Suffice to say, with everything that’s going on these days I’ve been short on creative steam. We’re living in weird times and only going to get weirder, unfortunately.
Aside from the madness out there, I’ve been very deeply involved in some projects that such up any creative energy I muster. One of them is a complete newbie-friendly packaged adventure. The distribution details for this project remain to be sorted and they take forever. I started it with no expectations, so if nothing else pans out, I will just be releasing it for free as a pdf. The pdf formatting is, however, a consuming and mind-numbing process, which I’ve slowed considerably as I wait to see if other options pan out.
I don’t have a segue, so here’s a fun fact: Although I believe it should be a class feature and not a spell, Find Greater Steed is probably my favourite spell in Xanathars. Something about rolling in on a Pegasus or a goddamn Rhinoceros just does something for me when it comes to Tier 3 & 4 Paladin aesthetic.
When the game I was DMing reached this point, the Paladin in the party asked if he could have a Giant Bat to ride. Greater Steeds trend around CR 2 and a Giant Bat is CR 1/4, so I did the only sensible thing. I drafted up a CR 2 Dire Bat and let him summon that instead.
In the theme of Find Greater Steed being cool because of the diverse, stylistic options it provides, here are some weird-ass CR2 creatures that are balanced to be used as options in the Find Greater Steed spell.
The Dire Bat doesn’t hit as hard as other steeds, and is a little lower on the HP range. To make up for htis, it brings a fly speed and the Giant Bat’s echolocation to the table, which definitely give it utility that many other choices lack.
|Dire Bat Large Beast, Unaligned|
|Armor Class 13 |
Hit Points 38 (7d10) S
Speed 10 ft., Fly 60 ft.
|STR 15 (+2) DEX 16 (+3) CON 11 (+0) INT 4 (-3) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 6 (-2)|
|Saving Throws Dex +5 |
Skills Stealth +5, Perception +3
Senses passive Perception 11, Blindsight 60 ft (blind beyond this radius)
|Echolocation. The bat can’t use its blindsight while deafened. |
Keen Hearing. The bat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.
|Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: (1d8 + 2) piercing damage.|
Find Greater Steed doesn’t have any good aquatic options built in, which I think is an oversight for certain campaigns. If you’re looking for a steed that is terrifying in the water, and moderately slower but still terrifying on land, choose the massive, blubbery bulk of a Sea Lion.
|Sea Lion Large Beast, Unaligned|
|Armor Class 12 (Natural Armor) |
Hit Points 52 (7d10+14)
Speed 20 ft., Swim 50 ft.
|STR 20 (+5) DEX 10 (0) CON 14 (+2) INT 2 (-4) WIS 10 (0) CHA 8 (-1)|
|Skills Athletics +7 |
Senses passive Perception 10
|Relentless (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). If the sea lion takes 10 damage or less that would reduce it to 0 hit points, it is reduced to 1 hit point instead.|
|Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: (2d8 + 5 piercing damage.|
Since they were so lacking, I think it’s worth doubling down on aquatic creatures. If a Sea Lion is too coastal, a more deep-sea minded paladin might consider flexing on the land-dwellers with his awesome fish-horse, the Hippocamp.
|Hippocamp Large Monstrosity, Unaligned|
|Armor Class 13 |
Hit Points 52 (7d10 + 14)
Speed Swim 80 ft.
|STR 18 (+4) DEX 16 (+3) CON 14 (+2) INT 3 (-2) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 10 (0)|
|Saving Throws Wis +4 |
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
|Trampling Charge. If the hippocamp moves at least 20 feet straight toward a creature and then hits it with a hooves attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, the hippocamp can make another attack with it’s hooves against it as a bonus action.|
|Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 14 (3d6 + 4) piercing damage.|
I don’t know who exactly wants to ride a ooze inside a shell, but I know you’re out there, you degenerate weirdo.
|Hermit Ooze Large Ooze, Unaligned|
|Armor Class 12 (Natural Armor) |
Hit Points 51 (6d10+18)
Speed 25 ft., climb 25 f.
|STR 16 (+3) DEX 6 (-2) CON 16 (+3) INT 2 (-4) WIS 5 (-2) CHA 6 (-2)|
|Saving Throws Con +5 |
Damage Immunities Acid, Psychic
Condition Immunities blinded, deafened, prone
Senses passive Perception 8, blindsight 60ft. (blind beyond this radius)
|Multiattack. The hermit ooze makes 2 pseudopod attacks, or 1 pseudopod attack and withdraws. |
Pseudopod. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.
Withdraw. The hermit ooze withdraws into it’s shell. While in it’s shell the hermit ooze has 18 AC, but it’s movement speeds are all reduced to 5 ft. The hermit ooze may cancel this effect by spending it’s action to reappear from it’s shell.
Giant Hercules Beetle
Finally, let’s admit it. Flying steeds are cool and useful, and there should be more options for them. There should also be more options for enormous bugs. The Giant Hercules Beetle remedies this nicely.
|Giant Hercules Beetle Large Beast, Unaligned|
|Armor Class 14 (natural armor) |
Hit Points 42 (5d10+15)
Speed 30 ft., fly 50 ft
|STR 20 (+5) DEX 10 (0) CON 16 (+3) INT 2 (-4) WIS 8 (-1) CHA 8 (-1)|
|Saving Throws Str +7 |
Skills Perception +1
Senses passive Perception 11
|Tusk. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage. |
Sweep. The giant hercules beetle sweeps it’s horn violently in a 10-ft cone, attempting to knock down anyone in range. Each creature in the cone must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and take 8 (1d6+5) slashing damage.