View Full Version : Monsters Remade: Aboleth

Realms of Chaos
2011-04-17, 09:50 PM
This is something that I wanted to try for a pretty long time, remaking monsters from the monster manual. Perhaps it was a bit of a bad choice to start with the aboleth (seeing as so much fluff already exists for it) but here I go.

The basic structure may end up looking a little bit weird. For each creature that I may end up doing in this way, I intend to provide alterations to the monster to hopefully make them a bit more dynamic and introduce 3 re-fluffed alternatives to the traditional fluff behind the monster. You may notice in the post below that some things (such as skills, feats, and treasure) are separated from most of the statistics as these details will differ from re-fluffing to re-fluffing.

In addition, I intend to provide each monster with some race-specific monstrous feats that actually increase in power when you advance the monster and a few teamwork benefits that helps to make encounters with multiple creatures better deserve their higher ECL. Right below are the “general” monstrous feats, to give you a basic idea of what I’m talking about.

Monstrous Feats:

Racial Talent [Monstrous]
You possess certain talents that others don’t
Prerequisites: 3 racial HD, Racial bonus to at least one ability score.
Bonus: Select one ability score that you possess a racial bonus to. You add one third of your racial HD as an insight bonus to all skill checks and ability checks relying on that ability score.
Special: You may select this ability multiple times, selecting a new ability each time.

Racial Resistance [Monstrous]
You resist certain attacks better than other creatures like you.
Prerequisites: 1 racial HD
Bonus: Select one saving throw. For the purpose of your racial HD, that saving throw is treated as having a good saving throw (changing your base save retroactively).
Special: You may select this ability a second time, choosing another saving throw.

Monstrous Combatant [Monstrous]
You fare better in a fight than others of your race.
Prerequisites: 1 racial HD
Bonus: If your racial HD grant you a poor base attack bonus, it is increased to an average base attack bonus. If your racial HD instead grant you an average base attack bonus, you are granted a good base attack bonus. These changes are made retroactively.

Monstrous Skill [Monstrous]
You have picked up skill beyond what most people would expect.
Prerequisites: 2 racial HD
Bonus: You may select a number of skills up to your intelligence modifier. These skills are considered class skills for the purpose of your racial HD. In addition, you gain skill points equal to half of your racial HD (gaining 1 skill point for every 2 racial HD you obtain from now on).

Inhuman Toughness [Monstrous]
Your endurance is beyond what seems possible for beings like you.
Prerequisites: 1 racial HD, Medium or larger
Bonus: You gain a number of hit points equal to your racial HD (gaining one additional hit point for every racial HD you obtain from now on).
Special: For each size category larger than medium that you are, you may select this feat one additional time.

Natural Weapon Focus [Monstrous]
You possess incredible skill fighting with a specific natural weapon.
Prerequisites: Any natural weapon
Bonus: Select one natural weapon that you possess. You gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls made using that natural weapon or others of the same kind. For every 4 racial HD that you possess, this bonus is increased by +1. This bonus doesn’t stack with that of the weapon focus feat but counts as weapon focus for the purpose of meeting prerequisites.
Special: You may select this feat multiple times, selecting an additional form of natural weapon that you possess each time.

And now for the first monster, the aboleth.

Realms of Chaos
2011-04-17, 09:51 PM
Huge Aberration (Aquatic)
Hit Dice: 8d8+40 (76 hp)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 10 ft. (2 squares), Swim 60 ft.
Armor Class: 16 (-2 Size, +1 Dex, +7 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+22
Attack Tentacle +12 melee (1d6+8 plus transformation plus mental discharge)
Full-Attack 4 tentacles +12 melee (1d6+8 plus transformation plus mental discharge)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks Enslave, improved grab, mental discharge, transformation
Special Qualities Aquatic subtype, darkvision 60 ft., lure, mucus cloud
Saves Fort +7 Ref +3 Will +9
Abilities Str 26, Dex 12, Con 20, Int 20, Wis 17, Cha 18
Challenge Rating: 7
Advancement: 9-16 HD (Huge); 17-24 HD (Gargantuan)
Level Adjustment: –

