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  1. - Top - End - #301
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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    I think the crowding of niches they've got going with Lizardfolk could make for interesting adventure paths and background writing. The traditional dependence of amphibians of any kind on water sources renders bullywugs vulnerable to displacement—the fighting between bullywug tribes, or between bullywugs and lizardfolk, could grow quite cutthroat. That said, it might just make more sense to have one or the other, figuring that one race would eventually win and destroy/outcompete the other.
    In anything featuring them they have not gotten along with one another.

    Anyway there is a fair difference in that Lizardfolk are not evil just territorial, while Bullywugs are pretty arrogant jerks.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrConsideration View Post
    Bullywug
    and it occupies several crowded niches. D&D has a surfeit of frog monsters (a crowed neighbourhood of Kua-Toa, Slaads, Frogheemoths and other gonzo nuttiness) and primitive tribal humanoids and swamp-dwelling reptile folk (Lizardmen, trolls...).
    Just one to elaborate on this a bit. Kuo Toa are fish people not frog people, it's Slaadi and Slaadi are more toadlike, while being really weird with really different fluff and crunch. Frogheemoths are a bit odd and don't really crowd on the Bullywugs turf.

    Lizardfolk do crowd on Bullywug turf and are noted as no liking each other. They are different in disposition and methods as well. Lastly Trolls are not reptiles, and they don't really have a society, being largely solitary.
    Last edited by Envyus; 2015-10-03 at 06:53 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #302
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    Regitnui's Avatar

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    Quote Originally Posted by Envyus View Post
    In anything featuring them they have not gotten along with one another.

    Anyway there is a fair difference in that Lizardfolk are not evil just territorial, while Bullywugs are pretty arrogant jerks.



    Just one to elaborate on this a bit. Kuo Toa are fish people not frog people, it's Slaadi and Slaadi are more toadlike, while being really weird with really different fluff and crunch. Frogheemoths are a bit odd and don't really crowd on the Bullywugs turf.

    Lizardfolk do crowd on Bullywug turf and are noted as no liking each other. They are different in disposition and methods as well. Lastly Trolls are not reptiles, and they don't really have a society, being largely solitary.
    Think of the d&d swamp with lizardfolk the main inhabitants (maybe with dragonborn), trolls are the big dumb marauders scavenging off the lizardfolk, and the bullywugg just keep themselves to themselves and try not to get noticed.
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  3. - Top - End - #303
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    Kobold

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    Quote Originally Posted by DireSickFish View Post
    I think they were using BG2 as an inspiration for the lore on the spectator. I know we have 3 Beholder types already but a Beholder Mage would have been great here. Inspired from BG2 as well in the Cult of the Unseeing eye quest the beholder gives up the anti-magic cone to take up spell casting.

    Perhaps it would be to similar to the Death Tyrant? I suppose it's easy enough to homebrew just slap wizard spellcasting onto it and get rid of the antimagic.
    THe guardian and potentially insane spectator beholder was a thing before BG2. BG2 got it from the original lore. I have an old 2e Monstrous Manual and the spectator is described very much like the one you see in BG2 (minus the exact nature of some of the jokes).

  4. - Top - End - #304
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Cambion


    The Cambion - a Romance-language response to the English changeling - describes the offspring of a Fiend an a mortal. Considering the variety of forms in the Abyss and the Nine Hells, presumably Cambions are extremely varied. The MM gives us your their take on the sexy-tempter trope which fits in with the original mythology of the Cambion being the offspring of a succu- or incubus and a mortal. My major issue with the Cambion is it occupies a very similar niche to the Tiefling. Whilst I know many people hate Tieflings (probably because they made it to the PHB in 4e) I personally like them - is it the case that Grandad was a Devil, Mum was a Cambion but I'm a Tiefling?

    Let's go to hell.

    Art

    I'm not sure what to make of this. On one level I look at the art and simply say to myself, "Yup, there's a Devil person - with wings and horns and red skin." I'm not overwhelmingly excited by the execution of Cambions as Pit Fiends in miniature, but the execution is solid - I'd love to see a range of Cambion form different fiends, though. I've moaned before about silly fantasy armour with unnecessary spikes, but I feel it's more appropriate if you grew up in Acheron. I do like the earrings and facial expression - it communicates a kind of punk ethos - it's very "F--- you Mum I'm going to Dad's plane!". The tribal tattoo is a little too dudebro fratboy for me though - but then again, if your dad is Graz'zt you can get into any fraternity you like.


