D&D 5E What's your lowest CR legendary monster?

the Jester

Legend
DMs, what's the lowest CR legendary monster you have created and/or used?

I don't think I've used any below about CR 6, but I've made a couple of CR 1 legendary monsters. I just did up my second one, who I'll post as an example of what I think a low level legendary monster can be like:


Jackalwere Old Man of the Desert
Medium Humanoid (Shapechanger), often neutral

Armor Class 11
Hit Points 44 (8d8+8)
Speed 25 ft.

STR 8 (-1), DEX 12 (+1), CON 13 (+1),
INT 15 (+2), WIS 18 (+4), CHA 11 (+0)


Skills Insight +6, Perception +6, Religion +4
Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing that isn't magic or cold iron
Senses passive Perception 16
Languages Common, any three (can't speak in jackal form)
Challenge 1 (200 xp) Prof +2


Legendary Resistance (3/day). If the jackalwere fails a save, it can choose to succeed instead.

ACTIONS

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) piercing damage.

Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) slashing damage.

Transfixing Gaze. Each creature within 30' of the jackalwere that can see it must make a DC 14 Wis save. If it succeeds, it is immune to the jackalwere's Transfixing Gaze for 24 hours. If it fails, it is transfixed for 1 minute (save ends). While transfixed, its speed is 0, and it can't take the attack, cast a spell, or Dodge.
A creature that fails its save by 5 or more instead succumbs to a magical slumber, falling unconscious for 1 hour or until a creature uses an action to wake the target.

Shapechanger. The jackalwere polymorphs into a specific Medium human or a jackal-humanoid hybrid, or back into its true form (a Small jackal). Other than its size, its statistics are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

REACTIONS

You're Only Hurting Yourself. When the jackalwere takes damage, the creature that deal the damage must make a DC 14 Wis save, taking an equal amount of force damage on a failure or half that on a success.

LEGENDARY ACTIONS
The jackalwere can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The jackalwere regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
  • Lecture. The jackalwere lectures a creature that can hear it within 60' that has attacked or cast a spell since the end of the jackalwere's last turn. That creature must make a DC 14 Wis save or be stunned until the end of its next turn.
  • Recover (costs 2 actions). The jackalwere regains 9 (2d8) hit points.
  • Teleport. The jackalwere teleports up to 30' to a space it can see.
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Cr 1 I believe. But I'll confirm when I'm at my PC tomorrow

*edit: nope. CR 2. Two of them in fact (the CR 1 had lair actions, but wasn't legendary)

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Quickleaf

Legend
I've got a CR 8 legendary Scorpion Witch, but haven't run her yet.

For lower levels when PCs are squishier, I've found that breaking the mold with a "Haunting Monster" worked well for my group. This is based on an idea from Dael Kingsmill, but here's a very rough outline:

A Haunting Monster begins unmanifested and without a body, but able to perceive the area encompassing the haunting. Its presence can be sensed by spells and features which detect its type.

When the Haunting Monster becomes active, roll 6 initiative values.

On the first round, the unmanifested monster chooses one of those values to act upon; it may use its Haunting Actions instead of its normal actions.

On the second round, it chooses 2 of those values to act upon.

On the third round, it chooses 3 of those values to act upon.

On the fourth round, it manifests either one of its forms (or its only form) or invisibly (if it has the capability). While manifested it may use a Haunting Action as a Lair Action on initiative count 20.
 

IvyDragons

Explorer
Apart from for poops and giggles, I don't really think making a 0.125 CR squirrel legendary was the intention of the game.
Obviously you can though if thats the kind of game you play where they can knock you out with a well hurled acorn. Young kids certainly have fun with it.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I've done CR 6 legendaries but nothing lower. I think my issue is that legendary monsters aren't just about mechanics, its got a certain "something something" flavorwise. These are the monsters of legend and myth, it seems weird that it would only be a challenge for 4 people right out of boot camp.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I've done CR 6 legendaries but nothing lower. I think my issue is that legendary monsters aren't just about mechanics, its got a certain "something something" flavorwise. These are the monsters of legend and myth, it seems weird that it would only be a challenge for 4 people right out of boot camp.
I'm sure there are other answers, but I imagine monsters of legend that can be confronted by lower level adventurers would need to be especially elusive. There's a reason they've survived long enough to become legends that aren't just stomped by a passing knight. Thinking about that, plus Dael's video, is how I arrived at the whole "Haunting Monster" concept.

