Alternate Traits and Actions
The following changes allow GMs to alter an apaxrusl without modifying its challenge rating.
Abrasive Grab. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) slashing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 13). Until this grapple ends, the target takes 4 (1d8) slashing damage at the start of each of the apaxrusl’s turns.
The apaxrusl no longer causes the blinded condition if both its slam attacks hit the same creature with its multiattack.
Blinding Swirl (Recharge 4–6). Stinging sand swirls around the apaxrusl. Each creature within 10 feet of the apaxrusl must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, taking 14 (4d6) slashing damage and becoming blinded for 1 minute on a failed save or half as much damage and not becoming blinded on a successful one. A blinded creature can use an action to wipe its eyes and end the blinded condition.
The apaxrusl loses its Fiery Sands action. Alternatively, it retains its Fiery Sands action but modified to recharge on 6 while Blinding Swirl recharges on 5–6.
False Appearance. While the apaxrusl remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from normal sand.
An apaxrusl with this trait has a burrow speed of 20 feet.
New Magic Items and Spells
The following magic item and spells are inspired by abilities possessed by an apaxrusl.
Armor (leather), very rare (requires attunement)
Created from the treated body of an apaxrusl, this leather armor constantly sheds fine sand. The faint echoes of damned souls also emanate from the armor.
While wearing this armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC, you can understand and speak Abyssal, and you are considered proficient with this armor even if you lack proficiency with light armor. Additionally, you can move through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone at your speed. While doing so, you don’t disturb the material you move through. Finally, because the souls infusing the apaxrusl remain within the armor, you are treated as a fiend for the purposes of relevant abilities and magic.
The armor has 3 charges. As a reaction, when you are hit by an attack, the armor flows like sand. Roll a d12 and reduce the damage you take by the number rolled. The armor regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.
4th-level transmutation (druid, ranger, sorcerer, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (portion of a creature that has the earth glide trait)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
This spell grants the ability to burrow through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone. Up to ten willing creatures you can see within range gain this ability for the duration. Creatures with this ability gain a burrow speed equal to their speed minus 10 feet (minimum 5 feet). They also don’t disturb the material they move through.
If the duration ends with a creature within unworked earth or stone, the creature is harmlessly moved to the nearest open space.
Grit in the Eye
1st-level evocation (druid, ranger)
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
The next time you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack before the spell ends, sand sloughs off your hands and blows into your target’s eyes, forcing the target to make a Constitution saving throw. The target takes 1d4 piercing damage and becomes blinded for 1 minute on a failed save or half as much damage and does not become blinded on a successful one. If you hit the target with an unarmed strike, the target has disadvantage on its save.
At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d4 for each slot above 1st.
Shifting Sand Form
3rd-level transmutation (druid, ranger, sorcerer, warlock, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 action or 1 reaction, which you take when you are hit by an attack
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute (when casting as an action) or instantaneous (when casting as a reaction)
When you cast this spell, your body momentarily takes on the consistency of sand. If you cast this spell using an action, for the duration when you are hit by an attack, roll 1d4. Reduce the damage you take by the number rolled.
If you cast this spell using a reaction, until the start of your next turn, when you are hit by an attack, including the triggering attack, roll 2d6 and reduce the damage you take by the number you rolled. At the start of your next action, you roll 1d4 instead of 2d6 for the duration.
At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you add 1d4 (or 1d6 when cast as a reaction) to your roll to reduce damage taken.
Apaxrusl Adventure Hooks
- An apaxrusl contains the tormented soul belonging to a relative of a wealthy merchant. The merchant has spent most of his resources researching a way to free his relative’s soul and has discovered a ritual. He intends to expend the remainder of his wealth to hire a group to locate the apaxrusl and perform the ritual. He is unaware the ritual actually transforms the soul into a sand silhouette (see Creature Codex).
- The possible discovery of a hidden desert ley line prompts a mage to form an expedition to secure and study the ley line. Tarkun the Desiccated (see Tome of Beasts 2) plans to use its magic to escape his desert prison and has set several apaxrusl as guards.
If you’ve got a favorite from Tome of Beasts 2, please let me know in the comments or elsewhere in the kobold warrens, and I’ll make sure to add it to the queue.
The Tome Unbound series fleshes out monsters from the Tome of Beasts 2, giving GMs ways to modify the existing monsters to surprise well-prepared players or to introduce monsters to a campaign.
4 thoughts on “Tome Unbound: Apaxrusl”
It’s great you guys are doing this with the new Tome of Beasts book. I’m really fond of the Fleshspurned, just the idea having a big bad yell “release the Fleshspurned” is very cool.
Thanks, Elijah! I’ll take a look at the Fleshspurned for a future article.
Also a big fan of articles like this. Magic items and spells inspired by or directly linked to specific monsters are always a great way to build up the lore and history of a world.
A question regarding Shifting Sand Form. Is it intended to work as either an instantaneous spell cast as a reaction OR a 1-minute concentration spell cast as an action? The last sentence of the second paragraph makes it sound like the reaction version of the spell becomes the concentration version after the initial triggering attack.
Keep up the great work!
Thanks, Craig! I was tinkering with the wording on this spell to accommodate both versions, and I evidently left in an older version of the text.
It should read, “After the duration ends, you spend your action to revert to your normal form.” That was to account for the powerful immediate effect from the reaction version of the spell, and to reflect the flavor of the sudden transformation to and from the sand form. Sorry for the mix up there!