This column aims to provide DMs with interesting opponents to pit against the PCs in their campaigns. Building off of a simple base -- typically a standard monster from the Monster Manual -- each column uses the building blocks provided in the rulebooks to craft a variety of foes. Through the addition of class levels or templates, or even via simple HD advancement, the creatures presented in this column are transformed from run-of-the-mill opponents into memorable foes. Check out this column every month for formidable enemies built from a different monster!
The Ogre Mage: Magic Plus Intellect
This month, our base creature is the ogre mage. This versatile giant combines physical and magical prowess to challenge and frustrate characters. In combat, it uses its prodigious strength to deal out significant amounts of damage, relying on its regeneration ability to keep it going. When it finds itself in real danger, though, it can duck out quickly using darkness, invisibility, gaseous form, or even its flight ability. With its intelligence and cunning, the ogre mage makes a good "boss monster" for low- to mid-level characters to face, and a pair of them can prove challenging even for pretty tough PCs.
The ogre mage's favored class is sorcerer, and thanks to its high Charisma, it can count on good save DCs and plenty of bonus spells. However, since the spells it learns tend to be weak compared to those of a single-classed sorcerer of the same CR, it must choose spells carefully to maximize their impact. Magic missile, for instance, isn't a good spell for low-level ogre mage sorcerers, since the damage it deals doesn't put much fear into the opponents it faces. Better choices are spells whose effects don't depend on level and those that don't allow saves.
Even though sorcerer is the favored class for an ogre mage, you should treat it as a "nonassociated class" for the purpose of adjusting the creature's Challenge Rating (see page 294 in the Monster Manual). That's because even though the ogre mage has spell-like abilities, it doesn't have any natural ability to cast spells as a sorcerer, so its spellcasting ability usually isn't very strong. Also, an ogre mage is fundamentally a fighting creature, despite its magical abilities.Thus, each level of sorcerer adds only +1/2 to the ogre mage's CR instead of +1.
Chaiya: The Ogre Mage Sorcerer
Chaiya is a typical low-level ogre mage sorcerer. He tends to keep one or two bodyguards (either ogres or charmed low-level fighters) close by to protect him. He usually begins combat by turning invisible and flying up out of reach, then casting shield to increase his AC. After that, he uses ray of enfeeblement to soften up his opponents and takes potshots with his longbow against spellcasters.
Chaiya: Male ogre mage Sorcerer 2; CR 9; Large giant; HD 5d8+15 plus 2d4+6; hp 48; Init +5; Spd 40 ft., fly 40 ft. (good); AC 15, touch 10, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +4; Grp +12; Atk +8 melee (3d6+7/19-20, +1 greatsword) or +5 ranged (2d6+4/x3, masterwork [+4 Str bonus] composite longbow); Full Atk +8 melee (3d6+7/19-20, +1 greatsword) or +5 ranged (2d6+4/x3, masterwork [+4 Str bonus] composite longbow); Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.; SA spell-like abilities; SQ darkvision 90 ft., flight, low-light vision, regeneration 5, spell resistance 19; AL LE; SV Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +8; Str 19, Dex 12, Con 17, Int 18, Wis 16, Cha 21.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +13, Concentration +13, Diplomacy +7, Hide -3, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (arcana) +12, Listen +11, Spellcraft +16, Spot +11; Combat Expertise, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- darkness, invisibility; 1/day -- charm person (DC 16), cone of cold (DC 20), gaseous form, polymorph, sleep (DC 16). Caster level 9th. The save DCs are Charisma-based.
Flight (Su): Chaiya can cease or resume flight as a free action. While using gaseous form, he can fly at his normal speed and has perfect maneuverability.
Regeneration (Ex): Fire and acid deal normal damage to Chaiya.
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/6; save DC 15 + spell level): 0 -- dancing lights, detect magic, ghost sound, ray of frost, read magic; 1st -- ray of enfeeblement, shield.
Possessions: +1 greatsword, masterwork (+4 Str bonus) composite longbow, cloak of resistance +1, silver necklace set with emerald (1,000 gp), 30 pp.
