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5E Epic Monsters: Jörmungandr

Epic Monsters is spanning the world today, stretching all the way to the Norse epics for one last post in this little mini-series of builds to consider that serpent to end all serpents Jörmungandr!

Jörmungandr DnD 5e banner.jpg

There are a few myths central to the world-spanning Jörmungandr. One of the offspring of Loki and Angrboða (alongside its siblings Fenrir and Hel), it was first tied to a pine tree but proved feisty and spat venom at Odin. The Allgod then tossed it out into the oceans around Midgard where it grew and grew until it encircled the entire world. After that there are three very prevalent legends: Thor lifting it thinking it was a very big cat and nearly breaking the boundaries of existence by almost getting too much of it off the ground, when Thor caught it on a fishing line that Hymir fearfully cuts in twain to prevent Ragnarök from coming too early, and finally that when the apocalypse comes that the two will slay each other.

Design Notes: There were a few things to keep in mind while building Jörmungandr. First of all Thor has to be able to kill it. Granted he dies afterward and his dad can probably spare a spell or two for him to make it a touch easier, but it has to be killable by the man with Mjölnir. Then there’s representing the enormity bit so a proverbial page has been taken from the World Turtle’s book which brings us to the action economy at work. That discussion inevitably starts pouring love on Legendary Actions but between the occasional earthquake, the delayed hit with its tail, and the secondary effect of its poisonous bite there’s enough tracking going on with Jörmungandr already so this version is without. Let’s look at the numbers! The DMG landed on 23.16667 and the Blog of Holding smack dab on 23. It’s unlikely that the Odinson will win in a true one-on-one fight with the World Serpent—he’ll have much better chances battling alongside some adventurers ☜(゚ヮ゚☜)—but it’s not outside the realm of possibility with its hit points and him nailing with a fair number of smited critical hits. Those sorts of odds are, after all, part and parcel with world ending myths.

Jörmungandr

Gargantuan monstrosity, chaotic evil
Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 410 (20d20+200)
Speed 60 ft., climb 60 ft., swim 200 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
27 (+8)​
13 (+1)​
30 (+10)​
3 (–4)​
20 (+5)​
23 (+6)​
Saving Throws Int +3
Skills Athletics +15
Damage Resistances cold, fire; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
Damage Immunities acid, poison; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, stunned
Senses darkvision 300 ft., truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages
Challenge 23 (50,000 XP)

Amphibious. Jörmungandr can breathe air and water.

Damage Threshold. Jörmungandr does not take damage from an attack, spell, or other effect that deals 10 points or less of bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage (calculated after resistances).

Freedom of Movement. Jörmungandr ignores difficult terrain, and magical effects can't reduce its speed or cause it to be restrained. It can spend 5 feet of movement to escape from nonmagical restraints or being grappled.

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If Jörmungandr fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Magic Resistance. Jörmungandr has advantage on saving throws made against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. Jörmungandr’s weapon attacks are magical.

Ponderous Tail. Whenever Jörmungandr makes a Colossal Tail attack, its attack does not strike until the end of its next turn. If the target of its attack has moved out of the area Jörmungandr misses the target but may hit other creatures or objects still in the area.

Regeneration. Jörmungandr regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn. If Jörmungandr takes radiant damage, this trait doesn’t function at the start of its next turn. Jörmungandr dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate.

Seamaster. At the start of any turn that Jörmungandr has pulled at least 200 feet or more of its body out of the water, its absence sends the sea tumbling. Creatures within 50 feet of the part of Jörmungandr’s body that is still submerged must make a DC 23 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and pushed 50 feet away from it.
When Jörmungandr starts its turn with less than 200 feet of its body out of the water, creatures within 50 feet of it must make a DC 23 Strength (Athletics) check to move in the water. Any creature that has a swim speed makes this check with advantage.

Siege Monster. Jörmungandr deals double damage to objects and structures.

World Tremors (Recharge 6). Jörmungandr can use a bonus action to innately cast earthquake (DC 21) without the need for material components, somatic components, or concentration.


ACTIONS
Multiattack. Jörmungandr attacks twice: twice with its black venom, or once with its bite, and once with either colossal tail or constrict.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 30 ft., one target. Hit: 44 (6d10+11) piercing damage plus 27 (6d8) acid damage. In addition, at the end of its next turn the creature makes a DC 23 Constitution saving throw or it takes 27 (6d8) poison damage.

Colossal Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 120 ft., multiple targets more than 20 feet away from Jörmungandr (120-foot cone centered on one target; roll separately for each creature and object in the area). Hit: 37 (4d12+11) bludgeoning damage and the target makes a DC 23 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.

Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 20 ft., one creature. Hit: 38 (6d8+11) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 23). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and Jörmungandr can't constrict another target.

Black Venom. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 50/100 ft., multiple targets (10-foot square; roll separately for each creature and object in the area). Hit: 27 (6d8) acid damage. In addition, at the end of its next turn the creature makes a DC 23 Constitution saving throw or it takes 27 (6d8) poison damage.
 
