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Blog (A5E) Level Up’s Monsters: The Stat Block

Hi! I’m Paul Hughes, a lead developer on Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition. At blogofholding.com, I’ve done statistical analysis on the Monster Manual (5E Monster Manual on a Business Card), character class damage, monster Challenge Rating, treasure economy, and so on.

We’re publishing a heroic fantasy RPG, so we need monsters. A whole damn book of them. I want to tell you a little about what we have planned for the standalone Advanced 5E monster book: it might end up looking a bit different from most RPG bestiaries you’ve seen.

To get this out of the way first: the familiar monsters you need to run any O5E (Original 5E) adventure (with a small handful of intellectual-property exceptions) will be in the book, ready to plug and play into any adventure: aboleth to zombie, we’ve got ‘em. And we’ll be adding dozens of monsters you’ve never seen before (unless you’ve gotten a sneak preview on the EN5ider patreon).

All our monsters will be getting an overhaul, so even if you’ve seen one before, you won’t have seen it in this form before. As part of “5E Monster Manual on a Business Card”, a project I did to figure out the basic math of O5E monsters, I identified some that didn’t quite hit their intended marks and others that would be all the better for a few tweaks. Every monster stat, bonus, and feature will be going under the microscope.

We’re also adding a bunch of new goodies for you to play with. To show you the scope of the changes we’re making, I’d like to show you an example monster - the vampire.

Challenge Rating​

If you’ve ever had trouble predicting whether a battle was going to be challenging, deadly, or a pushover - don’t worry, we have too. That problem may never truly be solved - there are just too many variables in party composition, monster abilities, and encounter circumstances - but we believe we can reduce the chaos a bit.

We’re tweaking the encounter-building guidelines (especially at high level), and we’re also adjusting individual monsters’ Challenge Ratings.

The original 5E vampire, for instance, has great out-of-combat and narrative abilities, but in combat it doesn’t live up to its Challenge Rating of 13. By my calculations, it’s a lot more like a CR 10 monster. We considered raising its hit points and damage output by a bunch, but ultimately we decided to re-rate it as CR 10 and keep its power level around where it is now. After all, we don’t want to wildly throw off the balance of pre-published vampire adventures!

Encounter balance is an iterative process and we’ll need lots of playtests to get it right. We’ll be looking for your help on that in the future.

Compatibility​

Of course, every O5E monster is fully compatible with Level Up. That includes all the monster books you already have, and any monsters found in adventures and other products. When you start playing Level Up, there's already a dizzying array of material you can use with it.

However, you can run O5E adventures using our monster book. Where you see an entry which says "three bugbears attack", you can use the O5E bugbear, but we hope you'll use ours. The challenge is the same, even if some of the details are different.

Iconic Monster Abilities​

We want every monster to feel unique in combat. A battle against a frost giant should differ from one against a stone giant in ways that go beyond gradations in HP and attack bonuses.

Each monster will have some unique ability or abilities which sets it apart: hopefully we’ll spark surprise and wonder in the players, and maybe a little healthy fear as well.

Some monsters will be more complex than others. A goblin warrior needs to feel like a goblin, so it might have an extra trait or reaction or two. It can’t be too complex, since goblins often come in large numbers and act as foot soldiers to more dangerous foes. On the other end of the scale, a legendary foe like a vampire must pack enough punches to single-handedly carry a battle by itself. That means making use of legendary actions, reactions, and once-per-day abilities that showcase its flavor.

Here are the extra reactions and legendary actions available to our current version of the vampire.

Reactions​


Hissing Scuttle (1/day). When the vampire takes radiant damage, it moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks.​
Warding Charm (1/day). When a creature the vampire can see within 30 feet targets it with an attack, the vampire uses Charm on that creature.​

Legendary Actions​

The vampire can take 2 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The vampire regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Momentary Transformation. The vampire uses its Animal Form or Mist Form ability, moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks, and then returns to its true form.​
Blood Charm. The vampire uses Charm. If the vampire has used Bite on the target in the last 24 hours, it makes its saving throw at disadvantage.​
Blood-Frenzied Charge (Costs 2 Actions). The vampire moves up to its speed, ending this move adjacent to a creature whose hit points are at or less than half of its maximum hit points. The vampire then makes two melee attacks against this creature.​
Recovery (Costs 2 Actions). The vampire immediately uses its Legendary Recovery trait.​

Monster Terrain​

Each monster’s stat block will now list the natural terrains to which it’s native. Furthermore, we’re going to include quite a few unnatural terrains.

