This entry seems to be about the Black Knight, it’s really all about his sword. He can do about 100 points of damage a round (though I’m sure that professional power-builders could make him do more), and that’s great. The sword, though. That’s cool.
If you’re interested in stories that I first read, when I was introduced to these characters, there are a few trades of this period. They start with Under Siege (I’d recommend the Kindle edition, honestly), the story in which Hercules is beaten into a coma. That leads into Assault on Olympus, and then into Heavy Metal. The rest of the Dr. Druid story hasn’t been reprinted, which I think is a loss to our cultural history.
There are some really great Avengers stories that have been written since 1990, too. Sadly, none of them include Dr. Druid, which seems, to me, like a huge oversight. I’d recommend Kurt Busiek’s Avengers Forever, which is both a totally out-of-continuity story, and a love-letter to all of Avengers history. Busiek’s main-title Avengers stories are also some of the best. If you’re looking for others, there are a lot of options, but I’d start there. When I go back to re-read Avengers stories, I always start with Busiek (my Dr. Druid issues didn’t survive my many moves, sadly).
The “14-level build out” format took a long time and wasn’t, as far as I could tell, a big hit. As much fun as building a Dr. Druid PC was, I think that having opponents is more useful. The way that monsters are built in 5e is completely different from the way player characters are built. They use two different sets of rules, but with the same names.
I’m going to try something a little different, this week. The Avengers I’m building, Wasp and Black Knight, both require a little bit of house-ruling to make work, so they’re perfect for this experiment. The end result should be somewhere between a PC and an NPC, so if someone wanted to use them as a foe, they could, but if someone wanted to use them as a base for a PC (or argue about why they should be built differently, which is have the fun of building characters like this), that will work, too.
Monsters of Numeria!
Badmudderfugger and Solomani are doing such a great job with the creatures of Iron Gods, over on DungeonMusings and Lazy Dungeon Master that there isn’t often much for me to do. They’re both pretty far ahead of me, and I know that I just use theirs without much alteration, although when I do rebuild I’m considering posting it, here, for a different perspective. Would that be useful, for anyone?
The one place I can fill in, though, is the random encounter table, and I don’t have to worry about duplicating their work, because they’re well past these bits.
In that spirit, two creatures that you might not ever see, but should be a lot of fun if you do. Who knows, they might be useful for your 5e games even if you’re not playing Iron Gods. After all, who doesn’t want to throw a giant bat-creature or a ghost made from the restless soul of an adventurer killed by a trap? (And what could be more D&D than being hunted by spirits of failed adventurers past? A truly vicious GM could literally haunt a party with their own failures…)
This week and next, I’m building lesser-known Avengers using the 5e rules. It’s a passion project, but it’s also a chance to talk about Dr. Druid, and that’s something I don’t get to do often enough.
The Lion of Olympus
The son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Hercules’ strength and endurance (and ability to consume vast quantities of alcohol) are legendary. For thousands of years, he has slain monsters, performed great labors, and traveled the world defending humanity against predators, divine and mortal alike.
Like many Avengers (Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Vision, Dr. Druid, and others), Hercules started out as a foe, enspelled as he was by the Enchantress. Freed from her control, he joined the team and served as both an active and reserve member for many years.
His abilities are well-known: he’s incredibly strong, largely invulnerable, and immortal. This is the Marvel Comics Hercules, and not the Kevin Sorbo version, so he’s into his mead but less preachy.
Hercules joined the Avengers as a replacement for Thor, but he never really gelled. He’s strong and gregarious, but that’s about all he has going for him. That, and unwavering loyalty. More than any Avenger, loyalty is his defining quality. He’s strong and tough to hurt, but not invulnerable: at one point he was beaten into a coma by a mob of super-strong opponents.
My only aim, for this build, was to hit as hard as possible, as often as possible. I had to bend the rules a little bit to make it work, giving him a larger weapon and changing a couple of spells, but none of the breaks are major. The larger weapon looks cool, but two more damage on every hit isn’t going to break the game.
I wouldn’t put him in armor. I know it’s risky, but he gets a ring and bracers, eventually, and his AC is 13, which is low for a front-line fighter. Maybe give him a shield. There is no gameist reason for his Charisma to be 17, except that it made sense for the character, so moving around Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma would get him up to a 15, which isn’t bad. With protective spells and a shield, he’ll be okay.
