Seastars with high AC - 5e idea?

Casimir Liber

Adventurer
Okay so first up is a brittle star, which looks sorta like the one from Dragon Magazine and is yer typical mobile starfish.
 

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Casimir Liber

Adventurer
We-ell, it ain't a fish...from the time we were kids I think folks would push for "seastar" over "starfish" for this reason...anyway, here's the beginnings of a basket star - similar but bigger - tempted to make the grapple roll at disadvantage due to extra tentacles on tentacles plus the sticky mucus on the tentacles (which have a 15 ft reach BTW)
 

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Cleon

Legend
And in other news I just learned that some people call starfish 'seastars'. Learn something new every day!

I think Seastar is more a North American thing with Starfish being preferred in the UK.

Anyhow, it seems prudent to critique them one at a time so I guess I'll start with the Giant Brittlestar:

giantbrittlestar-png.152222

How "realistic" are you aiming to make these? Dexterity 16 is way higher than I was expecting.

If it has a +1 per HD bonus from its CON 12 it's got Hit Points 16 (3d8 + 3), not 13 (3d8).

That'll do for now. I've had enough monster mashing for the day!
 


Cleon

Legend
Ok will sleep on it. Can drop the dex. and will correct hp.....
Have made DEX 12 and corrected hit points

That's a reasonable Dexterity. Probably a lot higher than a real life brittlestar but these are a monstrous version.

Will post a couple of Monster Blanks as placeholders for the Enworld versions of these critters.
 

Cleon

Legend
Brittle Star, Giant (Ophiuroid)
Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 42 (5d10 + 15)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
14 (+2)​
8 (–1)​
16 (+3)​
1 (–5)​
9 (–1)​
3 (–4)​

Saving Throws CON +5
Skills Stealth +3
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened
Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages
Challenge 1 (200 XP) Proficiency Bonus +2

Capable Clambering. A giant brittle star ignores difficult terrain penalties caused by slippery or smooth surfaces and can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Hold Breath. While out of water, the giant brittle star can hold its breath for 1 hour.

Regrowth. If a giant brittle star loses an arm, organ or other body part and survives, it regrows the lost body parts as it heals. It takes 15 (1d10 + 10) days for a giant brittle star to replace a missing arm.

Rudimentary Vision. The giant brittle star has disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight. It perceives patterns of light and darkness and can only see the silhouette or shadow of a creature or object; it can not see colors or fine details.

Water Breathing. The giant brittle star can breathe only underwater.

Actions

Multiattack. The giant ophiuroid can make up to three attacks against different targets: it can make one attack with its bite against a target it is grappling, the remaining attacks must be arm attacks. If the ophiuroid has fewer than three arms, the maximum number of arm attacks it can make equals its current number of arms.

Arm. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it is grappled (escape DC 14; with disadvantage on escape checks). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the ophiuroid can't use that arm to attack a different target. If the arm hits a target that is already grappled, the target must succeed at a DC 14 Strength check or be pulled within reach of the ophiuroid's bite attack, or into the nearest empty space if that isn't possible.

The giant ophiuroid has five arms (unless it loses some), each of which can grapple one target.

Bite. Can only attack grappled targets. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (1d4 + 2) slashing damage.

VARIANT: BRITTLE LIMBS
Some giant brittle stars have the following trait.
Shed Arms. Whenever the giant brittle star takes at least 8 damage at one time from an attack that required a Melee or Ranged Attack roll, or if the brittle star is grappled by a creature that is Large size and/or possesses a Strength of 18 or higher, roll a d6 to determine what happens.

1-2: Nothing else happens.​
3-4: The attacker makes a DC 15 check (Strength for weapon hits, spellcasting ability for magic hits). If they succeed, one arm is severed from the brittle star if it has any arms left.​
5-6: One arm is severed from the brittle star if it has any arms left, but the brittle star takes half damage from the attack that severed the arm.​

In addition, if a giant brittle star is threatened or attacked by a creature larger than itself, or its hit points are reduced to 20 or fewer, it can choose to deliberately tear off one of its own arms as a reaction. This automatically severs an arm.
 If a giant brittle star loses an arm to a grapple attack or self mutilation, the brittle star takes 4 (1d4 + 2) damage or the damage rolled by the attack, whichever is higher.
 A severed arm flops and writhes about for 1d10 rounds as it dies. The arm is unable to attack or grapple and has a speed of 5 feet. The brittle star has no control over its severed arms.
 A giant brittle star's speed is reduced to 15 ft. if it loses one or two arms, 10 ft. if it loses three and 5 feet if it loses four. If it loses all five arms it has a speed of 0 feet.
 If the brittle star finishes a long rest its arm stumps regrows enough to remove one "arm's worth" of speed reduction, so it has speed 20 ft. with one lost arms, 15 ft. with two or three lost arms, 10 ft. with four lost arms, and 5 ft. if is has lost all five arms. The brittle star regains its speed and arm attacks when its Regrowth trait replaces the lost arms.

