5E Let's Read: Volo's Monsters

Chaosmancer

Villager
Outsized strength is great, all the advantages of being small without the any of the downsides.

I was trying to think of something more interesting to use Redcaps in, rather than have them terrorizing and slowly slaughtering a village (live longer if you only kill 1 person every two days [don't risk 3, third day you dry up and disappear]) and I hit upon a few phrases that made me realize that the sickle is cool, but not necessary, lore wise they get "heavy bladed weapons" and can emulate their maker.

Welcome to Tam's Butcher shop, where old Tam and his team of Faeries will slaughter and butcher any meat you might want. All experts with a knife, and dressed in traditional garb, Tam's has an exotic feel hard to get outside the Feywild, and coming soon is his soon-to-be-world-famous Barbecue, so you can enjoy a hearty meal while waiting for your order.

Now, you could have Tam playing it straight. Redcaps need blood, but nothing says it has to be sentient blood, and they will probably enjoy slaughtering pigs, goats, cows, manticores, griffons, and whatever else with equal gusto. As long as it screams and bleeds. Or, perhaps there is a secret to why Tam is surrounded by so many Redcaps, and perhaps there have been some unusual disappearances or he has connections to a mob that needs "disposal services".

Cue an adventure in a meat locker, being hunted by a small army of half-pint butchers with Iron Shoes. Good horror session material I think, if you can set the mood. Especially if the party frequents the place for a while before they get suspicious, maybe the Redcaps stay out of sight the majority of the time, and Tam just helps the "Local Gnome Population"
 
You could call it Tam o' Shanter's shop, for added value. After all, that poem is basically an account of him witnessing a Hag meeting with her Devilish allies - and would perfectly fit the theme of a 'small town beset by crazy Fey on all sides' that Volo's descriptions seems to suggest.
 
The Sea Spawn is another from the ‘humanoid monsters from the sea’ theme, and seems designed to function as your low-level threat in a coastal story.



The image in the book is another fairly standard ‘monster standing still’ effort. It looks almost comically unhappy, thanks to the way that its lips are depicted, and overall is a decent but not very exciting piece of artwork.

The Sea Spawn are effectively an NPC statblock, fulfilling the role of nameless mooks for any deep sea critter - Morkoth, Kraken, Sea Hags, even Storm Giants - that you want to give minions to. They are created through mortals being transformed at the will of the above creatures, this being done through various mostly unnamed methods; the fluff text here makes it clear that the details don’t matter. In other words, the Sea Spawn are not an interesting creature in and of themselves, but acquire interest through being the pawn of a bigger threat. They are considerably weaker than the Deep Scion, making these more of a swarm threat.

We get two sidebars here; one from Elminster, which has a rather poignant note that the transformation into a Deep Spawn not only gives them various aquatic features, but also makes them love their slavery. Probably the only one of these that I’d bother reading out to my players. The second sidebar discusses the Purple Rocks, which is mentioned in Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and also makes an appearance in Storm King’s Thunder; there the entire adult population transform into Sea Spawn when they grow old, and there are Kraken Priests tending to that particular flock. It’s a good summary of how you can use these things as a self-contained storyline, and also adds value to those other products.

So let’s talk stats. The Sea Spawn are, well, CR 1 NPCs. They get two attacks, with one depending on their Piscine Anatomy, and overall do pretty low damage. A couple of the Piscine features do interesting things - saving throw against poison, grappling - but nothing particularly unusual. I did a quick comparison to the Bugbear, probably the king of CR 1 monsters, and these guys are indeed rather underwhelming in comparison, but I think that they do serve different roles; the Sea Spawn is the mooks for a bigger threat, the Bugbear is there to collect the tears of your players. (It’s a real shame that we didn’t get a Bugbear variant in this book!) The Sea Spawn is really not a social encounter - it cannot speak, and have no skills - and they combine shambling land movement with low AC to ensure that your players get to feel in control of the combat, as they will outpace and easily hit the Sea Spawn.

Not much else to say, really. Use these critters to flesh out your Kraken adventure, or to give your Morkoth island an easy entrance fight.
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
You could call it Tam o' Shanter's shop, for added value. After all, that poem is basically an account of him witnessing a Hag meeting with her Devilish allies - and would perfectly fit the theme of a 'small town beset by crazy Fey on all sides' that Volo's descriptions seems to suggest.
I'd never heard of this poem before. Thank you for sharing and when I have time (in ever dwindling supply these days) I'll read it


On to the sea.