Here’s the vampire terrain entry. As you can see, we’re not only placing vampires in mountain fastnesses and monster-haunted cities but in specific types of dungeons and even on other planes of existence.

Terrain: hills, grassland, forest, mountains, settlement, ruin, sewer, tomb, plane of shadow​

We’ll be including comprehensive encounter tables, broken down by all these terrain types and more, and also by level, to a high degree of granularity. Right now, we’re thinking of including not only monster and NPC encounters but also weather and encounter challenges (more on them in another post). My benchmark for a fully complete encounter table is that you could spend an entire campaign, level 1-20, exploring a single terrain type and never have to re-use the same encounter.

Of course, there are a lot of possible variations even within one encounter entry on an encounter table: a battle against 4-6 goblins, for instance, could lead to an ambush, a negotiation, a mystery, a rescue or any number of other outcomes. We’ll talk more about our plans for customizing encounters in a later post.

Monster Alignment​

Here’s the rare example where we’re removing content. Most monsters won’t have alignments. In our cosmology, alignment is a rare trait, usually only assigned to powerful magical entities. The bugbears you encounter might be hostile, or friendly, and they might even be evil-with-a-small-e, but there’s nothing about most species or heritages that makes them inherently evil or good.

To continue our example stat block: vampires, as powerful undead, do have an alignment trait. The very power that animates them is evil. While nearly all vampires are irredeemably wicked, the exceptional vampire might resist its nature, at least for a little while, and become a stern protector of the world that fears it. Here's the vampire's relevant trait.
Lawful evil. The vampire exudes a lawful and evil aura.​

Flexible Skills​

In Level Up, it’s expected that you can use any skill with any ability score. That’s true for monsters too. We may pre-compute a monster’s Charisma (Intimidation) score for you as a matter of convenience, but we’ll also include the monster’s proficiency bonus so that it can make a Strength (Intimidation) roll if called for.

Abilities: STR 20 (+5) DEX 18 (+4) CON 20 (+5) INT 16 (+3) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 18 (+4)​
Proficiency: +4​
Common Skills: Wisdom (Perception) +7, Charisma (Persuasion) +8, Dexterity (Stealth) +8​

Treasure Type​

There’s nothing that makes my players desire a magic weapon more than having a monster use it on them first. Usually, assigning appropriate magical treasure is part of a DM’s preparation work before a session, but we want a randomly-rolled, on-the-fly hobgoblin boss to be more likely to own a magical sword, and a lich more likely to possess scrolls and magic wands.

We’re experimenting with customizing each monsters’ treasure so that, as an alternative to the standard randomly-rolled treasure, the game master can choose one of several example treasure bundles suitable for that monster.

Here’s the vampire treasure line.

Example Treasure:
  • necklace of fireballs (worn); 3,000 GP; 150 PP; 12 rare books worth 100 GP each

  • black-enameled scale male of resistance (radiant) (worn, granting AC 16); 200 PP; bag of 13 bloodstones worth 50 GP each

  • hidden gold coffer, worth 7,500 GP, containing a desiccated human heart (staking it kills the vampire)

All treasure doesn’t have to be magical! An NPC’s suit of nonmagical plate mail might be a hard-won prize for a low-to-mid-level party, and an evil spellcaster might possess a nonmagical but valuable grimoire of forbidden secrets. A purple worm’s treasure might consist entirely of precious gems hidden in its gullet (a fact the PCs only learn when one of them is swallowed).

Monster Variants​

Many GMs don’t present every monster stat block as written. They reskin, add powers, and adjust hit points and damage to fit their needs. As the writers of the book, why shouldn’t we help you out with that?

