The fifth part of the Creature Collection with more Monsters and Undead.
The Hivebrood is a swarm of insects that reproduces by putting larvas into humanoid bodies which then grow to turn the person into one of them. They are all controlled by a hivemother. Maybe back in the early 80s that concept was still original. But probably not. The most interesting ability they have is that the broodmother is able to turn larvas into a more powerful form than normal drones to become hiveminds. Hiveminds have the interesting ability that they can gain any ability from any creature they eat, which includes any spells memorized by spellcasters they consumed. When in danger, a hivemind can release a chemical cloud that spreads through the hive and shares a single ability with all the regular drones for three rounds, after which it is lost. If that ability is something like casting fireball, the result can be utterly devastating for the PCs.
The Ice Wolf is simply a different name for the well known winter wolf and has exactly the same abilities. (Demon Dogs +1)
The Kopru is a classic monsters from X1 The Isle of Dread. It’s fame is mostly tied to that classic adventure. They have three tails which they use to grab enemies and have a special power to control the mind of any creature and have full accees to it. I did some snooping around if the kopru predates aboleths that are surprisingly similar, and it turns out they both appeared in the same year. And in addition, The Isle of Dread and Dwellers of the Forbidden City were both written by Zeb Cook. So yeah, they are basically the same idea slightly modified for B/X and AD&D. This is the same Cook that did the “Cook Expert” set of the “Moldvay/Cook” edition and also the Kara-Tur and Planescape settings. Why isn’t he more famous? He’s probably the second most influential person to make D&D into what we know now. Aboleths are a lot cooler than kopru, though.
The Nagpa is from the adventure X4 Master of the Desert Nomads, which is one of my favorite ones. And also made by Zeb Cook. Not as cool as the Bhut but better than the Juggernaut from the same adventure. They are humanoids with vulture heads and various magical powers like making objects within 20 meters to burst into flames or decay, paralyse all lawful characters within 3 meters, and cast darkness and illusions. It took about 30 years until designers realized that just four or five spell abilities are enough for an interesting encounter and you don’t need a spellcasting monster to have as many spells as a high level wizard.
Sabreclaws are winged humanoid creatures who are encountered in groups of up to 20. Individually they are in the lower middle range as monster strength goes, but they have the unique ability that all members of the group pool their hit points together and as long as any remain, the entire group will stay alive. Once the group has been dealt sufficient injuries, they all die at once, even individuals that have not been yet at all. They also are immune to spells of 1st to 3rd level and have saving throws like 25th level fighters. They have only 5 Hit Dice and are very dumb, but in large numbers they will extremely difficult to defeat as they can just fly away when they start to get severely injured. Swarms can consists of multiple linked groups and parties might face up to a hundred of them, which probably are a quite serious challenge even for relatively high level characters.
Tabi are small winged apes with venomous claws. Anyone poisoned by them will start to randomly fight anyone nearby and the venom can last for a full hour or two until its effect ends. Wizards can get a tabi as a familiar. I think they are from some American childrens book. (Evil Apes +1)
Yowlers are the yeth hounds from Planescape and D&D 3rd edition. They are large dogs with somewhat human-like faces and pointed ears that look like demonic horns. They are not particularly strong individually, but usually appear in groups and can fly through the air at great speeds. They come out only at night to hunt and prefer elves, dwaves, and halflings as prey. I think Planescape changed that to fey and fey-like angelic creatures, which I really like as it gives the players something to do when in the realms of the fey. Yowlers have a terrifying howl which causes anyone within 30 meters to flee in panic and the difficulty to resist it increases with the number of yowlers howling. They can only be harmed by silver or magical weapons and even then they take only very little damge. (Demon Dogs +1)
An Agarat looks just like a ghoul, but instead of paralyzing a living creture with its touch it has a scream that temporarily makes any nearby creaturs lose one character level. The level returns after about half an hour and each agarat can only scream once in every encounter, but multiple agarats can take down even higher level characters that way. If all levels are lost, creatures fall unconcious for a hour or two and then awaken unless they have been eaten. (Variant Ghouls +1)
The Dark-hood is a ghost that can only be harmed by greatly enchanted weapons and is very difficult to turn by a cleric. It attacks by creating visions of things created by the minds of their victims, so the people with the highest Intelligence scores are affected the worst. They gain some kind of sustenance from chasing people around in panic and each round a character runs from a dark-hood he temporarily loses 1d3 points of Constitution on a failed saving throw until he collapses from exhaustion. Though they can harm with their touch, they usually leave people alone once they have chased them through their lair for a while.
