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D&D 5E Monster creation help wanted.

Gorg

Explorer
I'm currently trying out the 5E Monster creation rules. My first monster will be a Gnoll Shaman. It went pretty well, so far- the tutorial in the DMG is pretty straitforward.

However, I'm kinda torn on WHAT kind of spell caster it should be. My first thought was Cleric, as the Gnollish god plays a pretty significant role in Gnoll life. Then I thought Druid! And then Warlock. The last seemed tailor made for this- a caster who makes a pact with an extra planar power.

However, Gnolls are stupid. As in 6 intelligence stupid. NOT a good fit for an arcane caster... Plus the fluff that goes along with the class just doesn't gel well with the concept of Gnolls.

Likwise, Druid gave me problems from the start. Gnolls are anything but nature loving, or protective- they are more like a plague upon the land...

Cleric still seems like a good fit, I wanted a Gnoll Shaman- an advisor to the pack leader, medicine man, and a source of supporting magic and some firepower.

Anyone have any other bright ideas, or should I just give it spell casting ability with access to the Cleric spell list. (and perhaps a couple of chosen spells from the Druid and Warlock lists for a more primitive, tribal feel) And just say that Yeenogu grants these gnolls a boost to wisdom and a 2nd level cleric's spell slots.

Base it on the Gnoll Pack Lord, but trade the Incite Rampage, and multi-attack for spellcasting ability. (and some ability score tweaks) It's too bad that this edition didn't include an Evil or Death domain, those would have been perfect for a demonically inspired race like this!
 

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TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
I never limit myself to a class when I design spellcasting monsters. I have a very functional approach to picking spells that will make for an interesting encounter. So I would invite you to start with the terrain and other monsters you intend to throw at the players.

Will the players be moving up a closed staircase while it's quickly filling up with water? Give it spells that will immobilize them or limit their movement. That will get your players stressed.

Do you have players or a party composition that tend to be very straightforward and does high level of damage? Give it support spells with concentration, it'll make the frontline monsters much tougher and will give a choice to the player.

Want to really put the pressure on a melee-focused party? Give it a concentration spell like Call Lightning and put some frontline monsters with reach. Watch them try and get to the caster and provoke opportunity attacks. Or put some difficult terrain around.

Their party is filled with casters and ranged characters? Have your monsters attack from multiple directions and give your shaman some disrupting spells.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Monsters are not PCs. Even NPCs are not PCs. Look at the Druid in the MM - no wildshape as a 4th level caster. Most of the other NPC casters don't line up, even if it's just the wrong number and size of HD.

Give your Gnoll the spells they should have. That straightforward.
 

I'm currently trying out the 5E Monster creation rules. My first monster will be a Gnoll Shaman. It went pretty well, so far- the tutorial in the DMG is pretty straitforward.

However, I'm kinda torn on WHAT kind of spell caster it should be. My first thought was Cleric, as the Gnollish god plays a pretty significant role in Gnoll life. Then I thought Druid! And then Warlock. The last seemed tailor made for this- a caster who makes a pact with an extra planar power.

However, Gnolls are stupid. As in 6 intelligence stupid. NOT a good fit for an arcane caster... Plus the fluff that goes along with the class just doesn't gel well with the concept of Gnolls.

Likwise, Druid gave me problems from the start. Gnolls are anything but nature loving, or protective- they are more like a plague upon the land...

Cleric still seems like a good fit, I wanted a Gnoll Shaman- an advisor to the pack leader, medicine man, and a source of supporting magic and some firepower.

Anyone have any other bright ideas, or should I just give it spell casting ability with access to the Cleric spell list. (and perhaps a couple of chosen spells from the Druid and Warlock lists for a more primitive, tribal feel) And just say that Yeenogu grants these gnolls a boost to wisdom and a 2nd level cleric's spell slots.

Base it on the Gnoll Pack Lord, but trade the Incite Rampage, and multi-attack for spellcasting ability. (and some ability score tweaks) It's too bad that this edition didn't include an Evil or Death domain, those would have been perfect for a demonically inspired race like this!

Reskin an Orc eye of Grummsh.

Or something similar.
 

Reskin an Orc eye of Grummsh.

