would sense its emotions and thoughts. Insight checks made to determine the sphinx’s intentions are made with disadvantage.
Keen Hearing and Smell. The luposphinx has advantage on Perception checks that rely on hearing and smell.
Rebirth. When a luposphinx dies, it is reborn 2d10 years later with its former life’s memories. It can only be killed permanently if its sphinx sibling dies before it is reborn.

Actions
Multiattack.
The luposphinx attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6+5) piercing damage plus 10 (3d6) force damage. If the target is a creature, it must make a DC 16 Strength saving throw or fall prone.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4+5) slashing damage.
Planar Jaunt (1/Day). The luposphinx targets up to eight creatures it can see within 300 feet. The targets are magically transported to a different place, plane of existence, or demiplane. This effect ends after one hour or when the luposphinx takes a bonus action to end it. When the effect ends, the creatures reappear in their original locations, along with any items they acquired on their jaunt. While the effect lasts, the luposphinx can communicate telepathically with the targets. The luposphinx chooses one of the following destinations:
Different Location or Plane of Existence. The creatures appear in empty spaces of the luposphinx’s choice anywhere on the Material Plane or on a different plane altogether.
• Demiplane. The creatures appear in empty spaces of the luposphinx’s choice on a demiplane. The demiplane can be up to one square mile in size. The demiplane can appear to be inside, outside, or underground, and can contain terrain, nonmagical objects, and magical effects of the luposphinx’s choosing. The luposphinx may populate it with creatures and hazards with a total Challenge Rating equal to or less than the luposphinx’s Challenge Rating.
Terrifying Howl (Recharge 6). The luposphinx emits a how. Each creature of the luposphinx’s choice that can hear it within 60 feet must make a DC 16 Charisma saving throw. On a failure, it is frightened for 1 minute. A creature may repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. When it succeeds on a saving throw or the effect ends for it, it is immune to any luposphinx’s Terrifying Howl for 24 hours.

Bonus Actions
Encouraging Howl (Recharge 6).
The luposphinx emits a howl, and any number of creatures of its choice within 60 feet that can hear it are inspired. For the next minute, inspired creatures gain an expertise die on attack rolls and saving throws. A creature can benefit from only one Encouraging Howl at a time, and the luposphinx cannot target itself or another luposphinx.

Reactions
Command Minion.
When the luposphinx would be hit by an attack, they command an ally within 5 feet to use its reaction to switch places with the luposphinx. The ally is hit by the attack instead of the luposphinx.

Combat
Luposphinxes send their minions in to attack, allowing them free reign to do what they want. The luposphinx starts its attack first with an Encouraging Howl, and then with a Terrifying Howl, then wades in with claws and teeth, attacking the closest creature. It retreats when bloodied.

Ritual Tearing
The luposphinx can create a ritual designed to open a semi-permanent portal to another plane. The exact nature of the ritual is up to the Narrator, but at the least, should require several thousand gold worth of material components and magic items and take a minimum of 12 hours to fully set up, although the actual ritual takes less than a minute to perform.

When completed, a permanent portal to a plane of the Narrator’s choice is created. This takes the form of a Malfunctioning Planar Portal (as per the exploration hazard in Trials & Treasures), along with any other effects the Narrator wishes to include, such as extraplanar beings stepping through or environmental hazards from that plane affecting the area around the portal. The portal will range from 5 to 20 feet across and will slowly expand. Closing or stabilizing the portal requires high-level magic or a quest of some sort—it can’t be fixed by mending the broken stone as in the hazard.

After every 24 hours, the Narrator will roll a d20. On a roll of 15 or above, the portal will begin to stabilize. After 1d10 days, it will no longer malfunction and will simply be an open portal.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The musical spirit is an unusual undead, as it’s a protector and not destructive or vengeful. Which is nice—there’s no reason why undead have to be filled with hatred for the living. It also happens to be the second bard-centered undead I’ve done, which is weird that it’s happened twice. :D

I really like this creature. It has a wonderfully folkloric feel to it.

1661464258045.png

Why did they never sign their art?

Musical Spirit
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #119
Created by Mark DeForest

Musical spirits are believed to be the spirits of fey creatures, bards, or musically-inclined druid who have chosen to remain in the mortal world after their death in order to protect the wilderness and honor it with their music. They resemble drawn, withered, and nearly colorless versions of their living selves, wearing ancient, ragged clothing. They each have a musical instrument and do little but play that instrument.

Night Music. Mostly found in fey woods, musical spirits only appear at night and vanish at the first touch of sunlight. Sunlight, even that produced by magic, doesn’t harm them, and magical sunlight doesn’t banish them. They are guardians of the forest at night, and even the most evil-minded creatures are wont to put aside their dastardly plans when they hear the spirit’s music.

Beastly Herald. Many musical spirits have a companion animal which acts as both guard and herald. It is often a beloved pet that died with the spirit. When the spirit sits and plays, the beast circles the woodlands around it, watching out for danger; when the spirit moves, it moves ahead of it, clearing the path. It resembles a ghost-white version of a normal animal with blank eyes and has the attributes of a beast of CR 1/2 or lower with the zombie template added, and is generally not hostile.

Legends and Lore
With an Arcana or History check, the characters can learn the following:
DC 15. Musical spirits are benign undead who play music in the wilderness.
DC 20. The musical spirit knows thirteen songs of haunting beauty, and is willing to teach these songs—for a price. The thirteenth song gives the one who plays it great magical power.