Back in 2016 I posted about the Planescape "monster of legend" being a possible inspiration for legendary monsters. The Nemean Lion is a good example. A regular lion becomes scary if it can't be harmed by any means. Despite its low CR, the challenge becomes one of lateral thinking. We can put it to sleep or charm it to avoid it, but the threat remains in the area afterwards.

That's sort of the other side of the coin: A low-CR legendary monster might be especially elusive OR it might be especially resilient.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I've done CR 6 legendaries but nothing lower. I think my issue is that legendary monsters aren't just about mechanics, its got a certain "something something" flavorwise. These are the monsters of legend and myth, it seems weird that it would only be a challenge for 4 people right out of boot camp.
I think it's important to remember that lvl 1 PCs are heroes, significantly more powerful than the average person. So when you start looking at all those characters from folklore and mythology, many of them don't do much more than a low-level PC, and the legendary creatures they defeated in those stories were thus defeated by lower level PC in the D&D context.

If you look at my examples above, one is an NPC personality and unique, thus could be a legendary creature (certainly when compared to other goblins), and the other is a legendary horse from mythology. Nothing about that horse in mythology suggests that it would be able to take on and defeat something like a giant or dragon, but it's still considered legendary.

YMMV of course.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
AC 11
HP 44
Damage immunities: +75% HP (77) from immune to mundane weapons in T1.
LR: 3 (+30)
Action budget:
+4/4 damage (trivial)
Save DCs: +6 to-hit equivalent
Gaze: pretty solid. But effectively once. I'll value it at ... 30 damage.
Reaction: Call it 10 damage per round.
Legendary: Call it 4 damage per legendary action (x3 per round, so 12).

DPR: 26*2+30+16 = 98 over 3 rounds, so 32ish per round.
AC: 11
HP: 107

HP: CR 3
DPR/actions: CR 4
ATK/SAVE: +1 over expected
AC: -2 under expected

Total CR: CR 3.

I mean, I'm not sure how that is CR 1, unless you didn't budget in the legendary stuff.
 

the Jester

Legend
I've done CR 6 legendaries but nothing lower. I think my issue is that legendary monsters aren't just about mechanics, its got a certain "something something" flavorwise. These are the monsters of legend and myth, it seems weird that it would only be a challenge for 4 people right out of boot camp.
The thing is, if you look at him, you can suss out the guy's story. He's got lower physical stats that a normal jackalwere, and he lacks both Pack Tactics and Keen Senses- because he's an old man. His mental powers- his gaze- has become mightier with time and reflection. He is neutral, not evil like most jackalweres; he is basically no threat to those who don't threaten him. He has become a legend not because he's a mighty opponent but because he has become an ascetic similar to the early Christian ascetics- he may not live on top of a pole, but he's withdrawn from others and sought enlightenment. He's a holy man. The tales of him spread far and wide despite him renouncing (or at least not excelling in) violence.
 

the Jester

Legend
First, let me just say that I always appreciate it when someone gives me their take on evaluating the CR of a monster with weird abilities like this.
AC 11
HP 44
Damage immunities: +75% HP (77) from immune to mundane weapons in T1.
LR: 3 (+30)
Action budget:
+4/4 damage (trivial)
Save DCs: +6 to-hit equivalent
Gaze: pretty solid. But effectively once. I'll value it at ... 30 damage.
I didn't value it at anywhere near that. In fact, since it doesn't do damage or put anyone to sleep unless you fail by 5, I'm pretty sure I valued it at 0 for damage, but maybe like a +1 AC bonus? I'm honestly not 100% sure.
Reaction: Call it 10 damage per round.
I don't honestly remember what I valued it at, but I think it was less than 10. I'm going to say 6.
Legendary: Call it 4 damage per legendary action (x3 per round, so 12).

DPR: 26*2+30+16 = 98 over 3 rounds, so 32ish per round.
AC: 11
HP: 107

HP: CR 3
DPR/actions: CR 4
ATK/SAVE: +1 over expected
AC: -2 under expected

Total CR: CR 3.

