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D&D 5E [Let's Read] Nyambe: African Adventures



If Feats are the First Estate of D20 supplements, then New Magic Items would be the Second, with monsters a close Third. And hoo boy do we have a lot of new trinkets, artifacts, concoctions, and all things supernatural!

Magic Armor is actually just as common in Nyambe-tanda as it is in other realms on account that the mystical qualities are often seen as a worthy price to pay for heat exhaustion. We have some new special enhancements such as Ritual Combat which converts a limited amount of lethal damage to nonlethal, and Sun Resistance which treats armor as being light clothing for the purposes of surviving in warm environments.* New specific armors include an Armor of Cowries which grants Damage Reduction 10/+5 but has a regenerating “pool” of 200 points before it loses this quality, and the Mantle of the Iron Body which can let the user transform into living iron.

*and is a new and recent magical development, preventing it from being too ubiquitous.

Magic Weapons present us with some new unique enhancements such as Impaling which increases the critical multiplier of piercing weapons by 1, and Subduing which lets you make nonlethal attacks without penalty. New specific weapons include a Death Cult Dagger which casts the Death Knell spell whenever you kill a dying opponent, and the Spear of Heart-Piercing which is like a vorpal blade but for stabbing.

Potions have special Advanced Rules in Nyambe-tanda. Nyamban spellcasters with Brew Potion/Culinary Ashe who are at least 5th level can imbue multiple spells into their creations as well as ones do not have a range of touch. GP and XP cost for “multi-potions” increase as usual, but is really useful for allowing characters to gain the benefits of multiple spells at once rather than drinking one potion per round.

The new potions here include Bloody Teeth which is tooth dye granting the ability to suck blood like a vampire, Plague Powder which explodes in a noxious 5 foot cloud brewing with disease, and Greater and Lesser Zombi Powder which can be planted on corpses (or forces a Save or Die on those who breathe its fumes in the case of Greater) to turn them into True Zombis the following night.

Rings also have their own Advanced Rules; due to a variety of lip plugs and other jewelry which can pierce other body parts, rings do not necessarily have to take up finger slots but are still limited to a maximum of two affecting the wielder at once. The new rings of Nyambe include the Ring of Fertility which lets you cast Fertility Charm once per day, Listening which grants +10 on Listen checks, and Scent which grants you the Scent special ability.

Rods’ Advanced Rules include the magical symbolism of sex and reproduction. If one places a magic ring (vagina) over a magic rod (penis) this will combine the two items into a new intelligent item, granting the benefits of both special abilities to those who wield it. Different combinations of rods and rings will awaken different personalities representing the “birth” of different beings, although only one intelligent combined item can be active at once this way.

New entries include the Ring of Darts which can shoot blowgun darts coated with poison placed in a container that doesn’t run out (magical cloning), while the Rod of Rust functions as a light mace which inflicts the effects of a Rusting Grasp spell on metal objects it touches.

Gris-Gris do not give us any new information we haven’t read in prior chapters, but it says that when rolling a result of 91-100 on magic scroll generation to substitute a specific Nyamban spell of the DM’s choice.

Staves bear a special reputation for great power, and it is expected that only spellcasters of sufficient age and experience should wield them; those who flout these rules are regarded as supremely arrogant. The two new staves include Lesser Domain and Greater Domain, which allows the wielder to cast spells pertaining to a single cleric domain via a number of charges depending on the spell level. A Lesser Domain staff only casts spells of up to 5th level, while Greater Domain staves can go up to 9th level.

Wands tend to take the form of rattles, pompons and other small handheld objects. As wands containing offensive magic were employed by the Kosa Empire, there’s a big cultural taboo against creating them.


Wondrous Items include everything that doesn’t fit the above, and heavily focuses on masks and nkisi. The non-mask/nkisi new magic items include Headrests of Slumber which cast a triggered mental Alarm spell which sounds whenever anyone approaches within 60 feet (seems a bit overkill), a Magic Fang File which can turn your teeth into a permanent magical bite attack, a Bow Stand of Victory which can temporary grant a +1 bonus on any non-magical bow which rests on it for at least 8 hours, and the Fertility Doll which can alter the possible gender of a born child by 20% if continuously carried for one week.