    Purpose and Tactics
    For your campaign, here is an excellent low-level Big Bad. A dissembler with the power to back it up - with Alter Self and his Charm abilities the Cambion can easily ingratiate himself into a number of organisations. As an NPC, he could infiltrate the party or a quest-giving organisation for his or her own nefarious ends. If they catch the Cambion, between Plane Shift and a 60" flight speed he should easily escape a level appropriate party to wreak havoc elsewhere. The question becomes, what does a Cambion want? Whilst the fluff establishes some of them are minions of devils and demons proper - and I would certainly have one leading a cult or rival adventurer's group hunting for maguffins and ancient lore and whatnot - I personally think a lot of them would just have human motivations, tinged by their own innate evil and the probably lackluster moral education given to them. Maybe they want to become a master thief, or great wizard, or control the spice trade or become a dread pirate or avenge their dead wife or gain the biggest library in your campaign world. If your Cambion becomes a longer-term villain, it's be very easy to beef him up by adding extra spells to his innate casting and maybe powers based on their parentage. They'll definitely need some human-y motivations, though.

    When it comes to blows, the Cambion can be quite handy in a fight. Using their flight they have excellent mobility, and their ranged attack is about as beefy as their melee - if they pull off their Fiendish Charm mid-battle they can turn a PC into a minion (forcing players to waste resources and actions attacking each other to get another saving throw). Not to mention, the Cambion is packing some pretty handy damage resistances (and fairly few level 5 parties will have magical weapons), great AC and a few minor spells. This should all help him get over the solo problem: the action economy is going to let your players kick their teeth in. Ideally, a Cambion should fight with minions against slightly higher-level players.

    Fluff

    We get the origin story, and a few explanations for why one might be working in your campaign - they're mortal agents of the Nine Hells. I love that the fluff makes a clear distinction between demon- and devil-derived Cambion s: one is raised to be party of the machinations of its parent, the other has to claw their way to a position of being anything more than meat. They focus on Graz'zt, whose progeny is the focus of the MM write up.

    Hooks

    You enter the city of Gamotha, to find the streets running with blood and barricades. The city has broken out in revolution! A fast speaking demogogue stirs the populace to revolt, and to violent pogroms against minority populations. How do your players react?

    A new faith has spread like wildfire through the city; the cult leaderfattens himself on donations, marries the wives of his parishioners, and proclaims himself the vessel of god. How do your players react?

    The Adventurer's Guild in your campaign world is ran by a polite, befuddled and quaint little man, who generously always offers to buy artefacts from a specific lost civilization for his personal 'collection'. If PCs get suspicious, he might cease to be polite, befuddled and quaint...

    Verdict:
    A great chassis for you to build engaging NPC villains.
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  5. - Top - End - #305
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    Nice write-up.

    IMHO they missed some potential gems regarding Cambions. For example, I have this idea that it's mostly going to be people of a certain means or status who will attract the attention of fiendish seducers. For example:

    - The princess has come of age, which is wonderful and ought to be an event worthy of celebration, but the festive atmosphere is damped by the spate of mysterious deaths within the palace. The regent is terrified, and hires the party to protect him, since he only trusts outsiders to protect him. (Spoiler: the princess is a Cambion.)

    - The daughter of the kindly old Wizard is a Warlock with ice-cold eyes. She dotes on her father, but treats everyone else as barely-tolerable nuisances. The backstory here is that he summoned a Succubus when he was younger and more foolish, and produced a child; he's tried to raise his daughter to be a decent person, but compassion never really took. Now that he's nearing the end of his life, he's worried about what will become of her.

