Converting monsters from Dragon magazine


Oh, yeah, I missed that one.

CR 7 seems a bit low compared to the remorhaz and purple worm. CR 9 or 10 maybe?
Are these ready for flavor and tactics?

They don't have poison or swallow whole, and their lack of tremorsense makes them easier to hide from.

I'd be willing to up them to CR 9.

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Extradimensional Explorer
CR 9 will work for me.

Let's see. Tactics? Maybe they grab likely prey and carry it away while gnawing?


Extradimensional Explorer
Lightning Reflexes will work.

Tactics: Super otters prefer to avoid a prolonged fight. Instead, they grab likely prey and swim off with it, devouring it at their leisure.


Extradimensional Explorer
I think I'll call it a night. Hopefully I might come up with some background info and a description in a day or two.

Your revised tactics are fine, but I guess your hopes didn't work out. Hmmm. Why don't we say 60 ft and 10-12 tons?


Your revised tactics are fine,

Updating Super Otter Working Draft.

...but I guess your hopes didn't work out.

A sinuous beast of prodigious length, maybe equal to a dozen humans lying head-to-toe. It has a long flat head with beady eyes, stubby web-footed legs and an elongated tail that tapers to a point. The creature's body seems as slim and flexible as a serpent, flexing up to form half-a-dozen humps on the water's surface. Its pale grey-brown hide appears rough and wrinkly.

Hmmm. Why don't we say 60 ft and 10-12 tons?

I prefer the range in the Working Draft.

Let's see...

Super otters may be primitive kin to ancient marine mammals such as the zeuglodon in Frostburn. They are found only in arctic waters and mostly prey upon fish and marine mammals far smaller than themselves, such as cod, halibut, or seals.

A super otter is 60 to 100 feet in length, including their tails, and typically weighs from 8000 to 25000 pounds.​

That OK? I didn't want to have much in the background info, since we have very little to go on.




Father-Of-All-The-Turtles Original Stats

Father-of-all-the-turtles: Named after a similar creature from Sumatran legends, this is basically a giant sea turtle 60’ long and 40’ wide. It has a mouth so wide that it splits the head in two when it opens (one report claims the inside of the mouth is brilliant red color), large eyes, and a shell whose front slopes up and backward in front, then slants down toward the rear. The scales on the front are hardly noticeable, while those to the rear of the shell are so large they have been compared to roofing shingles. Sometimes fleshy filaments are reported hanging around the mouth. There are only a few reports of this beast, the last in 1960. Oddly for a reptile, it is found in cold temperate areas. However, really large reptiles lose heat more slowly than their smaller fellows, and the Leatherback turtle does travel far to the north.

If it exists, the Father-of-all-the-turtles is probably an enlarged descendant of the Cretaceous sea turtle Archelon. Stats are those from the MC3, with the following exceptions: 16 HD; THAC0 5; DAMAGE/ATTACK 2-20; SIZE G (60’ long by 40' wide); XP VALUE 8,000.


I'm going to wander the Internet to try to find some other sources on Indonesian myths regarding the "Father-of-all-the-turtles" - it'd be nice to have some more abilities to give it.

Come to think of it, it'd be nice to confirm there even are any Indonesian myths about giant turtles...


Okay, after diving into the depths of the Interwebs, most of the references I found to a Sumatran "Father-of-all-the-turtles" derived from Heuvelmans' book (the one the Dragon #190 Sea Monsters article is based on).

The forteanzoology blog has a nice page on The Father of all the Turtles which appears to contain a good roundup of reported sightings as well as a report on an Expedition to Sumatra which mentions an ancient Mediterranean bestiary description of an island-mimicking "Asp-Turtle".

