Preview of Tome of Beasts: Mithral Dragon

As we kobolds are fond of joking: “Dragon!!!” But seriously, mithral? Where’s the candy floss dragon? Like staying alive isn’t hard enough already. The mithral dragon spits metal shards. That’s how badass [and completely metal \m/] they are. This  shiny partykiller was originally designed by Mike McArtor and updated to 5E for the Tome of Beasts by Chris Harris with art by Guido Kuip. Chris Harris says,...

Preview of Tome of Beasts: Flab Giant

We kobolds have a saying: “When a giant’s in the mines, workday’s over.” The flab giant is not someone you want to stop and ask directions from. It only wants you for one out of a handful of possible reasons… and none of them are good. This walking mountain was originally designed by Ryan Costello, Jr. and updated to 5E for the Tome of Beasts by Chris Harris with art by Bryan Syme. Chris Harris says, “The...

Howling Tower: Monster Stats, Part 5

This installment is about deconstructing dragons. The Monster Manual contains 20 chromatic dragons, 20 metallic dragons, 1 shadow dragon, and 1 undead dragon. The Tome of Monsters and the Southlands Bestiary introduce several more. With all those stat blocks spread over three books, you’d expect to find plenty of variety—and you’d be right. But even with all that variety, streams of predictability flow through every* dragon stat...

Howling Tower: Monster Stats, Part 4

This installment, you get a break from graphs and formulas—though not entirely. In honor of Thanksgiving, I had to include some pie charts. Instead of plotting trends, however, this time we count how often certain concepts occur throughout the Monster Manual, to help you get a handle on whether they’re common, uncommon, or rare. Before diving in, understand that the Monster Manual contains 312 monster stat blocks in the main section, 96 animal...

Howling Tower: Monster Stats, Part 3

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we looked at ability scores and hit points. In this installment, we look at damage output for official fifth edition monsters. First, a note about how I calculated damage output (average damage per round, or DPR). This topic is covered in a good amount of detail in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, but even with detailed guidelines, it’s not always a straightforward task. The general rule is to calculate the...

Goref Tamerk, Weresheep of Famine

Come venture into dark and spooky areas with us as we approach one of the best times of the year: Halloween! We will share with you several weresheep over the next few days so that you may introduce them, in turn, to your adventuring group, who might end up a bit…sheepish if they fail to stop these baa-aleful creatures. A ragged man with greasy fur and hyena-like features stands almost 7 ft. tall. Goref Tamerk (gnoll form) CR 15 XP 51,200...

Gromek Palebones, Weresheep of Death

Come venture into dark and spooky areas with us as we approach one of the best times of the year: Halloween! We will share with you several weresheep over the next few days so that you may introduce them, in turn, to your adventuring group, who might end up a bit…sheepish if they fail to stop these baa-aleful creatures. This towering humanoid’s gray skin is ashen and gaunt, and his eyes are sunken into their sockets. He is bedecked in...

Lord Silas Nareshorn, Weresheep of Pestilence

Come venture into dark and spooky areas with us as we approach one of the best times of the year: Halloween! We will share with you several weresheep over the next few days so that you may introduce them, in turn, to your adventuring group, who might end up a bit…sheepish if they fail to stop these baa-aleful creatures. This handsome middle-aged man has shock-white curly hair and large soulful brown eyes. He is dressed in finery fit for...

Monster Philosophy

We’ve been very pleased with the positive reaction to the Tome of Beasts previews, even—maybe even especially—when readers point out places where we’ve added numbers incorrectly or overlooked a modifier. In a few cases, however, readers have called out features as errors that we don’t consider errors at all. Instead, they’re cases where our philosophy about monster design differs a bit from the principles that run through the Monster Manual....

Howling Tower: Monster Stats, Part 2

In Part 1, we looked at ability scores and established a few useful rules for assigning them to monsters of your own design. In this part, we look at Hit Dice and hit points as they relate to challenge rating and extract a few lessons about monster defenses. Hit Dice In the earliest editions of D&D, Hit Dice (HD) were a direct measure of a monster’s toughness. If you knew how many HD a monster had, you knew a third of everything you...

Howling Tower: Monster Stats

In the year since fifth edition came out, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time deconstructing its monsters and putting them back together again. The lessons I’ve learned have been invaluable when developing new creatures for third-party monster collections such as Fifth Edition Foes from Necromancer Games and Southlands Bestiary and Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press. These lessons would be equally useful to everyone who wants to create...

Monster Monday: Man-Eater

The imposing presence of this lion whose body is crisscrossed by scars is quite unsettling. Man-Eater Lion CR 5     XP 1,600     N Large Animal     Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +13 Aura frightful presence (30 ft., DC 12) Defense     AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +5 natural, –1 size)     hp 32 (5d8+10)     Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +2 Immune fear, paralysis, poison, sleep; DR 10/magic; SR 16...

Monster Monday: Mahamba

The mahamba is a freshwater cousin of the mosasaur, a large prehistoric marine reptile. The mahamba can reach a length of 50 feet. The aboriginals simply call it Nkoli and sometimes compare this terror to the nguna-monene, a sizeable lizard-like monster, even if the creatures are quite different. Although overly voracious, this cunning aquatic monstrosity seems to know when to give up and swim away, a rare quality amongst the biggest predators....

Monster Monday: Lightning Bird

The Impundulu, more commonly known as a lightning bird, is an avian with an insatiable thirst for blood, and many witches do not hesitate to offer a small amount of their lifeblood to control one. The lightning bird’s fat possesses incredible properties. A spellcaster can substitute the material components and focus of any spell having the electricity descriptor and instead use the impudulu’s fat. An extract from the bird’s flesh can also be...

Monster Monday: Ilomba

As soon as this yellow-bellied sea snake emerges from the river, it releases an ear-splitting yell. Ilomba     CR 5 XP 1,600 Any evil alignment (same as proprietor) Medium Construct     Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; low-light vision, scent; Perception +13 Defense     AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (+2 Dex, +3 natural)     hp 55 (6d10+20)     Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +3 Defensive Abilities construct traits     Weaknesses cold-blooded union...


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