Slight correction, they get three attacks, with one going to the anatomy, which doesn't help make them much scarier.

We of course have the standard aquatic tactic of "I can breathe water and you can't" for grappling, but these guys don't really have the strength to pull it off reliably. We can also of course, give them some equipment, better armor and weapons always helps, but what do you use them for?

My first reaction to seeing and reading about these guys was to remember Davy Jone's Crew from the Pirates of the Caribbean. That's who these things are almost perfectly. Then I got some inspiration and checked some books.

Swim speed of 30 ft equals the average land speed for a party, overland travel rules for a party have them traveling between 3 and 4 miles per hour without risking exhaustion, for 8 hours.

Check the DMs Guide, and you'll see that your average sailing vessels only achieve 2 to 2.5 mph. Galleys and Longboats being 4 and 3 mph respectively.

These guys can run down ships. And oh, the damage you can cause to a ship while you're underwater and holding even simple weapons like a pick.

So, here's the set up, let's say a Dragon Turtle sinks a ship, and instead of leaving the crew to drown, offers them a deal. Help me plunder more ships, and I'll let you live. It carries the sea spawn in close enough, they dart off to attack the ship, and the Turtle stays back where it is safe from harm. They can attack the hull, clamber up the sides to get to the crew, mess with the rudder, disengage the anchor, everything you can think of to weaken the crew and sink the ship. Turtle comes up to get the treasure and offers the same deal to more of the crew.

Maybe eventually the crew gets large enough the turtle helps a particularly talented spawn become captain of his own ship. Perhaps giving him a token that he can use to turn the willing into Sea Spawn while the Turtle isn't around.

The key to keeping this crew threatening to higher level players is that they can attack the ship instead of the crew. Imagine a player down in the hold, trying to stab a Shark-Seaspawn as it wrecks the hull and water is gushing into you. Seems fairly dramatic.
 
Oh, I really like that! The Dragon Turtle and his hoard o' zombies. It's especially good since, prior to Volo's, I found that Krakens and Dragon Turtles had very few convincing 'minions' to space out the adventure with.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Between the Sea Spawn, Deep Scion, and Kraken Priest, we have more than enough folk-turned-fish to populate a tier 1 adventure. But if you really want more, the Cultists of the Crushing Wave from Princes of the Apocalypse have a few key members that would work well. Namely the Crushing Wave Priest, Dark Tide Knight, Fathomer, and One-Eyed Shiver.

Which gives a healthy selection of NPC roles: stealthy shape-shifters, cavalry, minions, dedicated area denial, and some artillery.

As for what to lead them? That depends on your needs:

Aboleths clock in at legendary CR10, which should make for a powerful boss to a group of level 5-7 players. And add Chuuls to your enemy roster, giving a bit more meat to the minions.

Green Dragons experimenting with the local populace would be an unexpected twist, but not entirely out of left field given their amphibious nature and fondness for corrupting other creatures. Also the Young ones are CR8, which is a nice challenge for a group of 5th level.

A Marid could be the source of the problem, stemming either from a wish turned wrong or an ego rubbed the wrong way. Providing an optional cr 11 boss that could be bargained with.

A Sea Hag coven could do all the magic you need, while providing a trio of lesser powered bosses instead of one big boss. Also a deadly encounter for a level 5 group, but you might want to give them a bit more backup to make sure they aren't focused down fast. Good thing we have talked pages about how to use fey, eh?

There is also the Kraken, of course. But that is a cr23 encounter, and really shouldn't be used until tier 3 or so.

Or instead of going for a proper boss, you could simply give them the blessing of the Kuo-Toa, swelling the ranks to the point of overflowing and adding even more insanity to the adventure. Likewise for the Sahuagin, only with more bloodthirst and sharks.

Going over this makes me lament the lack of the Eye of the Deep even more. They really dropped the (eye)ball with that :p

Well I guess now would be the time touch on the Kraken Priest a bit, considering it's an NPC template in Appendix b, and it might not get proper attention otherwise.

It's got the defenses of a wet paper bag, a light serving of hp, resistance to non-magic weapons, and only 10 ac with no way to buff it. This means you desperately need to put some distance and meatshields between them and the party. However, it's normal actions are competent enough. A 300' AoE fear, and a melee attack that does 27 average damage. Which means it should never stop being a threat. An important note, it has innate spellcasting instead of the normal spellcasting you would imagine a priest to have. This gives the Kraken Priest access to a potent themed array of spells rather than a normal spell list, not that I am one to find spell lists on npcs sacred and immutable to begin with.