I wanted to give Hercules a fighting chance at excellent stats, so I rolled them instead of picking them the way I’m picking them for everyone else. Otherwise, though, this is a fairly straightforward build.
The variant Entertainer makes sense for him. He really enjoys fighting, and makes a show of it whenever he can. I traded Performance for History, though, because he lived through a lot of history, and his Performance skill will be fine, based on his Charisma.
I didn’t want to make him a barbarian. I wanted to make him a fighter, the God of Fighting, but barbarian fit too well. Besides: look at that picture. The guy is a bear. It turns out that the barbarian powers make a lot of sense, for him: he’s tougher, faster, and more durable than a normal human. The non-totem abilities don’t fit as well, though. I’ve never seen him speak with animals or commune with nature. Instead of beast sense and speak with animals, I’d give him augury and comprehend languages, as a ritual, to represent his divine understanding and long life of travel. Instead of commune with nature, I’d just give him commune, to represent his ability to talk to his relatives.
I considered giving him a Belt of Giant Strength, but in 5e it doesn’t makes sense for someone with an already high Strength to wear one, and I wanted his Strength to be (largely) based on his innate abilities.
Anthony Druid was a Harvard-trained psychologist who thought that it would be more interesting to study the occult, go to Tibet, become a master of the mystic arts, and be a super-hero.
He joined the Avengers, became chairman, was mind-controlled, and the lost in time. Not his best day. As a psychologist, you think he’d have seen the “villain posing as an ally to manipulate your teammates into giving her ultimate power,” think a mile away. Physician heal thyself, I guess.
Druid isn’t an actual druid, but a pulp-style action hero who can control his body, levitate, use telepathy and telekinesis, create illusions, and detect magical energies. Eventually, he became an avatar for the “Druidic gods” (whatever those are), but that was well after his time with the Avengers, and about thirty minutes before he was burned to death and stuffed in a garbage can. With that background in mind, I’m going to give two options for him: a Wizard/Cleric and a Mentalist (which fits the pulp theme better, I think, but is my own creation, so YMMV – Mentalist part 2: tricks and spells).
Hacking Dr. Druid
Dr. Druid is the worst Avenger. Every list of Avengers says so. He was a terrible hero, a terrible leader, and a terrible person. As leader, he was tricked into betraying the team, and he eventually got himself killed (although that was hardly his fault: the guy writing his series was told at the last minute that it was a 4-issue mini-series, so he killed off his main character in a fit of pique).
The character has a long history and was the prototype for Dr. Strange. He wasn’t even a druid: that was just his name. When he was a practicing doctor, the sign on his door said, “Dr. Druid.” That’s like Captain America being called “Captain Rogers,” instead. The not-so-secret identity. He was, on all levels, just an awful Avenger.
The thing is, all the traits the make him a terrible Avenger: lame powers, a giant ego, flawed heroism, and self-sacrifice, are the traits that would make him a great PC. He would be so much fun to play, as a character. He knows a lot, but he thinks he knows even more than he does. He wants to do the right thing, but messes it up half the time, because he is too confident in his own abilities and doesn’t play well with others. That’s a lot of meat to work with, as a PC in the right group. His entire arc was about redemption, trying to become a better person and not being quite good enough to manage it. That’s a very human story, I think. Most of us can relate to being seduced by an alien villain and then becoming lost in the time-stream, right?
I considered “acolyte” for the background, to represent the time studying in the mountains and his interest in the occult, but the flavor wasn’t quite right. Maybe I need to write an “occultist” background. For now, the sage works just fine: it gives him an extra skill to choose from (so that his skills are the same no matter which build he uses), gives him extra languages.
For the Mentalist, it was tough to choose between Man of Bronze and Mystic. The Phantom doesn’t work at all: Dr. Druid is definitely not “immune to being charmed.” In fact, it’s his greatest weakness. The Man of Bronze would have been fun, and some of the abilities fit, but Druid is never depicted as the “peak of physical perfection,” the way Doc Savage always is. Still, trained by monks hiding in the mountains? The Mystic it is. The Mystic is a re-skin of the Great Old One Warlock, without all the Lovecraft, and I think that works well. Telepathy is the core of Druid’s powers, and if we add telekinesis through spells and tricks, we round out the character. The Ritual Caster feat allows him to keep picking up Cleric spells as rituals, which feels in-character for him. The Magic Initiate feat, at 4th, has the same effect, representing his attempts to seek different kinds of knowledge.
