Homebrew A Leveled Up Bestiary


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Faolyn

(she/her)
OK, back to regular monsters. Tom Moldvay continues his exploration into the ranks of the undead with this article, where he explores skeletons, zombies, and ghouls. He included the wendigo as a type of ghoul, and I used some of that information for my version as well. He draws his ranks of new undead from literature, mythology, and, for one of them, a cartoon.

The first undead to be converted is the bloody bones, an originally English monster otherwise known as Rawhead-And-Bloody-Bones (in the U.S., it became two different creatures who worked together, or a single monster with two bodies, depending on the region). Bloody Bones was a bogeyman of sorts, the type used as a threat to get children to behave, but who also punished gossips. For the game, however, it’s an undead risen from the corpse of an executed criminal—but who is magically aware if people talk about it.

1663099560440.png

Art by Jennell Jaquays

Bloody Bones
The Ungrateful Dead, Dragon Magazine #138
Created by Tom Moldvay

Resembling a corpse left to hang in a gibbet, the bloody bones is a particularly nasty type of skeletal undead. Shreds of muscle and sinew hang from their bones and they constantly drip blood from blood from their exposed tissue and empty eye sockets.

Dead Criminals. Nearly all bloody bones rise from corpses of vicious criminals who were executed for their crimes, especially (but not limited to) bandits, thieves, and kidnappers who murdered unnecessarily while committing lesser crimes. The bloody bones continue their crimes even after death. They lurk in dark, wet places: caves, ruins, cellars, wells, and murky ponds. From there, they terrorizing anyone who comes close, sometimes venturing out only after dark to commit more crimes and other perversions of civilized taboos. Bloody bones don’t emerge every night. Many only come out at certain times, such as the anniversaries of their most famous crimes or of their death, or on the nights of the new moon—or when they hear someone invoke their name—and spend the rest of the time among their piles of stolen goods, compulsively sorting and counting it.

Unwanted Treasure. A bloody bones is compelled to steal, but the treasure itself is meaningless. Their lairs are full of stolen goods which they throw about without a care, or even purposely break. Nevertheless, they jealously guard their treasure, even as they treat it as if it were garbage. Should anyone steal from them, even the smallest trinket, they will track that individual down and destroy them.

Guilds and Groupies. A bloody bones becomes a bogeyman of sorts. Its pre-death identity is known to all, even if few refuse to speak its name, and its original crimes, no matter how severe they actually were, become blown far out of proportion. Its name is used as a warning for children: obey your elders, or the bloody bones will get you. But at the same time, a strange sort of madness will descend upon the area, and up-and-coming hoodlums often begin to draw inspiration from the bloody bones’ crimes and form groups based around them. These groups often quickly come to terrible ends, either from the law or from the bloody bones’ cruelties (many bloody bones despise copycats), but in a few cases, the bloody bones takes it upon itself to create something akin to a thieves’ guild, particularly if the bloody bones was a thieves’ guildmaster in life). While these guilds rarely last long, they can wreak terrible havoc while they exist.

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

DC 10. Bloody bones are the undead remains of executed criminals, and they are compelled to continue their criminal activity even after death.

DC 15. Although not particularly intelligence, bloody bones have a low cunning that makes them tricky foes, and their lairs are often filled with traps.

DC 20. A bloody bones can hear you if you speak its name.

Bloody Bones Encounters
Terrain:
forest, hill, ruin, settlement

CR 3-4 bloody bones; bloody bones with 1d4+1 bandits
Treasure: 160 gp, 304 sp, citrine (50 gp), tarnished silver ring with moonstones (150 gp), torn fur-trimmed cloak (25 gp, if fixed), dented masterwork dagger with onyx pommel, thieves’ tools, potion of poison.

Signs
1. A trail of blood droplets.
2. People speak in hushed tones of a famed criminal.
3. Corpses hanging in gibbets.
4. A raven, watching the party

Behavior
1. Threatening and torturing a kidnapped victim.
2. Counting its stolen coins, then throwing them over its shoulder.
3. Destroying stolen goods.
4. Hostile; will attack on sight.

Names
Bette the Brute, Crazy-Eyes Eli, Solomon the Jester, Mad Gannon, Reaper Read

Bloody Bones
Medium undead

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
AC 15 (natural armor)
HP 67 (9d8+27; bloodied 33)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR 15 (+2) DEX 19 (+5) CON 16 (+3)
INT 8 (-1) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 14 (+2)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 16
Saving Throws Dex +8, Int +2
Skills Perception +4, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +8 (+1d4)
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities fatigue, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages the languages it knew in life
Blood Frenzy. The bloody bones has advantage on melee attack rolls against any creature that doesn’t have all its hit points.
Blood Trail. Attempts to track the bloody bones using Wisdom (Survival) checks are made with advantage.
Double-Jointed. The bloody bones can move through a space large enough for a Small creature without squeezing.
Sneak Attack (1/Turn). The bloody bones deals an extra 14 (4d6) damage when it hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of the bloody bones that isn’t incapacitated and the bloody bones doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.
Speak My Name. The bloody bones is aware if a creature within 10 miles of it uses the name it went by in life, and knows that creature’s location.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the bloody bones has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Perception checks that rely on sight.
Undead Fortitude (1/Day). If the bloody bones is reduced to 0 hit points by damage that isn’t radiant or from a critical hit, its instead reduced to 1 hit point, falls prone, and is stunned until the end of its next turn, appearing to be dead.
Undead Nature. The bloody bones doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.

Actions
Claws.
Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4+4) slashing damage.
Horrifying Visage. Each non-undead creature within 60 feet and on the same plane of existence that can see the bloody bones makes a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, a creature is frightened for 1 minute. A frightened creature repeats the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, it is immune to this bloody bones’ Horrifying Visage for 24 hours.
King of the Gibbet (1/Day). The bloody bones summons a swarm of ravens for 1 minute. On each of its turns, the bloody bones can use a bonus action to send the swarm to attack a creature within 60 feet of it. If the swarm takes damage from a creature other than the target, the swarm takes half the damage (rounded down) and the other half is dealt to the target. The swarm has 20 hit points, takes up the target’s space, and is resistant to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. When the ravens are summoned, and at the start of each of the bloody bones’ turns, the target must make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) piercing damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. On a failed save, the creature is also slowed until the end of its next turn.

Bonus Actions
Cunning Action.
The bloody bones takes the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.
Rapid Attack. The bloody bones attacks with its claws.

Combat
Bloody bones attack from ambush whenever possible, using Cunning Action to disengage or hide in order to gain advantage for sneak attacks.

Variant: Ravenking
Sometimes, a bloody bones will have a raven assistant, which it will use as a spy. This raven is one that fed on the bloody bones corpse after it died but before it arose as undead. It acts as a familiar, allowing the bloody bones to use its action to use the raven's senses as its own while being blinded and deafened in regards to its own senses, and the raven's type is fiend. If the raven dies, the bloody bones can resurrect it with a 1-hour ritual that requires no material components.
 




Faolyn

(she/her)
Undead have always been my favorite monster type. I remember pouring over that article (and the other ones by Tom Moldvay) when the issue came out.
His articles on undead were among my very favorite in Dragon's entire run. They were so evocatively written and really useful for expanding upon what were usually treated as generic monsters.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Aaand back to more monster variations. The next undead are variants on the basic skeleton or skeleton champion—but they can also be used with the immortal skeleton from the upcoming Dungeon Delver’s Guide, since we were given a hint of them back in early August. (Funnily enough, a version of that monster is also written up in this article under the name “dry bones,” named after the song Dem Dry Bones and inspired by the famous Silly Symphonies’ cartoon “The Skeleton Dance”). Anyhoo, what we have today are the gem eyes and the shock bones.