Type One: The Hunter
Skills: Hide +4, Intimidate +15, Listen +14, Move Silently +12, Spot +14, Survival +14, Swim +27
Feats: Mental Hunter* (see feat, below), Natural Weapon Focus (+3 to tentacle attacks), Inhuman Toughness (+8 hp)
Environment: Any Aquatic
Organization: Solitary, Pair, or Pod (3-6)
Treasure: 1/2 gold; 1/2 goods; no items
Alignment: Neutral

Despite their incredible intellect, this interpretation of aboleth makes them out to be little more than an aquatic predator. Hailing from isolated caverns deep within the planet, the aboleth have evolved into the dominant life form within their habitats before finding routes to the surface quite recently. Up on the surface, the aboleth are quickly developing a primitive and alien culture of their own as they enslave and eat sentient beings and incorporate loose memories from their pray into their own knowledge. Currently unaware of their own potential, most of them continue living more or less as animals, albeit ones smart enough to outwit hunters, crash ships, and claim large areas to themselves if desired. At the very most, only one in one hundred aboleth can speak a rough form of common (the others speak nothing at all, using their lure for basic communications and mating rituals).

The aboleth is rather straightforward in its attack, though it possesses some degree of canny. Typically, an aboleth lures a creature away from its group by using its hallucinatory mucus or one of its slaves (who it controls rather roughly). Once closer, the aboleth uses its lure to attract the creature closer and grapples the target, pulling it into the deep as its mental discharge knocks it out and the aboleth’s opaque cloud protects it from interlopers.

Type Two: The Colonist
Skills: Bluff +17, Diplomacy +17, Intimidate +17, Listen +14, Knowledge (any one) +16, Sense Motive +14, Spot +14, Swim +16
Feats: Reshape Psyche* (see feat, below), Racial Talent (charisma) (added), Master Manipulator (see feat, PHBII)
Environment: Elemental Plane of Water
Organization: Solitary, Pair, Procession (4-10), or Colony (10-30)
Treasure: Double Standard
Alignment: Lawful Evil

The order of Mechanus, at least represented by the will of the creatures living there, refuses to be contained within the borders of its plane. Formians move out to colonize other worlds and planes as inevitables maintain universal rules across all planes of existence. There are some places, however, where the traditional creatures of Mechanus are unfit to work. Where planar boundaries between Mechanus and such planes are thin, new agents of order are created to perform the job. Created through friction between Mechanus and the Elemental Plane of Water, Aboleths are masterful colonists. As they search through the endless expanses of water, they attempt to subjugate any population in their path. Though their presence has been a great boon for air-breathing creatures, who they have helped build domes for, their dedication to precision is far more strict than the ideals of most formians and seems less natural than that of modrons, making these aboleth seem obsessed and often a bit unhinged. The elements were never intended to serve as an agent of law and the subtle wrongness behind everything these aboleth do serves as a constant reminder of this fact.
Colonist Aboleth speak their own language, aquan, and common.

The first order of business for the aboleth is to suppress any signs of violence against it (as well as disobedience in general), making it incredibly easy to provoke. It is not above using enslaved minions as shields and quickly tries to overpower foes through its mental discharge ability, either weakening large groups of foes or grappling a single persistent opponent. If it seems possible to dominate, it uses nonlethal force if at all possible. Otherwise, it simply attacks to kill.

Type Three: The Keeper
Skills: Diplomacy +15, Knowledge (religion) +19, Knowledge (history) +19, Knowledge (any one) +19, Sense Motive +14, Spellcraft +19, Swim +16
Feats: Jack-of-all-trades (See feat, Complete Adventurer), Racial Talent (Intelligence) (added), Unknowable Mind* (See feat, below)
Environment: Any non-desert
Organization: Solitary or Tribe (2-5)
Treasure: Double Standard
Alignment: Neutral

Having lived from the very beginning of existence, the aboleth have a very odd grasp of time. Entire human lifetimes pass by as seconds before them and they watch the births and deaths of gods as a human might read a book. Though incredibly detached from the world, these aboleth see themselves as keepers of lost knowledge. Some of these aboleth live in homes that they form beneath the water while a few live a life of relative luxury within a kingdom, either acting as an adviser to the current ruler or casually taking control of said ruler and running the show for a generation or two. While most aboleth seem to possess a good deal of overlapping knowledge, a few individuals have gained renown for being far more talkative when certain topics are involved, leading some inquisitive souls to seek them out in search of knowledge. A few sages suspect that the aboleth have some form of plan in the works but anything that they have in mind would likely take centuries and centuries to put into action.
Aboleth speak their own language, common, and eleven additional languages of their choice.