The Awakened Mind boon is basically the Keen Mind feat, without the ability boost, because the feat is almost pure flavor, and isn’t really worth a feat. It’s much more fun to give it out as a reward, I think. Both builds take the War Caster feat at 12, to represent Druid’s inner calm and ability to find his center in even the most stressful situations, thanks to his mystical training.
The Wizard/ Cleric multiclass version is a little broader, but a little less powerful, because of the spreading-out of the ability scores. Druid is supposed to be good at everything, and I thought it would be fun to represent this with the broadly average ability score and the human “bump all stats by one” (with one alteration, trading a couple of points around so his Intelligence is a little higher). That seemed like an interesting choice, and not one that gets made a lot. This way, he’s better than most human at everything, but doesn’t stand out in any one area (and his abilities are primed to multi-class).
I honestly can’t decide which of them I like better. The Knowledge Domain Cleric gives him more access to skills, which fits his powers, and the Illusion School does the same, but the Mentalist fits the story of the character well, as a pulp hero.
His magical items should never be offensive, but should be all about knowledge, finding hidden things, and taking advantage of his knowledge. Even more fun would be to have a lot of minor magical items all the time, potions, bags of tricks, feather tokens, and so on, so that he always has something to pull out of his bag.
That’s Dr. Druid!
What do you think? Is Druid as great a PC as he is terrible a hero? Which build looks like more fun to play? Does Hercules capture the majesty of myth without breaking the rules (much)? These aren’t the “larger than life” heroes from the movie, I don’t think, but they are exactly the right size for a party of PCs.
Next time: IRON GODS! Iron Gods story summaries and monsters!
For the next couple of weeks, while I kick off a PhD program in my Real Life, I’m going to do a little project I’ve wanted to work on for a while: I’m statting up the Avengers. I’m inspired, here, by a couple of posts on Tribality, laying out stats for the Avengers from the movies. The movies are great and all, but those aren’t my Avengers. The Avengers team I remember most fondly wasn’t the most iconic or the most powerful, but it had a real diversity of characters and abilities and personalities, and those personalities often drove the stories in a way they hadn’t before, and haven’t often sense. The Avengers of the mid-80s might not be the best or the most recognizable, but in many ways they’re the ones I imprinted on at an impressionable age, and they’ll always have a place in my heart.
D&D isn’t the best game for super-hero action, even though the PC are, compared to the rest of the world, super-heroes by level 6. It doesn’t replicate well a mismatch in party ability levels, for one. Take the Avengers from the movies: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Hulk. If a GM balances an encounter properly, either Thor and Hulk are going to end it in a single round, or Hawkeye and Black Widow aren’t going to survive it.
The mid-80s Avengers, at least, were better balanced. Thor had been powered-down enough that the version on Tribality pretty well represents what he was capable of. He was almost mortal, at this point. Shawn’s build of Captain America is right on, too.
Of the other members on the team at that time, She-Hulk was the most powerful, but even she was never depicted as a force of nature the way He-Hulk always was. She wasn’t as physically overwhelming, but she was much smarter. Hercules was there, as well, but his strength was always downplayed. He was a demi-god, after all, not a full-fledged god like Thor.
The second reason D&D doesn’t do super-heroes well is that super-heroes get all their powers at once. Hulk didn’t have to go through 20 levels before becoming the strongest one there is: he started out that way. Sure, their powers and abilities evolve over time, but that’s story-based evolution, not a gradual increase in power. I want these builds to be playable at every level, and to feel at least a little like the character they’re meant to represent.
Despite all that, I’m building my Avengers, damnit. Captain America I’m not touching. The Battle Master Fighter is perfect. I’m going to try my hand at a multi-class cleric/paladin build to Thor, though. The others, though: Black Knight. Captain Marvel. Dr. Druid (the worst Avenger). Namor. She-Hulk. Wasp. I’ll post builds for them over the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll get back to some Iron Gods stuff.
