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Converting Monsters from White Dwarf Magazine

Cleon

Adventurer
This is a revival of the long forgotten Converting Monsters from White Dwarf Magazine thread that used to grace this forum.

Completed conversion will be added to the Completed Fifth Edition Creatures Index.

Index of 5th Edition White Dwarf Magazine Conversions
NAME​
CR​
D&D Beyond [CC]​
Enworld​
Argorian Wormkin
1/4​
Enslaver
#​
Pine Kindred (picture)
1​
Pine Kindred, Jarl (picture)
4​
Pine Kindred, Thane (picture)
3​
Pine Kindred, Fircarl
1/2​
—​
Pine Kindred, Resin-Hound (picture)
1/4​
Pine Kindred, Resin-Thrall (picture)
1/8​
Entry
#​
—​
—​
Entry, Variant
#​
—​
—​
Entry, Related
#​
—​
—​
 
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Casimir Liber

Explorer
Okay - the Argorian Wormkin appeared in "Desert Light" - a desert-themed collection of monsters as a mini-module idea in White Dwarf 29. I liked them as a hydra-replicating idea and small treasure-horde guarding critter...all comments welcome as happy to tweak with input
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Okay - the Argorian Wormkin appeared in "Desert Light" - a desert-themed collection of monsters as a mini-module idea in White Dwarf 29. I liked them as a hydra-replicating idea and small treasure-horde guarding critter...all comments welcome as happy to tweak with input

For clarity, I'll put my comments in blue and use red text for suggested modifications I’m less committed to.

Shouldn't it have the creature's name at the start in a larger bold font rather than "Description"?

Said description could do with a little polish, plus it wouldn't hurt to add a Flavour Paragraph or two.

It doesn't really need the "which they attack with" in the description, since that's implicit in them having a bite attack. Also, I believe the 5E D&D convention is to use US measurements, so it'd be "foot long" rather than "30 cm long".

The "cannot be killed" and/or "splits into two halves" traits can be mentioned in a Flavour Paragraph abilities but really need to be Special Abilities in the creature's statblock. I'll discuss those below.

I'd suggest something like the following for the Description:



Argorian Wormkin
These foot-long creature where first produced by an evil cleric-assassin from Argor. They are worm-like creatures resembling a reddish pink lamprey with a sucker-like rasping mouth.
Treasure Guardians. These worm-constructs were originally created to protect their master's treasure and are instinctively attracted to shiny valuables, which they rest beside while waiting for intruders to attack.
 Immortal Worms. Argorian wormkin are not truly alive and do not need to eat, drink, or drink. They can fully recover from any damage that doesn't kill them and can even survive being torn apart, which usually only separates them into two fragments each capable of attacking.


Stat Block
The Armor Class should have "(natural armor)" rather than "Natural" but the number's fine.

I'd consider possible tweaking the Con up to a +1 bonus since the original had 1d8+1 Hit Dice. Maybe reduce the number of HD to 3d4 to compensate? That'd improve the Poison DC too.

The original monster has Speed 12" which is human average, so why does the conversion move at 40 ft. rather than the 5E average of 30 ft. like a Poisonous Snake? The original monster didn't have a climb speed, but I have no particular objection to it. Personally I'd reduce it to 20 ft. and add a swim speed, but that's mainly because I'm used to 3E snakes and their "Speed: 20 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft."!

The bite has 5 listed as the average damage but that doesn't match the 2 average of the listed 1d4 damage. Should this be Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) or Hit: 2 (1d4)?

I'd be inclined to go inbetween and make it Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) like a Giant Centipede or possible Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1). Also if the mouth is lamprey-like it's not stabbing like a giant spider's fangs but is rasping/slicing at the flesh, so wouldn't it do slashing damage rather than piercing?

Furthermore, while the poison causing them to be unable to do anything except crawl or dodge for 1d4 rounds does match the original monster it (a) seems too nasty for the 5E design philosophy and (b) why not use an existing 5E Condition like incapacitated (for example, Boomslang Venom). I would think the poisoned condition (disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks) should be enough, but there's nothing wrong with adding the retching/slowness to it. Maybe have multiple doses cause the incapacitating nausea?

As for the Special Abilities, their "Split" ability needs a bit of expansion and clarification. At the moment it appears to say that if you hit one for 10+ damage it's killed, but 1-9 damage just causes it to split into two wormkin each with full hit points (i.e. 10 hp apiece). So, in theory, their creator could have ordered them to continuously attack each other and exponential increase their numbers until there's millions of the blighters. The wormkin only do 1d4 piercing damage so they can't kill each other with their bite.