Suhasini: The Half-Red-Dragon/Half-Ogre-Mage Sorcerer
Thanks to its polymorph spell-like ability, an ogre mage can take a wide variety of forms, and liaisons while in other forms can result in interesting crossbreeds. Suhasini is the result of a union between a female ogre mage and a male red dragon. True to her draconic heritage, she has sought power through the sorcerous arts. She hopes one day to assemble a small army of giants and dragons to wreak havoc in the surrounding lands.
Suhasini: Female half-red-dragon/half-ogre-mage Sorcerer 4; CR 12; Large dragon (augmented giant); HD 5d10+20 plus 4d4+16; hp 73; Init +5; Spd 40 ft., fly 40 ft. (good) or fly 80 ft. (average); AC 19, touch 10, flat-footed 18; Base Atk +5; Grp +17; Atk +12 melee (1d6+8, claw) or +13 melee (3d6+13/19-20, +1 greatsword) or +6 ranged (2d6+9/x3, +1 composite longbow [+8 Str bonus]); Full Atk +12 melee (1d6+8, 2 claws) and +7 melee (1d8+4, bite) or +13 melee (3d6+13/19-20, +1 greatsword) and +7 melee (1d8+4, bite) or +6 ranged (2d6+9/x3, +1 composite longbow [+8 Str bonus]); Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.; SA breath weapon 1/day, spell-like abilities; SQ darkvision 90 ft., flight, immunities (fire, paralysis, sleep), low-light vision, regeneration 5, spell resistance 19; AL LE; SV Fort +11, Ref +7, Will +10; Str 27, Dex 12, Con 19, Int 20, Wis 16, Cha 24.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +19, Concentration +16, Decipher Script +9, Diplomacy +9, Hide -3, Intimidate +13, Knowledge (arcana) +13, Listen +11, Search +9, Sense Motive +7, Spellcraft +19, Spot +11, Use Magic Device +15; Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes.
Breath Weapon (Su): Suhasini's breath weapon is a 30-foot cone of fire. Each creature within the cone takes 6d8 points of fire damage (Reflex DC 16 half).
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- darkness, invisibility; 1/day -- charm person (DC 18), cone of cold (DC 22), gaseous form, polymorph, sleep (DC 18). Caster level 9th. The save DCs are Charisma-based.
Flight (Su): Suhasini can cease or resume flight as a free action. While using gaseous form, she can fly at her normal speed and has perfect maneuverability.
Regeneration (Ex): Acid deals normal damage to Suhasini. Normally, fire would also deal her normal damage, but she is immune to it as a half-red-dragon.
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/8/5; save DC 17 + spell level): 0 -- dancing lights, detect magic, flare, ghost sound, ray of frost, read magic; 1st -- mage armor, obscuring mist, true strike; 2nd -- see invisibility.
Possessions: +1 greatsword, +1 composite longbow (+8 Str bonus), cloak of resistance +2, platinum ring (500 gp), 30 pp.
Nam-Sun: The Ghost Half-Green-Dragon/Half-Ogre-Mage Sorcerer
Nam-Sun is another half-dragon/half-ogre mage, but she has no plans of domination or conquest. That's because she is dead -- or more correctly, undead. Slain decades ago by a rival ogre mage, Nam-Sun now haunts the forest where she once lived. She hungers only for revenge against her killer, who currently serves as advisor to a tribe of fire giants in a distant mountain range. Nam-Sun usually attempts to possess intruders with her malevolence ability, hoping to use the controlled body to travel to the lair of her enemy. The only way to rid the forest of the ghostly green half-dragon permanently is to slay the ogre mage who killed her.