(Machine Man and Namora were honorary Avengers/ plot devices in the same time period, but I’m not building them, partly because I haven’t put together a construct race for Machine Man, yet. Maybe later. Oh, and Starfox was there for a while, but his power is date rape, so I’m not going anywhere near him and neither should you.)
She’s gone through a lot of code-names: Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar, Monica, and Spectrum, but at this point she was Captain Marvel, which basically makes her the standard-bearer for the entire comic book line. I mean, if your company is called “Marvel Comics,” then Captain Marvel should be your standout character. She does lead the team, for a while, although during this period just about everybody who isn’t Thor, She-Hulk, or Hercules becomes leader for a while. Despite that, she’s an awesome character: a Black woman leading the flagship Marvel team in the mid-1980s. Even today, she’s the natural leader of every team she’s on.
If she’s the leader, she should be a bard, right? I’m going to go Cleric of Light, though, because it fits her powers perfectly. She’s the leader not because she’s the most charismatic (she’s not), but because she’s the best at putting resources where they belong. That says Wisdom, to me: she makes the right choice at the right time, not because she’s studied the options, but because she has great instincts. In D&D, the leader role always goes to the character with the highest Charisma, but I think that’s a mistake. That character is the best talker, sure, but not necessarily the best leader.
The best leader? That’s always Captain Marvel.
I’m throwing down two builds for her: one an aasimar and one an aarakocra. Either way she’s at the beginning of the alphabet. The question is, which is more important: the light powers or the flight?
Hacking Captain Marvel
All of the attack spells I picked replicate something that she can do in the comic, and all of the non-attack spells are similarly focused. If I were playing her as a cleric, cure spells wouldn’t be my first choice. If I took one, though, I’d flavor it as “Monica sutures your wound with a laser from her finger,” or something. In fact, that’s true of all the spells: if I used greater restoration to remove exhaustion, I’d flavor that as hitting the other character with a dose of pure sunlight or wake them back up.
I can’t decide which race is better, honestly. I love the idea of getting her into the air sooner, but the magic items make up for that pretty quickly, and the Spell Sniper feat may be worth it. (Although the light cantrip is a waste, since it comes from the race and the domain.) The dive ability seems out of character, too. I guess it’s a question of how important flying is, to our image of her. If I were GMing, I’d grant an aasimar Captain Marvel access to levitate early on, and maybe jump, or something.
One final note: even if I were playing her as an aasimar, I’d keep Monica Rambeau dark-skinned. Being a Black woman from New Orleans is as important a part of her character as being a police officer, and since aasimar are always depicted as light-skinned, I think that keeping that aspect of her would make for some interesting role-playing opportunities with other aasimar, and the humans around them. More importantly, I think it’s important not to white-wash the character just because “that’s not what aasimar look like.” They’re a fantasy race: they look like whatever we want them to. (In fact, there’s no reason all aasimar can’t be Black. That would be an interesting way to subvert that trope, I think.)
There it is: the first of the Avengers builds, with more to come. What do you think? Playable at every level? What would you change?
Next time: The Lion of Olympus and the Worst Avenger (but an awesome player character)! Builds of Dr. Druid and Hercules!
Two more Iron Gods creatures. One from the adventure, and one from the random encounter chart:
Medium construct, neutral
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 68 (8d8 + 32)
Speed 30 feet
STR 18 (+4) DEX 9 (-1) CON 18 (+4) INT 3 (-4) WIS 11 (0) CHA 1 (-5)
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons that aren’t adamantine
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60ft, passive Perception 10
Languages: understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak
Challenge 4 (1,100 xp)
Composite Body. If the grease spell is cast on the golem, it is treated as the haste If the arcane lock spell is cast on the golem, it is treated as the slow spell. If the shatter spell is cast on the golem, it uses its discorporate ability. If the wood shape or rusting grasp spell is cast on the golem, the spell deals 2d6 points of damage to the golem, instead of its usual effect.
Magic Resistance. The golem has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Magic Weapons. The golem’s weapon attacks are magical.
Multiattack. The junk golem makes two slam attacks.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 day. The poisoned target can not speak or cast spells until after it takes a long rest or receives healing magic.
