No matter how close your bond with it, the sea is full of dangers. While sahuagin are the most organized threat to coastal settlements in the Summerlands, there are other predators that wait in the depths and some that bridge the gap between sea and land. While there are no cyclops, djinns, hags, giants, kobolds, merfolk, or ogres in the Summerlands, all of the other coastal and underwater monsters in the Monster Manual can be found there. Those with the animal and fey subtypes are most common, but merrows and water-based dragons are not unheard of. Though few ships venture far enough from shore to find their hunting grounds, even dragon turtles can be found in the open ocean. There may be other creatures, including marids and kraken, living in the vast sunken cities deep in the Endless Ocean, but if there are they never interact with land-dwelling Summerlanders. Old sailors speak in hushed tones of the human-seeming selkie and the equine kelpie, however, and caution their children never to give their hearts to anything that walks out of the sea.
Below the jump: selkie, kelpie, dolphins, and seals for 5th edition, and a new monster: the octagon!
A selkie is a fey with the lower body of a seal and the upper body of a human, with rows of sharp teeth and vicious claws, who delights in playing pranks on land-bound humanoids, often luring them to their deaths.
Tenacious Hunters. A malicious selkie might haunt the same village for generations, enticing young lovers into the sea and drowning them, there. The fact that sea kin can survive longer underwater than other races makes this hunt more satisfying for the selkie. Selkie reserve particularly vicious deaths for those who bring harm to seals, whether deliberately or accidentally. Some selkie may be more beneficial, guarding fishing villages that live in harmony with the sea, or becoming human and marrying into such communities. While they are connected to the sea, all selkie are mischievous and playful, though the tricks of an evil selkie often ends in murder.
Neither Human nor Beast. A selkie’s natural form is a combination of seal and a humanoid, typically a sea kin (although there are selkie that look like reven, wildren, and varanus, as well). In order to walk on land, a selkie must shed their seal-skin flippers and tail. If the selkie does not return to the shed skin within a year, it no longer fits, and the selkie is trapped on land forever. It is said, however, that the skin can be made to fit again if it is washed in the blood of someone whose love for the selkie is true. Despite this risk, selkie often leave their skins hidden in caves or on beaches to walk among coastal communities and select prey. If a selkie is separated from the sea, its playful demeanor can turn dark and melancholy.
Objects of Affection. While selkie are traditionally evil, it is said that anyone who possesses an abandoned selkie skin can win the heart of the selkie it belongs to. Both male and female selkie are said to be extraordinarily beautiful when they have shed their skin, and every community has a story of someone who fell in love with a selkie, only to lose them to the sea. Sometimes, these doomed lovers are murdered by the selkie, and other times they live out their lives looking to the waves for a love who will never return.
Medium fey, any chaotic
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 49 (11d8 +7)
Speed 10 ft., swim 40 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 13 (+1) CON 13 (+1) INT 13 (+1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 18 (+4)
Skills: Athletics +5, Deception +6, Stealth +3
Senses darkvision 60ft, passive Perception 12
Languages: Aquan, Common, Draconic
Challenge 3 (700 xp)
Amphibious: The selkie can breathe air or water.
Seal Skin: The selkie can remove the seal-like skin covering its lower body. If it does so, it loses its swim speed, amphibious quality, and bite attack, but gains a walking speed of 30 feet. If it does not return to the skin within one year, these changes become permanent.
Claws.Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8 + 3) slashing damage.
Song of the Sea: If a humanoid that can see the selkie has no allies adjacent to it, the selkie can use honeyed words to summon it into danger. The target must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the selkie as long as the selkie continues talking or singing.
While charmed by the selkie, the target is incapacitated. If the charmed target is more than 5 feet away from the selkie, the target must make the Dash action on its turn to move directly toward the selkie by the most direct route. It will avoid opportunity attacks, but will otherwise ignore danger to itself until it starts taking damage, at which point it can repeat the saving throw. A creature can also repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If a creatures’ saving throw is successful, the effect ends on it.
A target that successfully saves is immune to this selkie’s song for the next 24 hours.