Because “skeleton” is already a template and there are multiple types of skeletons anyway, I’m not including the CR for this. Assume a basic skeleton becomes CR 1/2, however.

As a note, the actual text of the gem eyes implies that the gemstone eyes remain intact once the skeleton is destroyed. However, these are very low-CR creatures that carry not one but two gems that can be worth thousands of gp each. Feel free to have the gemstones crumble to dust or break into less-valuable stones.

Skeleton Variants
The Ungrateful Dead, Dragon Magazine #138
Created by Tom Moldvay

Gem Eyes
These skeletons have enchanted gemstones placed in their eye sockets. The skeleton must have both gemstones intact for the magic to work.

A gem eyes has the following new action:

Innate Spellcasting (3/Day). The skeleton can cast one of the following spells (spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks; spells require no components and do not require concentration), determined by the type of gemstones it has in its eyes:

Amethyst Eyes: Silent Image (Concentration). The illusion is pre-determined by the caster.

Diamond Eyes: Haste (Concentration). The skeleton can only cast this on itself. For 1 minute, the skeleton’s Speed is doubled, it gains +2 to its AC, has advantage on Dexterity saving throws, and gains one additional action each turn that can be used to take the Dash, Disengage, Hide, or Use an Object action. The skeleton does not get tired when the spell ends.

Obsidian Eyes: Darkness (Concentration). For 10 minutes, a 15-foot-radius sphere is filled with magical darkness. The obsidian gem-eyes’ darkvision can see through magical darkness.

Opal Eyes: Mirror Image (Concentration). For 1 minute, three illusory copies of the skeleton appear and mimic its actions. Each time the skeleton is targeted, the Narrator will roll a d20. With 3 copies, a roll of 6 or higher means that a copy is targeted; with 2 copies, a roll of 8 or higher targets a copy; with 1 copy, a roll of 11 or higher targets the copy. The copy has AC 12 (skeleton), 13 (skeletal champion or skeletal immortal) and will be destroyed after one hit.

• Pearl Eyes: Sleep (affects 6d10 hit points worth of creatures). Affected targets fall unconscious for 1 minute or until they take damage or another creature uses an action to physically wake them.

Ruby Eyes: Burning Hands. Each creature in a 15-foot cone must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking 10 (3d6) fire damage on a failed save or half as much on a success. Flammable unattended objects catch fire.

Sapphire Eyes: Enhance Abilities (Concentration). The skeleton will only cast this on an ally, not on itself, and only when commanded to. For 1 hour, the target has advantage on checks made with one attribute, determined when the spell is cast.

Emerald Eyes: Ray of Enfeeblement (Concentration). A target up to 60 feet away must make a Strength saving throw or be weakened for 1 minute and only deals half damage with weapon attacks that use Strength. The target may make a new saving throw at the end each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.


Shock Bones
These skeletons were brought to unlife more by scientific means than by magic. Electricity courses through their bones. Not a few artificers of dubious morality use these undead to guard their laboratories.

A shock bones is immune to lightning damage. Its melee weapon attacks inflict an additional 5 (1d10) lightning damage on a successful hit, and it has the following new traits:

Aura of Electricity. A creature that touches the skeleton or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 5 (1d10) lightning damage, or 9 (2d8) lightning damage if it is wearing metal armor or used a metal weapon. The shock bones sheds bright light to 10 feet and dim light for a further 10 feet.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Tom Moldvay’s next undead is the ghulah, the original ghoul of Arabian legend. Ghulah, he notes, is actually the feminine version of the word ghul, which he chose since “so many ghouls are female in Arabic folklore”. I think it’s also possible he chose ghulah because then it wouldn’t be easily confused with either ghoul or gull. I will keep the name for pronunciation reasons, but feel free to assume they are of either sex and use ghul if you like. They differ from standard-issue ghouls in that they’re effectively undead djinn and have an assortment of powers instead of the ability to paralyze.

Moldway also reminds us of the connection that they have with Lovecraft’s ghouls, although sadly doesn’t expand upon it all that much. I would have loved to have seen his stats for a Lovecraftian ghoul. (Are Lovecraftian ghouls even undead? I can't remember.)

Ghuls (called great ghuls) were printed in the Al Qadim Monstrous Compendium and later in Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume 2, but it’s unclear how much of Moldvay’s ghulah they contained within them. MCA #2 also had ghul-kin, which were more powerful than ghuls. As usual, I’ve going to grab elements from all the versions.

Ghulah
The Ungrateful Dead, Dragon Magazine #138
Created by Tom Moldvay

When genie or similar powerful elemental creature is slain by necromantic magic, the elemental matter is destroyed and the animating life force, corrupted by the necromancy, sometimes rises as the undead known as a ghulah. Gaunt things that can stand over nine feet tall, ghulah have cold, clammy skin and smell faintly of rotten flesh. They have sharply-clawed hands and their legs are strangely blunt and misshapen in a way so as to look as though they end in hooves, not feet, and their jaws jut out and are filled with oversized teeth. Ghulah usually have some part of them reminiscent of their elemental heritage, such as webbed ears or flaming eyes, but this reminder serves to fill the ghulah with rage and sorrow at what they have lost.

Hidden Forms. Remembering the beauty they once had as pure elemental matter, ghulahs are deeply ashamed of their appearance. They spend much of their time shapechanged into attractive humanoid form, draped in fine clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics, and they wear perfumes and burn incense to hide their rotten smell. Their shapechanging is imperfect, however, and their feet always appear to be hoof-like. Ghulah typically wear long robes or carefully constructed boots to hide this from casual viewers.

Lonely Lives. Many ghulah attempt to lead relatively normal lives—normal for them, at least: many genies led lives of luxury in their elemental palaces, surrounded by entertainment and servitors, and ghulah wish to continue that life. They usually take on highly attractive appearance in order to gain associates and paramours. But their smell, tendency to hide from the light, and dietary habits prevent them from doing so for long before they’re found out. Because of this, most ghulah dwell in abandoned ruins on the outskirts of settlements, close enough that they are not truly cut off from food, travelers, and amusements.

Followers of the Old Gods. Separated from both mortal civilization and their elemental homes, desperate to reclaim their old lives (or at least the power they once had), and surrounded by the knowledge left behind in the ruins they inhabit, many ghulah become historians, scholars, and priests to ancient elemental gods. While most of these ghulah make these pacts solely for power, a few actually become devoted worshipers and raise cults.

Carrion-Eaters. Ghulah are no longer able to sustain themselves on elemental matter as they used to when they were alive and now require the spark of life within humanoid flesh. They can’t eat freshly-slain meat, however, as the life is too strong for them, but neither can they eat meat that is too rotten and completely bereft of nourishment. A corpse several days old is the ideal meat for them. Like their spiritual cousins, the ghouls, they are always hungry, and are not above kidnapping travelers and holding them prisoner until the ghulah wishes to eat.

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

DC 10. Ghulah are corpse-eating undead, similar to but more powerful than a ghoul.

DC 15. Ghulah are a form of undead created when an elemental such as a genie is killed with necromantic magics. They can shapeshift into humanoid and animal form, curse people, control their minds, and turn invisible.