Option: A giant brittle star with a shortened, partially regrown arm might be able to attack with it, but the arm attack will have a 5 ft. reach or 10 ft. reach instead of the 15 ft. reach of a full length arm.


Description

Giant brittle stars are enormous ophiuroids related to sea stars and similar starfish. A brittle star has a disc-shaped body from which radiate long flexible arms it uses to catch food, walk and swim; most have five arms but a few species have six. These creatures have bony spines down the side of their arms whose size and density depends on the species, ranging from stubby bumps to stout spikes or dense bristles. The spines may look formidable but are blunt and harmless, they improve the limbs' traction rather than acting as a defense. Underneath the arms are sticky tube feet that can manipulate prey or cling to surfaces, such as cliff faces and cave roofs. The writhing motion of its arms gives ophiuroids another name: the serpent stars. Brittlestars, including the giant version, live on the sea floor and can be found in any climate. A few species tolerate brackish water and can live around river mouths.
 A typical giant brittle star has a body disc 4 to 5 feet across and arms 15 to 20 feet long. Bigger specimens are possible but rare; smaller giant brittle stars are commoner but rarely attack humanoids.
 Most kinds of brittle stars are either male or female, although some are both sexes at once or can alternate between male and female; they breed by floating millions of eggs away on the currents. The rare Six-Armed Brittle Star (see below) can also reproduce by splitting in two.

Predatory Scavengers. A brittle star is primarily a scavenger, sweeping up scraps of food with its arms and conveying it to the five-jawed maw on its underside. A giant ophiuroid is much larger and more active than its normal-sized kin so requires far more food, so giant brittlestars roam around the sea floor and devour anything edible they come across. While it lacks the intelligence to deliberately stalk prey, a giant brittle star will enthusiastically pursue prey for a few minutes if it senses there's a good meal close by.

Hungry Beachcombers. Air-breathing humanoids most often encounter giant brittle stars on the shoreline as they patrol the tideline for food washed up by the waves. A giant brittlestar can emerge from the water for up to an hour, so coastal specimens often supplement their diet of flotsam with careless or slow land creatures.

VARIANT: BURROWING BRITTLE STAR
A common type of brittle star lives in the silt of the sea floor. It usually hides its body under the mud or sand and reaches out its arms to snag passing food. Such brittle stars have arms that are far longer than species that actively roam about on the surface. A giant burrowing brittle star has the following traits.

Slow Burrower. The burrowing giant brittle star has Speed 10 ft., burrow 10 ft, climb 10 ft.

Long Fragile Arms. The burrowing giant brittle star's arm attacks have reach 30 feet and usually has the Shed Arms trait (see Brittle Limbs, above). If it has the Shed Arms trait, it is triggered by at least 6 damage or a Strength of 16 or higher, and the d6 roll to determine the result uses:

1: Nothing else happens.​
2-3: The attacker makes a DC 14 check (Strength for weapon hits, spellcasting ability for magic hits). If they succeed, one arm is severed from the brittle star if it has any arms left.​
4-6: One arm is severed from the brittle star if it has any arms left, but the brittle star takes half damage from the attack that severed the arm.​

VARIANT: SIX-ARMED BRITTLE STAR
A few species of brittle star have six arms instead of the usual five. These animals can multiply by fission, splitting their disc-shaped body down the middle to produce two new animals, although they are still capable of reproducing normally. A six-armed star with the three arms on one side of its body shorter than the other side is probably a youngster produced by fission that hasn't regrown the half that formed its twin sibling.
 A six-armed brittle star has the following traits.

Fission. During their reproductive season, a six-armed giant brittle star can split in half to become two new brittle stars; this slow process takes 10 to 20 (2d6 + 8) days but does not inconvenience the creature. The two new brittle stars each have 21 (2d10+10) hit points and three arms. As they gain new arms with their Regrowth ability, their hit points slowly increase until they reach 42 (5d10 + 15) hit points when they grow six full length arms and a complete body-disc. It usually takes at least three months (6d10+60 days) for a split half to regenerate into a whole six-armed giant brittlestar.