The kelpie looks like a beautiful horse that lives beneath the surface of lakes, rivers, or bays, coming on land only to drag victims to their deaths. Kelpies are vicious and cowardly shapeshifters who prefer to prey on children, the elderly, or women alone by the sea.
Shapeshifting Slayers. Kelpie are malicious fey that delight in torturing and killing humanoids that live near water. They take particular delight in stealing away children. A kelpie’s natural form is a black hippocampus, a horse with the tail of a fish instead of hind legs, but it can assume the shape of a black stallion or a handsome man. Once a humanoid touches a kelpie, it finds itself unable to let go, and the kelpie can toy with it while it pulls its target down into the depths.
While kelpie are fey, they can reproduce with both humanoids and horses, in their shapeshifted forms. The horses that comes from these unions are sometimes born as hippocampi, which is usually considered a good omen, as hippocampi typically protect an area from kelpie predations. Even when not born hippocampi, however, the foal offspring of a kelpie and a horse can never drown, and run twice as fast and twice as far as a normal horse. On the other hand, when a kelpie and a sea kin produce offspring, those offspring are land kin humans, rather than sea kin, and tend to have an aversion to the water.
Deceptive Presence. In its human and equine forms, the kelpie is always a male, and always staggeringly beautiful. Stories of this natural beauty are aided by the kelpie’s entrancing presence, which compels those who see it to touch it, dooming them to a watery grave.
Large or medium fey, chaotic evil
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 135 (18d8 + 54)
Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 13 (+1) CON 16 (+3) INT 10 (+0) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 14 (+2)
Skills: Deception +5
Senses darkvision 60ft, passive Perception 10
Languages: Aquan, Common
Challenge 5 (1,800 xp)
Amphibious: The kelpie can breathe air or water.
Shapeshifter: The kelpie can use its action to polymorph into a horse or a male humanoid, or back into its natural form, a black hippocampus. In its horse form, the kelpie can lengthen its back to hold multiple riders. Its statistics are the same in all three forms. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed.
Adhesive (horse form only): The kelpie’s skin adheres to anything that touches it. A Huge or smaller creature adhered to the kelpie is also grappled by it (escape DC 15). Ability checks made to escape this grapple have disadvantage. The kelpie can choose to stop using this ability at any time.
Grappler: The kelpie has advantage on attack rolls against any creature grappled by it.
Multiattack. The kelpie makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its hooves or fists, or three with its hooves or fists.
Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) piercing damage.
Hooves or fists. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.
Entrancing Presence: Any humanoid within 60 feet that can see the kelpie must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the kelpie.
While charmed by the kelpie, the target is incapacitated and offers no resistance to its attacks. If the charmed target is more than 5 feet away from the kelpie, the target may make the Dash action on its turn to move directly toward the kelpie by the most direct route. It will avoid not opportunity attacks, but if the path leads it through a dangerous area, the target may make an additional saving throw. The target does not consider water or the kelpie a threat, and will enter water even if it can no breathe or swim. The target can take no actions other than to move towards the kelpie and defend itself, even if it is drowning. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If a creatures’ saving throw is successful, the effect ends on it.
A target that successfully saves is immune to this kelpie’s entrancing presence for the next 24 hours.
Large monstrosity, neutral
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 99 (18d8 + 54)
Speed 20 ft., swim 40 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 13 (+1) CON 16 (+3) INT 8 (-1) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 4 (-3)
Skills: Perception +2, Stealth +3
Senses darkvision 60ft, passive Perception 14
Languages: Common, Draconic (can’t speak)
Challenge 3 (700 xp)
Amphibious: The octagon can breathe air or water.
Camouflage. The octagon has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
Tentacles. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit 14 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it is grappled (escape DC 17). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the octagon can’t use its tentacles on another target.