Musical Spirit Encounters
Terrain:
Feywild, forest, ruin

CR 1-2 Musical spirit

Signs
1-3. The sound of beautiful music in the distance.
4. A pure-white dog, deer, or hawk appears and watches the party.

Behavior
1-2. Playing music alone
3. Playing music to a crowd of beasts and fey.
4. Attempting to teach a young minstrel one of its songs.

Musical Spirit
Medium undead

Challenge 2 (450 XP)
AC 17 (natural armor)
HP 45 (6d8+18; bloodied 22)
Speed 30 ft., fly 40 ft.

STR 12 (+1) DEX 15 (+2) CON 17 (+3)
INT 12 (+1) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 22 (+6)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 12
Saving Throws Dex +4, Wis +5, Cha +8
Skills Nature +5, Perform +8 (+1d10)
Damage Resistances cold; damage from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, stunned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Sylvan, the languages it knew in life
Innate Spellcasting. The musical spirit’s spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 16). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring only that the spirit play an instrument or sing:
3/day: dramatic sting, healing word, gust of wind, harmonic resonance
1/day each: commune with nature, hallow, insect plague, wind wall
Magic Resistance. The musical spirit has advantage on saving throws versus spells and other magical effects.
Speak with Nature. The musical spirit can communicate with beasts and plants.
Turn Resistance. The musical spirit has advantage on saving throws against any effect that would turn undead. It is also unaffected by the dispel evil and good, hallow, and magic circle spells.
Undead Nature. The musical spirit doesn’t require air, sustenance, or sleep.

Actions
Wild Dance.
Each creature within 30 feet of the musical spirit must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or must use all of its movement to dance in its space. It has disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws, and attack rolls made against it have advantage. It can use its action to repeat the save, ending the spell with an effect. At the end of each minute spent dancing, the creature takes one level of fatigue.
The dance lasts for as long as the spirit continues to play its instrument. It may cast spells while maintaining the Wild Dance.
Insect Plague (V; Concentration). A 20-foot-radius sphere of biting and stinging insects appears centered on a point the god can see within 300 feet and remains for 10 minutes. The cloud spreads around corners and the area is lightly obscured. Each creature in the area when the cloud appears, and each creature that enters it for the first time on its turn, makes a DC 16 Constitution saving throw, taking 22 (4d10) piercing damage on a failed save, or half damage on a success. The musical spirit is immune to this damage.

Bonus Actions
Dramatic Sting (V; Concentration).
A target must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw when the spell is cast and at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success or taking 2 (1d4) psychic damage and be frightened of the spirit until the spell ends.

Combat
Musical spirits never initiate combat. If forced to fight, it starts by using Wild Dance and lets the attackers dance themselves into exhaustion.

Variant: The Thirteen Songs
A musical spirit knows thirteen pieces of music unique to it, each one of haunting, otherworldly beauty. All creatures, even supernatural ones, will find the song to be deeply moving and meaningful. The spirit is willing to teach these songs to mortals or fey who are brave enough to approach it—and who pay for the knowledge by performing a great deed for the spirit or the wilderness around it, or by making a sacrifice of some sort. Each song taught requires its own payment. A creature that demands to be taught, refuses to pay the price, attempts to harm the spirit, or is otherwise hostile, will cause the musical spirit to attack.

These pieces of music are difficult to learn. After 8 hours of practice, the character must make a DC 25 check using Performance or a musical instrument. After three successes, the song is learned; these successes don’t have to be consecutive. The song can only be learned directly from a willing musical spirit; the spirit can't be coerced or threatened into teaching the music. The music can’t be recorded through magical or mechanical means, if it is recorded through musical notation, the result will be a hollow, discordant parody of the true song, and a person who learned the song can't teach it to anyone else.

While playing one of these pieces of music, the performer gains a d6 expertise die on their skill check to playand on Charisma checks made against a creature who has heard them play the music (this bonus to Charisma checks lasts for 12 hours after the music was played). This expertise die can be upgraded to a d10, exceeding the usual limit on expertise die.

The thirteenth song can only be learned by a creature that already knows the twelve other songs. While playing this song, the musician can cast a variant of symbol, requiring no components other than playing or singing the music. The musician can choose which symbol to create (but cannot choose the Death option), and the effect does not involve a physical glyph. Instead, it affects all creatures within 60 feet of the musician. It requires concentration, as if concentrating on a spell, and ends early if the musician stops playing. The save DC is equal to the musician’s spell save DC, or 8 + its proficiency bonus + Charisma modifier, if it doesn’t have a spell save DC. The creature can use this effect once between rests.
 

The musical spirit is an unusual undead, as it’s a protector and not destructive or vengeful. Which is nice—there’s no reason why undead have to be filled with hatred for the living. It also happens to be the second bard-centered undead I’ve done, which is weird that it’s happened twice. :D

I really like this creature. It has a wonderfully folkloric feel to it.

View attachment 259102
Why did they never sign their art?

Musical Spirit
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #119
Created by Mark DeForest

<snip>

Neat! I could see using these as a type of Deathless in an Eberron game.
 

GuyBoy

Hero
I love the side quest concept of a bard searching for one of these spirits to learn a song, which then frees people from the magic of a powerful, evil song.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
More fun fungi! The sashalus is by Ed Greewood and I like to think of it as a relative of the myconid. It’s mobile—more mobile than the average mushroom, at least—and it’s of animal intelligence, and it produces a weird toxin. After the last couple of complex monsters, this carnivorous mushroom is quite simple. It uses the Fungi entry’s Legends and Lore, Signs, and Behaviors.

