Tactics and Tips
Know Your Enemy (Part 2)
By Eric Cagle

Lore for Displacer Beasts, Frost Worms, Ghouls, Harpies, and Hell Hounds

If you've been reading the recent supplements for the D&D game, you've probably noticed that a new bit of formatting has become the norm when new monsters are provided: the Lore sidebar. This handy item takes the guesswork out of what a character (as opposed to the player) knows about a given creature and rewards those characters with ranks in the appropriate Knowledge skill. Over the course of the next few installments, we'll provide Knowledge check results for a variety of monsters, starting with some of the most iconic that lack this sidebar in the Monster Manual.

This time, we focus on the displacer beast, frost worm, ghoul, harpy, and hell hound.

A Peek Behind the Rules Curtain

So how do designers determine the Difficulty Class for Knowledge checks about creatures? The following is excerpted from Monster Manual IV:

The description of the Knowledge skill indicates that in general, the baseline DC of checks to identify monsters and remember one bit of useful information about their special powers or vulnerabilities is equal to 10 + the monster's HD. Every 5 points by which the check result exceeds the DC yields another useful piece of information (PH 78).

As a general rule of thumb, a DC 15 check or higher will reveal all of the base creature's type and subtype traits as defined in the glossary. This often includes information about energy resistance or various immunities. For instance, a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals that dragons have high hit points (12-sided HD), all good saves, and have darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. They eat, sleep, and breathe.

Information specific to the creature, such as its type of damage resistance, spell-like abilities, or immunities come with the high DC check results.

Displacer Beast Lore

Displacer beasts are foul-tempered, savage carnivores that vaguely resemble pumas. They are the bane of adventurers everywhere because of their predatory cunning, evil nature, and strange ability to seemingly shift their location.

Knowledge (Arcana)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about displacer beasts. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

11 This creature is a displacer beast. This reveals all magical beast traits.

16 Displacer beasts are named for their natural ability to bend light about their bodies, making it difficult to pinpoint their actual location.

21 True seeing reveals the actual location of a displacer beast, while see invisibility does not. Displacer beasts can produce mutant offspring that grow to remarkable size and ferocity.

26 Displacer beasts and blink dogs are mortal enemies and attack each other on sight.

Frost Worm Lore

Frost worms are powerful creatures found only in the most frigid and isolated of places. Because of this isolation, information on them is scant.

Knowledge (Arcana)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about frost worms. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs. Knowledge (nature) can also be used, but all check DCs increase by 5.

DC Result

14 This immense creature is a frost worm. This reveals all magical beast and cold traits.

19 Frost worms generate intense cold that damages creatures that touch it. They also can produce a breath weapon that deals cold damage.

24 Frost worms can produce a hypnotic trill that forces prey to stand motionless. A creature that resists this effect is immune for 24 hours.

29 The eggs of frost worms resemble simple oval-shaped spheres of ice, easily overlooked in the frost worm's lair. When a frost worm dies, it turns to ice and shatters, exploding over a large diameter.

Ghoul Lore

Common at lower levels, ghouls are particularly dangerous foes for adventurers, since their abilities can help spawn new ghouls for them to face.

Knowledge (Religion)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) can learn more ghouls. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

12 Ghouls are undead who feast upon corpses and carrion. They are tough and intelligent creatures. This reveals all undead traits.

17 The bite of a ghoul infects the victim with a horrible disease called ghoul fever. Those who die from this disease rise again to become a ghoul themselves.

22 The bite or touch of a ghoul causes paralysis in its victim.

27 There are other variations of ghouls, including the aquatic lacedon and the more powerful ghast.

Harpy Lore

Harpies are vicious and sadistic monstrous humanoids who delight in tormenting victims until they grow bored. Once bored, a harpy slays the victim to feast on its flesh.

Knowledge (Nature)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nature) can learn more about harpies. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs. Knowledge (dungeoneering) can also be used, but all check DCs increase by 5.

DC Result

12 This filthy, wretched creature is a harpy. This reveals all monstrous humanoid traits.

17 Harpies can fly with average maneuverability and can make flyby attacks.

22 The song of a harpy can captivate living creatures and cause them to approach it. Creatures within 5 feet do nothing, even as the harpy rends them apart.

27 While not particularly intelligent, harpies are smart enough to set up ambushes. They often ally themselves with more powerful creatures.

Hell Hound Lore

Hell hounds hunt efficiently, and packs of these fire-breathing creatures usually surround their prey. If a victim gets away, hell hounds track the fleeing victim relentlessly.

Knowledge (the Planes)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (the planes) can learn more about hell hounds. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs. Knowledge (religion) can also be used, but all check DCs increase by 5.

DC Result

14 This infernal-looking canine is a hell hound. This reveals all outsider traits.

19 Hell hounds are consummate trackers and often employ pack tactics. The bite of a hell hound deals additional fire damage and they can breathe fire every few rounds.

24 Larger, more powerful versions of the hell hound exist, including the Nessian warhound. They are used as mounts and hunters for the devil princes of the Nine Hells.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and Player's Handbook.

About the Author

Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Races of Destiny, and Monster Manual III. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Green Ronin Publishing, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle, where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.


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