Weird Western Monsters – Lupine NPCs and Variants

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“Yeah, Fangs Gulch is a place. I found my way there not long after being bewitched and I started turning into one of them. Anyway, the locals look like those animalmen out in the wilderlands, but they run shops, shoot guns and live life like us. The scotch was something great, I only passed out after two jugs mind you. The butcher served up a nice slice of meat he called ‘furless one’. Even the ladies of the night were good too, even if they’re all hairy and have like eight knockers, real bitey and growly too. Hey, don’t look at me like that! It’s no weirder than the bar owner who screws automatons off-hours! Aww shucks, I really am one of them… – Rawoo (Rowan T. Jammerson), Lupine (Ex-Human) Maverick Rogue

The Lupines, especially the Gray Runners, often receive harsh treatment. Life in the tribes prove hard, but life among the outsiders, exotic travelers and other oddities proves all the more frustrating. Hostility seems inevitable, whether in the realms of trade or battle. Sometimes peace is achieved, but it’s often to suit an agenda. Some have sold their wisdom and secrets to get ahead of the travelers, while others have taken to more vindictive approaches… some reactions truly wicked. Most care about the day by day, appeasing the forces above them while surviving in a harsh world. Until recently, the harvests and hunts have been good, as life has been normal.

Author’s Note: By popular demand, here is more content for the gray runners… or rather, what the concept got expanded into. While they feel not overly different than Mystara’s Lupins (I even made a NPC that uses Lupin mechanics), they seemed pretty popular here. Plus, anything to bring more attention to Spellslinger (in the naive hope that Fantasy Flight Games will convert it to D&D 5E! Ya hear that, FFG!? You’d gain money from joining the new edition!) I pondered on how to expand on serpentmen, based on a request on my Tumblr blog, but my previous post points out that Yuan-Ti work just fine.  For more on The Lupines, please check out this post here.

 

Variant: Shaman

Wendigo Shaman on the Attack by Emryswolf
“You smell like death, taste my staff!”

Protectors of order within their villages and lands, both in the natural sense and in social structure. These priests work not only as guardians, but also emissaries and healers for their tribes. Many will attend important summits or diplomatic gatherings alongside their chiefs. Should outsiders prove themselves as friends, a lupine shaman can be an invaluable ally, especially among a people that are far less empathetic on the average to visitors

  • Alignment becomes any non-evil.
  • Increase Hit Points to 44 (8d8 + 8)
  • Increase Charisma to 12 (+1), Wisdom to 18 (+4) – Animal Handling +6, Intimidate +5, Perception +6, Survival +6
  • Decrease Strength to 10
  • Gain proficiecny in Persuasion +5
  • Gain new trait: Spellcasting
    • The Shaman is capable of utilizing spells, as an 8th level Druid. Wisdom is the casting stat (+7 to hit, DC 15)
      Cantrips: Druidcraft, Gust, Thorn Whip

      • 1st (4 Slots): Animal Friendship, Beast Bond, Cure Wounds, Detect Poison and Disease, Faerie Fire
      • 2nd (3 Slots): Barkskin, Healing Spirit, Moon Beam
      • 3rd (3 Slots): Call Lightning, Erupting Earth, Wind Wall
      • 4th (2 Slots): Guardian of Nature
  • Gain new trait: Wild Shape (2/Day)
    • The Shaman can use its action to take the form of an animal, as described in the druid’s wild shape ability. The Shaman counts as 8th level, in the case of restrictions on Challenge 1 beasts or lower. (Player’s Handbook, Page 66)
  • Challenge 3 (700 XP)

For the arch-priest version of this, use the “Archdruid” NPC stats from Volo’s Guide to Monsters, giving it the lupine racial stats, as well as a 14 (+2) charisma and proficiency in Persuasion (+10).  The adjusted Challenge for this creature is 13 (10,000 XP).

 

Variant: Skinwalker.

Skinwalker
“I deal in dark omens, strange curses and the best fermented cocktails in the whole realm.”

Shamans that can twist their forms and even perform feats of dark power. Some can imbue a magical brand that carries incredible boons and a hefty curse. Some seek to corrupt the foreigners in the name of revenge, while others have far darker motives such as destabilizing humanoid settlements.

  • Alignment becomes any-evil.
  • Increase Charisma to 18 (+4) – Intimidate +8
  • Gain proficiency in Deception +8
  • Gain new trait: innate spellcasting.
    • The skinwalker is capable of utilizing innate spells. Charisma is the casting stat (+8 to hit, DC 16)
      • at-will: chill touch (w. modifier damage), charm person (lupine only), primal savagery (w. modifier damage), speak with animals
      • 3/day: disguise self, entangle, hex, inflict wounds, misty step
      • 1/day: beast sense, conjure animals, dominate beast, dream
  • Gain new actions:
    • Change Shape: The skinwalker is capable of taking the form of either a unique humanoid (typically Elf or Human shape) or a wolf (that has similar fur and features to its normal form). Doing so takes an action. While in human form, it loses bite attack and its speed is reduced to 30 feet. While in wolf form, the skinwalker gains the Pack Tactics feature, as their bite attack increases to 2d4. However, they cannot wield humanoid weapons and their equipment melds into its new form. Either form can be kept indefinitely and does not further change the creature’s stats.
    • Infuse Spirit Essence: The skinwalker may imbue some of its essence into another creature within reach of it. If the creature is willing, this effect works as normal. Unwilling creatures must make a (DC 16) Intelligence saving throw or receive the effect. The target manifests traits like the Lupines and gains one of the following abilities until they take a long rest:
      • +5 feet to land speed
      • Proficiency in Perception checks made to hear and smell, as well as in Survival checks.
      • Use your Unarmed Strike to make a 1d4 piercing damage bite attack, bonus action to try to trip a foe when you hit with a bite.
    • As the victim takes a long rest, the curse side of the boon manifests. They must now make a (DC 16) Constitution saving throw. Upon succeeding, nothing abnormal occurs. Upon failure, they permanently gain that boon. However, they also lose one of their racial traits as a new bestial form slowly subsumes their original form. Receiving a Remove Curse or Greater Restoration spell will undo this effect.
    • If the target continues to be affected by a Skinwalker, this persists until they gain all three boons permanently. When this happens, they lose the rest of their racial traits (including modifiers) and gain the following:
      • +2 Strength, +1 Dexterity.
      • Your size is medium.
      • You mature at age 13 and live to around age 60.
      • Your land speed increase by +10 feet, instead of +5
      • Your bite deals 1d6, instead of 1d4
      • You have advantage on Perception checks using smell or hearing.
      • Your unarmored AC is always 12 + your Dexterity modifier (natural armor)
      • You speak/know Common and Lupine.
      • Your race is now Lupine.
      • Once this occurs, only a Wish spell can reverse the curse, as the subject has embraced becoming a lupine (whether intentionally or not).
  • Challenge: 3 (700 XP)

