Epic Monsters: Grendel (5E)

Today in Epic Monsters we’re visiting upon the epic of Beowulf for a giant like no other: Grendel!



At first glance I sort of wrote Grendel off as your average ogre or giant but he’s definitely something more. In the story he has tremendously powerful hearing and later on--a good while after he’s already dead--his blood proves corrosive enough to ruin a (maybe magical) sword. He’s definitely not a match for Beowulf (who has appeared elsewhere in Mythological Figures) but certainly no pushover.

Design Notes: Grendel has incredible hearing and I figured that’s worth blindsight (and vulnerability to thunder). Aside from the Toxic Blood trait the rest of this statblock is fairly standard--he’s very strong, can jump around well, and has a variety of (similar) natural weapons. Toxic Blood and Big-Handed Grappling should give adventurers pause and make for a fun fight, and remember that he can always flee to fight again later, maybe back at home. Grendel’s mother plays an important role in the story too and might get a statblock later (not sure yet as she’s written about very nebulously) but until then I’d recommend using a marilith.


Grendel
Large giant, chaotic evil


Armor Class
15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 114 (12d10+48)
Speed 45 ft.

STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
22 (+6)​
15 (+2)​
18 (+4)​
11 (+0)​
14 (+2)​
7 (-2)​

Saving Throws Cha +1
Skills Athletics +9, Perception +8, Survival +5
Damage Vulnerabilities thunder
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities acid
Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 18
Languages Giant, Olde English
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)

Big-Handed Grappling. Grendel has advantage on attack rolls against a creature he is grappling and he can use an action to try to pin a creature he’s grappled. To do so, Grendel makes another grapple check. If he succeeds, the creature is restrained until the grapple ends. Grendel only needs one hand to grapple a creature of Medium size or smaller.

Leap. Grendel increases the distances of his horizontal jumps by 20 feet and his vertical jumps by 10 feet.

Superior Hearing. Grendel has advantage on sound-based Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Toxic Blood. When a creature within 5 feet of Grendel hits him with a melee attack that deals piercing or slashing damage, that creature takes 7 (2d6) acid damage.



ACTIONS

Multiattack. Grendel attacks three times.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d8+6) piercing damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d6+6) slashing damage.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d8+6) bludgeoning damage.

Rock. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 250/500 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d6+6) bludgeoning damage.

Thrown Object. Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, range 250/500 ft., multiple targets (determined by object size; make one attack roll per target). Hit: 13 (1d8+9) damage. The damage type depends on the object (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing) and at 100 pounds and every 100 pounds thereafter, the damage increases by 1d8 (up to a maximum of 10d8 at 1,000 pounds). A creature thrown at an object bigger than it takes regular damage, but only takes half damage when thrown at another creature.
 
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Mike Myler

Comments

Yaarel

Adventurer
I think of the mother of Grendel as something like a ‘weredragon’. It involves Norse tropes relating to the shapeshifting of the berserkr, which itself relates to jǫtunn and trǫll. She seems to include serpentine features, likely relating to the European viper, possibly with lustrous black and silver-gold markings.

Grendel and his mom are probably a kind of giant with shapeshifting ability, who prefer the alternate form.
 
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Yaarel

Adventurer
Charisma is not the same as being ugly. I have no doubt that Grendel is hideous to look at for a Human, but to another Giant he could be incredibly handsome. You could do with adding some feats and flaws with these characters.
Charisma is both charm and fear. So, in this case, the Charisma bonus normally applies to intimidation checks, rather than persuasion checks.

Old school Comeliness ability, might work better as a trait, granting advantage to persuasion checks but disadvantage to intimidation checks, versus viewers in line of sight.

Oppositely, Hideousness might grant advantage to intimidation checks but disadvantage to persuation checks, versus viewers in line of sight.

The tradeoff seems moreorless a wash, and could be handled under the appearance and personality section, relating moreso to Background.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I definitely consider all Jǫtunn to exhibit higher than average Charisma, often in the sense of terrifying (Intimidation), but for some individuals in the sense of extreme beauty (Persuasion).

This probably includes Grendel and his mom too, in the sense of terrifying.
 
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Rafael Martin

Explorer
Charisma is both charm and fear. So, in this case, the Charisma bonus normally applies to intimidation checks, rather than persuasion checks.

Old school Comeliness ability, might work better as a trait, granting advantage to persuasion checks but disadvantage to intimidation checks, versus viewers in line of sight.

Oppositely, Hideousness might grant advantage to intimidation checks but disadvantage to persuation checks, versus viewers in line of sight.

The tradeoff seems moreorless a wash, and could be handled under the appearance and personality section, relating moreso to Background.
I think instead of a low charisma, which I don't believe Grendel has, he could have added a flaw like being hideous or terrifying. I would give Grendel an 18 Charisma based on his ability to intimidate the hell out of most folks. That's how it should be, and I think Mike should go back and edit Grendel! Really!
 
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