Epic Monsters: Gremlins (5E)

Epic Monsters has a bit of an odd entry today but click onward to learn about the relatively recently conjured myth of Gremlins!


Most of us know about gremlins from the immensely popular 1980s Gremlins movie of the same name but they didn’t start with an old antiquities shop, originating instead with the RAF in the 1920s: the Royal Air Force of England! They are like the cinematic version in that gremlins love causing trouble, although specifically they like to make aircraft malfunction--if you’re thinking of William Shatner screaming about the wing of the plane, you’re talking about a gremlin!

Design Notes: What’s below is a pastiche of the gremlin statblocks I’ve converted for the Zeitgeist adventure path mixed together and tweaked to match what we need for aircraft-sabotaging troublemakers. Although tough and in possession of some potent innately cast spells, ultimately gremlins are fairly weak and best used as bait for a chase sequence, as a surprise obstacle or danger amidst an otherwise standard scene, or to lead a party to something interesting.


Gremlins
Tiny fey, neutral evil


Armor Class
15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 75 (10d4+50)
Speed 35 ft.

STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
15 (+2)​
19 (+4)​
20 (+5)​
15 (+2)​
14 (+2)​
12 (+1)​

Skills Athletics +4, Deception +5, Perception +6, Stealth +6
Tools thieves’ tools +4, tinker’s tools +4
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Common
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

Cunning Action (1/Turn). The gremlin can take a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, Hide or Use Object action, make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check, or to use thieves’ tools to disarm a trap or open a lock.

Innate Spellcasting. The gremlin’s innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 12; +4 to hit with spell attacks). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components.
At will: prestidigitation, shocking grasp
3/day: heat metal, shatter

Magic Resistance. The gremlin has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Quick. The gremlin has advantage on initiative checks.

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

Unluck Aura. The gremlin radiates an aura of unluck in a 20-foot radius. Creatures in this area have disadvantage on all d20 rolls. This is a mind-affecting effect that does not work on gremlins. Any creature with an item that grants bonuses via luck (such as a stone of good luck) is immune to the gremlin’s Unluck Aura.

ACTIONS

Magic Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) piercing damage.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Mike Myler

Comments

TrippyHippy

Adventurer
You live and learn!

I always used to think of 'gremlins' as an Americanism, because of the movie, but didn't realise that they were an RAF term or, following on, popularised by Roald Dahl. I also note, in your link that they were referenced in the cult movie, Heavy Metal - which I'll have to watch again. Good link!
 

dave2008

Adventurer
as always thank you for sharing. Though I wouldn't call them "epic," I like what you have created here. My one thought, based on the description, is that the "unluck Aura" sounds like a charm effect, so maybe those immune to the charmed condition shouldn't be affected?
 

Mike Myler

Explorer
You live and learn!

I always used to think of 'gremlins' as an Americanism, because of the movie, but didn't realise that they were an RAF term or, following on, popularised by Roald Dahl. I also note, in your link that they were referenced in the cult movie, Heavy Metal - which I'll have to watch again. Good link!

Thank you! I too was surprised by their origins.

as always thank you for sharing. Though I wouldn't call them "epic," I like what you have created here. My one thought, based on the description, is that the "unluck Aura" sounds like a charm effect, so maybe those immune to the charmed condition shouldn't be affected?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Unluck Aura was originally written by Thursty I think. Immunity to charm granting immunity to unluck is okay thematically I reckon but ultimately not necessary (aside from being quick, tough little bastards good against objects their whole thing is that aura so I'd recommend against putting any more workarounds into it)

(and thanks for commenting too :D )
 

Koloth

Villager
The first reference I saw on Gremlins was a Bugs Bunny cartoon I watched as a kid. I think it was made during WWII. Bugs was doing something with US planes and a little gremlin kept messing up the works.
 

dwayne

Explorer
I would have put them as goblin kin like fairies are to elves, more of a hindrance to mechanical things of man, liken to Neo-Luddites. Would be a cool concept to add this to a modern fantasy game as to why your car breaks down and find you are being hassled by gremlins, because you didn't pay your elf booky his money. Or a woman who you stood up just took out a contract on you with a Gremlin king to harass you. All kinds of fun irritating things much like fairies can be had with these little guys.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
More monsters need Unluck auras like that. I bet the leprechaun from those crappy horror movies has that ability :)
 

MarkB

Hero
They'd work very well as support monsters. Cast Invisibility on a few (or even one) of them and send them into a camp to perform little sabotages on equipment, untying bow strings, loosening saddles, greasing sword-hilts, tying bootlaces together, with the party having disadvantage on any checks to notice that anything is happening. Then launch an attack, watch the ensuing chaos as the party spend the first round dealing with their sabotaged gear, and after that they're still stuck in an Unluck Aura with no idea who's causing it. The gremlin wouldn't even have to participate in the combat to cause chaos.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
They'd work very well as support monsters. Cast Invisibility on a few (or even one) of them and send them into a camp to perform little sabotages on equipment, untying bow strings, loosening saddles, greasing sword-hilts, tying bootlaces together, with the party having disadvantage on any checks to notice that anything is happening. Then launch an attack, watch the ensuing chaos as the party spend the first round dealing with their sabotaged gear, and after that they're still stuck in an Unluck Aura with no idea who's causing it. The gremlin wouldn't even have to participate in the combat to cause chaos.
The only drawback is that any gremlin allies would also suffer Unluck if nearby
 

ErisRaven

Villager
They seem awfully tough for a "nuisance" or "support" monster. CON 20? 75 HP for a tiny fey? CR 4? I think they're a bit ramped up. I love the ideas though and I may ramp them down and convert to WoD to plague my modern game with.
 

dave2008

Adventurer
They seem awfully tough for a "nuisance" or "support" monster. CON 20? 75 HP for a tiny fey? CR 4? I think they're a bit ramped up. I love the ideas though and I may ramp them down and convert to WoD to plague my modern game with.
Those are good points. I would rather they had a trait like evasion and lower HP / Con. That seems more thematic to me. Honestly, the STR score seems high to. I think of them more as DEX based than STR based.
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Top