Dragon-jet (Recharge 5-6): The octagon makes a jet attack that works as well above-water as below. After making the jet attack, the octagon can use the Dash action as a bonus action. The octagon is unaffected by its own dragon-jet. Randomly determine the effect of the jet, below.
|1||The jet releases as a stream of acid 15 feet long and 5 feet wide. Each creature in that area must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) acid damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. In addition, the water in the area remains acidic for 1d6 rounds, and creatures passing through it during that time must make the same saving throw.|
|2||The jet releases as a bolt of magical lightning 15 feet long and 5 feet wide. Each creature in that area must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. In addition, any creature within 20 feet of the origin of the jet must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 13 (3d8) damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one, when the octagon stops moving.|
|3||The jet releases poisonous gas in a 15-foot-cone. Each creature in the area must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.|
|4||The jet releases scalding steam in a 15-foot-cone. Each creature in the area must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.|
|5||The jet freezes the water in a 15-foot radius around the octagon’s starting position. Creatures in the area must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 22 (5d8) cold damage, and be restrained by the ice. On a successful save, creatures take half that damage and are not restrained.|
|6||A 20-foot-radius cloud of ink extends all around the octagon. The area is affected by magical darkness for 1 minute.|
Octagons are a monstrous blend of octopus and dragons, and while no one knows who first put the two together, they can be found throughout the Summerlands’ oceans, as they can breed with giant octopi, and the offspring are always octagons.
Sea Kin Allies
STR 14 (+2) DEX 13 (+1) CON 13 (+1) INT 3 (-4) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Perception +2
Senses blindsight 60ft, passive Perception 12
Challenge 1/2 (100 xp)
Echolocation. The dolphin can’t use its blindsight while deafened.
Hold Breath. While in the water, the dolphin can hold its breath for 10 minutes.
Keen Hearing. The dolphin has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.
Pack tactics. The dolphin has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the dolphin’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated.
Bite. Melee weapon attack. +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.
Nose Slam. Melee weapon attack. +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) bludgeoning damage.
Both freshwater and saltwater dolphins are welcome in sea kin homes and communities, and come and go as they please. Pods of dolphins have been known to form protective barriers around sea kin villages, and to protect sea kin swimmers and boats from danger.
STR 17 (+3) DEX 15 (+2) CON 13 (+1) INT 3 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Perception +3
Senses passive Perception 13
Challenge 1 (200 xp)
Charge. If the seal swims 20 feet straight towards a target and then hits with its slam attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 4 (1d8) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 10 Strength saving throw or be shoved 10 feet.
Hold Breath. While in the water, the seal can hold its breath for one hour.
Keen Smell. The seal has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
Bite. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.
Slam. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.
Seals and sea lions are commonly found around the edges of sea kin communities, though most are too large to act as pets, as they can grow to be twenty feet long and weigh up to 8,000 pounds. Smaller seals and sea lions can be found around sea kin homes, and larger members of the species act as early warning systems for coastal communities.
Hacking Summerlands Antagonists
I really enjoyed putting these together. The kelpie, especially, was a lot of fun to write. Both the selkie and the kelpie have appeared in older editions of the game, but I tried to connect them more strongly to the myths, here. While these creatures, as written, fit perfectly into the Summerlands, the beauty of the myths is that they would fit just as well anywhere.
The octagon is all mine, and I can’t imagine many places besides the Summerlands where mages would have much reason to combine an octopus and a dragon. On the other hand, if you’re a mage who can combine an octopus and a dragon, why wouldn’t you? My goal here was to let DMs play with the dragon’s breath weapon while keeping wyrmlings out of the game, for a while. Fighting tiny dragons can make the big ones lose their mystery, but the breath weapon is too fun to leave out of play for 15 levels.
I was surprised that there were no write-ups for dolphins in the Monster Manual, but they were pretty easy to put together, based on the shark. For the seal, I used the actual lion and messed around with the attacks and breath holding. I had no idea that seals were so large! The sea kin write-up in Races of Destiny says that seals live in and around sea kin homes, but a seal is eight times heaver than a cow. That’s just too much body mass to have floating in your living room. I imagine them more like horses: part of the community, but stabled outside the houses.
In other news, I’ve learned that five antagonists is way too many. This one is clocking in at 2700 words! I may have to limit it a little bit, next time, as much fun as these were to build.