Monster Factory: Build a Bear
This is going to be a goofy segment where I work on updating D&D monsters into wonderful puns and things like that, so you can use them in your campaigns and make your players groan. Obviously, these are going to be silly things that I’m creating, though some of them might end up being cool. What I’m looking to do to make these monsters more thematic for those puns.
So how do you go about updating a monster to make it more thematic for your game? There are a number of things that you can do, the first being look at the damage that the creature does or the weapons that the monster uses. If you’re going for a super hero type of monster where they have everything with fire damage, start with a monster that has spell casting and then focus in on fire damage spells. Dragons are a great spot to pull these spell type focused monsters from. They have a variety of challenge levels and you have builds that already focus in on a certain type of damage. Beyond that, you can look at resistance or weaknesses to damage types. If you’re trying to build a vampire because you need a specific type, you will need to consider the weaknesses that a vampire should have, or resistances, and that way you can make your creature more unique. Finally, it’s your chance to take a monster and make them unique. With the example of a vampire, maybe it doesn’t have a specific weakness, but it has another one instead. For example, in the Dresden Files, there are three different types of vampires, each which have different powers and do things slightly differently. So this is your chance to build that out.
In this case we are doing an update to the Black Bear. It’s a pretty simple update, this half CR bear is going to probably become what would be around a 1 CR (CR is challenge rating) with just a few small updates.
Baseline, it’s a pretty good build. But for our bear, we want to give them some resistances that will make sense. You can see what we’re building off of in the link above. The two types of damage that make a lot of sense for this bear to resist are bludgeoning and piercing. Now, it won’t be immune to them, they’ll still take damage, but they’ll take half damage instead. Since I’m trying to increase the challenge rating for this creature, and it’s still going to be one that faces off against pretty low level parties, I’m not going to give it any weaknesses to damage types as well.
Next, looking at it’s stats, I don’t think there is anything that I’m going to change. Since this is for theme and theme wise it wouldn’t make sense for it to be smarter or more charismatic. The physical stats are plenty good already, so need to update them.
The biggest change though will come from the action section of the Black Bear. We’re removing the piercing damage type from both the bite and the claw attacks. Instead it’s going to be bludgeoning damage. Now, what type of bear could I be creating by taking away the claws, literally from a bear?
Description of the bear would be that it is brightly colored and moves with a bit of a wobble. That is right, this bear won’t bite you to kill you, it’ll gum you to death.
Yes, I’ve created the Gummy Bear.
So, now, this is where the real fun is going to happen. I’m going to come up with a way that you could use a gummy bear in a game.
A gummy bear is clearly not a natural bear, they would melt in the rain or just generally erode over time. So someone must have created a gummy bear, unless you’re playing on the plane of eternal sugar, then they might be naturally occurring there. So if someone has created them, who has done so? It could be a minor deity who loves to play jokes on people. However, I like the idea that it’s a wizard who has been conjuring up these gummy bears.
So my idea is that you have a high wizard that you’ve been working with. She has been very helpful and while you don’t go and meet with her in person, she’s been sending you letter and couriers with information you need. All of a sudden that information dries up. And beyond that, the party starts to hear about strange goings on from where they were getting the information, about crazy beasts that have been roaming and gumming people to death. Now clearly your party is going to head out and try and figure out what is going on because the information has been very useful to them. They get there to find that the high wizard has snapped. She delved into some divination magic that she shouldn’t have, saw something so horrible that is coming down the line for your characters that she couldn’t deal with reality anymore. Her mind reverted back to the point where she was a kid and she remembered these treats that she used to get as a kid, aka gummy bears. So she decided, since they made her feel safe and her brother would march them around making them roar, that she’d create an army of them to protect herself. However, as a childlike mind, she wasn’t able to control them, and now they are terrorizing the country side.
That would probably be a short side quest that I’d throw in for the characters at some point in time, then it could also lead to a larger quest to find someone who can either get the information from her as to what she saw or found out, or they could try and find someone who can just heal her mind for her as well, probably the better thing to do. But I’d probably give the players both options, make the one where they just get the information quick and dirty versus the other one being a larger quest, probably with multiple smaller quests built into it, fetch quests basically.
How dumb is the idea of a gummy bear, very. But could it be funny to have in a game, absolutely.
UPDATE: Shane from Total Party Thrill gave me a suggestion for this. Since the bear is a gummy bear, give them a gelatinous cube type of ability. On the bite attack, you make a DC10 strength saving throw. If you fail, you are grappled, and at the start of your turn, you are restrained and take 1D6 sugar damage. Acid sugar!
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