Many monsters in the book will contain a monster variant or two (or three). A variant consists of an altered description, feature, or set of powers that you can apply to an existing monster to make it fresh and keep your players guessing.

A monster variant might be as simple as a spellcasting goblin, a champion knight, or a winged ogre. It might be a chimera with a different set of heads. Or it might be a complete reskin: a human cannibal cultist with the stats of a gnoll.

A variant might also provide a legendary version of an existing monster: a legendary medusa, for instance, with a higher CR and hit points and a full suite of legendary actions and traits. There will be legendary monsters at all levels. Even first or second-level characters deserve dynamic battles against interesting villains.

Variant monsters are tools that allow a DM to control the complexity of an encounter. If you’re running a complex battle with many different monster types, you can use the simplest version of each monster. If the PCs engage in an otherwise straightforward battle, the DM can break out a more memorable or perilous variant.

Variants are also a great way to shake players out of a sense of familiarity. Think you know what a demilich is capable of? Think again!

Here’s our Vampire Spellcaster variant. Of course, this is only one of several vampire variants we’ll have; Dracula fans will love the Elder Vampire, which has a whole slew of powerful vampiric powers!

Vampire Spellcaster​


Some vampires were wizards or clerics in life. In death they continue their researches, drawing on necrotic power to fuel their spells.

This vampire spellcaster is a 4th level wizard who uses Intelligence as its spellcasting ability (DC 15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). It can use an action or 2 legendary actions to cast a spell. It has the following spells prepared and scribed in a hidden spellbook:

Cantrips (at will): mage hand, minor illusion
1st level (4 slots): disguise self, alarm
2nd level (3 slots): arcane lock, knock

The vampire spellcaster is CR 11. It has the following additional reactions:

Counterspell (1/day). The vampire interrupts the spellcasting of a creature it can see. The target must make a DC 16 saving throw using its spellcasting ability or its spell is wasted.​
Shard of Midnight (1/day). After the vampire takes radiant damage, it causes a field of magical darkness to spread from it to a distance of 30 feet, moving with the vampire and spreading around corners. Nonmagical light can’t illuminate this darkness and a creature with darkvision can’t see through it, though any undead creature can. The darkness lasts for a minute, until it is a target of dispel magic, or until it overlaps with an area of light created with a level 3 or higher spell slot.​

The vampire spellcaster has the following additional legendary actions:

Confusion (1/day). Up to three targets the vampire can see within 60 feet of it must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be confused for one minute. Each target may repeat this saving throw at the end of each of its turns.​
Dominate Thrall (costs 2 actions). The vampire issues an order to a vampire spawn or to a creature which the vampire has charmed. As a reaction, the charmed creature follows the order to the best of its ability, moving up to its speed and taking an action. The charmed creature cannot make more than one attack as part of its action.​

You’ll notice that, while you still must refer to spell descriptions for some utility spells, we’ve greatly reduced the number of spells known by the vampire spellcaster. We’ve converted several combat-useful spells (counterspell, confusion, darkness, and dominate person) into stat block actions. If it’s likely to be used in battle, we’d like to save you some page flipping if we can.

If a monster’s collection of variants aren’t enough for you, you’ll also be able to modify a monster by applying one of our streamlined templates, each of which can be applied to many monsters. Need a swarm of weasels? A skeletal giant ape? An elite hill giant, or a troop of guards? How about a vampiric unicorn? By applying a template, you can turn a creature into a swarm, skeleton, elite, troop, vampire, or one of several other templates.

And That’s Not All​

Those are some of the tweaks we’re making to monster stat blocks. Very soon I want to talk about the even bigger overhaul we’re contemplating to the monster description. We’re adding a lot more DM tools with an eye on speeding and enriching play at the table, including clues and signs of a monster’s presence, regional effects, tactics, lore checks, quirks, and more. I’m excited to show you what we’ve got!

To_Stake_A_Vampire_-_Attack_From_Above_-_Claudio_Pozas_page55.jpg

The Stat Block​


For your playtesting pleasure, here’s the complete vampire stat block. Please let us know what you like, what you don’t like, and how it plays at your table. This is very much a work-in-progress.