Though generally detached from the rest of the world, endangering ones life is capable of earning its complete and undivided attention. If diplomatic measures fail, the aboleth prefers to let enslaved guards (if any) deal with dangers and escape by the safest means available (often built or planned ahead of time by them), fighting only if absolutely necessary. If facing death, the aboleth is likely to surrender (at least until a chance to escape reveals itself) rather than fight to the death.


Enslave (Ex): With one hour of work, an aboleth can attempt to enslave a living creature within 30 feet with up to 2 HD/per racial HD of the aboleth. The target must succeed on three Will saves (DC 19) or else is affected as through by a dominate person spell (CL 16th). An enslaved creature obeys the aboleth’s telepathic commands until freed by remove curse, until the aboleth dies, or until they move more than 1 mile from their new master. The save DC is Intelligence-based.

Improved Grab: If an aboleth hits a creature with a tentacle attack, it may attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

While grappling a creature, an aboleth can move at half speed without making a grapple check and all grapple checks made by grappled opponents for the purpose of moving take a –10 penalty.

Lure (Ex): One of an aboleth’s greatest tricks is attracting prey. By releasing some of its psionic energies, alien patterns form just beneath the surface of its skin, attracting unsuspecting prey. While this effect is active, any creature (apart from other aboleth) who can see the aboleth must make a Will save each round (DC 19). If the saving throw is failed, the target takes no other action other than to move as close as possible to the aboleth as quickly as possible (though they will stop and simply remain dazed if faced with unpassable obstacles like a wall of force). If the target succeeds on their saving throw, they must spend a move action moving towards the aboleth (until faced with an unpassable obstacle) but are otherwise free to act as they see fit. If a creature succeeds on two such saving throws (consecutive or otherwise), that creature is immune to that aboleth’s lure for the next 24 hours. If a creature starts its turn adjacent to the aboleth, they may act normally even if they fail the save. If a creature is affected by more than one aboleth, they choose which one they move towards each round. This ability is a mind-affecting pattern effect and can be deactivated or resumed as a move action. The saving throw is Intelligence-based

Mental Discharge (Ex): Much as a jellyfish can harness venom through its tentacles and some mantas can release jolts of electricity, an Aboleth can release bursts of distruptive psionic energy to help it incapacitate prey and/or subdue enemies. Whenever the Aboleth makes a successful attack roll with one of its tentacles, the target takes 2d6 points of nonlethal damage. Whenever an Aboleth makes a successful grapple check against a creature, the creature takes 4d6 points of nonlethal damage. Lastly, as a full-round action, the aboleth can send forth a wave of this psionic energy, dealing 2d6 points of nonlethal damage to all creatures (apart from other aboleth) within 30 feet.

Mucus Cloud (Ex): An Aboleth underwater surrounds itself with a viscous cloud of mucus roughly 1 foot thick. This cloud grants the Aboleth a +10 bonus to escape artist checks and can be used to achieve any of the following effects (only one may be active at any given time) as a swift action. The saving throw is Intelligence-based:

Opacity: The cloud grows thicker, more opaque (similar to ink in appearance), and a bit larger. In effect, the aboleth gains a 50% miss chance against all attacks and a +4 deflection bonus to AC. In addition, all squares adjacent to the aboleth are treated as difficult terrain. The aboleth can see through their own mucus perfectly.

Hallucination: Channeling psionic energy through their mucus, the aboleth is rendered invisible and they create an image to take their place (as the major image spell), such as the image of calm and placid water, of a drowning swimmer, or of a sunken chest. Any creature who disbelieves the illusion (DC 19) can see the aboleth normally.

Mind-Warping:By forcing a good amount of the psionic energy through their mucus, the aboleth is capable of bending the minds of others. While this cloud is active, creatures within 5 feet of the aboleth while this cloud is active must make a Will save (DC 19) at the start of each round or fall temporarily under the Aboleth’s control. This acts as the dominate person spell except that it also functions on monstrous humanoids and giants and only lasts for 1d4 rounds or until the Aboleth is slain (whichever comes first). Any creature affected by this ability (whether or not they succeed on their saving throws) is immune to the mind-warping mucus of that aboleth for 24 hours.

