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5E Hezrou demon redesign

Quickleaf

Legend
But then is it really a Hezrou? Why not just use a different demon or make one up completely at that point. It doesn't seem like you are embracing the Hezrou, but instead designing it into something completely different.
Is there anything about the hezrou's lore or stats that says it must look like a frog? I see art, stats, and lore as all mutually reinforcing. The hezrou is not amphibious nor does it have any association with water, there is nothing distinctively frog-like about its behavior, and none of its mechanics indicate it would be a frog – it could just as easily be a skunk or an owl or a jackrabbit based design.

I am looking deeply into its identity over the whole span of D&D. And I realized that a lot has been lost. The problem there is that those distinctive things which have been lost helped to somewhat buoy against the "generic frog monster" issue where you have a bunch of monsters competing for "frog monster" – hydroloths, banderhobs, bullywugs, froghemoths, grung.

I do agree it's important to honor a monster's origins/roots, but sometimes that also involves looking harder at what's not working, and then finding creative ways to adhere more closely to its origins/roots (or implied origins/roots) in order to make it more interesting at the game table.

No one in particular is jumping out at me, but I like parts of several. Also, just to be up-front: I hate giving demons masks (seems more of a devil thing to me) and I trend to more "traditional" demon designs.

With those caveats: I Iike the general design of D without the cyborg bits + the back and ears of B + the feet of C. Does that make sense.
Yes, totally, much more of a classic fiend look. Thank you for your feedback!
 
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dave2008

Legend
Is there anything about the hezrou's lore or stats that says it must look like a frog?
Must? No I guess not, but...
1e Monster Manual: "...looking somewhat like a gross toad with arms in place of forelegs."
2e Monstrous Compendium: "Hezrou look like large, roughly humanoid toads with arms in place of forelegs."
3.5e Monster Manual: "This creature looks like a massive, roughly humanoid toad with arms in place of forelegs. Its wide mouth has rows of blunt, powerful teeth, and long spines run down the length of its back."
4e: No description, only the image which you already provided
5e: No description, only the image which you already provided

So from my point of view I would make the stats match the description as this is the original D&D frog/toad monster. Why not correct that wrong ;)

But that is just my opinion and what I like. I definitely encourage you go your own route that makes sense / feels right to you.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
@dave2008 Totally, using the physical description as a guiding beacon for a monster's stats and lore is a legitimate route. It could just be I'm taking issue with something that's a non-issue for some DMs like yourself.

Anyhow, I'll try to elucidate what I'm observing in regards to "crowded froggy monster" design space with a side-by-side comparison of the hezrou to the blue slaad.



Here are two chaotic brutish monsters from other planes that have a frog-like appearance. Both have a spiky aspect to their appearance, more so for the hezrou, but it's noticeable for the blue slaad. Likewise, both have a kind of pebbled texture to their skin. Both have smaller legs with three-toed claws and a slightly hunched over ape-like posture. Both have yellow frog-like eyes. Both have toothy mouths.

Looking at the stats in terms of roleplaying, neither speaks Common, but both can communicate telepathy. Both are strong, nimble, tough, and fairly dumb. The only differentiation is that the hezrou is wiser and more charismatic.

In terms of defense, we see they have comparable hit points, with the hezrou having better resistances while the blue slaad regenerates. They have natural armor granting comparable AC. Both have magic resistance. The main difference is that the hezrou has saving throws which the blue slaad lacks.

In terms of offense, their attacks are virtually identical – claw/claw/bite for 37 damage (hezrou) or 36 damage (blue slaad). Their defining difference is that the hezrou has a stinky aura that poisons you, while the blue slaad's claws impose a disease on you.

Were I fairly new to D&D and shown these two art pieces and the stat blocks with, say, all instances of the word "Hezrou" swapped for "Orange Slaad" (and Abyssal replaced by Slaad, and "fiend (demon)" replaced by "aberration"), I would assume they were just variations of slaad, along with Red Slaad, Green Slaad, etc.
 

dave2008

Legend
@dave2008 Totally, using the physical description as a guiding beacon for a monster's stats and lore is a legitimate route. It could just be I'm taking issue with something that's a non-issue for some DMs like yourself.