Masks and nkisi are grouped together, but are activated in different ways. A mask is fashioned in the likeness of a specific orisha and grants the powers of said spirit when worn. Whereas nkisi are tiny figures made in the likeness of an orisha, and their magical effects activate when a nail is pounded into them and grants their benefits to a carried wielder for 24 hours.

The masks’ and nkisi’s powers vary depending on the orisha in question: Ancestral grants luck bonuses on attack and weapon damage rolls, or on AC and saving throws depending on whether they’re made for spiritual advice or protection; Celestial grants competence bonus on relevant skill checks (Scry/Spellcraft for Ramaranda, Diplomacy/Swim for Easafa, etc); Elemental grants energy resistance or Damage Reduction in relation to the element in question; Fiendish grants the ability to cast a single spell once per day, usually of a dangerous or macabre variety; Geographic grants a specific bonus type to Armor Class (deflection for Ocean or Wind, natural for Iron); finally, Natural grants a bonus to a single ability score based upon the related animal or plant (Intelligence for clever animals like jackals, Constitution for sturdy creatures and trees, etc).

Finally we have Trinkets, minor magic items worth 25 gold pieces or less which are widely popular and designed for entertainment or quality of life purposes. They include minor magic such as a self-heating gourd bowl for food, a comb which instantly untangles hair, and so on.

There are no new Intelligent Items here, but we do have some spooky scary Cursed Items! Most cursed items are masks and nkisi made by evil spellcasters for their powerful religious association, hoping to trick people into using them. The two new ones include the Death Mask which permanently bonds to a wielder’s face and inflicts fire damage every round, while a Vodou Nkisi inflicts a powerful debuffing spell on whoever strikes a nail into it. There are rumors of the possibility of using body parts and cast-offs from a target to affect them, but thankfully no mchawi or n’anga have found a way to do this yet.

Minor Artifacts used to be more common items in the mythical past, but the secrets of their creation have been long since lost. They include the Blade of Scarring which grants you a permanent ability score bonus by carving a pattern into your flesh; Lesser Udamalore are ceremonial ivory swords designed to deal nonlethal damage and cast Dominate Person on any humanoid they strike on a failed Will save; and the Greater Nail Figures are found in the major temples of Mabwe and have protective spells anchored to their radius. Additionally, anyone who pounds a nail into it while reciting an oath imposes a Geas/Quest spell on the oathtaker, and the orisha will strike divine lightning on anyone who tells a lie while laying a hand upon the Nail Figure.


Major Artifacts are truly unique items, created from the foundations of the world or gifts from the orisha themselves. We have a lot more than the Minor Artifacts, 10 in total. They include the majestic Adamu Dwa, possessed by Nibomay’s rulers since ancient times and grant a host of powers to those who sit upon it (Spell Resistance 40, +5 caster level, +6 AC); the Drum of Tarango which grants +10 to Perform (Drums) and lets a bard or ngoma know all spells from the bard spell list as long as they play the drum while casting; the crystal ball-like Eye of N!ok which allows anyone with Kosan blood to cast spells through the scrying interface; the Forge of the Kosans which can increase a weapon’s enhancement bonus beyond the +5 maximum with no XP or GP requirements...but instead requires a living humanoid sacrifice; Great Udamalore which has a more powerful Dominate Monster than its Lesser counterparts and grants +10 Charisma to the wielder; Kwo’s Shield which grants immunity to all manner of undead and energy-draining abilities as well as the ability to recover ability score damage at 1 point per minute rather than per day of natural healing; the Mask of Nyambe which bears the face of the Overpower itself but blinds all who see it while granting Blindsight and the ability to cast Miracle once every 5 days from the Overpower themself to anyone who wears it; the Opon TuIda, which was made by Ramaranda in an attempt to teach dragons divine magic, can grant 100% accuracy to all divination spells cast upon it albeit at risk of attracting the attention of a dragon who will retrieve the item from the “unworthy” owner; the Skin of Zombi was once worn by Zulo and grants the advantages of the Undead type with none of the drawbacks, but slowly turns the wearer into a True Zombi over time; and finally the Spear of Z’idan, an intelligent bronze weapon inhabited by a spirit of the same name who taught many secrets to the ancient Boha-Boha people.

