Alternate Traits and Actions
The following changes allow GMs to alter a spellhound without modifying its challenge rating.
Devour Magic. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is affected by any spell of 3rd level or lower, the spell ends. If the target is affected by any spell of 4th level or higher, the spellhound makes an ability check, adding its Constitution modifier to the roll. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a success, the spell ends. For each spell that ends, the spellhound gains temporary hit points equal to the spell’s level.
The spellhound loses its Multiattack.
Disrupt Spell. When a creature casts a spell requiring at least 1 action to cast, the spellhound use its reaction to make one bite attack against the creature. If the spellhound hits, the creature must make a concentration check to successfully cast the spell. The spellhound must see the spellcaster and be within 5 feet of it.
The spellhound loses its Channel Breaker trait.
Spell-Choking Laugh (1/Day). The spellhound lets out a rapid series of high-pitched staccato barks, similar to a hyena’s laugh. Each spellcaster within 30 feet of the spellhound that can hear the sound must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature is frightened for 1 round and can’t cast spells with a verbal component for 1 minute. On a success, the creature is not frightened but can’t cast spells with a verbal component until the beginning of the spellhound’s next turn.
The spellhound loses its Nullifying Howl action.
The following feat is inspired by the spellhound.
You are dedicated to defeating spellcasters, gaining the following benefits to achieve this goal:
- Increase your Wisdom or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
- You have advantage on attack rolls against creatures that are concentrating on spells.
- As an action, you give a creature advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects for 1 minute. The creature can’t gain advantage on saving throws from this feat again until it finishes a short or long rest.
New Magic Items and Spells
The following magic item and spells are inspired by abilities possessed by a spellhound.
Spell Disruptor Horn
Wondrous item, rare
You use an action to blow this horn, which emits a high-pitched multiphonic sound that disrupts all enemy magical effects within 30 feet. Any spell of 3rd level or lower ends. For each spell of 4th-level or higher in the area, the horn makes a check, adding +3 to the roll. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a success, the spell ends.
Additionally, each enemy spellcaster within 30 feet of the horn that can hear it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of its next turn.
1st-level abjuration (paladin, ranger)
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Components: V, S
Duration: 2 rounds
For the duration, you have advantage on attack rolls against a creature that is concentrating on a spell. If you successfully break a spellcaster’s concentration while benefiting from this spell, you don’t use your spell slot for casting this spell. However, you can only use the spell slot to cast this spell again.
4th-level conjuration (warlock, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
You summon a spellhound. It appears in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The spellhound disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends. If this occurs before the summoned spellhound kills a spellcaster, you lose a 2nd-level spell slot (if you are a wizard) or lose the ability to cast one of your cantrips (if you are a warlock). If you don’t have any remaining 2nd-level spell slots, you lose a spell slot from the next available higher level. You regain your spell slot or ability to cast the cantrip after you complete a long rest.
The spellhound is friendly to you and your companions for the duration. Roll initiative for the creature, which has its own turns. It obeys any verbal commands that you issue to it (no action required by you). If you don’t issue any commands to the spellhound, it defends itself from hostile creatures but otherwise takes no actions. While you control the spellhound, you and your companions are immune to the spellhound’s Nullifying Howl.
If your concentration is broken, the spellhound doesn’t disappear. Instead, you lose control of the spellhound, it becomes hostile toward you and your companions, and it might attack. An uncontrolled spellhound can’t be dismissed by you, and it disappears 1 hour after you summoned it.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using certain higher-level spell slots, more spellhounds appear: two with a 6th-level slot, and three with an 8th-level slot.
Spellhound Adventure Hooks
- A religious order devoted to a deity of magic seeks to eradicate spellhounds, which the clergy view as dangerous vermin. Realizing their inherent weakness against the creatures, the order seeks out muscle who can help with its crusade.
- A solitary spellhound howls nightly just outside a village populated by superstitious residents. The arrival of newcomers allows them to rid themselves of the howling without exposure to curses and other retribution. Unknown to the villages, one of the residents is a warlock with an Archfey patron, the target of the spellhound’s harassment.
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.
6 thoughts on “Tome Unbound: Spellhound”
“For the duration, you have advantage on attack rolls against a creature that is concentrating on a spell. If you successfully break a spellcaster’s concentration while benefiting from this spell, you don’t use your spell slot for casting this spell. However, you can only use the spell slot to cast this spell again.”
Honestly, I feel like it would be fine to just get rid of the last two sentences on this spell. It just makes it much easier to use and less of a headache to figure out.
Thank you for the feedback! I looked over concentration smash again, and I agree that it could function without the last two sentences. I may not have been clear in my intention, but I wanted to immediately reward the caster for successfully using the spell.
Fun and interesting alternate content as usual.
One thing though, shouldn’t the Spell Disruption Horn have a usage limit? Cause otherwise it is incredibly powerful and effectively shuts down most fights against spellcasters.
Thanks, Craig! Indeed there should be a limit. I intended to have one, but I must have seen a squirrel (or ratatosk) outside my window.
It should read, “Once you use the horn, it can’t be used again until you complete a long rest.”
Thanks for the catch!
Hey guys. Good stuff.. I’m wondering.. on the Spell-choking laugh – “On a failure, the creature is frightened for 1 round and can’t cast spells with a verbal component for 1 minute.” Would the creature get to another save at the end of their turn? or is it the intent to completely shut them down for 1min if they fail?
Thanks, Terrelle! It was my intent to shut down spellcasters for 1 minute on a failure, but I can definitely see the case for a new save each round (like many other debuffs).