I'm looking for a creature, spirit or plague that infects or possesses people into becoming berserk, granting them superhuman strength and durability as well as bloodthirsty rage, akin to the Berserker Axe.

Once enough violence has been made or time has passed, the "something" moves to a new host and doesn't generally have a solid form (but it might be some kind of physical mist or swarm).

The system the creature is for is DnD 5e, but I'm expanding the question to accommodate all editions in case 5e doesn't have this kind of entity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is fairly clear in it's request. Either this thing exists, or it doesn't. Answers of "does not exist" or perfectly fine and 100% correct if that's the case. This isn't an idea generation request of "what's close/how close can I get" - which really has no correct answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 11 '19 at 18:40


You set a really high bar, and nothing exactly matches what you're looking for. Each of these criteria have things that match them, but nothing has all of them:

  • spirit or plague - There are both spirits and illnesses in all editions D&D, none that match the rest of the criteria.
    • Ghost has existed since Monster Manual 1st Edition.
    • Wraith have existed since The White Box Set in 1974.
    • Werewolves have existed since The White Box Set in 1974 as an infectious or hereditary.
  • infects or possesses - There are things that infect or possess, none match the rest of the criteria. (See above sublist.)
  • people becoming berserk - Most of the things I've seen do this are cursed weapons. There is also an illness from 3.0 that can almost do this.
    • Festering Anger from 3.0
    • Breserker Axe
    • Home-brewed Craven Edge on Critical Role can; but weapons have bodies, and don't "spread" or "pass."
  • enough violence ... or time has passed, it moves to a new host - This is something a Ghost could choose to do, or an illness could pass, but none exist in published material that meet the berserk super human requirements.
  • superhuman strength - Examples of super strength exist as class features and feats, but not as a thing to catch. In most editions, lycanthropy (when playable) grants exceptional strength, and the Gauntlet of Ogre Power (exsisted in d20, probably before) is the epitome of super strength.
  • superhuman durability - Examples of super durability exist as class features and feats. Resistances, Immunities and things that bring you back up after dropping bellow zero the first time have been around for a while.
  • doesn't have a solid form - That would be swarms, illness, and arguably ghosts (depending on edition, 5e they definitely have bodies); but again that isn't a blind rage.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you express which of the bullets are strictly based off of 5th edition and which ones are based on all of the editions? \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 11 '19 at 19:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe doing so would muddy the answer, as there are examples of each list item in every edition. Some of those examples are in all editions, some only for a moment... \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Jul 11 '19 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's fair. With the third bullet, it made it kinda confusing, as it made things unsure whether each bullet was identifying problems within 5e, or problems within all editions. Are the other bullets negatives because those criteria also don't match with just 5e? \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Jul 11 '19 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Many edits. How does it look? \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Jul 11 '19 at 19:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ You mention Gauntlets of Ogre Power as the epitome of strength, you may wish to include the Belts of Giant Strength as they grant even higher Strengths. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jul 11 '19 at 21:03

I don't believe that there's anything perfectly RAW that's exactly what you're looking for. In particular, you're not likely to see something that both takes control of you and makes you more durable. There are similar things, however.

First, a disease in 3.0

Festering Anger- Brought upon by long-term, intense fury and hatred, this disease manifests as dark boils across the skin. The incubation period-in this case, the amount of time during which a character must be angry-varies.but it usually takes at least a year for festering anger to erupt. Each day after the onset of this malady, the character takes 1d3 points of consitution damage, but she gains a cumulative +2 enhancement bonus to strength. Each day, the victim must succeed at an additional Will saving throw (DC22) or attack whatever has made him so angry. The victim is obsessed with taking action against the focus of anger, but isn't completely heedless of danger. If the focus of the victim's anger isn't readily available, the victim will instead attack allies, minions, or symbols that remind him of the reason for his hate.

Then, some UA. For 5e, the version of the UA mystic in UAMystic3.pdf has a power called Crown of Rage that they can use to take control of someone through overwhelming rage. I don't believe that anyone has published monsters with the abilities of the UA Mystic, but they have published monsters with PC-style spellcasting, so it's not entirely unprecedented.

