How do you re-imagine classic monsters?

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After following an extremely terrifying thread about Mind Flayers and hearing things that I had never thought of before, I got the idea of asking you guys if there are any monsters you use that are just as classic as Mind Flayers, but that you feel you play completely different in your games than anybody else does. Do you have any ideas that you think other people would be interested in?

Here are some of mine:

Elementals: don't want to be here. At all. Why would they? A world where the chemistry that they grew up believing comprised the entire real world is mixed haphazardly with 3 completely absurd, nonsense substances would be the most Eldritch Abonination world un-imaginable.

A sparse few might look at the fact that they're somehow surviving in such an Eldritch Universe and think "Challenge Accepted." However, most would either be desperate to find any a portal back to their world, whatever the personal cost, or else go mad from the revelation that such a universe can possibly exist - when by no reasonable definition of matter should it be allowed to - and feel that they have to destroy as much as possible (or at least as many portals as possible) lest anything in it escape to infect the "real world."

Rust Monsters: biological WMD created by unusually evil Druids to bring the more advanced civilizations to their knees, hoping to force them to return to the "real world." 

Founder and figurehead of Just Say Yes!

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
As a player, I've seen some interesting refluffing - for example, I've seen a Beholder stat block represent a dude a couple times, and a gelatinous cube reflavoured as a giant space hamster
DM advice: 1. Do a Session Zero. 2. Start With Action. 3. Always say "Yes" to player ideas. 4. Don't build railroads. 5. Make success, failure, and middling rolls interesting. Player advice: 1. Don't be a dick. 2. Build off each other, don't block each other. 3. You're supposed to be a badass. Act like it. Take risks. My poorly updated blog: http://engineeredfun.wordpress.com/
As a player, I've seen some interesting refluffing - for example, I've seen a Beholder stat block represent a dude a couple times, and a gelatinous cube reflavoured as a giant space hamster

Was the giant space hamster from an Iserith game by any chance?

@Beldak, I like the rust monster bit.  I may have to use that.

Personally, I unfortunately don't have much to add here.  I do a lot of reskinning, but that isn't particularly interesting.  While not a classic monster, I did use a Cadaver Collector that was operated on large spiked treads, similar to a tank, that could launch zombies at the players.  That thing was pretty brutal and made for a lot of fun.

Vampires in my game go into a "starving" mode if they cannot gain access to their grave soil instead of being able to reproduce their grave soil by sleeping in it for three days.  The starving vampires have a Nosferatu type look and are much more bestial.  They are never sated, and the blood of heroes is the only thing that helps them temporarily regain their more "human" features. 
We needed some half-drow in a recent game, so I used reflavored shadar-kai.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Was the giant space hamster from an Iserith game by any chance?



Yes. Snookums the giant space hamster was from a Spelljammer-esque adventure I wrote called "Star*Juice." The party's ranger and recovering juice junkie, Lance Manion, tamed it and rode around in its adorable cheek pouches. crimsyn was a showtune singing robot named Jerusalem S.L.I.M. that started a robo-revolution after forming an alliance with the chicken people. I guess you had to have been there.

I do a ton of reskinning. I wouldn't know where to begin. I tend to use classic, iconic monsters for major encounters and villains and play strongly to their existing tropes.

EDIT: Duh, I forgot I'm doing a lot of reimagining of classic monsters in my "4e superheroes" game. Iconic monsters are made into comic book villains e.g. Taurus (the minotaur), Hivemind (a lamia), and The Ooze (black pudding). 

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Was the giant space hamster from an Iserith game by any chance?



Yes. Snookums the giant space hamster was from a Spelljammer-esque adventure I wrote called "Star*Juice." The party's ranger and recovering juice junkie, Lance Manion, tamed it and rode around in its adorable cheek pouches. crimsyn was a showtune singing robot named Jerusalem S.L.I.M. that started a robo-revolution after forming an alliance with the chicken people. I guess you had to have been there.

I do a ton of reskinning. I wouldn't know where to begin. I tend to use classic, iconic monsters for major encounters and villains and play strongly to their existing tropes.

