I was recently looking at a friends Lego Harry Potter set when I observed the Lego Thestral and thought: “Have I missed a monster? I’m half a dozen Fantastic Beasts from completely D&D-ifying the whole book, but I don’t remember seeing the Thestral in it.”
The reason turned out to be that Thestral are a type of Winged Horse, and are mentioned in a single half-sentence. Which is an odd way round in my opinion; in a world of griffons and hippogriffs and dragons and pixies, choosing to define a creatures by the fact that they can fly and not by its ability to be invisible to anyone who has not had a specific trauma is more than slightly odd.
What this does also mean, as I round on the penultimate entry in Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them,that I actually need to create three different stat Blocks for the Winged Horse.
I’m not a fan of the Harry Potter werewolf. It’s far from the hottest of takes, but I’ve always had a particular expectation of what a werewolf should look like. American Werewolf in London, great look for a more wolf-like monster . Underworld, I didn’t like beefy muscle boys. My personal favourite werewolf movie will always be Dog Soldiers, which in my opinion has the best looking version.
The spindly, fleshy, CGI thing in Prisoner of Azkaban barely registered on my good-bad spectrum of werewolves. It’s definitely a monstrous thing, but it just isn’t lycan enough for my liking.
The lore of the Fantastic Beast werewolf does, however, do something I appreciate: it goes for the old-school ‘transforms only on a full moon’ version of the curse. If D&D, the werewolf has to change on a full moon, but they can also turn ‘shapechange’ whenever they feel like it. As curses go, most players would actually quite like to be bitten by a lycanthrope. The extra strengths and abilities quickly stifle the negative aspects of the curse.
So this monster conversion means that I can actually create a ‘true’ werewolf for your D&D game.
Finally, with just four beasts left in the book, I’ve finally hit a monster that has an ability that stumped me. Two words in the description had me scratching my head, trying to figure out how that could possible work on a mechanical level:
I googled how fast medieval arrows could travel. Opinions were varied, but 150 to 180 feet-per-second was a good average. A creature’s turn is six seconds. That would put the Wampus Cat’s base speed as ‘1080 ft.’. The fastest speed I’m aware of in any D&D monster stat block is 150 feet, and that’s rare. Most characters move at 30 feet around.
A monster that can move over 30 times faster that the average hero is problematic. I think I found a solution that sort-of works…
Last week I converted Harry Potter trolls into D&D monsters. They have their merits, but they lack some of the cool abilities of what is already in place. I’ve got to do the same this week. The unicorn in Fantastic Beasts is elusive and mysterious, but the description lacks the plethora of abilities the D&D unicorn is decked out with.
Teleportation, spellcasting, healing abilities… the D&D version is ready for anything. It evens has ‘legendary actions’, a thing usually reserved for creatures 2 or 3 times for powerful.
So this creature I’m about to make is going to have nothing on its D&D counterpart, but I’ve made a commitment to do every Fantastic Beast as accurately as possible, so here we go.
One downside of converting Harry Potter critters into D&D monsters is that sometimes you have to make a plainer version of something that is already in place. Trolls exist in Dungeons & Dragons, and they have a fun regenerative ability that makes them a dangerous for at lower levels, whilst also providing to fun moments for the uninitiated:
DM: what do you want to do on your turn? Player: Wuh? The troll is dead. Why are we still in initiative? DM: …no reason. Troll: [on the ground, about to regenerate] Tee-hee-hee.
At first glance, the Fantastic Beast troll is a much plainer creature. A big slab of dumb meat. It’s not going to be as fun to tinker with this stat block. However, the fact that they have “prodigious strength” means we have something to distinguish this new version.
When I first started creating these stat blocks, I did become concerned that I was seeing a lot of very mundane creatures in a list of supposedly ‘fantastic’ beasts. I just had to remind myself that further down the line, there were some very dangerous monsters, including a bird that could summon storms.
There’s a snail you can encounter in Dungeons & Dragons. It’s called a Flail Snail. It’s called that, because it has organic, spiky flails where it’s eye stalks should be. It definitely exists purely because ‘snail’ and ‘flail’ rhyme.
At least the snail from Fantastic Beasts is a significantly different monster. Not like the hippogriffs and griffins, where I was having to split hairs to make a monster that was distinctly different from what was there before. The Streeler is a very different kind of strange snail.
I’ve used riddles in my D&D adventures. I have, therefore, watched a group of intelligent people overthink a mind puzzle for much more time than you would expect, as I peruse the rest of the options from ‘riddles for kids‘, wondering if I could have been more generous.
I am pretty sure that most encounters with a sphinx would end in violence…
Footballs were made from pig bladder. Just consider that for a second. People in the medieval world butchered a pig, put the bladder to one side, and said to themselves “let’s stitch that up and fill it with air, I have a feeling we can have some fun with that later”.
It certainly puts the Snitch into perspective. Wizards had to invent a new enchanted ball because they were killing off too many of the tiny birds they were using in their flying broomstick game. It’s still really weird when you lay it out like that, but it shows you wizards and muggles are just as weird as one another.
Regardless, here’s a tiny Harry Potter-verse bird for your Dungeons & Dragons.