Wandering Monsters: Basic Beasties

This week takes a brief look at some classics; the bulette (aka landshark), manticore, owlbear, and pseudodragon.

I could not find any stats for the bulette in Next, but if the manticore and owlbear are any indication I am guessing that it is going to be about as...straightforward as it was in 3rd Edition, where it could bite and claw you, or jump and for some reason only claw you a bunch of times. These are all pretty good examples of what I dislike about many monsters in Next: they just kind of stand there and trade blows until someone dies/runs away.

The manticore barely deviates from the formula by having a fly speed and ranged attack, so it can stay out of reach of the fighter and just annoy everyone with tail spikes until it runs out. One thing that gets me is, in a game where so many things are for some reason based on a per-day refresh, why they regrow at a rate of 1/hour (a rate that I would prescribe for many things, like hit points and spells). At any rate the most compelling out of the bunch goes to the owlbear, because if it hits you twice you are grabbed, and grabbed actually does something.

I am not surprised that there is nothing fresh about them, but given the existence of 4th Edition, Dungeon World, and 13th Age I am disappointed that this is what we are getting (especially after a year and a half). Oh, it is a bulette, it will bite you, or claw you, or maybe leap on you and claw you four times because for some reason it can leap really high.

4th Edition's bulette could dig tunnels, causing characters to fall (and dealt bonus damage against prone characters), or burst from the ground and attack everyone nearby. These two moves go a long way to evoke feeling that you are fighting something that can quickly burrow underground, suddenly surfacing to strike. These are not even things that "need" a grid; if a bulette burrows underground everyone nearby has to make a saving throw to avoid falling, and when it pops out it gets to make an attack against everyone nearby. Of course if characters split up then it might just go for the squishies, which forces them to make a choice.


  1. You didn't talk about the pseudodragon! Not that I expect it to be any different from the rest, but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts!

  2. You'd be right: between the telepathy, sleeping poison, and a "chameleonlike" ability to hide I fully expect it to look a lot like 3rd Edition's version (which means they can probably take two hits before going down).

    4th Edition made them a lot better in combat, with the ability to turn invisible and make a bite while getting away (the extra hit points do not hurt, too). This works out really well if you pair them with a wizard, druid, or someone else.

    If you wanted to evoke a previous-Edition feel, you could just change the poison that so it causes the target to be slowed, then unconscious. You could even do a three-strike thing so that if they fail while unconscious that you are out for an hour or more.


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