Anyhow, I'll try to elucidate what I'm observing in regards to "crowded froggy monster" design space with a side-by-side comparison of the hezrou to the blue slaad.



Here are two chaotic brutish monsters from other planes that have a frog-like appearance. Both have a spiky aspect to their appearance, more so for the hezrou, but it's noticeable for the blue slaad. Likewise, both have a kind of pebbled texture to their skin. Both have smaller legs with three-toed claws and a slightly hunched over ape-like posture. Both have yellow frog-like eyes. Both have toothy mouths.

Looking at the stats in terms of roleplaying, neither speaks Common, but both can communicate telepathy. Both are strong, nimble, tough, and fairly dumb. The only differentiation is that the hezrou is wiser and more charismatic.

In terms of defense, we see they have comparable hit points, with the hezrou having better resistances while the blue slaad regenerates. They have natural armor granting comparable AC. Both have magic resistance. The main difference is that the hezrou has saving throws which the blue slaad lacks.

In terms of offense, their attacks are virtually identical – claw/claw/bite for 37 damage (hezrou) or 36 damage (blue slaad). Their defining difference is that the hezrou has a stinky aura that poisons you, while the blue slaad's claws impose a disease on you.

Were I fairly new to D&D and shown these two art pieces and the stat blocks with, say, all instances of the word "Hezrou" swapped for "Orange Slaad" (and Abyssal replaced by Slaad, and "fiend (demon)" replaced by "aberration"), I would assume they were just variations of slaad, along with Red Slaad, Green Slaad, etc.
I don't disagree with you. My point is that the Hezrou was, in D&D, the original frog monster. Neither stat block presented here says "frog monster" to me. So if your re-imagining the Hezrou, why not make it the frog monster as it has always been described. Give it the tools it never has had to play the role well.

Listen, that is the approach I would take, but this is your monster. You should always go with what you want. Whatever your choice I fully support the concept of making the Hezrou more interesting mechanically and lore wise. Go with what inspires you and make that.

EDIT: I am a visual person, so the images and descriptions are going to influence me more than the lore and the stats. So it is natural for me to start with the image / description and build the lore and stats from that. You're taking a different route, which is very interesting to me as it is not how I would do it. Do it your way, otherwise you might end up making my Hezrou and not Quickleaf's Hezrou ;)
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
Tried to come up with some new flavor for the hezrou that ties the various ideas – demonic sergeant, black magic familiar unbound, plague-bringer – into a cohesive whole:

Hezrou. Fiendish familiars who lead their masters to ruin may be rewarded by the dark powers of the Abyss, freed from their puny forms in blashpemous ritues to emerge as hulking hezrou. Armed with black magic learned at the feet of its former master, the hezrou is quick to accept its duty as a sergeant keeping the demonic rabble in line. The Blood War is good practice, but the hezrou’s true desire is to slake its hatred for the mortals it once served. Its consuming hatred manifests as a variety of supernatural plagues which the hezrou can invoke against its enemies. Thrice a century, the hezrou undertakes the “dark walk” returning to Material Plane, though now the tables are turned and it is no helpless familiar. During the “dark walk”, the hezrou offers its services to a desperate hateful mortal in exchange for the mortal’s eternal service as a manes in Abyss. Invariably, its service involves raining down plagues that spiral out of control. Plagues unleashed by the hezrou have been known to devastate mortal kingdoms and devil camps alike.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Awesome concept art. 'A' is legitimately creepy to me. I'm amazed how far you've run with that idea.