Vampire​


Type: Legendary Medium undead

Challenge: 10 (level 25)

AC: 16 (natural armor)

HP: 142 (15d8+75)

Speed: 40 ft., climb 30 ft.



Abilities: STR 20 (+5) DEX 18 (+4) CON 20 (+5) INT 16 (+3) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 18 (+4)

Proficiency: +4

Saving Throws: Dex +8, Wis +7, Cha +8

Skills: Wisdom (Perception) +7, Charisma (Persuasion) +8, Dexterity (Stealth) +8



Damage Resistances: Necrotic; damage from nonmagical, non-silvered weapons

Senses: Darkvision 120ft., Passive Perception 17

Languages: the languages it knew in life

Terrain: hills, grassland, forest, mountains, settlement, ruin, sewer, tomb, shadowfell

Example Treasure​

  • necklace of fireballs (worn); 3,000 GP; 150 PP; 12 rare books worth 100 GP each
  • black-enameled scale male of resistance (radiant) (worn, granting AC 16); 200 PP; bag of 13 bloodstones worth 50 GP each
  • hidden gold coffer, worth 7,500 GP, containing a desiccated human heart (staking it kills the vampire)

Traits​


Animal Form. As an action, the vampire and its gear can transform into a beast or swarm of CR ½ or lower (usually a bat, wolf, or swarm of bats) or back into its true form. In this form, it has vampire statistics except that it has the size, movement speeds, and traits of its beast or swarm form and can’t speak. Anything it’s carrying transforms with it. If it dies, it transforms to its true form.​
Mist Form. As an action, or when it drops to 0 hit points instead of falling unconscious, the vampire and its gear can transform into a mist. As a mist, it has the same statistics except that it has a flying speed of 30, can’t speak, take actions, or manipulate objects, is immune to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, and has advantage on saving throws and Stealth checks. It can pass through a space as narrow as 1 inch and can’t pass through water. If it has at least 1 hit point, it can transform into its true form on its turn without spending an action.​
While the vampire has 0 hit points in mist form, it can't revert to its vampire form, and it must reach its resting place within 2 hours or be destroyed. Once in its resting place, it reverts to vampire form and is paralyzed for one hour, at which time it regains 1 hit point. While paralyzed in this way, it can be destroyed by radiant damage, magical damage, or a wooden stake through the heart.​
Regeneration. The vampire regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point and hasn’t taken radiant damage since its last turn.​
Spider Climb. The vampire can use its climb speed even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings.​
Vampire Weaknesses. Vampires’ most common weaknesses are sunlight and running water. When the vampire ends its turn in contact with one of its weaknesses (such as bathed in sunlight or running water), it takes 20 radiant damage. While in contact with its weakness, it can’t use its Animal Form, Mist Form, or Regeneration traits.​
Legendary Recovery. At the end of its turn, the vampire ends one magical effect or condition on itself that was imposed with a failed saving throw.​

Actions​


Multiattack (vampire form only). The vampire makes three attacks, only one of which can be a bite attack.​
Grab (vampire form only). Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 19).​
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target which is grappled, incapacitated, restrained, willing, or unaware of the vempire’s presence. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 5) piercing damage plus 14 (4d6) necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage dealt, and the vampire regains this number of hit points. If the target is reduced to 0 hit points by this attack, it dies and will rise the following night as a vampire spawn in the vampire’s thrall. Before the target first rises as a vampire spawn, a cleric can spend ten minutes blessing the body in order to prevent this transformation.​
Charm. One target the vampire can see within 30 feet of it must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the vampire for 24 hours or until the vampire ends the effect. The charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend and is a willing target for the vampire’s bite. The target can repeat the saving throw each time the vampire or its allies damage the target. Once the target has succeeded on the saving throw, it is immune to this vampire’s Charm for 24 hours.​

Reactions​


Hissing Scuttle (1/day). When the vampire takes radiant damage, it moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks.​
Warding Charm (1/day). When a creature the vampire can see targets it with a melee attack, the vampire uses Charm on that creature.​

Legendary Actions​


The vampire can take 2 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The vampire regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Momentary Transformation. The vampire uses its Animal Form or Mist Form ability, moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks, and then returns to its true form.​
Grab. The vampire makes one grab attack.​
Blood Charm. The vampire uses Charm. If the vampire has used Bite on the target in the last 24 hours, it makes its initial saving throw at disadvantage.​
Recovery (Costs 2 Actions). The vampire immediately uses its Legendary Recovery trait.​

Continue reading...
 