Or something similar.
This. Or you could use one of the other NPC stat blocks and add gnoll traits. Swap spells as appropriate. Ignore spell class.

Or take a basic gnoll and level it as a sidekick using the rules in Tasha's.

Note that gnolls do not have to be stupid.
 
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cbwjm

Hero
They have a death domain in the DMG which could give you ideas. If you want to make them a cleric to represent the tribal shaman then I'd suggest just picking a wisdom score that you want them to have, at least a 14 would be my recommendation for a low-level shaman, 16+ for more powerful ones.

If you want to use the druid spells, you can just assign them, or if you want some sort of method to your madness, then grant them access to spells as a druid and then layer the death domain over top so that they have a bunch of nature themed spells with some necromancy spells available to them as well. You might even want to grant them a special ability to summon a couple of giant hyenas as a special ability of the caster.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
However, Gnolls are stupid. As in 6 intelligence stupid. NOT a good fit for an arcane caster... Plus the fluff that goes along with the class just doesn't gel well with the concept of Gnolls.
The fact that garden-variety gnolls aren't Mensa caliber intellectuals has no bearing on what a special case's abilities would be IMO. Your caster can he the exception that proves the rule. In fact, you could decide that those chosen by the patron (running with the warlock idea) are granted additional insights and brilliance BY the pact they agreed to. That idea alone can create a workable tension; maybe the warlocks resent their pact on some level but know how much they stand to lose by violating it.

As far as druids are concerned, plagues, wildfires, and avalanches are part of nature. So a druid whose abilities focus on the dispassionate, destructive side of nature is right in line with your ideas. Depending on how topical you want to get, a Thanos (or eugenicist) style "people are the real plague" attitude could suit such a character well.

Clerics I see as similar to warlocks inasmuch as they are chosen or abetted by a higher power - a power higher than themselves, anyway. Along the same token as the warlock, increased mental facilities could be a gift from the deity, or it could be that the character was chosen BECAUSE of its greater awareness or whatever.

It's a fantasy game. You can make it work however you want.
 

I dunno, Cleric seems fine to me. I mean, his or her day job will involve being the clan wise person and healer of burnt paws etc - not just a fighter. But clerics do get the ‘evil’ side with Inflict Wounds, Protection from Good, etc. Plus good buffing of their ‘troops’. Also, a cleric gnoll could be called the High Eena.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I'm currently trying out the 5E Monster creation rules. My first monster will be a Gnoll Shaman. It went pretty well, so far- the tutorial in the DMG is pretty straitforward.

However, I'm kinda torn on WHAT kind of spell caster it should be. My first thought was Cleric, as the Gnollish god plays a pretty significant role in Gnoll life. Then I thought Druid! And then Warlock. The last seemed tailor made for this- a caster who makes a pact with an extra planar power.

However, Gnolls are stupid. As in 6 intelligence stupid. NOT a good fit for an arcane caster... Plus the fluff that goes along with the class just doesn't gel well with the concept of Gnolls.

Likwise, Druid gave me problems from the start. Gnolls are anything but nature loving, or protective- they are more like a plague upon the land...

Cleric still seems like a good fit, I wanted a Gnoll Shaman- an advisor to the pack leader, medicine man, and a source of supporting magic and some firepower.

Anyone have any other bright ideas, or should I just give it spell casting ability with access to the Cleric spell list. (and perhaps a couple of chosen spells from the Druid and Warlock lists for a more primitive, tribal feel) And just say that Yeenogu grants these gnolls a boost to wisdom and a 2nd level cleric's spell slots.

Base it on the Gnoll Pack Lord, but trade the Incite Rampage, and multi-attack for spellcasting ability. (and some ability score tweaks) It's too bad that this edition didn't include an Evil or Death domain, those would have been perfect for a demonically inspired race like this!
I think your problem is that "shaman" isn't a design directive. It's a very vague gesture toward a group of associated concepts, but it's not a concrete bullet-pointed design guideline.

What does "shaman" mean to you in this context of the gnoll? What sorts of powers and/or spells specifically are you looking to give it?

Or are you in need of some ideas?
 