Not surprisingly, I favor a combination of 'A' and 'B'. My complaints against 'A' is a I think it's a little too civilized. I think the crown is appropriate to CE as I'd think each CE entity would think itself a ruler or even THE ruler, but the other trappings of civilization like the cape and chain of office feel a bit much. I'd rather the civilized aspect be toned down and the feral Lovecraftian horror aspect be brought more to the fore. The 'juicer' pulls off technology a bit better because it feels self-destructive in the way that you'd expect CE to choose short term benefits to self over long term health, but I'd take this idea much more over the top than you have if I went that way - a Hezrou would take the concept far further than Bane to an extreme Bane, being a mere mortal, would find appalling. So for example, if 'A' were to wear a cape, it would likely be the skins of its victims (former wizards it devoured?).

I like 'B's leering evil as a match for the diabolical evil of 'A'. Both feel like creatures that are only interacting with you in order to prepare you for a meal and 'B' has that sense of being warped and twisted that I feel is missing from 'A'. I'd rather see 'A' borrow some of 'B's oozing miasma. The first two of Dave2008's inspirational art capture something I think is important - you would never be comfortable in a room with this thing: no matter how jaded you think you are, it's beyond that.
 

Plague is an awesome idea, as is the maisma.

1. The concentration should only protect "allies". The maisma is always. Breaking concentration makes the demon lose control of it.
2. A swarm of vile diseased insects when it dies. And hit in melee (like a fire elemental)
3. A similar swarm as an attack during combat. Maybe like a bonus action "extra attack" like a cleric's floaty hammer, but a 20' mobile swarm. It damages and poisons and flies 50' per round. Or what if they just stay until dispirsed by aoe damage? (up to, say, 5 active at a time)
4. All creatures poisoned by it heal it on its turn, as insects fly out of the festering wounds and rebuild the demon.
5. Drinking fluid corrupted by it poisons you. All fluid within 100' is corrupted until it moves away (including potions).
 

So, a plague demon. Covered in boils that squirt insects and a foul gas that surrounds it. Its mere presence makes fluids unsafe to drink. It can direct its swarms of insects to spread its plague. The insects burrow into your flesh, grab chunks of your life force, then fly it back to the Hezrou demon to consume.

By an act of concentration, it holds its insects in check from attacking its own allies, but it really doesn't want to.

Body horror incarnate.

Sometimes Warlocks will summon a Hezrou demon to foul the water of it enemies. Sacrifice a few peasants and bury them next to a stream or well.

Hezrou

Large fiend (demon), Chaotic Evil

Armor Class 16 (Natural Armor)
  • Hit Points 126 (12d10+60)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STR 18 (+4)
DEX 16 (+3)
CON 20 (+5)
INT 8 (-1)
WIS 12 (+1)
CHA 14 (+2)