Variant: Grim Walker

vampiric wolf tony diterlizzi
“The Wyrm ain’t so bad, as long as I can feast upon your entrails!”

Lupine tribal folk who give into pure hatred, find themselves drawn to dark spirits and darker forces. While their disdain for the pioneers is understandable, the lengths that a grim walker goes is far beyond what most find acceptable. Upon losing their connection to the forces of life, these beings become pure creatures of death. The stench of carrion always escapes their breath, their eyes are filled with bloodlust, their skin carries a necrotic tone (as does their fur). And worse yet, the creatures they kill rise up as near mindless zombies driven towards violence against the living.

  • Change creature type to undead.
  • Alignment becomes neutral evil.
  • Immunity to the Poisoned condition and Poison damage
  • Resistance to Necrotic damage
  • All natural attacks (unarmed strikes) deal an extra 3 (1d6) necrotic damage.
  • New Trait: Reanimator –
    • When a creature is killed by a Grim Walker’s attacks, they reanimate as a Zombie 1d4 rounds later
  • New Action: Death Breath (Recharge 5 or 6).
    • The grim walker exhales a breath weapon that deals 12 (5d4) necrotic damage in a 15 ft. cone.
  • Challenge: 2 (450 XP).

Lone Wolf.

Inspector Werewolf by ElizabethHolmes
Rowan T. Jammerson alias “Rawoo”, wanted troublemaker and mischief causing son-of-a-gun

Whether tribesmen who were banished or victims of the skinwalker, these runners either live on their own in the sprawling outlands or within their own packs. Those who don’t mentally deteriorate into mad upright beasts do their best to form a new life. Some live like the dreaded gnolls, sacking everything nearby and raiding everything else. Many try to hold onto their old lives, modifying garb to fit their lupine frames where they see fit and meshing their heightened instincts with daily “civil” life. One example of the latter is Fangs Gulch, a community founded by both former tribesmen as well as transformed outsiders. Old racial tensions falls wayside, as a distaste for the “furless” seems to be the local prejudice instead; whether they’re people from other tribes or from the many settlements as well.

  • The Lupine replaces bow, war club and/or tomahawk with any of the following
    • Pistol. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 40ft./120ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) piercing damage.
    • Rifle. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 60ft./180ft., one creature. Hit: 11 (2d8 + 2) piercing damage.
    • Saber. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) slashing damage.
  • Replace proficiency in Animal Handling and Intimidation with Insight and Investigation.
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Feral.

Werewolf by Lintufriikki

The end result of an exile who lapsed too far into madness or a runner shaman who delved too deeply into supernatural realms of nature. Either way, the end result is a massive beast that retains only a sliver of its intelligence. How they grow in size upon falling into a bestial state is largely unknown. These runners, called Ferals, are more akin to their wolfen ancestors than any intelligent being. However, what they have left in their minds has turned them into superior hunters capable of vicious tactics and planning. Many find their way back to lupine lands, forging bonds as companions and allies. Some even carry non-feral runners into battle!

Most Ferals share the stats of the Dire Wolf (Monster Manual, Page 321) with the following changes:

  • Increase Intelligence to 5 (-3), Wisdom to 14 (+2) and Charisma 8 (-1)
  • Understands Common and Lupine languages, can speak with canines.
  • Capable of standing on its hind legs while using its front paws to maneuver objects like hands would. However, they must be commanded to do so, as it’s unnatural for their paws. They must also make (at least Medium difficulty) Acrobatics checks to maneuver. However, use of weapons is next to impossible.

However, Ferals that continue to regress have the same stats as dire wolves.

IMAGE CREDITS: Lupins – Michael Phillipi; Various Artists – Fantasy Flight Games; Vampiric Wolf – Tony Di’Terlizzi; Inspector Werewolf – 47ness; Werewolf – Lintufriiki

Spellslinger is property of Fantasy Flight Games.  Mystara is property of TSR Inc./Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro.  Created by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.  All rights and copyrights belong to respective owners.

Author: Doctor Necrotic

Hobbyist, amateur writer/screenwriter, wannabe-philosopher, music fan, history lover, cinemaphile, gamer, reviewer, and more. I'm a 30 year old hodgepodge of jobs and interests. My current projects on WordPress creating a wide variety of content for various tabletop roleplaying games, even showcasing published content here as well. When I have the time, I also create editorials and reviews spanning various bits of popular culture. I hope you take a moment to check my content out and maybe tell me what you think.

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