(This is my first attempt to post my homebrew here, and I welcome all constructive feedback. But please be gentle!)
I have always found D&D to be quite lacking when it comes to aberrations and other such otherworldly monsters. I want more cosmic horror, but while still having a "beatable" encounter as is the theme for most D&D scenarios – as opposed to say, Call of Cthulhu. I wanted to create something that is so strange that at first sight adventurers are likely to misidentify it as something other than a creature. I drew some inspiration from the infamous False Hydra, which some of you may notice.
With that in mind, I tried to design a monster that was more of an environmental hazard than a living creature while still being a mortal adversary and in this I hope I have achieved something.
I opted to name this creature the Bog Mother because they reside in bogs, swamps, and humid jungles, but also because their alien appendages take on vaguely-humanoid form of the old hag, dressed in a grey cloak.
A Bog Mother is a horrible nightmare of a creature, and a thankfully rare one at that. Spending most of their time wandering about in the centers of swamps and jungles, the Bog Mother's typical prey consists mostly of wildlife. Lost travelers and inexperienced adventurers seeking shortcuts through these areas may find themselves crossing paths with a Bog Mother, though they may not even know that they've done so until it is too late. No one knows where Bog Mothers come from or why they have adopted the form of the cloaked old-woman. Unfortunately, some travelers may even find themselves lost in the fog, inadvertently seeking help from a Bog Mother's appendage-body, only seeing the vague shape of a hermit in the distance. Usually these poor people only realize something is amiss once surrounded entirely by the Bog Mother, either falling prey to its violating domination, or being quickly mummified as its moisture is swiftly drained. Older Bog Mothers are known to keep any number of dominated creatures under their thrall, though its not clear if they do so for protection, food security, or some form of deranged entertainment.
Settlements that establish themselves deep within a swamp or humid jungle may find themselves on very rare occasion beset by a wandering Bog Mother, one whom has become bored with swamp water and rats and has decided to seek out more… nutritious sources. Again such settlements are usually caught completely unawares, as the rolling cloud of fog slowly drifts into town and overnight, swiftly drains its inhabitants of their vitals humors. More experienced adventurers will recognize a Bog Mother's passing in the scores of mummified animal or humanoid remains left behind in its wake.
A Bog Mother does not speak, but they are believed to have a special understanding of the thoughts of all that cross their path, and while they possess such a keen intelligence, attempting to communicate with one almost universally leads to the inevitable mummification of said do-gooder. While they follow an almost primal motivation toward gathering moisture, Bog Mothers can be crafty, and are not suicidal. They will prefer to retreat to safety when sufficiently threatened, and they are intelligent enough to notice when their true bodies have been witnessed.
How and When to use it
While they are ideally to be played as unknowable, alien monsters, Bog Mothers are still intelligent creatures and should not be played with a heavy hand. They are crafty and have a strong sense of self preservation – in fact most encounters with a Bog Mother are likely to crop up either because they are seeking out nourishment, or because your party accidentally stumbles across one while taking an unrecommended shortcut through their habitat.
In combat, Bog Mothers will choose to strike out at the weakest targets, and the vast range of their abilities means that even while otherwise engaged in combat with players, innocent bystanders are still very much likely to become prey to such a creature. When threatened – or bored – Bog Mothers may opt for using their Violate ability instead of feeding on their victims, leading to the potential for very creepy opening scenes such as a crowd of past-dominated victims slowly creeping forth as the Bog Mother's cloud rolls in on a location.
All-in-all, Bog Mothers should adopt the "careful predator" approach, and while they have a statblock which is conducive to soaking or avoiding a lot of damage, they are not meant to be played as big, scary bosses with dozens of attacks. Instead try playing them as the true source of a "mysterious plague", unsolved disappearances, or the supernatural answer to a deserted settlement.
Tiny aberration , neutral evil CR 13
Armor Class: 16 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points: 118 (12d12 + 40)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR 8 (-1) DEX 15 (+2) CON 14 (+2) INT 15 (+2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 9 (-1)
Saving Throws: DEX +7, INT +7
Damage Vulnerabilities: Fire
Damage Resistances: Acid, Lightning, Psychic, Radiant, Thunder; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks
Damage Immunities: Cold, Necrotic, Poison
Condition Immunities: Blinded, Charmed, Deafened, Exhaustion, Frightened, Grappled, Incapacitated, Paralyzed, Petrified, Poisoned, Prone, Restrained, Stunned, Unconscious
Senses: Truesight within and up to 10ft above its cloud, Passive Perception 12
Languages: All (telepathy within cloud, understands but does not speak)
Challenge: 13 (10,000 XP)
Proficiency Bonus: +5
False Appearance. The Bog Mother appears as an odorless rolling cloud of ground-fog 3ft high and 300ft in diameter. Its true body resides at the center of the cloud and is permanently invisible and completely silent, meaning that they are effectively undetectable by mundane means. When witnessed with truesight, its true body appears as a tentacled, pure black sphere 1ft in diameter which hovers 3ft over the ground, with the hundreds of tentacles on the lower half of its body extending in all directions throughout the cloud. Any scrying attempts against the Bog Mother fill the viewers vision with misty fog. The Bog Mother leaves no trace of its movements and cannot be tracked by any means.
Cloudsense. The Bog Mother is innately aware of all creatures and objects within and up to 10ft above its fog cloud. It automatically detects any illusions within its cloud and automatically saves against any illusion spells or spell-like effects.