  • Saving Throws Str +7, Con +8, Wis +4
  • Damage Resistance Cold, Fire, Lightning; Bludgeoning and Slashing From Nonmagical Attacks; all Piercing
  • Damage Immunities Poison
  • Condition Immunities Poisoned
  • Senses Darkvision 120 Ft., passive Perception 11
  • Languages Abyssal, Telepathy 120 Ft.
  • Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
  • Magic Resistance. The Hezrou has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
  • Hezrou Toxin. This toxic disease appears as boils on your skin. While infected, you are poisoned and you cannot regain HP, and you always fail saves against Hezrou Toxin. Creatures killed while under the effects of Hezrou Toxin emit a 50' Corruption effect (see below) for 1d10 days, but the corrupted fluid only works on similar creatures.
  • Burrowing Insects. When a Hezrou is hit with an attack, Burrowing Insects emerge from its boils and attack every creature within 5'. They do 1 piercing damage +1d6(3) poison damage and the target must make a DC 13 Constitution save suffer Hezrou Toxin.
  • Miasma. The Hezrou constantly emits a miasma of stench and biting insects. It forms a cloud of 20' radius around the Hezrou. This cloud is lightly obscured, creatures other than the Hezrou treat it as difficult terrain, and ranged weapon attacks that cross it are at disadvantage. Creatures who start their turn in the Miasma are attacked by the Demon's Burrowing Insects (see above).
  • Plague Clouds. As a bonus action, the Hezrou can send a 15' radius sphere of Miasma swarming up to 60' away, or move an existing swarm 60'. Up to 3 of these swarms can exist at a time. These swarms dissipate from strong winds or area effect damage, or if they are more than 100' away from the Hezrou. At the end of the Hezrou's turn, each swarm move up to 30' towards the nearest small or larger creature.
  • Corruption. Fluid within 100' of the Hezrou demon is foul smelling and corrupted until someone casts Purify Food and Drink on it (including magical fluids, like potions). Anyone drinking such fluid must make a DC 16 Constitution save or suffer Herzou Toxin.
  • Feast of Flesh. As a bonus action, the Demon can cause Hezrou Toxin boils within 100' to burst. This reduces each creature's current and max HP by 5. Insects fly from the boil into the Hezrou's mouth, healing the Hezrou for 5 HP. Creatures suffering from Hezrou Toxin who where killed in the last round also have their boils burst and produce insects.
  • Demonic Sergeant. At the end of a short or long rest, the Hezrou demon can concentrate on not having its Maisma effect its allies. While it is concentrating on this, creatures it chooses are not poisoned by its Maisma aura. It really wants to feast on the flesh of its allies, so saves to maintain concentration on this are at disadvantage.
Multiattack: the Hezrou Demon makes a one Bite and one Claw attack, or two Claw attacks
  • Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: (2d10 + 4) piercing damage. If the creature is grabbed, bite has advantage.
  • Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: (2d6 + 4) slashing damage, and if medium or smaller, pull 5' and grabbed (escape DC 15).
Jump: As an action the Hezrou Demon can jump up to 80'. All creatures landed on or adjacent are pushed 10' if medium or smaller, and all creatures must make a DC 15 Dex save or take 2d8+4 damage.

Swallow: Can only target a medium grabbed creature. Creature is swallowed and restrained. Only one creature can be swallowed at a time. At the start of the swallowed creature's turn, they lose 10 max and current HP, the Hezrou Demon gains 10, and they must make a DC 16 constitution save or be subject to the Hezrou Toxin. If the demon takes 15 bludgeoning damage with one attack it regurgitates the creature (throwing them 10'). If the demon takes 20 slashing damage with one attack its belly is cut open and the creature falls out adjacent (the belly heals immediately).

Ok, damage budget. It loses 11 DPR from a claw. It gains many instances of 4 damage from burrowing insects. It can bonus action feast. Assuming 4,8,4+15 damage, that matches the lost 11 DPR.

Defensively I cut off 10 HP and gave it a bonus action feast (say 15).

I made it resist all piercing. Piercing weapons simply fly through its festering flesh and out the other end.

The poison is a lot more annoying (repeated saves). And has cover.

---

Fighting this in a war would be terrifying. Its plague clouds would tear through the lines of your troops, and it would funnel the lives of your troops into its own life force.

Using reach weapons is recommended, as they aren't at disadvantage from the clouds, nor do you suffer from the exploding boils.

The poison now does 6 damage (without a save). And the save is repeated until failed. Because I like the idea of the poison relentlessly pounding on the PCs. The Plague Cloud lets it harass PCs who aren't in melee range, and is an amazing warfare ability.

The Corruption ability is a ribbon. It makes tracking them in the mortal planes much easier as well. Drinking potions to heal isn't going to be fun, as you first have to make a save against being poisoned, and if you are the healing doesn't work.

Feast of Flesh is pure body horror. The HP swing isn't that huge, but the idea of insects bursting out of you and carrying your life essence to the demon is just so squicky. It is also a top-notch warfare ability; with Plague Clouds deployed on enemy troop lines, you can easily have a dozen+ sick enemy troops, and each Feast of Flesh heals 60 HP on the demon. This demon when near civilians or low-level troops will punch way above its weight.
 
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dave2008

Legend
So, a plague demon. Covered in boils that squirt insects and a foul gas that surrounds it. Its mere presence makes fluids unsafe to drink. It can direct its swarms of insects to spread its plague. The insects burrow into your flesh, grab chunks of your life force, then fly it back to the Hezrou demon to consume.