One last thing: each entry lists ways of reflavoring existing corebook magical items into Nyambe. Most of them are cosmetic, like changing boots to sandals, but some such as Bracers of Armor have a price increase if they grant an armor or natural armor bonus.

Thoughts So Far: Overall I like this chapter. I particularly enjoy the new rules for existing items, and the new gear is both effective and thematic to the setting. The Trinkets are quite a cool touch, as it lines up well with omnipresent spellcasters (at least of the divine variety) being present in even more rural communities. It also shows that items not immediately applicable to adventuring exist in society, an all-too-common aspect lacking in the world-building of many D&D settings.

Join us next time as we cover the final chapter, Monsters of Nyambe!

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We got plenty of lions and a few imported baers, but no tigers! The final chapter is by far the longest, taking up 25% of the book’s content with nearly 60 new monsters, all but a few with their own artwork. For obvious reasons I’m not going to go in-depth on specific monster types, but will holistically cover what I can. Here’s the table on the monsters by CR so you can get a feel for their intended power levels:


Existing Creatures

In this section we include both monsters from the core rules as well as the broad monster types. The entries are overall brief, with some such as the chimera and dire animals getting a surprising amount of detail. A few are reflavored to fit the setting, such as chaos beasts being servants of GuDuGu and chokers being engolo monks corrupted by evil magic. Some interesting tidbits:

  • The JamIkadi of Nibomay keeps a stable of chimeras as pets.
  • Dire animals are more common than elsewhere, and instead of dire wolves Nyambe has dire hyenas. Dire bears live in the Kuba Taaba Mountains, likely imported but nobody has any idea of the responsible party.
  • Dragons were the only race not created by the Overpower, instead born of the world itself. This gave them the ability to naturally work arcane magic. As part of their deal with creating the Sei, Ramaranda the Diviner taught them how to use divine magic, so all Nyamban dragons can choose spells from the cleric as well as sorcerer/wizard spell list, which more easily makes the Summon Dragon spell “Summon Spellcaster” at higher levels.
  • Ethereal Filchers and Ethereal Marauders are servants of orisha sent to respectively steal items from or attack those who fail to make proper sacrifices. As such they are known as shadow thieves and shadow warriors.
  • The Greco-Roman monsters (hydras, harpies, medusa, etc) are personal servants of various fiendish orisha and often have specific tasks. Hydras guard Zombi’s temples, harpies procreate by killing women and mating with men at the behest of Molamu the Seducer, medusa are known as anath and are Amazons corrupted by Zombi’s magic, etc. Gorgons are an exception, being the cursed forms of humanoids who committed the crime of bestiality.
  • Genies, lammasu, and manticore hail from the Near East, and Sphinxes once had an unknown relationship to the Water People given that they now tend to avoid humanity.
  • MbUi were once humans infected with werehyena lycanthropy, but became a race of their own when they ended up locked into their hybrid forms for unknown reasons. They are statistically identical to corebook gnolls save they have better Armor Class due to better equipment and natural armor.
  • Ogres are known as dimU and believed to be the reincarnated souls of those who committed infanticide.

New Monsters

Boman are the descendants of the bat who swallowed the frog in the Mythical Ages, thus preventing people from learning the secrets of resurrection. They all bear this sort of original sin, now invariably evil creatures who can drain the blood of those they bite. Anyone killed by boman are forever denied the ability to be resurrected (but can reincarnate).


Chepekwe are small elephant-like creatures who radiate good luck and have some utility spells. They are friendly and helpful to those who do not bear the taint of evil.


