Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Couatl: Your Smarter, Cooler Serpent Buddy (Best of the Bestiary)

Credit where it’s due: putting this guy next to the Cockatrice really highlights this monster’s divine beauty.

The Couatls are one of the most interesting creatures in the entire book! They have intriguing lore full of creative possibilities, a truly beautiful and intriguing design, and some incredible abilities that lend themselves to interesting combat opportunities! They are easily among my favorite creatures in the entire manual!

Sorry to spoil the end, I guess.

Lore: Servants of a Forgotten God

Huh. I’m so used to these blurbs of flavor text being ‘They murder things and eat them in this horrific way’. Having a monster that boils down to ‘They protect people!” is oddly refreshing!

Couatls were created long ago by a forgotten, benevolent god that has not been worshipped since the dawn of time. Now, only the Couatls themselves remember their creator. At this point, many of the divine mandates given to the heavenly serpents have either been fulfilled or failed. But many of them are still working to this day, remaining hidden unless absolutely necessary.

These creatures cannot lie. They can withhold information, answer questions vaguely, or allow others to reach the wrong conclusion if necessary. Often times, they behave this way to keep their existence and abilities a secret.

A Couatl is an ancient creature, capable of surviving for ages without sustenance or even air. However, death is not off the table for them, as disease or time can still claim their lives. They can sense their death roughly a century ahead of time, but it cannot see the method of its demise. Should they have fulfilled their task, they will accept their fate. But if they still have work to be done, they will seek what everyone else in life seeks: a mate.

The mating ritual between Couatls is a beautiful and elaborate dance filled with magic and light. At the end, a gem-like egg will be produced, which will eventually hatch and give life to a new Couatl. The parent that sought out the mate in the first place raises the child, instructing it as to its duties. That way, whatever task the parent had will eventually be fulfilled.

Holy shit, the story-telling potential of these things is amazing! You could easily weave an entire campaign out of these guys! Maybe they secretly guide the players from the heavens, revealing itself later in the campaign to reveal their true, grand task! Or perhaps you only want them for a sidequest, in which the players must protect an unhatched Couatl egg. The possibilities are absolutely massive, and all of them are potentially fun!

Design: The Gorgeous Winged Serpent

What a truly fascinating design! It is the first monster that I would genuinely describe as pretty! Just look at this thing!

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Also… IT’S SO FUCKING COOL!

Better yet, it is an effective design! Warm and soft colors create a sense of safety and comfort. The eyes are immediately drawn to the large wings, communicating that it primarily moves by flight. From a distance, the face seems harsh and intimidating. But when you look closer, you can see that it more resembles a loving grandfather than a vicious monster!

Now, to be fair: while the design does do a lot right, it is still a bit flawed. Its divine form could easily be misconstrued as a monstrous body, despite the more friendly color scheme. For those who don’t read the flavor text or notice the ‘Lawful Good’ alignment, this monster could easily be misconstrued as a typical monster.

It is a great design, certainly better than most monsters. Its more lawful, protective nature isn’t immediately clear. But it still is an effective, interesting, and oddly beautiful monster!

Stats: Your Divine Buddy

As mentioned earlier, a Couatl is a protective guardian of the mortal realm. As such, it is not the kind of monster that the party would actually fight. Not unless you’re going for an evil-party campaign. So, if you would use this guy in a fight, it wouldn’t be as an enemy. Rather, it would be as an NPC ally.

And what a fucking rad ally it is!

Its AC is sitting at a high 19, which balances out its HP (which averages out to 100). They have a ton of spellcasting potential, though all of their spells are purely for support (Bless, Create Food and Water, Cure Wounds, Lesser Restoration, etc.) Luckily, all of their weapon attacks (meaning their Bite and Constrict attacks) are magical by nature.

Plus, they’re immune to all spells or effects that could read their thoughts, emotions, or detect its location. And they have Change Shape, which is basically super-Polymorph. So that’s helpful.

In terms of damage, they aren’t all that dangerous. Their bite attack does 8(1d6+5), which can poison its victims. Their constrict attack deals 10(2d6+3) damage and grapples their attack. Dangerous for low level monsters, but not so much so for higher level threats.

But in terms of a support monster for a party during a boss fight? This guy is absolutely perfect!

Conclusion

I absolutely love this monster! Their lore is absolutely amazing, they have an excellent design, and lend themselves wonderfully to a support role in battle! They are an incredible monster, easily one of my favorites in the entire book!

With that said, let’s put the Couatl on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Couatl <——–
  4. Behir
  5. Aboleth
  6. Chuul
  7. Chimera
  8. Ankheg
  9. Aarackockra
  10. Azer
  11. Spectator
  12. Cambion
  13. Animated Armor
  14. Banshee
  15. Basilisk
  16. Bulette
  17. Cloaker
  18. Planetar
  19. Carrion Crawler
  20. Rug of Smothering
  21. Bugbear Chief
  22. Bugbear
  23. Vine Blight
  24. Twig Blight
  25. Needle Blight
  26. Bullywug
  27. Cockatrice
  28. Solar
  29. Deva
  30. Centaur
  31. Flying Sword

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