(I’m still sad that fungi are lumped in with plants. There’s probably enough shrooms to warrant their own creature type.)

Fungi, Sashalus
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #119
Created by Ed Greenwood

Sashalus are ambulatory, carnivorous mushrooms that stand about three to four feet tall. They look a lot like amanita muscaria mushrooms, with mottled greenish-brown caps covered in yellow warts, and pale brown stems. At the base of their stems is a mass of short, rubbery tendrils—the sashalus’ legs. The warts on their caps hide both a mass of tiny eyespots and a couple of dozen short spines. A sashalus can fire these spines at high speed and decent accuracy.

Tough Hunters. Despite their small size, slow speed, and relative weakness, sashalus are formidable hunters. They are attack from hiding, firing spines at warm-blooded prey and waiting until it falls unconscious or becomes too injured to fight back. It then cautiously approaches and, when it is certain it is safe, uses its tendrils to secrete a corrosive acid that dissolves the prey enough to make it edible for the mushroom’s toothless mouth. Sashalus are intelligent enough to artfully arrange treasure (to it, anything shiny) as a lure.

Friendly But Solitary. Sashalus wander alone, without a set lair and only occasionally with a favored hunting spot. On the occasions that two meet, they communicate with each other through touch. If they are of opposite sexes—for sashalus have both males and females—they mate in a manner like that of animals, and the female will eventually give live birth to several tiny young, which they take surprisingly good care of for a year.

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

DC 10. The sashalus is an ambulatory, predatory fungus.

DC 15. Solitary hunters, sashalus fire spines filled with a toxin that has varied effects on the creature it hits, such as causing the creature to become confused, fall unconscious, or become too spaced-out to act.

DC 20. Sashalus are about as intelligent as dogs are. They create lures by scattering coins and other shiny items around, as they are aware that many creatures like such things.

Sashalus Encounters
Terrain:
cavern, forest, swamp

CR 0 1 sashalus
Treasure: 10 gp, 35 sp, crystal pendant (worth 35 gp)

Signs
1-2. A few coins in a neat pile.
3. An acid-burned animal skin.
4. A few shed spines.

Behavior
1. Hunting
2. Teaching its young how to hunt.
3. Devouring a dead rabbit.
4. Sleeping.

Sashalus
Small plant

Challenge 1/4 (25 XP)
AC 11
HP 10 (3d6)
Speed 15 ft., climb 15 ft.

STR 6 (-2) DEX 12 (+1) CON 10 (+0)
INT 3 (-4) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 7 (-2)

Skills Stealth +3
Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 11
Senses darkvision 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages

Actions
Multiattack.
The sashalus makes two spine attacks.
Spine. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) piercing damage and the target must make a DC 10 saving throw against poison or suffer one of the following effects:
1: The target falls unconscious for 10 minutes or until another creature uses an action to wake it up.
2-4: The target is confused for 1 minute.
5: The target is incapacitated for 1 minute while wracked with convulsions and nausea.
6-7: The target is poisoned for 1 minute and suffers from chills and dizziness.
8: The target takes 1 ongoing acid damage for 1 minute.
A creature (other than one who is unconscious) can make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. Any affect that ends the poisoned condition will also end this effect.
Tendril. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (2d4) acid damage.

Combat
Sashalus prefer to attack from ambush, and will flee if injured. It will fire multiple spines into a single creature at a time.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The next monster is one that has had surprisingly little traction in D&D, despite being of cultural interest and appearing in bunches of movies, TV shows, video games, and even cartoons: the wendigo. We all know this one—a cruel spirit of winter cold, famine, and cannibalism. The wendigo, of Algonquian-area mythology, appears in two issues of Dragon and in the 3e Fiend Folio (as a template), and that’s about it, as far as I can tell. I really am surprised it hasn’t shown up more. It seems like a shoo-in for a standard monster, like the banshee became.

The first Dragon version is still a humanoid, but with an immunity to anything that affects people (like charm person). The second Dragon version is definitely undead, and the FF version is fey (well, more of a cruel nature spirit, but those things get lumped in with fey all the time). Real mythology is almost impossible to categorize into neat monster types, as wendigo myths seem especially unclear—it may be a physical being, or it may be an immaterial spirit; it may be specifically about cannibalism or it may be a spirit of greed in general; a person may turn into a wendigo if they spend too much time with one; a person may be possessed by one; it may have never been seen as a real creature but was always understood as a metaphor and warning about taboos. Also, while it’s often depicted with animal features like antlers, that’s apparently not part of the original myths—most of those features come via horror writers like King and Blackwood. Interestingly, only one of D&D’s wendigos (Moldvay’s) is illustrated in an animalistic way. Moldvay’s version also has an unusual note—that some wendigos may have been people who entered into a pact with evil forest spirits. Which, nowadays, suggests the fate of some warlocks.

As such, this is a tough monster to convert to keep both the spirit (sorry) of the actual legend and that of the monster blocks.

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Art by... I'm guessing Jeff Easley

Wendigo
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #119, and The Ungrateful Dead, Dragon Magazine #138
Created by Mark DeForest and Tom Moldvay

Wendigo resemble humanoid corpses, easy ten feet tall, with death-pale skin covered in filth, wounds, and lesions and so gaunt as to be skeletal. Their fingers, blackened with frostbite, have been worn into claws, and their eyes are empty sockets that glow with cold light. They smell of decay and rotten meat and exude an aura of freezing cold. Wendigo don’t walk; they float just above the ground, and can move like the wind.