That sounds a bit unbalanced, so I'd prefer the split to be temporary and have the wormkin still suffer damage from the blow that divided them. I'd suggest modifying the Split ability of an ooze, i.e.:


5E SRD said:
Split. When a jelly that is Medium or larger is subjected to lightning or slashing damage, it splits into two new jellies if it has at least 10 hit points. Each new jelly has hit points equal to half the original jelly’s, rounded down. New jellies are one size smaller than the original jelly.

So something like:

ARGORIAN WORMKIN
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 10 (3d4 + 3)
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 30 ft.
CON 12 (+1)


Cannot Be Killed. If an Argorian wormkin is damaged but not destroyed, it will fully recover from its injuries in an hour, regardless of the form of damage it took.

Actions
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) slashing damage plus poison, the target must make a DC 11 Con save or be poisoned for 1d8 rounds, during which time violent retching reduces their speed to half (round up to the nearest 10 ft., minimum speed 5 ft.). If a target is poisoned multiple times by wormkin venom, they become incapacitated with nausea while within the duration of two or more doses of poison..

Reactions
Division.
When a wormkin is subjected to hit points of damage, it splits into two wormkin if it has at least 2 hit points. Each wormkin has hit points equal to half the original wormkin's, rounded down. The wormkins rejoin into a single wormkin with full hit points an hour later (see Cannot Be Killed).


It's hard to tell, but I'd eyeball that as maybe Challenge 1/4. It's hard to tell since its Division ability makes calculation difficult but it looks less formidable that the CR 1/2 Gray Ooze but is certainly nastier than the CR 1/8 Giant Rat or Giant Weasel since you may have to kill two or three divided wormkin before it dies.
 
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Casimir Liber

Explorer
Fantastic feedback - have not done monster writing for ages. Have adopted nearly all recommendations (made speed 20ft all round as they are small critters). Also adopted the slightly lower damage as I anticipate using them on low level parties who are a bit delicate. The layout is because I am putting them in DnDbeyond for encounter building....
 

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Casimir Liber

Explorer
While we're at it...I did brother of the pine....I had a think about the version posted a few years ago which came out before cantrips were a thing....and came up with this....toning it down a bit asa group monster
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Fantastic feedback - have not done monster writing for ages. Have adopted nearly all recommendations (made speed 20ft all round as they are small critters). Also adopted the slightly lower damage as I anticipate using them on low level parties who are a bit delicate. The layout is because I am putting them in DnDbeyond for encounter building....

So you don't think they should be Challenge Rating 1/4?

It's hard to tell, but I'd eyeball that as maybe Challenge 1/4. It's hard to tell since its Division ability makes calculation difficult but it looks less formidable that the CR 1/2 Gray Ooze but is certainly nastier than the CR 1/8 Giant Rat or Giant Weasel since you may have to kill two or three divided wormkin before it dies.
 



Cleon

Adventurer
Okay - version 3....

Still don't care for that "Description" title. The print Monster Manual layout has the monster's name above the descriptive text and I prefer that layout. Does DnDBeyond allow you to change "Description" to "Argorian Wormkin"?

I notice that the 5eSRD.com website's Monster Database preferred an "About" tag for its fluff info, but I like that less than "Description".

Apart from that quibble it looks done to me.

So shall we add version 3 of this critter to the White Dwarf Conversion Index or am I indexing a version 4 with that minor tweak?

In either case, I think we're ready to move on to the Pine Bros.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
While we're at it...I did brother of the pine....I had a think about the version posted a few years ago which came out before cantrips were a thing....and came up with this....toning it down a bit asa group monster

Would you mind posting a link to the earlier version just for comparison purposes (since I'm too lazy to look for the post).
 

Cleon

Adventurer
While we're at it...I did brother of the pine....I had a think about the version posted a few years ago which came out before cantrips were a thing....and came up with this....toning it down a bit asa group monster

Anyhow, to start with I believe it is 5E policy to use gender-neutral names for collectives of creatures unless they literally are all of a particular sex, so unless the Brothers of the Pines are literally all men (as if gender means anything to an undead) we should probably tweak the "Brother" to something else, such as like "Child", "Kindred", "Spawn", "Warrior" or "Scion".

Also, will you also be converting the Leader and Jarl of this monster? I think you should, in which case I suggest you need a title for the group and each individual creature.

For exampe, 5e has a family Ghouls that contains the Ghoul (=Ghoul, Common) and the Ghast (=Ghoul, Ghast) in the Monster Manual, and there are many more types in subsequent works.

