Monstrous Monday: The Hyperborean Owlbear

QUICK UPDATE: The Monster Archive on my Downloads page has been updated to include all November monsters.

And welcome to the first unofficial Monstrous Monday of December. I’m starting early, because I’m incredibly excited to bring you guys some cool stuff. This month, in honor of the Christmas season (or Hanukkah, Ramadan, Festivus, whatevs) I’ve decided to give something back! Every Monstrous Monday this month is going to be a reader-submitted monster. Unfortunately, however, I’ve only got 5 Monstrous Mondays, so I can’t get to all of them. Therefore, I’m going with what I consider, through my completely scientific decision-making process (holding pieces of paper with the monster’s names on them in front of my dog and seeing which one he chooses), entries that are either interesting, evocative, or hilarious.

This first week, we’ll be tackling another owlbear. In fact, it’s another snowy owlbear. Now, for those of you who read my article on Dungeons and Darwinian Evolution, you’ll remember that I already designed a polar owlbear. So why am I designing another one? Because Neil Klopsch suggested something a little different. Not a polar owlbear, but a Hyperborean owlbear. What the hell is that? Follow me, and I’ll show you. Continue reading “Monstrous Monday: The Hyperborean Owlbear”

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Treasure Type Z: Welcome! (And 3 magic items)

Instead of a re-post this week, welcome to my new series of articles: Treasure Type Z! Why Treasure Type Z? Because in the Monster Manual for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (that’s 1st edition, folks), Treasure Type Z is a little bit of everything. It’s coins, gems, magic items, whatever. And that’s what TTZ is going to be on this site. It’s a little bit of everything. The operative words being “little bit”. It’s not a Monstrous Monday, where I have to write a bunch of stuff about monsters, and it’s not a Friday Feature, where I write thousands of words on a topic and invest most of my free time, which I could use to spend time with other human beings. This is something small. It’s a magic item, or a new subrace, or a new subclass. It’s presented without explanation or analysis. Maybe it’s a quick house rule. Maybe it’s a template or a new character sheet page or a map. It’s just me sharing a little something with you.

So, in honor of the original meaning for Treasure Type Z, I’m giving you three quick magic items to use in your games. One weapon, one armor, and one wondrous item. Continue reading “Treasure Type Z: Welcome! (And 3 magic items)”

Monstrous Monday: The Thunderbird

I think that you guys, by now, have probably figured out that I’m a huge fan of mythology. I love the ancient stories of heroes, gods and monsters from across the world, and constantly inject these ideas into my campaigns.

This includes Native American myth, which so often reveres nature and animals, turning them into beasts of incredible power and significance. One of those—which just so happens to be one of my favorite mythological beasts, is the thunderbird. Whether we’re talking about Shadow chasing thunderbirds in American Gods, or the ancient tales of thunderbirds dropping lightning-snakes onto the ground below, the thunderbird is a fascinating myth. Continue reading “Monstrous Monday: The Thunderbird”

D&DE: Dungeons and Darwinian Evolution

This week was rather hectic, between scheduling issues at work and a nasty power outage. Therefore, I didn’t get to edit this article as thoroughly as I would have liked. If it comes off choppy, I apologize. 

I’m going to present you with a monster. I want you to tell me what’s special about this monster? What makes it different?

Ready? Here it is.

Tropical Sahuagin

Now, what’s special about it? Get it in your mind, write it down, say it out loud, whatever. If you’re in the future, then store the thoughts in your psychometric PAN cloud. Now tell me. What’s special about it? What’s different?

That’s right! Octopus Telepathy, Underwater Camouflage, and a poisonous bite. You get a cookie.

Now, can you tell me why?

You only knew that because of the title of this article. Cheater. I hope you choke on that cookie. Continue reading “D&DE: Dungeons and Darwinian Evolution”

Re-Post: Unearthed Arcana Review: Waterborne Adventures

This is an interesting one. Two of the subclasses in this document, you see, actually made it into the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. It’s neat looking back and seeing what I thought of the Proto-versions of these subclasses, as compared to their final versions.

And I still love the minotaurs. Their culture continues to make me smile.
Continue reading “Re-Post: Unearthed Arcana Review: Waterborne Adventures”

Monstrous Monday: The Changeling Race

Let’s do one for the players, shall we?

When the very first Unearthed Arcana came out, long ago in the far off past, it included a new race for players to toy with: The Changeling. Effectively, it’s a shapeshifter that can transform into any humanoid it wants.

I had a problem with it. Not with the concept, of course. Shape shifting infiltrators are AWESOME. My problem was with the name. See, when I think Changeling, I don’t think of a shifter. I think of the children of the sidhe: fey- and monster-born. Trollkin and hagborn and the children of faeries and men. In mythology, changelings were faerie-children who were swapped with human children in order to infiltrate human civiliations.

Changeling Parent

Pathfinder has a Changeling race as well, though specifically focused on being the children of hags, rather than any number of monstrous creatures.

Therefore, the Eberron Changeling is known as the Faceless in my campaigns. And changelings…well, why don’t you see for yourself? Continue reading “Monstrous Monday: The Changeling Race”

Deconstructing the Witch Hunter

This is one that I wanted to write last month, but got distracted by writing 7,000 words on Class Design, oh, and let’s not forget I was busy designing a Full Class and writing a Free Adventure. Back then, it was relevant with the whole #DnDiesel thing going on. However, I’m kind of glad I waited, since I was actually able to go out and see The Last Witch Hunter in order to give myself context for the class.

What is said context? Basically nothing. The movie has very little to do with the actual class, as Kaulder (Diesel’s character in the film) is really more of a Fighter than anything else, and doesn’t exhibit…any of the powers the actual class possesses. Well, I guess he lights his sword on fire. But it is by no means through the same mechanic as the class. The class actually feels more heavily inspired by the Grey Wardens of Dragon Age fame, in that it’s more focused around the slayage of fey, fiends and undead rather than witches. It’s also similar to the Witchers of the series by the same name.

First, though, let’s talk about the movie. Because the movie does deserve to be talked about. Continue reading “Deconstructing the Witch Hunter”

Monstrous Mondays: Criminals and Bandits

This week, we expand what Monstrous Monday means. See, to this point, I’ve only designed…well, monsters. However, I’m in the process of designing a short 5-level campaign for my group, and it takes place in a city. In the city, it’s not near as likely for you to encounter hunting drakes or mangles. Instead, you’re far more likely to encounter NPCs. Thugs, thieves and crime bosses.

In the spirit of that idea, this week sees my first official NPCs. And this week, I’m taking on Bandits, and specifically city bandits (is there a better word for that?) There are a few that already exist in the D&D Basic Rules, but I wanted to create something a little more unique.

I also wanted to take on an idea that the Angry GM proposed in his Articles on Monster Design. And that’s the idea of “racial traits” for monsters. The way he described it was that goblins all share a trait: Nimble Escape. Similarly, zombies all share the Undead Fortitude trait. I wanted to expand that idea into NPCs. All of the bandits in this article (and all future bandits) share the Banditry trait, which gives them the ability to use the Dash or Disengage actions as a bonus action on their turn.

This is also the most expansive Monstrous Monday that I’ve done. I’m presenting 5 NPCs here, all ranging in style and difficulty, including a “boss” enemy, to use in your low-level city games.

I hope you all enjoy! Continue reading “Monstrous Mondays: Criminals and Bandits”

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