New Monsters

by Malevolo

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New Monsters

Dungeons and Dragons is excruciatingly well balanced for a single type of combat: Short and winnable. Fights are exclusively one-sided, built to deplete resources or to challenge resource depleted players. This means that without throwing new monsters into the fray partway into a fight, that the first round of combat is the same as the last. These monsters are a part of an effort to break that monotony. Some get stronger as the fight goes on, some get weaker, and many work together to force the party into difficult positions where the party has to make tough choices.

Swarms lose strength over the course of the fight as individual members of the swarm are taken out. Instead of being at full power until they lose their last HP, a swarm loses one attack every time it loses hit points.

Villains introduce a new kind of action. While Legendary actions happen on other people's turns and Lair actions are tied to the villain's domain, the Villainous actions are tied to each round of combat to show off the villain's true power the longer the fight goes on.

Handlers control other creatures or other objects during a fight to become more powerful. A ghost that takes over a body gains physical attacks. A flame skull that enters animated armor and uses it as a mechanical suit. Handlers allow for a fight with multiple stages that redefine how the fight progresses.

Finally, while we know that monsters in the Monster Manual are not the only example of that monster in the world, we sometimes struggle to come up with unique higher or lower level examples of those monsters to be used in our games. The wizard driven mad and consumed by his magic becomes a Nothic- and yet our only example of a Nothic is only CR 2. What if the Nothic could still cast spells, or was capable of spreading their madness to the players? We will explore some of the greatest monsters at another level here.


There are many tiny creatures that threaten even the hardiest of adventurers, but only when in large groups. These rules allow them to band together to attack in a way that shows how formidable they can be.

Additional rules apply to swarms. We will use the Swarm of Quicklings as an example.

Rule Example Swarm of Quicklings
Swarms do not roll hit dice for Hit Points. Instead, their HP is equal to their number of Hit Dice. The Quicklings have 8d6 hit points. This means there are 8 Quicklings in the swarm, and they individually have 6 hit points.
When hit by a targeted attack such as a melee weapon attack or Ray of Frost, the Swarm only takes damage if it is equal or greater than the size of hit die the Swarm has. When it takes damage, it only loses 1 HP for each hit. A fighter makes two attacks against the swarm. It's first attack hits for 5 damage. Since it is below 6, the Swarm takes no damage. On the second swing, the Fighter gets a critical hit for 12 damage. The Swarm loses 1 hp for the slain quickling, leaving it with 7d6 HP.
Swarms are immune to any condition inflicted by a single target attack. A Wizard would be wise to avoid Blindness/Deafness on the swarm, and instead would do well with Grease.
When hit by an attack that requires a saving throw such as Fireball or Thunderwave, the Swarm makes a saving throw as normal. If it fails, the swarm loses HP equal to the difference between the roll and the spell save DC, to a maximum of the number of dice in the damage roll. The Swarm of Quicklings is hit with a Thunderwave with a DC of 14, so it makes a Constitution saving throw. It rolls a 10. Since Thunderwave deals 2 dice of damage, it deals 2 HP of damage to the Swarm.

List of Swarms Included

  • Bees, Swarm
  • Quickings, Swarm


Villains create the closest thing we have in D&D to a boss fight. They have actions similar to lair actions that are used on Initiative Count 20. Starting with the first round after the villain has acted on combat, a Villain Action happens on Initiative Count 20. To do a conditional action, the condition must be met. The first Action on the list whose condition is met is chosen.


Handlers each have a special property which declares what creature types they can control and to what level. As an action, a handler can control the host creature. Handlers can only control willing or unconscious creatures. The handler can't be targeted by any attack, spell, or other effect, and it retains its alignment, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. It otherwise uses the host's statistics, but doesn't gain access to the target's knowledge or proficiencies. The control lasts until the host drops to 0 hit points, the handler ends it as a bonus action, or the handler is turned or forced out by an effect like the dispel evil and good spell if applicable. When the control ends, the handler reappears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the host.

