Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you some commentary from the three Monarch of the Monsters 5 contest judges regarding monsters that did not make it into the public voting phase. This week, Steve picks out two monsters to highlight. We invite you to share your own insights in the comments field below!
By Dave Breitmaier
Medium humanoid (Kryt), neutral evil
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 120 (16d8 + 48)
Speed 25 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
20 (+5) 10 (+0) 16 (+3) 6 (-2) 18 (+4) 6 (-2)
Skills Insight +7, Perception +7
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17
Condition Immunities Exhaustion
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Hold Breath. The kryt can hold its breath for 15 minutes.
Innate Spellcasting. Kryts uses Wisdom as its spellcasting ability (spell save DC 15). It can innately cast divination and requires no material components, but the kryt is required to be able to inspect the entrails of a sacrificed creature of size small or larger:
Multiattack.: The kryt makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its quarterstaff.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage
Quarterstaff. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage, or 9 (1d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage if used with two hands.
Haunting Vision. When a kryt is attacked by a creature within 30 feet, the creature can be haunted by a vision of its own death. Too terrified by the vision to quickly retaliate, the victim takes disadvantage on the attack roll. Undead creatures and creatures that are unable to be killed are immune to this reaction.
Kryts are bipedal, ancient-looking tortoises with knowing eyes whose depths seem to swirl with constellations of stars. Short and hearty like dwarves, they attack with great physical power and usually rely on their natural armor as their sole protection. They typically form small tribes in caves or small huts near ponds or reflective bodies of water.
Dangerous Mystics. It is commonly known that kryts are able to see into the future, but few are brave enough to seek their counsel. With a reputation for randomly attacking outsiders and giving the most chilling of predictions, the few who survive their divinations return shaken and speechless with terror. Kryts usually find it easier to use livestock for their sacrificial divinations, but anyone entering their tribe should fear becoming an offering in their insatiable quest for ultimate knowledge of the future.
Doom Mongers of Haruspicy. The kryts are haruspices who are able to predict the future by examining the entrails of a sacrificed creature. Refusing to align themselves with a singular known deity, they claim they have seen prophecies of a cataclysm wrought by an ominous and unnamed power. Kryts live predominately silent lives, striving to save their voices for their ultimate calling as messengers for this mysterious god of death. They never record any of their findings, preferring to keep what they divine to themselves. It is extremely rare for another race to follow this dogma, but clerics of this religion must take the Knowledge domain.
Secret Society. The solitary kryts generally regard strangers with callous practicality, viewing them as mere pieces of flesh to be beaten and subjugated until they are prepared for a divining sacrifice. Kryts are extremely reluctant to share any of their prophetic visions with others—even members of their own tribe.
Kryts were the highest-rated monsters on my list that didn’t make the final six. Mechanically, there’s nothing clever or even especially interesting about it. What drew me to the kryt is the great story behind it; how can you not love sullen, prophetic man-turtles? A GM could easily build an entire adventure around that idea. The society that matches their story could be even weirder than that of yuan-ti or myconids. Kryts need to be surrounded by more challenging minions, and to spice them up, they should be given a power that plays off the fact that they always have minions.
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.
I’m a sucker for anything that involves “drowned cities and sunken ships.” The gargoctopus has a lot more going on mechanically than the kryt—maybe too much, with three separate tentacle powers—but that’s not what drew me to it. Like the kryt, this creature is all about its story and the adventure you could build around typically paranoid adventurers unexpectedly running into a gargoctopus expedition. The roleplaying possibilities alone in that encounter make my mouth water.
You might get the idea from these two picks (the kryt and the gargoctopus) that I have a thing for anthropomorphic animals, but that’s not the case. I have a thing for weird creatures that invite the GM to build alien societies around them and that open the gate for unusual, surprising roleplaying. These two fit that bill.