Transformation (Ex): The very touch of an Aboleth’s tentacle can cause a terrible affliction. If the target fails a Fortitude save (DC 19), they quickly go through a harrowing transformation over the next 4 rounds, converting their mind and body to suit the aboleth’s needs. While grappling a creature, that creature must make a new saving throw each round to negate the transformation. The saving throw is Intelligence-based.
1st round: Target takes a –4 penalty on saving throws against other spells and abilities of aboleths, though their body has yet to change.
2nd round: Target is fatigued while not at least half-submerged in water and takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage every 10 minutes spent outside of the water. This fatigue and nonlethal damage can only be healed while the target is in water.
3rd round:Target’s natural armor is halved, rounded down ( to a minimum of +0), as their skin becomes more of a translucent membrane.
4th round: The transformation is completed, making it far more difficult to reverse. Before this point in the transformation, a remove disease spell can reverse the entire process. Once it reaches this stage, however, only a heal or mass heal can restore the target to normal.

Skills: An aboleth gains a +8 racial bonus to swim checks and can take 10 on swim checks even when stressed or under pressure.


Mental Hunter [Monstrous]
You can locate the minds of nearby prey.
Prerequisites: Aboleth
Benefits: You can locate creatures with ability scores within 5 feet/racial HD of yourself as though you possessed blindsight.

Reshape Psyche [Monstrous]
You can bend the minds of others to your whim with the greatest of ease.
Prerequisites: Aboleth
Benefits: You can select up to one mind-affecting and/or figment spell/4 levels (and may thus select more as your HD increases). The first spell that you select may be no higher than 1st level and each additional spell may be up to one spell higher than the previously selected spell. You may cast each selected spell as a spell-like ability 1/day (Caster level = Racial HD). The Save DC to resist these spells is 10 + spell level + your Intelligence bonus.

True Domination [Monstrous]
Your control other others is far more difficult to break.
Prerequisites: Aboleth, Gargantuan or larger
Benefits: Creatures affected by your enslave ability remain under your control so long as they remain within 1 mile/racial HD of yourself. Furthermore, the target now requires a limited wish, wish, or miracle to break free through the use of magic.

Unknowable Mind [Monstrous]
Your brain works differently from that of most mortal creatures.
Prerequisites: Aboleth
Benefits: Whenever you fail a saving throw against a mind-affecting spell or spell like ability of a level up to half of your racial HD, you do not suffer the normal effect. Instead, you suffer 1d6 points of nonlethal damage/spell level.

Extended Tentacle [Monstrous]
Your tentacles can extend farther than one would expect at a glance.
Prerequisites: Aboleth
Benefits: The reach of your tentacle attacks increases by 5 feet.
If you are gargantuan in size, the reach of your tentacle attacks increases by an additional 5 ft.


Disruptive Network
Channeling psionic energy through your bodies, you and your allies can block off planar travel.
Training: To gain this benefits, your team practices channeling psionic energy through your bodies in unison.
Task Leader Prerequisite: Aboleth, Gargantuan Size
Team Member Prerequisite: Aboleth
Benefit: For every team member within 30 feet of the task leader, all members of the team within that range exude an aura out to 5 feet. Within this aura, planar travel ceases to function and teleportation effects fail.

Distracting Lure
Your team can distract creatures using their lure so that others can sneak up from behind.
Training: Practicing on smaller creatures, members of the team use their lures while others silently sneak up from behind.
Task Leader Prerequisite: Aboleth, Hide 11 ranks
Team Member Prerequisite: Aboleth, Hide 4 ranks
Benefit: For each member of the team using their lure that a creature can see, that creature takes a –2 penalty to spot and listen checks against members of your team not using a lure.

Quicken Transformation
By striking a creature multiple times, your team can speed up the transformation of your target.
Training: Striking against larger creatures in unison to try speeding up the rate of the transformation that your tentacles cause.
Task Leader Prerequisite: Aboleth, Ability Focus (Transformation)
Team Member Prerequisite: Aboleth
Benefit: Whenever a creature fails its saving throw against the transformation effect of a team member, each additional team member who manages to strike the target within 1 round advances the transformation by 1 round.

2011-04-18, 09:13 AM
This is pretty awesome. I like the way you worked out the enslave, lure and psychic discharge abilities, and how they tend to be used by the three different 'types' of Aboleth.

