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73

It's based on a toy. And that's all most sources will give you, because they're drawing from an article (Ed Greenwood's "Ecology of the Rust Monster" in Dragon #88, later quoted by another article of the same name in issue #346) which is actually about the rust monster, and only passingly mentions the owlbear. In fact, the original quote is so vague it's ...


53

I think there’s such a huge variety in humanity that often goes relatively ignored that can be used as low-level threats. A trick I like to use to make human encounters stand out is to focus on two aspects of the enemy—be it dress, custom, weapon choice, adornments, tattoos—that stick out. This makes it seem a little more diverse. With the same couple ...


39

They don't actually need it. I realize this is radical, but bear with me. We need to not expect them to be masters of wilderness survival --in all honesty, they aren't. Animals die in the wild all the time. They starve, they freeze, they get lost, they fall in caves and can't get out. That said, they're actually not awful at Survival and the way they're ...


38

There's a ton of low-level monsters out there. Other humans (or elves, dwarves, tieflings) are appropriate antagonists at any level. Draconians are cool and you hardly ever see them nowadays. Same goes for kenku and bullywugs. You can also get a lot of mileage from reskinning monsters; if the PCs encounter a race of strange hostile creatures with long ...


33

Lions and Tigers and Bears... Oh my! I think the number of dangerous creatures out in the wilderness is almost innumerable, so I will just list categories with a few examples. Reptiles Snakes (Venomous or large) Poisonous frogs Alligators Insects Mosquitoes (with or without diseases) Army ants Bees and Hornets Large Mammals Large Cats (Lions, ...


26

Wolves I have torn more than one group of adventurers to shreds with wolves. Wolves are smart team-hunters. They harry and feint. They wear groups and individuals down. They work together and coordinate their attacks. Make them spend a night or two being howled at all night. Make sure to use whatever rules your system has for fatigue. Don't neglect the ...


26

Study, Study, Study Information is really the only way to overcome this problem, and it comes in a few varieties: Know Your Players - This one is the most important. You should familiarize yourself with the capabilities of the PCs and with the tactics they tend to favor. Do they search a room when they walk into it before they do anything else? Does the ...


25

An air elemental is not just air. It is a corporeal creature type and as such it has a "body" that can be disrupted by normal weapons. Elemental traits from the back of the monster manual include only "immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, and stunning" and "Not subject to critical hits or flanking", so its perceptions and body are not like a ...


24

This is actually a really interesting inconsistency. According to d20SRD.org... Each character within range of a gaze attack must attempt a saving throw (which can be a Fortitude or Will save) each round at the beginning of his turn. You could interpret this to mean that the monster with the higher initiative actually has the disadvantage! Since they ...


24

Actually, the Tarasque is an imaginary creature in a game, so you can't actually kill it since it's not real. :P Joking aside, in DnD 3.0 you had to reduce it to -30 and use a Wish spell to kill it permanently, otherwise it inevitably regenerated. The entry in the Monster's Manual states that anything else which normally would kill instead just reduces it ...


23

You can also make them smarter and more resourceful. Two levels ago, say five kobolds were a challenge. Now, consider: Five kobolds who have hired an ogre to protect them against the recent plague of adventurers Five kobolds who have raised a bear from a cub and trained it to help them Five kobolds who have scavenged a wand or two Five kobolds who have ...


23

What you could do is run with their inability to combat the wasps, and turn it into plot. The first time they encounter the wasps, they get severely injured and are forced to flee. You then have a followup of them looking for a way of combating them: be it fire weapons, magic bug spray, or whatever. Just try to make it clear to the players that they're ...


23

tl;dr The weakness that prevents vampires crossing running water is derived from Bram Stoker's Dracula, but found only in D&D 3.0 and 3.5. Advice from AD&D suggests that vampires should charm people and use them to circumvent weaknesses. What is the history of the D&D Vampire's "running water" weakness? The D&D vampire seems to be ...


21

Indirectly, yes. Gary Gygax tells us that "the mind flayer I made up out of whole cloth using my imagination, but inspired by the cover of Brian Lumley's novel in paperback edition, The Burrowers Beneath." Said novel was firmly rooted in the Cthulhu mythos; in fact, Lovecraft's character Robert Harrison Blake wrote a short story titled "The Burrower ...


21

First of all, it's a Knowledge check Don't lose sight of the fact that the player asked to make a Knowledge check because he or she wants information. There's no way around that. Don't worry about that information breaking the flow. If the player doesn't want to break the flow by getting that information, he or she would not be requesting the check. Tease ...