The handler retains its attacks and abilities. The handler has access to all of the creature's special traits. As a bonus action, it can cause the controlled creature to do an action. The handler does not have access to any legendary actions, lair actions, or villain actions.

Common archetypes are:

  • Ghost: Handles humanoids CR 3 or less
  • Technician: Handles constructs CR 5 or less
  • Rider: Handles large beasts CR 2 or less

Handler XP?

Handlers become a lot harder to kill once they're invulnerable to damage due to their host, so their CR is difficult to calculate. For every host destroyed alongside the handler, give them XP for creature one CR less than the Host as well.

List of Handlers Included

  • Lightning Skull


  • Nothic Cackler

Electric Juggernaut

Huge Construct, True Neutral

  • Armor Class 20 (Natural)
  • Hit Points 200 (15d12+70)
  • Speed 30 ft, Swim 30ft

22 (+6) 8 (-1) 24 (+7) 8 (-1) 10 (+0) 11 (+0)

  • Skills Arcana +5, Perception +2
  • Damage Resistances Fire
  • Damage Immunities Poison, Lightning
  • Condition Immunities Charmed, Frightened, Paralyzed, Poisoned, Prone
  • Senses darkvision 60ft
  • Languages Common
  • Challenge 5 (1800 XP)

Magic Resistance The Juggernaut has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.


Multiattack. The Juggernaut makes two Lightning Claw attacks

Lightning Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +9, Reach 10ft, one target. Hit 10 (2d6+3) Slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) Lightning damage.

Villain Actions

Rise! Condition: Has not been used in combat. The Electric Juggernaut electrifies the area around it, raising all dead creatures to life with 1 hit point under the Electric Juggernaut's control. These creatures can immediately take an action.

Delete! Condition: Has not been used in combat. The Electric Juggernaut disengages and move up to its movement speed toward an enemy of its choosing. It then makes a grapple check with them. The Electric Juggernaut has advantage on attacks against the grappled target.

Last Resort! Condition: The Electric Juggernaut has fewer than 50 HP remaining. The electric Juggernaut casts Thunderwave at 4th level (5d8). However, Thunderwave deals lightning damage instead and deals the same amount of force damage to itself.

Lightning Skull

Tiny Undead, Neutral Evil

  • Armor Class 13
  • Hit Points 40 (9d4+8)
  • Speed 0 ft. 40 ft. hover

1 (-5) 17 (+3) 14 (+2) 16 (+3) 10 (+0) 11 (+0)

  • Skills Arcana +5, Perception +2
  • Damage Resistances Fire
  • Damage Immunities Lightning
  • Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned, prone
  • Senses Darkvision 60ft, passive perception 12
  • Languages Common
  • Challenge 4 (1100 XP)

Illumination The Lightning Skull sheds dim light in a 15-foot radius.

Magic Resistance The Lightning Skull has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Rejuvenation If the Lightning Skull is destroyed, it regains all its hit points in 1 hour unless dispel magic or remove curse spell is cast on them.

Handler: Handles constructs CR 5 or less.


Multiattack. The Lightning Skull makes two Lightning Ray attacks

Lightning Ray. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5, Range 30, one target. Hit 13 (3d6+3) lightning damage.

Nothic Cackler

Medium Abberation, Alignment

  • Armor Class 15 (Natural Armor)
  • Hit Points 45 ()
  • Speed 30 ft.

14 (+2) 16 (+3) 16 (+3) 13 (+1) 10 (+0) 9 (-1)

  • Skills Arcana +3, Insight +4, Perception +2, Stealth +3
  • Senses Passive Perception 12
  • Languages Languages
  • Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Keen Sight The Nothic Cackler has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.


Multiattack. The Nothic makes two claw attacks

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 Hit: 6 (1d6+3) slashing damage.

Rotting Gaze. The Nothic targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw against this magic or take 10 (3d6) necrotic damage.

Maddening Cackle (Recharge 5-6). The Nothic cackles maddeningly. Each creature in a 15 foot cube originating from the Nothic must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, a creature moves 15 feet of the Nothic's choosing and takes 2d6 psychic damage. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and isn't moved.


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