I never played AD&D in high school. Oh sure, I had a 2nd Edition Player's Handbook and made a few characters on a wistful summer afternoon, but I never actually got a group together. I cut my teeth on 4th Edition, the D&D Next playtest, and 5th Edition. Consequently, I missed out on 34 years of knowledge. A couple of weeks ago NewbieDM started converting older 2nd Edition monsters to 5th Edition, one of which was the Baneguard, a skeleton from the Undermountain. I never knew such awesome monsters existed.
Not Just a Normal Skeleton
Baneguards were created by evil wizards (as we would expect), and small red points of light appear in each of their eye sockets. There are three traits that set these low level skeletons apart from their undead brethren.
- They are intelligent
These creatures have average intelligence and are just as cunning as a normal human. Baneguards will not merely march toward the heroes with reckless abandon. They will set traps, ambushes, and use terrain to their advantage.
- Magic Missile
It's a monster with spell that automatically hits. 'Nuff said.
This is especially dangerous because these creatures are smart. For example, a Baneguard could teleport safely out of melee and then blast away with its magic missile.
I like what the NewbieDM has done, but I want to put my own spin on the creature.
Building a Baneguard
When converting a creature, I want to make sure that I capture the essence of the what makes the monster unique. In this case, the three factors above, combined with its low level give the Baneguard its flavor. In this case part of the conversion is easy, take a skeleton and give it a magic missile ability, teleport, and extra hit points. But how can we display the creature's intelligence?
High intelligence creatures often have a sense of self preservation. Although it moves away from the unarmored version in 2nd Edition, I think they would equip armor from the poor adventurers they slay. This behavior is shown through a higher than average AC.
All monsters should have some options. Not all the denizens of the dark are created equal.
Maybe some Baneguards have been around longer than others. This is reflected through better equipment. Experienced Baneguards are a tad stronger, have higher AC, and carry longswords.
If you don't like the fact that these skeletons are wearing proper armor, I also included options for a armorless version. Due to rounding, it doesn't change the CR.
A monster with an attack that automatically hits doesn't necessarily jive with all playstyles. I included an option that converts the magic missile ability to Psionic Pulse.
Download a PDF of the Baneguard here.