Demons of Nyambe are servants of the fiendish orisha, and we get 3 new ones: Djok are murderous entities who can possess the bodies of animals and vermin colonies, and all n’anga of animal orisha can detect them and know a special chant to force them out of a possessed body. Kerit are fire-breathing gorillas who lurk in the most remote areas of the bIda rainforest, their howls capable of literally draining strength. Ngojama bear three mouths, two on their palms designed for enhancing their natural claw attacks.

Devils of Nyambe are the more lawfully-inclined fiendish orisha servants. The Buraka act as spiritual advisors and tutors to mchawi wizards and radiate an aura of bad luck. Chimiset are cowardly bird-like things who kidnap children and livestock by luring their prey in with hypnotic songs.

Dingonek are intelligent elephant-sized monsters who bear the head of a lion and body of a crocodile. Their scales can be made into masterwork armor, and while they normally prey on herd animals they hate it when humanoids violate their hunting grounds.

Eloko are short fey who love the taste of humanoid flesh and bear magic bells capable of charming their prey. They often gather together in groups, and as they do not possess racial hit die and advance in classes they can technically be played as PCs...although they are a bit strong given they have some pretty nice ability bonuses to all but Charisma, good Spell Resistance, natural armor, and two bonus feats.


Engargiya were used as pack animals in lands outside of Nyambe-tanda, but were turned into fierce war mounts by Kwo and are now extinct in the rest of the world. They are like heavy warhorses, but have stronger claw attacks rather than hooves, darkvision, low-light vision, and scent which make them great trackers. They are Beasts rather than Animals, and only the most determined riders can master them due to their sloped backs, imposing a -5 penalty on all Ride checks.


Entare have the head and lower torso of a lion, but the arms and upper torso of a human. This makes them incredibly strong, and alongside the Shombe are the most infamous warriors of the tUbi Grasslands. They gather in family-based clan units and have a variety of melee-based abilities such as pounce, rake, and improved grab along with scent, making them excellent ambush hunters as well as warriors.

Getiet look like an orc/gorilla/cheetah hybrid, the descendants of kosans who long lost their vaunted status. They are overall rare but gather in bands to attack small groups and lone travelers. In spite of having opposable thumbs they are incredibly stupid (6 Int) and haven’t really comprehended how to use weapons and tools, instead relying on their fast sprints (300 feet per round once per hour) and rending claws.

Glowing Frogs are tiny heroes dedicated to fighting the forces of evil...that is, if they had any reliable offensive powers. Instead they do the next best thing, finding other creatures to aid in this honorable endeavor. They can use telepathy and bear inherent psionic abilities focused around utility and debuffs.


Guiafario are flesh-eating flying squirrels who can attach to bitten victims and damage them over time. Somehow their picture is both terrifying and adorable...adorably terrifying.

Ingogo are the other “degenerate kosan” race, appearing as human-sized baboons. They’re smarter than the average orc (12 Int) and have mchawi as their favored class, but one would not ordinarily tell as they mostly communicate in swear words with outsiders. They can use handheld tools and weapons and also can throw their dung as a ranged touch attack which can impose the worms disease on those struck.

Kongamoto Dragons are an animal-intelligence “protodragon” which look like pterodactyls and likely included in this chapter to give low-spellcasters with Summon Dragon the ability to summon something useful. They are typical hunters, eating fish and small animals near rivers, and some lucky few have trained them to carry messages across great distances. They have a sonic-based breath weapon and the typical claw/bite attack.


Canonically, Kosan Orcs are extinct, but starts are provided for DMs who want some isolated bands still around or for certain rumors from Chapter 11. They’re physically identical to orcs but are smarter and take better care of their personal belongings. They have racial hit dice and can cast spells as though they’re 4th-level mchawi (which can stack if they take levels in the class). While they prefer to rain magical devastation down on their opponents, they can make for tough “warrior-mage” types.