Finally, a bit of homebrew. The Ghost in 5e has the ability to possess someone. Make it the ghost of a barbarian, give them a rage power that they can use while possessing (perhaps in exchange for Horrifying Visage), and you have something that's pretty much exactly what you're asking for.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My problem with the ghost is idea is that it's untested and that the ghost isn't really a 'ghost' when it's possessing the body. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 11 '19 at 18:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch the question is literally asking for "a spirit that possesses people". Given that, I'm not sure how the "isn't really a 'ghost'" thing applies. The 5e monster manual has a monster named "Ghost" with a power called "possession". As for untested... well, it was the bottom of a list of three for a reason, and I wasn't trying to suggest that any of them were perfect. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 11 '19 at 18:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I love the festering anger piece and think this alone would make a great answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 11 '19 at 19:05

A Barbarian Revenant

It's not a perfect match, but you're looking for a spirit that hops from body to body and is prone to violence. Such a creature or effect does not currently exist, but a revenant comes pretty close. They also keep their abilities from their former life, so a Revenant who was a Barbarian in life would still have their ability to rage:

In addition, they still retained all the powers, experience, and special qualities they once had in life

Now there's a catch, and that is that a Revenant is an undead creature that possesses corpses, not living beings:

Rejuvenation. When the revenant's body is destroyed, its soul lingers. After 24 hours, the soul inhabits and animates another humanoid corpse on the same plane of existence and regains all its hit points. While the soul is bodiless, a wish spell can be used to force the soul to go to the afterlife and not return.

However, with minor tweaking, the Revenant would become a creature that works perfectly with what you're looking for. Instead of Rejuvenating into a corpse, your specific revenant would possess much like a Ghost would. They would then seek out their quarry with their Vengeful Tracker ability:

Vengeful Tracker. The revenant knows the distance to and direction of any creature against which it seeks revenge, even if the creature and the revenant are on different planes of existence. If the creature being tracked by the revenant dies, the revenant knows.

Of course, anybody who gets in the way of a Barbarian trying to get revenge would have to deal with a raging, out-of-control angry person. Rule that once the Revenant has used all its rages it will leave the body again to seek a new host to help it gain vengeance and you're left with roughly the kind of thing you're looking for.

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You can't have it all

I'm not aware of anything that increases your attack ability or damage or durability, or can spread in an amorphous cloud.

As far as "attacking people near you with bloodlust" (or something similar)...

Confusion or Possession seems your best bet.

There are a few ways to do these with spells and monsters (which can have spells).

Confusion effects

I should start off with "confusion", the spell. Roll a d10 and get an effect:

1 The creature uses all its movement to move in a random direction. To determine the direction, roll a d8 and assign a direction to each die face. The creature doesn't take an action this turn.
2-6 The creature doesn't move or take actions this turn.
7-8 The creature uses its action to make a melee attack against a randomly determined creature within its reach. If there is no creature within its reach, the creature does nothing this turn.
9-10 The creature can act and move normally.

Everyone's "favorite" terrifying pile of mouths, The Gibbering Mouther. Their general sound is enough to cause a confusion like effect:

...[snip]Roll a d8...[snip]...
1 to 4, the creature does nothing.
5 or 6, the creature takes no action or bonus action and uses all its movement to move in a randomly determined direction.
7 or 8, the creature makes a melee attack against a randomly determined creature within its reach or does nothing if it can't make such an attack.

And I think the best option here is Crown of Madness

...[snip]The charmed target must use its action before moving on each of its turns to make a melee attack against a creature other than itself that you mentally choose.[snip]...

Possession and Charming (remote possession, in my opinion)

Your options here are more limited, but are monsters.

Ghosts(obviously), as well as Yakfolk from Storm King's Thunder can inhabit a body and control it.

Neogi and Succubus (Succubi?) have charm effects that allow them to exert control over an individual. "you. attack them", for example.

Honorable Mention: Berserker Axe

A really classic cursed item that has (in addition to other things) the quality that:

...[snip]Whenever a hostile creature damages you while the axe is in your possession, you must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or go berserk. While berserk, you must use your action each round to attack the creature nearest to you with the axe[snip]...

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