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.
From the annals of one of Greyhawk’s most mysterious and least know Archmages, Asenneas, the Alchemist, we delve into his research and creation of Dragonlings. Dragonlings are a hybrid mix of kobolds with dragon materials to give us a new species of small draconic influenced creatures.
Asenneas' fondness for dragons is reflected in many of his creations, but none as obvious as Dragonlings. Asenneas used kobolds in his tower and dungeons as a cheap and inexpensive workforce. However, their volatile nature and general disdain for nearly all other races made them hard to work with. To remedy this, Asenneas decided to try and merge the kobolds with certain aspects of dragons to make them more manageable.
After several failed batches he eventually found the right combination of ground-up dragon scales, percolated dragon’s blood, and magic that when infused into a kobolds system brought about a stable transformation. Of course, Asenneas did not settle on creating just one type of Dragonling as his curiosity wouldn’t allow him to stop at just one successful experiment. Unfortunately, he concluded that his process was only successful when using chromatic dragon ingredients. He hypothesized that the genetic material from metallic dragons was rejected by the kobold genes, while the chromatic for some reason was not.
Eventually, after testing his new creations, Asenneas settled on blue Dragonlings as his new workforce and sold off the others or set them free into the world. Asenneas often as a final test of his subject’s releases some into the wild if he considers them successful to watch them and record how they fare in the real world.
Personality: One of the biggest reasons Asenneas decided to produce the Dragonlings was because of his trouble with the kobold’s lousy temperament. While they followed orders without question from Asenneas, they would continuously quarrel with his other minions. By infusing them with the draconic materials, they took on specific aspects of dragons.
Red dragonlings proved to be too headstrong and nearly as unwilling as regular kobolds to work with others. They also became highly overconfident, thinking that they could defeat any foe. This overconfidence did not manifest into outright stupidity, at least not in all of them, but as a replacement for his current kobold workforce, the red Dragonlings were a failure.
Black Dragonlings became even more cruel and ill-tempered than the original kobolds, proving that they were also a poor replacement for regular kobolds. While they retained their abilities to work in a group while amongst themselves, they still despised all other forms of creatures besides other black Dragonlings.
Blue Dragonlings lost much of the latent kobold cruelness, but it was replaced by a desire to try and manipulate and deceive others. While they might not openly attack or disobey others, they will look for loopholes in orders and agreements that they can bend to their favor.
Green Dragonlings lost most of the kobold cruelness as well, but it was replaced with a deceptive and highly territorial nature. This territorialness also made it hard for them to work with other minions in or out of their perceived territory. This fact, along with a general fondness for intrigue led to infighting amongst them.
White Dragonlings are savage little creatures that are the only version of the Dragonlings that hated other creatures even more than the kobolds did. While other Dragonlings will tolerate ones of different colors, white Dragonlings despise them the most. This inability to work with others at all found they booted out into the wild first among the Dragonlings.
Combat: Dragonlings, for the most part, excluding white Dragonlings who will simply attempt to mob their enemies, and red Dragonlings that sometimes succumb to their overconfidence, prefer to ambush their prey and enemies. They use bows and spears, preferring to stay at a distance in combat, especially against larger foes. If they begin to lose a battle, Dragonlings are not so proud that they won't flee in the hopes of surviving to fight another day or to prepare an ambush for their enemies. The exception to this rule is, of course, the white Dragonlings that work themselves up into such a frenzy that they don't even realize they are losing an engagement.
Dragonlings prefer to set traps and ambush when they can, and if encountered in their lair, they will have several traps set throughout it. Another favorite tactic of Dragonlings is using the elements that they are naturally immune to in battle. Red Dragonlings will throw firebombs even amongst their own troops, and usually unleash a salvo of them before they charge an enemy. Another trick is to use some of their kind as bait to lure unsuspecting adventurers into an oil-soaked room only to set it ablaze and then rush in. Green Dragonlings use poison gas bombs and gas-filled pit traps. Blue Dragonlings have invented ways of electrifying floors, and white Dragonlings are known to fight in freezing water.