Chain Lighting will be it's default attack option, which will fry most, if not all, of the PC's round after round for the few turns that the priest will be living.
Control Water, cast before the fight allows for some intimidation factor, and the whirlpool option is a great way to make it hard for the parties melee bruisers to reach the priest.
Evard's black tentacles largely serves the same purpose as control water would in this case, but mostly as a back up option in an area where either there is no water or a different priest is controlling it already.
It has Darkness as an option, but has no real synergies with it. Perhaps it could be use to hide some fish-people in a dark corner of a room for an ambush at least.
At-will Command is the least of it's combat options, but it can be used to buy a turn or two when a PC slip past the tentacles, meat shields, and whirlpool to begin turning them into gumbo.

As with most of the other casters in Volo's, there are a few more fluff options in the spell list, but they aren't all that important for actually using the Priest. Over all, these fishy-fiends have a solid selection of options to call upon for their 5-round existence. However, if you are interested in giving them more options, the following spells from EEPG cover some bases and fit thematically:

Shape Water, given all the other aquamancy this priest is capable of, it fits like a glove.
Wall of Water gives disadvantage to PC's flinging ranged weapon attacks at the priest.
Watery Sphere may seem a bit redundant with Evard's black tentacles, but it has the advantage of being mobile (and dragging the poor unfortunate souls along with it), using STR saves instead of ability checks, and being a ball of water which the priest and their allies can attack into freely.
 
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Going over this makes me lament the lack of the Eye of the Deep even more. They really dropped the (eye)ball with that
I couldn't agree more about that. In a book featuring both several beholder variants as well as a good number of underwater foes, it's really surprising the eye of the deep didn't get an entry in the bestiary, especially as it's a bona fide 1e MM creature...


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I'm not planning on covering the NPC statblocks, so indeed now is a decent time to mention the Kraken Priest. I'll simply add that Control Water is effectively an auto-win button in any naval combat, since it lets you sink an enemy ship virtually without contest. Meanwhile, the Marid is a very interesting option, even if only for letting you use this image:



I'm a huge fan of the various Genies as NPCs, since they are so understandable - intelligent, covetous, impressed by power and shiny things - but also so alien. They're the perfect roleplaying challenge, and my players have loved them so far. Having one as an enemy that can be convinced to just... leave, rather than be killed, would certainly make for a very different end to the typical D&D adventure.


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With their incedibly fast movement, Quickling can make good messengers and delivery fey, as long as they are in the employ of someone who they fear enough not to mess with the packages.
The funny thing is that they're not actually incredibly fast by modern standards. 25 mph is as fast as they go, so they're somewhat faster than a real-world cat.

We're supposed to pretend like that's incredibly fast, because by D&D standards they're a real outlier--but I'd be tempted to make them move at 600' per round instead to really make the point. (A Quickling who Dashes 1200' in a turn is moving over twice as fast as a flying duck!) Changing movement is "free" in CR terms so it doesn't complicate anything.
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
The funny thing is that they're not actually incredibly fast by modern standards. 25 mph is as fast as they go, so they're somewhat faster than a real-world cat.

We're supposed to pretend like that's incredibly fast, because by D&D standards they're a real outlier--but I'd be tempted to make them move at 600' per round instead to really make the point. (A Quickling who Dashes 1200' in a turn is moving over twice as fast as a flying duck!) Changing movement is "free" in CR terms so it doesn't complicate anything.
I look at it more like they have to slow down to actually engage in combat, so that 120 ft of movement is their combat speed and then out of combat they move quick enough to disappear. The logic is that while their magic protects them quite a bit, trying to stab someone with a steel knife while moving close to the speed of sound is going to end very poorly for everyone involved, so they slow down enough to fight and if they decide to leave, they just do so.

But yeah, as written most DnD speeds are wonky as heck and make no sense when extrapolated out into mph. Your average DnD party moves incredibly slowly, even with overland travel rules, but it doesn't matter as much if you squint and follow the story more than the mechanics for stuff like that.
 
I look at it more like they have to slow down to actually engage in combat, so that 120 ft of movement is their combat speed and then out of combat they move quick enough to disappear. The logic is that while their magic protects them quite a bit, trying to stab someone with a steel knife while moving close to the speed of sound is going to end very poorly for everyone involved, so they slow down enough to fight and if they decide to leave, they just do so.

