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Good Riddance! Turn Good Dogs into Bad Guys.

Good Riddance! Turn Good Dogs into Bad Guys.

Close Up Shot of a Dog

The classic alignment grid consisting of three rows (Good, Neutral, and Evil) and three columns (Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic) is a contentious topic in TTRPGs. A lot of games (including the Tales of the Valiant RPG) don’t use it, but it endures. Criticisms include that the system is too rigid and is not descriptive enough. And it essentially predestines certain creatures (even Humanoids) to be either good or evil.

Shortfalls aside, the alignment system leaves an open question: “Why are there good-aligned creatures in monster books?” Kobold Press’s own Tome of Beasts 1 includes several good-aligned creatures. These creatures make fantastic NPCs or allies for the party, but does that mean a party can never fight a buraq or a firebird?

A GM can ignore alignment and have the party fight an “evil” angel. But maybe a better choice is to find interesting narrative ways to make typically “good” creatures antagonists while maintaining their lore.

Blink dogs are beloved fantasy creatures, and it’s easy to see why. People love dogs and people love teleporting. Actual play shows like Critical Role (season 2) have even featured blink dogs as party pets, perfect for light-hearted shenanigans.

Examining the stat block, however, a blink dog can perform a vicious maneuver! It can teleport next to someone and bite their face off for (on average) more hit points than a typical commoner has. This mechanic would make fighting a pack of blink dogs fun and interesting from a tactical combat perspective. Staying true to the good-aligned blink dog lore, there are a few narrative ways that a party might face off against them. Here are three possibilities to spark some ideas.

Unleash the Hounds!

An evil organization has either raised blink dogs from a young age to serve them or subjugated them with shock collars to serve their wicked purposes. Perhaps these dogs are guards at a prison or vault. If prisoners escape, the hounds are unleashed to track down the fugitive. A few interesting encounters that could come out of this scenario:

  • The blink dogs are intelligent so some can be reasoned with or made sympathetic to the PCs’ viewpoint to facilitate a prison break.
  • Characters fighting blink dogs could attempt to remove their shock collars during combat to turn their allegiance against their cruel masters.

More to the Story

The blink dogs’ community is under threat. In their heightened state of security, the party comes to blows with them, potentially in misunderstanding. In various lore, blink dogs have arch enemies in the form of phase spiders or shifty tentacle-cats. In this scenario, characters are initially unaware of the bigger picture and they get in the way of blink dogs trying to defend themselves. A couple of interesting encounters that could come out of this scenario:

  • The party is ambushed by blink dogs defending their territory. Midway through the fight, phase spiders emerge. The party must change their assessment of the situation mid-fight to ally with the blink dogs and defeat the real threat.
  • If the phase spiders break into the blink dogs’ community, the party might have to weigh the goals of saving blink dogs from death rather than being concerned with their own hit points.

Born That Way

A malfeasant wizard is trying to create super-monsters by magically combining their most fearsome traits. The party can work on behalf of blink dogs or their allies to rescue some fellow pack members from the wizard’s lair. This allows the party to face off against the most tactically interesting mechanic the blink dog has to offer, without actually fighting them. Interesting encounters that could come out of this scenario include:

  • The party encounters mutant creatures like a grick with the following trait.
    • Teleport (Recharge 4–6). The grick teleports, along with any equipment it is wearing or carrying, up to 40 feet to an unoccupied space it can see. Before or after teleporting, the grick can make one Beak attack.
  • The party can acquire a magical item potion of blinking, synthesized from blink dog blood. They need the teleportation ability to navigate the geography and magical hazards of her tower.

Potion of Blinking

Potion, Rare

This potion’s yellow liquid contains traces of hair, which flicker in and out of existence. You can cast the misty step spell at will as a bonus action for the next 10 minutes when you drink it.

More good GM advice and tools are on the way in the Tales of the Valiant Game Master’s Guide!
It’s on Kickstarter now, already funded and barreling toward several awesome stretch goals.

about Daniel Kahn

Dan Khan stylized author illo

Daniel Kahn is a D&D 5e freelance writer and lead author of several platinum best-selling titles on the DMsGuild. For more monster weaknesses, check out Monster Weaknesses and Monster Weaknessess of the Multiverse on the DMsGuild, which includes weaknesses for every creature in the Monster Manual and Monsters of the Multiverse. Follow Daniel on Twitter: @FrictionlessDan and visit his website.

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