Society: Dragonlings are tribal, and much like their kobold forebears are industrious creatures. They prefer to spend their time living beneath ground mining and constructing surprisingly high-quality goods. While nowhere near the quality of craftsmanship that one finds produced by dwarves and gnomes, their wares are superior to those crafted by most other humanoid races.
This desire to craft and create is visible in their homes as the lairs. Dragonlings lairs are well-constructed networks of tunnels and rooms all painstakingly trapped and designed to help them defend themselves against invaders, usually other humanoids, looking to plunder their goods and treasure. One common denominator found in all dragonling lairs is the fact that the ceilings are rarely over 5' in height. This height restriction comfortably accommodates the tallest of the Dragonlings and hinders larger adventurers and humanoids that seek to raid them.
Dragonlings are drawn to live in regions similar to those preferred by the dragons they share a color with. Blue Dragonlings preferring arid and desert-like locations, reds migrate to mountainous areas, Black Dragonlings to swamps, green Dragonlings to thick forests, and white Dragonlings to colder climes. Green Dragonlings can be found either in tunnel complexes below the forest or high in the trees themselves with huts tucked into the branches of them. Black Dragonlings tend to always live above ground in dens that are constructed much like beaver lodges.
Dragonling society, like kobolds, is based on the might makes right philosophy with the strongest of their kind taking up the position of chief of the tribe.
Dragonlings, like kobolds, are not fond of other creatures, except dragons, and will fiercely defend, and eliminate any opposition that they feel interferes with the welfare of the tribe. Dragonlings hate kobolds most and will attack them on sight and capture them to be slaves when they can. The exception to this rule is where white Dragonlings are concerned as they hate other Dragonlings slightly more than kobolds.
Where dragons of their same color are concerned, Dragonlings will seek out to serve them, provided they are adult dragons. To Dragonlings, the chromatic wyrms of Greyhawk are to be revered as the mighty beasts that they are.
The ambitions of Dragonlings are simple, gain power and influence within their tribe and try as hard as they can to retain it. They respect the authority of those that have proven to be their betters, however white and red Dragonlings will only acknowledge other Dragonlings or dragons themselves in this regard.
Language: Dragonlings speak draconic as their primary language, but they also understand the kobold tongue. Speaking in the kobold language to another Dragonling is a high insult, and Dragonlings will only talk in kobold to non-dragonlings.
Religion: Upon the Dragonlings release from Asenneas' dungeon, they quickly converted to the worship of draconic gods, and chief among them was Tiamat. The Dragon Queen is held in the highest regard, and each Dragonling type depicts her differently, with the head of their color being the center and most dominant one.
Diet: While dragonlings will eat most animals and intelligent beings such as humans, goblins, or even lizardmen, they refuse to eat kobolds, and while they can eat most animals, dragonlings prefer to catch fish and tend herds of domestic animals.
Special Traits and Abilities:
Red dragonlings are, on average, the largest of the Dragonlings growing to heights of 3.5' to 4' tall and are slightly more robust than other Dragonlings. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical fire damage and resistant to magical fire damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
Black Dragonlings are at home in the water and have a natural swim speed and are amphibious. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical acid damage and resistant to magical acid damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
Blue Dragonlings have an innate sense of detecting illusions and have advantage when it comes to saving throws regarding them. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical lightning damage and resistant to magical lightning damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
Green Dragonlings are very sneaky, and while ambushing is a favorite tactic of all Dragonlings, they have mastered the craft. Green dragonlings are proficient in stealth and have advantage on all stealth checks. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical poison damage and resistant to magical poison damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.
White dragonlings are, on average, the smallest of the Dragonlings growing to heights of only 2.5' to 3' tall and are slightly weaker than other Dragonlings. They, however, make up for this with their tenacity when fighting in groups gaining the pack tactic trait. They are also immune to all forms of non-magical cold damage and resistant to magical cold damage. Unfortunately, a trait that carried over from their kobold heritage is an aversion of sunlight, and they have the sunlight sensitivity trait.