Keeping with the theme from my last Monstrous Monday, I stuck my nose back into my trusty old Fiend Folio to dig up some old monsters and give them a modern makeover. The Fiend Folio is an absolute gold mine of weird, and it’s crammed full of monsters that for the most part are way too odd to be staples in your typical Dungeons and Dragons game. And while many of these monsters have achieved some mainstream popularity (things like Githyanki and Slaad come to mind), many more languish in obscurity. When it comes to creatures like the umpleby, perhaps languishing in obscurity is for the better.
But that’s not going to stop me from updating the umpleby anyway.
Way back when I did the D30 Challenge, I wrote about the umpleby, and I talked about how I’ve never used one and why. I’m assuming that you followed the above link and read the rather brief thing that I previously wrote about the umpleby, but here is an even briefer description: basically the umpleby is an electrified Bigfoot that follows a party around, makes noise, gets in the way, and acts pitiful when threatened with physical violence. Oh, and they can detect the presence of precious metals and gems from a distance of up to 100 feet (even through solid rock!) and are probably just jerks who know exactly what they’re doing rather than the bumbling, simple oafs that they appear to be.
In my previous post, I mentioned that the umpleby reads like a gag monster; something that a dungeon master could use to troll a party and not much else. I still think that’s the main reason the umpleby exists, but I started to think of some interesting ways they could fit into a campaign world.
Make no mistake: umplebys are dicks. Their clingy, bumbling nature makes them a pain to deal with and a nuisance to be around. Given this, people would probably go out of their way to avoid umplebys, and the places that umplebys were known to inhabit. For instance, there might be an otherwise peaceful forest that is inhabited by umplebys, and their presence alone is enough of a nuisance that a main trade road swings wide around said forest, adding several days to what would otherwise be a short jaunt between two cities. Perhaps a party armed with a map and lacking any knowledge of such a region would learn the hard way why the locals navigate around The Umple Wood. Another intriguing idea could be that a vast uncharted forest, swamp, or mountain range must be navigated through by the party and the only indigenous guides are – you guessed it – Umplebys. Negotiating the payment for any sort of guide services could be interesting too, considering the umpleby innately knows about how many precious metals and gems the party happens to be carrying around with them.
Either way, I feel like the comical nature of the umpleby should still be played up, but the creature doesn’t have to be a complete joke, or turn the game into one.
Anyway, here is my Fifth Edition take on the umpleby:
Large humanoid, Neutral
|Armor Class 15 (Natural Armor, Dexterity)
Hit points 54 (6d10 + 18)
Speed 30 ft.
|Skills – Survival (+5)
Passive Perception – 13
Resistances – Immune to Electrical Damage
Challenge – 2 (450 XP)
|Sense Valuables – An umpleby can detect the presence of precious metals and gems within a 100’ radius, even detecting such valuables through solid rock.
Nets – umpleby weave nets from their own hair, and often have several such nets around their waists or elsewhere on their persons. These nets require a DC 15 Strength check to break free from, or can take 5 hp of slashing damage (AC 10) before being destroyed.
Electrical Discharge (3/short rest) – As an action, an umpleby may make a melee attack (+5 to hit) to deliver an electrical shock. This attack has advantage against targets wearing metal armor, and deals 12 (1d8+8) lightning damage. Rather than making three such attacks, an umpleby may expend two or even all three uses of this ability in one attack, provided he has enough uses remaining, doing 2d8+16 or 3d8+24 damage respectively with such an attack. Expending two or three uses of this ability at once requires that the umpleby complete a long rest before using the Electrical Discharge ability again.
Multi-Attack. An umpleby may attack twice with its claws as a single action.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) slashing.
Final Thoughts: You may notice that with his electrical discharge ability, an umbleby can probably blast a fourth or fifth level fighter right out of his boots. In light of that, you may think that the umpleby is deserving of a higher challenge rating. Keep in mind though that an umpleby will typically avoid combat, resorting to violence only as a last resort or in self-defense. Also keep in mind that once an umpleby blasts said fighter out of his boots he is a pretty pathetic combatant, easily dispatched by anyone still standing. Also also keep in mind though that the party probably won’t realize this, and should probably be wary of continued aggression against the creature that just dropped their tank with one hit, especially since in all likelihood the umpleby was acting in self-defense.