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5E Epic Monsters: Karkaddan

This week’s Epic Monsteris it a rhinoceros? A unicorn? Both? Let’s find out more about the karkaddan!


Karkadann DnD 5e BANNER.jpg


As the image suggests, this is a pretty confused creature. In the 10th or 11th century the Persian scholar Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī describes the animal having "the build of a buffalo...a black, scaly skin; a dewlap hanging down under the skin. It has three yellow hooves on each foot...The tail is not long. The eyes lie low, farther down the cheek than is the case with all other animals. On the top of the nose there is a single horn which is bent upwards." Then a different author presents a fragment of Al-Biruni that adds: "the horn is conical, bent back towards the head, and longer than a span...the animal's ears protrude on both sides like those of a donkey, and...its upper lip forms into a finger-shape, like the protrusion on the end of an elephant's trunk." More confusion works its way in because Persian uses the same name for unicorn as it does for rhinoceros.

Later on other writers further embellish the creature, elongating and straightening the horn. A physician named Zakariya al-Qazwini associates the karkadann's horn with poison in the 13th century with claims that holding it open to the bowels relieves constipation, and that it can cure epilepsy and lameness. Other folks claim the horn perspires when poison is present and can be used as an antidote. Ibn Battuta spots a rhinoceros in his 14th century travelogue and from there the karkaddan works its way into One Thousand and One Nights (Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor).

Two great Wikipedia quotes for this one:
  • ‘Karkadann’ is a variation of the Persian ‘kargadan’, or Sanskrit ‘kartajan’, which means ‘lord of the desert’.
  • Modern Iraq still has a tradition of "tears of the karkadann," dumiu al-karkadan, which are reddish beads used in the Misbaha, the Muslim prayer beads (subuhat). The accompanying legend says that the rhinoceros spends days in the desert looking for water; when he does, he first weeps "out of fatigue and thirst-pain." These tears, as they fall into the water of the drinking hole, turn into beads.

Design Notes: Today’s Epic Monster sounds like it merits a bigger, badder unicorn. It’s tougher to hit, it’s beefier, it’s bigger (literally a size category larger), it’s stronger, it’s got way more to do with poison, it hits harder, it heals harder, it’s unicorn plus. There are also mythological lore elements worked into its lair effects to help make it stand out a bit as its own creature. Let’s take a look at the numbers: the DMG rubric spat out a 7.3333 while the Blog of Holding came up with a flat 8. Averaging it out is just above 7.666 so it’s rounded down to a 7, although with an AC bump (to 18 or 19) it’d be a solid 8.


Karkaddan
Huge celestial, neutral good
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 105 (10d12+40)
Speed 60 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
21 (+5)​
15 (+2)​
18 (+4)​
12 (+1)​
17 (+3)​
18 (+4)​

Skills Perception +6
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities charmed, paralyzed, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Persian; telepathy 60 ft.
Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

Charge. If the karkaddan moves at least 20 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a horn attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 11 (2d10) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Innate Spellcasting. The karkaddan's innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 15). The karkaddan can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:
Constant: detect poison and disease
At will: druidcraft, pass without trace, purify food and drink
3/day each: lesser restoration, protection from poison
1/day each: greater restoration

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

Magic Weapons. The karkaddan's weapon attacks are magical.


ACTIONS
Multiattack. The karkaddan makes two attacks: one with its hooves and one with its horn.

Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8+5) bludgeoning damage.

Horn. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10+5) piercing damage.

Healing Touch (3/Day). The karkaddan touches another creature with its horn. The target magically regains 22 (4d8+4) hit points. In addition, the touch removes all diseases and neutralizes all poisons afflicting the target.

Teleport (1/Day). The karkaddan magically teleports itself and up to three willing creatures it can see within 5 feet of it, along with any equipment they are wearing or carrying, to a location the karkaddan is familiar with, up to 1 mile away.


LEGENDARY ACTIONS
The karkaddan can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The karkaddan regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
  • Hooves. The karkaddan makes one attack with its hooves.
  • Shimmering Shield (Costs 2 Actions). The karkaddan creates a shimmering, magical field around itself or another creature it can see within 60 feet of it. The target gains a +5 bonus to AC until the end of the karkaddan's next turn.
  • Heal Self (Costs 3 Actions). The karkaddan magically regains 22 (4d8+4) hit points.


