Randal Tallstag has cut down four Bullywug. His scouting mission has gone terribly wrong. Just as he moves to engage the crowd of waiting frog-creatures, strange fumes begin to cloud his vision. He feels ill. A nearby Bullywug, no taller than its kin, rummages through a towering pack of vials and blood-red solutions. The Bullywug extracts a flask of some unknown poison and begins to coat a wicked black dagger.
Monster Templates allow the DM to easily enhance monsters and give them intriguing combat abilities. 5e has a few templates of its own, but does not share the immense archive that players of 3.5 enjoyed. I thought I’d do my part to bolster 5e’s supply by publishing a few of my own.
Here is the Poisoner, a template for wily monsters trained in deadly alchemy. The template incurs a +1 to the Challenge Rating of the base creature and should only be applied to sapient enemies.
A humanoid, giant, or fiend can become a Poisoner. When a creature becomes a Poisoner, increase it’s effective CR by 1. It retains all its statistics except as noted below.
Resistances. The Poisoner has resistance to Poison damage.
New Action: Poison. Whenever a Poisoner inflicts damage upon a target using a melee or ranged attack, the target receives an additional 2d4 Poison damage. The target must must succeed on a Constitution saving throw equal to 8 + the Base Creature’s Lowest Attack Modifier or become poisoned for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
New Action: Fumes. Any creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the Poisoner must succeed on a Constitution saving throw equal to 8 + the Base Creature’s Lowest Attack Modifier or be poisoned until the start of its next turn.
Why does the Poisoner increase CR by 1?
The Monster Creation table (DMG 274) provides appropriate damage output, ac, and hit points for monsters of various Challenge Ratings. The Poisoner template increases average damage output by 5, which qualifies the creature for a +1 CR increase. I added the Fumes feature (a powerful iteration of the Stench monster feature) to avoid the need to adjust the creature’s AC and partially make up for the lack of a hit point increase.
Let me know if the Poisoner sees action in your sessions. Throw that alchemically-inclined Oni against your players and tell me what happens in the comments below!