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Epic Monsters: Skin-Walker (5E)

Epic Monsters is back with a mysterious monster still thought by some to wander the world, supernatural hunters that walk amongst humanity unseen: Skin-Walkers!


Skin-Walker banner.jpg

The most prominent legends regarding this creature come from the Navajo and they’re said to roam only the North American continent (predominantly in deep wilderness forests). Once it has chosen a victim it can stalk them for days or longer, waiting for a target to be isolated. They are nightmarish creatures able to mimic the voice of any human or animal, even shifting their shape when wearing the skin of their prey. Traditionally it’s taboo to speak of, write down, or even think about skin-walkers so specifics about them are sparse. One resource I found claimed that skin-walkers were once the most respected and capable warriors of the tribe, donning the skins of coyotes and other animals to better spy on enemies, and it was only after the Great Dying that they began to turn against their own. There’s also a condition known as clinical lycanthropy which bears some thinking about too, although ultimately it’s much more interesting for our purposes for these monsters to be more than mentally disturbed.

Design Notes: The core D&D 5E rules for werewolves cover some of the important bases for a skin-walker so that’s where I started. After that it was about hitting the narrative points I came across on the internet—mimicry of voices, incredible talent for stalking victims, that depending on where you look it requires the skin of a creature to transform into it, being able to summon a sickening odor of blood, the screeching echoes. What we end up with is a monster that should be excellent at infiltrating a group, able to tumble, and with additional features and attacks that should allow it to survive encountering the entire party at once.




Skin-Walker

Medium monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 90 (12d8+36)
Speed 30 ft.

STR
DEXCONINTWISCHA
18 (+4)17 (+3)16 (+3)13 (+1)17 (+3)18 (+4)

Skills Deception +10, Nature +4, Perception +6, Stealth +9, Survival +6
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Common
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Exceptional Stealth. The skin-walker has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks and its passive Stealth score is 24.

Keen Hearing and Smell. The skin-walker has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

Magic Resistance. The skin-walker has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Mimicry. The skin-walker can mimic animal sounds and humanoid voices. A creature that hears the sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful DC 15 Wisdom (Insight) check.

Shapechanger. The skin-walker can use its action to polymorph into another humanoid or a beast, or back into its true form, which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its AC, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Skinsuit. When the skin-walker has the skin of a creature it is using Shapechanger to assume the form of, it has advantage on Charisma (Deception) and Charisma (Persuasion) checks made to maintain its disguise.


ACTIONS
Multiattack. The skin-walker makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its claws or spear.

Bite (Beast or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage.

Claws (Beast or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) slashing damage.

Spear (Humanoid Form Only). Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or reach 20/60 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage or 8 (1d8+4) piercing damage if wielded in two hands.

Gore Stench (Recharge 5-6). The skin-walker summons the blood and effluent from corpses that have died nearby creating a powerful gas in a 60-foot radius sphere centered on a point it chooses within 60 feet. Creatures in the area make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or are sickened. A sickened creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks, it cannot take reactions, and on its turn it can only take a bonus action or action (not both). The gas dissipates at the end of the skin-walker’s turn. At the end of each of its turns, a sickened creature can make another Constitution saving throw. If it succeeds, the effect ends. On a successful saving throw, the creature is immune to the skin-walker’s Gore Stench for 24 hours.

Screeching Echoes (Recharge 6). The skin-walker summons the voices of the creatures and warriors that have died nearby, creating a malicious cacophony all around it. Each creature within 120 feet of it that can hear it and that isn't a monstrosity must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of the skin-walker’s next turn.
 
Last edited:
Mike Myler

Comments

Mike Myler

Explorer
*testing comment bump*

(also apologies to anyone that tried commenting this week; I was posting from a buddy's laptop and forgot to post this in an actual forum, making it a roving ghostly article that resisted any comments :p)
 

dave2008

Adventurer
Thanks Mike! Another interesting entry. Definite improvement over the MM lycanthrope. Skinsuit has some rather macabre possibilities! Thank you for sharing!
 

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