Six Arms. A giant brittle star with six limbs instead of five does not gain any extra attacks. If it has the Shed Arms trait (see Brittle Limbs, above), it is triggered by at least 7 damage (5 if it also has Fragile Arms), and losing arms reduces its speed as follows:
 A six-armed giant brittle star's speed is lowered by 5 ft. if it loses one or two arms and halved if it loses three or four. If it loses five arms its speed becomes 5 feet and if it loses all six it has a speed of 0 feet.
 If the brittle star finishes a long rest its arm stumps regrow enough to remove one "arm's worth" of speed reduction, so it is lowered by 5 ft. with two or three arms, halved with four or five lost arms, and reduced to 5 ft. if it has lost all six arms. The brittle star regains its speed and arm attacks when its Regrowth trait replaces the lost arms.

(Original monster designed by Casimir Liber and Cleon on the Creature Catalog Monster Homebrews forum)
 
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Cleon

Legend
Basket Star, Giant (Gorgonocephalid)
Gargantuan beast, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 145 (10d20+40)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR​
DEX​
CON​
INT​
WIS​
CHA​
22 (+6)​
6 (–2)​
19 (+4)​
1 (–5)​
9 (–1)​
4 (–3)​

Saving Throws CON +7
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened
Senses Blindsight 60 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP) Proficiency Bonus +3

Capable Clambering. A giant basket star ignores difficult terrain penalties caused by slippery or smooth surfaces and can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Plant Disguise. A giant basket star can stay in one place and pose its many-branched limbs to resemble a large mass of aquatic vegetation swaying in the water currents. It requires a DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check for a creature to realize the gorgonocephalid is not a treelike growth of seaweed. If the basket star is concealed within a kelp forest or similar flora, observers have disadvantage on this Wisdom (Perception) check.

Regrowth. If a giant basket star loses an arm, organ or other body part and survives, it regrows the lost body parts as it heals. It takes 15 (1d10 + 10) days for a giant basket star to replace a missing arm.

Rudimentary Vision. The giant basket star has disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight. It perceives patterns of light and darkness and can only see the silhouette or shadow of a creature or object; it can not see colors or fine details.

Water Breathing. The giant basket star can breathe only underwater.

Actions

Multiattack. The giant basket star use Net of Arms and then makes a bite attack.

Bite. Can only attack grappled targets. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d8+6) slashing damage plus 15 (2d8+6) bludgeoning damage.

Net of Arms. Each creature of the giant basket star's choice that is within 50 feet of the basket star is affected as follows:

If the Basket Star is Not Grappling the Creature: The creature must succeed on a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or be grappled (escape DC 17*). A giant basket star can grapple as many creatures as will fit within the 50 foot radius of its arms. A creature can also free themselves from the grapple by doing at least 10 slashing damage to the net with a single attack (AC 15; immunity to bludgeoning, piercing and psychic damage). Damage to individual arm branches does not harm the basket star or reduce the effectiveness of its Net of Arms (the Net has hundreds of branches so losing a few does not hamper it).

If the Basket Star is Grappling the Creature: The grappled creature must succeed on a DC 17 Dexterity or Strength saving throw (creature's choice) or be restrained by sticky mucus, which increases the escape DC of the grapple to 20.* As an action, the restrained target can make a DC 17 Strength check*, bursting free of the mucus on a success. If the Strength check result is 20 or higher they also escape the basket star's grapple, on a 19 or lower they are still held by the Net of Arms. A creature can also free themselves from being restrained by doing at least 10 slashing damage to the mucus with a single attack (AC 15; immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, poison, and psychic damage); if the damage is 20 or higher the creature can simultaneously breaks free of the net's grapple.
 In addition, the basket star can choose to move any creature it is grappling up to 20 ft. in any direction; it normally pulls the creature inwards towards its bite attack. If the creature isn't restrained they can prevent the movement by succeeding on a DC 17 Strength check (a free action).

* Large creatures have Advantage on escape and Strength checks against the Net of Arms. Huge and Gargantuan creatures automatically succeed on escape and Strength checks against the Net of Arms, so a giant basket star can only net creatures of Huge or larger size that are dead or incapacitated.


