Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Grell: The Creepy Crow From Space

Our intrepid rogue climbed up the shaft to secure a rope. There was a gasp, and the rope fell. We never saw her again.

An adventurer’s account of a greel attack in Khyber, published in ‘The Korranberg Chronicle’

Well. If that doesn’t set a tone, I don’t know what does.

Lore: The Alien Scavenger

Grells are odd, alien creatures that prefer to ambush stragglers to hunting. They have no eyes and can only move by levitating. They do, however, have a keen sense of hearing and incredibly sensitive skin, allowing them to feel vibrations and electrical fields to avoid being ambushed. While they prefer to hunt alone, they can gather in groups called covens.

They are predators who group their prey into three categories: edibles, inedibles, and Great Eaters (their name for the rare predator that might hunt a grell). They’ll attack those they consider edible without hesitation, though only if they can carry their kill back to their den.

Sometimes, a grell will allow adventurers to pass through its den without issue. They do this in the hope that said adventurers will kill the other inhabitants, allowing the grell to feed on them. Once the larger threats are dealt with, the grell will descend to feed on those that emptied out their home of competition.

The lore here is… meh. It’s fine. It can make for a creepy set piece in a dungeon followed by a briefly terrifying encounter. But there’s not much story telling potential beyond that.

Design: Bird Brain

Ha! I’m funny!

You would have made the same joke in my position, admit it!

Who came up with this? “Hey, fellow designers on the Wizards of the Coast team, I’ve got an idea! Let’s stick a beak onto a brain! Then some tentacles! We’ll call it a grell!”

I want to shake that person’s hand.

This design is so weird and creative and kind of creepy! You wouldn’t think it would work, given that it’s just a beak stuck onto a brain with some tentacles on it! But for an alien scavenger thing, it works fantastically! It’s kind of creepy in a weird way!

This is definitely one of the best designs we’ve seen in a while. It’s weird and cool and I really like it.

It’s such a shame that it’s downhill from here.

Stats: Disappointingly Straight-Forward

I don’t know why, but I was expecting a bit more from this thing. But oh well.

Grells are hardly durable creatures. Their AC is very low and their HP isn’t much higher. Their only defensive advantages are in their immunties to lightning, blinding, and being knocked prone. Aside from that, they’re hardly difficult to kill.

In terms of actions, they’re incredibly straight-forward. It can hit you with its tentacles, which has a chance to grapple you if you fail a DC, or just peck you with its beak. Both do decent damage for a low-level monster, but not anything that’ll scare the party for very long. By the time the numbers add up, it should already be dead.

This dude could have used from some extra abilities. Maybe put some paralyzing poison on its tentacles or give it some kinda lightning ability? Something, anything more than ‘it hits you’!

For such a creepy monster, it is sure a disappointing fight.

Placement

This is a perfectly fine monster. Not spectacular, but not awful. It has perfectly fine lore, a fantastic design, and really disappointing stats. It’s a very mixed bag, but not an entirely bad one.

With all that in mind, let’s put the Grell on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Bronze Dragons
  14. Brass Dragons
  15. Copper Dragons
  16. Gold Dragons
  17. Chuul
  18. Gibbering Mouther
  19. Chimera
  20. Death Knight
  21. Fomorian
  22. Bone Devil
  23. Dracolich
  24. Faerie Dragon
  25. Ankheg
  26. Storm Giant
  27. Hill Giant
  28. Empyrean
  29. Efreeti
  30. Dao
  31. Cloud Giant
  32. Drow (all four of ’em)
  33. Shadow Demon
  34. Marilith
  35. Drider
  36. Aarackockra
  37. Azer
  38. Demilich
  39. Spectator
  40. Marid
  41. Cambion
  42. Fire Giant
  43. Animated Armor
  44. Banshee
  45. Basilisk
  46. Yochlol
  47. Bulette
  48. Cloaker
  49. Darkmantle
  50. Doppelganger
  51. Ghoul and Ghast
  52. Ettin
  53. Pit Fiend
  54. Erinyes
  55. Chain Devil
  56. Bearded Devil
  57. Barbed Devil
  58. Spined Devil
  59. Ice Devil
  60. Djinni
  61. Nalfeshnee
  62. Glabrezu
  63. Chasme
  64. Grell <—————–
  65. Barlgura
  66. Horned Devil
  67. Balor
  68. Shadow Dragon
  69. Vrock
  70. Dretch
  71. Gnolls (all three)
  72. Goristro
  73. Hezrou
  74. Manes
  75. Frost Giant
  76. Duergar
  77. Quasit
  78. Dryad
  79. Flumph
  80. Goblin
  81. Githyanki
  82. Planetar
  83. Imp
  84. Clay Golem
  85. Flameskull
  86. Displacer Beast
  87. Carrion Crawler
  88. Githzerai
  89. Rug of Smothering
  90. Bugbear Chief
  91. Bugbear
  92. Flesh Golem
  93. Vine Blight
  94. Twig Blight
  95. Needle Blight
  96. Bullywug
  97. Ettercap
  98. Gas Spore
  99. Cockatrice
  100. Lemure
  101. Solar
  102. Deva
  103. Gorgon
  104. Cyclops
  105. Centaur
  106. Ghost
  107. Fire Elemental
  108. Water Elemental
  109. Air Elemental
  110. Stone Giant
  111. Deep Gnome
  112. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  113. Iron Golem
  114. Stone Golem
  115. Earth Elemental
  116. Galeb Duhr
  117. Flying Sword
  118. Crawling Claw
  119. Violet Fungus
  120. Shrieker
  121. Gargoyle

3 thoughts on “Grell: The Creepy Crow From Space”

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