“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.

“All made o’ squirmin’ ropes… sort o’ shaped like a hen’s egg bigger’n anything … nothin’ solid abaout it … great bulgin’ eyes all over it… ten or twenty maouths or trunks a-stickin’ aout all along the sides, big as stove-pipes an all a-tossin’ an openin’ an’ shuttin’… all grey, with kinder blue or purple rings… an’ Gawd it Heaven – that haff face on top…” – H.P. Lovecraft, The Dunwich Horror

Few writers managed to evoke so much terror and revulsion about their creations as Lovecraft. He did more with less. Most of his creatures were never described, or at least not in detail. However, if we’re to use them in D&D we need to give them details, stats, and abilities. I’ve spent some time working on creating various Lovecraftian invaders for my campaign which slip into the world through rifts, gliding in from unspeakable regions between worlds for unknowable purposes.

There are many monsters in D&D (most are Abberations) which owe at least a little to Lovecraft’s influence. Today I’ve borrowed the beholder and repurposed it as a nameless entity which wields mysterious powers. It is not meant to be a boss creature, rather it is supposed to be a bizarre, terrifying and evocative encounter. In my world these creatures will methodically drive all the inhabitants in a town insane, causing horrific acts of violence among peaceful townsfolk before folding the town out of existence completely, transporting all the lost souls to an unreachable hell beyond the known planes.

Wyverns are a D&D classic, but I’ve grown bored with their niche. They are cool draconic monsters with a twist (their sting), but often get relegated to the role of mount or pet. Here I redesign the wyvern to highlight its sting and make it feel more like a real-world poisonous monster.

Generally poisonous creatures are small, and a little weak. Because they have powerful venom they do not need great physical strength. Scorpions and vipers are terrifying in part because they are so small. It accentuates their unique abillity and allows them to get places larger creatures (say, a wolf) couldn’t. Throw these at a low level party and they will have a memorable encounter. Because they tend to attack horses etc. first, this should give the players a fighting chance while showcasing the monster. (I have a hard time eyeballing the CR of my new, sleeker wyvern, so use it with care. Players can get angry if you hit them with crippling ability damage and they have no way to mitigate it.)