I thought I’d do a bit of a different blog post than normal. I posted a video on this last week. For anyone who might be interested in reading the transcript instead I’m make it available below.
Hey everyone, DnD Detective here,
So today I’m going to be talking about some of my favourite monsters from Kobold Press’s Tome of Beast book. Despite the book being pretty well received in the community, it doesn’t feel like it’s gotten enough attention here on youtube. At least when it comes to highlighting its most interesting creatures.
So I thought I’d make this video to highlight my top 10 creatures from the book.
#10 Eonic Drifter
For those not aware of them, they are basically time travelling collectors. They will collect all sorts of different types of gear from the various periods they travel to.
I like the eonic drifter because it presents an opportunity for you to use time travel in a campaign. It’s a concept that can make plotlines really complicated, so I can see why it gets avoided, but for less serious campaigns I think this is a great creature to introduce to the party.
One simple use for it is to allow the party to have access to artifacts and magic items that perhaps they couldn’t get in their time now. This could prove to be an important piece of a puzzle in a campaign where an object can only be acquired by going back in time to retrieve it. Something akin to a Zelda Oracle of Ages.
I would avoid using this in combat, though. It’s just going to make everyone’s head hurt.
A version of the Zaratan also exists officially in 5E in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. This one, however, is a bit more focussed on just raw health and damage while the Mordenkainen one is more tactical.
With an average of 507 health and a creature that is resistant against all the weapon damage types, including from magic weapons, this thing is a literal beast to have to deal with. It’s not that surprising it’s considered a CR26 creature when you compare it to the Mordenkainen’s CR22 creature.
The downside with it, though is that it is a bit boring as an enemy. It’s just kind of a lumbering giant that is particularly weak against anything involving a dexterity save.
Still, when you reveal to the party that the island they are on is actually a giant turtle, it can make for a memorable moment. For what it’s worth I think it’s definitely worth looking into as a creature featured in your campaign.
#8 Rat King
How can you say no to a mass of rats that gains sentience? You are bound to have a good time with this sort of a creature in play. Especially with this rat king going more insane with each rat it adds to its mass.
This enemy makes a perfect boss for a low-level dungeon or sewer crawl. As a CR 5 monster, you could throw it by itself up against a level 3 or 4 party as a final fight.
What’s even great is that it can heal itself off rats near it. So you can have a situation where the party thinks its near-death but, thanks to a few well-directed strikes against its own rat allies, the rat king is able to regain a large amount of its health. With four attacks available to it each round it can easily afford to spend one of these killing one of its own rats in order to restore its lost health.
It’s also resistant against bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing weapons even if they are from a magic weapon and has a bunch of different condition immunities. So it’s not going to be an easy kill.
DM’s using it should also note its 20-foot burrow speed. The king is likely to want to scatter if it gets to be too low in health and tunnelling downward is always an option for it.
This is a creature that really benefits from more of a survival campaign, especially one in the desert. But it could also work elsewhere, for instance in a sea campaign.
What’s great about it is that you can throw this at your party and they really can’t counter its illusion abilities. Even if they are aware that what they are seeing is an illusion they still are subject to the conditions the Mirage (aka the Mirage Arcane spell) places on them. That includes creating difficult terrain for the party.
It’s pseudopods can also quickly devastate two members of the party should they get too close.
A party unlikely enough to fall victim to this creature may find themselves being forced to carry out a quest on its behalf. What that would be, I don’t know. It may be the mind of a dead wizard simply reaching out in the hopes of ending this state and moving on. With a quest being given for it to do just that.
#6 Ghoul Emperor
Honestly, in terms of tone, the Ghoul Emperor just feels very vampiric. He’s this civilized, intelligent, corporeal, undead character after all.
But at the end of the day, he isn’t. Mechanically he’s this wicked spellcaster that can dish out a ton of damage. He’s got a ton of different spells to work with too, with power word kill being, of course, the most deadly one in his arsenal.
His lair actions can make him a challenging foe as well. With the ability to cut off the party from each other, even temporarily, he can wreak havoc on even the most organized of parties.
His limited burrow speed gives him another interesting edge over similar undead. Fifteen feet isn’t anything impressive, but its something that sets him apart from other creatures. It could be easy for him to use this to his advantage, forcing a party to fight him in confined pathways where spells like Cloudkill can prove far more useful.