But yeah, as written most DnD speeds are wonky as heck and make no sense when extrapolated out into mph. Your average DnD party moves incredibly slowly, even with overland travel rules, but it doesn't matter as much if you squint and follow the story more than the mechanics for stuff like that.
Well, the speed of sound is 340 meters per second, which equates to a movement speed of 6752' in 5E terms, or 3376' if they only approach the speed of sound while Dashing. I don't think Quicklings are in any danger of breaking any sound barriers any time soon.

Normally I can just ignore the speed issue for the most part, but when people start talking as if a movement speed of 120' makes you an invisible blur, the engineer in me goes "Wait a minute!" And I really don't see anything wrong with increasing their movement speed to 600' so that they can be something approaching a blur (i.e. about as fast as an automobile but far more maneuverable = a blur in close-quarters combat) from either an in-game descriptive or a game-balance perspective. Sure, it means that a Quickling can almost guaranteed exit a combat by Disengaging (unless grappled/caught/fighting a Sentinel) and live to fight another day--but that's exactly what you'd expect, isn't it?

And it also makes them useful as long-range messengers, etc. Otherwise they're barely faster than a wizard on a Phantom Steed.
 
The Shadow Mastiff comes from the Feywild, but is not a Fey itself, being instead a Monstrosity. It’s a pretty cool opponent though, and surprisingly easy to work into your game, despite being a supernatural shadow dog.



I’m a really big fan of the artwork for this creature. It looks menacing and distinctly unfluffy, with a mouthful of fangs that only a mother could love. The artist also managed to make it look like it was breaking apart into wisps of shadow, which I think must have been a very difficult challenge. It’s cool.

The Shadow Mastiffs appear to be essentially just the dogs of the Shadowfell. Since that plane is a horrible wasteland full of undead, darkness, and Shadar-Ki, these puppies are pretty dangerous themselves. They seem to be a true-breeding race, and they come in packs, neither of which is likely to make your players any happier. They are often summoned by people who fancy the idea of sunlight-hating shadow dogs that can see into the Ethereal plane, in other words the kinds of people that your players are likely to want to rob, and can serve as excellent guard dogs. The entry name-checks the followers of Shar, Forgotten Realms goddess of shadow; they spend a lot of time fighting against the followers of Selune, goddess of the moon, and that is certainly a conflict that you can use to be the basis of a storyline. They can also just appear on the material plane - jumping through portals, either alone or as a pack - so can be good additions to any dark and haunted regions of your world.

The Shadow Mastiff can not see invisible creatures, but does get advantage on hearing/smelling them; I’d have a think about how you want to rule that. In my game, being invisible simply lets you try to stealth even while standing in the middle of the room, and does not usually give advantage unless I’m feeling generous (or it is a very noisy day, for example). I think that it is very easy for Rogues in particular to stealth, so they don’t need the help! Regardless, when running these guys as guard dogs, worth deciding that up front. In addition, they can see into the Ethereal plane - that undoes the benefit of Etherealness, a level seven spell, and presumably some other tricks that I’m not aware of. It also means that Night Hags and Ghosts are both foiled by these guys, somewhat oddly. This seems to be less effective against player characters than it sounds, since using the ethereal plane is not normally how the heroes sneak around.

The Shadow Mastiff is similar to the Shadow, being much more potent in darkness than in light. It has Sunlight Weakness for starters, and in addition half of its special abilities only work in dim light, such as its resistances to nonmagical weapons or its Shadow Blend ability. This last one is the gem of this statblock: a bonus action to go invisible. Using this, a Shadow Mastiff can run up to a player, bite them, then turn invisible to give disadvantage to return attacks. However, they stop being invisible in ‘bright light’, so I would also expect at least one argument at the table about just how bright, precisely, the party torch is. In practice, given how ubiquitous light sources are for player characters, this trick is not likely to work all that often; you might be able to do it by having the Shadow Mastiffs retreat and then go invisible, but they are not immune to opportunity attacks so that also might be a difficult one.