2011-04-18, 09:52 AM
I really like what your doing, providing different fluff and role for the same monster is a great idea and help use monster on the fly without having to work too much on it.

Racial feats are also a great idea and help customize monster if you decided to level them. Teamwork feat would probably also b quite nice for when fighting multiple monster of the same type.

Enslave have no limit to the number of creature it can Dominate, that may not be a problem for a Monster, however I think their should have a limit to HD or 2 time HD, but not sure about a lvl 8 Aboleth having 2 000 orcs under is command (may provide a good plot hooks however, but would probably like more dominate 10 Leader and they will command the others)

Lure is a nice thing to attract creature and im pretty sure its a power that just by changing a little bit of fluff could be add to few others (siren and succubus come to mind)

Mental Discharge is quite useful for the Aboleth for not killing the creature and let him be able to Dominate them later instead of having to kill a potential slave.

Mucus Cloud is also quite nice and fit the theme of the Aboleth having various option is also what is nice to have with a monster, a Mass Dominate (with very low duration) may also be quite useful and give enough time to change the tie of the battle. Mucus Cloud is usable at will even if not that powerful I guess even the Mighty aboleth have its limit of psionic energy , so maybe 1d4+1 round to recharge ?

Transformation allow a save, but im not sure if after this it still require the Aboleth to grapple or not. I can interprate it both way, so maybe make it more clear.

Reshape Psyche, I prefer my aboleth to be Psionic, but its easy to just say its innate psionic instead of innate magic.

True Domination, this dosent boost the power that much but let the aboleth use slave to do mission for him from farther away. Help alot a Colonist type aboleth.

Unknowable Mind is nice, it dosent work on the highest spell of the party and still the Aboleth received nonlethal damage, like it.

The Teamwork feats are quite nice, the disruptive network is quite powerful however it require a aboleth of at least 17 HD so I dont think its game breaking.

If you do all your monster this way this will make a fantastic Monster Manual, can't wait to see more (I never did use a Aboleth before as a GM but by reading this now It something I would consider), what is next ?

EDIT : All races and monster in my world have the ability to active some racial power (each have 3 base racial powers) 1 + 1 per 3 HD they have. They also gain +1 use per Racial feats they take.

That's mean that a typical Aboleth in my world would have 3 use (more depending on racial feats choosen) that can be spend to activate Enslave, Lure or Mucus Cloud. That's how every monster and Races work in our campaign so I was just letting you know, maybe you can try to do something similar with your monsters so its easier to manage abilities that you dont want to be usable at will. (the concept was taken from D20r (http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=D20_Rebirth) from Fax)

2011-04-21, 09:50 PM
I really think that this project deserve more input from other homebrewer im certainly not the only one who really like what Realm of Chaos did with the Aboleth ?

Are you planning to do other monster in a near future ?

Realms of Chaos
2011-04-22, 09:52 PM
I might look into doing others in the future (and I already have some ideas for a certain flightless bird). I wanted to put this out there to see what interest/input others might have to give.

On another note, I originally wrote up a list of explanations behind the changes that I wrote up and it looked eerily similar to your first post.

As for the HD limitation, it wasn't in the original aboleth either and I don't see how said aboleth would disable a creature stronger than itself in the first place. That said, there's no reason not to put a limit so I'll add on in.

transformation does not intend a grapple, as currently written (I think), though
a grapple could most certainly start it.

As for giving the various abilities uses per day... I took a quick look at what Fax is using them for and it doesn't seem to quite match up with the abilities that you've named. Two of them (lure and mucus cloud) are less "at will" and more "continuous but suppressable", which was kind of the intent.

Is there any particular reason that you'd argue for the charges (beyond campaign compatibility)?

2011-04-22, 10:18 PM
I support this endeavor. Some of the general feats are...conservative. But I suppose you're seeking to just build a basic library of default choices, and they serve well enough in that role.

2011-04-22, 10:41 PM
The limitation i was talking about for Enslave is for the number f creature the Aboleth can have under is control not the maximum HD of a Single creature he can affect, sorry if I wasnt clear

As for the proposition to do something like Fax is doing with D20r, I have reread the Aboleth abilities and as you said most of them are always active (unless suppress) so that may not work, it was jsut to make it easier on monster developement as it give you a guideline, but could probably easly manage to do other monster without having the same mechanic for all of them.