There were more amazing creatures submitted to the Monarch of the Monsters fifth edition contest than made it into the Top 6—it’s a testament to the quality of the work that we couldn’t decide on only a Top 5. Though I had numerous favorites that didn’t make it to the voting round, there are two I had to take a moment to comment on.
Though I wasn’t impressed by the generic name (by Leon & Serina Towns-von Stauber), the description of this creature sent my imagination running. The Indiana Jones of giant cephalopods, the gargoctopus travels the oceans exploring drowned cities, sunken ships, and even above-water coastal ruins! Highly intelligent, a gargoctopus will wear armor (some make-shift), use weapons, and collect magic items, as well as ancient knowledge. Gargoctopuses communicate telepathically and possess the camouflage and climbing skills of their smaller kin.
I absolutely love this creature. Cephalopods are some of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean, and an octopus’s strength and flexibility is a wonderful inspiration for a non-humanoid ally for your PCs. I am absolutely using this in my games.
By Leon & Serina Towns-von Stauber
Large monstrosity, neutral
Armor Class 13 (shell & coral armor)
Hit Points 104 (16d10 + 16)
Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18 (+4) 13 (+1) 12 (+1) 19 (+4) 16 (+3) 14 (+2)
Skills History +7, Investigation +7, Perception +6, Stealth +7
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages telepathy 100 ft.
Challenge 5 (1800 XP)
Amphibious. The gargoctopus can breathe air and water.
Camouflage. The gargoctopus has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
Spider Climb. The gargoctopus can climb on difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Ink Cloud (Recharge 6). A 20-ft. radius cloud of darkness extends around the gargoctopus. The area is heavily obscured until the beginning of the gargoctopus’ next turn. If underwater, the gargoctopus can use the Dash action as a bonus action after releasing the cloud.
Multiattack. The gargoctopus makes four attacks: one attack using each of four tentacles, or one attack using each of three tentacles and one bite.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (3d8 + 4) piercing damage. Before the attack, the gargoctopus can pull a target it has grappled adjacent to itself.
Tentacle Grab. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. The attack automatically hits a creature grappled by the gargoctopus. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is Medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 15) and restrained until the grapple ends. The gargoctopus can grapple up to four creatures at a time.
Tentacle Slam. The gargoctopus slams a creature grappled by it into a solid surface. The creature must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 11 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage and be stunned until the end of the gargoctopus’ next turn. On a successful save, the target takes half the bludgeoning damage and isn’t stunned.
Tentacle Toss. The gargoctopus releases a grappled creature and hurls it up to 20 feet. The target takes 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage if it impacts the ground or another solid object, and falls prone. If the target lands in another creature’s space, that creature must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or also take 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage and fall prone.
Belying its fearsome appearance, a gargoctopus is an insatiably curious scholar fascinated by the remnants of vanished cultures. It wanders the oceans exploring drowned cities and sunken ships, and raises its imposing bulk from the water to investigate relics and ruins on land.
It is in such surroundings that a gargoctopus sometimes encounters terrestrial adventurers. If it views them as trespassers, rivals, or threats, it may react aggressively or even violently, but a gargoctopus treated with careful respect can be a source of great lore. When one gargoctopus encounters another in its travels, the two spend days or weeks exchanging information, ensuring the survival of the knowledge they’ve acquired.
While preferring a life of the mind, an angered gargoctopus becomes a whirlwind of wet, crushing tentacles. It may fasten large shells and pieces of coral to its limbs to provide some measure of protection, and its ability to match the coloration of its flesh to its surroundings, and to adhere to walls and ceilings, makes it an elusive opponent. It can emit a cloud of ink that spreads in air or water, often using it to escape a dangerous situation. A gargoctopus is frequently accompanied by giant octopi serving as loyal bodyguards.
The glasscrock (that’s glass-crock, not glass-rock like my brain kept wanting to read; submitted by Michael John Conard) is a creature I could easily see evolving biologically. The body is similar to a Large centipede, with 4 combat-effective forelimbs and a cunning intelligence bordering on human (Int 4). An ambush predator with a jellyfish-like transparency is a horrifying and believable concept. The description of its ecology makes me think the writer has some education in biology. The glasscrock’s paralytic poison is delivered from the creature’s belly coming into contact with constricted prey, and its digestive tract is visible through its transparent skin, sometimes being used as bait since it appears like a wriggling worm. Speculation by “sages” that the glasscrock may be the larval form of something larger opens a world of possibilities with a single sentence.
The glasscrock is a fascinating creature and the writer managed to ignite my imagination with descriptions of its biology, ecology, and behavior, while mechanically providing me with a dangerous and interesting beast for my players to face.
By Michael John Conard
So called by some watermen because of its method of hunting, the glasscrock is a nearly-transparent ambush hunter, usually striking from a bed of water, whether stagnant or flowing. The transparency of the creature, combined with its jet of silt and poisonous sting, makes it an effective hunter.
Strange Anatomy. The body of a glasscrock is most similar to a centipede, with 4 far-larger forelimbs and a more developed head. The first pair of limbs is used to attack, while both the first and second pairs are used to lunge at the initial target of its initial surprise attack. However, these forelimbs tire easily, and after 3 rounds of combat, this attack and the Standing Leap ability both acquire Recharge (6).
Stinging Constriction. Like a constrictor snake, once the initial attack is successful, the glasscrock winds its body around its prey, and begins constricting. However, unlike such a serpent which uses powerful muscular action to crush and suffocate its prey, the glasscrock’s constriction is used to bring the creature’s underbelly into contact with the surface of its prey. Most like the stinging barbs of a jellyfish, nerve poison is delivered via a multitude of tiny stings that erupt from the underside of the creature’s body.
Transparency. The glasscrock’s transparency is not total; its digestive tract is usually visible, particularly after it has just eaten. This digestive track is sometimes used as bait, appearing as a wriggling worm or snake. It is most vulnerable just after eating, entering a state of lethargy similar to serpents after it eats and finds a hiding place (typically its lair). The undigested and disgorged remains of its prey are found here.
Speculations. Subterranean variants have been observed in cavern habitats employing bioluminescence. Sages postulate the creature is an immature form of a larger creature, as a tadpole is to a frog. What that larger creature might be is unknown.
By Michael John Conard
Large animal, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points (5d12 +5)
Speed 30 ft, swim 50 ft
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
15(+2) 14(+2) 12(+1) 4(-4) 10(+0) 5(-3)
Skills Perception +5, Stealth +7
Senses Blindsight 30 ft., Passive Perception 15
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Amphibious the glasscrock can breathe air and water
Transparency the glasscrock has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks while underwater or in air
Standing Leap the glasscrock’s long jump is 15 feet when made from water, 10 from land, with or without a running start.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 6 (2d4+2) slashing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 12). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the glasscrock can’t attack another target.
Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach target grappled, one target.
Hit: 2 (1d4 damage) and the target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, taking 6 (3d4) damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. If the poison damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the target is table but poisoned for 1 hour, and is paralyzed while poisoned in this way.
Silt Cloud (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest) A 10 ft radius cloud of silt extends all around the glasscrock if it is underwater. The area is lightly obscured for 1 minute, although a significant current can disperse the silt. After releasing the silt, the glasscrock can use the Dash action as a bonus action.