EDIT: Duh, I forgot I'm doing a lot of reimagining of classic monsters in my "4e superheroes" game. Iconic monsters are made into comic book villains e.g. Taurus (the minotaur), Hivemind (a lamia), and The Ooze (black pudding). 

Not to get too off topic, but when I first joined the forums, you were running "Star*Juice" and sent me some of the maps to check out when I was trying to flesh out an ancient monastery to Pelor that was overrun with undead.  Anyway, your maps and help were well received, and it really did end up as more of a dungeon run than dungeon crawl: nice clock, fast-paced combat, memorable monsters -- one of whom is still after the poor PCs.

But when I heard space hamster I knew it had to have been one of yours. 
Not to get too off topic, but when I first joined the forums, you were running "Star*Juice" and sent me some of the maps to check out when I was trying to flesh out an ancient monastery to Pelor that was overrun with undead.  Anyway, your maps and help were well received, and it really did end up as more of a dungeon run than dungeon crawl: nice clock, fast-paced combat, memorable monsters -- one of whom is still after the poor PCs.

But when I heard space hamster I knew it had to have been one of yours. 



Cool, happy to hear it worked for you guys! Sector-design dungeons on a timer are far superior to "delve-style" dungeons in my opinion. Though I have recently reimagined delve-style dungeons into something I find more palatable. I've got about 5 of them done up as one-shots.

Right now I'm doing up a location-based scenario for Gamma World. I've reskinned kanks as "gigants," big mutated ants that built their mound around the Temple of the Hostess, an experimental facility of the Ancients where the latest in Twinkie technology was researched. I'll be reskinning zombies and ghouls into The Preservatives, ancients that took refuge during the Big Mistake and gained immortality by eating, well, nothing but preservatives. Their leader, Little Debbie, is going to be some kind of reskinned undead, haven't decided yet.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

While not a classic monster, I did use a Cadaver Collector that was operated on large spiked treads, similar to a tank, that could launch zombies at the players. That thing was pretty brutal and made for a lot of fun. 

I think you won the thread

Personally, I unfortunately don't have much to add here. I do a lot of reskinning, but that isn't particularly interesting.

Liar ;)

Founder and figurehead of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.

 Well, not really a classic monster, but I've always basically given free reign to the warforged to stand in for damn near any sort of animated object or anything created rather than born/hatched. Golems, animated statues, scarecrows, swords with souls in them, even part of the consciousness of a genius loci inhabiting an animated plant that it had caused to grow up through an old suit of armor in order to form a humanoid effigy (Yes, I am a Swamp Thing fan, lol). As far as warforged PCs go, I tell the players their warforged can be pretty much anything as long as what they come up with is interesting/entertaining and fits with the tone of the current game. They can be a cyborg created by gnomes if they want, although in a serious game they'll need some sort of accident/assault/tragedy somewhere in their backstory to explain exactly why the gnomes were Frankensteining them into the 6 Million GP Half-Orc. I try to save the gnomish mad scientists experimenting on victims for the less serious games.

 Orcs and half-orcs are another race I've pretty much decommissioned the traditional fluff on - depending on the campaign world and the individual tribe, many of them tend to favor a much more natural Neanderthal or Aboriginal/First Nations vibe, while others are simply strong tribal warrior cultures who've assimilated many of the traits of their more-civilized neighbors of other races and hold various peace and trade treaties with them.

 I've recently been toying around in my head with the idea of a tribe of kobolds with the thematic feel and somewhat the physical look of a pack of velociraptors (sleek, fast and deadly rather than cowardly, etc.), and also with a more traditional look but played as more of a swarm or hivemind (sort of like H.R. Giger's version of a nest of ants)... Altering the psychology in different ways to see what sort of changes it would make to the traditional representation of them.

 Oh, and speaking of Gamma World, as a player I once tweaked a tribe of Bullywugs into a warren of Hoops for a D&D/GW/Boot Hill crossover game one of my old DMs was running back in 1E. (Something about badass rabbits has always just sparked a weird fascination in me, long before I ever saw Donnie Darko...)