Discorporate. The golem breaks apart, becoming a swarm. It gains the following attributes:
Large: The golem’s size becomes large.
Swarm. A swarm can occupy another creature’s space and vice versa, and the swarm can move through any opening large enough for a Tiny golem. The swarm can’t regain hit points or gain temporary hit points.
While the golem is a swarm, it can take the following actions.
Tiny cuts. Melee Weapon Attack. +6 to hit, reach 0 ft., all creatures in the swarm’s space. Hit: Hit: 6 (1d4 + 4) slashing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 day. The poisoned target can not speak or cast spells until after it takes a long rest or receives healing magic.
Reassemble. The golem reverts back to its normal form. It may not move, this turn.
Medium aberration, neutral
Armor Class 15
Hit Points 108 (14d8 + 56)
Speed fly 60 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 12 (+1) CON 19 (+4) INT 5 (-3) WIS 12 (+2) CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Resistances: electricity, fire
Damage Immunities: cold, poison
Condition Immunities: poisoned
Skills Perception +5, Stealth +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive perception +15
Languages telepathy 120 ft. (other lunarma only)
Challenge 6 (2,300 xp)
No Breath. The lunarma does no need to breathe.
Barbed Carapace. Any creature that grapples a lunarma or hits it with unarmed strikes or natural weapon attacks takes 7 (2d6) points of damage from the barbs on its hide.
Multiattack. The lunarma can attack three times with its claws and once with its bite.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8 + 3) piercing damage, and the target must succeed at a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 9 (2d8) acid damage.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8 + 3) slashing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, the lunarma can automatically hit the target with its claw attack, and the number of claw attacks it can make is reduced by one.
Acid Breath. The lunarma spews caustic acid in a 30-foot line that is 5 feet wide. Each creature in the line must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 36 (8d8) acid damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. For the next two rounds, each creature damaged by the lunarma’s acid breath takes 9 (2d8) acid damage. A creature can negate this damage to itself or another creature by spending an action to use water or another liquid to wash the acid off.
Implant Eggs. A lunarma can implant 7 (2d6) eggs in a restrained creature. The eggs hatch after one day and feed on the implanted creature for the next two days, reducing its hit point maximum by 5 per egg per day. After which the larvae leave the carcass behind to seek out a safe place to form a cocoon and mature into adults. A lesser restoration removes all eggs or larvae, or they can be removed individually with a Wisdom (Heal) ability check. A creature’s hit point maximum can only be restored by a restoration spell.
Hacking the Junk Golem & Lunarma
(A bit late, down here, due to some computer problems.) The problem with golems is that they’re all high level. Why shouldn’t low-level characters have the opportunity to fight a lair-guardian that shrugs off their attacks? For me, the most interesting aspect of the junk golem was trying to capture the “discorporate” ability. The “swarm” type in 5e is loosely defined, and there’s no way for a swarm to use the same attacks as the creature that it originated from. Making the swarm-form, essentially, a new creature that could come and go with a reaction or an action was the best way I could think of to make that work, and it should freak the players out, because nothing else in 5e does this. It may have too many hit points, though. I’ll see how that works. It’s less of a big deal, in the Iron Gods encounter, because I don’t plan for that encounter to last long. After two rounds, the combat will be called off – just long enough for things to get interesting, but not long enough for them to get deadly.
The lunarma, I’m sorry to say, didn’t have any pictures that I could find on-line, and I’m trying really hard not to do copyright infringement, if I can help it. Will my players fight one? No idea, but they’re super-creepy and I wanted to work out the “iplant egg” ability. Creatures that implants eggs in humans are, I think, the creepiest creatures. This one is especially gross, because it floats along, seemingly harmlessly, silently hunting its prey. The egg implantation is another example of 5e’s missing ability damage rules. I understand why they’re absent: they make the game significantly more complicated, but making ability scores off-limits for damage removes a huge set of tools from the GM’s toolbox: poisons, diseases, drain attacks, and egg implantation can’t work in the same way. Sometimes exhaustion is a good substitute, but not always.
I’ve been toying with a subsystem, but the fact is that anything that approximated ability damage would feel clunky and tacked-on. For now, I think the best approach is to take it on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the reduction in hit point maximum mirrors some poisons, and should represent the degree to which the eggs mess with a character’s system. The initial implantation isn’t likely to kill higher-level characters, but will be deadly for low-level parties and villager-NPCs.