21

A summoned monster's alignment only matters if you're a cleric. The summon monster spells are of the same alignment as the creature you summon (e.g. summoning a Dretch is a Chaotic and Evil spell). A cleric is forbidden from casting spells of alignment opposed to his alignment or his deity's alignment. A good-aligned wizard can freely summon fiendish ...


20

Location. They will live near a water source, and probably near their fields... Neolithic hill forts are fairly common. It's a walled village atop an artificial hill, built on the floodplain. It may also have a cistern and/or a well down through the motte/tel. Walls are likely wood, possibly also dry-fit stone for part of the height. I can tell you from ...


20

Major threats include Any large predator that is faster than humans. most reptiles during the day all apex predators anything that hunts in groups any large (150# or larger) herbivore Especially Moose and other semi-solitary herbivores in rut also especially dangerous is any herd with calves. any disease vector a rabid bunny is a threat whether it ...


19

In D&D 3/3.5e there is a creature called a Dragonnel (p.151-152 of the Draconomicon). While not strictly a half-horse/half-dragon it serves the purpose being essentially a winged steed that very much looks like a scaly horse with dragon wings. It also has a little bit more background then the templates below. Both D&D 3x and Pathfinder have the ...


18

For completeness: Pathfinder has the Regeneration-ability for the Tarrasque defined as follows. Regeneration (Ex) No form of attack can suppress the tarrasque's regeneration—it regenerates even if disintegrated or slain by a death effect. If the tarrasque fails a save against an effect that would kill it instantly, it rises from death 3 ...


16

If we look at the entry in the SRD we see: An ooze is an amorphous or mutable creature, usually mindless. So it is, unequivocally, a creature. As for living, the entry doesn't say that they aren't, unlike construct: Since it was never alive, a construct cannot be raised or resurrected. or undead: Undead are once-living creatures And an ...


16

Killing the tarrasque permanently in AD&D 2nd edition is much the same as in 3rd edition—get it to –30 hp and then use a wish spell—except the part of the creature's description that talks about this couches it in terms that put the instructions in doubt. Phrases like, "Legend says that…", and, "Slaying of the tarrasque is said to be possible only if…" ...


16

I had this problem at first too. Here are some good uses of minions. Archers. Long range archers. This was the first effective use of minions I found. Make it so that rushing over to kill the minions is a time investment. Better yet, keep the minions separate from each other so that each individual minion is a time investment. Terrain. This is a ...


16

MANDATORY STUFF Crowd Control Immunity: By early paragon, a few classes can have stunning encounter attacks, and many have stunning dailies. Solos need to be either outright immune to stun & daze (and possibly blind), or have some easy way to get rid of them (like an at-will interrupt to negate a just-applied effect, or an extra save at the beginning ...


16

Creatures' skills are listed at the bottom of their info sheet/card. Creature sheets have ability modifier + half level, which is what you should be using, already calculated at the bottom of the sheet. For example, a level 14 lich necromancer has the following ability stats at the bottom of his/her monster sheet: Skills: Arcana +18, History +18, Insight ...


15

Some of my favorites (approaching this from an old school perspective but should work with later editions of D&D also): Skeletons: Good low level monsters with a nice special ability (lower damage from edged weapons) that provides a added obstacle; Zombies: 2 HD, but easy to hit and slow (always strike last) so while fearsome can be overcome with good ...


15

According to "Ecology of the Troglodyte" in Dragon #235, it's not that they stink per se, but that they use scent to communicate. ...the overpowering stench that can reduce a human opponent to weak-kneed vomiting during combat with troglodyte, is merely the build up of olfactory battle cries, combat orders, screams of rage, pain, and hunger, and other ...


15

In Spelljammer and Planescape there's the "Mercane" (aka "Arcane" in pre-3e writeups) that are interstellar and interplanar magic merchants. They have writeups in the Manual of the Planes and the Epic Level Handbook and are in the d20 SRD.


15

Yes. The best "playable" undead race is the necropolitan, found in (I believe) Libris Mortis. The link has the stats, not reproduced here because of potential copyright violations. This template is the best choice for a PC because it has no level adjustment, merely causing the character in question to lose a level. Therefore, any build is possible with this ...


15

The 3.5e books go into some depth on how this is done - here's the relevant section from the online SRD. To determine the effective character level (ECL) of a monster character, add its level adjustment to its racial Hit Dice and character class levels. The monster is considered to have experience points equal to the minimum needed to be a character of ...



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