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Paul Hughes

Paul Hughes


Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
I like where this is going.

Blood Charm. The vampire uses Charm. If the vampire has used Bite on the target in the last 24 hours, it makes its initial saving throw at disadvantage.
"It makes its initial...." would be much clearer if you went with "the target makes its initial..." instead. You probably should go through the entire MM looking for this.

And please, just call it bloodied, alright 😉
 
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Stalker0

Legend
Monsters are the piece I am most excited about in level up. While I like some of the changes in other places, for the most part 5e is pretty solid to me....except for the MM.

The MM is somewhat of a failure to me. Most monsters are no where near what their challenge rating indicates, especially past CR 7 or so. And many monsters are just plain boring.

So I am greatly looking forward to what you do. My main feedback is...focus on the monsters. New encounter tables are cool but that’s not why I’m spending money, I want a series of good and solid monsters. So anytime your on a time crunch...I’d rather see a cut to those tables than sacrifice monster design.

On the statblock, my only thought was to put terrain and magic items at the end of the block. Those areas I’m not going to look at during combat, so I’d rather separate them from stats I will keep glancing at.
 


Grantypants

Explorer
This is all great! Converting nearly every monster is a huge undertaking and I'm glad you're doing it.

I especially like the example treasure bundles. It might be nice to have a note in the stat block for when something in a particular bundle affects it. So you might have "Actions1" for the necklace of fireballs or "AC: 16 (natural armor)2" and "Damage Resistances: Necrotic; damage from nonmagical, non-silvered weapons2" for the scale mail of resistance (radiant). Then you'd have those numbers correspond with the entries on that monster's treasure bundle table. This would encourage DMs to have their monsters use the treasure they have without overcrowding the stat block with information that is irrelevant if the monster has different treasure.
 

Stalker0

Legend
In terms of the vampire stats itself. Glad you chose this one, as vampires are one of the most disappointing creatures I’ve used in play (and I’ve tried them several times).

1) I like that charm is a much more common weapon now, for example being able to charm 3 opponents in a round or even adding the warding charm.

2) the blood charge is cool.

3) legendary recovery is in general weaker than legendary resistance, even with the legendary action piggyback. This is probably the greatest reduction in stat. I’m not the biggest fan of this, on the one hand yes you want the player to feel like they did something but anytime a boss loses its entire action it’s potentially crippling.

i think I would rather it be the legendary action only cost 1 action and gives a new save or holds off the state for one round. So it weakens the creatures actions but not in such a debilitating way.

4) CR 10 feels right at first glance. The fact that you can keep the core stats mainly the same and drop 3 CRs is pretty telling. I think level 7 pcs will still own this creature but it will be a good fight.

5) the interaction between mist form, sunlight, and vampire at 0 HP was tricky to understand compared to the original statblock. It took me a few reads to get it.
 

Corrosive

Adventurer
Things which caught my eye!
Hi! I’m Paul Hughes, a lead developer on Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition. At blogofholding.com, I’ve done statistical analysis on the Monster Manual (5E Monster Manual on a Business Card), character class damage, monster Challenge Rating, treasure economy, and so on.
Paul Hughes is defintely the best person probably in the world to be doing this!

