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Monday Monster: Grimdaw, or Ghoul Crow

Monday Monster: Grimdaw, or Ghoul Crow

“They had not moved all day – standing like silent gargoyles along the gables and ridges of the townhouses.

A thousand black crows, but crows with distinctly humanoid twists in their vile faces – a cheek here, an ear there, wide eyes all too humanoid in their appearance. Some birds seemed unable to keep all these twisted features on the same face and bare skull erupted from some – was all their was on others, who resembled ragged deaths heads with unblinking red eyes.

They just sat there waiting. But waiting for what?”

[More…]

Grimdaw (Ghoul Crow)

CR 1/3, N Tiny Magical Beast
Init
+3; Spd 10 or Fly, Average 60
Senses Darkvision (Ex): 60 ft.; Low-light Vision (Ex) | Listen +4, Spot +12


AC 17 (FF 14, Touch 15)
hp 5 (HD 1d10)
Saves Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +2
Immunity Paralysis (Ex), Disease (Ex), Energy Drain (Ex), Fear (Ex)


Atk +0 base melee, +6 base ranged; Grapple -10
Face 2.5’x2.5′; Reach 0′;
Melee +6 (2 Talons 1d4-3/crit 20/x2) plus Disease


Abilities STR 5, DEX 17, CON 10, INT 4, WIS 14, CHA 6
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Hide + 11, Listen + 4, Spot + 12* (*includes +8 racial bonus)


Disease (Ex) — Any creature struck by the claws of a grimdaw must make a Fortitude save vs. DC 11 (Constitution -based) or become nauseated by infectious bacteria attacking their nervous system, causing symptoms ranging from numbness to phantom sensations and extreme pain. After 1d4 rounds the victim becomes slowed (as per the spell). The secondary attack of the disease happens after 24 hours and causes paralysis for 1d4 days.

Immunities (Ex) — Grimdaws are immune to disease, drain effects, supernatural fear, and paralysis, making them uniquely suited to existing among the undead. (Their immunity to fear doesn’t make them recklessly brave — in fact, they tend to be quite cowardly creatures — it simply prevents them from fleeing in supernatural terror from a mummy’s despair ability, or instance.)

Appearance
The grimdaw is a curious creature, they are very like large and shabby crow or raven, but with a gruesome, skeletal-like head. Despite their appearance they are not undead, but actually scavengers and carrion-eaters that can coexist among the undead and feed on the remains of those the undead slay.

Each grimdaw has an unsettling humanoid quality, such as fleshy ears, almost humanoid eyes, or even, on occasion, hands. Their bloated heads seem unable to keep their twisted parentage within, and the skullbone is often visible in some of these birds – some have no flesh on their skulls at all, and their unblinking eyes stare hatefully out from skeletal sockets. This is why they are sometimes called ‘ghoul crows.’

Ecology

The grimdaw are said to have been the result of a normal crow sitting on a cluster of kobold eggs, with suitably horrible results. Perhaps as a result, grimdaw are friendly with kobolds and are often found in their lairs or working alongside them in battle. A kobold chief will often have a grimdaw advisor and the alliances between kobold and grimdaw go back many proud generations.

Grimdaw tend to flock around graveyards, abandoned churches, swamps, or other unwholesome places.

Grimdaws are bright and, if tamed, can make good pets. They have been known to become the Arcane Familiar of necromancers (in place of a raven, and conferring the same benefits except that the grimdaw cannot speak). They may become an Animal Companion to clerics with the Death domain (replacing the Death Touch ability as if the cleric were a druid of the same level). While not terribly fearsome in combat, grimdaws make excellent spies or couriers.

All grimdaw are terrified of magpies, who often steal their young and occasionally fight wars against the grimdaw kind. When a magpie approaches within 100 ft of a grimdaw, the grimdaw must make a DC 10 Will save or flee, as if the subject of a fear spell (CL 7). The number of grimdaw within 100 feet affects the saving throw; the DC drops by 1 per grimdaw present, though a roll of 1 is always fails. This fear is celebrated in the old rhyme:

One for sorrow,
two for joy,
three for a girl,
four for a boy,
five for silver,
six for gold,
seven for a secret,
never to be told,
eight for a wish,
nine for a kiss,
ten for a grimdaw battle not to miss.

Grimdaw Miseries

On their own, grimdaws retreat from larger creatures and will only attack if their mates or young are threatened; however, they are occasionally known to form into large swarms, commonly known as “miseries,” which are aggressive and attack any creature of size Large or smaller size on sight. The exact reasons why a misery of ghoul crows forms is unknown.

Grimdaw Misery
CR 2, N Tiny Magical Beast (swarm)
Init +3; Spd 10 or Fly, Average 60
Senses Darkvision (Ex): 60 ft.; Low-light Vision (Ex) | Listen +4, Spot +12


AC 17 (FF 14, Touch 15)
hp 16 (HD 3d10)
Saves Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +3
Immunity Paralysis, disease, energy drain, fear


Atk +0 base melee, +6 base ranged; Grapple -10
Face 10’x10′; Reach 0′
Melee Swarm 1d6 plus Disease


Abilities STR 5, DEX 17, CON 10, INT 4, WIS 14, CHA 6
Feats Alertness, Weapon Finesse
Skills Hide +11, Listen +6, Spot +16* (includes +8 racial bonus)

Disease (Ex) — Any creature struck by the claws of a grimdaw must make a DC 11 Fortitude save (Constitution -based) or be nauseated by disease, with symptoms ranging from numbness to phantom sensations and extreme pain. After 1d4 rounds the victim becomes slowed (as per the spell). The secondary attack of the disease happens after 24 hours and causes paralysis for 1d4 days.

Distraction (Ex) — Any living creature that begins its turn with a swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 11 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Immunities (Ex) — Grimdaws are immune to disease, drain effects, supernatural fear, and paralysis, making them uniquely suited to living among the undead. (Their immunity to fear doesn’t make them recklessly brave — they are quite cowardly creatures — but it prevents them from fleeing in supernatural terror from a mummy’s despair ability, for instance.)

Swarm Traits (Ex) To attack, a single swarm moves into opponents’ spaces, which provokes an attack of opportunity. It can occupy the same space as a creature of any size, but it remains a creature with a 10-foot space. Swarms never make attacks of opportunity, but they can provoke attacks of opportunity. Unlike other creatures with a 10-foot space, a swarm is shapeable. It can occupy any four contiguous squares, and it can squeeze through any space large enough to contain one of its component creatures. Swarms are extremely difficult to fight with physical attacks.

Got a request for a new OGL monster? Want to contribute one? See the writer’s guidelines or make a request in the Forum.

Open Game License for Grimdaw

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