So maybe something like:

Kindred of the Pines
Kindred of the Pines, Warrior
Kindred of the Pines, Leader
Kindred of the Pines, Jarl


With the Warrior being the CR 1 basic version we're currently working on, the Leader being a 4th-level CR 2 spellcaster and the Jarl being, say, CR 3?

We could also swap out the "of the" and "Kindred" when referring to these creatures in the description and use "Pine Kindred", "Warriors of the Pines", "Pine Warrior", "Jarl of the Pines" and so on.

Also, "Leader" is kind of boring as a name. Since "Jarl" is a Scandinavian title for a high-ranking noble, I would suggest using "Thane" instead. If you want to go the whole hog we could change the "Warriors" to some sort of Huscarl, although since that literally means Houseman (in the sense of a household retainer / bodyguard to a noble) and they live in the woods rather than houses, I guess "Wudcarl" (meaning Woodman) or "Fircarl" (meaning Pineman) would be more appropriate.

Kindred of the Pines
Kindred of the Pines, Fircarl
Kindred of the Pines, Thane
Kindred of the Pines, Jarl


What thinks thee?
 

Casimir Liber

Explorer
Still don't care for that "Description" title. The print Monster Manual layout has the monster's name above the descriptive text and I prefer that layout. Does DnDBeyond allow you to change "Description" to "Argorian Wormkin"?

I notice that the 5eSRD.com website's Monster Database preferred an "About" tag for its fluff info, but I like that less than "Description".

Apart from that quibble it looks done to me.

So shall we add version 3 of this critter to the White Dwarf Conversion Index or am I indexing a version 4 with that minor tweak?

In either case, I think we're ready to move on to the Pine Bros.
I will see what I can do about the description....weird.

...crap - can't do anything so happy to go with that version (3)
 
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Casimir Liber

Explorer
Okay - renamed - calling the base one a warrior seemed a bit lame. Plenty of tribal monsters have no/null name for base version so left blank. Also "Pine kindred" so much easier than "Kindred of the Pine"....and thane/jarl
 

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Cleon

Adventurer
Okay - original post was here - If we have to give the base Pine Kindred a name, let's just call it "common".

Okay, I've updated the White Dwarf Conversion Index with its first 5E conversion.

Some elements of your previous conversion look like they can be cribbed for the Thane, but we can leave them 'til later.

If I understand you right, you originally wanted these chaps to be deployable in large mobs?

At the moment the basic Pine Kindred is CR 1 so will be roughly equivalent to a Bugbear, which is unsuitable for such Encounters unless the party is very high level.

Should we add a CR 1/4 "Pine Kindred Thrall" to fill that niche? Basically an undead plantman version of the Cultist with a single cantrip and 3d8 Hit Dice? Or have you abandoned that idea.

I like the idea of the regular Pine Kindred being the CR 1 versions though, maybe the Thralls are newly transformed victims or temporary disposable minions? We can worry about the background details when we get around to the Description.
 



Casimir Liber

Explorer
Yeah...Looking at the original - it came out as a lvl 3 monster, so maybe not a grunt-level enemy if we are keeping some sort of faith with the original concept...anyway. Open to suggestions.

Also - I like the name "Thrall" for the lowest/base level incarnation of these.

Also - is it useful to add typical spells the kindred might use as a default?
 
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Cleon

Adventurer
Yeah...Looking at the original - it came out as a lvl 3 monster, so maybe not a grunt-level enemy if we are keeping some sort of faith with the original concept...anyway. Open to suggestions.

Bear in mind that the "level III" of the Fiend Factory version is its Monstermark level, which may not correspond to later editions Challenge Ratings or the monster level used in official AD&D creatures.

But as I said, I'm eyeballing them as roughly on par with an AD&D Bugbear in terms of physical threat, although their spells and supernatural defenses make them a tougher proposition we can easily tweak them to be a similar CR in 5E.

Also - I like the name "Thrall" for the lowest/base level incarnation of these.

Well thrall means slave, so I'm not in favour of using that term for the CR 1 incarnation, since they are more akin to warriors in service to the thanes and jarls. If you don't like fircarl or huscarl for their name, I'd rather just call them Pine Kindred. There is precedent - the basic Ghoul is just called a Ghoul in the Monster Manual.

I'd leave discussing whether to add "Pine Thralls" and how to stat them until after we've finished converting the three varieties described in White Dwarf #21.

Also - is it useful to add typical spells the kindred might use as a default?

Standard practice is that a 5E spellcasting creature has a spell selection spells listed, but these are typical spells so a spellcaster can have a different selection as the DM desires.
 


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