By an act of concentration, it holds its insects in check from attacking its own allies, but it really doesn't want to.

Body horror incarnate.

Sometimes Warlocks will summon a Hezrou demon to foul the water of it enemies. Sacrifice a few peasants and bury them next to a stream or well.

Hezrou

Large fiend (demon), Chaotic Evil

Armor Class 16 (Natural Armor)
  • Hit Points 126 (12d10+60)
  • Speed 30 ft.
STR 18 (+4)
DEX 16 (+3)
CON 20 (+5)
INT 8 (-1)
WIS 12 (+1)
CHA 14 (+2)

  • Saving Throws Str +7, Con +8, Wis +4
  • Damage Resistance Cold, Fire, Lightning; Bludgeoning and Slashing From Nonmagical Attacks; all Piercing
  • Damage Immunities Poison
  • Condition Immunities Poisoned
  • Senses Darkvision 120 Ft., passive Perception 11
  • Languages Abyssal, Telepathy 120 Ft.
  • Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)

  • Magic Resistance. The Hezrou has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
  • Burrowing Insects. When a Hezrou is hit with an attack, Burrowing Insects emerge from its boils and attack every creature within 5'. This does 1d6+2(6) poison damage and the target must make a DC 13 Constitution save or become poisoned for 1 minute. If the creature is already poisoned by the Hezrou, the save automatically fails, extending the poison for another minute. Effects that cure disease also cure the poison.
  • Maisma. The Hezrou emites a maisma of stench and biting insects. It forms a cloud of 20' radius around the Hezrou. This cloud is lightly obscured, creatures other than the Hezrou treat it as difficult terrain, and ranged weapon attacks that cross it are at disadvantage. Creatures who start their turn in the Maisma are attacked by the Demon's Burrowing Insects.
  • Plague Clouds. As a bonus action, the hezrou can send a 15' radius cloud of Maisma and insects up to 60' away, or move an existing cloud up to 60'. These clouds last until dispersed by damage over nearly its entire area, a strong wind, if the demon dismisses it as a free action, or if they their center is more than 100' away from the Hezrou demon. The Hezrou demon can maintain up to 5 of these regions at a time. If undirected, at the end of the demon's turn they will move up to 30' towards a creature. They otherwise act like the Maisma the Hezrou demon emits.
  • Corruption. Fluid within 100' of the Hezrou demon is foul smelling and corrupted. Anyone drinking fluid that has been within 100' of the Hezrou demon must make a DC 16 constitution save or become poisoned for 1 hour. Purify food and drink will remove this effect, even on magical potions. All creatures poisoned by this effect cannot regain HP. Effects that cure disease also cure this poison.
  • Feast of Flesh. As a bonus action, the Hezrou demon may call its harvesters home. Boils form and insect burst filled with life energy from those the Hezrou demon has infected. The Hezrou demon regains 5 HP for every creature poisoned by it, or every creature who died since the end of its last turn while poisoned by it, within 100'. Every living creature the Hezrou draws energy from has its max and current HP reduced by 5. When they complete a long rest, they can consume a HD to recover 5 max HP. Creatures killed by this effect turn into festering corpses that emit the Demon's Corruption effect independently for 1d4 weeks on similar enough creatures (humanoid corpses will poison water for humanoids, etc).
  • Demonic Sergeant. At the end of a short or long rest, the Hezrou demon can concentrate on not having its Maisma effect its allies. While it is concentrating on this, creatures it chooses are not poisoned by its Maisma aura. It really wants to feast on the flesh of its allies, so saves to maintain concentration on this are at disadvantage.
Multiattack: the Hezrou Demon makes a two Bite and one Claw attack.
  • Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: (2d8 + 4) piercing damage
  • Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: (2d6 + 4) slashing damage
Ok, damage budget.
11+11+13 attack routine=35*3+105
2,3 creatures poisoned, 1 harvest = 12, 18, 15 (and 15 healed)
Boils burst 2-3 times per round for ~24 damage

58 DPR. CR 9 offensive. ATK is 1 low, Save DC is 3 low, ATK is on par, so CR 8 offensive.

136 HP 1. +15 heal . Resists are worth at most +1/3 in my opinion (magical weapons are gonna be common), so 188, or CR 8.