  6. - Top - End - #306
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    Regitnui's Avatar

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post

    - The daughter of the kindly old Wizard is a Warlock with ice-cold eyes. She dotes on her father, but treats everyone else as barely-tolerable nuisances. The backstory here is that he summoned a Succubus when he was younger and more foolish, and produced a child; he's tried to raise his daughter to be a decent person, but compassion never really took. Now that he's nearing the end of his life, he's worried about what will become of her.
    I like this. The wizard could be repentant after a early career of demon-summoning, being quite surprised when a devilish child was left on his doorstep with a note reading "your problem now" in Infernal.

    Cambions struck me as the natural result of making Tieflings a player race. Like the drow have softened from the racist, xenophobic misandrists they were to a race of antisocial, pragmatic schemers, the tieflings can't be your designated evil fiendish humanoid when your party has three of them. Cambions, at the moment, have no such need for moral ambiguity. The kick-in-the-door player can rest easy knowing that if it's a cambion, it's up to bad things.

    Once you add moral ambiguity, they do share design space; I think it comes down to ancestry; the mortal children of cambions would be tieflings.
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  7. - Top - End - #307
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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    Yeah, I don't really use Cambions because I use "real" Tieflings, but I like the Cambion entry for giving me some ideas for Tiefling NPCs.

  8. - Top - End - #308
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    EvilClericGuy

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    I don't use hard and fast rules for it, and I'd allow Tiefling PCs to be Cambions using Tiefling stats, but my personal head-canon is Tieflings are infernal genetic throwbacks. So you might have a normal family for two or three generations then wham - all the recessive devil genes come out at once in one red-haired little ragamuffin. I found the 4e fluff pretty good for them - there was once a whole empire in league with Hell and this grisly inheritance is their due.


    Surely the kick-in-the-door player would be content with an honest-to-evilness actual Demon or Devil? In my personal world, Cambions exists because Demons and Devils can't freely operate on the Prime Material, so they need any number of cultists and cambions and other minions to do their dirty work.

    There's also adventure material in the seduction-and-conception part. When you arrive at court, an incubus is at work masquerading as foreign nobility - can you expose them before they birth a royal Cambion?
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  9. - Top - End - #309
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    The thing has not mentioned - is numerous-races half-fiend fluff. Cambions are really good in that "obscured fiendish heritage thing" villians - add 1 or 2 high elf features and they are born fey`ri.
    Thus, there are connections to various setting-dependent fluff. Much better, then tieflings, who designed to be "a character race with visible fiendish bloodline, but not power", the cambions are opposed as "a possessor of fiendish power who knows how to hide horns and wings".
    Perfect fit to a social campagn.

  10. - Top - End - #310
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrConsideration View Post
    There's also adventure material in the seduction-and-conception part. When you arrive at court, an incubus is at work masquerading as foreign nobility - can you expose them before they birth a royal Cambion?
    Even better: 20 years ago an incubuss took form of a king for a night, so a royal cambion was alredy born - that incubus then enchanted the prince for resting humanoid form.
    We have a prince who is actually a cambion, without anyone else (including his mother) knowing about that. Then, the true father-incubbus appears...

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    What I really like about Cambions is that they serve as an effective bridge between worlds. Their heritage can be a metaphor for the role they play in the story. Way before the party is capable of extraplanar travel, there's this guy [leading a bandit gang] / [whispering in the ear of the king] / [stealing McGuffins] who flits between worlds [taking orders from his devil dad] / [beating up demons with loot from the prime material] / [pleading with his fiendish ancestors to not destroy his home]. I think it really grounds things, allows for ominous build-up, and makes the eventual transition to interplanar stories much more meaningful.

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    Griffon

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    I feel that Cambions should have human foundation for their motives/etc, but ultimately Larger-Than-Life villainous characters, often with 'sympathetic' backstories - but ultimately, they're jerks because they're inherently jerks. And... because they're half-human, they don't have the same mental restrictions as full-blooded Fiends. They make excellent "Dark Messiah"s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimolyth View Post
    Even better: 20 years ago an incubuss took form of a king for a night, so a royal cambion was alredy born - that incubus then enchanted the prince for resting humanoid form.
    We have a prince who is actually a cambion, without anyone else (including his mother) knowing about that. Then, the true father-incubbus appears...
    Hmm.

