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5E Mythological Figures: Dr. Moreau

Mythological Figures is going mad today, mad I tell you! On this lonely island the beasts walk like men—or something more, something in between humans and animals. Today we take a trip to the island of Dr. Moreau!

Dr. Moreau DnD 5e BANNER.jpg


If you don’t know this famous H.G. Wells story yet, I strongly recommend checking out any one of the three films about it (one has Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando and a lot of really questionable artistic choices!) or just read the book for yourself. This guy gets caught doing live dissections (aka vivisections) on animals in London and run out of the country, taking refuge on a remote island where his experiments know no bounds. He breeds and splices together animals and men, creating beast hybrids that he rules over like adolescent children until—well, I’m not going to ruin this one for you. Go enjoy the story if you want to know more.

Design Notes: I have a thing specifically for vivisectionists that would fit Dr. Moreau like a glove but the rules of this column forbid me from dipping into the Book of Exalted Darkness (well maybe one day we’ll take a dip into that most decadent of tomes, but I can’t just cannonball in there all willy-nilly). Alas that means we’re looking at an Alchemist artificer, which is still pretty neat all told and hits many of the high notes I think really need to be rung for this character’s build to make sense. Let’s take a look at the numbers! The DMG comes in at 6.75 while the Blog of Holding lands on 8.166, averaging out to 7.45 that we’re obviously going to round down. It is strongly recommended that you include some hybrid beast-humans with the mad doctor here but that’s not really worth rounding up.

Bonus Fun: Yes that is an illustration from Disney! And it’s in the public domain!

Dr. Moreau
Medium humanoid (human), neutral evil inventor (alchemist) 12
Armor Class 16 (+1 chain shirt)
Hit Points 78 (12d8+24)
Speed 30 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
19 (+4)​
16 (+3)​
14 (+2)​
20 (+5)​
10 (+0)​
12 (+1)​
Saving Throws Con +6, Int +9
Skills Deception +5, Investigation +9, Medicine +4, Nature +9, Perception +0 (advantage)
Senses passive Perception 15
Languages English, any two other languages
Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

Background - Sage: Researcher. Acumen or fate gently nudges Dr. Moreau toward the answers to his questions. When he fails to recollect or discover more about a subject of lore, he knows where or who can give him that information (usually from an athenaeum, library, institute of higher learning, another scholar, or mystical creature). The lengths to which he must go to acquire this information and the feasibility of doing so are entirely at the GM’s discretion.

Attuned. Dr. Moreau is able to attune to one additional magic item (4 in total). In addition, it takes him a quarter of the normal time and half as much gold to common and uncommon magic items.

Brewing Genius. Dr. Moreau’s spells are more powerful when he uses alchemist’s supplies as his spellcasting focus, either healing 5 extra hit points (if a healing spell) or dealing 5 extra damage (if it is a spell that deals acid, fire, necrotic, or poison damage).

Brew Good Health (5/Long Rest). As long as Dr. Moreau has alchemist’s supplies to use as his spellcasting focus, he can cast lesser restoration without expending a spell slot or having the spell prepared.

Imbued Items. At the end of a long rest Dr. Moreau can touch up to 4 nonmagical objects, turning them into magical objects containing one of the following abilities. If it requires attunement, Dr. Moreau is automatically attuned to it unless he decides otherwise. The object retains this ability indefinitely or for 5 days following his death. When Dr. Moreau imbues a fifth item, the effect ends on the oldest use of this feature.
Armor Protectives: A creature gains resistance to a type of damage (acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder) while wearing this armor.​
Auto-Ammunition: A creature gains a +1 bonus to ranged attack and ranged damage rolls made with this weapon. It never needs to be reloaded. [Active]​
Improved Defense: A creature’s AC increases by 1 while wearing this item. [Active]​
Improved Weaponry: A creature gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon.​
Mechanical Enchantment: The item duplicates the effects of eyes of the eagle. [Active]​
Mechanical Enchantment: The item duplicates the effects of gauntlets of ogre power. [Active]​
Mechanical Enhancement: The item duplicates the effects of a medallion of thoughts.​
Mechanical Enhancement: The item duplicates the effects of a periapt of wound closure.​
Feat: Medical Learning. A creature that Dr. Moreau uses a healer’s kit to stabilize regains 1 hit point. In addition, he can use an action and a single use of a healer’s kit to mend a creature’s wounds. The creature regains 1d6+4 hit points, plus hit points equal to the creature’s total hit dice. A creature can only benefit from this feature once between short or long rests.