DC 20. Many ghulah make warlock pacts with eldritch beings and gain powerful magical beings and form cults around those beings.

Ghulah Encounters
Terrain:
desert, hill, mountain, ruins, settlement

CR 5-10 Ghulah; ghulah and 1d4 ghouls; ghulah mage
Treasure: 550 gp, 780 sp, copper necklace with multicolored jade beads (worth 500 gp), 2 eldritch tomes (worth 50 gp each), 5 blocks of rare incense (worth 10 gp each), scroll of conjure elementals, book of storing containing gathered information and sympathetic components on a local noble in the secret compartment, robe of eyes.

CR 11-16 Ghulah mage, dust mephit or quasit familiar, 1-2 ghasts, 1d4 ghouls, 1d4 cult fanatics, and 2d4+2 cultists
Treasure: 250 pp, 100 gp, 4,000 sp, idol carved from dragon horn (worth 250 gp), matching gold armlet and two rings (worth 250 gp each), freshwater pearl necklace (worth 500 gp), 2 vials of faerie dragon euphoria gas (worth 250 gp each), book that leads to the discovery of a rare 3rd-level warlock spell, magic mirror (handheld), potions of gaseous form and resistance, staff of the python.

Signs
1-2. The smell of rotting flesh.
3. With a DC 15 Perception check, the sound of low chanting.
4. An NPC known to the party suddenly is very nosy; they are being dominated by the ghulah, who is trying to find out information about the party.
5. A half-devoured human corpse. With a DC 15 Perception check, strange hoofprints lead away.
6. Idols and symbols to an elemental Great Old One.

Behavior
1. In humanoid form; throwing a party but not eating anything.
2. In humanoid form; attempting to befriend or seduce a rich and powerful individual.
3. Acting as a hyena; stealing freshly-killed prey from another predator.
4. Engaging in a depraved ritual to their patron god.
5. Pouring through ancient texts.
6. In true form; throwing a party where the food is all humanoid flesh.

Ghulah
Large undead (shapechanger)

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
AC 17 (natural armor)
HP 85 (10d10+30; bloodied 42)
Speed 50 ft., burrow 10 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 18 (+4) DEX 14 (+2) CON 17 (+3)
INT 15 (+2) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 17 (+3)

Proficiency +3
Maneuver DC 14
Skills Deception +6, History +5, Persuasion +6, Stealth +5
Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, fatigue, paralyzed, poisoned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception
Languages Common, Primordial
Innate Spellcasting. The ghulah’s spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 13). It can cast the following spells, requiring no material components.
3/day each: bestow curse, dominate person. Both spells have a duration of 8 hours and do not require concentration.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the wight has disadvantage on attack rolls as well as on Perception checks that rely on sight.
Undead Nature. A ghulah doesn’t require air or sleep.

Actions
Multiattack.
The ghulah attacks once with its claws and once with its bite.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) damage of an additional type, depending on what sort of elemental the ghulah used to be: cold (water elemental), fire (fire elemental), force (earth elemental), or lightning (air elemental).
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) slashing damage.
Withering Touch. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8+3) necrotic damage, and the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the target takes a level of stride and its hit point maximum is reduced by the amount equal to the necrotic damage dealt. A humanoid reduced to 0 hit points by this attack dies, and its corpse rises the next dusk as a ghoul under the ghulah’s control.
Shapeshift. The ghulah magically polymorphs into a Small or Medium humanoid, a Large giant hyena, or a Medium hyena. Equipment it is carrying isn’t transformed. When in humanoid form, it retains its hoof-like feet. It reverts to its true for when it dies.

Bonus Actions
Invisibility.
The ghulah magically turns invisible, along with any equipment it carries. The invisibility ends if the ghulah makes an attack, falls unconscious, or dismisses the effort.

Combat
Ghulah try to avoid combat, preferring to take on an attractive or innocent-seeming form and using dominate person on a creature to use as a living shield. Then, it relies on its Withering Touch to weaken powerful foes before biting and clawing. When bloodied, it flees while invisible.

Variant: Ghulah Dark Artist
Many ghulah turn to magic, becoming arcanists and cultists while worshiping ancient elemental gods. Using their shapeshifting abilities, they sometimes even raise true cults dedicated to these gods. They often have mephits as familiars and scouts.

A ghulah dark artist is CR 7 (2,900 XP) and has 127 (15d10+45; bloodied 63) hit points. Its Intelligence is 19 (+4), it gains a fly speed of 30 feet, has telepathy to a range of 30 feet, is proficient in Arcana and Religion. Detect thoughts is added to its Innate Spellcasting trait, and it can can cast three times per day, and it has the following new traits:

Spellcasting. The ghulah dark artist is a 7th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting trait is Intelligence (spell save DC 15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). It has 12 spell points and regains all expended spell points after a short or long rest. It knows the following warlock spells:
Cantrips (At Will): dancing lights, friends, minor illusion
Spells Known: arcane riposte (2 pts), charm person (2 pts), dream (6 pts), enthrall (3 pts), fear (5 pts), hallucinatory terrain (6 pts), hold person (3 pts), major image (5 pts), ray of enfeeblement (3 pts)

The ghulah dark artist also has the following additional actions and reaction:

Multiattack. The ghulah dark artist attacks twice with its Eldritch Scythe.
Eldritch Scythe. Melee Spell Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d8) force damage artist plus 2 (1d4) psychic damage artist, and one additional creature within reach takes half as much damage artist.
Eldritch Severance (Recharge After a Short or Long Rest). The ghulah dark artist releases eldritch energy in a 60-foot-long, 5-foot-wide line. Each creature in that area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 1d10×3 force damage artist on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.
Hold Person (2nd-Level; 3 pts.; V, Concentration). One humanoid the ghulah can see within 60 feet must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. It can make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success.
Ray of Enfeeblement (2nd-Level; 3 pts.; V, S, Concentration). Ranged Spell Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: The target is deals half damage artist with weapon attacks that use Strength. The target may make a DC 15 Strength saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Arcane Riposte (1st-Level; 2 pts., V, S). When a creature attacks the ghulah with a melee attack, the ghulah can use its reaction to make a melee spell attack against that creature, inflicting 3d6 acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder damage artist.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The last monster from this article is the kallikantzaros (plural: kallicantzaroi; the article uses the spelling callicantzaros). It’s one of those folkloric creatures that could be a spirit, a demon, a goblin, or a number of other things, and even Moldvay admits that the reason he made them undead is because they come out at night and can be turned by clerics. Traditionally, they only emerged on the 12 days of Christmas, when the barriers between the worlds of the living and the worlds of the dead are very thin. A few sites I went to called them Greek Krampuses or Christmas goblins. They are not purely a Greek creature, though; they appear in lore throughout Southeast Europe.

In folklore, they spend most of their time underground, sawing through the world tree so it will collapse and destroy the world. When they’re above ground, they mostly cause mischief, like jumping on your back, stealing your hats, or farting on your food so it smells bad. They also punish adulterers. Folklore also says that babies born in the twelve days of Christmas run the risk of turning into one, but I was born during that time and I’m pretty sure I’m human, so I guess baby-me made my saving throw.

After reading up on them, they really don’t feel like undead or even spirits to me; I will make them very minor fiends instead. They are also basically goblins, but are just different enough I’m going to give them their own statblocks. I’d go so far as to say that they make for better monsters than goblins because they are fiends, not free-willed humanoids, and as such they don’t really need to have a culture beyond their fiendishness.