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I'd like to use this thread for a request, if Beldak doesn't mind.  My regular campaign is in a homebrewed Nentir Vale -- at least until around the time the heroes hit paragon -- and I had the idea that maybe there's an Eladrin town that crosses over into the Gray Downs once every millenia.  Since the Gray Downs are tainted with necrotic energy, and the Eladrin town will be teeming with fey magic, what would happen when the two shall meet?  What kind of monstrosities would the townsfolk be turned into, and what would become of the undead that are already inhabiting the Downs?  I'm thinking some Tomb motes and detritus type things would be cool, but what else?  There also seems a strong probability of reflavoring some aberrant creatures.  
All the living become undead and all the undead become living. For a time.

The locals know this and plan accordingly. It's part of their tradition now. Complications ensue.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

All the living become undead and all the undead become living. For a time.

The locals know this and plan accordingly. It's part of their tradition now. Complications ensue.

See, I was thinking that this would be a new complication for the people of the Feywild, as the Gray Downs were not haunted last time the transition took place.  I like the shift, though.  The now-living would want to keep their lives, while a city of the dead being returned to the Feywild could have disastrous consequences.  

I like the idea; thanks. 
I'd like to use this thread for a request, if Beldak doesn't mind.

Go ahead! The point of the thread was for everybody to get new ideas from each other, so no problem ;)

I don't have any ideas for what could happen when the two magics do interact specifically beyond what's already covered, but I'm sensing a lot of conflict between those who disagree about whether they should be allowed to interact:

  1. Some people on either side would want to quarantine their world from the other as much as possible until they can be safely seperated again (and would want to find a way for them to seperate as quickly as possible so that neither gets contaminated again)

  2. Some people on either side would want to destroy as much of the other world as possible (and might want to find a way to keep them from seperating so that they can continue fighting)

  3. Some people on either side would want to mutate as many people as possible from both sides to create new races before they have to be seperated again (and might want to find a way to keep them from seperating so that they can continue experimenting)


People from Ideologies 1 and 2, both campaigning for racial superiority, might further team up against 3 to keep the new monsters from being created.

People from Ideologies 1 and 3, each wanting as many people to survive as possible, might team up against 2 to prevent the apocalyptic warfare

People from Ideologies 2 and 3, both wanting the parts of each world to stay together for either creation or destruction, might team up against 1 to prevent them from seperating everybody again. 

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
An angry horde of bees.

The cluster starts out as a 15x15 monster acting as a single entity.

The HP starts out super high. Somewhere around 150+

1 hit point per bee. Each point lost is one bee lost

As HP drops, the cluster shrinks. Lose 1 square of size (5 foot), per every 20 hit points lost or so.

As HP drops, AC increases. AC starts out at 10. Every 10-15 HP lost equals a 3 point boost in AC. By the time it drops to around a single 5 foot square (you can not drop lower than that in size) it will have approximately 50+ AC depending on your chosen numbers and the following math. Making it stupid hard to hit and very deadly.

A terrifying manuever is to split the bees up into two smaller sections, increasing their AC slightly based on the division and new size categories for each smaller hoard.

The bees can be poisonous, and generally have attack bonuses in the +7 range and damage at 2d6+4 for a standard swarm attack.

Edit: Movement speed is 60 ft. fly (perfect).
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@Beldak, very cool.  What kinds of monsters do you think would be cool to see?  I could see Foulspawn being a kind of twisted result of the intermingling magic.  

Some other ideas:
Shambling Mounds that are healed by necrotic energy
Something nasty with lamias
Giant zombie dire bears that are reskinned Magma Striders (fire changed to necrotic; cold changed to radiant)
An angry hoard of bees...

You know, I remember sleep. I miss it ;)

@Beldak, very cool. What kinds of monsters do you think would be cool to see?

How about something unstable? Something with both Fey and Necrotic HP and which changes form if exposed to more of one type of damage/healing than the other?

Just 1 HP of the abnormal type would be enough to taint the creature and affect the way it responds to spells, but once that taint is gone, it has to be added back specifically before any spells can be impacted again. Also, physical injuries exclusively damage the dominant biology and make it harder to resist the taint.