The book Mythical Monsters (1886) by Charles Gould describes an eyewitness encounter of a 200 foot long dragon/turtle/sea monster. Mythical Monsters is now in public domain, so you can read it on Project Gutenberg or Internet Archives. The book quote a newspaper correspondent as follows:

The monster seen by the Nestor, however, was probably one of the Chelonidæ, “the father of all the turtles,” as he is fitly called by the natives of Sumatra, who fully believe in his existence, and to whom he occasionally appears. Indeed, Baumgarten, in his Malaysien, published at Amsterdam in 1829, describes the monster, and estimates its length and breadth at one hundred and twenty and thirty cubits respectively, measurements which agree very nearly with those given by Captain Webster. Baumgarten adds that it is a general belief in Sumatra (vol. ii. p. 321, Ed. 1820), that whosoever sees him will die within the year. “This,” he says naively enough, “I have not been able to prove.”​

As for the Sumatran/Indonesian legends that this creature's name is supposed to come from, I haven't had that much luck. I came across multiple references to giant turtles being associated with divinities. There's a myth, the Tantu Pagelaran, about Vishnu turning himself into a giant turtle to help carry a mountain to Java, and another one about a turtle turning itself into Kusu island to rescue some fishermen - an interesting reversal of the ancient European myth of a giant sea monster masquerading as an island and drowning sailors who land on it.

The famous Hoan Kiem turtle is given the honorific "great grandfather", but that's in Vietnam, not Sumatra. Interesting it is also connected with a deity - Kim Qui the Golden Turtle God - or possibly it's a turle-shaped messenger/intermediary from heaven.

Finally, I came across a mention that there's a conversion of The Father of All The Turtles in the HERO Games Asian Bestiary, Volume One. Fortunately, I have that book! It stats the Turtle up as a regular animal (18 metres long, decent armour, extra reach from a long neck, nasty beak attack) with the option to add a power-suite to make it an immortal, intelligent "turtle god".


Well, this one should definitely have Swallow Whole, at least! ;) Fortification, too, I'd think.

Well it's big enough, I guess. The main thing is to give it something to distinguish it from a regular Giant Sea Turtle that's been advanced to Gargantuan size.

I'm tempted to stat it up as a Magical Beast "Divine Messenger" - a Chelonian version of a Ki-Rin - but that's a long way from the version in the Dragon article. We could give it magical abilities like being able to turn into an "island" (statue), transport itself and others to "heaven" (plane shift), create food to succor the starving or nourish champions (create food or hero's feast), and strike dead the unworthy who see it (finger of death?). Perhaps it can shrink to become a "normally large" turtle and swell into a Colossal divine manifestation (righteous might)? Oh, and there are a few legends about flying turtles...

Well, we could do both I suppose!


Extradimensional Explorer
Yeah, I would prefer to do a magical beast version with at least some of those special abilities, using the hook of the legends to get into the Su/Sp abilities. We've done that before.

Let's start by taking the advanced physical states from the giant sea turtle. Mental ones should probably be average to quite good depending on if we make it a divine herald of some type.


Yeah, I would prefer to do a magical beast version with at least some of those special abilities, using the hook of the legends to get into the Su/Sp abilities. We've done that before.

So are we doing two versions (mundane & magical), or just one?

Anyhow, I'll stat up a rough draft of a "Mundane Version" to get us started.

Let's start by taking the advanced physical states from the giant sea turtle. Mental ones should probably be average to quite good depending on if we make it a divine herald of some type.

I'm leaning towards leaving it a mystery, and include a background text insert something like "some legends says they are divine messengers, wrathful protectors of the sea and turtle-kind, or once-ordinary animals that somehow lived long enough to acquire sublime size and wisdom".


Father-Of-All-The-Turtles Working Draft

Turtle, Father-Of-All-The-Turtles
Gargantuan Animal
Hit Dice: 16d8+128 (200 hp)
Initiative: -2
Speed: 5 ft. (1 square), swim 40 ft.
Armor Class: 20 (-4 size, -2 Dex, +16 natural), touch 4, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +12/+37
Attack: Bite +21 melee (2d10+19/19-20)
Full Attack: Bite +21 melee (2d10+19/19-20)
Space/Reach: 20 ft./15 ft.
Special Attacks: Capsize, improved grab, swallow whole
Special Qualities: Camouflage, dire, fortification, hold breath, low-light vision
Saves: Fort +18, Ref +8, Will +11
Abilities: Str 36, Dex 7, Con 26, Int 1, Wis 13, Cha 7
Skills: Spot +20, Swim +23
Feats: Awesome Blow, Diehard, Endurance, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Bull-Rush, Power Attack
Environment: Any aquatic
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 8
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 17-32 HD (Gargantuan), 33-48 HD (Colossal)
Level Adjustment:

A titanic turtle as big as a merchantship. Its head has large eyes and a mouth so wide its head seems to split in two. The inside of its mouth is bright red and surrounded by fleshy filaments. Most of the scales that cover the turtle are so smooth and tiny they're barely visible, but the rear of its shell has scales ridged like roof-shingles and several feet long.