Gorg

Explorer
I dunno, Cleric seems fine to me. I mean, his or her day job will involve being the clan wise person and healer of burnt paws etc - not just a fighter. But clerics do get the ‘evil’ side with Inflict Wounds, Protection from Good, etc. Plus good buffing of their ‘troops’. Also, a cleric gnoll could be called the High Eena.
You know, you had me right along until that terrible pun at the end... That's punishable by allowing a 4 yr old with sticky hands to handle your lucky dice for a few minutes.
 

Gorg

Explorer
They have a death domain in the DMG which could give you ideas. If you want to make them a cleric to represent the tribal shaman then I'd suggest just picking a wisdom score that you want them to have, at least a 14 would be my recommendation for a low-level shaman, 16+ for more powerful ones.

If you want to use the druid spells, you can just assign them, or if you want some sort of method to your madness, then grant them access to spells as a druid and then layer the death domain over top so that they have a bunch of nature themed spells with some necromancy spells available to them as well. You might even want to grant them a special ability to summon a couple of giant hyenas as a special ability of the caster.
I don't know how I missed that- I'm READING through the damn DMG atm...

I'm thinking along the lines of that second paragraph. In the notebook where I'm working on this project, I added the Death Domain, and it's powers to the standard Gnoll Pack Lord. This guy is NOT your typical Gnoll, and I'd like him somewhere around CR 2, maybe 3, if that's what it takes.

I dropped multi-attack and Incite Rampage, and started with the standard Gnoll's abilities. I increased his Int to 9 (average intelligence, no bonus or penalty), his Wisdom to 14 (+2), and Charisma to 12 (+1).

So, one attack action/ round; no Con bonus to HP; reduced Str and Dex bonus's to Gnoll averages, and he now has a decent, but not great Wis bonus, and a small Cha Bonus. So he's more resistant to mental effects and such.

I kept Rampage as a nasty little fallback.

Now, I'm working out how to sub in that cool summon ally ability instead of some other domain/Cleric ability.

Yeenoghu is a Demon lord, so I want to stick with that theme. Reaper and Touch of Death fall right in line, there.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Now, I'm working out how to sub in that cool summon ally ability instead of some other domain/Cleric ability.

Yeenoghu is a Demon lord, so I want to stick with that theme. Reaper and Touch of Death fall right in line, there.
Yeah the death domain abilities I think work real well for a demon lord's followers.

For the summon ability, I'd base it off one or two spells, conjure animals (conjuring 2 giant hyenas) or summon animal (summoning an hyena like beast using the slot equivalent of whichever is their highest spell slot available), I've used the latter for a rat cultist who summons up a giant rat to fight his enemies. Either way though, I'd also remove the concentration requirement.
 



aco175

Legend
You can look at the Anchorite of Talos from Dragon of Icespire Peak (DoiP) as an example. Might have some ideas for you on a half-orc with shapechange and casting powers.

I tend to give monsters and NPCs anything I want since they do not need to follow rules. Try to make things interesting and fun.
 

Gorg

Explorer
I think I'll just do that: Give the Shaman the spell slots of a 2nd level cleric, along with the death domain powers and spells. Plus a special summon animal ability 1/long rest. To summon 2 hyenas.

The necromancy cantrip afforded by the domain will be chill touch. Still thinking about the spell list.

Perhaps even the Legendary ability to create those special gnolls FROM hyenas. Not applicable to combat, but it provides a logical story for how they come to be. Coupla those and the shaman will spice the HELL out of a Gnoll band! That should scare the crap out of players, who THINK they know all about Gnolls.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
However, I'm kinda torn on WHAT kind of spell caster it should be. My first thought was Cleric, as the Gnollish god plays a pretty significant role in Gnoll life. Then I thought Druid! And then Warlock. The last seemed tailor made for this- a caster who makes a pact with an extra planar power.

However, Gnolls are stupid. As in 6 intelligence stupid. NOT a good fit for an arcane caster... Plus the fluff that goes along with the class just doesn't gel well with the concept of Gnolls.
But warlocks don’t use or need intelligence. Would you not allow a PC warlock with a 6 intelligence?
 

aco175

Legend
Shapechange power into a giant hyena or a spectral hyena. You only need one monster stat to keep track of, or just one special attack while in animal form. A spectral hyena could have DR or something to aid defense.
 

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