This entry gives you a pack of dangerous monsters who can be neutered somewhat by clever players. This means that they can vary wildly in difficulty, which is something that you could take advantage of - a combat in a room with lots of mirrors, for example, might be a memorable bout that lets the players feel like they did won by doing something other than just hitting things with swords. Like the Froghemoth, if you don’t want the fight to be that easily neutered, it’s worth combining them with something that can cast Darkness, for example Hags. One last note is that they included a ready-made Alpha for the pack, which I thought was a clever touch - just a quick sidebar, rather than a whole statblock. These ones get slightly more HP, a higher intelligence, and gets a Terrifying Howl that gives the Frightened condition out to 300 feet. That isn’t a hugely dangerous condition - especially if you rule that those who fail are only frightened of the Alpha, rather than all of the Mastiffs - but then this is only a CR 2 creature.

This is a solid entry. It will probably benefit from a custom-made location, as meeting one in a 10’x10’ brightly lit room will be pretty underwhelming for everyone. As an example, the Norse realm of Nidavellir, which Planescape located on the third layer of Ysgard, has the totally hilarious quality that no light source of any kind functions there - it is Darkvision or Blindness, effectively, just as the native Dwarves and Gnomes like it. These guys would be an unholy terror under those conditions, so something similar might be a worthwhile inclusion. Regardless - this is a fun statblock, with a lot to distinguish them from just ‘bag of hitpoints shaped like a dog’.
 
The Shadow Mastiff is similar to the Shadow, being much more potent in darkness than in light. It has Sunlight Weakness for starters, and in addition half of its special abilities only work in dim light, such as its resistances to nonmagical weapons or its Shadow Blend ability. This last one is the gem of this statblock: a bonus action to go invisible. Using this, a Shadow Mastiff can run up to a player, bite them, then turn invisible to give disadvantage to return attacks. However, they stop being invisible in ‘bright light’, so I would also expect at least one argument at the table about just how bright, precisely, the party torch is. In practice, given how ubiquitous light sources are for player characters, this trick is not likely to work all that often; you might be able to do it by having the Shadow Mastiffs retreat and then go invisible, but they are not immune to opportunity attacks so that also might be a difficult one.
Just pair them with allies who have missile weapons, e.g. gnolls lurking in the darkness of night. The players will voluntarily hurry to extinguish their own light sources, because otherwise the gnolls will be able to see them by their own torchlight, but they still can't see the goblins, which means the gnolls get advantage on all of their attacks.

If they put out their torches, then at least the gnolls have to come within 60' to see them, so they're in mutual darkvision range (if PCs have darkvision) and nobody gets advantage--but the Shadow Mastiff does get to use its shadow ability. (AFB, but I assume it can be used in darkness as well as dim light.)
 

Chaosmancer

Villager
I've found players rarely use Light sources any more, because only 3 of the PHB races lack Darkvision (Halfling, Human, Dragonborn which all appear together). Most of the DM's (myself included) also tend to forget that Darkvision imposes disadvantage to perception checks. Honestly, it's one of the least used mechanics in my games, so this creature has a good chance of darkness being available for a few turns at least, until Daylight is cast.

Other than that, it is good to note that the Shadow Mastiff Bite is an improvement on the Dire Wolves it looks like, 2d6+3 is solid damage and DC 13 or prone is nice. I am surprised they don't get pack tactics though, since them being in packs is called out repeatedly.

Another oddity, they can see Ethereal Creatures, but they can't necessarily do any thing about it. To my understanding being Ethereal means you can't be affected except by force damage, so the Shadow Mastiff can see you, bark like crazy, but can't actually do anything else. Waking the entire place up is decent, but ultimately accomplishes nothing of note, as the ethereal player just leaves and comes back another time.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I didn't think I would like the random monstrosities (like the shadow mastiff) wandering the planes, but they make a nice surprise for parties that get, how shall I say, overly comfortable with spells like magic circle as battlefield control, particularly if they show up on similar dark planes (like Pandemonium) :devil:
 

dave2008

Hero
Well, the speed of sound is 340 meters per second, which equates to a movement speed of 6752' in 5E terms, or 3376' if they only approach the speed of sound while Dashing. I don't think Quicklings are in any danger of breaking any sound barriers any time soon.

Normally I can just ignore the speed issue for the most part, but when people start talking as if a movement speed of 120' makes you an invisible blur, the engineer in me goes "Wait a minute!" And I really don't see anything wrong with increasing their movement speed to 600' so that they can be something approaching a blur (i.e. about as fast as an automobile but far more maneuverable = a blur in close-quarters combat) from either an in-game descriptive or a game-balance perspective. Sure, it means that a Quickling can almost guaranteed exit a combat by Disengaging (unless grappled/caught/fighting a Sentinel) and live to fight another day--but that's exactly what you'd expect, isn't it?