1663365166880.png

Art by Jennell Jaquays.

Kallikantzaros
The Ungrateful Dead, Dragon Magazine #138
Created by Tom Moldvay

Kallikantzaroi (sing. kallikantzaros) look like short (about 4 1/2 feet tall), black-furred humanoids with boar-like tusks, long, lolling tongues, and the ears, legs, and tail of a donkey. They smell sulfurous. Their their eyes are burning red but they have very poor vision. They are a stupid, easily distractable, and highly disorganized creature. Even though they tend to live in large groups, they have no ability to coordinate their actions and they bicker amongst each other constantly.

Mischievous. Kallikantzaroi are agents of destruction—very minor destruction. They enjoy breaking objects, scaring livestock, pinching and scratching people, stealing food, and other such rude behavior. But perhaps as a side-effect of their birth,, they are also fond of punishing evil-doers, particularly those who break vows and promises. If a person is being harassed by these fiends, it is likely that that person has broken a vow they have made. When not engaging in this sort of mischief, they enjoy dancing and singing vulgar songs.

Queen Bees. Unlike many other fiends, kallikantzaroi aren't created ex nihilo or from souls, nor are they necessarily created in the Lower Planes. Instead, a female kallikantzaroi must consume the heart of a good person after which the kalikantzaroi produces a large litter of rapidly-maturing young. This is a particularly difficult for them, as not only are they able to directly harm truly good people, only about one in twenty kallikantzaroi are female. These rare females rule the roost and order the males about, as if they were the queens of a swarm of bees (unlike bees, there may be more than one female in a group), although they only barely more organized or competent than the males are.

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

DC 10. A kallikantzaros is a very minor fiend of mischief. They tend to gather in large, disorganized groups and are known to punish oath-breakers and liars.

DC 15. Kallikantzaroi fear fire, although they are not particularly vulnerable to it. They are able to confuse and bewilder people with just a touch.

DC 20. Kallikantzaroi need the heart of a truly good person in order to reproduce, and engineer accidents to procure such hearts.

Kallikantzaroi Encounters
Terrain:
Abyss, forest, hills, settlement

CR 0-2 2d4 kallikantzaroi
Treasure: 25 gp, 60 sp, 2 agates (10 gp each), oil of slipperiness, spell scroll of shatter

CR 3-4 2d4+8 kallikantzaroi; 2d6 kallikantzaroi and 2d4 kallikantzaroi whelps (use goblin statistics, but change the type to fiend)
Treasure: 600 sp, local map with sacred areas circled (worth 25 gp), fancy hat that used to belong to a local high-ranking official (worth 50 gp), chime of opening, oil of etherealness

Signs
1. People suffering from embarrassing accidents and petty thefts.
2. A sensitive character feels a slight weakening in the planar walls.
3. Evil chuckling from the eaves and under the floorboards.
4. A sulfurous stink.

Behavior
1. Carrying piles of stolen treasure back to its lair.
2. Bickering and tussling with one another.
3. Trying to destroy a temple or shrine.
4. Goosing a character.

Names
Katachanas, Magras, Megalos, Paroritis,

Kallikantzaros
Medium fiend

Challenge 1/2 (50 XP)
AC 13 (natural armor)
HP 27 (6d8; bloodied 13)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 5 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR 8 (-1) DEX 12 (+1) CON 10 (+0)
INT 7 (-2) WIS 7 (-2) CHA 12 (+1)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 11
Skills Sleight of Hand +3, Stealth +3 (+1d4)
Damage Immunities cold, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses blindsight 30 ft., passive Perception 8
Languages Common, Abyssal
Chaotic Evil. The kallikantzaros radiates a Chaotic and Evil aura.
Destructive Confusion. When a creature is subjected to the kallikantzaros’ confusion spell, on a roll of 1-4, instead of doing nothing, it tries to break random nearby objects.
Fear of The Light. When the kallikantzaros takes fire or radiant damage, it is rattled until the end of its next turn. While in bright light, the kallikantzaros has disadvantage on attack rolls.
Innate Spellcasting (3/Day). The kallikantzaros can cast confusion. Its spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 11).
Keen Smell, Poor Vision. The kallikantzaros has advantage on Perception checks that rely on smell, but disadvantage on Perception checks that rely on sight. It is blind in sunlight and has disadvantage on saving throws to avoid being blinded by other means.
Unholy. The kallikantzaros cannot attack a creature with the Good alignment.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) piercing damage.
Handaxe. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) slashing damage.

Bonus Actions
Nimble Escape.
The kallikantzaros takes the Disengage or Hide action.

Variant: Queen Kallikantzaroi
Kallikantzaroi queens are slightly larger than the males are, and usually quite a bit fatter. They have have Int and Wis 8 (-1) and are proficient in Engineering. Additionally, they can cast minor illusion at will with their Innate Spellcasting trait.
 
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GuyBoy

Hero
Another great little creature.
I always find it amusing that so many myths have creatures who spend their time doing “wicked” things, but who then step-in behind conventional morality to either “punish adulterers” or punish naughty children.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Another great little creature.
I always find it amusing that so many myths have creatures who spend their time doing “wicked” things, but who then step-in behind conventional morality to either “punish adulterers” or punish naughty children.
I have to imagine that most of the time, someone was telling a story to children, mostly to entertain but partially to scare them into obedience, saw that Bob The Jerk was listening in and decided to modify the story a little bit, just to see Bob The Jerk squirm a bit. Then the kids grew up and didn't realize that modifications weren't real, and the story continued.
 

GuyBoy

Hero
My great grandmother (who was born in the East End of London in 1879) used to tell me as a child that if I was naughty, Jack the Ripper would get me!!!
This was both terrifying for me, highly questionable by her, but also reflecting that she was a little girl when the actual events were occurring.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Ed Greenwood strikes again! Here he’s producing a bunch of “Forgotten Realms only” monsters. You know, when I first got into D&D as a kid and was buying up every loose-leaf Monstrous Compendium Appendix they put out, it never once occurred to me that you were supposed to only use a setting’s monster in that setting. I always figured they could be used anywhere they felt right in.

The first monster is one of those “gotcha” creatures, designed specifically to mess with adventurers: the lock lurker. Clearly this is a monster created by mad wizard, even if the text doesn’t say, as they clearly couldn’t evolve and the only D&D god of locks I know of is in Greyhawk. And this is a Realms-only monster, so that’s out. But it’s a great assassin’s tool and is can be more interesting than merely using poison in the wine in your intrigue-based games.

The original article mentions how the lock lurker can use its sting 40+ times per day (which is reiterated in their 2e appearance in MCA#1), which once again makes me wonder how long Ed thought combats would last. Or maybe he had a player at his table who said, “ackchully, a scorpion can only produce up to two milligrams of venom at a time, so there’s no way that a lock lurker could sting everyone in the entire party; it shouldn’t be able to paralyze me at all coz it already stung the thief and the fighter,” and Ed had to say they could sting 40 times a day, and they stored that extra venom on the Ethereal Plane (no, seriously), or else throw a tarrasque at the player (not the PC; the player).

(Fun fact: scorpion venom costs $39 million dollars per gallon.)

As a warning, lock lurkers guys hit way above their CR—not in terms of damage but in terms of long-lasting effects. I actually wonder if they might work better as a trap done in Encounter Challenge style than as a monster.

