I’ve been having fun converting old Ravenloft monsters to Fifth Edition. With a stomach full of Thanksgiving food and a brain full of caffeine, I figured, “Hey! Why not make some more.”
A little background on how I’ve been finding these monsters to convert plus a bit of a shoutout. These are all coming from Lomion.de’s awesome online 2nd edition monster database.
Now, a little forewarning. Like many sites that are in the D&D scope (looking your way, DMsGuild), the folks behind Lomion.de wouldn’t know modern UX if it hit them in the face with a pseudopod. Not to say I don’t love it, but I’m about 90% sure this page doesn’t have a lick of CSS on it.
Anyways, when I’m looking for monsters on Lomion I simply click on a random monster, then hit the “random” button ’til I find something with the Ravenloft tag. Whatever I land on, I convert.
That includes such gems as this guy:
An uncle skeleton is a powerful necromantic spirit which delights in frightening mortals. These bizarre entities somehow manage to be simultaneously sadistic and good-natured. Their erratic behavior coupled with their potent powers makes them dangerous beings indeed.
Despite strong appearances to the contrary, an uncle skeleton is not undead. It is actually a spirit creature in a physical form. The uncle resembles a human skeleton with clean, powder-white bones. Not a speck of flesh remains on the creature’s frame. The eye sockets of the skull, however, contain intact eyes with glowing yellow irises. Uncle skeletons will often wear fashionable clothing, but they are equally likely to go about in nothing but a top hat and cane. Sometimes, they paint their bones with mysterious line drawings, thought to be necromantic symbols.
Uncle skeletons can usually speak a host of modern and ancient languages and may speak with dead at will.
The Debonair Dead. Unsurprisingly, uncle skeletons dwell in cemeteries, mausoleums, burial grounds, and the like. Their lairs are bizarre abodes indeed, appointed to fit their curious taste for the ghoulish as well as worldly pleasures. Though they are quite obviously nothing but bones, uncle skeletons are capable of enjoying the finer things in life, especially fine cigars and good rum. They also like expensive fashion and fine art. Yet they have a fiendish appreciation for the macabre; their lairs are often decorated with human parts in various states of decay and infested with all manner of vermin. They keep vast numbers of skeletons and zombies as servants and often congregate with ghouls, wights, and other graveyard undead.
One part deranged carnival showman, one part skulking undead lord, and one part winking, good-natured father, the uncle skeleton is an enigma. Although they are often characterized as evil, because of their association with evil undead and their perchance for terror, most uncles prefer to think of themselves as fulfilling some vital role. The reason that mankind must be reminded of the dangers of the night, lest they become careless and lazy and fall victim to the undead’s predations.
The uncles see themselves are harbingers of a benign fear that gives humans a healthy respect for the dead. To this end, they keep trespassers, necromancers, graverobbers, and curious children away from graveyards with demented funhouse tricks. Uncle skeletons should not be regarded as good-willed creatures, however; often, their gleeful tricks can literally scare a man to death. Children are taught to respect the spirits of the dead, lest an uncle skeleton come to turn their hair white. On holidays associated with death or the dead, uncles roam the countryside on sedan chairs of bone, seeking to spread their wicked delights to unfortunate travelers.
Circle of an Uncle’s Unlife. Being spirit creatures, uncle skeletons are immortal for all practical purposes. They do not reproduce as a regular course of action but are capable of creating more uncle skeletons when their numbers dwindle significantly. At such times, uncle skeletons from across the Demiplane of Dread make their way to a mysterious jungle island in the Sea of Sorrows. This unknown isle is said to possess a gateway to the Ghost Bush, a netherworld where the spirits that become uncle skeletons reside. The gathered uncle skeletons perform an elaborate ritual that summons forth these spirits and gives them material form. The young and old uncles then disperse, until their numbers again become sparse. Many centuries may pass in between these cycles.
Uncle skeletons have no natural enemies per se, unless, of course, one counts the unfortunate mortals who find themselves battered by the uncles’ games. They rarely get along well with the more serious-minded, powerful undead, particularly vampires. Generally, uncles have an intense dislike for willful, good-aligned personalities, such as priests and paladins, whom they consider “sticks-in-the-mud”. The Vistani, for their part, refuse to interfere in any situation which involves an uncle skeleton. The Voodan, meanwhile, although more knowledgeable about the nature of the uncles, find them troubling, and may assist those who are plagued by such creatures.
The bones of an uncle skeleton are heartily sought by witches and the like for use in a variety of magical items related to fear and the undead. Uncle bones might be used in the construction of a rod of terror, wand of fear, amulet versus undead or deck of illusions.
Medium fey, chaotic neutral
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 58 (9d8 + 18)
Speed 30 ft.