Probably undervaluing those defensive features by RAW.

I made it resist all piercing. Piercing weapons simply fly through its festering flesh and out the other end.

Fighting this in a war would be terrifying. Its plague clouds would tear through the lines of your troops, and it would funnel the lives of your troops into its own life force.

Using reach weapons is recommended, as they aren't at disadvantage from the clouds, nor do you suffer from the exploding boils.

The poison now does 6 damage (without a save). And the save is repeated until failed. Because I like the idea of the poison relentlessly pounding on the PCs. The Plague Cloud lets it harass PCs who aren't in melee range, and is an amazing warfare ability.

The Corruption ability is a ribbon. It makes tracking them in the mortal planes much easier as well. Drinking potions to heal isn't going to be fun, as you first have to make a save against being poisoned, and if you are the healing doesn't work.

Feast of Flesh is pure body horror. The HP swing isn't that huge, but the idea of insects bursting out of you and carrying your life essence to the demon is just so squicky. It is also a top-notch warfare ability; with Plague Clouds deployed on enemy troop lines, you can easily have a dozen+ sick enemy troops, and each Feast of Flesh heals 60 HP on the demon. This demon when near civilians or low-level troops will punch way above its weight.
Love the ideas, but I think i would probably simplify it a bit. That is a lot of traits to consider for a CR 8 mook. Also, it would be nice to give it reaction of some type, maybe to control/move its swarm
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Thanks very much for your feedback @dave2008 @Celebrim @NotAYakk. I'm letting everything percolate and seeing what I can come up with.

In the meantime, I am trying to figure out Gygax's creative origins for the "hezrou." For some monsters the origins are well documented, others like the yeth hound are hidden in short stories & myth, but especially with the D&D demons it gets fuzzy. In this case it looks like a muddled Biblical mess.

As near as I can tell, "Hezrou" seems to be an alternate spelling or bastardization of "Hezro; Hezrai." This seems likely because Hezro the Carmelite was one of David's 30 Mighty Warriors...and another one of those Mighty Warriors was Abishai, commander and most honored of David's warriors. And you'll recognize the abishai as a D&D devil. So it stands to reason that Gygax was drawing from a similar creative well with both of these monsters.

I'm far from a Biblical scholar, so take my findings with a hearty grain of salt...

"Hezro; Hezrai" seem to derive from "Hezron" (חצרון) which means "enclosure / enclosed / surrounded by a wall." Hmm...maybe this is why the AD&D designers included wall of fire among the hezrou's spells?

If Hezro the Carmelite is indeed the inspiration for the "hezrou" demon it is a puzzling choice. These 30+ men were courageous, strong, loyal warriors who followed the young shepherd David when he was exiled into the desert, fighting at his side on David's journey to become the King of Israel.

There is one poignant story from Samuel where David was thirsty and said "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem." So three unnamed members of his Mighty Warriors broke through the Philistine camp just to draw water from the well and bring it back to David. But David viewed the risk of their lives as too holy and refused the water, pouring it out.

Depending on how you read it, the Mighty Warriors may have been truly loyal friends or loyal to a fault, continuing to follow King David when he committed adultery and murder, and brought ruin to the coalition he'd created.

This "loyal friend / loyal to a fault" idea seems to echo in the various descriptions of the hezrou being unusually loyal for a demon, lacking the usual instinct for betrayal of its superiors.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
I don't disagree with you. My point is that the Hezrou was, in D&D, the original frog monster. Neither stat block presented here says "frog monster" to me. So if your re-imagining the Hezrou, why not make it the frog monster as it has always been described. Give it the tools it never has had to play the role well.
Oh! I forgot to respond! I think the froghemoth has gained better traction as the ultimate "frog monster" in D&D. It does the tongue stuff you mention, it swallows, it's amphibious. Anyhow, that's why I've avoided steering my take on the hezrou in that same direction.

