Lords of Madness introduces the director (137-8), a beholderkin much like a typical beholder except tentacles on its underside allow a director to enslave a creature with the type vermin, which then serves as the director's mount. A director's size is typically Large but advances by Hit Dice to Huge. While Gargantuan vermin are perfectly acceptable mounts for most Huge creatures (centipedes, scorpions, and spiders, O, my!), an advanced director already has a fly speed of 20 ft. (good).

I am of the opinion that a director's mount should be faster than the director and fly, but few Gargantuan vermin have fly speeds. For example, a Gargantuan vermin with a fly speed is the astral kraken (Planar Handbook 109), but it's too niche for my needs and its CR on the Material Plane excessive.

Is there a way to grant a vermin a fly speed while having it keep the vermin type? I just want rules-legal Gargantuan flying vermin. Y'know, like a winged Gargantuan monstrous scorpion. Is that so wrong?

I'd like the flying vermin to be actual critters, so a method that avoids spellcasting and magic items is preferred. While I know some dude could just cast the spell fly on the Gargantuan scorpion or the director could equip the Gargantuan scorpion with wings of flying, both are problematic. (The director can't itself cast spells, but I'd like it to function as a scout, so the flight method needs to be reusable and reliable, and I'd rather not an item like the wings of flying fall into the PCs' hands just yet.) Because the vermin must remain a vermin so the director can control it, I was thinking there must be a template, but thus far every template that would grant a vermin a fly speed also changes the vermin's type (for example, half-dragon to dragon, half-fiend to outsider). Not even the spell giant vermin is any help, affecting as it does only normal centipedes, scorpions, and spiders.

Official methods preferred to third-party and homebrew.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I get the impression that using the official monster-creation rules to just make a Gargantuan winged scorpion is out of scope. If so, can you mention why that official method is out of scope, to discourage such answers? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 9 '16 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie You mean, like, using the Monster Manual's Chapter 5: Making Monsters to develop big flying vermin using official guidelines? I guess I could address that, but I don't think I've ever seen that as an answer for a 3.5 question asking for official material, and I'd be tempted to point an answer like that at this Meta question. Is that what you were considering suggesting? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 9 '16 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not, but it would answer the question for an “official method” and someone else might. Though I don't intend to write such an answer, I also don't see anything in the question that would make it a wrong answer to it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 9 '16 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this as a DM, or do you need a player-friendly implementation? \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Mar 9 '16 at 22:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin I only need the Gargantuan flying vermin to be rules-legal for the DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 9 '16 at 23:29

Consider grafting wings onto the vermin. Beholders are familiar with grafting, and there are even beholder grafts. But you want feathered wings, a fiendish graft from Fiend Folio pg. 210. These wings grant the creature a flight speed equal to double the land speed, at average maneuverability.

As for loot, that's not an issue - grafts can't be looted.

A graft is not a magic item: It does nor radiate magic once completed, it does nor count against a creature's limit for magic items worn, it does not have a caster level, and it is very hard, if nor impossible, to salvage as treasure.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I went with the Gargantuan scorpion with the fiendish graft feathered wings and also awakened it via the special ability awaken vermin of the Savage Species prestige class lord of flies (so the Gargantuan feathered-winged scorpion could take feats... and talk!). The encounter was suitably challenging and the players were definitely weirded out. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 17 '16 at 13:07

Wing grafts are a potential solution. While it does require a spellcaster, the spellcaster’s work is done once the graft is complete, and thereafter the wings just function as exactly that, wings. They can’t be looted, since grafts die with the host.

Grafts can be found in the same Lords of Madness, though the fiendish graft feathered wings from Fiend Folio is the most cost-effective route to flight (from a graft, or anything else for that matter).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't the DM supposed to then reduce the amount of treasure available to the PCs because some of it's been spent on the grafts? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Mar 9 '16 at 18:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan The graft is effectively an item that the host owns, with its own value, but the PCs cannot salvage. Thus, when an NPC has one, it may factor into CR calculation, but should not factor into loot calculation. If a PC (or PC-funded creature, as with a mount) has the graft, then it counts as an item that PC has and should be considered for loot, but it didn’t sound like PCs were getting an opportunity here to get any grafts. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 9 '16 at 18:29

Polymorph Any Object a creature with Flight(su) into your preferred mount. They retain flight, but type changes to vermin. Here are some choices:

Ogre Mage - resilient, a few good utilities (including at-will invisibility), can change back as a miniboss. Needs some maneuvering to get it verminized to start with, but should be doable (another beholder charms it, etc). Probably the best choice.

Rast - kind of meh, but does fly at 60 ft (good)

Yeth Hound - as rast.

Ha-Naga - from the epic joke book, but at least there's less angst about whether this is "like" a vermin, because you get the size bonus instead.


You could use the Improving Monsters section (Monster Manual Chapter 4) and simply increase the Hit Dice of a Giant Wasp or Giant Preying Mantis until they're the size you require. This may push their CR up too high, so be wary.


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