I mean, I'm not sure how that is CR 1, unless you didn't budget in the legendary stuff.
There's some numbers that you're using that seem a little wonky. So using my valuation for the gaze- I suspect that's where the majority of the difference lies-

Effective AC 11 + 1 for gaze = 12
Effective hp: 44 x 2 for damage immunities = 88; add 30 for legendary resistance = 108; add 27 for legendary actions = 135. (I'm using the DMG rules here. I'm not sure where you got the x1.75.)
This yields a defensive CR of 3.

Effective damage output per round: 4 (scimitar) + 6 (You're Only Hurting Yourself) = 10.
Effective attack bonus: +4
So I get an offensive CR of 1... overall CR 2. Looks like I missed something, probably on the defensive side, my first time around.

***

The thing about this guy is that he's not there to hurt anyone. He barely does any damage, and you can avoid his most powerful abilities by not attacking him. He is fairly elusive, and he's probably there to teach some lesson or other to travelers. He's very hard to pin down- I can see scenarios involving catching him being very challenging.
 

dave2008

Legend
First, let me just say that I always appreciate it when someone gives me their take on evaluating the CR of a monster with weird abilities like this.

I didn't value it at anywhere near that. In fact, since it doesn't do damage or put anyone to sleep unless you fail by 5, I'm pretty sure I valued it at 0 for damage, but maybe like a +1 AC bonus? I'm honestly not 100% sure.

I don't honestly remember what I valued it at, but I think it was less than 10. I'm going to say 6.

There's some numbers that you're using that seem a little wonky. So using my valuation for the gaze- I suspect that's where the majority of the difference lies-

Effective AC 11 + 1 for gaze = 12
Effective hp: 44 x 2 for damage immunities = 88; add 30 for legendary resistance = 108; add 27 for legendary actions = 135. (I'm using the DMG rules here. I'm not sure where you got the x1.75.)
This yields a defensive CR of 3.

Effective damage output per round: 4 (scimitar) + 6 (You're Only Hurting Yourself) = 10.
Effective attack bonus: +4
So I get an offensive CR of 1... overall CR 2. Looks like I missed something, probably on the defensive side, my first time around.

***

The thing about this guy is that he's not there to hurt anyone. He barely does any damage, and you can avoid his most powerful abilities by not attacking him. He is fairly elusive, and he's probably there to teach some lesson or other to travelers. He's very hard to pin down- I can see scenarios involving catching him being very challenging.
CR 2 seems about right to me too. I think @NotAYakk inflated some assumptions, but I have run the numbers myself.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Someone is going to hit him. Then it is decent accuracy save for half. It is rather nasty. It will deal 22-44+ damage before the monster is defeated, next to no way to avoid it.(ok shocking grasp)

I valued that massive aoe as a strong 3rd level spell. I agree it ain't damage.
 

dave2008

Legend
Personally I am a bit mixed on low level "legendary" monsters. In general I agree with @Stalker0 that they should be a bit special and probably higher level. So for me around CR 5 is probably as low as I want to go, and even then only rarely. I think level 10 is a good time to introduce them. Though, I do like the idea of adding legendary actions that just make a monster more "slippery" as @the Jester suggested. I could see legendary actions just providing escape / movement / hiding options. Of course you could probably do this with reactions too.
 

dave2008

Legend
Someone is going to hit him. Then it is decent accuracy save for half. It is rather nasty. It will deal 22-44+ damage before the monster is defeated, next to no way to avoid it.(ok shocking grasp)

I valued that massive aoe as a strong 3rd level spell. I agree it ain't damage.
That gaze is pretty tough. It said (save ends) which I assumed was a short cut for: a creature can make an additional save at the end of each its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success (is that correct @the Jester ?). If not, it is particularly nasty. You wouldn't be to difficult to tie up half the party for the duration of the encounter on the first round if there is no extra saves. Then the reaction is even more effective because a higher percentage of your attacks are being reflected back at you.
 

the Jester

Legend
That gaze is pretty tough. It said (save ends) which I assumed was a short cut for: a creature can make an additional save at the end of each its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success (is that correct @the Jester ?). If not, it is particularly nasty. You wouldn't be to difficult to tie up half the party for the duration of the encounter on the first round if there is no extra saves. Then the reaction is even more effective because a higher percentage of your attacks are being reflected back at you.
Yes, absolutely. It's an easy shorthand I use.
 


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