    I feel like it's more useful for some palace insiders to know the Royal Cambion's true identity so the party has someone to give them exposition when the players manage to miss all the obvious clues you so carefully laid out.

    Then, when the killings start, the players don't know if it's the Cambion's true evil nature waking up, or if it's someone trying to set the Cambion up and thereby incite a fall to evil.

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    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    They also make good 'starscream' style second-in-command in an evil cult/church hierarchy... Powerful, evil, related to 'the boss' but forced to be beneath a mortal and politically savvy church leader. Will PCs side with the obvious evil to take out the real leadership?

  15. - Top - End - #315
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    I'm thinking of having a Cambion run as a grand vizier character in a campaign. I was originally going to use a Tiefling that is supposed to be advising the Duke on fiend politics. There is a stable portal between the material plane and the lower planes, with several Demon Lords working together to keep something resembling the peace on their side of the portal. Now I think I'll go full Cambion , with the Cambion not of the Demon Lord Alliance trying to break up the agreements between the Humans and the Demons so that their lord can use the portal for a full on demonic incursion.
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    ShikomeKidoMi's Avatar

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    I do wish that Tieflings and Cambions came with write ups that suggested more physical deviations based on parentage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Regitnui View Post
    Cambions struck me as the natural result of making Tieflings a player race. Like the drow have softened from the racist, xenophobic misandrists they were to a race of antisocial, pragmatic schemers, the tieflings can't be your designated evil fiendish humanoid when your party has three of them. Cambions, at the moment, have no such need for moral ambiguity. The kick-in-the-door player can rest easy knowing that if it's a cambion, it's up to bad things.
    Given that I've got 2nd edition stats for them tucked away, I don't think that's too likely. D&D likes playing with variations on themes with their monsters. I think it's more probable that Cambions and Tieflings are just two different kinds of part-fiend (just as the Fey'ri and Draegloth are two more kinds).
    Last edited by ShikomeKidoMi; 2015-10-12 at 06:19 AM.

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    EvilClericGuy

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    The Carrion Crawler
    The Carrion Crawler is another nasty which dates back to the very first supplements of the D&D game - and as a result its ecological niche is purely in the sort of places adventurers are always poking around in - dungeons, sewers, ruins, caves and caverns. A huge, insectile monstrosity which is clearly designed to evoke revulsion and horror, as it frits around its putrefied lair.

    Art
    In a movie, you'd never see the Carrion Crawler. It'd be a skittering presence - always just around the corner, in the darkness above, in the murk below. Of course, for a monster book we need a clear depiction, and I find the Monster Manual attempt clearly communicates what is iconic about the Carrion Crawler - it's moist, yellow skin, reaching tentacles and alien eyes. If you're using a Carrion Crawler, ham up just how vile this creature really is. It's a good piece, especially considering how woeful some of the Carrion Crawler art is.

    Purpose and Tactics
    They are ambush predators for low-level dungeons, and can feasibly be added to almost any 'dungeon' environment. To really use them at their best, though, sewers or moist caverns seem the best locales: with plenty of space for them to hide and assault your players from the darkness. Due to their Spider Climb ability, you need to be thinking in 3D - the Carrion Crawler could as easily be above you as around the next corner. Despite being allegedly a scavenger, it hunts most of its prey. In combat the paralysis ability is quite limited, as it is 'Save Ends' but I'd still aim to spread around the tentacle attacks to try and deny players turns and shift the action economy further in your favour. At higher levels, a small group of Carrion Crawlers would be relying on the paralysis to keep them competitive as their damage output is pretty poor for a CR2 monster. You should also use the darkness of its lair to gain it advantage and its foes disadvantage to give it time to deal more serious damage before your players kill it. The idea that it might ambush and drag away a paralysed player can really inject tension and pace into a dungeon crawl - the Carrion Crawler makes off with the cleric through an elevated tunnel and suddenly your players are dashing in the darkness to try and rescue him.

    It would be a good boss monster for a low-level party's first quest or, for a higher-level party, a small group of them could be a low-difficulty encounter added to the lair of any other monster that could end up leaving a lot of meat behind - maybe a cult or group of bandits keep them beneath their lair and feed them victims. Your players could even make use of them - leading them towards enemies or opening a sewer hatch in a town house to unleash a Carrion Crawler on the inhabitants.

