Happy New Year! What better way to start 2022 than with a new monster stat block? And what better beast than one that glides over you in your sleep and completely digests you leaving no trace whatsoever?
Happy days indeed.
There’s something very unnerving about the word ‘envelope’, when a monster is concerned. A horrific entity can gnash and howl and screech and claw at you, but a creature that silently sidles up and ‘envelopes’ you tends to trigger a quiet, primal fear response. The Lethifold isn’t a showboat. It just wants to quietly hug you to death. No need to scream, no one can hear you…
Of all the vague summaries in Fantastic Beasts, the line “leprechauns produce a realistic gold-like substance” is one of the more troubling. There’s no mention of whether this production is biological or magical, and I’m not entirely happy with either. If it’s the latter, than leprechauns have an arcane ability that specifically trolls people looking for gold.
If it’s the former, then these little scamps are secreting gold from somewhere… and that creates so many other questions.
Last time it was a hedgehog-beast. This time we have a cat-beast. Definitely a low point on this fantastical rollercoaster, but don’t worry. This lion-tailed, super smart cat has got some useful tricks hiding away. This wouldn’t make much of a combat encounter, but the kneazle would make a great pet or wizard familiar.
Want a huge shapeshifting water demon in your Dungeons & Dragons?
I’m enjoying making each one of these monsters. Even the mundane critters. But every so often, Fantastic Beasts throws out a big, complicated monster that I have to unpack. Part of the challenge with the Kelpie is that it’s linked to another beast further into the book that I haven’t made yet.
Between the ability to turn into the Loch Ness Monster, and the way it drowns and eat people with relative ease, the Kelpie needs to feel a little dangerous.
Combat in Dungeons & Dragons is a lot of fun, but some of the best encounters I have experienced are actually very short. This can be down to player ingenuity; a clever use of a spell or a moment of tactical genius undoes the best laid plans of the big bad. It can also be down to the DM offering a simple solution to the encounter. If the players have been paying attention, they will solve the problem before it gets out of hand.
This is the kind of encounter I’d expect for the Kappa. An inherently creepy beast that could prove deadly for the less alert adventurers, that can be very easily defeated by the more knowledgeable explorers.
In Dungeons & Dragons, size isn’t everything, but it is important.
Whether a creature is ‘tiny’, ‘large’ or ‘gargantuan’, size has a mechanical affect. A human-sized sword will usually to one die-worth of damage, whereas a giant is going to hit you with at least three dice loads of damage. Health depends on how many ‘hit dice’ a character has, but the size of a creature changes the dice you are rolling. A regular spider will have d4s, whilst a giant spider gets the eight-sided guys.
Size often informs the other stats a creature has. A small creature is likely to have a much lower Strength Score. There’s no defined rule in-game, but there’s a logic to it. A mouse, try as they might, is not going to win a tug-of-war against an elephant. Larger creatures are going to be naturally stronger because of their sheer mass.
All of these leads me to this point: building monster stats for the Imps and Pixies of the Potterverse required some careful thought.
Arachnapobia is the one irrational fear we’ve all heard of, but lots of people are afraid of snakes. I suppose that’s down to the likelihood of each phobia popping up. In the UK, you are much more likely to meet an itty-bitty spider than you are to have any interaction with a snake.
I have one Dungeon & Dragons group that have never encountered a spider, monstrous or otherwise because of one friend’s intense phobia. And it’s a good rule to have – D&D has a some alarming arachnids with extra powers. Not content with ‘giant spiders’, the Monster Manual also includes stats for a ‘phase spider’. These monstrosities can shift in and out of the current plane of existence, reappearing wherever they feel like.
I mention this, because the Horned Serpent taps into the same mentality: take a creature people have a primal reaction to, and give it magical powers.