  • Strongly Fey / Weak Necrotic Taint


    • At least 5 HP (Fey) for each HP (Necrotic); treated as Fey (physical attacks damage HP (Fey) to 100% of full effect)


      • Life from spell heals HP (Fey) to 100% of full effect

      • Death from spell damages HP (Fey) to 100% of full effect



  • Weakly Fey / Strong Necrotic Taint


    • Between 2 and 5 HP (Fey) for each HP (Necrotic); treated as Fey (physical attacks damage HP (Fey) to 100% of full effect)


      • Life from spell heals HP (Fey) to 75% of full effect and damages HP (Necrotic) to 25% of full effect (overall healing of 50% full effect)

      • Death from spell damages HP (Fey) to 75% of full effect and heals HP (Necrotic) to 25% of full effect (overall damage of 50% full effect)


    • Physical attacks damage HP (Fey) to 100% of full effect


  • Neutral


    • Similar Fey and Necrotic HP; treated as both, neither, or something else entirely (physical attacks damage both HP (Fey) and HP (Necrotic) to 50% of full effect each


      • Life spell heals HP (Fey) to 50% of full effect and damages HP (Necrotic) to 50% of full effect (no overall healing/damage)

      • Death spell damages HP (Fey) to 50% of full effect and heals HP (Necrotic) to 50% of full effect (no overall healing/damage)



  • Weakly Necrotic / Strong Fey Taint


    • Between 2 and 5 HP (Necrotic) for each HP (Fey); treated as Necrotic (physical attacks damage HP (Necrotic) to 100% of full effect)


      • Life spell heals HP (Fey) to 25% of full effect and damages HP (Necrotic) to 75% of full effect (overall damage of 50% full effect)

      • Death spell damages HP (Fey) to 25% of full effect and heals HP (Necrotic) to 75% of full effect (overall healing of 50% full effect)



  • Strongly Necrotic / Weak Fey Taint


    • At least 5 HP (Necrotic) for each HP (Fey); treated as Necrotic (physical attacks damage HP (Necrotic) to 100% of full effect)


      • Life spell damages HP (Necrotic) to 100% of full effect

      • Death spell heals HP (Necrotic) to 100% of full effect




In borderline cases, the creature would be ruled in favor of the dominant HP: if a creature had 30 HP (Necrotic) and 6 HP (Fey), then the 5:1 would be ruled Strongly Necrotic instead of Weakly Necrotic.

Example: A creature with 20 HP (Necrotic) and 5 HP (Fey) would be ruled Weakly Necrotic (4:1). If it were attacked with a Life spell worth 20 HP, it would now have 20-15=5 HP (Necrotic) and 5+5=10 HP (Fey), and the new 2:1 ratio of 10 HP (Fey) to 5 HP (Necrotic) would be ruled Weakly Fey rather than Neutral. 

 Or is that too much bookkeeping?

Founder and figurehead of Just Say Yes!

Member of LGBT Gamers

Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
A game is a fictional construct created for the sake of the players, not the other way around. If you have a question "How do I keep X from happening at my table," and you feel that the out-of-game answer "Talk the the other people at your table" won't help, then the in-game answers "Remove mechanics A, B, and/or C, add mechanics L, M, and/or N" will not help either.
Gem Dragons are like Shardminds in my groups campaign setting, while Shardminds are more like Wilden, only born from cystal and earth instead of wood and leaves.

Wilden are... wierd... I don't think we've ever really fleshed out the campaign lore for them, but they're like mutliple fey spirits inhabiting earthly plants that mutate into humanoid creatures from the over abundance of magic...

Needless to say, my group's setting has done so very funky stuff with creature lore at times XD
Reskinned trolls in my current world DO all live under bridges(if they are able) and are magiclly undetectable by anyone on the bridge. 

But basicly, I re-skin or change almost all the monsters in my game worlds. Creating a level of the mysterious and unknown when encountering new things.
I do anchor some basic monsters so the players can have a feel for how dangerous they are. Eg. the first lvl characters know they can fight those 8 kobolds, should be very leary of the ogre, and should run from the stone giant.

 
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