The original 5E vampire, for instance, has great out-of-combat and narrative abilities, but in combat it doesn’t live up to its Challenge Rating of 13. By my calculations, it’s a lot more like a CR 10 monster. We considered raising its hit points and damage output by a bunch, but ultimately we decided to re-rate it as CR 10 and keep its power level around where it is now. After all, we don’t want to wildly throw off the balance of pre-published vampire adventures!
I'm not sure about that. If I'm running CoS with LU rules, and the adventure tells me I meet a vampire, the adventure is assuming I can handle a Challenge 13 monster, so giving me a Challenge 10 monster doesn't work. The adventure designers - even if erroneosly -- are writing the encounter assuming it's Challenge 13. So if we accept that the monster is underpowered for its CR, we need to increase its power ot match, not reduce the CR.

Monster Alignment​

Here’s the rare example where we’re removing content. Most monsters won’t have alignments. In our cosmology, alignment is a rare trait, usually only assigned to powerful magical entities. The bugbears you encounter might be hostile, or friendly, and they might even be evil-with-a-small-e, but there’s nothing about most species or heritages that makes them inherently evil or good.

To continue our example stat block: vampires, as powerful undead, do have an alignment trait. The very power that animates them is evil. While nearly all vampires are irredeemably wicked, the exceptional vampire might resist its nature, at least for a little while, and become a stern protector of the world that fears it. Here's the vampire's relevant trait.
Lawful evil. The vampire exudes a lawful and evil aura.​
Oh yeah, baby! That's what I'm talking about! LU leading the charge!
We’re experimenting with customizing each monsters’ treasure so that, as an alternative to the standard randomly-rolled treasure, the game master can choose one of several example treasure bundles suitable for that monster.
Love this except after the third vampire it will get samey. How about three convenient examples, and also a random treasure type table for DMs who want ot take the time to roll on it?
If a monster’s collection of variants aren’t enough for you, you’ll also be able to modify a monster by applying one of our streamlined templates, each of which can be applied to many monsters. Need a swarm of weasels? A skeletal giant ape? An elite hill giant, or a troop of guards? How about a vampiric unicorn? By applying a template, you can turn a creature into a swarm, skeleton, elite, troop, vampire, or one of several other templates.
Templates! Excellent!
 


I would like to know how to recalculate the CR if two arms are added to a naga, or a humanoid with four arms, one for a shield, other for an one-handed weapon and the others for a two-handed weapon.

If CR is higher when a monster template is added and the creature is more powerful, what about "gear level", when a monster has got some "extra help", for example some special magic item, or firearms, or a construct working as an exosuit.
 


Faolyn

Hero
I like! I convert a lot of monsters for fun, and monsters are my favorite part of any game, so I'm looking forward to seeing how you guys are doing it.

CR: Yes, a lot of 5e monsters are badly CR'd, mostly because the CR rules mostly just take AC/resistances and damage output into consideration and ignore most inflicted conditions (other than grappled/restrained). Even real killers like poisoned or incapacitated--or charmed--don't modify the CR. I hope LU is going to take those into consideration.

Onto the monster itself:

Challenge: 10 (level 25)? Now what does this mean? Did I miss something? CR 10 for the monster, yes, but... 25 levels of character needed to destroy the vampire? If so, I guess that's useful for your mob of pitchfork-wielding commoners. If each commoner is CR 1/8, then you need 200 commoners to tear apart one vampire. Add a decent adventuring party in there, and it drops down to thirty or forty commoners instead.

Armor: My actual preference would be to go back to something more akin to 3x: Armor: 18 (+4 Dex, +2 thick hide, +2 psychic shield) or AC 14 (+2 leather armor, +2 shield).

Abilities: Do we really need the actual stats anymore, or can we get by on just the bonus/penalty?

Proficiency Bonus: Thanks! This will be really helpful. Seriously--having to math the CR for a high-level monster based on its various saves or to hit mods isn't hard, but it's an extra step.

Skills: Any reason why this vampire can't flex its muscles and do Strength (Persuasion) instead?

Damage Resistances: Thanks for the simplicity of "nonmagical, nonsilvered" weapons. So much easier and sensible than "damage from bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks that aren't silver." Just make sure that it's known that unarmed attacks are still considered weapons, because we don't want to punch a vampire to death.

Speaking of! PLEASE bring back "cold iron." Or something akin to it: meteoric iron or even OOTS-style "skymetal." Fey and demons need some extra weaknesses too!

