The 5e Monster Manual, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and Volo’s Guide to Monsters have all the baddies most of us will ever need. But maybe that’s not you. Maybe you need something more for your players, and want something special to to challenge them with. Let’s take a look at making one.
In this article, I’m going to talk about the easiest way to get the monster you want, and then introduce the tools that will help you along the way if you decide you want to do something a little more involved.
Reskinning is just taking a creature that already exist in published form and saying it’s something else. Find a creature that does the things you want at the challenge rating (CR) you need. You can track down some art online of the thing you want to show players if you want. Tack on an extra ability or two if you need.
To demonstrate, in my Under the Black Ice module, I reskinned insect swarms and adult kruthik to be different stages of the remorhaz lifecycle. For the insect swarm, I added the ability to release pheromones that would enrage other remorhaz, so that if the players were careless and killed these otherwise harmless creatures they would draw the ire of older remorhaz. For the adult kruthik that I reskinned as juvenile remorhaz, I added the ability to scream to attract the attention of the remorhaz.
With all this, I was able to tell a story about how remorhaz live. They have a parent who lays hundreds of eggs. Older siblings protect the hatchlings. The parent is a little disconnected, but will protect the brood if provoked. I was also able to give the players a system to work with. Accordingly, a careful approach could avoid the monsters entirely. A few missteps or some needless aggression and things could get messy.
Monster Tools of the Trade
Need a token? Give Roll Advantages Token Stamp a shot. Want to find a creature with exactly the right stats and abilities fast? You can filter the bestiary very neatly on 5etools’ Bestiary. D&D Beyond has a really great tool for homebrews that let’s you easily take an existing creature and modify and get a nice looking statblock for it. Lastly, if you want an image of a statblock give Tetra Cube’s statblock generator a shot.
More to come soon!