Magic-Charged Inventions. At the end of a long rest, Dr. Moreau can cast an artificer spell with a casting of 1 action, expending a spell slot and casting a 1st- or 2nd-level spell into one mundane item. A creature that is holding the object can use an action to activate the spell inside (spell save DC 17 or spell attack +9). The creature must concentrate on the spell if it is a concentration spell. A Magic-Charged Invention can be used up to 10 times, or until Dr. Moreau uses this feature again, at which point it reverts to a nonmagical object.

Minor Inventions. Dr. Moreau uses an action to touch a Tiny nonmagical object, working on it with his tinker’s tools or other artisan’s tools. It gains one of the following properties until he spends an action touching it to end the effect:
• It sheds bright light in a 5-foot radius and dim light for an additional 5 feet.​
• It stores a spoken message up to 6 seconds long. Whenever a creature manipulates the object, it emits the spoken message loud enough for creatures as far as 10 feet away to hear it.​
• It continuously discharges a scent or plays a nonverbal sound loud enough for creatures as far as 10 feet away to hear it.​
• It displays a visual effect on one surface (as many as 25 words, simple illustrations, or a mixture of both).​
Dr. Moreau can affect up to 5 objects at the same time, ending the effect on the oldest use of this feature when he exceeds his maximum.

Mystery Potion. When Dr. Moreau finishes a long rest, as long as he has alchemist supplies he can touch up to two empty flasks to create Mystery Potions. He can only have a maximum of two Mystery Potions made in this way at a time. He can make additional Mystery Potions by using an action and expending a spell slot of 1st level or higher. When a creature uses an action to drink a Mystery Potion or administer it to an incapacitated creature, it gains 12 (2d6+5) temporary hit points and a random effect determined by rolling 1d6:
1: Healing. Creature regains 10 (2d4+5) hit points.​
2: Quickness. For the next hour, the creature’s walking speed increases by 10 feet.​
3: Hardiness. The creature’s AC increases by +1 for 10 minutes.​
4: Bravery. For the next minute, the creature gains a +1d4 bonus to attack rolls and saving throws.​
5: Soar. For the next 10 minutes, the creature gains a flying speed of 10 feet.​
6: Morph. For the next 10 minutes, the creature is targeted by the alter self spell (transforming as it desires).​

Never Without A Toolbox. With 1 hour of uninterrupted work and using tinker’s tools, Dr. Moreau can craft a set of artisan’s tools in an unoccupied space within 5 feet. He may do so during a short or long rest. Dr. Moreau can only have a single set of artisan’s tools crafted using this feature at a time.

Spellcasting. Dr. Moreau is a 12th level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as his spellcasting ability (spell save DC 17; +9 to hit with spell attacks). He requires a set of tools he’s proficient with to use this feature or one of his imbued items. Dr. Moreau has the following spells prepared from the inventor’s spell list:
Cantrips: light, shocking grasp, spare the dying
1st-level (4 slots): alarm, cure wounds, expeditious retreat, faerie fire, healing word, identify, ray of sickness, sanctuary
2nd-level (3 slots): acid arrow, aid, darkvision, enhance ability, enlarge/reduce, heat metal, magic mouth, web
3rd-level (3 slots): create food and water, glyph of warding, haste, mass healing word, protection from energy, revivify, water breathing

Toolmaker. With 1 hour of uninterrupted work, the use of tinker’s tools, and an unoccupied 5-foot square Dr. Moreau can create any set of artisan’s tools, even over the course of a short or long rest. When he uses this feature again, the tools disappear.