Wendigo remember very little of their former lives. They may feel flashes of emotion when they see someone they once knew, but those emotions—whether good or bad—mostly serve to draw the wendigo’s attention and with that, its hunger. Any trace of their of their personalities is gone.

Unending Hunger. Almost vanishingly rare, wendigo are created when a person, trapped in harsh winter snows, resorts to cannibalism to survive—and more importantly, remains a cannibal even when other food becomes available. These acts transform the person, without them actually dying, into an undead being.

As undead, wendigo are plagued with a hunger greater than even the worst ghouls and vampires. They even go so far as to eat themselves—most chew their lips off and rip chunks of flesh out of their own limbs in a desperate attempt to satisfy their cravings. Wendigos often trail drops of black, fetid blood behind them because of these self-inflicted wounds.

Fears of Winter. Wendigo are creatures of winter, exemplifying the fears of famine, darkness, and freezing to death. Their terrible stare can cause those who meet it to go mad, and their howl disorients the listener and may compel them to go wandering mindlessly into the cold outdoors. If they're lucky, they die from hypothermia before they meet the wendigo's jaws.

Icy Heart. A wendigo’s heart literally turns to ice and is so cold that even the wendigo itself can’t stand it—and yet, at the same time, instinctively knows to protect it. They are only active in the coldest, snowiest times of the year. The rest of the time, they exist in a state halfway between non-existence and hibernation, curled around their icy heart. Only by destroying this heart can the wendigo truly be slain.

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

DC 10. Wendigo are a type of winter undead created when a humanoid resorts to cannibalism to survive, even when it’s not needed.

DC 15. A creature that hears the wendigo’s howl may be compelled to wander into the wilderness.

DC 20. The stare of a wendigo can freeze a creature to the bone, and may even cause that creature to become infected with the wendigo’s cannibalistic hunger.

Wendigo Encounters
Terrain:
forest, tundra

CR 5-10 Wendigo; wendigo with 1-2 ghouls

CR 11-16 Wendigo with ghast and 1d4+2 ghouls

Signs
1-2. Gnawed-on humanoid bones
3. With a DC 20 Perception check, a drop of frozen blood.
4. A terrifying howl in the distance.
5. A person walking mindlessly in the wilderness, wearing inadequate clothing, seemingly unconcerned by hypothermia or frostbite. They can be awakened, but have no understanding of why they were outside.
6. The remains of a fort, outpost, or traveler’s camp that has been destroyed. Within is nothing but bones and, perhaps, a ghoul.

Behavior
1-2. Devouring a humanoid corpse.
3. In wind form, flitting about the trees.
4. Stalking an individual it hopes to turn into a ghast.

Wendigo
Large undead

Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)
AC 17 (natural armor)
HP 135 (18d8+54; bloodied 67)
Speed 0 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR 12 (+1) DEX 20 (+5) CON 16 (+3)
INT 12 (+1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 19 (+4)

Proficiency +4
Maneuver DC 17
Saving Throws Str +5, Dex +9, Wis +6
Skills Perception +6
Damage Resistances fire, damage from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities cold, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned, stunned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages The languages it knew in life
Frozen Aura. At the start of the wendigo’s turn, each creature within 10 feet takes 5 (1d10) cold damage. A creature that touches the wendigo or hits it with a melee attack takes 5 (1d10) cold damage.
Innate Spellcasting (3/Day). The wendigo can cast wind walk (self only), requiring no components. Its spellcasting trait is Charisma.
Low Ceiling. The wendigo can’t fly higher than 30 feet above the ground, or 60 feet when using its Wind Walk ability.
Magic Resistance. The wendigo has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Rejuvenation. If its heart is intact, a destroyed wendigo gains a new body during the next snow storm. The new body forms within 10 feet of the heart. The wendigo’s heart is Tiny object with AC 13, 5 hp, and is immune to all damage except for magical bludgeoning and force damage. A creature that ends its turn within 5 feet of the heart, touches it, or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 11 (2d10) cold damage.

Actions
Grab.
Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6+5) slashing damage and 7 (2d6) cold damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 17) and restrained while grappled in this way.
Wandering Call (1/Day). The wendigo roars. All humanoids within a half-mile radius of the wendigo must make a DC 16 Wisdom check or be frightened for 1 minute. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the creature is charmed instead. While charmed, it is incapacitated and feels compelled to go wandering into the wilderness for 12 hours. At the end of each hour, and each time the creature takes damage or another creature uses an action to attempt to wake it, it may make a new saving throw, ending the effect on a success.

Bonus Actions
Hungering Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target that is grappled, restrained, or unaware of the wendigo’s presence. Hit: 9 (1d10+5) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) cold damage, and the target takes 7 (2d6) ongoing cold damage. The target may make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Bone-Chilling Stare (Gaze). One creature the wendigo can see within 120 feet must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw against being frightened, taking 10 (3d6) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. On a failed save, the target takes one level of strife. If the target fails the save by 5 or more, it is paralyzed until the end of the wendigo’s next turn. A target that succeeds on the saving throw is immune to this wendigo’s Bone-Chilling Stare for 24 hours. A creature that has eaten humanoid flesh at any point in its life has disadvantage on this saving throw.
If the target is reduced to 0 hit points from this damage, it is stable but unconscious for 1 hour, even if it regains hit points. Unless it is subjected to a dispel evil and good, remove curse, or similar effect during this time, it is also cursed. While cursed, it gains the Radiant Sensitivity, Paralyzing Claw, and Bite of a ghoul. although it appears normal and retains its attributes as well as its heritage and class abilities, and it has an insatiable hunger for the flesh of sentient beings. It must make a DC 10 Intelligence saving throw each time it wishes to use one of its heritage or class abilities; on a failure, the hunger is too great and it can’t use that ability. If the creature dies while cursed, it rises as a free-willed ghast the following dusk.