Karkaddan’s Lair
Most karkaddan lair around watering holes in the desert, rarely staying in one place for too long before moving onward to purify another oasis.


Regional Effects
The presence of a karkaddan’s lair has the following magical effects in a 3-mile radius after it has spent 1d4 days at the same watering hole:
  • All natural sources of water (oases, streams, watering holes) are purified as if they were targeted by the spell purify food and drink.
  • The general temperature of the desert remains cooler than extreme heat.
  • Creatures have advantage on saving throws made against exhaustion.
  • At dawn each day, 1d4 karkaddan beads (cost 1 gp) appear in every oasis and watering hole. A creature can use an action to consume a karkaddan bead, quenching their thirst as if they had drunk 8 ounces of water.
If the karkaddan dies, these effects end immediately.
 
Last edited:
Mike Myler

Comments

LizardWizard

Explorer
So... just a slightly stronger desert unicorn with some extra niche abilities which will probably never come into play?

I think we a have a case of "Monster X: just like Monster Y, but stronger/weaker", which is, next to "Monster X: just like Monster Y, but evil/good" and "Monster X: just like Monster Y, but ON FIRE", is the most popular filler of monster manuals.
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
So... just a slightly stronger desert unicorn with some extra niche abilities which will probably never come into play?

I think we a have a case of "Monster X: just like Monster Y, but stronger/weaker", which is, next to "Monster X: just like Monster Y, but evil/good" and "Monster X: just like Monster Y, but ON FIRE", is the most popular filler of monster manuals.
1) Like giant creatures? Skeletal creatures? Zombie creatures? A bunch of things that have 0 relevance beyond their statistical impact?
2) This is a request list. At some point in the column a reader asked for the karkaddan, and I like to deliver on those requests.
3) Have you learned any new information from reading this article? Did you know about this thing beforehand? Is it a new mythological creature for you? If so, good. Mission accomplished on that front. If not I am very sure you are in a select group of readers. :)
4) Literally every 5E interaction I've had with unicorns is "it appears, <bad thing (hilariously almost always fire-related)>, it dies" and lasts like 4 rounds tops. That should be much less of a problem with the karkaddan.
5) Because it resembles and is similar to another creature doesn't make this not worth posting or sharing with others. It has more than one purpose. If you're clicking on my Mythological Figures and Epic Monsters articles looking for purely fantastical crunch, you're going to be disappointed because that's not the point. The point is to provide 5E stats (or builds) for mythological/historical/literary artifacts drawn out of the real world.
Like the karkaddan.
 

Rafael Martin

Explorer
When are you going to write up AO, the World Turtle? He (I think) is the most significant mythological creature of all time, and it's past time that he (I think) appears on your thread!

1588024098002.png
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
When are you going to write up AO, the World Turtle? He (I think) is the most significant mythological creature of all time, and it's past time that he (I think) appears on your thread!

1588026396918.png


I cannot promise that this will end up looking anything at all like a creature statblock, but it's on the list (and next week I have time slotted to work up new column builds)
 


Did you know about this thing beforehand?
I'd actually come across them before, via the City of Brass novels, where it's rather ferocious/mean. The write-up here seems good, but what lead you to giving them an NG alignment, which would seemingly be incompatible with their "ferocious" behaviour towards other animals and needing to be tamed by virgins and so on.

Being NG and above average intelligence and so on, it seems like it would probably actually be pretty easy to get alone with. Is it simply the powers of it's horn and connection to the unicorn?
 


dave2008

Legend
When are you going to write up AO, the World Turtle? He (I think) is the most significant mythological creature of all time, and it's past time that he (I think) appears on your thread!
Isn't Ao the overgod of the Forgotten Realms? Its avatar was supposed to be an androgynous humanoid (though with a beard? WTF), not a turtle. Or is there anther Ao I am unaware of?
 