Next time: Computer problems will force me to take a break on Monday, but I’ll be back Wednesday with the Darfellan!
These two creatures are coming up shortly in my group’s Iron Gods campaign…
Creatures out of nightmares, chokers hunt quietly in the darkness, preferring to bring down individual prey when possible. They are small, no larger than a halfling, but their arms, legs, and fingers are disproportionately long and often twitch so quickly that they seem blurry.
Dwellers in Darkness. Little more intelligent than animals, chokers are often confused and fascinated by the habits and customs of civilized creatures, and will lurk for days in dark places, watching humans and other settled races go about their daily lives. When alone in a house, chokers try to touch everything in sight, moving objects around or secreting away small items that seem important. A choker can hide in an attic or an eve for days, sewing fear and mistrust within a house until they choose to stop playing and devour their prey. They subsist solely on the flesh and blood of living creatures, and prefer those with some measure of intelligence.
Bringers of Silence. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of fighting with a choker, however, is their ability to steal a creature’s voice with a touch. As they rarely speak, themselves, they little understand why voices are do important, but they know well enough that losing one is terrifying, particularly for magic-users.
Cowardly Hunters. While chokers can hunt prey of any size, they prefer to pull small or smaller creatures into the darkness and feed on them. As such, they enjoy hunting halflings, gnomes, and children from larger races. They will rarely attack someone holding a weapon, preferring to watch and wait for an opportunity to strike when the target is sleeping or unawares. If truly roused to anger, a choker will leave an armed target alone and hunt its family, instead.
Small aberration, chaotic evil
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 31 (7d6 + 7)
Speed 20 ft., climb 10 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 14 (+2) CON 13 (+1) INT 4 (-3) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 7 (-2)
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception +13
Languages: Undercommon, Aklo
Challenge 2 (450 xp)
Cunning Action. On each of its turns, the choker can use a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.
Multiattack. The choker can make two tentacle attacks, unless it is currently restraining a target.
Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, 10 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained and can neither speak nor cast spells. The choker can restrain no more than two creatures in this way.
Called the rhu-chalik among its own people, the void wanderer travels the cosmos as advance scouts for dark masters that live in the spaces between the stars. Millions of these diminutive tentacled aberrations are birthed every hour and flung into the universe to seek out planets that are ripe for colonization. They can move through the void of space, whose airless cold is harmless to them, but often prefer to find interstellar ships and feed on the crew as it ship ferries its deadly, hidden cargo.
Silent Stalkers. Living invisibly among a population for decades, void wanderers wait for a society to cover a plant and advance technologically until they are almost space-faring before the summon their masters’ fleets. During this time, they prey on individuals of every species and every kind of creature, wearing them down until they enter a fitful sleep, at which time the void wanderer duplicates their consciousness and transmits it across the depths of space for some unknown purpose. The leaders and the lowly alike are copied in this way.
Immortal Hunters. As long as its eye remains intact in its gel-like casing, the void wanderer can never be truly killed. It will always regenerate. Because the void wanderer’s body and eye are so flexible, a creature must choose to attack the eye, specifically, to do damage to it. Any attack or effect that blinds the void wanderer will prevent its regeneration, as well. Void wanderers prefer to avoid direct combat, however, choosing instead to attack creatures while they sleep, inflicting increasing degrees of exhaustion until a creature is unable to fight back.
Connoisseurs of Pain. The void wanderer’s pain touch can deliver various kinds of pain, from the feeling of freezing to the feeling of being stabbed, and void wanderers often administer multiple types of pain to the same creature, to see how it will react. When they have the opportunity to share memories with a creature, they often choose an emotionally painful one, to administer yet another variety of agony.
Small aberration, chaotic evil
Armor Class 15
Hit Points 75 (10d6 + 40)
Speed 5 ft., fly 60 ft.
STR 12 (+0) DEX 16 (+3) CON 19 (+4) INT 13 (+1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 16 (+3)
Damage Immunities cold
Condition Immunities poisoned
Skills Intimidate +6, Perception +5, Stealth +6
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages telepathy 100 ft.