Lau are one of the most powerful and infamous creatures in all of Nyambe. They are gigantic snake-like beasts, possessed of great intelligence and bear poisonous tentacle-like spines. Nobody knows their origins, and the rumored “king” of the Lau is a Colossal-sized 30 Hit Dice being 100 feet in length (most Lau are Gargantuan, around 40 feet)

Lobir are non-intelligent flying invisible constructs created by the spell of the same name, and appear as small insects or cones of metal to those who can see invisible creatures. They are very squishy (6 hp) but they have a boatload of natural defenses: in addition to flight and invisibility, their Armor Class is a stellar 27, and they have 20 Spell Resistance and Damage Reduction 15/+3. If they hit a victim with a touch attack they can burrow into their skin, dealing 1d4 Constitution damage per round, and they can only be dislodged via a Heal skill or powerful healing magic of at least 7th level.

The dreaded Malata Plant is 4 monstrous stat blocks in one, each creature bearing a symbiotic relationship to the whole. They are otherworldly beings from one of Da’s coils, who survive by turning nearby communities and ecosystems into mindless servants. The “trunk,” or heart of the expanded network, appears as an 80 foot tall baobab tree with a maw-like opening, capable of creating nearby plantlife such as thorn bush walls and minions. Malata plant seeds are tiny fibrous husks with bat-like wings which can grow into new trunks in mere days once they take root somewhere. Malata plant vines are the “hands” of the trunk, appearing as 20 foot long vines which can constrict prey and manipulate tools. Finally, the malata plant warriors are humanoid-shaped extensions of the trunk, connected by a stem to the trunk or a nearby thorn bush wall, dying if the stem is severed.


Mangabangabana are a race of humans who became separated in two due to an ancient curse. They move around by flying through the air and feed on the flesh of humanoids, with children being a favored prey. Mangabangabana are natural spellcasters, learning and preparing spells as though they were 8th-level mchawi, and have an 18 Spell Resistance.

Mlularuka are flying jackals, keeping aloft on warm updrafts in the savannah. They are not directly dangerous to humanoids but do steal food and small items by swooping down from the air.

Mngwa are feline predators about the size of mules native to most of the continent. Some have scythe-like fangs which make for powerful natural weapons, and they can be domesticated.


Mokele M’bembe goes by many names due to their fame as gigantic dinosaurs native to the swamps and forests of the continent. They avoid contact with humanoids, but they are big enough to capsize boats (which they commonly mistaken for edible fish) and their flesh is highly poisonous, capable of killing most humanoids within a minute.

Morou-Ngou are elephant-sized amphibious felines who have scales instead of fur. They are also semi-intelligent (Int 4) and can magically generate whirlpools and strong currents in nearby bodies of water to waylay prey.

Mpisimbi are a magical crossbreed created by MbUi priests long ago to serve as hunting and guard animals. They look like yellow and black-striped leopards with the speed of a cheetah and a crafty intelligence (5).


Ndalawo are leopards who died from undead known as shadows. They are incorporeal and create spawn, its form either a mere shadow or a fellow Ndalawo depending on what they kill. They are very deadly, possessing the pounce ability and claw attacks in addition to a Strength-damaging touch.

Njenge are goat-like beings with magical powers, causing nearby plants and crops to grow rapidly from soil they magically enrich by mere touch. They slowly die in captivity, meaning that while villages welcome their presence they do not attempt to constrain their movement.


Nommo were the aquatic race who taught the Mbanta people the art of psionics and astrology, and the latter humans’ legends teach that the Nommo came from the stars (aka Spirit World). Nommo society is split into two factions, one good and the other evil, who went to war in the Middle Ages. Their mighty clashes caused the earthquake which sank the Mbanta homeland as well as forced the kitunusi and utuchekulu above-ground. This disaster caused the nommo on both sides to take more subtle approaches in future conflicts. They are capable of shape-changing into humanoids and have some natural psionic powers along with a decent 20 Spell Resistance.

