How to redeem the "Loser" monsters in D&D Next

Well, given that there's an entire column on "How monsters should be done in D&D Next", I think it'd be good to talk about the topic of "How do we make the infamous 'loser' monsters interesting?" You know, the stuff that gets made fun of by Jared Von Hindman and WTF D&D. I mean, Pathfinder did it really well, so why can't Wizards? I think a lot of thsoe creatures have potential, it's just that they were never given a "nitche" in-fluff. So, here's my ideas for a few of them:

-Gas Spores- This is kind of infamous as a "DM jerk move" monster, but I think that it could be interesting. My idea'd take from the concept in 4e that Gas Spores are a variant of Myconid (Look it up, it's in the "Underdark" book), exploiting Beholders' natural xenophobia to help the Myconids spread their spores,.

The occasional adventurers falling to them would be merely accidental, leading to many a misunderstanding between adventurers and myconids, but with them possibly being very useful for those beholder-fighters who also happen to be Myconid allies.

-Flumphs-While they are one of the most infamously goofy creatures, though some defend them for the idea of an ugly-cute good tentacle monster, I think Pathfinder finally gave them a good nitche as alien defenders of the world against aberrant horrors.

So, my idea'd have D&D cribbing from that, but adding even more crazy sci-fi elements. Like, Art-Deco-y ray guns and rocketbelts, giant Jules Verne-y air fortresses with rockets and propellers, and giant biomechanical spaceship gods and such. It'd be perfect for Spelljammer or Mystara.

-Fell Taints- They're fine as-is as weak harbingers of the Far Realm, but for the love of god, change their name to something that doesn't make me giggle like a 14-year-old.

-Hollyphants- Their animal-ness and them being Neutral Good would make them perfect as relatives of the Guardianls, perhaps their equivalent to Guardian Daemons/Yugoloths. They could be designed as mercenaries-for-hire, subtly and cleverly spreading their masters' agenda of Good to wherever they're working.

They'd probably work even better if you statted them up to work well as hirelings for high-level PCs, as that'd totally work for that new fluff idea. It'd also be neat as a "trick" monster, like having what you thought was the BBEG's familiar turn out to be a Hollyphant, or having a cute little "team pet" that accompanies the PCs turn from "Cutesy flying elephant" to "Huling Mr. Cave-Your-Unholy-Skull-In" when the party confronts; say; a demon or devil that's waaaaay above their own level.

So, what unpopular/ridiculous monsters deserve a revamp in your eyes and how?
Flumphs: The Flumphs have one thing that has always made them stand out from other "dumb" monsters:  Lawful Good.  Flumphs may be acid-stinging fart-propelled hovering jellyfish, but they're sapient and pretty much on the side of the "good guys" here.  I like them being around as a case of "Good doesn't always look good" more than as the next checkmark on the to-do list of murder known as the Monster Manual.  Pathfinder's "Misfit Monsters Redeemed" went a good way with them and rather proved they only needed to be fleshed out in order to shine.

Morkoth: Keep the "Creature at the heart of the maze" aspect, but make them amphibious.  While the heart of the maze is liable to be underwater (and hypnotized victims to be drowned halfway through), most of the problems of access to them go away if any old fetid cave entrance could link up to a Morkoth's lair (and it's possible to make an amphibious Morkoth lair accessable to both the aquatic monster and creatures that can't breathe water)

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THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

I really love Fell Taints as a low level Aberrant threat - mainly because they are creepy as all hell. They certainly got good miliage when I ran a Far-Ream threat themed campaign.
I'd rather keep silly monsters silly or weird...there's a place for them in the game as not everything has to be serious or grim.  Encounters with such creatures can be interesting and entertaining on their own merits.
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon
I'd rather keep silly monsters silly or weird...there's a place for them in the game as not everything has to be serious or grim.  Encounters with such creatures can be interesting and entertaining on their own merits.



Oh I whole-heartedly agree with that. I mean, the Thought Eater's redesign in 3e didn't win it a whole lot of new fans, but it did piss off a whole lot of the people who liked the original "emaciated platypus" design. I think it's less about trying to make them "serious" and "edgy" and more about trying to make them feel like they have a specific nitche in the game's setting so people have a rough idea of how to use them/what to do with them in their own homebrew settings.

I mean, for example, if they re-named the Giant Space Hamster the Gnome-Ox or something like that and gave it to the Rock Gnomes (who appear to have been merged with the Tinker Gnomes in Next) as a beast of burden in their mountain homes, it'd still be goofy as hell, but it'd fit a lot better in the various non-Spelljammer settings. It's all about finding a nitche for these weirdos, much like real evolution.
I support this inititive.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

That's the spirit! Also, check out Bogleech's articles on the subject, as he's got a lot of great ideas on there subject. I especially love just idea for the Gambado having a civilization based into using different types of skulls.
Also, I came up with a way for the Gyerians to fit into a D&D world where James Wyatt failed: Make them a Groundling subrace of the Dohwar. I mean, they're both comical avian humanoids with a similar bodytype, and given the Dohwar's ESP powers, the Gyerian's deadly sneeze could easily be ret-conned as a psychic blast that happens to co-incide with a massive sneeze, due to them evolving in a different direction from the other Dohwar thanks to them being isolated on various planets.

The Senmurv could easily be fixed by making it look waaaaaaaay less Sparkledog-ish and perhaps taking inspiration from Borges' version of the Simurgh where it's actually thirty birds merged into one, allowing it to split into a swarm.

And the Roving Mauler could be fixed by giving it abilities associated with the vestige (Buer) it represents, I.E. healing and tracking powers and making it super easy to summon with a ritual, allowing it to be sort of a common "Wizard's Weird Extraplanar Helper" monster. Because, I could totally see it fitting that archetype.

Monkeybees should get opposible thumbs, but otherwise stay the same. Because Monkeybees.

Giant Black Squirrels should just straight up rip off Jon Hodgman (No shame in taking from the masters!) and associate them with hoboes and folk at the margins of society, likely powered by the Abyss if we want to keep them in-character with Hodgman's hoboes.

Keep the Terlen the same. Because you cannot change perfection
All you really have to do with any of these odd creatures is use them in a creative, engaging, & memorable ways.

Do that & your players will tell the tale of when they met a _____ for decades to come.
Fail?  And the players will occasionally say something like "Oh yeah, we killed one of those one time."
i dont think there is any loser monsters at all in dnd, its all how the dm uses them.
I agree with you there, but the thing is, a monster's got to have a lot of good fluff built up both in the original text and in D&D's many settings to allow people to get past their goofiness. And that's a thing a lot of these monsters lack even though they have the potential for it, and thus a thing that D&D Next needs to fix.

For example, compare the amount of Flumph-defenders before and after Paizo's re-working of them as Derlethian defenders against horrible space monsters...