    Fluff

    The fluff is well-written and gives you a wealth on synonyms for 'gross' to liven up your own dungeon descriptions, and gives a good explanation for why the Carrion Crawler is in any specific place. The text is evocative and gives you plenty of material to invent your own ambush scenario and ensure any encounter with a Carrion Crawler is memorable and not a roadbump on the way to more satisfying dungeons inhabitants.

    Hooks

    In the sewers of a major city, an infestation of Carrion Crawlers has gotten massively out of hand. They're emerging from the sewers into the streets and dragging hapless victims back with them. Can your players clear out the sewers and find out what lead to their growth?

    A serial killer has been disposing of bodies throughout the city. Without a victim, your players cannot get the guards to arrest their perp. How is he ridding himself of their remains?

    An idea I'm working on: A battlefield as an 'open-plan' dungeon: you need to reclaim the crown of a deposed line of royalty to cement your patron's claim to the throne, but it was lost on the battlefield a century ago. Now, the battlefield is a haunted, infested mess of carrion and death - who knows what monsters lurk behind the barrows and tatter banners?

    Verdict: A solid but grotesque no-frills monster, well executed.
    Last edited by MrConsideration; 2015-10-17 at 06:59 AM.
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Carrion Crawler is iconic and an excellent thing to have in nasty places. They are the sort of creatures a smart group of monsters would use to protect them from attacks via the sewers. And if someone comes through the front door and takes out the smart group of monsters, the carrion crawler is left behind, getting hungrier and hungrier.

    They also scale up if you want; there's no particular limit on their growth other than the diameter of the sewer or cavern tunnel they inhabit. Add HD, add to the CR of the paralysis, add power to their bite. There's no reason a Waterdeep sized city couldn't have a colossal carrion crawler down in the depths.
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    MonkGirl

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    A good mood monster... Carrion crawler implies meat to eat; body dump? Dead dragon? Human sacrifice? Illithid eating brains and leaving the rest?

    Also one of my favorite home brew adventures when I was a teenager involved carrion crawlers. A mad Druid figured that carrion crawlers were the larval form of something and was using dark magic to try to get them to mature into their 'true natural state'. The giant carrion moth that awoke raised the dead for miles and called them down to its lair to feed the next generation...

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    Quote Originally Posted by MrConsideration View Post
    Art
    In a movie, you'd never see the Carrion Crawler. It'd be a skittering presence - always just around the corner, in the darkness above, in the murk below. Of course, for a monster book we need a clear depiction, and I find the Monster Manual attempt clearly communicates what is iconic about the Carrion Crawler - it's moist, yellow skin, reaching tentacles and alien eyes. If you're using a Carrion Crawler, ham up just how vile this creature really is. It's a good piece, especially considering how woeful some of the Carrion Crawler art is.
    I honestly like the old 1e artwork for this monster better than the new art.

    The old art communicates:
    - Segmented insect-like thing.
    - Clearly walking up a wall.
    - Tentacles smelling the air. Yuck.

    The new art has tiny little legs which don't communicate "walks on walls" at all to me, especially not attached to such a fat body. The body of the thing looks appropriately disgusting, and that's great, but it's not a wall-walking agile sort of disgusting. It's like a thick-bodied maggot. IMHO the little legs basically communicate "can drag self along on belly".

    Furthermore, the new art has a really weird mouth, and not weird in a good way -- it's like someone painted a shark mouth, then got asked to glue some mandibles and tentacles under it. They just don't look like they function together. If the tentacles can't surround the mouth for some reason, then I'd rather they got moved to the sides of the head, or even the top.

    Tentacle beard is just not a good look for an overgrown maggot. (Sorry, Cthulhu.)

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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    I honestly like the old 1e artwork for this monster better than the new art.

    The old art communicates:
    - Segmented insect-like thing.
    - Clearly walking up a wall.
    - Tentacles smelling the air. Yuck.