Description

Basket stars, or Gorgonocephalids, are starfish closely related to brittle stars. They have five arms which branch many times into hundreds of thin appendages, so the animal resembles a radiating bush or flower with a disc-shaped body buried at the center. Normal basket stars grow up to a couple of feet across, but giant basket star are monstrously big with arm baskets spanning 100 feet or so and bodies about 20 feet across. Like most echinoderms, they have an external skeleton of small calcareous plates that mesh together, this bony armor gives a giant basket star hide as tough as chainmail.
 Regular basket stars are mainly filter feeders but may also grab tiny animals (fish, crustaceans, etc.) who wander into their arms. When filter-feeding, a basket star rhythmically flexes its arms to sweep food from the water and towards the five-jawed mouth at the center of the beast.
 A Gorgonocephalid's arms can only handle active prey much smaller than itself: the biggest normal basket stars reach up to 2¼ ft. across but can only catch miniscule animals about an inch in length. A giant basket star, however, is so enormous it can manage creatures the size of a horse.
 A basket star's limbs have a thin coating of mucus to trap plankton and other edible detritus. If a snared creature resists capture, the arms exudes more mucus to entangle the victim in adhesive slime. Basket stars sometimes hold cocooned prey to eat later, often waiting until nightfall to feed under the cover of darkness.

Tree of Sticky Death. While normal basket stars are primarily filter feeders the giant basket star is a more active predator. A giant basket star is an ambush hunter. It waits atop a rocky seamount or at the edge of a kelp forest pretending to be part of the local vegetation, then reaches out its arms to snatch at creatures that swim or walk within reach. Giant basket stars will only pursue a meal if they sense it is large and immobile, such as the carcass of a whale. Otherwise they normally only move to find a better perch for catching prey or to retreat from danger.

(Original monster designed by Casimir Liber and Cleon on the Creature Catalog Monster Homebrews forum)
 
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Casimir Liber

Adventurer
That's a reasonable Dexterity. Probably a lot higher than a real life brittlestar but these are a monstrous version.

Will post a couple of Monster Blanks as placeholders for the Enworld versions of these critters.
I think the dex is reasonalbe for a brittle star (whose tentacles are more flexible than brittle :LOL: ......
 

Cleon

Legend
I think the dex is reasonalbe for a brittle star (whose tentacles are more flexible than brittle :LOL: ......

They're called arms not tentacles.

Anyhow, echinoderms in general are extremely slow moving animals.

The fastest known starfish (i.e. an Asteroidea or seastar) can crawl at a blistering 5cm a second! That's 180 metres in an hour, or 0.18 kph / 0.11 mph.

That's for Luidia seastars, a particularly fast genus that's twice as fast as its closest rivals, plus this speed is when the animal is hurrying and it probably can't keep it up very long, the equivalent of sprinting. An average starfish that's "strolling around" is many times slower, moving at a only few millimetres per second or even fractions of a millimetre.

I'm having trouble finding speed stats for brittlestars, but I doubt they're any faster than an average seastar since they are detritus feeders that tend to live in deep cold water so there's little benefit in them maintaining a high enough metabolism to "sprint" at a the speed of a Luidia foliolata.

A starfish might have to outrun a limpet but brittlestars don't need to!

Oh, and real world starfish (by which I mean sea/brittle/basket stars) cannot swim but crawl around on the seafloor like their kin the sea urchins. So you might not want to give them a Swim speed.

That said, the speed of a starfish appears to be related to size:

How fast can a Starfish move? How do Starfish move?
It has been seen that the speed of the starfish is directly dependent on the size of the starfish. That is, the larger the starfish size, the fast it can move.

It is said so because the young starfish belonging to the same species move very slowly as compared to the adult large-sized one of the same species.

Thus, it can be said that the movement speed is directly dependent on the size of the starfish and it’s thought that larger size does have some relationship to speed and some of the fastest species listed are also among the largest.​

However, I think it's reasonable that a monstrous giant starfish can be a significantly faster than a normal one Luidia foliolata is up to 40 cm across, but if a giant one is, say, ten times that size (4 metres or 13 feet across) maybe it's also ten times faster? Still, that's only 1.1 mph, or about a third the speed a human can walk and a tenth or twelfth the speed an unathletic human can run.

Oh, and starfish are good climbers as they have sucker-tipped "feet" under their arms. A climb speed seems appropriate.

So if we're going for a somewhat "realistic" interpretation they'd likely have Speed and Dexterity similar to an ooze, e.g.:

Black Pudding: Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.; DEX 5 (–3)
Gelatinous Cube: Speed 15 ft.; DEX 3 (–4)
Gray Ooze/Ochre Jelly: Speed 10 ft., climb 10 ft.; DEX 6 (–2)

So I'd go for Speeds of maybe 10, 15 or 20 ft. and DEX from 3 to 6 depending on the type of starfish. A true seastar is probably the fastest of them, with the brittlestar being in the middle and the more filter-feeding basketstar possibly being the slowest.
 

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