“The moon is dark, and the gods dance in the night; there is terror in the sky, for upon the moon hath sunk an eclipse foretold in no books of men or of earth’s gods.” – H.P. Lovecraft

This is my second post creating Lovecraftian monsters for the D&D world (see the first here.

Today I’m working on the taker, a disgusting horror found in fetid swamps. The taker is monstrosity resembling a cross between a leech and a hydra. It’s long, black and faintly segmented body is ten feet long and glistens with slime. The front ends in a mass of squirming rubbery black tentacles. The tentacles expand and contract like worms, and each ends in a small, circular toothless mouth.

This monster follows the common theme of “disgusting tentacled thing attacking under water” (see A New Hope and Fellowship of the Ring). However, it should be found on land in swampy areas as well, and adds a few horrifying elements to the mix.

The taker preys on fleshy creatures, ambushing them from under the water and moss covered pools in dark bogs. Each limb makes one grapple attack when the taker uses a standard action to attack (like a hydra). The taker may attack with every tentacle on an attack of opportunity. On a successful grapple each tentacle deals constricting damage and drains the victim’s blood. Each point of constitution drained grants the taker 5 temporary hit points.

If the grappled target fails a Will save (DC 15), it suffers 1d4 points of Wisdom damage as the taker’s alien mind forces itself into their consciousness. The taker now controls the creature for 1d6 rounds as per dominate. The taker can communicate using a grappled creature as a mouthpiece. This ability is useable once per day.

Any victim drained to 0 Constitution rises in one minute as a zombie, its grey flesh covered in bruised sucker-bites. The zombies ignore the taker, and the taker ignores the zombies.

Because of this side effect, many casters ally themselves with takers, providing victims and then commanding or controlling the undead.

Taker (Large)
HP: 52
Speed: 20′ (Swim 30′)
AC: 13 touch 9 flatfooted 13 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +4 natural)
Size / Reach: 10′ / 10′
Attacks: Touch +10 / Grapple +15
Full attack: 10 tentacle grapples
Saves: Fort +12 / Reflex +6 / Will +14
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 12, Con 20, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8Special qualities: Water breathing, blindsight 60′, immunities (see below)
Special attacks: Constrict 1d3+3, Blood drain, Psychic dominate

It is dusk, and the scout is moving carefully through the swamp. He climbs over a mossy burm, and then begins to wade through a peaty pool of fetid water. A mass of black tentacles bursts forth from the surface, each barely thicker than a finger but moving with determination. Four entwine his chest and neck, rapidly constricting with surprising strength as soon as they find purchase. Six more grab his ankles, legs and waist. Probing leech-like mouth at the end of each tentacle nestle against warm veins and tap into pulsing arteries even as he is pulled below the surface.

Aura of Fear: Will DC 15 negates All opponents within 10′ must save or be shaken for the duration of the encounter. Any creature who successfully saves versus the aura of fear cannot be affected again for 24 hours.

Blood Drain: Save: none With a successful grapple check, the taker can inflict 1 pt of Constitution damage on a creature and gain 5 temporary hitpoints. The taker may attempt one grapple check per tentacle per full attack.

Psychic Dominate: Will DC 15 negates Once per day, the taker may attempt to psychically dominate a grappled victim for one round. If the victim fails its save it is affected as per the dominate monster spell for one round and suffer 1d4 points of Wisdom damage.

Create Zombie: Any creature reduced to 0 Constitution by the taker’s blood drain power rises in one minute as a mindless zombie.

Immunities: Because its mind is so alien and its thought processes incomprehensibly labyrinthine to mortals, the creature is immune to all mind-influencing effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns and morale effects). Any effect that would attempt to discern its thoughts automatically fails and the caster is effected by a confusion effect (Will DC 18 negates, 5 round duration).

Design decisions: the taker can be deadly in melee, but has many weakness. I like the “extremely disgusting and powerful if you mess up” aspects of the horrors combined with large weakness (very low AC, easy to hit, slow and susceptible to ranged attacks). These aren’t supposed to be classic monsters; they’re supposed to be so bizzare it gives the players pause. They will kill them with great prejudice and count themselves lucky.