Tool Mastery. When Dr. Moreau makes an ability check that uses a tool kit, he gains double his proficiency bonus (total +8).


ACTIONS
Imbued Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d4+5) magical slashing damage.

Auto-Ammunition Revolver. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 40/120 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) magical piercing damage.


REACTIONS
Brilliant Suggestion (5/Long Rest). Dr. Moreau can use his reaction when he or another creature he can see within 30 feet makes an ability check or saving throw, granting a +5 bonus to the roll.
 
Last edited:
Mike Myler

Comments


MarkB

Legend
The H G Wells story is fascinatingly prescient, a tale of genetic engineering gone mad from a time before anyone really understood the concept of genetic engineering.

As I recall it, Moreau's experiments weren't a splicing together of humans and animals, but rather a repeated re-engineering of animal subjects towards the human form, with their brains perforce following suit, until they were creatures with the general shape and intelligence of humans, but still the minds of animals, and tragically insane as a result.
 

collin

Explorer
I used the Isle of Dr. Moreau as part of a long Eberron adventure that I ran for several years during the D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder days. This particular part of the adventure involved a wizard on an ancient island days beyond the Lhazaar Principalities, filled with animal-humanoid hybrids. He was "at war" with a neighboring island inhabited by an artificer who had created a special, more-humanoid type of warforged. They were formally partners before turning on each other. I included elements of the TV show LOST in the adventure, as well.
 

The H G Wells story is fascinatingly prescient, a tale of genetic engineering gone mad from a time before anyone really understood the concept of genetic engineering.

As I recall it, Moreau's experiments weren't a splicing together of humans and animals, but rather a repeated re-engineering of animal subjects towards the human form, with their brains perforce following suit, until they were creatures with the general shape and intelligence of humans, but still the minds of animals, and tragically insane as a result.
You're absolutely correct about this. This book was written in 1896, to put it in historical context. Moreau wasn't editing DNA or even doing anything at the cellular level. He was literally taking the arm of an animal and surgically cutting it, breaking bones, reshaping it, and restitching it to turn it into the arm of a human. Repeat for the rest of the body. Obviously, the science doesn't hold up perfectly today, but it still makes for a good story.

I think it's important to keep in mind that the late 1800s were a kind of a renaissance for surgery*. Anesthesia (by which I mean really putting some in a forced sleep with chemicals, as opposed to a swig of whisky and biting a bullet), germ theory, and the practice of sanitizing surgical equipment all took off after the American Civil War. Shorly before IoDM, the idea of surgery by itself was horror; it was unimaginably painful and odds were you would get an infection and die. IoDM is one of the first books to look past those aspects and focus on the psychological horror of surgery; imagining falling asleep, and waking up with your body modified without your consent, with no power to return to your original form. Like of lot of Wells stuff, it was very forward thinking, he just didn't know how the details would turn out.

*Disclaimer: I am not a historian and gets most of my facts through science fiction and wikipedia.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
Now do one for the Phantom Blot!
Just as soon as he's in the public domain. ;)

The H G Wells story is fascinatingly prescient, a tale of genetic engineering gone mad from a time before anyone really understood the concept of genetic engineering.

As I recall it, Moreau's experiments weren't a splicing together of humans and animals, but rather a repeated re-engineering of animal subjects towards the human form, with their brains perforce following suit, until they were creatures with the general shape and intelligence of humans, but still the minds of animals, and tragically insane as a result.
You're absolutely correct about this. This book was written in 1896, to put it in historical context. Moreau wasn't editing DNA or even doing anything at the cellular level. He was literally taking the arm of an animal and surgically cutting it, breaking bones, reshaping it, and restitching it to turn it into the arm of a human. Repeat for the rest of the body. Obviously, the science doesn't hold up perfectly today, but it still makes for a good story.