An Elder Ghoul is a slightly stronger kind of ghoul with only one special ability. When attacked it becomes surrounded by a green glow that increases 5 feet in diameter every round and makes all enemies within it have slightly reduced chances to hit and damage. Meh. (Variant Ghouls +1)
A Grey Philosopher is created when a chaotic cleric dies while his mind is occupied with a problem of great signficance. In undeath, the ghost will simply sit on a bench and chair and continue its ponderings and nothing can break its concentrations. Over many centuries, some of the grey philosophers evil thoughts take on a mind of their own and constantly swarm around it. These evil thoughts are the only real danger that comes from the ghost and can either be destroyed individualy or vanish when the philosopher is killed. They have pretty high hit rolls and are difficult to hit with weapons or spells but don’t do a lot of damage and have only very few hp. As the small ghost can move up to 30 meters away from the philosopher, it might not be immediately obvious where they come from and the main creature might be difficult to find if it sits in a dark corner or small storeroom. Since a grey philosopher does not actually do anything, they probably can’t be really used as the centerpiece of an adventure, but I think they probably could make a very interesting addition to larger ruins the PCs are visiting for a completely unconnected reason. They are more an interesting environment feature than a real enemy. I can perfectly imagine one of them sitting in some hidden corner in Dark Souls.
The Mesmer seems like a rip-off of the morkoth, which seems very weird since this game is also D&D and could just the morkoth as it is. It lives in a labyrinth of tunnels in the ocean floor that has hypnotic confusing effects on any who enter it. In the center sits the creature awaiting its prey. For some reason the mesmer is undead, while the morkoth is not, but that seems to be the only difference. There is no information how the mesmer looks like and how it comes into being. Weird.
The Phygorax is fascinating, being an undead fish. The spines on its back drain life energy, but it can not use them to attack. Instead it creates illusions that trick other creatures into touching it. Any creature that dies from this energy drain transforms into a phygorax itself. I wonder if the name is actually a Greek word that has a meaning or just some cool sounding letters.
Topis are creatures similar to ghouls that are created from human bodies that were shrunk down to tiny size by primitive witch doctors. They are suprisingly fast and can jump longer distances than expected for such small creatures and hits by their claws have an effect like the slow spell. Hitting them with maces and hammers deals only half damage but knocks them to the ground. (Variant Ghouls +1)
D&D has aquatic ogres (merrows), aquatic trolls (scrags), aquatic ghouls (lacedons), and aquatic umber hulks (vodyanoi). The Velya is the aquatic vampire. Most velyas were aquatic humanoids in life, such as mermen or aquatic elves and appear like blue skinned humans. They can turn into a shark or manta ray instead of a wolf or a bat, and when defeated they turn into liquid instead of mist and return to their lair. They can summon a swarm of small sharks instead of bats and they magically charm people by singing. Otherwise they are identical to normal vampires.
A Wyrd is an undead elf from the Known World setting. They appear like elven corpses wearing dark hooded robes. (Why? Just because!) They attack in a rather stange manner as they are always holding two glowing spheres of light in their hands which they either use to hit their enemies or throw them at them. When they do, new spheres immediately appear in their empty hands. Greater wyrds are much more powerful, having the ability to fly and hits by their spheres cause paralysis. I am pretty sure their is a story reason behind the spheres in the original adventure they appeared in, but with no further explanation given in this book it seems rather odd. (Skeletons with Robes +1)
Creature Collection Cliche Creature Counter:
- Evil Apes: 1
- Variant Ghouls: 3
- Demon Dogs: 3
- Skeletons with Robes: 2
Fantasy Safari Score:
- Evil Apes: 16
- Variant Ghouls: 15
- Demon Dogs: 10
- Skeletons with Robes: 9