    The new art has tiny little legs which don't communicate "walks on walls" at all to me, especially not attached to such a fat body. The body of the thing looks appropriately disgusting, and that's great, but it's not a wall-walking agile sort of disgusting. It's like a thick-bodied maggot. IMHO the little legs basically communicate "can drag self along on belly".

    Furthermore, the new art has a really weird mouth, and not weird in a good way -- it's like someone painted a shark mouth, then got asked to glue some mandibles and tentacles under it. They just don't look like they function together. If the tentacles can't surround the mouth for some reason, then I'd rather they got moved to the sides of the head, or even the top.

    Tentacle beard is just not a good look for an overgrown maggot. (Sorry, Cthulhu.)
    Maybe the CC is a devolved Mind Flayer - an aberrant aberration. So 1 in 50 has limited psionic power and can hit them party with a Mind Blast of some sort.
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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    Quote Originally Posted by Shining Wrath View Post
    Maybe the CC is a devolved Mind Flayer - an aberrant aberration. So 1 in 50 has limited psionic power and can hit them party with a Mind Blast of some sort.
    No, that's a neolithid: a mind flayer tadpole that's grown out of control. Though that could be a great way to represent a neolithid if WotC doesn't bring out the stats in time for your psionics campaign.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shining Wrath View Post
    Maybe the CC is a devolved Mind Flayer - an aberrant aberration.
    Illithid tentacles surround the mouth, as is right and proper.

    If the Carrion Crawler mouth design looked like an Illithid, then I'd have no complaints.

    Sadly, it does not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    Also one of my favorite home brew adventures when I was a teenager involved carrion crawlers. A mad Druid figured that carrion crawlers were the larval form of something and was using dark magic to try to get them to mature into their 'true natural state'. The giant carrion moth that awoke raised the dead for miles and called them down to its lair to feed the next generation...
    That's a fantastic idea. Great out-of-the-box thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Furthermore, the new art has a really weird mouth, and not weird in a good way -- it's like someone painted a shark mouth, then got asked to glue some mandibles and tentacles under it. They just don't look like they function together. If the tentacles can't surround the mouth for some reason, then I'd rather they got moved to the sides of the head, or even the top
    I'm not a big fan of the new mouth either, but I tend to lean towards the second edition design as the best Carrior Crawler, pieces like this or this.
    Last edited by ShikomeKidoMi; 2015-10-19 at 06:30 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    A good mood monster... Carrion crawler implies meat to eat; body dump? Dead dragon? Human sacrifice? Illithid eating brains and leaving the rest?

    Also one of my favorite home brew adventures when I was a teenager involved carrion crawlers. A mad Druid figured that carrion crawlers were the larval form of something and was using dark magic to try to get them to mature into their 'true natural state'. The giant carrion moth that awoke raised the dead for miles and called them down to its lair to feed the next generation...
    This is awesome.

    I've always had a soft spot for carrion crawlers as they were the first encounter in the first campaign I played. I also think the artwork is a bit off. I like them as giant centipede types with tentacles surrounding the mouth.
    I think they'd make a great bait and switch encounter: The PCs head out to collect the bounty on a dragon that's been menacing the area but when they get there the dragon is already dead and carrion crawlers are infesting the lair. Or something along those lines.
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    Centaur
    The Centaur has a long track record in Greek myth and more recently in fantasy of all stripes. They're probably the result of a culture without horse-riding encountering one with horse-riding and explaining and mythologising that discrepancy as their enemy being literally part-animal. Somehow in D&D I find it hard to fit Centaurs - they're transparently another sentient race and one that would impact massively on a low-magic campaign world (equestrian culture elevated the Mongols, Huns, Persians and others to world-conquering heights - imagine a culture that could do that innately without the need for extensive grazing-lands or whatnot). For some reason Centaurs live in forests despite the fact horses don't, and the sort of fit in the same head-space as Elves or Fey - sitting about in a forest being mystical.) It constantly begs the question of why there's a half-man-half-horse creature.

    Art
    There are elements of this piece that I like: the shaggy, disheveled appearance fits the mythos for the centaur better than the usual oiled-bodybuilder-on-top-of-a-horse, and it at least suggests a sense of a culture - the distinctive hair and tattoos and adornments. Its a characterful piece, but I can't truly like it because the Centaur as a concept just doesn't appeal to me.