Combat
The wendigo begins combat with its Bone-Chilling Stare, then closes in to attack with claws and bites. When bloodied, it retreats, but it uses wind walk to stalk its victim until a later time. Wendigo prefer to target individuals rather than groups.
 

GuyBoy

Hero
The party is camped in the freezing forests, far from the nearest habitation. The night air shines with frost, and it rimes the chainmail of the fighter.......and they hear a howl in the distance. It is no wolf!
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
A quick one this time, and the final monster from this article: the wood golem guardian. This is another creature I’m surprised isn’t more common. People have made some wacky golems over the decades, but wood seems so basic that you’d think it would be good as a relatively low-level challenge.

As it’s a guardian, use the MM’s entries for Legends and Lore, Signs, and Behaviors.

I’m taking a couple of days off—a friend of mine wants me to convert some monsters for him.

1661726634934.png

Artist: Still goin' with Jeff Easley here

Guardian, Wood
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #119
Created by Loran Wlodarski

Carved out of the trunk of a tree that was felled by lightning, wood guardians are usually crafted by druids and left to roam the roam the woodlands to protect them from intruders. They are relatively weak in comparison to many other guardians, but the magic that goes into their construction makes them alive in a way that other guardians aren’t. Wood guardians are rarely set to guard treasure; they are much more likely used to guard either a forest or a specific location within the forest.

Unlike most wooden objects and many plant creatures, wood guardians are not vulnerable to fire—in fact, they manipulate it to a small degree. They can both douse nonmagical flames (which makes them invaluable guardians of any forest prone to fires) and shoot acorn-like pellets made of flame.

Wood Guardian Encounters
Terrain:
forest, settlement

CR 5-10 wood guardian; 2 wood guardians; wood guardian and druid
Treasure: quiver of the hunt, second-light lantern, spell scrolls of conjure minor elementals and water walk

Wood Guardian
Medium construct (plant)

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
AC 14 (natural armor)
HP 67 (9d8+27; bloodied 33)
Speed 35 ft.

STR 19 (+4) DEX 9 (-1) CON 17 (+3)
INT 4 (-3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 5 (-3)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 14
Damage Resistances cold, lightning
Damage Immunities fire, poison; damage from nonmagical, non-adamantine weapons
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, frightened paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages understands the languages of its creators but can’t speak
Berserk. When the guardian starts its turn while bloodied, roll a d6. On a 6, the guardian goes berserk. While berserk, the guardian attacks the nearest creature it can see. If it can’t reach a creature, it attacks an object. The guardian stays berserk until it is destroyed or restored to full hit points.
If a berserk guardian can see and hear its creator, the creator can use an action to try to calm it by making a DC 15 Persuasion check. On a success, the guardian is no longer berserk.
Cold and Lightning Aversion. When the guardian takes lightning damage, it is slowed until the end of its next turn.
False Appearance. While the guardian is motionless, it is indistinguishable from a dead tree.
Fire Absorption. When the guardian is subjected to fire damage, it instead regains hit points equal to the fire damage dealt.
Immutable Form. The guardian is immune to any spell or effect that would alter its form.
Magic Resistance. The guardian has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Actions
Multiattack.
The guardian makes two attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10+4) bludgeoning damage.
Fire Acorn. Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, range 30/90 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (3d8) fire damage.

Bonus Actions
Douse.
The guardian touches a nonmagical flame that fits within a 5-foot cube and instantaneously extinguishes it.

Variant: Treant Guardians
Some druids make wood guardians out of the remains of dead treants—sometimes because the treant wishes to continue guarding their forest even after death, and sometimes out of a mocking perversion of the treant’s purpose in life. A treant guardian is CR 6 (2,300 XP), is Large, has AC 19, and 93 hit points (11d10+33; bloodied 46). Its Intelligence and Charisma are both 7 (-2), and it has the following trait:

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

Faolyn

(she/her)
The next article I’m working through is actually two articles put together. Charles Saunders wrote Out of Africa for #122, in which he detailed many creatures of various African mythologies and folklore. Roger Moore than statted out those monsters in an attached article called, uh, “Gaming the Dark Continent.” Sigh. His monster descriptions were really brief and also included whether the monster was capable of speech and tool-use, which is just kind of odd to me. I wonder if that was a thing that came up in his games a lot.

DM: As you enter the room, you see a <insert monster>
Player: But can it use tools?
DM: I... I have no idea. The MM doesn't say.

Anyway, the monster I’m doing for this entry is the chemosit of the Nandi people of East Africa. The chemosit has sort of a dual identity. Historically speaking, it’s sort of a one-legged bird-demon thing with a glowing mouth and… nine buttocks. I swear, real-life mythical creatures are so much weirder than anything a game designer could come up with. Anyway, it’s also become cryptid (and taken the name Nandi bear) that was supposedly sighted in the 18th/early 19th century and that kind of looks like a cross between a hyena and Bigfoot. The article has the bird-demon version. Which, let’s face it, is cooler than a Bigfoot thing anyway. The text and art (by the esteemed Jennell Jaquays) even have the butts!