Terrain: So as I said, I convert tons of monsters, and I included my own Climate/Terrain section. I'm amused to see that you also included ruins, sewers, and tombs in terrain.

Treasure: Maybe bring back treasure types? Or instead of saying "necklace of fireballs"--an odd choice for a vampire--say "a wearable magic item from Table Whatever.

Animal Form: So vampires are no longer shapechangers? I approve that choice, but it makes me wonder if this is a vampire thing or if you're redoing how shapechanging works altogether.

I suggest that you rephrase "the vampire and its gear" to "the vampire and any objects it is wearing or carrying," just to avoid a munchkin vampire who insists that this cannon is part of its gear.

Can the vampire transform into any beast or swarm of appropriate CR, or only into a select number of forms? I'd go with the latter myself. (Edit: I have a sudden desire to create a little old lady vampire that transforms into a swarm of cats.)

Vampire Weaknesses: As a fan of the Van Richten series, I applaud the possibility of non-standard vampire weaknesses. However, you might want to say "vampires have X number of weaknesses. The most common are sunlight and running water, but there's a sidebar thataway that has a list of other possible weaknesses." And maybe say it doesn't take radiant damage in the trait, but in the sidebar: 1. Sunlight: 20 radiant. 2. Immersed in running water: 20 radiant (or acid). 3. The scent of garlic within 5 feet of the vampire: the vampire is poisoned for 1 minute, can make DC 15 save at end of each turn; can end with Legendary Recovery. Small objects thrown on the floor: can take no actions but pick up the items for 1d4 rounds; can end with Legendary Recovery.

Legendary Recovery: Is this an always thing, or a X/day thing, or a recharge thing?

Grab: This is a problem I have with grapple attacks in general: if you have something grappled, do you need to make a new attack to inflict damage? It seems like once you have a creature in your grasp, the damage should be automatic.

Bite: "Before the target first rises as a vampire spawn, a cleric can spend ten minutes blessing the body in order to prevent this transformation." No gentle repose spell?

Reactions: I love them both! So flavorful!

Legendary Actions: Only two actions. Interesting. Are you reducing the number of Legendaries in general, or making the number more varied?

One Last Thing: Alignment: While I can see a vampire exuding an evil alignment, a lawful one? We get the image of the noble vampire with lands and the law from things like Dracula and Strahd, or even from clan-holding vampires in VtM, but I'm having a hard time seeing a D&D vampire in general being so lawful as to exude an aura. Unless you're saying that vampires are so whatever they make the populace cower in line?
 
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Zaukrie

New Publisher
I like! I convert a lot of monsters for fun, and monsters are my favorite part of any game, so I'm looking forward to seeing how you guys are doing it.

......................

One Last Thing: Alignment: While I can see a vampire exuding an evil alignment, a lawful one? We get the image of the noble vampire with lands and the law from things like Dracula and Strahd, or even from clan-holding vampires in VtM, but I'm having a hard time seeing a D&D vampire in general being so lawful as to exude an aura. Unless you're saying that vampires are so whatever they make the populace cower in line?
Concur on the alignment.....
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Vampire