I think it's important to keep in mind that the late 1800s were a kind of a renaissance for surgery*. Anesthesia (by which I mean really putting some in a forced sleep with chemicals, as opposed to a swig of whisky and biting a bullet), germ theory, and the practice of sanitizing surgical equipment all took off after the American Civil War. Shorly before IoDM, the idea of surgery by itself was horror; it was unimaginably painful and odds were you would get an infection and die. IoDM is one of the first books to look past those aspects and focus on the psychological horror of surgery; imagining falling asleep, and waking up with your body modified without your consent, with no power to return to your original form. Like of lot of Wells stuff, it was very forward thinking, he just didn't know how the details would turn out.

*Disclaimer: I am not a historian and gets most of my facts through science fiction and wikipedia.
As alluded—what this fellow was up to certainly sounds like it's much much more feasible with access to chemicals to knock folks out, sedate them, and the like. :)
 

Tonguez

Legend
I’m not sure how I feel about this build, his potions and spell casting don’t really capture the twisted animals vivisectionist vibe of the original
 


MarkB

Legend
I’m not sure how I feel about this build, his potions and spell casting don’t really capture the twisted animals vivisectionist vibe of the original
How about adding something like this:

Anthropomorphogenic Transformation: In a procedure lasting 8 hours, Dr Moreau surgically alters a beast to become more humanoid. The subject must be at its maximum hit points and have no levels of fatigue, otherwise the procedure automatically fails, fatally for the subject. The procedure has the following results:

* If the creature's size was not Medium, its size is increased or decreased by one step closer to Medium (i.e. a Huge beast would become Large, or a Tiny beast would become Small). If its size was altered, it is considered to be permanently under the effects of an Enlarge or Reduce spell, as appropriate.

* The creature is subject to the effects of the Awaken spell, even if it did not meet the requirements for the spell.

* The creature retains the senses, attacks and special abilities it had before its transformation, but it becomes bipedal and its forelimbs are altered to be capable of holding and manipulating objects.

This process is physically and mentally traumatic. The subject awakens at the end of the procedure with 1 hit point and two levels of exhaustion. Its damage and exhaustion levels can be alleviated via normal means. The stress of the dichotomy between their former self and their new awareness is acute - each time the finish a long rest, they must succeed on a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw or be afflicted with a random Long-Term Madness (DMG page 260) which persists until they next take a long rest unless cured.

A creature who has undergone this transformation may be subjected to the procedure a second time. If they are, then instead of the above effects they lose most of their bestial features, being transformed into a Shifter (see Eberron: Rising From the Last War). Their existing ability scores will be replaced using the Standard Array, the DM choosing where to apportion their ability scores based upon those of the original beast. They still finish the procedure with 1 hit point and two levels of exhaustion.

A creature who has undergone the second procedure is less mentally unstable, but they still have extreme trouble reconciling their new physical and mental state with their former nature. They no longer need to roll a saving throw after each long rest, but instead are afflicted with an Indefinite Madness of the DM's choosing, which persists until cured.
 

Quartz

Adventurer
I'm going from memory here but I think there were a whole load of spells written up for 1e & 2e in Dragon (and possibly Imagine) and compiled in the Wizard's Spell Compendium that would be a very good fit for Dr Moreau. Tweak them for 5e, make them Rituals, give Moreau the Ritual Caster Feat if he needs it, and you're good.

Anthropomorphogenic Transformation:
And this could be one of those rituals.
 

Mike Myler

Advanced Fifth Edition: https://www.levelup5e.com/
These aren't bad suggestions but as a Mythological Figure the build is supposed to be Rules-As-Written (RAW) from the core rules. If I could start freewheeling here, I have lots of resources to turn to (including a mad scientist class with a fleshworker archetype, and 11 chirurgical procedures)

but

that's for Epic Monsters. :/
 

Rafael Martin

Explorer
I am not complaining at all, this writeup is awesome, but can you make a Marlon Brando version of Dr. Moreau? I really liked the movie he was in despite the flaws!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :ROFLMAO:
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