Many great monsters created in the earlier days of the D&D game have never made it through the various editions to today. The Huntsmen, from Dragon magazine #40 1980 by Lewis Pulsiper is one of those monsters.
In this article, I give the monster a 5th edition overhaul and expand upon its limited Backstory.
Huntsmen are created in laboratories through alchemical means. Initially created by a wizard that wanted a way to guard the forest where his wizard's tower stood, he began looking into possible servants. The Wizard wanted something more intelligent than a construct, or undead. He also their loyalty to be unwavering. The Wizard also enjoyed the beauty of his forest and didn't want his minions ruining it in his service. While the Wizard was searching for these perfect guardians, he ran into a bit of trouble with a migrating band of wood elves. The elves had encroached upon his lands and began hunting his game, which made him angry. Seeing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, the wizard invited the elves to a feast at his tower. The Wood Elves not wishing to offend the wizard accepted the invitation, but only a band of their bravest warriors attended. During the festivities, the Wizard unleashed a particularly wicked Cloud Kill spell that slew the elves giving the wizard the raw materials for his experiment. Depositing their corpses into a vat of thick alchemical sludge, he began imbuing them with a mixture of magical enchantments to create what would become Huntsmen.
The experiment was successful, and after depriving the Wood Elf tribe of their most potent warriors, the remaining tribe members fled in fear. The stats and abilities of the Huntsmen listed below are from the wizard's original formula using Wood Elves. Still, in theory, other races could be used in the same process producing different results.
Huntsmen will retain a semblance of their original form before the transformation. However, there are several distinct changes to their physical form. All Huntsmen have a sickly green hue to their skin, and their hair turns a dark green. Their eyes also turn green with dark green irises. The transformation also makes their frames leaner than average, giving them a skinny appearance. Despite this leaner form, they do not appear to suffer any loss of strength.
Huntsmen retain a semblance of intelligence and are not stupid. While they have no verbal language, they communicate with each other through a complex mixture of sign and pantomime. They care for gear and equipment and can craft traps for use in defending territory. Despite these skills, Huntsmen lack passion and a sense of individuality. Huntsmen do not create works of art, play instruments, or indulge in any type of recreative activities.
Despite their manufactured loyalty, Huntsmen do not tolerate mistreatment from their masters. They will leave in mass if they are not being mistreated or even rebel and attempt to kill their master. If this is a holdover from their former lives is unknown. Huntsmen are blindly loyal to their batch mates; other Huntsmen created in the same batch as themselves. This loyalty does not extend to other Huntsmen if they were created later in a different batch. They will however, work in tandem with other Huntsmen that are not their batch mates according to their master's directions.
Huntsmen are proficient with the same weapons and armor they used before becoming Huntsmen and can be trained in the use of others. Whether a holdover from their Wood Elf heritage or something brought about from the transformation, Huntsmen prefer to use stealth and ambush tactics when confronting foes. Huntsmen also prefer to fight in a group alongside their fellow batch mates.
Huntsmen have little in the way of society outside their direction to carrying out orders given to them by their master. When given time to themselves, they will use it preparing to carry out their orders, by constructing crude armor and weapons or making components for traps. If tasked with guarding a place or area, they will work tirelessly to ensure that all buildings in that area are well-tended and cared for. They seem to perform these tasks instinctively, and while their work is crude, it is always highly functional.
Huntsmen always care for any fellow batch mates that are wounded and have a basic understanding of the binding and cleaning of wounds. If the master that created the huntsmen ever dies, they spend their time carrying out the last orders they received until none of them exists to perform the task anymore. This can be for centuries or more as it appears that Huntsmen do not age.
As noted earlier, Huntsmen do not speak or have a verbal form of communication. Despite this, they do communicate through an intricate form of pantomime, which quickly evolves into its own sign language. This lack of verbal communication is the only real drawback of HUntsmen as their master will be forced to learn it from them.
Huntsmen, while being alchemically created monstrosities, still consume food and water to sustain their physical forms. Mostly herbivores, Huntsmen are not picky about what they consume and do little in the way of preparing what they consume. They do, however, cook meat that they eat when possible.
While it appears that some of the traits, and abilities, of a Huntsmen carry over from their lives as Wood Elves, several abilities are a direct result of the alchemical process that created them.
Poison Immunity: Huntsmen are immune to all forms of natural poison.
Charm Immunity: While a huntsman is within 30ft of one of their batch mates, they are immune to all forms of charm and dominate spells.
Communal Health: Huntsmen have a special bond with all their fellow batch mates. Because of this, it is suggested that when a wizard creates them to do so in batches of four or more. The max number that can be created in one batch is ten.
Each Huntsmen has their own hit point total, but if a Huntsmen from their batch dies within 30ft of them, some of the manufactured lifeforce within them passes to their remaining batch mates. In-game terms, this means that those Huntsmen within 30ft of one of their dying batch mates will receive 1d8 temporary hit points. These temporary hit points can stack with additional temporary hit points gained from the death of other batch mates. These temporary hit points will last for one day after received before the Huntsmen's hit point total returns to normal.