Type: Legendary Medium undead Challenge: 10 (level 25) AC: 16 (natural armor) HP: 142 (15d8+75) Speed: 40 ft., climb 30 ft. Abilities: STR 20 (+5) DEX 18 (+4) CON 20 (+5) INT 16 (+3) WIS 16 (+3) CHA 18 (+4) Proficiency: +4 Saving Throws: Dex +8, Wis +7, Cha +8 Skills: Wisdom (Perception) +7, Charisma (Persuasion) +8, Dexterity (Stealth) +8 Damage Resistances: Necrotic; damage from nonmagical, non-silvered weapons Senses: Darkvision 120ft., Passive Perception 17 Languages: the languages it knew in life Terrain: hills, grassland, forest, mountains, settlement, ruin, sewer, tomb, shadowfell Animal Form. As an action, the vampire and its gear can transform into a beast or swarm of CR ½ or lower (usually a bat, wolf, or swarm of bats) or back into its true form. In this form, it has vampire statistics except that it has the size, movement speeds, and traits of its beast or swarm form and can’t speak. Anything it’s carrying transforms with it. If it dies, it transforms to its true form. Mist Form. As an action, or when it drops to 0 hit points instead of falling unconscious, the vampire and its gear can transform into a mist. As a mist, it has the same statistics except that it has a flying speed of 30, can’t speak, take actions, or manipulate objects, is immune to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, and has advantage on saving throws and Stealth checks. It can pass through a space as narrow as 1 inch and can’t pass through water. If it has at least 1 hit point, it can transform into its true form on its turn without spending an action. While the vampire has 0 hit points in mist form, it can't revert to its vampire form, and it must reach its resting place within 2 hours or be destroyed. Once in its resting place, it reverts to vampire form and is paralyzed for one hour, at which time it regains 1 hit point. While paralyzed in this way, it can be destroyed by radiant damage, magical damage, or a wooden stake through the heart. Regeneration. The vampire regains 20 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point and hasn’t taken radiant damage since its last turn. Spider Climb. The vampire can use its climb speed even on difficult surfaces and upside down on ceilings. Vampire Weaknesses. Vampires’ most common weaknesses are sunlight and running water. When the vampire ends its turn in contact with one of its weaknesses (such as bathed in sunlight or running water), it takes 20 radiant damage. While in contact with its weakness, it can’t use its Animal Form, Mist Form, or Regeneration traits. Legendary Recovery. At the end of its turn, the vampire ends one magical effect or condition on itself that was imposed with a failed saving throw.
Actions Multiattack (vampire form only). The vampire makes three attacks, only one of which can be a bite attack. Grab (vampire form only). Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage. The target is grappled (escape DC 19). Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target which is grappled, incapacitated, restrained, willing, or unaware of the vempire’s presence. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 5) piercing damage plus 14 (4d6) necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage dealt, and the vampire regains this number of hit points. If the target is reduced to 0 hit points by this attack, it dies and will rise the following night as a vampire spawn in the vampire’s thrall. Before the target first rises as a vampire spawn, a cleric can spend ten minutes blessing the body in order to prevent this transformation. Charm. One target the vampire can see within 30 feet of it must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the vampire for 24 hours or until the vampire ends the effect. The charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend and is a willing target for the vampire’s bite. The target can repeat the saving throw each time the vampire or its allies damage the target. Once the target has succeeded on the saving throw, it is immune to this vampire’s Charm for 24 hours. Reactions Hissing Scuttle (1/day). When the vampire takes radiant damage, it moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks. Warding Charm (1/day). When a creature the vampire can see targets it with a melee attack, the vampire uses Charm on that creature. Legendary Actions The vampire can take 2 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The vampire regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn. Momentary Transformation. The vampire uses its Animal Form or Mist Form ability, moves up to its speed without provoking opportunity attacks, and then returns to its true form. Grab. The vampire makes one grab attack. Blood Charm. The vampire uses Charm. If the vampire has used Bite on the target in the last 24 hours, it makes its initial saving throw at disadvantage. Recovery (Costs 2 Actions). The vampire immediately uses its Legendary Recovery trait.

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Reformatted for proper "block" presentation.

@duneguy, thanks for breathing new life into the vampire! I hope that revamping the rest of the monsters goes well!
 

Samurai

Explorer
On the spellcaster variant, why would you give him "Knock"? First, he could just transform into a mist or a rat to get by a door, and second, what about the legend that Vampires must be invited in by someone, they can't just break into a place? There must be a better, more appropriate second level spell to replace it with (Misty Step and Suggestion are both much more appropriate, so much so that I might give them both!)

You might even say he counts as a 5th level Wizard instead of 4th, so you can also give him the Vampiric Touch spell (described not as a mere touch of the hand but a quick bite!)
 

Stalker0

Legend
You mentioned templates, things like swarms. I would also love your take on the "mob" concept.

5e operates on the notion that high numbers beat high strength, but high numbers takes time to run. The mob rule in DMG is a decent solution, but would love to see the concept improved on.
 


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