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art by Jennell Jaquays

Demon, Chemosit
Out of Africa, Dragon Magazine #122
Created by Charles R. Saunders and Roger Moore

Chemosits are minor demons of bizarre appearance. They resemble human-vulture hybrids and stand over seven feet tall. They have a single leg and feathered arms, not wings. They carry an iron spear, which is both weapon and cane for them. This spear has a wickedly barbed point and spreads disease. Perhaps strangest of all, their insides are filled with hellish light which spills out when their beaks are open. From a distance and at night, they often look like lanterns in the darkness.

They are often summoned by spellcasters as messengers or saboteurs. Greater demons often exploit their uncannily good vision, or use them as living lamps. On their own, a chemosit’s favorite thing to do is to sing merry songs in the night—and then eat up anyone who comes to investigate.

Chemosit Encounters
Terrain:
Abyss; any

CR 3-4 chemosit

CR 5-10 1-2 chemosits, 1-2 chemosits and 1-2 giant hyenas
Treasure: Iron and ruby necklace (500 gp), cord of spirit stealing

Chemosit’s Spear
At the Narrator’s discretion, the chemosit’s spear remains when the chemosit is killed or banished. This spear has the Heavy trait and inflicts 1d8 damage, or 1d10 damage if when wielded in two hands. On a critical hit, the target must make a DC 13 Constitution save or contract the disease as described in the chemosit’s Spear attack. However, if the wielder is not a fiend, then it must also make a Constitution save when that occurs or contract the disease as well. Resistance or immunity to disease does not protect a non-fiendish wielder unless the wielder is specifically resistant or immune to fiendish diseases. If the wielder has the Chaotic or Evil alignment and dies while diseased, its soul will become a chemosit.

Chemosit
Medium fiend (demon)

Challenge 3 (750 XP)
AC 14 (natural armor)
HP 52 (8d8+16; bloodied 26)
Speed 30 ft.

STR 14 (+2) DEX 10 (+0) CON 14 (+2)
INT 7 (-2) WIS 11 (+0) CHA 12 (+1)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 12
Skills Deception +3 (+1d6 mimicry), Perception +2, Perform +3
Damage Resistances cold, fire, lightning
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses truesight 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Abyssal, Common
Chaotic Evil. The chemosit radiates a Chaotic and Evil aura.
Glowing Gullet. When the chemosit’s beak is open, it sheds bright light in a 60-foot cone and dim light for an additional 60 feet.
Great Leaps. The chemosit’s can jump up to 30 feet horizontally and 15 feet vertically without a running start.
Keen Vision. The chemosit has advantage on Perception checks that rely on vision.

Actions
Multiattack.
The chemosit makes one attack with its spear and one with its bite.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) radiant damage.
Iron Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 10 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) piercing damage, or 7 (1d10+2) piercing damage if wielded in two hands, and the target must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or contract a disease of the lungs. While diseased, is rattled and has disadvantage on Dexterity ability checks, Dexterity attack rolls, and Dexterity saving throws, and on checks made to avoid taking fatigue. The target must make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns. After 3 failures, the target stops making saving throws and the disease lasts for 7 days. After three successes, the effect ends.
Vaulting Leap. The chemosit jumps up to its Speed horizontally and half its Speed vertically without provoking opportunity attacks. If it’s within 5 feet of a creature at the end of this movement, it may make a melee spear attack against that creature with advantage.

Combat
Chemosits rely on their Great Leaps and Vaulting Leap to move in and out of combat. It uses its Iron Spear on multiple targets in order to weaken them, then concentrates all the attacks on the opponents who seem the weakest. It fights until it feels too outmatched, then bounds away.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I used the tyerkow against my players once, expecting them to realize that something was up but not to know exactly what, and then for it to end in a terrible battle. But, sadly for me, the party’s wizard also had an empty iron flask and, not knowing what exactly they were up against, used it. And it worked. The party had fun talking about how badass the wizard was instead of fighting and I just sat there being sad I never got to have the monster reveal its true skinless form. And now I have to deal with the fact that they have a horrible monster who will briefly be charmed by the wizard whenever he gets around to releasing it.

I can’t actually find much about the tyerkow online—and a lot of what I can find is gaming related and comes back to this issue of Dragon. Even Wikipedia doesn’t have an article that references it by name. The bit of non-gaming information I can find is about “Traditional Medical Beliefs And Practices In The City Of Timbuctoo”, written by a New York doctor, an article on JSTOR that my antivirus throws a fit about when I try to access, and... that's about it. So. I have no idea how accurate this monster is to any real-world mythology. But it's pretty cool, so that’s good enough for me.

Oh, you might notice it has some of its spells aren’t normally on the sorcerer spell list. That’s because I decided that it used the Annihilator archetype from Zeitgeist. It seemed appropriate.

1662059813833.png

art by Jennell Jaquays

Tyerkow
Out of Africa, Dragon Magazine #122
Created by Charles R. Saunders and Roger Moore

These vampiric undead are hideous, as they have no skin and their musculature and tendons are plainly visible and glisten greasily in the light. From their backs spring tattered, leathery wings. Like other vampires, they need to drink the blood of the living and burn in sunlight, but unlike them, tyerkow require no coffin during the day, nor do they need to sleep.

Skin-Shapers. Tyerkow living in cities and towns, hiding amongst their prey by wearing the skin of a humanoid they have personally slain, skinned, and magically preserved by imbuing it with a bit of their own spirit. The skin allows them to change their height and even the sound of their voice to match that of the original person—and more importantly, it masks their true nature and allows them to freely walk among living, even in daylight.

