Drider Tactics

I’ll wrap up “Drow Week” with the drider, a centaur-like monstrosity with the head and torso of a drow and the thorax and abdomen of a giant spider. (In both centaurs and driders, the torso of the humanoid replaces the head of the beast, creating a creature with, presumably, two whole cardiopulmonary systems. We’re probably better off not thinking about this too much.)

Driders, according to the Monster Manual flavor text, are debased creations of the goddess Lolth, presumably produced with some frequency as pious drow fail the challenges of the Demonweb Pits. The text says nothing about whether driders reproduce to create new generations of driders; I’m going to go on the assumption that they don’t, meaning that they’re not evolved creatures. Because of the means of their creation, they may or may not have a strong self-preservation impulse—some of them may even have a death wish.

Driders are fighting machines. They have high Strength, high Dexterity and exceptional Constitution, suiting them for any sort of combat—ranged or melee, ambush or assault, swift or prolonged. They have a triple Multiattack with either longsword or longbow and can replace one of either of those attacks with a poisonous bite. However, based on their proficiency in Stealth, let’s say they prefer to start combat with a surprise attack. Their Spider Climb ability allows them to maneuver along walls and ceilings, and their Web Walker ability lets them ignore movement penalties from the webs of giant spiders. (They do not, however, have the ability to create webs themselves. Why not, I wonder?) They’re strictly nocturnal and/or subterranean, having both 120-foot darkvision and Sunlight Sensitivity.

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Mimic Tactics

Since the days of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, the mimic has been one of the dirtiest tricks a dungeon master can pull on incautious players: a “door” or (usually) “treasure chest” that turns out to be a carnivorous monster. How on earth could such a thing evolve? At some point in prehistory, the mimic’s ancestors must have disguised themselves as natural objects, using octopus-like camouflage, only later adopting the forms of manmade objects after exposure to humanoid beings. This suggests a unique, specialized intelligence, akin to the ability of parrots and certain other birds to mimic speech . . . but one that’s used to lure and capture prey.

With strong physical ability scores across the board but especially high Strength and Constitution, the mimic is a “brute” creature adapted to close-range fighting. Yet it also has high proficiency in Stealth, along with darkvision: this is an ambush predator as much at home underground as aboveground. It has a sticky surface with which to ensnare its prey and advantage on attacks against any creature it’s caught this way.

The mimic’s particular combination of features is so calculated, there’s really only one way for it to behave: (more…)

Doppelgänger Tactics

Invasion of the body snatchers! Doppelgängers are shapeshifting humanoids (though the fifth-edition Monster Manual categorizes them not as humanoids but as monstrosities) that take on the appearance of other beings for fiendish purposes.

Doppelgängers have high Constitution and extremely high Dexterity, making them scrappy fighters. Their self-preservation instinct is strong, and they’re unusual among monsters in having a high Charisma, along with proficiency in Deception and Insight. They can’t be charmed, they can Read Thoughts, and they have the Ambusher and Surprise Attack features in addition to their Shapechanger power. All these abilities synergize to make the doppelgänger a sucker-puncher par excellence.

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Grick Tactics

The grick is a grayish, subterranean snake-worm monstrosity 5 to 8 feet in length, with a sharp, beaked mouth ringed by four clawed, suckered tentacles—in short, the stuff of nightmares. Normally a cavern-dweller, it occasionally ventures aboveground if food is scarce, ensconcing itself in rocky crevices where prey is likely to pass by.

Its Strength and Dexterity are high, in contrast with its average Constitution, so its preferred method of attack is ambush. It’s also primarily nocturnal, on the basis of its darkvision, though not exclusively: it may, for instance, hide in a dark crevice aboveground, yet attack creatures that are outside in the light. At the same time, though, it’s probably more likely to attack around dusk than in the middle of the day. Although it has no Stealth skill per se, it has the Stone Camouflage feature, which gives it advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks in rocky terrain. Consequently, it will stick to this kind of area and remain hidden until a target creature draws near, then Attack from hiding, with advantage.

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Ettercap Tactics

Ettercaps are arachnid-humanoid hybrids, and not the adorkable, crime-fighting type. They live in forests, herd spiders, and generally lend an air of gloom and despair to wherever they live. Anytime a party of adventurers encounters an ettercap, it will be accompanied by at least a few giant spiders.

Ettercaps are robust in all their physical abilities, with Dexterity leading by a nose. They’re not afraid of a toe-to-toe confrontation, but considering their high Dexterity, combined with their Stealth and Survival skills, an ambush scenario is more likely, perhaps with the ettercaps beginning the encounter hiding in trees (thanks to their Spider Climb skill). They also have darkvision, Web Sense and Web Walker, making it advantageous for them to blanket dimly lit parts of thick forests with webs and wait for hapless travelers to get stuck in them. Alternatively, if there’s a road or trail that passes through their forest, they may lay webs across the path which even travelers who notice them and aren’t caught in them will still be stopped by, giving the ettercaps an opportunity to attack. An adventuring party that makes camp in the woods may wake in the morning to find its campsite entirely encircled by webs.

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