Reliquary Guardians are tiny cat-sized constructs bearing equally-small weapons. They are built by the Hutali people to guard over the remains of their ancestors, animating whenever someone approaches the container of a corpse save for those related by blood. They can supernaturally track the location and distance of a deceased charges as well as their remains and possessions, and have a poisonous bite attack.


Rom are a race of stone giant ghosts who perished during the earthquake which brought the utuchekulu to the surface. They haunt their dwarven enemies to this day, and are thus the greatest obstacle to the utuchekulu’s attempts at digging back home. Rom are incorporeal but can throw and catch incorporeal rocks which hurt just as much as the real thing, and their club attacks cause Constitution damage. They are powerless in sunlight, keeping them solidly underground most of the time.

Ronga are goblin-like faeries native to the Shadow World, and only ever appear in the heart of the bIda Rainforest when they do visit the material plain. They are unpredictable, capricious creatures, sometimes helping and attacking the very same people over the span of a day. They have a host of tricky fey-style spell-like abilities such as blink and silent image.

Samat are the powerful ancestors of the yuan-ti, just like the Kosan are to orckind. The Samat civilization were allies to the Kosans, unconquered due to their alliance with Zombi the Serpent Lord just as the Kosans were favored by N!ok the All-Seeing Eye. The Samat were slaughtered as well during the Great Rebellion, their survivors fleeing over the ocean to the Far East. They look nearly identical to yuan-ti, and the only ones within Nyambe-tanda are mummified in ruins of the bIda Rainforest. They can be resurrected if a major artifact is touched to a ceremonial shield in the mummy’s hand, or that of a living humanoid creature (who will die from having their life force absorbed). Once awakened, they will work to resurrect their brethren, growing in power over time with the goal of taking over the continent.

Statswise the samat have a host of psionic powers as well as an assortment of snake-like abilities and natural weapons. Their skin can naturally produce acid which damages those who touch it, and can create a long-lasting mental compulsion which forces targets to flee from them and other serpent-like beings on a failed Will save.

NSFW Strategically-Placed Deer
Sao are a race of pacifist giants, so they live in the deepest reaches of the bIda Rainforest in order to avoid conflict with other humanoids. They claim to be one of the oldest races created by the Overpower, although there is little evidence to support this theory. Although physically powerful, they only enter combat as a last resort. Most of their spell-like abilities revolve around nature and helping them hunt, and can intuitively cast the fabled Arrow of Slaying/Phase Arrow spells as well.


Tuyewera are a type of flesh golem created by mchawi wizards. They are more subtle, human-sized rather than Large and intended for covert assassinations. They are naturally invisible at night and possess Sneak Attack and Death Attack (save or die a struck opponent if you first study it for 3 rounds) in addition to the typical construct immunities.


New Animals & Vermin

This section is light on new artwork, unsurprisingly. A lot of the new animals are for stats of existing real-world creatures or altered versions of corebook ones. Thus our “new” animals and vermin include the following: the war camel is a stronger version of the standard breed with more Hit Dice. War Elephants are similarly advanced versions of typical elephants, who deal slightly more damage and have more hit points. Flightless Birds are meant to cover ostriches and similar species, possessing a bite, kick, and even trample attack where they can knock down multiple creatures in a charge. Giant Poisonous Frogs are exactly what they sound like, and not much needs to be said about Gazelles who are weak and virtually harmless but quite fast.

Giraffe are Huge animals but overall quite weak (Huge yet CR 2 and don’t deal full STR on kick/gore attacks). In a D&D twist they formed a symbiotic relationship with the Formians, ant-like extraplanar outsiders whose scouting party got stranded in Nyambe due to a failed invasion attempt. The formian scouts live in acacia trees of immense size, and the giraffe sometimes feed from these trees. As a result, most hunters do not target giraffes for fear of incurring the formians’ wrath.

Hippopotami are quite dangerous and strong, possessing a nasty bite attack, and are often hunted as their natural oils make for excellent sunscreen.

