What more is an ogre other than a meat shield for weenies? They’re the brute’iest of brutes. High Strength and Con, lousy Dex, lousier Intelligence and Wisdom (yet, somehow speak two languages, but I digress).
Now, I did enjoy the ogre entries in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. The folks over at Wizards dished out four ogre variants which more or less amount to:
- Ogre with a battering ram.
- Ogre with a bolt launcher.
- Ogre with a chain.
- Ogre with a fort on its back.
Other than a Dex upgrade for the ogre bolt launcher (a 12, woo) and some armor bonuses, they’re still ogres. Keith Ammann’s recent article on Ogre “tactics” more or less states the obvious (in his typical artful and well-written manner, mind you) when it comes to these guys: battering ram and chain brutes are area control, howdahs are mobile protection for ranged weenies, and bolt launchers are… uh… useless.
What sort of help do 5e ogres need?
Most canny Dungeon Masters know that one monster is never a challenge when it comes to fighting PCs. One monster–especially something as dumb and “bash bash bash!” as an ogre–is going to get crushed quick.
At the same time, you don’t want to overpower the PCs either. It’s all about that balance. And if you can challenge your PCs by doing more with less, you’ll accomplish just that.
TL;DR: never put an ogre by itself. Even multiple ogres is a waste of good encounter XP.
Instead, pair them up with creatures that complement them, ie make up for their many weaknesses.
Those weaknesses are:
- Low Armor Class. Basic ogres wear hide but have a dex penalty that nearly offsets the bonus.
- Terrible Dex. They’re clumsy (but not slow since they have 40 feet of movement).
- Incredibly bad Intelligence. Their Intelligence is so low (a 5!?) that at times I wonder if it’s a mistake on the part of the designers. With Intelligence that low, they should barely be able to speak at all much less two languages. And they definitely won’t have any sort of tactics.
- Terrible Wisdom. What’s frustrating about ogres is that despite a low Intelligence, one should still be able to train them. However, their 7 Wisdom means they’re difficult to train and will act against basic common sense more often than not. Even a mule has Wisdom 10.
- Bad Charisma. And to top it all off? They’re somewhat unlikeable, unmemorable, and ugly, too! Hell, they’re barely sentient!
Again, they’re meat shields. Pure and simple. If played right, they should only ever want to thump things with their fists and clubs. So how do you (and your other monsters) motivate them to do something other than that?
4 Support Monsters for Ogres in D&D 5e
The goblin brute tamer knows that the only way to motivate an ogre is with pain, fear, and hunger, and it uses all three to remarkable effect. Of course, goblin brute tamers live relatively short lives (even by goblin standards) as they’re often crushed by the very same creatures they push too far.
The brave (or insane) creatures that work the ogre howdahs realize that ranged attacks aren’t always the easiest thing to do when they’re sitting in a back of a howdah. Plus, if the howdah goes down, chances are, they’re going down, too. Thus, kobold howdah hotshots are experts at keeping howdahs swinging and standing. These clever buggers use all sorts of devilish devices to keep themselves (and their ugly fortress bearers) high in the sky.
One of the stranger creatures to come out of the Inner Planes are the symbiotic creatures known as huggies. Any time a huggy touches a creature that isn’t an elemental, construct, or undead, the creature temporarily becomes an elemental. This may seem like a sweet gesture on the huggy’s part, but in actuality the huggy feeds on the transference of organic material into elemental energy, slowly killing the host until nothing remains. For this reason, Elementalist wizards like to pair huggies with the more, uh… expendable dungeon denizens to maximum effect. Ogres are no exception. As with most elementals, there are four types of huggies: rock huggies, flame huggies, water huggies, and wind huggies. The statistics for the flame huggy is included below. A quick note to summoners: huggies are insanely jealous and despise other huggies, especially huggies of different elemental types.
Finally, the Unseelie quicklings realized at some point in the distant past (that’s about two months ago for them) that the quickest way for them to move across the battlefield wasn’t by zooming across it like some sort of fast-moving putz, but by hopping a ride on the ammunition of larger creatures. While most of their practice has been with Fomorians and their oversized ballistas, quickling inflitrators have learned to cling onto the rocks of giants and the bolts of ogre bolt launchers as well. Once within range, they parachute into the target location and make a mess of things while the rest of their allies play catchup.
Goblin Brute Tamer
Small humanoid (goblinoid), neutral evil
Armor Class 13 (leather armor)
Hit Points 14 (4d6)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 8 (-1), Dex 14 (+2), Con 10 (+0), Int 10 (+0), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 12 (+1)
Skills Intimidation +3, Stealth +6
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages Common, Goblin
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)
Nimble Escape. The goblin can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.
Whip. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) slashing damage.
Cruel Command. The goblin makes a whip attack against a Large or Huge beast, humanoid, giant, or monstrosity of Intelligence 6 or lower. If the attack hits, the creature must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw, or the goblin causes it to use its reaction either to make one weapon attack against another creature the goblin can see or move up to 10 feet in a direction of the goblin’s choice. If the creature passes its Wisdom save by 5 or more, it may use its reaction to attack the goblin instead.