And it also makes them useful as long-range messengers, etc. Otherwise they're barely faster than a wizard on a Phantom Steed.
What D&D has never done well is model the difference between quickness/ reflexes and speed. I can play with my dog and my reflexes and quickness are just as good if not better than his; however, if we were to chase the same ball, he leaves me in the dust without a thought. I've always assumed the speed giving in D&D is just in combat, before they can get up to full speed. It is generally not to bad from that perspective. That being said, I think a 600 ft. speed for the Quickling would be great, perfect for closing in on those long range archers!
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Here is an idea: A Shadow Mastiff can use it's bonus action to become invisible. This invisibility also extends to anything the shadow mastiff is carrying.

This can be used in two ways.
Firstly, it can be used to fetch some object, then run away.

Secondly, and perhaps more fun, it can be ridden by a small creature and turn them both invisible. Good options for riders include Hafling Blackgaurds, and Goblins.
 
In general, anything which can knock you prone and has good speed (40' or more) is a good candidate for wolf-pack tactics: bite something, hope it falls prone, retreat as far as you can. You'll eat an opportunity attack (at disadvantage if it is prone) but any followup attacks from other wolves will be completely safe; and if the target does fall prone it won't be able to attack you normally on its own turn (not enough movement left to stand + move into range of you). So essentially you're getting a whole bunch of Shadow Mastiffs/similar who all get a bite attack (some at advantage against a prone target) in exchange for one opportunity attack, possibly at disadvantage.

This tactic is not dependent at all on the "Pack Tactics" feature because it is made out of real tactics. :)

For a Shadow Mastiff, you either turn invisible after your attack (so as to take no opportunity attack at all) or else, if the target is in the light, you try to reach darkness and turn invisible there for defensive purposes.
 

Bitbrain

Adventurer
Here is an idea: A Shadow Mastiff can use it's bonus action to become invisible. This invisibility also extends to anything the shadow mastiff is carrying . . . it can be ridden by a small creature and turn them both invisible. Good options for riders include Hafling Blackgaurds, and Goblins.
The gnome rogue in my group's primary campaign would probably die of happiness if the main DM offered her a shadow mastiff steed with this feature.
 
This guy creeps me out a little, so this post might be short. We’re discussing the Slithering Tracker, which is basically an ooze that you use if you hate nice things, I guess.



The image in Volo’s reminds me of the CGI T-1000 from Terminator 2. You know, the liquid metal guy? It’s basically one of them floating out of it’s victim’s chest. A great image, especially with the distressingly bloated with blood section of the Tracker.

The Slithering Tracker is the remains of some poor fool that willingly undergoes a ritual to be turned into a vampiric puddle of ooze, which is done for the express purpose of gaining revenge on someone. However, they tend to go mad and just start hunting anyone that they can, since their need for blood and inability to speak overwhelms their mind. This is the sort of thing that would seem so obviously a bad idea that it makes me wonder just how crap the average D&D world is, if it makes people honestly want to do this. They are normally super hard to spot, as they look like a puddle and can flow along ceilings and whatnot, but after feeding it turns bright red and leaves a trail of blood behind it. Lovely.

The Slithering Tracker is one of the (many) monsters in D&D that is kind of too weak to face a full party, and which doesn’t make sense when encountered in groups. It’s basically a solo encounter without the ability to function as a solo, if that makes sense. It can hide, it can ambush, and it can drown people in itself. To me, this seems like an excellent creature to have turn up for revenge when the players are taking a rest - forcing the Rogue to fight it by himself, or maybe with the help of the Paladin who is still in her nightgown, for example. It’s sneaky and tough enough to be exciting in that context, without feeling like as much of a dick move as the CR 8 Assassin would be. The Slithering Tracker is also probably more interesting in a murder mystery - when the players have to work out who or what killed the Mayor, for example - than it is in a normal dungeon or wilderness environment. In that regard, it will probably make a fine if somewhat easy end of investigation fight, being interesting and distinctive rather than difficult.

So this is a fine creature to use in very specific circumstances. It’s probably one of the most limited things in the game, in that respect. If you want a ready-built murder mystery, then use the Slithering Tracker; for almost everything else then you’ll do better with another option. Simple.


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