Last edited:
Mike Myler

Mike Myler


dave2008

Legend
Mike, thank you as always for these. Always very interesting. A few comments below (because I don't feel like working yet after lunch).
Damage Resistances cold, fire; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
I feel like you are getting in rut and using this to much. I think the World Serpent might just be better served by higher HP.
Damage Threshold. Jörmungandr ignores the first 10 points of bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage (calculated after resistances; minimum 0) dealt by attacks, spells, and other effects.
Damage threshold is a thing in 5e, and this isn't it. So it is a bit confusing. What your describing is damage reduction. Not sure how you calculate this into your CR, but it is a serious nerf for weapon attacks, particularly because of the BPS resistance. I don't think you have taken this into account in your CR, but I could be wrong.

PS Damage threshold from the basic rules:
An object with a damage threshold has immunity to all damage unless it takes an amount of damage from a single attack or effect equal to or greater than its damage threshold, in which case it takes damage as normal.

Magic Resistance. Jörmungandr has advantage on saving throws made against spells and other magical effects.
You might consider giving disadvantage on attack spells too, some official versions of magic resistance provide this now. From Theros:

Tromokratis has advantage on saving throws against spells, and any creature that makes a spell attack against Tromokratis has disadvantage on the attack roll.

Ponderous Tail. Whenever Jörmungandr makes a Colossal Tail attack, its attack does not strike until the end of its next turn. If the target of its attack has moved out of the area Jörmungandr misses the target but may hit other creatures or objects still in the area.
A little clunky, but a good way to handle titanic attacks. I may burrow a version of this.
World Tremors (Recharge 6). Jörmungandr can use a bonus action to innately cast earthquake (DC 21) without the need for material components or concentration.
I might suggest it can cast this with no components.
Colossal Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 120 ft., multiple targets more than 20 feet away from Jörmungandr (120-foot cone centered on one target; roll separately for each creature and object in the area). Hit: 37 (4d12+11) bludgeoning damage and the target makes a DC 23 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.
Why not line? Or do you see it more of a sweep effect?
Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 20 ft., one creature. Hit: 38 (6d8+11) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 23). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and the snake can't constrict another target.
I would say "Jörmungandr" instead of snake.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
Mike, thank you as always for these. Always very interesting. A few comments below (because I don't feel like working yet after lunch).

I feel like you are getting in rut and using this to much. I think the World Serpent might just be better served by higher HP.

Damage threshold is a thing in 5e, and this isn't it. So it is a bit confusing. What your describing is damage reduction. Not sure how you calculate this into your CR, but it is a serious nerf for weapon attacks, particularly because of the BPS resistance. I don't think you have taken this into account in your CR, but I could be wrong.

PS Damage threshold from the basic rules:
An object with a damage threshold has immunity to all damage unless it takes an amount of damage from a single attack or effect equal to or greater than its damage threshold, in which case it takes damage as normal.


You might consider giving disadvantage on attack spells too, some official versions of magic resistance provide this now. From Theros:

Tromokratis has advantage on saving throws against spells, and any creature that makes a spell attack against Tromokratis has disadvantage on the attack roll.


A little clunky, but a good way to handle titanic attacks. I may burrow a version of this.

I might suggest it can cast this with no components.

Why not line? Or do you see it more of a sweep effect?

I would say "Jörmungandr" instead of snake.
Implemented some fixes! Shouldn't have fiddled with its Damage Threshold trait waaaaaayyyyyyyy late in the evening (bad Mike!), and aye I pulled constrict off a snake and forgot about it after tweaking the numbers around. Still want it screaming or something so no somatic components. As for the tail I was thinking either sweeps, it having a big ol' finned tail, or just enormous bunches of it body flopping onto a large area and the simplest way to implement that last bit seemed to be a cone (radius felt wrong and difficult to use, blocked out squares only slightly less awkward, line would be good but you can't taper the edges down without some obtuse wording).
 

dave2008

Legend
..., line would be good but you can't taper the edges down without some obtuse wording).
Just curious, what do you get from tapered edges? I feel like we are not visualizing the same thing, which is fine, I just want to understand what your envisioning.

I see the tail raising up and slamming down (basically a line of some length and width).
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
Ideally it'd be something like this
........................................--------...................
......................................////....\\\\.................
...................................////..........\\\\..............
...............................////................\\\\............
............................////.....................\\\\..........
🐲------------...............................--------

or this

......................................--------...............
.....................................////\\\\.................
.................................../////\\\\\\.............
.................................//////\\\\\\\...........
.............................////////\\\\\\\\..........
🐲------------..............................-----

and the simpler solution is the tail getting bunched up and twisted when it writhes itself in the same direction
................----------...................
...............\\\\\\/////..................
..................\\\\////....................
....................\\\///.....................
......................\\//......................
🐲---------......------------

(and the people that manage to dodge it while still inside the area leap towards the un-mentioned and inevitable gap in its body)
 


Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
The Midgard Serpent should be at least in the terrasque class. For pity's sake, the thing encircles the world.

