View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Hunters, Dryads, Aboleth Cults, and a Big Dog: Some Low-CR Enemies

2018-06-14, 11:31 AM
I'm running a campaign right now, and I've ended up coming up with a surprising number of homebrew monsters. I've compiled them all into a document for ease of reference, and I figured some other folks might want to see them, so here it is. I included bits of lore for a handful of non-NPC enemies, but the document is still pretty barren since I was the only one who needed to understand it, so I've added extra commentary on each monster here.

Check out the monsters here! (https://www.gmbinder.com/share/-LEHcHAgnz9SWeG8n9g4)
(Apologies to my fellow Firefox users, but the Spirit Tree Dryad doesn't show up right on my browser. Luckily, it only cuts off the text for the Fey Charm ability, which is exactly the same as a regular dryad's except for targeting twice as many creatures.)

I needed some CR 1 cannon fodder. Ta-da. It doesn't have a ranged attack, but feel free to give it a hand axe or heavy crossbow or something if you want. This is really a template I used to develop the next enemy.

Dragonborn Mercenary
This one is a lot more fun, with a ranged Breath Weapon attack. This particular stat block is for black dragon-themed dragonborn mercenaries, but it should be just as balanced if you swap out the breath weapon and damage resistance to match some other colour of dragon (you can find the relevant tables here (http://5e.d20srd.org/srd/races.htm#Dragonborn).

Alpha Dire Wolf
Real wild wolves don't have alphas, since the whole alpha dynamic is something that only emerges in captivity, but shhhhh
The alpha dire wolf could be used as a souped-up dire wolf, but I really wanted it to serve as the leader for a large group of regular dire wolves preferably at least four, so the Howl does more damage than just having the wolf attack. Ideally, it'd Howl as soon as at least four of its dire wolf friends are in range, then charge in and join the fray itself. Then it'd flee with its allies as soon as the tides turn against it, not bothering the party again. Or at least, that's how I'd run it.

Spirit Tree Dryad
It's in its own category because it doesn't fit into any of the others!

On the flavour: Spirit Tree Bark is a sort of "currency" in the campaign I'm running right now. Each PC has a single magic item, but they can upgrade the items with additional effects by using Spirit Tree Bark in a ritual run by the party druid. Since the party is firmly on the side of nature, every Spirit Tree Dryad they've met so far has been nothing but helpful. That's why the dryad knows prayer of healing, so it can heal the party up after they get the bark they're after. But they'll have to fight one eventually, whether it's misled about the party's mission or just corrupted.

On the fight itself: It's a souped-up dryad, really. I strongly encourage that the Spirit Tree Dryad should start the fight with barkskin and shillelagh already cast; the fight is balanced assuming those effects will be on at all times. I'd also like to call attention to conjure woodland beings. Ideally, the Spirit Tree Dryad will use it to conjure two more dryads. Then they'll all abuse their tree stride ability to mess with PC formations and attack vulnerable party members.

On the Cult in General
The cult of Bel Otha also makes use of several already existing monsters, like regular cult fanatics and chuul, and maybe some kuo-toa or something too. It's not just ministers and cultists all the way down.

Bel Otha Minister
Obviously, this fight centers around contagion. In fact, the whole reason it exists is to make sure that the party knows to have disease-curing stuff on hand before they go and confront the aboleth running the cult (so the aboleth's diseases don't tear the party to shreds). The minister casts contagion as soon as possible, then exploits the Sickening Aura feature to keep itself safe. The second the fight starts going poorly, however, it'll use fear and run. The aboleth generally won't want to risk losing their ministers to a stray greater restoration spell; they have much more value out of combat than in.
In case it wasn't clear, the Minister's mental stats are all the same as an aboleth's because, well, an aboleth is mind controlling it at all times. If it's freed from its mind control, its mental stats should change.

Bel Otha Cultist
The PCs are high enough level that CR 1/8 monsters, even in mobs, don't really cut it anymore. Hence this slightly improved cultist.

Minister Valmiese
Danse macabre was too good to pass up, so I built a fight around it. Valmiese always opens with danse macabre, summoning five of Valmiese's Skeletons, then lets them do the bruising while tossing out debuffs like blindness/deafness and damage PCs like blight. When the skeletons fall, she uses fear to cover her retreat, as the aboleth really don't want Valmiese to get her enslavement cured.

For the most part, these monsters are more tweaks to existing monsters than brand new ideas, so I don't foresee huge balance issues? That said, if I'm wrong, I'd rather find out sooner than later! All feedback is welcome and appreciated, particularly on the Great Hunter's spell list, which I've been struggling with for a while. Either way, I hope this makes someone's day better.