Body-Like Appendages. The bog mother interacts with the world through the use of its body-like appendages. These appendages appear as old, grey-cloaked female humanoids with featureless faces hidden underneath their hoods, their lower bodies merging into the fog cloud and their arms ending in handless tendrils of fog. When viewed with truesight these appendages appear as indeterminate masses made up of the Bog Mother's tentacles. The Bog Mother may have up to 7 of these appendages manifested at one time. At the start of its turn, the Bog Mother may summon or dismiss any number of appendage-bodies up to its maximum. Summoned appendage-bodies may appear in any unoccupied space within the fog cloud. Each appendage-body is considered a physical creature of identical appearance, and have AC 13, 30 HP, 20 movement, inherit the resistances/vulnerabilities/immunities of the Bog Mother, retain the Bog Mother's initiative in combat, and can take no action on their turns other than movement. The Bog Mother takes half of all damage dealt to its appendage-bodies up to a maximum of 30 HP per appendage-body. When dismissed or destroyed, that particular appendage-body instance ceases to exist. When the Bog Mother summons another appendage-body, it comes into existence as a new creature with full HP and no conditions applied. The Bog Mother has an infinite number of appendage-bodies in reserve and never runs out of summons, however it may only have up to its maximum of 7 summoned at one time.
Moisture Drinker. The Bog Mother sustains itself by drinking moisture from its surrounding environment and for this reason prefers swampy or humid environments where there is plenty of ambient humidity. However, for reasons unknown, Bog Mothers occasionally decide to seek out moisture from the bodies of sentient creatures as well. It tends to ignore undead, incorporeal creatures, constructs, and other such creatures that lack sufficient bodily fluids, but it will defend itself against any attackers that threaten its existence.
Dangerous Vapors. The Bog Mother's fog cloud is not an illusion but is in fact an extension of its strange anatomy. As a result, creatures that enter the fog put themselves at the mercy of the Bog Mother's otherworldly influences and become more vulnerable to it over time. Each time a creature begins their turn within or up to 10ft above the fog cloud, they accumulates a counter. Creatures are dimly aware of a foreign influence gaining in strength over their senses, but are otherwise unaware of the exact value of this counter. Creatures only have their counters reset by completing a long rest outside of the cloud. The Bog Mother gains more influence over creatures within its cloud according to the following rules:
<=2 turns: The Bog Mother may only use its Heavy Slam and Envelop attacks against the creature.
3 – 6 turns: In addition to Heavy Slam and Envelop, the Bog Mother may also attempt to use its Drink ability against the creature, and it also gains an innate awareness of the creature's surface thoughts.
7+ turns: In addition to the conditions above, the Bog Mother may also attempt to use its Violate ability against the creature, and any attacks made against the Bog Mother and its appendage-bodies is made at disadvantage.
Multiattack. The Bog Mother may use any combination of up to three Heavy Slam or Envelop attacks.
Heavy Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach within 10ft of an extant appendage-body, 1 target. Hit: 16 (3d6 + 6) bludgeoning damage, and the target must make an Athletics or Acrobatics saving throw DC 12 or be moved up to 10ft in any direction (not upwards) of the Bog Mother's choice.
Envelop. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach within 5ft of an extant appendage-body, 1 creature. Hit: The creature must make an Athletics or Acrobatics saving throw DC 15 or become restrained. While restraining a creature, an appendage-body cannot move. If the appendage-body moves, or is dismissed or destroyed, or if the creature is forcefully moved, the creature is automatically freed. A restrained creature may repeat its saving throw at the end of its turn, ending the condition on a success.
Drink. The Bog Mother chooses a target within or up to 10ft above its fog cloud obeying the restrictions defined in its Moisture Drinker and Dangerous Vapors traits. The target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. Plant-like creatures and creatures made mostly of water such as water elementals make this saving throw at disadvantage. Non-creature plants automatically fail this saving throw. On a failure, the target takes 8d8 necrotic damage and becomes slowed. Slowed targets' speed is halved, it takes a −2 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws, and it can't use reactions. On its turn, it can use either an action or a bonus action, not both. Regardless of the creature's abilities or magic items, it can't make more than one melee or ranged attack during its turn. On a save, the target takes half damage. If the target was a creature, the Bog Mother then regenerates hit points equal to half the damage dealt.
Violate. The Bog Mother chooses a creature within or up to 10ft above its fog cloud obeying the restrictions defined in its Moisture Drinker and Dangerous Vapors traits. The Bog Mother attempts to force its fog-essence into the creature's body and seize control of it. The creature must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw or become dominated by the Bog Mother. Dominated targets become incapacitated and lose control of their body. The Bog Mother now controls the body but doesn't deprive the target of awareness, and the target gains immunity to being charmed and frightened until the condition is removed. Dominated creatures retain their initiative and will only move or attack on their turns as directed by the Bog Mother. The Bog Mother doesn't gain any access to the target's knowledge, class features (such as spellcasting), or proficiencies. Viewing a violated creature with truesight, reveals that their body has been invaded by hundreds of the Bog Mother's small black tentacles, which have infiltrated the creature's body through every opening, controlling it like a puppet.
The domination lasts until the body drops to 0 hit points, the Bog Mother ends it as a bonus action, the dominated creature ends two consecutive turns outside of the fog cloud, or the effect is ended by either the lesser restoration or dispel magic spells. The target is immune to this Violate ability for 1 hour after succeeding on the saving throw or after the domination ends.
Body Shift. The Bog Mother may use a reaction to teleport its true body up to 30ft into any unoccupied space within its fog cloud. The fog cloud drifts with the Bog Mother's true body so that it remains centered in the cloud but its appendage-bodies do not. Any appendage-bodies which remain outside the cloud disintegrate immediately.
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More about Dungeons & Dragons OnlinePost: "Want more eldritch horror in your D&D? Check out my new monster, the Bog Mother" specifically for the game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Other useful information about this game:
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