Fiendish Creations. In life, tyerkow were beings who allied themselves with dark forces, particularly Archdevils, and they engaged in truly horrific deeds and ritual cannibalism in order to further the fiend’s goals. In exchange for their service, these devils sometimes turn these worshipers into tyerkow instead of imps, and infuse their blood with fiendish sorcerous powers. Whether this is a reward or punishment is up to debate.

Using their charisma and both innate and sorcerous magic, tyerkow often set up charismatic cults dedicated to their fiendish patrons. Others tyerkow simply try to lead enjoyable unlives by wearing the skins of the rich and powerful and enjoying their stolen wealth until it runs out, or setting up elaborate blackmail schemes to keep the money rolling in.

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

DC 10. Tyerkow are urban undead that drink blood and are harmed by sunlight. They kill humanoids and wear their skin, allowing them to walk safely during the day. They can only

DC 15. Created by fiends, tyerkow are sorcerers of some power. They also feed their own flesh to people, causing those creatures to be enchanted by them, terribly sickened for a long period of time, or to be turned into a zombie under the tyerkow’s command.

DC 20. Tyerkow have few weaknesses besides sunlight, but destroying all of the skins they have made for themselves dooms them to die at dawn, unless it can procure a new skin before then.

Tyerkow Encounters
Terrain:
settlement

CR 5-10 Tyerkow; tyerkow with 1d4 zombies or 1 imp
Treasure: 300 gp, 70 sp, a signet ring from a noble house (worth 50 gp), ivory necklace (250 gp),
bead of tracking, philter of love, potion of poison, spell scrolls of nondetection and phantom steed

CR 11-16 Tyerkow with zombie knight and 2d8 zombies or 1 zombie horde; tyerkow with cult fanatic and 2d4+2 cultists
Treasure: 110 pp, 140 gp, 1,200 sp, aquamarine and pearl pendant earrings and necklace set (earrings and necklace worth 750 gp each), portrait of a famed courtesan by a respected painter worth 250 gp, 2 oils of etherealness, helm of telepathy

CR 17-22 Tyerkow with night hag, lemur band, and zombie horde; tyerkow with malcubus, 2-3 cult fanatics, and 2d6+4 cultists
Treasure: 350 pp, 2,500 gp, small idol of an archdevil made of mithral and gold (worth 2,500 gp), assassin’s ring, devil’s eye ring, 2 potions of animal friendship, scimitar +2 with gold and amber hilt, spell scroll of contact other plane, skull liqueur,

Signs
1. People fearful of a strange disease that seems to strike randomly; some of the sickened people turn into zombies. They haven’t yet realized that all the sick people have eaten meals cooked by the same person yet.
2. People speaking highly of certain individual; they are charmed by the tyerkow.
3. A strange, bat-winged reddish figure flitting about at night.
4. A shredded humanoid skin.

Lair Behavior
1. Practicing magic
2. Preaching to a cult.
3. Holding a fancy party.
4. Cooking a meal; will invite the party to eat up.

Lone Behavior
1. Carefully tending to a new skin or repairing an old one.
2. Stalking a potential victim in order to learn their routine.
3. Tries to stall you with small talk until its zombies arrive.
4. Engaging in a lengthy ritual to appease its patron.

Tyerkow
Medium legendary undead (fiend)

Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)
AC 16 (natural armor; when skinless), 12 when wearing a skin
HP 102 (12d8+48; bloodied 51)
Speed 30 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 19 (+4)
INT 17 (+3) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 18 (+4)

Proficiency +4
Maneuver DC 14
Saving Throws Dex +6, Con +8, Cha +8
Skills Arcana +7, Deception +8, Insight +6 (+d4), Perception +6, Persuasion +8
Damage Resistances necrotic; damage from nonmagical, nonsilvered weapons
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages The languages it knew in life.
Evil. The tyerkow radiates an aura of evil.
Legendary Resistance (3.Day). When the tyerkow fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead. When it does so, if it’s wearing its skin, the skin cracks and peels, revealing the musculature underneath. If it’s not wearing its skin, its exposed musculature dries and tatters. Its original appearance is restored when it finishes a long rest, although it must spend a few minutes fixing its skin.
Regeneration. The tyerkow regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point and hasn’t taken radiant damage since its last turn.
Skin of the Living. The tyerkow wears the skin of a Medium humanoid. While wearing this skin, the tyerkow’s creature type changes to humanoid, it isn’t harmed by sunlight, can’t fly, and can’t use its Horrifying Visage. While wearing the skin, the tyerkow has advantage on Deception checks made to impersonate the skin’s original owner. It takes 10 minutes to don or doff a skin carefully. It can use its action to rip the skin off, but doing so ruins the skin. The tyerkow can only have three skins at a time, and it takes 1 hour to make a new skin.
When not worn, a skin is an object with AC 10 and 5 hit points. It is immune to bludgeoning, poison, and psychic damage.