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Art by Tony DiTerlizzi, from Monstrous Compendium Annual #1

Lock Lurker
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #138
Created by Ed Greenwood

Most of the time, a lock lurker resembles a small copper, brass, or gold coin, complete with “engravings” on them. These magical creatures actually have a dozen pairs of multi-jointed legs that end in clinging setae, a tiny mouth filled with rows of sharp teeth, and a very long, scorpion-like tail. But for most of the time, these body parts are kept in the Ethereal Plane, hidden from nearly everyone’s eyes.

Assassin’s Tools. Lock lurkers are very sedentary creatures; they rarely need to eat and feel little need to explore, and only move to catch prey (large insects and small rodents, for the most part). But they are also easily riled up and will attack if disturbed. As a result, they are often used both by trap-makers and assassins. A lock lurker can be placed in a lock, in a desk drawer, next to an inkwell, or any other commonly accessed place, and the target will usually ignore it (or possibly be intrigued by it), since it’s nothing more than a coin. And when the target reaches too closely, the lock lurker strikes, bringing its tail back from the Ethereal in a lightning-fast burst of movement. While the lock lurker’s stinger is rarely enough to kill the target, the paralyzing venom it carries is usually more than enough to make them easy prey for someone else.

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

DC 10. Lock lurkers are strange creatures that look like coins. They are surprisingly intelligent and are often trained to be living traps.

DC 15. Existing partially out-of-phase, lock lurkers usually keep their legs and long, barbed tail in the Ethereal Plane, only bringing them to the Material when they attack. Their venom causes long-term paralysis.

DC 20. Although lock lurkers care nothing for treasure, they are often used to guard treasure, and thus will be frequently found near piles of gold and gems. They are in high demand by alchemists, as they can be used in the making of items that confer slowness and etherealness.

Lock Lurker Encounters
CR 0
Lock lurker

Signs
1-2. A paralyzed victim.
3. With a DC 15 Investigation or Perception check, a lock lurker stuffed into a keyhole or other crevice.
4. An unusual coin. A creature with a passive Investigation of 15 or higher will realize that the markings on the coin are not proper engravings.

Lock Lurker
Tiny aberration

Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
AC 15 (natural armor)
HP 5 (1d4+3; bloodied 2)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 1 (-5) DEX 15 (+2) CON 16 (+3)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 12
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +5
Senses tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages
Ethereal Sight. The lock lurker can see into both the Material Plane and Ethereal Plane.
False Appearance. When the lock lurker isn’t moving, it is indistinguishable from a normal coin.
Lightning Speed. The lock lurker has advantage on initiative checks.
Silent. The lock lurker makes no noise when it moves or attacks.

Actions
Sting.
Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) poison damage, and the target is poisoned and slowed until the end of its next turn. At that point, it must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw against poison. On a success, it is poisoned and slowed for 1 minute, and may make a new save at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. On a failure, it is poisoned for 1d6 hours, and paralyzed while it is poisoned.

Combat
Lock lurkers strike, then scuttle away to safety.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
OK, forgive me but I’m once again combining two monsters. See, Ed Greenwood created two different magical felines for this article, each with a single magical power. The first was the lybbarde, a large, panther-like cat that could whack people with its magical whip-like tail and cause them to be slowed. The second was the thylacine, a large, panther-like cat that could cover themselves in an illusory disguise of a human (well, 20% of them could) but, despite the name, wasn’t a marsupial. Both are intelligent, long-lived, mostly solitary cats with camouflaged coats, basically the same number of Hit Dice (5 HD versus 4+4 HD), and immunity to mental control and influence. Their only real differences were incredibly minor: one was basically immune to fear; the other couldn’t have its mind read.

I have no idea why he made them into two different creatures instead of a single one, beyond needing just one more monster for the article. Or maybe he used them in two different adventures. Dunno. But I’m combining them. Enter the lybbarde, a magical panther.

I’m going to take a moment to engage in a brief rant here: for a long time, in the section on the magazine’s production staff, Dragon would include a list of contributing interior artists. In issue #127, they suddenly stopped and only the cover artist was credited, and the interior art often didn’t even have a signature. I’ve been able to guess at some of the artists—like, I’m about 90% sure the fang dragon was drawn by Jim Holloway—but it really annoys me that that I don’t know for sure who the artist was. The artist for this article seems to named Barrett, but beyond that, I can’t tell.

1663535332984.png

Art by Barrett

Lybbard
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #138
Created by Ed Greenwood

Lybbardes are great cat-like creatures, easily seven feet long and with equally-long prehensile tails. Their coats are smudgy, smoky-gray and brown that lets them blend into their environment, and their tails end in a light tan puff. Their eyes glow green and they have two man teeth in their jaws. They primarily dwell in rocky, forested areas. Although they are solitary hunters, they frequently live in pairs, usually consisting of siblings. Lybbardes don’t make lairs; they sleep in trees, on rocky ledges, or any other safe place within their territory, although they will stash potentially interesting treasure somewhere, in case they need it later.

Fearless Hunters. Lybbardes are a predator feared for both their great cunning, courage, and unwavering devotion to the hunt. They are utterly methodical in the way they attack, never giving in to emotion or recklessness. They avoid large groups of dangerous prey, focusing on the weaker and smaller—they will eat humanoids, but prefer to only attack those that are not well-armed and armored. Once a lybbarde starts to hunt, it doesn’t stop until the prey is slain, and if driven off, it will return, over and over again. Lybbardes hunt cleverly, sometimes using treasure as bait, and will even strike deals with other creatures in order to best hunt or chase off dangerous prey.

Arcanophobes. Lybbardes hate magic and magic-users, but do not fear them. Rather, they recognize the danger that magic represents. They try to destroy any magic items they can and will deliberately attack spellcasters. Even minor, useful magic items, such as potions of healing, are destroyed, lest the wrong hands get ahold of it. For although they recognize that magic is not (usually) inherently evil, they know that it is too easily used against them or to greater harm.

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

DC 10. Renowned for their fearlessness, lybbardes are cat-like creatures with fur that allows them to blend in with their environment.

DC 15. Lybbardes are long-lived and intelligent, having their own language. They have magical abilities—they can appear as humanoids and a strike by their tail inflicts magical slowness on a target.

Lybbarde Encounters
Terrain:
badlands, forests, grasslands, hills, mountains

CR 2-3 1 lybbarde; 1 lybbarde and 1-2 young (use panther stats)
Treasure: 150 sp, bronze gauntlet that is studded with polished aventurine (50 gp), pewter cup with dragon-shaped stem (25 gp), gilt-covered map case with local map (25 gp)

Signs
1. The carcass of a dead wizard cached in a tree.
2. With a DC 17 Perception check: feline pawprints.
3. A human running in the distance, then vanishing.
4. Snapped wands and shredded spell scrolls.

Behavior
1-2. Hunting.
3. Stalking the party’s weakest member.
4. Sleeping in the sun.
5. Devouring a deer.
6. Working out an alliance with another creature to take down a greater foe.

Lybbarde
Large monstrosity

Challenge 2 (450 XP)
AC 12
HP 42 (5d10+15; bloodied 21)
Speed 50 ft.