Nam-Sun (Manifested): Female ghost half-green-dragon/half-ogre-mage Sorcerer 8; CR 16; Large undead (augmented giant, augmented dragon, incorporeal); HD 5d12 plus 8d12; hp 84; Init +5; Spd 40 ft., fly 80 ft. (perfect); AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 18; Base Atk +7; Grp +11; Atk +11 melee (3d6+4/19-20, +4 greatsword, 50% miss chance) or +8 ranged (2d6+1/x3, [+8 Str bonus] +1 composite longbow, 50% miss chance); Full Atk +11/+6 melee (3d6+4/19-20, +4 greatsword, 50% miss chance) or +8/+3 ranged (2d6+1/x3, [+8 Str bonus] +1 composite longbow, 50% miss chance); Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.; SA breath weapon 1/day; malevolence, spell-like abilities, telekinesis; SQ darkvision 90 ft., flight, immunities (ability damage [physical scores], ability drain, acid, critical hits, death effects, death from massive damage, disease, energy drain, exhaustion, fatigue, mind-affecting effects, nonlethal damage, paralysis, poison, sleep, stunning), incorporeal traits, low-light vision, manifestation, rejuvenation, spell resistance 19, turn resistance +4, undead traits; AL LE; SV Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +10; Str -, Dex 12, Con -, Int 20, Wis 16, Cha 29.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +25, Concentration +25, Decipher Script +9, Diplomacy +13, Hide +5, Intimidate +17, Knowledge (arcana) +21, Listen +19, Search +17, Sense Motive +9, Spellcraft +23, Spot +19, Use Magic Device +17; Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Extend Spell, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes.
Breath Weapon (Su): Nam-Sun's breath weapon is a 30-foot cone of corrosive gas. Each creature within the cone takes 6d8 points of acid damage (Reflex DC 21 half). The save DC is Charisma-based.
Malevolence (Su): Once per round, Nam-Sun can merge her body with that of a creature on the Material Plane (Will DC 24 negates; see Monster Manual page 118). The save DC is Charisma-based.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- darkness, invisibility; 1/day -- charm person (DC 20), cone of cold (DC 24), gaseous form, polymorph, sleep (DC 18). Caster level 9th. The save DCs are Charisma-based.
Telekinesis (Su): Nam-Sun can use telekinesis as a standard action (caster level 13th; Will DC 23 negates). After using this power, she must wait 1d4 rounds before using it again. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Manifestation (Su): When Nam-Sun manifests, she partially enters the Material Plane and becomes visible but incorporeal there. In this state, she can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons, or spells, with a 50% to ignore any damage from a corporeal source. She can pass through solid objects at will, and her own attacks pass through armor. She always moves silently. While manifested, Nam-Sun can strike with her +4 greatsword and her +1 composite longbow, though each such attack has a 50% chance to fail against opponents on the Material Plane. She can be attacked by opponents on both the Material and the Ethereal Planes.
Rejuvenation (Su): When destroyed, Nam-Sun returns to her old haunts with a successful level check (1d20+13) against DC 18. Slaying the ogre mage who killed Nam-Sun is the only way to lay her to rest permanently.
Turn Resistance (Ex): Nam-Sun is treated as a 17-HD undead for the purpose of turn, rebuke, command, or bolster attempts.
Undead Traits: Nam-Sun is immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. She is not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage to her physical ability scores, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or death from massive damage. She cannot be raised, and resurrection works only if she is willing.
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/9/14/7/5; save DC 19 + spell level): 0 -- dancing lights, daze, detect magic, flare, ghost sound, mage hand, ray of frost, read magic; 1st -- cause fear, magic missile, obscuring mist, ray of enfeeblement, shield; 2nd -- see invisibility, shatter, web; 3rd -- dispel magic, ray of exhaustion; 4th -- crushing despair.
Ethereal: The following changes to Nam-Sun's statistics are in effect against ethereal opponents: AC 19, touch 10, flat-footed 18; Grp +19; Atk +14 melee (1d6+8, claw) or +18 melee (3d6+16/19-20, +4 greatsword ) or +8 ranged (2d6+9/x3, +1 composite longbow [+8 Str bonus]); Full Atk +14 melee (1d6+8, 2 claws) and +9 melee (1d8+4, bite) or +18/+13 melee (3d6+16/19-20, +4 greatsword ) and +9 melee (1d8+4, bite) or +8/+3 ranged (2d6+9/x3, +1 composite longbow [+8 Str bonus]); SA breath weapon 1/day; Str 27.
Possessions: +4 greatsword, +1 composite longbow (+8 Str bonus), ring of wizardry II.
About the Author
By day, Andy Collins works a senior designer in the Roleplaying R&D department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. His credits include the Player's Handbook v.3.5, the Epic Level Handbook, and the upcoming Draconomicon. By night, however, he fights crime as a masked vigilante. Or maybe not.