Challenge 6 (2,300 xp)
Compression. The void wanderer can enter any space larger than its eye.
No Breath. The void wanderer does not need to breathe.
Void Transmission. When a creature falls unconscious while it suffers from any level of exhaustion as result of the void wanderer’s project terror ability, the void wanderer can spend 10 minutes in direct contact with the creature copying and absorbing the creature’s consciousness. If the creature is awoken before the process is completed, the void transmission fails, and the void wanderer must start again. If the process is completed successfully, the void wanderer transmits that conscious to any location of its choosing in the universe. The location must have the capacity to receive and story these transmissions. If a creature’s consciousness is successfully transmitted, it suffers from one additional level of exhaustion for the next 24 hours. This level of exhaustion cannot be cured by any means until the end of this time.
Regeneration. The void wanderer regains 5 hit points at the start of its turn. When it uses this ability, its eye glows slightly. The void wanderer dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and the single grey eye in the center of its body has been shattered. If the void wanderer is blinded by an attack or spell effect, it does not regenerate until the blindness is cured.
Innate Spellcasting. The void wanderer’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). The void wanderer can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will—detect thoughts, invisibility, mage armor, share memory
1/day—modify memory, sleep
Multiattack. The void wanderer makes four attacks with its tentacles.
Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (3d6) bludgeoning damage, and the void wanderer can choose one of the following effects:
Pain Touch: The target must succeed at a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or gain disadvantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws for 2 rounds. Additional pain touches increase the duration by 2 additional rounds.
Spell Strike. The void wanderer affects the target with any spell that it knows, regardless of the range of the spell, as though that spell has a range of touch.
Project Terror. Ranged Attack: +6 to hit, range 60 ft., one target on whom the void wanderer has used detect thoughts within the last minute. Hit: the target gains one level of exhaustion as its mind is overwhelmed by waking nightmares.
2nd level divination
(spell lists: Bard, Warlock, Sorcerer, Wizard)
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S
Unless the target succeeds at a Wisdom saving throw, you momentarily link your mind with the target’s and share a single memory of no longer than 1 minute. You can show the target one of your memories, show the target one of its own memories (even if that memory has been buried or suppressed by magical or other means), or view one of the target’s memories.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the length of the memory increases by one minute for each slot level above 2nd.
Hacking the Choker and the Void Wanderer
The choker strikes me as a creature from a horror movie, its motions jerky, its head perpetually cocked to the side as though it almost understands your pleas for mercy. It attacks from above, hiding in darkness. In the medieval fantasy setting, it’s important to remember how rare light is. Just because our clerics and wizards can cast it all day long doesn’t mean that the darkness isn’t out there, and isn’t terrifying for most people. Candles do little to fight it off. There is always the chance that something is lurking outside our vision, waiting for the feeble candle-light to die out.
The choker was a relatively easy conversion: it had to be fast (thus the rogue’s cunning action) and it had to shut down an opponent’s ability to speak. They don’t have a lot of hit points, but they’ll make your wizard think twice about relying solely on her spells…
While an individual choker might be a great threat for a low-level party, a pack of chokers could still threaten a higher level group, particularly because multiple chokers could take all of a party’s magic-users out of a fight for a few rounds while still attacking other characters.
The name rhu-chalik is catchy, but I couldn’t imagine a medieval people calling something that. They’d call them “space demons,” if they even understood the concept of “space.” I wanted to tie the regeneration ability to the eye, because that makes it a little more scary, and forces a party to think hard about disposing of the creature. Making the eye glow was important, because the characters need a hint about why the thing keeps getting back up.
I also wanted the void wanderer to have some more complex abilities. Most monsters in 5e, it seems to me, do one thing or another thing, and maybe there is a rider (grappling, poison, etc.). I haven’t seen any that could attack and then choose what happens next. Since the void wanderer has four attacks, it was important that they not do much damage, individually, but that each could have different effects: pain touch to impose disadvantage, then share memory, for example. The spell strike ability only works for the CR if the void wanderer doesn’t have any damaging spells, though. It uses those spells to get to know its opponents, or even make them seem to disappear, to frighten their allies, then it flees and uses its knowledge to attack later, invisibly.
A void wanderer with damaging spells would be a lot of fun, and would be an easy way to raise the CR.