Plague is an awesome idea, as is the maisma.

1. The concentration should only protect "allies". The maisma is always. Breaking concentration makes the demon lose control of it.
2. A swarm of vile diseased insects when it dies. And hit in melee (like a fire elemental)
3. A similar swarm as an attack during combat. Maybe like a bonus action "extra attack" like a cleric's floaty hammer, but a 20' mobile swarm. It damages and poisons and flies 50' per round. Or what if they just stay until dispirsed by aoe damage? (up to, say, 5 active at a time)
4. All creatures poisoned by it heal it on its turn, as insects fly out of the festering wounds and rebuild the demon.
5. Drinking fluid corrupted by it poisons you. All fluid within 100' is corrupted until it moves away (including potions).
Some very cool ideas! Thanks for sharing! Spells that might fit a "plagues of Egypt" theme include fear, insect plague, and wall of fire.
 

dave2008

Legend
Oh! I forgot to respond! I think the froghemoth has gained better traction as the ultimate "frog monster" in D&D. It does the tongue stuff you mention, it swallows, it's amphibious. Anyhow, that's why I've avoided steering my take on the hezrou in that same direction.
I can understand that, but I've never used a froghemoth and I do use demons quite a bit. And of course the Hezrou came first ;)

I would say combine the frog demon and plague demon concepts, but that is probably to much for CR 8 monster. I think @NotAYakk has some interesting ideas that fit the plague demon concept. These could be streamline a bit, but it is an interesting direction IMO.
 

dave2008

Legend
Thanks very much for your feedback @dave2008 @Celebrim @NotAYakk. I'm letting everything percolate and seeing what I can come up with.

In the meantime, I am trying to figure out Gygax's creative origins for the "hezrou." For some monsters the origins are well documented, others like the yeth hound are hidden in short stories & myth, but especially with the D&D demons it gets fuzzy. In this case it looks like a muddled Biblical mess.

As near as I can tell, "Hezrou" seems to be an alternate spelling or bastardization of "Hezro; Hezrai." This seems likely because Hezro the Carmelite was one of David's 30 Mighty Warriors...and another one of those Mighty Warriors was Abishai, commander and most honored of David's warriors. And you'll recognize the abishai as a D&D devil. So it stands to reason that Gygax was drawing from a similar creative well with both of these monsters.

I'm far from a Biblical scholar, so take my findings with a hearty grain of salt...

"Hezro; Hezrai" seem to derive from "Hezron" (חצרון) which means "enclosure / enclosed / surrounded by a wall." Hmm...maybe this is why the AD&D designers included wall of fire among the hezrou's spells?

If Hezro the Carmelite is indeed the inspiration for the "hezrou" demon it is a puzzling choice. These 30+ men were courageous, strong, loyal warriors who followed the young shepherd David when he was exiled into the desert, fighting at his side on David's journey to become the King of Israel.

There is one poignant story from Samuel where David was thirsty and said "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem." So three unnamed members of his Mighty Warriors broke through the Philistine camp just to draw water from the well and bring it back to David. But David viewed the risk of their lives as too holy and refused the water, pouring it out.

Depending on how you read it, the Mighty Warriors may have been truly loyal friends or loyal to a fault, continuing to follow King David when he committed adultery and murder, and brought ruin to the coalition he'd created.

This "loyal friend / loyal to a fault" idea seems to echo in the various descriptions of the hezrou being unusually loyal for a demon, lacking the usual instinct for betrayal of its superiors.
Very interesting and thank you sharing. I wondering if you can work in the concept of dangerous loyalty. That would add some depth not usually seen in D&D demons!
 