Abilities Str 12 (+1), Dex 14 (+2), Con 15 (+2), Int 18 (+4), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 18 (+4)
Saving Throws Int +6, Wis +3
Skills Deception +6, Persuasion +6
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities paralyzed, poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Common, Undercommon, Vistani
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Innate Spellcasting. Uncle Skeleton’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
- At will: speak with dead
- 1/day: animate dead
Spellcasting. Uncle Skeleton is a 9th-level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Intelligence (DC 14, +7 to hit with spell attacks). Uncle Skeleton has the following wizard spells prepared:
- Cantrips (at will): friends, mage hand, minor illusion, prestidigitation
- 1st level (4 slots): charm person*, fog cloud, grease, Tasha’s hideous laughter*
- 2nd level (3 slots): alter self, blur, invisibility
- 3rd level (3 slots): fear, feign death
- 4th level (3 slots): confusion*, hallucinatory terrain, greater invisibility
- 5th level (1 slot): dream
*Enchantment spell of 1st level or higher.
Uncle Skeleton’s Weaknesses. Uncle Skeleton has the following flaws:
- Fear of Snakes. If Uncle Skeleton starts his turn within 30 feet of a snake, he must succeed on a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. If Uncle Skeleton succeeds on his saving throw, he cannot be frightened by the same snake for 24 hours.
- Halted by Holy Symbols. Uncle Skeleton is immune to being turned. However, if an intelligent creature presents a holy symbol with conviction, succeeding on a Charisma (Intimidation) check contested by Uncle Skeleton’s Wisdom saving throw, Uncle Skeleton cannot willingly move closer to the holy symbol or its wielder until the end of his next turn.
- Harmed by Holy Water. Uncle Skeleton takes 5 acid damage if it touches or is attacked by holy water.
- Vulnerability to Charm. Uncle Skeleton has disadvantage on saving throws against magical effects that charm.
Multiattack. Uncle Skeleton makes two melee attacks.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 3) slashing damage.
Sword Cane. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.
Hypnotic Gaze. Uncle Skeleton chooses one creature he can see within 5 feet of him. If the target can see or hear Uncle Skeleton, it must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by Uncle Skeleton until the end of its next turn. The charmed creature’s speed drops to 0, and the creature is incapacitated and visibly dazed. On subsequent turns, Uncle Skeleton can use his action to maintain this effect, extending its duration until the end of his next turn. However, the effect ends if Uncle Skeleton moves more than 5 feet away from the creature, the creature can neither see nor hear Uncle Skeleton or if the creature takes damage. Once the effect ends, or if the creature succeeds on its initial saving throw against this effect, Uncle Skeleton cannot use this feature on that creature again until he finishes a long rest.
Instinctive Charm (Recharges after Uncle Skeleton Casts an Enchantment Spell of 1st Level or Higher). Uncle Skeleton tries to magically divert an attack made against him, provided that the attacker is within 30 feet of him and visible to him. The enchanter must decide to do so before the attack hits or misses. The attacker must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the attacker targets the creature closest to it, other than Uncle Skeleton or itself. If multiple creatures are closest, the attacker chooses which one to target.
The giwoitis is a strange little creature that guards Barovian homes against the undead. By currying the giwoitis’ favor, a family can ensure that it protects them from vampires and the like. Although the giwoitis appears to be a harmless lizard, it commands potent powers that terrify all but the most powerful undead creatures.
A giwoitis (the term is both singular and plural) resembles one of the tiny meadow lizards common to Barovia. It is about six inches in length, fully two-thirds of which belongs to its long, tapering tail. The creature has a long, pointed head and plump legs with tiny, clawed digits. It is predominantly bright green in color, though yellow or white stripes run down the length of its body, edged by cinnamon-colored spots or flecks. Though they are intelligent, giwoitis cannot speak. They are, however, capable of communicating with other beings through telepathy. They rarely use this ability with anyone other than proven allies, however.
Protector of Good. Giwoitis are friendly and kind creatures, but pathologically shy. They can be lured into a home by placing a saucer of fresh, warm milk near the chimney each night. One should be persistent, even if it seems as if the coercion is not working. Eventually, a giwoitis will take up residence and observe its hosts for some time, judging their character. If it finds its hosts to be honest and virtuous folk, it will make the building its home, keeping its undead ward active at all times (even while hibernating during the winter months). It will normally remain hidden, even from its hosts, who only know of the giwoitis’ presence by the absence of insect pests. If the creature is ever mistreated, it will give its hosts the opportunity to make amends, but will not forgive blatant abuse. Those hosts that strike the giwoitis as particularly kind-hearted and interesting may be approached. Giwoitis are shy but enjoy telepathic conversation, particularly stories and moral parables. Though giwoitis are primarily attracted to the simple homes of the common folk, they also favor Barovia’s few scattered wizards. Though it might be assumed that giwoitis reproduce just like the meadow lizards they resemble, more than one of the creatures has never been observed together.
