D&D 5E Vance in 5e: What would a Pelgrane and Deodand be like?


The Deodand and Pelgrane are two of the iconic monsters in Jack Vance's Dying Earth books. But the dying earth cast of characters (at least in the first three books) don't reach the level of prowess of the 5e characters. So, do these humanoids need to be toughened up some to give the same feeling in a 5e world?

  • Deodands: Deodands are humanoids which look like handsome, muscular human men, but with "dead black lusterless skin and long slit eyes." They are strong, murderous, and carnivorous creatures, but can be killed with offensive spells, which they fear. In Cugel's Saga, the wizard Follinense believes they are a mixture of basilisk, wolverine, and man. Deodands are notably eloquent.
One 5e write-up I've seen is at Dying Earth Monsters Part II - Deodand

Does that feel too weak to be the threat they're played out to be in Vance's books? Or is it just that they're normally terrorizing commoners?

  • Pelgranes: Pelgranes are humanoids with beaked heads and wings, who harass, kill and eat travelers. They are known, unlike the eloquent Deodands they are often contrasted with, for being gullible, brash, and unintelligent.
A 5e write up is at Dying Earth Monsters Part III - Pelgrane

Some of the stories in Vance and in the tribute anthology make me think the Pelgrane should be stronger and harder to hurt.

log in or register to remove this ad


I liked the 1e Monster Manual II Demodands who became 2e Gehreleths. The fiend race of Tartarus.

Just one letter away from a deodand. :)





The Dying Earth setting is one where violence is quick and decisive. I'd up the damage from both of these but possibly lower the hit points. They are both threats that should be easily foiled by spells, magic items, special abilities, or clever tactics, but they should also make short work of a commoner (or a wizard whose burned through all his spells).


Great Old One
I really like the Gereleths/Demodands, used them often and did a 5e conversion for my lower planes campaign, not sure that they are that close to a Vance Deodand though.


I played 1e and 2e long before reading any of Vance's fantasy so when I first came upon references to deodands my first reference was demodands. :)


I think the write up on that blog post would be fine as a deodand, though their attack bonus should be +5. That would make them a threat for most travellers.


He Mage
Re vancian:

5e rituals are awesome.

They represent the flavor of casting from a spellbook.

Also nonspell rituals with special requirements, like 8-hour performance, phase of the moon, special item, strange action, or so on, represent well so many stories about magic from many reallife folkbeliefs.


I recently came across references to deodands in my work.

Originally they were a legal term for things that killed somebody. They could be seized for the investigation and trial and then sold by the crown so the proceeds could go to pious ends on behalf of the deceased.

So the ox that gored somebody or the knife that killed somebody could both be seized and then sold.

Before deodands were banes. :)

Remove ads


Remove ads

Upcoming Releases