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Old Hat Monsters: Divinely Monstrous

Old Hat Monsters: Divinely Monstrous

Neptuns Pferde by Walter CraneLast week, a colleague of mine tackled the paper tiger nature that a lot of monster gods have. It had me thinking about how many monsters are intelligent enough to worship a deity (Intelligence 3 or better) but generally lack the statistics to have clerics, inquisitors, druids, or oracles.

Where there’s a gap in monster design, there’s a template. Join me after the jump as we discuss the god-touched template (CR +1).

The idea is a simple one: Give your monster a cleric domain. Take a monster’s Hit Dice and use that number as cleric levels for the purpose of granted powers and spells. Spells count as spell-like abilities and granted powers should be added as a special ability. Since the god in question likely has mostly monstrous followers, pick a physical attribute that works with the god’s backstory or values to use for the purpose of casting. If no physical attributes stand out, Constitution tends to work well.

This template should not be applied to monsters that have Wisdom scores above 13 and it does not stack with any clerical power. Although it is possible to redo the stat array of any monster, this is a quick and easy way to add divine without the hassle of such a heavy rewrite.

The concept works well in the fluff, too. Having a percentage of a god’s followers be divine in nature creates the classic contract between god and mortal. The monsters with the template enforce the god’s will in exchange for power, and they also provide a reason for worship. For the monsters in question, those empowered help protect and propagate the species.

In the example below, I took a merrow and gave it the Ocean subdomain from Poseidon. The Greek god of the seas has a long history of creating and fathering monsters.

Saltwater Poseidon-Touched Merrow     CR 6

XP 1,200

NE Large humanoid (aquatic, giant)
+4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +5


AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+4 Dex, +4 natural, –1 size)
30 (4d8+12)
+7, Ref +5, Will +3


Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
2 claws +6 (1d6+4 plus grab)
javelin +6 (1d8+4)
10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Spell-Like Abilities

1/day—obscuring mist, slipstream


Str 19, Dex 18, Con 17, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk
+3; CMB +8 (+12 grapple); CMD 22
Iron Will, Power Attack
Perception +5, Stealth +2 (+6 in water), Swim +12; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth in water, +8 Swim

Special Abilities

Surge (Su): As a standard action, you can cause a mighty wave to appear that pushes or pulls a single creature. Make a combat maneuver check against the target, with a CMB of +7. If successful, you may pull or push the creature as if using the bull rush or drag combat maneuver. You can use this ability six times per day.

Languages Giant

7 thoughts on “Old Hat Monsters: Divinely Monstrous”

  1. Neat idea. It’s definitely a good niche. But if effective cleric levels are based on HD, shouldn’t the merrow above have a few more spells?

  2. @ Tom he’s got 4 HD and only gets domain spells as a 4th level cleric. Not full spell levels domain only its a CR +1 adjustment. My bad if that wasn’t clear. The idea is to not give them class levels just a boost which in turn somewhat benefits the god as more monsters are likely to respect the “touched”

  3. Thanks, Frank. No, I don’t think it’s totally clear as written, though I probably should have been able to figure out based on the build (to say nothing of the modest CR adjustment). I suppose I’ve discovered how early in the morning is too early for crunch.

    So what is a god-touched awakened wolverine all about?

  4. @ Tom definately needs that awakened template to qualify… I’d go with an aggressive diety (a certain Paizo Dwarf diety comes to mind) and give it the strength domain or possibly if I wanted to go more with a monsterous bent a mother of monsters comes to mind and the madness domain seems to fit with the wolverine’s theme of being crzy ferocious.

    @TJ I’ve used it before to spice up encounters, APs sometimes throw similar monsters at the PCs allot as a theme (Kingmaker and Owlbears for example) this is a good bump to maqke those encounters land a little harder.

  5. I love this! What a great way to add a little oomph to an encounter. I could see the “touched” monsters as leaders of small, fanatical groups. I would probably give the followers a morale bonus as long as their divine leader was in the fight. They would work well with a themed adventure or campaign. What a sweet twist!

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