    Purpose and Tactics:


    On the one hand, you have the Centaur as wandering sage: a neutral good, fortune-telling NPC to handily serve as the mouthpiece of the DM and cram some exposition down their throats. One the other hand, you have the idea of the Centaur as a licentious, wild wanderer of abandon. Both can give compelling stories to player characters and numerous adventure hooks in their interactions with settled peoples. Centaur speak Elvish and Sylvan, but no Common (despite being universal wanderers) so deciphering a Centaur's prophecy might be difficult. A quest could easily revolve around an abandoned, aged Centaur's desire to tell his final prophecy to the right community or individual just as it could explore the tensions caused by raucous Centaurs moving temporarily into a settled region, trampling fences and being up all hours. The fluff gives them excellent scope fro a range of social encounters.

    For the kick-in-the-door players out there who'll happily kill one, they make for fairly interesting combat challenges. Their high passive perception makes it unlikely a stealthy approach will work, and their natural advantage is speed and skirmish tactics. Your Centaur's defenses will fold like wet cardboard before a party of level-appropriate adventurers, so take advantage of the charging damage and mobility to inflict a hefty 1d10 + 3d6 + 2d6 + 8 damage on an unfortunate victim. Then, charge out of range again, and ping players with your longbow attacks. If you focus your charges on ranged characters and spellcasters (and 50ft of movement should give you plenty of scope to do so on a large battlefield) you should confound melee combatants and pile pressure and damage of exactly those members of the party who fear it most. The Centaur has only one trick, but its a good one. At higher levels, a number of Centaurs will still be a credible threat although it might be a rocket-tag battle. The biggest weakness is that Centaurs are easily shut-down by magic like Tasha's Hideous Laughter or Grease or any control spells which will hamper them and make it easy for the party to turn their firepower on them fully.

    Fluff
    There is a rich vein of adventure hooks in this evocative passage for use in your game, yet the text is terse enough for you to easily insert your own fluff into the gaps to fit the Centaur into your world. Roaming sages can be obvious destinations for a quest - a hexcrawl that chases a Centaur band across a vast and alien landscape - just as they could give a quest themselves. Being nomadic, they will often come into contact and conflict with settled peoples - as above, those tensions give ample room for social quests where you manage relationships between communities. Another excellent hook is the idea of older Centaurs being left behind - the Centaur equivalent of being put out to pasture being essentially the opposite. This is excellent, gameable text.

    Hooks
    Beside the road your players encounter an octogenarian Centaur. Ashamed of his vulnerability and knowing he cannot make the journey himself, he asks only that your players deliver his last prophecy to the scion of an ancient line of mages, living far to the north....

    Bulug Firemane is the only known expert on *plot-relevant subject* - his sage knowledge will be needed if there is any hope of victory. However, he and his tribe of wanderers long ago drifted far into the East...

    Your players approach the village - there are trampled crops, broken bottles in the road - the villagers, exhausted and furious, demand you drive off the Centaurs whose endless partying has brought chaos to their lives.

    Verdict: A very well-executed monster - everything in the text is gameable and nothing is superfluous.
    Last edited by MrConsideration; 2015-10-24 at 03:15 AM.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    I too find centaurs difficult to work into my worlds. They're too large, too nomadic, to easily cram in a corner somewhere like one could do with a lot of the other sentient species in the Monster Manual, but they're not introduced as one of the core races whose histories define the setting, even though they really should matter.

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    I have not ever, in my 35 years of role-playing, used or encountered a centaur. Ever. A pity, perhaps, but also indicative of the problems with putting these critters into a campaign world.

    But now, after reading this, I actually will put a centaur sage/prophet into my game, just for flavor.

    Thanks for the input. Good work, as always.
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    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: Let's Read: The Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual!

    I generally try to have a 'wild plains' somewhere in my map for centaurs to roam in semi-nomadic tribes. Don't use them much directly but they make a good setting piece to say 'this place is just a bit wilder than your normal grasslands', or a centaur merchant (Quest for Glory 1?) can give an air of 'this city is super cosmopolitan to not find this unusual'

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