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Tome of Beasts 1, Revisited

Tome of Beasts 1, Revisited

Since 2016, Kobold Press has learned a lot about monsters, monster design, and what people like to see in books filled with monsters. Last year, we used this knowledge to revisit the first in our series of monster books: Tome of Beasts.

Changing While Keeping it the Same

Refreshing a classic is a challenge. Many creatures needed an update, but we know that these same creatures have had impacts on your players, your games, and your adventures. Many of you love these monsters (okay, maybe some players don’t love them), and we wanted to keep that in mind when revisiting Tome of Beasts.

Our primary goal in this update was to make sure each creature still “felt” the same, while making rules text clearer and in line with the style of our later monster books.

In some cases, clarifications made the creatures more playable and made their applications within a game world or a combat encounter clearer. In other cases, these changes brought the creature’s stat block in line with how the creature was described in the lore.

Spellcasting Changes

One major revision was to reduce or remove the amount of spellcasting creatures had. In many cases, this gave a creature clearer mechanical focus. It made them more straightforward to run for game masters. And it opened alternatives for more varied options in combat. Spells now help supplement a creature’s natural abilities rather than existing as the primary (sometimes only) combat action the creature performs.

Examples of Changes

Here is an example of one creatures that received updates in the latest version of Tome of Beasts 1 (2023): the bagiennik.

Bagiennik

The bagiennik had a trait called Healing Oil that was a bit wordy. It involved the bagiennik smearing its restorative oil secretions on injured creatures.

To make it a bit clearer, we moved it to the Actions section and adjusted it to work similarly to other healing type actions on creatures in our more recent books, like the Chamrosh’s (see Tome of Beasts 2) Healing Lick or the Sacred Hippopotamus’s (see Tome of Beasts 3) Healing Rumble.

Healing Oil still heals and removes poison and disease from the target, while also retaining its potential downside of slowing down the target. Compare below and see what other changes you spot.

Bagiennik (New)

Medium Aberration, Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 75 (10d8 + 30)
Speed 30 ft., swim 40 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
16 (+3)18 (+4)16 (+3)9 (−1)16 (+3)11 (+0)

Skills Perception +5
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Common
Challenge 3 (700 XP)                      Proficiency Bonus +2

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The bagiennik makes two Claw attacks.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) slashing damage.

Acid Spray. The bagiennik sprays acid on one creature it can see within 30 feet of it, creating a puddle of oil beneath the creature. The target must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, the creature takes 18 (4d8) acid damage and is knocked prone. On a success, the creature takes half the damage and isn’t knocked prone. The slippery oil covers the ground in a 5-foot square centered on the point where the target was standing for 1 minute. A creature that enters the oily area or ends its turn there must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.

Healing Oil (3/Day). The bagiennik applies healing oil to a creature it can see within 5 feet of it. The target magically regains 7 (2d6) hp and is freed from any disease or poison. The target must then succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or its speed is halved and it takes a −2 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws for 1 minute.

Bagiennik (Original)

Medium Aberration, Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 75 (10d8 + 30)
Speed 30 ft., swim 40 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
16 (+3)18 (+4)16 (+3)9 (−1)16 (+3)11 (+0)

Skills Perception +5
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Common
Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Healing Oil. A bagiennik can automatically stabilize a dying creature by using an action to smear some of its oily secretion on the dying creature’s flesh. A similar application on an already-stable creature or one with 1 or more hit points acts as a potion of healing, restoring 2d4 + 2 hit points. Alternatively, the bagiennik’s secretion can have the effect of a lesser restoration spell. However, any creature receiving a bagiennik’s Healing Oil must make a successful DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be slowed for 1 minute.

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The bagiennik makes two claw attacks.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (4d6 + 4) slashing damage.

Acid Spray. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 15 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d10 + 3) acid damage. The target must make a successful DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone in the slick oil, which covers an area 5 feet square. A creature that enters the oily area or ends its turn there must also make the Dexterity saving throw to avoid falling prone. A creature needs to make only one saving throw per 5-foot-square per turn, even if it enters and ends its turn in the area. The slippery effect lasts for 3 rounds.

Want to See More?

Tome of Beasts 1 (2023) contains updated, refreshed versions of beloved monsters from the original, with a few clever additions.

You can preorder Tome of Beasts 1 (2023) starting today. Preorder now and guarantee your copy in June 2023!

Pick your favorite version:

Whether you’ve never cracked the book or have a well-worn copy of your own, Tome of Beasts is one of the best monster tomes ever produced for 5E D&D.
Preorder your copy today!

7 thoughts on “Tome of Beasts 1, Revisited”

  1. As long as you are revisiting creature write-up to make them simpler, is there a way to go in and ad in a marking to abilities that are magical abilities. One of the issues that someone in my playgroup has had over the years with 5e design creature stat blocks is that lack of verbiage in this manner. It mostly came up with a player race that has advantage on saves vs magic and magical effects.

    1. The good news is that this already exists in stealth mode. In 5E, if a monster’s damage type isn’t bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing, it’s magical. For Kobold Press monsters particularly, some monsters have a trait that specifies if their attacks are magical. That’s it!

  2. How will this be handled in Shard if you already own Tome of Beasts – will the stat blocks be updated or will there be the ability to use either the old or the new?

  3. Honest question, if someone has an old version of the pdf and bought it through the Kolbold Press Store, would they get the ’23 revisions or would they have to buy it again?

  4. During the update process, the primary goal was to ensure that each creature still retained its essence and familiarity. While clarifying rules text and aligning it with the style of more recent monster books, the intention was to maintain the core feel of each creature. This approach aimed to strike a balance between preserving the original experience while enhancing clarity and consistency.

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