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

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC +2
Saving Throws Dex +4, Wis +3
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +4 (+1d4)
Condition Immunities charmed, confused, fatigue, frightened, slowed, strife
Senses darkvision 90 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Lybbarde
Camouflage. The lybbarde has advantage on Stealth checks made in wooded or rocky terrain.
Illusory Visage (Recharge After Short or Long Rest). The lybbarde places an illusion on itself that makes it resemble a Medium humanoid for 1 minute. The illusory disguise does not hold up to physical inspection.
Inscrutable. The lybbarde is immune to divination and to any effect that would sense its emotions or read its thoughts. Insight checks made to determine the lybbarde’s intentions are made with disadvantage.
Long Jump. The lybbarde can long jump up to 30 feet.
Keen Hearing Smell. The lybbarde has advantage on Perception checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Smell Magic. The lybbarde can detect the presence of magic items within 30 feet.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d10+3) piercing damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) slashing damage. If the lybbarde moves at least 20 feet straight towards the target before the attack, the target makes a DC 13 Strength saving throw, falling prone on a failure.
Tail. The lybbarde strikes a creature within 5 feet of it with its tail. That creature must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be slowed until the end of its next turn.

Bonus Actions
Opportune Bite.
The lybbarde makes a bite attack against a prone or slowed creature.

Combat
Lybbardes attack from hiding, using its Tail on a creature, then biting when that creature is slowed. It will then back up at least twenty feet and charge, in order to knock the creature over on its next turn. It will target obvious magic-users first.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Another bizarre Greenwood monster. Anyhoo. the metalmaster is not a Marvel Comics super, but actually a really big, magical slug that can mimic voices and control metal. Why? Because why not.

So many of Ed’s monsters feel like they’d be right at home in a B-grade science-fantasy movie. This is not a criticism.

It’s also a creature where I much prefer the original artwork to Tony DiTerlizzi’s art (when the metalmaster was reprinted in Monstrous Compendium Annual #1). TD’s lovely art was just a slug, but the original artwork gave this thing heck yeah! teeth.

1663619036991.png

Art by Barrett

Metalmaster
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #139
Created by Ed Greenwood

Metalmasters, sometimes called sword-slugs, are tremendous gastropods that have the ability to control metal. They have gaping maws filled with large, saw-like teeth powerful enough to bite through metal. They are also capable of parroting sounds they’ve heard frequently.

Magnetic. Metalmasters generate and control powerful magnetic fields and can pull metal objects towards them or push them away. These magnetic fields are magical in nature and effect any sort of metal, not just ferromagnetic metals—gold, mithral, and even metals mined from the Outer Planes are just as affected as iron and steel are. They have full control over this field; a metal object pulled towards the slug doesn’t touch them, but instead circles wildly about their head.

Hungry Carnivores. Unlike regular slugs, which are scavengers, sword-slugs are primarily carnivores and prefer warm-blooded prey. They aren’t picky—a luckless humanoid or cow are equally attractive to them. They are, however, usually hungry, and will eat anyone and anything they come across.

Metal-Filled Lairs. Metalmasters lair near metal if they can, whether its old battle-sites or forgotten treasure hoards. They care nothing for wealth (and don’t even care about metal) but recognize that other creatures like metal objects. This provides both a lure for new prey and convenient objects with which they can attack.

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

DC 10. These gigantic magical slugs can attract or repulse metal objects, as if they were living magnets. They have teeth powerful enough to bite through steel.

DC 15. The metalmaster’s magic affects all types of metal, even non-ferrous, magical, and extra-planar metals.

Monster Encounters
Terrain:
caverns, swamp

CR 3-4 1 metalmaster
Treasure: 350 gp, 210 sp, bronze belt buckle in the shape of a dragon with a gemstone eye (75 gp), slightly dented masterwork mithral longsword.

CR 5-10 2 metalmasters
Treasure: 75 pp, 550 gp, silver flask (75 gp), gold earrings (250 gp), +1 shortsword, 10 +1 arrows

Signs
1-2. Metal objects thrown about carelessly, even embedded in walls.
3. A breastplate with a huge bite taken out of it.
4. A compass’s needle starts going haywire.
5. A really big trail of slug-slime.
6. Strange sounds from the distance—a combination of animal noises, cries for help, and phrases such as “hey, over here!”

Behavior
1-2. Devouring a dead animal or humanoid; will attack if approached.
3. Hungry; will attack on sight.
4. Making random noises, apparently for its own amusement.

Metalmaster
Huge monstrosity

Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
AC 14 (natural armor)
HP 63 (6d12+24; bloodied 31)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 10 (+0) CON 19 (+4)
INT 4 (-3) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 13
Skills Deception +2
Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical metal weapons
Senses blindsight 10 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages
Boneless. The metalmaster can move through a space small enough for a Medium creature without squeezing.
Magnetic Field. Weapon attacks made against the metalmaster using metal weapons (including metal-tipped arrows and bolts) are made at disadvantage. If an attacker wielding a melee weapon misses its attack while within 5 feet of another creature, that creature must make a Dexterity saving throw against the attacker’s maneuver save DC or be hit by the weapon, even if the attack roll wasn’t high enough to hit the creature’s AC.
Additionally, the area in a 30 feet radius around the metalmaster is difficult terrain for any creature wearing Medium or Heavy armor made of metal.
Mimicry. The metalmaster can imitate sounds it hears frequently, such as a simple phrase or an animal noise. Recognizing the sounds as imitation requires a DC 10 Insight check.

Actions
Bite.
Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d10+3) piercing damage, and if the target is wearing armor, it must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or the armor is damaged. If the armor is already damaged, it becomes broken.
Attract or Repulse Metal (Recharge 4-6). The metalmaster chooses to attract or repel metal objects that weigh 15 pounds or less that are within 60 feet of it. Unsecured metal or mostly-metal objects are pulled 30 feet towards or away from the metalmaster. A creature holding a metal or mostly-metal object must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw. If the creature is holding the item with both hands, or the object has the Hand-Mounted property, the creature gains a d4 expertise die on this saving throw. On a success, the creature maintains its hold on the object but is pulled or pushed 5 feet towards or away from the metalmaster. On a failure, the creature drops the object and the object is pulled or pushed 30 feet towards or away from the metalmaster.
Larger unattended metal objects that weigh up to 50 pounds can only be pulled or pushed 5 feet. Objects heavier than 50 pounds aren’t affected.

Bonus Actions
Metal Blast.
The metalmaster causes unattended metal objects or metal objects that are circling it to shoot off in all directions. Each creature within 15 feet of the metalmaster must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 13 (3d8) piercing damage on a failure.

Combat
Metalmasters start out combat using Attract Metal to disarm foes and to gather metals for use in its Metal Blast. It then relies on its Bites and Metal Blasts.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Same Ed Greenwood, different issue. This article is a continuation of last issue’s article, with more “Realms-only” monsters, and the monster I’m converting is a doozy and suggests that Ed was having trouble with the magic-users at his table. It’s the magebane, a tiny, invisible batlike creature that eats spells.

For this adaptation, I wrote that it can detect and drain magic from bards, sorcerers, and wizards, as I would consider them all to be arcane casters, using the same energy in different ways. My personal feelings on warlocks is that they are basically priests of things that aren’t gods, and thus aren’t arcane casters (nor are they divine). If you prefer the idea that warlocks are arcane casters, then stick them on the list of casters that magebanes can eat. Heck, the 1e write-up merely says that they prefer magic-users, implying that other casters are fair game. So if you like the idea of magebane being able to target clerics, heralds, warlocks, or even artificers, go ahead.