Hyenas and Jackals use wolf and dog stats respectively, although hyenas have a rare chance of their encounters containing actual treasure nearby due to them being scavengers lured to dead bodies. Vultures are often domesticated by monster-hunters for the purposes of tracking down undead. Zebra use pony stats and are inoffensive animals. There are Giant versions of toads and snapping turtles, the latter of which has a very high Armor Class and can retreat into its own shell to gain Cover bonuses (and which can be made into masterwork shields when defeated). The dreaded Pumina Snake can grow up to 60 feet in length, fond of grappling prey and pulling it into the water to drown.

Our two new vermin include the incubus beetles and mulilo. The former are said to crawl into the wombs of sleeping women and impregnate them, the child growing to perform great feats of legend. As such they viciously attack and feast on the flesh of men but are harmless to women, meaning that some Amazons keep them as pets or for warfare purposes. The mulilo is an elephant-sized snail who can spit a stream of mucus which can stick creatures to nearby surfaces like glue.

New Monster Templates

Animal Shapechangers are not lycanthropes. Rather they are animals capable of assuming the forms of humanoids. They have all the natural features of their base animal type, but their roars, laughs, and howls can act as per-day AoE debuffs depending on the sound. They can shape-change into a humanoid or hybrid form, and can regenerate damage and lost limbs like a troll which can only be overcome by fire or a specific “bane material.”


Barozi are mchawi reincarnated into the forms of animals. The “base” stat block is that of a normal predatory animal of an equal or lesser Challenge Rating than the deceased mchawi’s class level. The barozi in turn gains the ability to mentally dominate animals of its type (which then develop a taste for humanoid flesh no matter their normal diet), can pass through torn bush walls without harm, sense the presence of all humanoids within one mile, and can cast all of the Mchawi spells they knew in life. The last part is actually very limiting since most animals lack the anatomy for verbal and somatic means of casting spells. Fortunately the barozi can overcome these limitations by gaining enough Hit Dice to get a humanoid voice at 14 HD and even temporarily assume humanoid form at 16 HD.

In fact, finding the way to gain humanoid form is a great boon: they can mate with fellow humanoids, their souls transferring into the new life once it births with the barozi’s original form disappearing. They have perfect recollection of their former barozi and pre-barozi lives, instantly regaining all their former levels and thus cheating death. Even better, this form of “resurrection” is not limited by a percentage failure chance.

For PC-conscious builds, a barozi can continue to earn XP and gain mchawi levels, or alternatively advance one HD as a Magical Beast every time they’d ordinarily gain a level.

As you can see, this template is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the lack of verbal and somatic casting is a huge punishment which won’t be overcome easily. Silent and Still Spell metamagic feats can overcome this, but the +2 effective spell level is pretty harsh to put on almost all of your prepared magic. As the templated animal keys to Challenge Rating rather than level/hit dice, getting to 14 Hit Dice may be sooner than usual depending on the animal type you pick.

But on the other hand, certain animals can have some pretty powerful abilities which can make for a nice warrior-mage build (Pounce for a lion, Constrict for snakes) and the d10 Hit Dice and physical ability scores of said animal make up for the common dump stats of wizards.

There are many new Lycanthropes in Nyambe, including the werehyena, werejackal, wereleopard, and even the infamous werelion! Werehyenas are wicked and cowardly, werejackals are benevolent and honorable creatures who fight their more wicked shape-changing cousins, while wereleopards all belong to the Leopard Cult. Werelions come in Lesser and Greater breeds. The Lesser werelions are neutral and their hybrid forms look like entare, while the Greater werelions are Lawful Good and can take dire lion form. The latter are hated by the entare, who send warrior parties to hunt down and kill suspected sightings. Greater werelions are naturally born, incapable of transmitting lycanthropy to others.

Malata Plant Servitors are slow-moving, animal-Intelligence hosts who have been infected by a malata plant trunk’s controller thorn. Their skin becomes green and emerald-colored veins sprout throughout their body. They basically become living zombies with the plant type and only take half damage from piercing and bludgeoning weapons.