Quickleaf

Legend
Very interesting and thank you sharing. I wondering if you can work in the concept of dangerous loyalty. That would add some depth not usually seen in D&D demons!
Yeah, I think there's a way to do it, looking back to the very first appearance of demons in D&D's 1976 Eldritch Wizardry...

Eldritch Wizardry page 29 said:
Demons will never willingly serve anyone or anything. If forced to serve through magic or threat they will continually seek a way to slay their master/captor. Those to whom demons show a liking are typically carried off to the demons' plane to become a slave (although a favored one).
I think this meshes sweetly with the "up-jumped familiar" idea presented by @Celebrim. The fiendish familiar's twisted loyalty to its master is such that the hezrou seeks to carry its former master into the Abyss. The servant becomes the master, and the master the servant. Maybe it's not a hatred thing, but driven by loyalty to extreme fault, loyalty to the point of madness and obsession; the hezrou believes its former master has the potential to rise from lowly manes to a more powerful demonic form. Its experience as a fiendish familiar shapes the demon's mind. It counts itself a "king of infinite space" now that it has assumed a hezrou form, been given command of a squadron of demons to wage war, and able to make deals from a position of power (instead of a subservient familiar) with mortals. The hezrou does not even realize it continues to slip into its servile nature.

And to dovetail this back into something @NotAYakk mentioned about the hezrou's presence corrupting drinking fluids (including potions), this might be a byproduct of the demon's hatred for the mage that it once was familiar to. Mucking with wizard's potions seems like a suitably petty and subconscious vengeance.
 

dave2008

Legend
@Quickleaf your discussion of the Hezrou inspired me to make a quick sketch of the toad demon. Thank you for the inspiration! Just a quick doodle, but this is what I came up (EDIT, it came out looking a little to cute IMO, I would correct that if this moved from a draft to a final):
Hezrou_Redux.jpg

I decided to make a more "toad" demon vs. a "frog" demon and covered it in warts. These could also serve as the boils in the bringer of plagues version per @NotAYakk .

I do think there is a possibilities in a toad demon distinction versus a frog monster. Despite their similarities, there are differences as well.
 
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I removed a claw attack to make its CR 8 make more sense. May also have to shave off HP or something to make up for improved defensive features.
 


dave2008

Legend
I removed a claw attack to make its CR 8 make more sense. May also have to shave off HP or something to make up for improved defensive features.
I would suggest giving it more options beside the insects / swarm / plague. Give at grapple option and then it can bite a grappled opponent as a reaction or a bonus action. Or give it a leap attack, or a shove attack, or a knock prone attack. I feel like you invested so much design space in the miasma that you've neglected the rest. I would prefer to the miasma/insects simplified and the natural attacks beefed. Well, that is what I would do at least.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I too am quite fond of "A," however, it doesn't say hezrou to me. A cool concept for a fiend, just doesn't say hezrou IMO.
I was thinking that hezrou could include a whole gamut of pestilent up-jumped animalistic looking demons elevated from fiendish familiar root stock. So, there'd be hezrou with bat, cat, frog, raven, weasel, et cetera themes.

My idea was that the neckline of the owl version hid a toothy maw.

@Quickleaf your discussion of the Hezrou inspired me to make a quick sketch of the toad demon. Thank you for the inspiration! Just a quick doodle, but this is what I came up:
View attachment 117778
I decided to make a more "toad" demon vs. a "frog" demon and covered it in warts. These could also serve as the boils in the bringer of plagues version per @NotAYakk .

I do think there is a possibilities in a toad demon distinction versus a frog monster. Despite their similarities, there are differences as well.
Oh, I really like that stockiness combined with its malign almost doting expression. The carp-like tentacles really work somehow. I could see this as being the demonic take on a "vile wish-granter", fawning over its master and doing its master's every bidding, but somehow everything takes the most disastrous turn possible. The same plague of locusts that it unleashes to kill your enemies also razes your kingdom's own fields before harvest. The same curse it calls down on your nemesis ends up afflicting your grandchild when your family lines merge through unexpected love. And so on.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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