This is another creature that is useful above its CR. With its natural stealth in addition to its invisibility, it can stay hidden from

1663719236949.png

Art by Barrett

Magebane
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #140
Created by Ed Greenwood

Magebanes are small, black, amorphous creatures, their only visible features being a pair of cold blue eyes. They have batlike wings and ten long claw-like legs emerging from their undersides, and their body tapers into a needle-like tail. However, this form is almost never seen, as they are invisible, and not even magic can dispel their invisibility. Spellcasters loathe these creatures, who fortunately are mostly solitary.

Hungers For Spells. Magebanes consume spell energy, which they siphon directly from spellcasters at the moment they cast spells. This often causes the spell to fail to cast or to have minimal or poor effects. Magebanes target arcane spellcasters—bards, sorcerers, and warlocks—to the exclusion of others. Once they find a spellcaster they like, they stay with that caster, even protecting it from other attackers. A magebane may decide to move to a different caster, if they find a more powerful one or one who casts spells more freely, but this is a very rare occurrence.

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

DC 15. Magebane are invisible creatures who consume the energy from arcane spells while they are cast. By consuming this energy, they cause spells to be miscast.

DC 20. Magebanes will remain with a spellcaster for as long as they can, and will protect that spellcaster from other forms of harm. They can’t be driven off; the only way to free the spellcaster from the magebane’s feedings is to kill the magebane.

Signs
1-2. The caster’s spells start acting oddly or not working.
3-4. A creature attacking the caster is suddenly zapped by magical energy.

Magebane Encounters
Terrain:
cavern, ruins, tombs

CR 0-1 1 magebane

Magebane
Tiny aberration

Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
AC 14
HP 5 (2d4; bloodied 2)
Speed 10 ft., fly 30 ft. (hover)

STR 2 (-4) DEX 19 (+4) CON 11 (+0)
INT 3 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)

Proficiency +2
Maneuver DC 14
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +6 (+1d4)
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages
Explosive Death. When the magebane dies, it explodes in a burst of magical energy. Each creature within 10 feet of it must make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) force damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.
Limited Invisibility. The magebane is invisible to all creatures except for the chosen spellcaster.
Limited Magic Immunity. The magebane is immune to any spell of 6th-level or lower cast by chosen spellcaster, and has advantage on saving throws against other spells and magical effects.
Sense Magic-User. The magebane can detect the presence of creatures within 150 feet that can cast spells from the bard, sorcerer, or wizard spell list. When it is within 30 feet of the spellcaster, it can make that caster into its chosen spellcaster.

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

Bonus Actions
Nimble Escape.
The magebane takes the Disengage or Hide action.

Reactions
Siphon Magic.
When the chosen spellcaster casts a cantrip or spell of 6th level or lower and the magebane is within 60 feet of the spellcaster, roll a d4:
1. The spell works normally.
2. The spell fails to work. There is a 50% chance that spell slot is expended.
3. The target(s) of the spell have advantage on saving throws against the spell. If the target is willing, then the spell’s duration is halved.
4. The spell works, but is flawed: it inflicts minimum damage, produces an obvious illusion instead of a realistic one, the target gains a d4 expertise die instead of gaining advantage, the spell provides partial or incorrect information, the spell’s duration or area are halved, etc.

Each time the chosen spellcaster casts a spell, whether it is cast correctly or not, the magebane gains temporary hit points equal to twice the spell slot level used.

Combat
Magebanes only attack to protect their chosen caster. They attack anything that harms their caster, relying on their invisibility and stealth to give them advantage on attacks.
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
A short one today. This issue was all about humanoids, and The Dragon’s Bestiary included a bunch of new ones. Most of them, though, don’t really work as Level Up monsters—new heritages or cultures, perhaps, but that’s a bit beyond the purview of this series. However, it does include a new type of troll, which works well as a new variant. Enter the demon troll. (Standing next to it is a jor, or swamp orc--because orcs that live in swamps needed a brand-new statblock, of course.)

1663794719228.png

Art by Terry Dykstra

Troll Variant: Demon Troll
The Dragon’s Bestiary, Dragon Magazine #141
Created by Michael J. Szarmach

A troll that consumes the flesh of fiends, or that has been brought to the Abyss and bathed in that plane’s evil energies, may become a demon troll. Their hide turns a dusty coal-black, their eyes glow green, a pair of twisted red horns grow from their brows, and their faces and bodies seem far more human-like than a normal troll’s. The evil that permeates all fiends twists them as well; while normal trolls kill indiscriminately to fill their ever-hungry bellies, demon trolls feed on fear and pain as much as actual flesh. Worse, they are as well-spoken as they are cruel.

A demon troll is CR 6 (2,300 XP) and its type changes to giant (fiend). It has AC 18, Intelligence 12 (+1), and Charisma 16 (+3), and can speak Abyssal, Common, Giant, and one other language. It is resistant to cold, lightning, poison damage, and damage from nonmagical weapons, and is immune to the poisoned condition. Its Regeneration trait has been altered and it gains the following new traits:

Innate Spellcasting. The demon troll’s spellcasting trait is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks.) It can cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
3/day each: chain lightning, darkness, dispel magic, dimension door, infernal weapon
Magic Resistance. The demon troll has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Regeneration. The demon troll regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn. If the troll takes radiant damage, this trait doesn’t function on its next turn. The troll dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I would love to see a heritage/culture for the people in that article who were invaders from another dimension. I remember them being pretty cool.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I would love to see a heritage/culture for the people in that article who were invaders from another dimension. I remember them being pretty cool.
The dirge. They were pretty cool. There's actually a ton of different races in Dragon mag, and monsters that would work as races, and most of 'em could be converted to heritages, heritage gifts, or cultures. I may do that later on.

Edit: For everyone else who doesn't remember or isn't aware of the dirge: they looked human-like with solid red eyes, gray skin, white or red hair, and they lived in a "nightmarishly twisted mirror of the Prime Material plane called Darkrealm." So, basically the Shadowfell. they had dead-white eyes, needed +1 or better weapons to hit, had regeneration and psionic abilities (taken from a small list of options), took triple damage from "energy from the Positive Plane," could be turned like undead and had most undead immunities, and had a touch attack that drained 5,000 XP(!) from the target. But they weren't undead.

Not much of their culture was listed, other than to say that they serve the lords of Darkrealm, are sadistically evil but mostly towards outsiders--they worked together well-and are divided into commoner (6th-level fighters) and commander (9th-level magic-users) castes. Not even commoner and military castes. Commoner and commander.

They'd have to be toned down significantly to be made playable, but the culture could be interesting. Maybe take the commoner/commander divide seriously and say their society is divided into slave/serf/grunts and officer/noble/spellcasters, with almost nothing in between.
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
Just got back from getting my covid booster!

Remember how, way back when I did the phase dragon as a variant of the faerie dragon? Well, here’s some more faerie dragon variants for you. They’re called drakes in this article, but I’ve renamed them as dragons, to keep the theme going. We have the crystal dragon (renamed to jewel dragon), demon drake (renamed to hellion dragon), faerie drake (renamed to mimic dragon), and the shadow drake (renamed to gloom dragon).

This article also comes with a new spell!

Also, I’m taking a day or three off, because the next monsters are a whole bunch of dragons and you know how long those take.