Though giwoitis have long been a part of Barovian folklore as beneficent household spirits, the actual creatures are a relatively recent magical creation of the Gundarakite abjurer Andrei Tiszanov. Tiszanov was interested in creating an unobtrusive item that would protect the common folk’s homes against undead creatures. He researched the problem for years as a young man, traveling extensively in the lands surrounding Gundarak. He eventually became intrigued by Barovian woodcarvings that depicted little green lizards, which the Barovians called giwoitis. They claimed that the giwoitis were kind, brownie-like creatures that protected homes from harm. Tiszanov loved the idea and created a pair of pseudo-homonculi to serve as living undead wards, imbuing them with powerful abjuration and necromancy magics. He then released the little creatures into the wild, shortly before the Great Upheaval.
Tiszanov thought fondly of his creations but became dismayed as the years passed and he saw no sign that they had succeeded on their own. Now chafing under the yoke of Count Von Zarovich’s militias, Andrei took to wandering again. He eventually discovered that the hatchlings of his giwoitis had indeed survived and spread, and found several households that hosted the benign lizards. The giwoitis’ abilities were far more powerful than Tiszanov had suspected, however, and he speculated that something had occurred during the Great Upheaval to amplify their powers. For their part, the few Barovians and Gundarakites who are fortunate enough to host a giwoitis consider themselves blessed.
Intelligent, Yet Simple Lizards. Aside from their intelligence and their remarkable powers against the undead, giwoitis appear to be normal lizards in most respects. They eat insects and spiders, are preyed upon by hawks and owls, and hibernate in the winter. The creatures are most active at night, spending the days on rooftops and clinging to walls, soaking up the sun’s warmth. Several wizards have learned to their great dismay that giwoitis provide no useful substances in the manufacture of anti-undead magical items.
Tiny monstrosity, lawful good
Armor Class 10
Hit Points 2 (1d4)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
Abilities Str 2 (-4), Dex 11 (+0), Con 10 (+0), Int 12 (+1), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 12 (+1)
Saving Throws Int +3, Wis +3, Cha +3
Senses darkvision 30 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages understands Common but can’t speak, telepathy 30 ft.
Challenge 0 (10 XP)
Innate Spellcasting (1/day). The giwoitis can innately cast hallow (spell save DC 11), requiring no material components. Its innate spellcasting ability is Charisma.
Magic Resistance. The giwoitis has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +0 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage.
Crawling ivy is a semi-intelligent plant that was developed through magical experimentation. It is usually found on the walls of old houses, encircling large trees or as ground cover. This many-branched vine moves to trap and feed upon those who stray too close to it. It can move to bring a victim within range, grasping with its rootlets and crawling along a wall or the ground.
Looking much like normal ivy, crawling ivy is a dark, glossy green. The leaves are triangular and veined. In autumn, crawling ivy erupts with clumps of yellow flowers which produce bitter, blackberries. The woody stem of the plant is supported in its climb by masses of small rootlets on its underside that cling to crevices and irregularities. Crawling ivy can be distinguished from normal ivy by its veining, which is not green, but a pale magenta. Close examination of the leaves reveals tiny pores or openings throughout the surface.
Crawling ivy appears to have no ability to communicate with other creatures. Proper use of magic might make it possible to speak with the plant, but what it might reveal is uncertain.
Blood Drinker. Crawling ivy feeds on blood and body fluids. It has no need for sunlight or water. A very sophisticated valve and pump system within the veins of the leaves allows the sectioning of blood and pumps fluids throughout the plant. Crawling ivy must receive sustenance equal to one victim for each Hit Die it has per week or begin to brown and die.
Often used as a guardian by those who value their privacy, the ivy is intelligent enough to serve a master in return for food. Though several colonies may reside side-by-side, they do not compete for space or food.
Healing Potion Components. The berries produced by crawling ivy may be planted in blood-soaked earth to begin a new colony. The flowers are used in making healing potions, and in an emergency may be pressed to a wound to stop bleeding and reduce pain.
Gargantuan plant, unaligned
Armor Class 12 (natural armor)
Hit Points 261 (18d20 + 54)
Speed 15 ft.
Abilities Str 18 (+4), Dex 8 (-1), Con 16 (+3), Int 4 (-3), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 5 (-3)
Skills Stealth +3
Damage Vulnerabilities fire
Condition Immunities blinded, deafened, exhaustion
Senses blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 10
Challenge 9 (5,000 XP)
False Appearance. While the crawling ivy remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from mundane ivy.
Multiattack. The crawling ivy makes four vine attacks.
Vine. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature it is grappled (Escape DC 18). While grappled by the crawling ivy the target is restrained. At the start of each of the crawling ivy’s turns, the restrained target loses 7 (1d6 + 4) hit points due to blood loss.
Thanks for reading!
Chances are I’ll make some more Ravenloft creatures soon. In fact, I think Uncle Skeleton is so cool, I might just make a whole mausoleum of horrors adventure to pit players against.
Hey, don’t forget to check out the new schwag I’m offering here on the site: the Coffee Mug of Rejuvenation. The perfect gift for the holidays.
Art by Alchemy Gothic and Shutterstock (the latter used with permission).