The Expanding Codex series fleshes out monsters from the Creature Codex, giving GMs ways to modify the existing monsters to surprise well-prepared players or to introduce monsters to a campaign.
Alternate Traits and Actions
The following changes allow GMs to alter a swolbold without modifying its challenge rating:
Audience-Driven Overconfidence. The swolbold has advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the swolbold’s allies is within view of the swolbold and the ally isn’t incapacitated. After its turn, and until a creature successfully hits the swolbold with a weapon attack or the beginning of its next turn, whichever comes first, creatures attacking the swolbold make weapon attacks with advantage.
The swolbold loses its Pack Tactics trait.
Bulk Out (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). As a bonus action, a swolbold can increase in size for 1 minute. While the swolbold is larger, its slam attack deals an extra 1d4 damage, the escape DC for its grapple and the Strength saving throw DC for its Crush action increase by 2, and it has advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws. For the duration, its AC is reduced by 2, and it has disadvantage on Dexterity checks and Dexterity saving throws.
The swolbold loses its Leaping Attack trait.
Stranglehold. One creature grappled by the swolbold must make a DC 14 Strength saving throw, gaining one level of exhaustion on a failed save. At level 6, the creature becomes unconscious rather than dead. If the creature suffers another effect that causes exhaustion while it is suffering level 6 exhaustion from this action, the creature dies.
The swolbold loses its Crush action.
The following feat is inspired by abilities possessed by a swolbold:
Prerequisite: Strength 15 or higher
You’ve learned how to crush the bones of foes you grapple, gaining the following benefits:
- Increase your Strength score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- Your unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage.
- You can use your action to force a creature grappled by you to make a Strength saving throw. The saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier. On a failed save, you deal bludgeoning damage to the creature equal to twice the damage dealt by your unarmed strike.
New Magic Items and Spells
The following magic item and spell are inspired by abilities possessed by a swolbold:
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
When wearing these cloth wraps, your forearms and hands swell to half again their normal size without negatively impacting your fine motor skills. The wraps allow you to use an action to attack a target with a slam that deals bludgeoning damage, with a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls and a damage die of 1d4.
If you successfully hit a target with the slam attack granted by the wraps and the target is no more than one size larger than you, you can use a bonus action to automatically grapple the target. Once you have used this bonus action three times, the bonus action can’t be used again until the next dawn.
1st-level transmutation (sorcerer, warlock, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 reaction, which you take when you take damage from a melee weapon attack
Components: V, S, M (a scale from a swolbold)
Duration: 1 round
You gain physical prowess in response to an attack at the cost of your mental faculties. Upon casting this spell, you drop whatever item you were holding in your primary hand. You can attack with an unarmed strike against the creature that damaged you with the instigating melee weapon attack (if it is in range) as part of the casting of this spell.
For the spell’s duration, your unarmed strike uses 2d4 for damage. When attacking with an unarmed strike, you double your proficiency bonus on your attack roll and add your proficiency bonus on your damage roll.
Conversely, for the spell’s duration, you cannot cast spells, and you have disadvantage on Intelligence checks and Intelligence saving throws.
Swolbold Adventure Hooks
- A swolbold enters a bar and challenges all patrons to unarmed combat. He offers 200 gp to anyone who can best him. In truth, the swolbold and others like him are locating competent fighters their kobold kin should incapacitate before an imminent kobold attack.
- A group of swolbolds wish to turn away from their bestial impulses and seek a more contemplative path. They have identified a monastery where they can theoretically study in peace and require an escort to reach the mountaintop location.
This installment of Expanding Codex came from a suggestion on Facebook. (Thank you, Tylor!) If you have any requests for monsters from the Creature Codex for future installments, please let me know in the comments or elsewhere in the Kobold warrens, and I’ll make sure to add them to the queue.