Mwanga are “false vampires,” living creatures cursed to crave the blood of others. The original mwanga was a warrior who struck a devil’s bargain with an animal orisha to become a better hunter. He got his wish granted...and then some.

Mwanga become Aberrations, gaining vampire-like features such as a blood-draining bite attack, a charm-based gaze attack, and the ability to infect others by draining them of blood and mentally enslaving them. They can transform into a leopard, dire bat, or dire rat.


Terkow are Nyambe’s “true vampires,” skinless undead who must suck the blood from others to replenish their fast-draining supply. They can skin their victims and disguise themselves as ordinary humanoids, even gaining the ability to walk in direct sunlight due to this. In addition to typical blood-draining abilities they cause those they drain to death to rise true zombis or fellow terkow depending on their Hit Dice. Terkow lose 2 hit points per day from rapid blood loss but can wear a victim’s skin to partially nullify some of their weaknesses. Finally they are deathly vulnerable to salt water, being damaged by it as though it were lava.


True Zombi gain their title from the fiendish orisha of the same name. Zombi is so closely associated with undead in general that the most common kind has become synonymous with the dread orisha’s title. True zombis are a stronger version of the typical “zombie,” created only via magical Zombi powder or by a member of the Zombi Cultist Prestige Class. The base creature gains typical zombie traits, but the major difference is that they’re still intelligent and under complete control of their necromantic creator. They also have Fast Healing which can only be negated by fire, acid, salt, or holy-based weapons and attacks. In fact, salt is so dangerous that they cannot abide even its mere touch, and a Magic Circle Against Evil imbued with salt can ward them off regardless of their alignment. They are also mute, meaning that raising martial types over spellcasters is preferred. Finally, true zombis retain their original alignment, but their lack of control forces them to take evil actions by their creator. A rather horrifying loophole!

Thoughts So Far: Overall I like the new monsters. They tend to vary in quality; I found the new animals and “big brute” monsters rather uninspiring, but really like the creatures with a non-characteristic role. Creatures such as the Njenge serve a more folkloric or non-standard role that doesn’t boil down to “hunt the monster,” while some of the non-evil intelligent ones such as the Glowing Frog or Reliquary Guardian can be tied to a greater quest nearby. I did like how some of the monstrous entries such as the Nommo and Samat did some implied world-building by referencing earlier historical and political events.

I can also see some inspirations in the monsters in regards to the other two “Fantasy Africa” games I reviewed. The tormented state of True Zombis is similar to Spears of the Dawn’s Eternal, while the Malata Plant monsters are quite similar to Southlands’ Green Walker minions. The Barozi is the only PC-friendly option, but even that needs some care as the choice of animal can leave a mchawi (anti)hero crippled, and all but mandates Silent and Still Spell for said class’ build. The only truly-friendly PC race is the ingogo, as the other monsters which advance by class have a host of abilities which can be unbalancing for most campaigns.

Concluding Thoughts

Nyambe is overall a good setting. The Third Edition ruleset means that it has not aged well, but still remains a unique treasure amidst the smorgasboard of third-party worlds. Its world is more piecemeal, with big-picture conflicts and legacies of days gone by for Dungeon Masters to build upon rather than having plots set in stone. In comparison to Spears of the Dawn and Southlands it does not have the robust “create your own adventure” sandbox of the former, nor the intimate level of localized details of the latter.

It is rather lacking in an “evil empire/cult/etc” and other major antagonists, the greatest evils confined to desolate corners of the world. Meanwhile, the greatest foes are often all-too-human political ambitions and folly. Even then there’s enough cool little things in both the rules and the world-lore to add to your own games, and it should not be very hard to convert Nyambe to the Pathfinder (1st Edition) system.

Finally, the author provided us with a handy bibliography which he used as inspirational material:


I’d like to thank everyone for reading this far with me. I’m going to take a break from Let’s Leads for the foreseeable future, but I hope that I left you all with an entertaining review and a potential setting to explore!

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