Faerie Dragon Variants
Dragons are Wizards’ Best Friends, Dragon Magazine #146
Created by David E. Cates; art by Jennell Jaquays


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Gloom Dragon
These faerie dragon variants often occur where the Feywild and Shadowfell are close. They are a bit snakier in build. Their scales are ash-gray when they first hatch, but become darker and smokier as they age. Gloom dragons are quiet, introspective creatures who prefer peace and quiet instead of confrontation. They typically have standoffish personalities and often live on the outskirts of faerie dragon communities, away from all the noise. Gloom dragons have a fondness for darkly-colored gems, which they collect, and honey and sweet fruits, which they eat in large amounts.

Gloom dragons are resistant to cold and necrotic damage, and innately know different spells than faerie dragons do:

5 years old, at will: guidance, mage hand, minor illusion
10 years old, 1/day: darkness
30 years old, 1/day: blur
50 years old, 1/day: rope trick

Gloom dragons lose the Prismatic Light action and instead gain the following traits:

Darksight. Magical darkness doesn’t impede the dragon’s vision.
Shadow Stealth. While in dim light or darkness, the dragon can take the Hide action as a bonus action. If the dragon makes a successful attack while hiding, it doesn’t reveal its position.

Additionally, their breath weapon has been altered:

Dark Mask (Recharge 5-6). The dragon spits darkness at one creature within 10 feet of it. The target must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or its head is surrounded is a cloud of magical darkness for 1 minute, and the target is blinded. The target may use its action to fan away the cloud, ending the effect.

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Hellion Dragon
Often hatched in places where the walls between the Feywild and the lower planes are at the thinnest, hellion dragons are petty-minded and mean-spirited and love to play nasty pranks. Fortunately for most, they prefer to play these pranks on creatures who are also petty and mean, rather than on nicer creatures—they like seeing people get what they deserve. Hellion dragons have horns rather like a red dragon’s, but their coloration ranges from reds to purples to oranges, flecked with black. As they age, the black flecks get larger and the other colors get more intense.

Hellion dragons are immune to fire damage, and innately know different spells than faerie dragons do:

5 years old, at will: produce flame, thaumaturgy, vicious mockery
10 years old, 1/day: silent image (note: if you have access to the Manual of Adventurous Resources volume 1, replace with bestow minor curse)
30 years old, 1/day: pretty-oops! (see below)
50 years old, 1/day: fear

Hellion dragons lose the Prismatic Light action and instead gain the following trait:

Boom! (3/Day). The dragon targets a Tiny nonmagical object that is not being worn or held that is within 60 feet of it, and chooses one of the following effects:
• The object explodes with a brilliant flash of light and sends shrapnel in all directions. Each creature within 10 feet of the object must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) piercing damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.
• The object explodes harmlessly but releases a noxious cloud of sulfurous gas that fills a 10-foot cube. It lingers for 1 minute or until dispersed by a moderate wind. The area is heavily obscured, and a creature that starts its turn in its area must make a DC 12 Constitution against poison saving throw or use its action to retch and reel.

Additionally, their breath weapon has been altered:

Fire Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon spits fire at one creature within 10 feet of it. The target must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 2 (1d4) fire damage. The damage increases by 1d4 for each age category above 5 years old.

Pretty—Oops! (Rare Spell)
1st-level (illusion; animal, obscurement, shadow, transformation)
Classes: bard, wizard
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Touch
Target: One beast or object
Components: V, S, M (a downy feather)
Duration: 8 hours
Saving Throw: Constitution negates (special)

This spell may be cast on a Tiny creature that has an Intelligence score of 4 or less, or on an inanimate object. If cast on a creature, it may make a saving throw to resist. On a failure, it is unconscious and paralyzed for 8 hours, and may make a new save at the end of each hour, ending the effect on itself on a success.

With this spell, you turn a Tiny creature or object into a Tiny object that looks however you wish it to but is the same approximate size and shape as the original. If the illusory object is held (not just touched), it reverts back to its normal form. If it is a creature, it is no longer paralyzed or unconscious, but it is enraged, and it has advantage on the first attack roll it makes against the creature that is holding it.

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Jewel Dragon
Jewel dragons sometimes hatch from faerie dragon eggs when the parents consume magical gemstones, live too close to places that are connected to the Plane of Earth, or are exposed to a great deal of prismatic magic—although this mutation also sometimes occurs for no reason whatsoever. When first hatched, their scales look like pale white quartz. Jewel dragons particularly enjoy eating gemstones, and their scales take on the colors of the gems they eat. The older a jewel dragon becomes, the more colors appear on their hides, until they are a scintillating rainbow of color. A jewel dragon that doesn’t eat gemstones eventually reverts back to a quartz-white color.

Jewel dragons are resistant to acid and radiant damage, immune to the blinded condition, and innately know different spells than faerie dragons do:

5 years old, at will: dancing lights, guidance, resistance
10 years old, 1/day: invisibility
30 years old, 1/day: mindshield
50 years old, 1/day: daylight

Jewel dragons lose the Prismatic Light action and instead gain the following trait:

Crystal Reflection. A creature making a spell attack against the dragon with a spell from the force, illusion, lightning, prismatic, or radiant schools has disadvantage on the attack roll. If the dragon succeeds on its saving throw against such a spell or the spell attack misses it, roll a d6. On a 1-5, the dragon is unaffected. On a 6, the dragon is unaffected and the effect is reflected back at the caster as though it originated from the dragon, turning the caster into the target.

Additionally, their breath weapon has been altered:

Acid Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon spits acid at one creature within 10 feet of it. The target must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 2 (1d4) acid damage. The damage increases by 1d4 for each age category above 5 years old.

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Mimic Dragon
The mimic dragon appears to be a random mutation of the normal faerie dragon. These dragons look exactly like a miniature version of regular dragon of any type but essence dragon—chromatic, gemstone, metallic—but with stripes and splotches on their wings and tails; these markings are light-colored in female mimic dragons and dark-colored in males. On any given day, a mimic dragon may suddenly shift in appearance, looki like a different sort of dragon. The environment and weather seems to play a part in it: for instance, during cold weather, a mimic dragon is more likely to appear as a white or silver dragon than as a blue dragon, and a mimic dragon in a swamp is more likely to change to look like a black dragon. But it's not a guarantee and the dragon itself doesn’t seem to have control over it. Their mentality even shifts a tiny bit to match their new form. A mimic dragon that appears like a green dragon may act more devious than normal, and one that appears like an amethyst may act unusually diplomatic.

Mimic dragons are resistant to whatever energy type the dragon they appear like is resistant or immune to, have a swim speed of 30 feet, and innately know different spells than faerie dragons do:

5 years old, at will: mage hand, minor illusion, prestidigitation
10 years old, 1/day: mirror image
30 years old, 1/day: one spell that a young spellcasting dragon of its apparent type can cast
50 years old, 1/day: one spell that an adult spellcasting dragon of its apparent type can cast

Mimic dragons lose the Prismatic Light action and instead gain the following traits:

Hold Breath. The mimic dragon can hold its breath for 30 minutes.
Keen Smell. The mimic dragon has advantage on Perception checks that rely on smell.

Additionally, its bite attack and breath weapon have been altered:

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage plus 1 damage of the same type its breath weapon inflicts.
Breath Weapon (Recharge 5-6). The dragon breathes energy at one creature within 10 feet of it. The target must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 2 (1d4) damage of the type the dragon it appears like can breathe. The damage increases by 1d4 for each age category above 5 years old.
 
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