Rafael Martin

Explorer
Isn't Ao the overgod of the Forgotten Realms? Its avatar was supposed to be an androgynous humanoid (though with a beard? WTF), not a turtle. Or is there anther Ao I am unaware of?
I think the Forgotten Realms ripped off the name from myth. That is the actual name of the giant turtle that our world is on top of. I am pretty sure the Flat Earth Society believes in AO.
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
I'd actually come across them before, via the City of Brass novels, where it's rather ferocious/mean. The write-up here seems good, but what lead you to giving them an NG alignment, which would seemingly be incompatible with their "ferocious" behaviour towards other animals and needing to be tamed by virgins and so on.

Being NG and above average intelligence and so on, it seems like it would probably actually be pretty easy to get alone with. Is it simply the powers of it's horn and connection to the unicorn?
The neutral good part? No I figured on that more because of the "leads people to water in the desert so they don't die of thirst" angle. Being very anti-poison (and generally pro-healing) doesn't hurt it in that regard though.
 

The neutral good part? No I figured on that more because of the "leads people to water in the desert so they don't die of thirst" angle. Being very anti-poison (and generally pro-healing) doesn't hurt it in that regard though.
I guess for me it's like, does it do that because it's Good, or does it do that because it's divinely ordained purpose is to do that, even if it's kind of a jerk generally?

I just feel like we have a real oversufficiency of good-aligned, four-legged, highly intelligent, hooved and horned creatures, and it might have been nice to have one break that up a bit. I'm not saying your translation isn't completely in line with D&D - it is - but as a result I think the creature is less exciting and less usable than it otherwise might be.
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
I guess for me it's like, does it do that because it's Good, or does it do that because it's divinely ordained purpose is to do that, even if it's kind of a jerk generally?

I just feel like we have a real oversufficiency of good-aligned, four-legged, highly intelligent, hooved and horned creatures, and it might have been nice to have one break that up a bit. I'm not saying your translation isn't completely in line with D&D - it is - but as a result I think the creature is less exciting and less usable than it otherwise might be.
You can make it evil if you like, but after spending some time reading about it (I think it took a good 2 hours to suss out the specifics for this thing) the impression I got was for a good creature. I don't make up the monsters, their alignments, or what they do though—I just work here. ¯\(ツ)
 

You can make it evil if you like, but after spending some time reading about it (I think it took a good 2 hours to suss out the specifics for this thing) the impression I got was for a good creature. I don't make up the monsters, their alignments, or what they do though—I just work here. ¯\(ツ)
I was thinking more neutral-bad-tempered and with a lower INT, but yes that's a fair approach! It certainly matches well with the general D&D take on such beasts.
 

dave2008

Legend
I think the Forgotten Realms ripped off the name from myth. That is the actual name of the giant turtle that our world is on top of. I am pretty sure the Flat Earth Society believes in AO.
According to Wikipedia it is a Chinese myth, but it doesn't carry the world: Ao

EDIT: Though your concept is very similar to the great A-Tuin from the DiscWorld series. Perhaps you confused the two?

discworld-e1588077509114-700x310.jpeg
 



Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
Oops I just thought that came from DiscWorld - I didn't realize it had a historical reference.
I wasn't going to bother sharing the general link until I realized that the pictures are the same (figured that was worth noting and now vindicated. ^_^ )
 

Mike Myler

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters KS soon
What is driving me insane is that I have an unusable piece of artwork for this and cannot for the life of me find the the original color version (which should be at a DPI I can use while this is not because I knew very little about image files 4 years ago).
ukiyo turtle.png


A+ to anyone that can find the original of this guy ^^^
 

Tonguez

Hero
According to Wikipedia it is a Chinese myth, but it doesn't carry the world: Ao

EDIT: Though your concept is very similar to the great A-Tuin from the DiscWorld series. Perhaps you confused the two?

View attachment 121687
Great A’Tuin is based on the Hindu diety Kurma who carries the Earth atop four elephants and is an avatar of Vishnu who sits upon the hood of Naga-Raja Shesa who represents space-time/water.

Kurma and AO are often associate and also parallel the Iroquois story of Hanunah the Great Turtle Island.
 

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