Just my $.02
There are bigger things ;)

 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
Jörmungandr moving onto land affects the sea level at least in Ragnorok. You could probably borrow some language from the tidal wave spell. It won't help him much against Thor, but it explains why a bunch of Thor's buddies couldn't get close enough to help him. When fighting him in the water, I figure anyone swimming is probably being bumped around by the currents when Jörmungandr moves.

In the story where Thor goes fishing for it, its presence frightens the giant Thor is fishing with, so maybe add frightful presence.

You could give him a death curse (since Jörmungandr is treated as a linnorm in D&D): if Jörmungandr is killed any poison damage it would have inflicted that was decreased by resistance or immunity of the target is inflicted on the target, ignoring resistance or immunity to poison. So Thor kills it and the death curse kills him off in a way consistent with mythology.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I feel like the colossal tail mechanic is a bit clunky. It seems you would be just as well served with a standard cone area attack, Strength DC for half damage (and keep the prone effect). For such a creature I would even be alright with the notion of auto-proning....if you get hit by the tail of that size you simply go down, no saving will help you. I do like the ponderous tail concept.

For World Tremors, you could also add in ("Earthquake or Tsunami"). Just gives the beast a little flexibility if its at sea and still fits in with the "world destroyer" concept.
 

dave2008

Legend
The Midgard Serpent should be at least in the terrasque class. For pity's sake, the thing encircles the world.

Just my $.02
As he explained in the OP, this was designed around being able to be defeated by the Thor that was completed a long time ago and, correct me if I am wrong @Mike Myler , but I believe Thor was a PC build. So a Tarrasque class monster would be out of Thor's league.

However, in general I agree with you, I think both Thor and Jörmungandr should be much higher CR.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Just thought of an idea to put a short of "time limit" into the fight to make it much more interesting (I often find time pressure is a good method to keep high level fights interesting). Basically the idea is that once the serpent goes to work, the world is about to end. So we highlight that by increasing its power.

World Tremors (Recharge 6). Jörmungandr can use a bonus action to innately cast earthquake (DC 21) without the need for material components or concentration. Every time this ability is used, the radius of the area doubles.

Ragnorok: The 5th time that the World Tremors ability is used, the entire world is destroyed.
 





Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
Added in something for the displaced water bit (I should've had something for it in the first place)

Seamaster. At the start of any turn that Jörmungandr has pulled at least 200 feet or more of its body out of the water, its absence sends the sea tumbling. Creatures within 50 feet of the part of Jörmungandr’s body that is still submerged must make a DC 23 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and pushed 50 feet away from it.
When Jörmungandr starts its turn with less than 200 feet of its body out of the water, creatures within 50 feet of it must make a DC 23 Strength (Athletics) check to move in the water. Any creature that has a swim speed makes this check with advantage.

Frightful Presence for something like Jörmungandr is redundant I think—you are going to be terrified of it because it is an impossibly huge force of nature. If you aren't terrified of a living avalanche coming at you, a Wisdom saving throw to be scared is a bit silly. I agree that'd make sense from a rules standpoint but terror for its own sake isn't really what it's about with the big snake, it's the horror of what it represents that strikes fear into Thor's buddies (and anyone else even remotely sane).

Tsunami is a good notion but it is not OGL. :/ I'm a little tempted to get some water cyclones in here or something but I think we can just put a little more love into Seamaster.
 


Added in something for the displaced water bit (I should've had something for it in the first place)

Seamaster. At the start of any turn that Jörmungandr has pulled at least 200 feet or more of its body out of the water, its absence sends the sea tumbling. Creatures within 50 feet of the part of Jörmungandr’s body that is still submerged must make a DC 23 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and pushed 50 feet away from it.
When Jörmungandr starts its turn with less than 200 feet of its body out of the water, creatures within 50 feet of it must make a DC 23 Strength (Athletics) check to move in the water. Any creature that has a swim speed makes this check with advantage.

Frightful Presence for something like Jörmungandr is redundant I think—you are going to be terrified of it because it is an impossibly huge force of nature. If you aren't terrified of a living avalanche coming at you, a Wisdom saving throw to be scared is a bit silly. I agree that'd make sense from a rules standpoint but terror for its own sake isn't really what it's about with the big snake, it's the horror of what it represents that strikes fear into Thor's buddies (and anyone else even remotely sane).

Tsunami is a good notion but it is not OGL. :/ I'm a little tempted to get some water cyclones in here or something but I think we can just put a little more love into Seamaster.
Use tsunami! Nobody'll notice!
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
I figure monsters that are big enough should have area effect bites.
There's good logic to that but the tracking involved with the delayed poison effect on its bite (which is a thing we want to maintain the most popular mythological story about Big J here) makes me very hesitant to inflict it upon more than one creature a round. That sounds like a GM-ing headache!
It would also mean a bump of at least 1-2 CR because the more creatures being targeted by the attack the more attack rolls it makes, and the more attack rolls it makes the higher the likelihood of a critical hit happening—which by this point in the damage dice means ~84 extra damage (or more, depending on how big the bite's area is and how many additional 'hits' it can net with that). When we get to "super kaiju shark" we'll dig into some area bites though for sure.
 

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