Finally, his claw attack provides him with a solid chance to paralyze his target. If he does this successfully, this can be deadly since it will mean any attacks he makes against the target before the end of that targets turn are a critical hit. A lucky claw attack from him could prove quickly devastating to targets that don’t have a lot of health.
There is something about this monster I just like. Maybe it’s because its got this great desert undead theme, maybe its because it’s something that your party can really struggle to kill. It can haunt them until they figure out how to kill it. In this way, it’s similar to a lich, though much less powerful.
It’s also a creature that allows for a great backstory and moral problems. Maybe this creature was a criminal in life, but maybe its crime was killing a corrupt noble in a political system that defends the corrupt and exploits the weak. It’s really up to you as the DM to how you want to portray this creature. You could play it as the chaotic evil being it is, or you could go beyond that and build a character that the party can relate to with it. Even if it can’t speak, that doesn’t mean a story can’t be told about it.
As a reasonably intelligent creature, it may even formulate its own plans for revenge against the party or the people who wronged it.
Ultimately, with a ton of different damage resistances, a few immunities, and the ability to reappear after 2d4 days if the party doesn’t figure out how to kill it, this can make for a really memorable encounter for the group.
#4 Golem, Hoard
The hoard golem is probably one of the most interesting monsters I’ve ever seen. Just when a party thinks they have secured a treasure, out comes this pretty badass monster.
Like honestly, doesn’t this just ooze fun? A dragon using an illusion on his or her treasure is, of course, a classic trope. But imagine one that instead just enchants it and turns it into a construct. Now that is villainy.
What’s worse for the party is that if they got caught up in the cyclone, it can create they can actually lose some of their items, including their magic items, to the hoard. More specifically, it will take their most valuable item (which may be the subject of some debate given 5E’s reluctance to actually give magic items specific values). I would just base it on rarity, with non-consumable items getting priority.
I’ll be honest. These creep me the heck out.
What makes these creatures so great is because you can set the atmosphere of a place merely with one encounter against them. Their origins are mysterious and dripping in tragedy. They don’t have to be a young child either; young adults will do nicely as well.
Their buried alive feature, in particular, is going to make for a pretty memorable encounter. But the great thing about them is that you don’t even need to enter combat for them to really create a memorable experience. In fact, if it weren’t for their buried alive feature, they would probably be a fairly boring combat encounter.
Ultimately, they are a creature that is also easy for you to slip into any campaign. Whether you are in a rural or urban area, they can easily be encountered either way.
#2 Grim Jester
The grim jester is probably one of the most unique monsters I’ve seen in 5E because it has no actual claws or weapons. Instead, it kills you with laughter, deadly laughter. In fact failing a wisdom saving throw against its 60-foot radius ability will cause any creature to fall prone and become incapacitated for 1d4 rounds. Every creature then has to make a constitution saving throw at the end of each of the turns they are incapacitated. If they fail, they are reduced to 0 hit points. Now they are going to be making death saves, which are made at disadvantage if within 60 feet of the jester.
If that didn’t suck enough, trying to heal a party member can quickly backfire, because the jester’s abilities will change that healing into damage.
Plus it can cast nasty spells like Finger of Death and Delayed Blast Fireball. It also gets helpful illusion spells like Disguise Self, Mislead, and Seeming.
More than this though it’s actually just an interesting villain. It seemingly can’t die and will return next to its master upon its death. Yet that may give it somewhat of a tormented existence because this is not a creature that chose undead for itself, instead it’s simply a bard that on its death bed moved the death god to laughter.
#1: Death Butterfly Swarm
Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with this monster. Imagine, your party is walking in a forest, and they come across beautiful butterflies. Only to find out that they are actually these deadly creatures that can very quickly leave your party blind and poisoned.
These creatures are just a great way to throw off your party and throw what really is a fun encounter at them. They are also nice because with their lowest form being CR4 they can make for a deadly encounter for a level 2 party. But with enough swarms, they can also make a tough encounter for higher-level parties too.
They also get darkvision too. So maybe your party might encounter them in a pitch-black part of the forest. The few party members that don’t have darkvision are left scrambling to see what it is attacking the rest of their group. That is before they are struck by blindness.