Kobold Howdah Hotshot
Small humanoid (kobold), lawful evil
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 7 (3d6 – 3)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 7 (-2), Dex 15 (+2), Con 9 (-1), Int 8 (-1), Wis 7 (-2), Cha 8 (-1)
Skills Perception +0
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages Common, Draconic
Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the kobold has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Pack Tactics. The kobold has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the kobold’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated.
Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.
Hotshotting. So long as the kobold is in an ogre howdah, it can use one of the following options (roll a d6 or choose one); the kobold can use each one no more than once per day:
- Bucket of Rocks. The kobold drops a bucket of rocks onto a creature that it can see within 5 feet of it. The creature must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage on a failure, or half as much on a success.
- Grease Spray. The kobold sprays slippery grease into a 10-foot square next to the ogre howdah whose howdah the kobold is inside of. That area becomes difficult terrain. Each creature standing in the area must succeed on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone. A creature that enters the area or ends its turn there must also succeed on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.
- Riding Crop. The kobold slaps the ogre howdah whose howdah the kobold is inside of with a long leather paddle, urging the ogre to move. The ogre howdah must succeed on a DC 12 Wisdom save or use its reaction to move 15 feet in the direction of the kobold’s choice.
- Stinkbomb. The kobold drops a basket of rotten eggs, spoiled fruit, and other foul-smelling things onto the ground below it. Any creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the ogre howdah whose howdah the kobold is inside of must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned until the start of its next turn. On a successful saving throw, the creature is immune to the kobold’s Stinkbomb for 24 hours.
- Snare. The kobold uses a snare attached to the howdah of the ogre howdah whose howdah the kobold is inside of to entangle a creature that it can see within 5 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or become grappled (escape DC 14) by the ogre howdah. While grappled in this way, the target is restrained. The target or one of the target’s allies can use its action to cut the rope (AC 11, 2 hp) and end the grapple.
- Potion Funnel. The kobold pours a potion of healing into a funnel attached to the ogre howdah whose howdah the kobold is inside of’s mouth. The ogre howdah regains 2d4 + 2 hit points.
Escape Maneuvers. If the ogre howdah whose howdah the kobold is inside of dies, the kobold can use its reaction to move 15 feet without provoking attacks of opportunity instead of being placed in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the ogre howdah.
Small elemental, neutral
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 18 (4d6 +4)
Speed 40 ft.
Abilities Str 7 (-2), Dex 17 (+3), Con 12 (+1), Int 6 (-2), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 7 (-2)
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities fire, poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, unconscious
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Heated Body. A creature that touches the huggy or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 5 (1d10) fire damage.
Illumination. The huggy sheds bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light in a 40-foot radius.
Water Susceptibility. For every 5 feet the huggy moves in 1 foot or more of water, it takes 2 (1d4) cold damage.
Touch. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) fire damage. If the target is a creature or a flammable object, it ignites. Until a creature takes an action to douse the fire, the target takes 5 (1d10) fire damage at the start of each of its turns.
Hug. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 2 (1d4) necrotic damage and the huggy attaches to the target. While attached, the huggy doesn’t attack. Instead, at the start of each of the huggy’s turns, the target takes 2 (1d4) necrotic damage and the target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0, disintegrating into a pile of ashes. In addition, if the target is a Large or smaller creature, it bursts into flames and changes into a fire elemental. The target remains this way as long as the huggy is attached. Elementals, undead, and constructs are not affected.
As a fire elemental, the target’s type changes to elemental. It gains damage resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons, damage immunities to fire and poison, as well as condition immunities to exhaustion, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, and unconscious. The target sheds bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light in a 40-foot radius and the target has a heated body, which causes any creature that touches the target or hits it with a melee attack to take 1d10 fire damage. Also, the target is susceptible to water; for every 5 feet the target moves in 1 foot or more of water, it takes 1d4 cold damage. All of the target’s melee attacks deal an additional 1d6 fire damage.
The huggy can detach itself from the target by spending 5 feet of its movement, at which point the target reverts back to normal.
Tiny fey, chaotic evil
Armor Class 16
Hit Points 10 (3d4 + 3)
Speed 120 ft
Abilities Str 4 (-3), Dex 23 (+6), Con 13 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 7 (-2)
Skills Acrobatics +8, Sleight of Hand +8, Stealth +8, Perception +5
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Language Common, Sylvan
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Blurred Movement. Attack rolls against the quickling have disadvantage unless the quickling is incapacitated or restrained.
Evasion. If the quickling is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.
Parachute (1/day). Whenever the quickling falls from a height of 10 feet or more, its rate of descent slows to 60 feet per round, it takes no falling damage and can land on its feet.
Multiattack. The quickling makes three dagger attacks.
Dagger. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d4 + 6) piercing damage.
Hitch a Ride. Whenever an ally within 5 feet of the quickling makes a ranged weapon attack with a weapon that deals piercing or bludgeoning damage and uses two or more dice for its damage roll, the quickling can use its reaction to ride on the ammunition. After the ranged weapon attack is made, place the quickling on any unoccupied space between the quickling’s ally and the target (the quickling’s choice), regardless of whether or not the attack hit.
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Be sure to check out Keith Ammann’s article on ogre tactics, too!
As usual, all of the monsters here are free for you to use in your personal Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition campaigns. Just not commercially!
Art by: unknown.