Scholars call this huge reptile the cryptic chelonian, but the common folk know it as father-of-all-the-turtles. These marine turtles are so large they can live in cold seas as well as the tropics.

Fathers-of-all-the-turtles can change their color and texture to almost disappear, so are rarely seen despite their gargantuan size. Like a squid or chameleon, they can take on many shades and patterns and may change color to indicate their mood or status. When not camouflaged or displaying, a father-of-all-the-turtles often turns its shell ivory-white to conserve heat, or turns coal-black and floats on the surface to bask in the sun.

Fathers-of-all-the-turtles are omnivorous, mostly feeding on jellyfish, seaweed and fish. They occasionally attack marine mammals up to the size of a small whale, but prefer cold-blooded prey. Fathers-of-all-the-turtles do not view humanoids as food and are only likely to devour one in "self defense". These reptiles are just as tasty as their normal-sized cousins, and their shells are so huge they can be used as roofs or boats.

A father-of-all-the-turtles typically measures from 40 to 60 feet from snout to tail, with a shell from 30 to 50 feet in diameter, and weighs 120 tons or more. The oldest individuals grow to length of 100 feet or more.

Fathers-of-all-the-turtles are shy and relatively inoffensive, preferring to swim away from threats or conceal themselves using their camouflage ability. If a creature proves a persistent nuisance, a father-of-all-the-turtles usually tries to knock it away using its Awesome Blow feat (it can choose to do nonlethal bludgeoning damage with its bite attack). Should a creature seriously annoy or injure the turtle, it will bite with deadly force, trying to swallow opponents who are small enough. An angry father-of-all-the-turtles may capsize ships by surfacing underneath them.

Camouflage (Ex): A father-of-all-the-turtles can blend into the color of deep water or imitate the shape of a natural marine feature of approximately its own size and shape, such as a small shoal, an islet, or a mound upon a beach. So long as the chelonian does not move, it requires a DC 25 Spot check for another creature to notice it is not part of the scenery. It takes a father-of-all-the-turtles 1 minute to assume a camouflage.

Capsize (Ex): A submerged father-of-all-the-turtles that surfaces under a boat or ship less than 40 feet long capsizes the vessel 95% of the time. It has a 50% chance to capsize a vessel from 40 to 90 feet long and a 20% chance to capsize one over 90 feet long.

Fortification (Ex): Whenever a critical hit or sneak attack is scored on the father-of-all-the-turtles there is a 75% chance that the special attack is negated and its damage is rolled normally, similar to the effect of armour enchanted with the Moderate Fortification quality.

Hold Breath (Ex): A father-of-all-the-turtles can hold its breath for a number of rounds equal to 10 × its Constitution score before it risks drowning. For a typical specimen, this is 260 rounds, or 26 minutes.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, a father-of-all-the-turtles must hit with its bite attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can swallow whole.

Swallow Whole (Ex): A father-of-all-the-turtles can try to swallow a grabbed opponent up to two sizes smaller than itself by making a successful grapple check. Once inside, the opponent takes 2d10+13 points of crushing damage plus 8 points of acid damage per round from the turtle's gizzard. A swallowed creature can cut its way out by using a light slashing or piercing weapon to deal 25 points of damage to the gizzard (AC 18). Once the creature exits, muscular action closes the hole; another swallowed opponent must cut its own way out. A Gargantuan father-of-all-the-turtles' interior can hold 2 Large, 8 Medium, 32 Small, 128 Tiny, or 512 Diminutive or smaller opponents.

Skills: A father-of-all-the-turtles has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. A father-of-all-the-turtles can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.
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Giant Crypto-Chelonian

Rather than simply enlarging our Giant Sea Turtle, I opted for a blend of the Giant Sea Turtle with the Archelon from Stormwrack, since some cryptozoologists speculate on a relationship.

Note that I gave it a 2d10 bite, the same damage as the Dragon mag version.


Extradimensional Explorer
Frankly, I'm more in favor of just a magical beast version. There's just not so much different here compared to the other big turtles. However, if you really want to do it, let's go with what you have and maybe just give it a Hide bonus in water. Unless you mean it camouflages itself as an island. ;)

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