Monsters and animals in Dragonbane are pretty simple. They only have five stats and maybe three skills, and they are all numbers that you assign independently at any value you think seems appropriate. There’s a good piece of wisdom that’s been around for a while that says that almost any custom monster you’ll ever want to stat will be adequately represented by the default stats for a bear, wolf, or giant spider. Nearly every fantasy RPG has these three and they work well enough as stand-ins for most medium or large predator and giant insect. Maybe adjust hit points and armor a bit, but in practice players probably won’t even notice that difference.
However, occasionally, you have a creature that takes a bit more tinkering than that. The sural from Kaendor doesn’t resemble any of these three. But even in such a case, you usually can get pretty far with just combining parts of existing creatures. The Dragonbane rulebook only has 15 creatures and none of them are either aquatic or snakes. But there’s also an adventure book in the set, which does have a few adventure specific creatures as well. And the White Death is just what I need.
The sural is a large eel-like creature that lives in many swamps and partially flooded caves. While it does feed on fish, its main prey are mammals and birds that come to the water to drink, which it grabs with its jaws and then drags into the water to drown.
- Ferocity: 1
- Size: Large
- Movement: 16 (in water)
- Armor: –
- HP: 16
Monster Attacks (1d6 or pick one)
- 1-2: Tail Swipe! The sural swipes its tail at a player character within 10 meters. The attack inflicts 2D6 bludgeoning damage and knocks the victim down.
- 3-4: Ferocious Bite! The sural bites a player character with its strong jaws. The attack inflicts 2D8 slashing damage.
- 5-6 Drowning! The sural pulls a player character into the deep and the victim immediately begins to drown. The player character cannot move or perform actions that require body movement, except trying to break free, which takes a STR roll. Others can help.
Monsters in Dragonbane are different from animals and NPCs. They automatically hit with their attacks unless a player decides to make a Dodge check. (They can not be parried.) They can see in the dark, are immune to poison, fear, and some spells, can not be shoved or grappled, and automatically resist the Persuasion skill. They are very much considered to be unnatural creatures.
While I guess surals could be treated as ordinary animals, I think that encounters with them should be memorable scenes in dramatic environments of heroic scope. Making them monsters with everything that comes with it seems appropriate. However, since they are meant to be encountered in small groups and not supposed to be the big monster of the week for an adventure, I decided to only give them a single turn every round (Ferocity: 1), instead of the multiple turns that most monsters get. And while being scaled, creatures like minotaurs and giant spiders don’t have any armor either, so surals can go without them as well.