D&D 5E Epic Monsters: Grendel's Mother

Once more we’re going way, way back with Epic Monsters to the epic of Beowulf’s greatest foe: Grendel’s Mother!

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Grendel’s mother—who is never named—is a bit of an open book. There’s centuries of debate over the nature of this monster, and very little to go on for what her abilities were or what she looked like. What is not debated from the original manuscript are that she birthed Grendel, is a descendant of Cain, vengefully attacks the mead hall Heorot, lives in a cave under a lake, and that she almost kills Beowulf before he grabs at an ancient sword and decapitates her.

Design Notes: With the scant details available for Grendel’s mother lets use the 2007 film Beowulf as the general basis for her statistics. It makes sense for her to naturally be a giant like her son (meaning we never see her true form), but she can assume the shape of a human or dragon too—although not instantly. She’s got a few innate spells and a Toxic Blood feature similar to her boy, plus some fun with a crazy long hair braid. Let’s do the numbers! The DMG 14.25 came in higher on this one while the Blog of Holding hit 13.66. Seems sensible to round up a smidge with the Toxic Blood feature so we’ll settle on CR 14.

Grendel’s Mother

Large giant, neutral evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 252 (24d10+120)
Speed 50 ft.
25 (+7)​
19 (+4)​
21 (+5)​
16 (+3)​
18 (+4)​
16 (+3)​
Skills Athletics +12, Intimidation +8, Perception +9, Persuasion +13
Damage Resistances cold, fire; bludgeoning, piercing, slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities acid
Condition Immunities frightened
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 19
Languages Giant, Olde English
Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)

Innate Spellcasting. Grendel’s mother’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 17, +9 to hit with spell attacks). She can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
3/day: charm person, fear, mislead, suggestion

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If Grendel’s mother fails a saving throw, she can choose to succeed instead.

Magic Resistance. Grendel’s mother has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. Grendel’s mother’s weapon attacks are magical.

Toxic Blood. When a creature within 5 feet of Grendel’s mother hits her with a melee attack that deals piercing or slashing damage, that creature takes 7 (2d6) acid damage. While in the form of an adult brass dragon, the attacking creature takes 9 (2d8) fire damage instead.

Multiattack. Grendel’s mother attacks four times with slam and once with her braid whip.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d8+7) bludgeoning damage.

Braid Whip. Melee Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, reach 25 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d4+7) slashing damage. Instead of dealing damage, Grendel’s mother can grapple the target (escape DC 20).

Thrown Object. Ranged Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, range 250/500 ft., multiple targets (determined by object size; make one attack roll per target). Hit: 14 (1d8+10) 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+10 at 1,000 pounds). A creature thrown at an object bigger than it is takes regular damage, but only takes half damage when thrown at another creature.

Change Shape. Grendel’s mother starts to magically polymorph into a Medium humanoid, into an adult brass dragon, or back into her true form. If Grendel’s mother dies, she reverts to her true form. At the start of her next turn, her transformation completes.
In a new form, Grendel’s mother retains her game statistics and ability to speak, but her movement modes and other actions are replaced by those of the new form, and she gains any statistics and capabilities (except for class features) that the new form has but that she lacks.

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Mike Myler

Mike Myler

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Yup. 3 innate spell slots, 4 spells to choose from. Should be enough to give her some wiggle room in social encounters and treacherousness until/as revenge for/once again getting into proper combat.
So you are saying it is not the 5e standard of 3 per day for each spell listed? Which would be: 12 slots, 3 for each spell listed, similar to the pit fiend I clipped.


In any event, the idea that the reason Grendel attacked Heorot was because of noise is not an invention of Gaiman's.

Couldn't he have just banged on the wall and yelled at him to turn it down, you know, like a normal person? Talk about anger management issues...


Couldn't he have just banged on the wall and yelled at him to turn it down, you know, like a normal person? Talk about anger management issues...
Well, since he's laden with God's anger, I'd say that would probably a bit much to expect of the fellow.


I'm not positive, but given that they live in a cave with an underwater entrance, I think Grendel and his mum may be able to breathe water...

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