I've been making monsters lately. It's fun work and I have a few playtesters that don't mind sending their favorite characters against whatever the hell I dream up or convert. I present the Wendigo.
I like this creature because it's based in native american/canadian mythology. The wikipedia article is outstanding. Basically, the wendigo likely existed in culture to enforce a taboo on cannibalism. If you eat the flesh of a fellow human, then you will be cursed to wander the earth, misshapen and unsated. Not surprising, the myth is found in societies that have a high winter starvation risk. The article also catalogs the more notable cases of wendigo psychosis.
The windigo is also associated with greed. People who desire wealth and material things more than helping other people may fall to the curse of the wendigo. Those that consume too much will be forever hungry.
So I borrowed some from mythology, sprinkled some more from cryptozoological (read crackpot) websites, and glanced at the pathfinder version.
The creature is a CR 13, although its main attack is straightforward, there are some nice effects and abilities that keep this monster interesting.
- Stench - Creatures that get too close can be poisoned for a round
- Weapon resistance - Resistance to piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning damage
- Mostly elemental damage - cold damage, lots of constitution checks
- Ability to create frost ones (see below)
- Wendigo Psychosis (see variants)
- Ability to drain hit dice - Monsters could take healing surges in 4e, why not hit dice in 5e?
- It destroys wealth - I really liked the idea of the wendigo as a allegory for greed, so I gave it the ability to consume wealth with each hit.
- Grows stronger - The creature adds an hit dice for each corpse it consumes.
- Stealth - It has +13 to stealth
The wendigo eats the flesh, but not the bones. Frost ones are animated skeletons of the wendigo's victims. They are under the control of the wendigo and are often on the look out for its next target.
The plucky level 13 human barbarian and level 13 tiefling rogue almost bested this creature. They were easily able to out maneuver the creature (it originally had only 30ft movement per round), so I upped its movement speed. Good tactical play by the players made it very close contest.
I noticed that the creature brought narrative flavor. For example, the area around the wendigo is colder, so the characters were fighting in snow during a temperate summer. Since the creature floats, it does not leave any tracks in the freshly fallen snow. The entire abandoned village looked untouched. The barbarian (who smells almost everything) successfully tracked it by smell alone. In combat, the party took several hits and lost 300gp, several quest items (maps, useful books, et cetera), and gloves of missile snaring. Testers indicated combat was interesting and scary.