Spellcasting. The tyerkow is a 9th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). The tyerkow knows the following sorcerer spells:
Cantrips (At Will): altered strike, friends, mage hand, message, pestilence,
1st-Level (4 slots): bane, fog cloud
2nd-Level (3 slots): detect thoughts, hold person, lemure transformation
3rd-Level (3 slots): cobra spit, stinking cloud
4th-Level (2 slots): blight, polymorph
Sorcery: The tyerkow has 9 sorcery points. When it casts a spell that deals poison damage, it can spend 1 sorcery point to cause creatures that are immune to poison damage to take half damage, and creatures that are resistant to poison damage to take full damage. Additionally, the tyerkow can spend 1 or more sorcery points to use one of the following metamagic options:
Delayed Spell: The tyerkow can spend 1 point hold a spell for up to 1 minute.
Distant Spell: The tyerkow can spend 1 point to double the range of a spell, or to increase the range of a touch spell to 20 feet.
Empowered Spell: When it rolls damage for a spell, the tyerkow can spend 1 point to reroll up to four of the damage dice, and can use Empowered Spell even if it has already used a different metamagic option.
Persistent Spell: When the tyerkow casts a spell that has a duration of 1 minute or longer, it can spend 1 point to double the duration, up to 24 hours.
Things Fall Apart. The tyerkow can use its action to touch an object and cause it to decay, as if was suddenly aged by decades or centuries. It can also spend one minute and 1 sorcery point to repair an object of any size that it can see within 120 feet of it.
Tyerkow Weaknesses. If the tyerkow isn’t wearing a skin and starts its turn in sunlight, it takes 20 radiant damage. If all of its skins are destroyed, the tyerkow will immediately begin to take 20 radiant damage at dawn, even if not in sunlight.
Undead Nature. The tyerkow doesn’t need air or sleep.

Actions
Multiattack.
The tyerkow makes two scimitar attacks.
Grab. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning damage, or 6 (1d4+4) damage if the tyerkow is wearing a skin. The target is grappled (escape DC 16) and restrained while grappled in this way.
Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) slashing damage.
Horrific Visage (Only When Skinless). Each non-undead creature within 60 feet of the tyerkow that can see it must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. A frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the frightened condition 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 tyerkow’s Horrifying Visage for the next 24 hours. The tyerkow can’t use this ability if it is wearing its skin.

Bonus Actions
Bite (Only When Skinless).
Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target that is grappled, incapacitated, restrained, or unaware of the vampire’s presence. Hit: 9 (1d10+4) piercing damage plus 22 (6d6) poison damage and the target takes 1 level of strife. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the poison damage dealt, and the tyerkow regains that number of hit points. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest.

Legendary Actions
The tyerkow can take 1 legendary action, 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.
Cantrip. The tyercow casts a cantrip.
Grab. The tyerkow makes a Grab attack.

Combat
While wearing its skin, the tyerkow fights with humanoid weapons, often scimitars or spears. If without its skin, it uses Horrific Visage, then bites at frightened target. If bloodied, it flies away, will don a new skin, and hunt down its attackers.

Variant: Deviled Meat
The tyerkow can remove some of its own flesh—an act which can only be done once per day and causes brief but not inconsiderable pain—and prepare it in a cooked dish, which they can then feed to someone else. Cooking this dish involves both regular cooking times and effort and a 10-minute ritual to give the dish a special power. If eaten by a humanoid, the dish counts as 1 Supply and the consumer has disadvantage on Deception checks made against the tyerkow for 24 hours. The consumer must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or suffer one of the following effects, determined by the tyerkow when it engaged in the ritual. At the Narrator’s discretion, a gourmand or a creature with proficiency in chef’s tools can make a DC 15 Perception check to notice something amiss about the meal before they finish it.

The tyerkow must use one piece of its flesh for each creature it wishes to affect. A piece of flesh lasts for 1 year before rotting too much to be used in this manner.
  • Ensorcelling Meal. The consumer is charmed by the tyerkow for 24 hours. While charmed, the creature views the tyerkow as a close friend.
  • Muting Meal. The creature loses the ability to speak for 1 hour. It may make a new saving throw at the end of each minute, ending the effect on itself on a success.
  • Sickening Meal. The consumer becomes sickened 2d6 hours later. Symptoms include blurred vision, disorientation, and a drop in body temperature that causes uncontrollable shivering. While sick, the creature is poisoned and regains only half the normal number of hit points from spending a Hit Die, and regains no hit points from a long rest. At the end of each long rest, a creature may make a new saving throw, shaking off the disease on a successful save.
  • Spawning Meal. On a successful saving throw, the consumer is poisoned for 2d4 hours. On a failure, it is poisoned for 2d4 hours and if it remains poisoned the entire time, then at the end of that time it drops to 0 hit points and must begin making death saves. If it dies, then it rises as a zombie under the tyerkow’s control. This meal can also be used to change beasts, giants, and monstrosities into zombies.
Variant: Elder Tyerkow
These tyerkow have been in existence for centuries or even millennia, and have built up huge networks of humanoids and even fiends who owe allegiance to it.

The elder tyerkow is an elite monster, equal to two CR 9 monsters (10,000 XP). It has 204 (24d8+96; bloodied 102) hit points and truesight to a distance of 60 ft. The elder tyerkow has the following additional trait and action:

Blood Frenzy. While bloodied, the tyerkow can take 3 legendary actions instead of 1.

The elder tyerkow has the following additional legendary actions, which it can use only while bloodied:

Elite Recovery. The tyerkow ends one negative effect currently affecting it. It can use this action as long as it has at least 1 hit point, even while unconscious or incapacitated.
Quick Flight. The tyerkow flies up to its speed. This movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks.
Arise, Minion! (1/Day; Costs 2 Actions). The tyerkow causes a dead creature to rise as either a mummy or a wight under the tyerkow’s control.
Bite (Costs 2 Actions). The tyerkow makes a bite attack, and may do so even when wearing its skin.
 

GuyBoy

Hero
A truly horrific monster!
A whole mini campaign could be built around this wicked thing, and it would work just as well in a horror RPG.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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