Medusa: Maiden of Stone and Snakes

Two classic monsters in a row, eh? Not only that, but this one is one of my favorite monsters from Greek mythology! How will they fit that into D&D lore, I wonder? I mean, they can’t exactly do the real story of Medusa.

Unless…

Lore: The Price of Eternity

There are many out there who are willing to pay the price for immortality. Unfortunately, few of them truly understand the consequence of doing so. Once enough time passes, the price is exacted, and they are transformed into a medusa. They are then rejected for their monstrous appearance and forced to live on the outskirts of civilization. Their refuges gradually degrade, as the medusa does nothing to keep it in shape. The only thing they’ll do is remove any reflective surface in order to prevent their own curse from claiming their lives.

While this does sadden my inner Greek mythology nerd, this is pretty decent lore with plenty of potential. Perhaps the players must confront a sinister immortal who is slowly becoming a medusa (calling it a medusa and not a gorgon is gonna be weird) and either help them find some kind of cure or try to slay them. Or they could simply wander through a ruined temple and find a medusa lurking within, like a classic Greek myth. It doesn’t make for a good campaign-long villain, but it works well for a side quest or a cool one-off encounter.

Design: New Story, Old Look

Hold on. If you’re gonna cut out all of the Greek inspiration from the story of the monster, then why does she still look Greek?

You know that SOMEONE wants her to step on them.

Unlike the lore, this design remains true to the origins of the monster. Between its clothing, jewelry, and its headpiece, the whole thing screams Greek. Perfect if you’re doing a campaign themed around that! But if you’re just slipping one of these into a normal D&D campaign, she’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Unless you take her look into your own hands.

Still, it isn’t a bad design. It doesn’t fit the lore, but it’s still cool looking. Her skin is as gray as stone, alluding to her deadly curse. The same thing goes for her glowing blue eyes; you can tell that there’s something dangerous and deadly hiding beneath that gaze.

And that realization is the last thing you’ll ever think.

It isn’t exactly creative or original. But it gets the job done and does it well. Even if it doesn’t quite fit the aesthetic set out by the lore.

Stats: My Eyes Are Up Here

For a low to mid-level boss monster, this one is… okay. It has a few unique abilities to help it stand out, but nothing you wouldn’t expect and nothing that really pushes the limits of your players, either stat wise or tactically.

It’s a fairly durable monster. Its AC isn’t monstrous, nor is it anything to roll your eyes at. On top of that, it’s got a fair bit of HP. Killing it is gonna take some time.

None of her attacks, however, are all that dangerous. While the base damage of her snake hair and longbow aren’t all that much, the extra poison damage on top of them is. Her shortsword doesn’t have this, making it a complete joke. Even with this extra poison, however, she’s not particularly deadly on the physical front.

Deadliest of all is her Petrifying Gaze. This is your typical ‘look at me and turn to stone’ curse. Should the victim save the saving throw by more than 5, they are instantly turned to stone. Otherwise, they’ll only gradually turn to stone. It is possible to avoid the gaze, but it makes striking the creature more difficult.

This one ability makes dealing with a medusa much more difficult and dangerous. Every single time you look at her, you’re putting your character in danger. Melee fighters and magic casters alike have to look at their target. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what she wants.

Still, that ability is pretty easily circumvented. Your players would have to be pretty stupid not to immediately think about going for the eyes and removing them from play. That’s just about the only thing that stresses creativity from the players. Once that is done, they can just beat her to death in a prolonged slugfest.

Placement

Overall, this is a middling monster. It has some strong lore, though there isn’t much of it. It’s design is strong, even if it doesn’t fit. The stats can make for a challenging fit, so long as your players don’t go for the eyes.

With all that in mind, let’s put the Medusa 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. Sea Hag
  14. Lamia
  15. Bronze Dragons
  16. Brass Dragons
  17. Copper Dragons
  18. Gold Dragons
  19. Chuul
  20. Kuo-Toa
  21. Gibbering Mouther
  22. Kraken
  23. Intellect Devourer
  24. Chimera
  25. Death Knight
  26. Fomorian
  27. Bone Devil
  28. Dracolich
  29. Faerie Dragon
  30. Lich
  31. Magmin
  32. Kobold
  33. Kenku
  34. Hobgoblins
  35. Night Hag
  36. Green Hag
  37. Ankheg
  38. Hook Horror
  39. Storm Giant
  40. Hill Giant
  41. Empyrean
  42. Efreeti
  43. Grimlock
  44. Dao
  45. Cloud Giant
  46. Manticore
  47. Drow (all four of ’em)
  48. Shadow Demon
  49. Marilith
  50. Drider
  51. Aarackockra
  52. Azer
  53. Demilich
  54. Spectator
  55. Hydra
  56. Marid
  57. Harpy
  58. Werejackal
  59. Half-Dragon
  60. Cambion
  61. Fire Giant
  62. Animated Armor
  63. Banshee
  64. Basilisk
  65. Yochlol
  66. Bulette
  67. Cloaker
  68. Darkmantle
  69. Doppelganger
  70. Ghoul and Ghast
  71. Ettin
  72. Medusa <————————–
  73. Pit Fiend
  74. Erinyes
  75. Chain Devil
  76. Bearded Devil
  77. Barbed Devil
  78. Spined Devil
  79. Ice Devil
  80. Djinni
  81. Nalfeshnee
  82. Glabrezu
  83. Chasme
  84. Grell
  85. Barlgura
  86. Horned Devil
  87. Balor
  88. Shadow Dragon
  89. Werebear
  90. Lizardfolk
  91. Vrock
  92. Dretch
  93. Gnolls (all three)
  94. Goristro
  95. Hezrou
  96. Manes
  97. Frost Giant
  98. Weretiger
  99. Werewolf
  100. Duergar
  101. Quasit
  102. Dryad
  103. Flumph
  104. Goblin
  105. Wereboar
  106. Wererat
  107. Githyanki
  108. Planetar
  109. Imp
  110. Clay Golem
  111. Flameskull
  112. Displacer Beast
  113. Carrion Crawler
  114. Githzerai
  115. Grick
  116. Invisible Stalker
  117. Rug of Smothering
  118. Bugbear Chief
  119. Bugbear
  120. Flesh Golem
  121. Vine Blight
  122. Twig Blight
  123. Needle Blight
  124. Bullywug
  125. Hellhound
  126. Ettercap
  127. Gas Spore
  128. Cockatrice
  129. Lemure
  130. Homonculus
  131. Solar
  132. Deva
  133. Gorgon
  134. Hippogriff
  135. Griffon
  136. Cyclops
  137. Centaur
  138. Ghost
  139. Fire Elemental
  140. Water Elemental
  141. Air Elemental
  142. Stone Giant
  143. Deep Gnome
  144. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  145. Iron Golem
  146. Stone Golem
  147. Earth Elemental
  148. Galeb Duhr
  149. Helmed Horror
  150. Flying Sword
  151. Crawling Claw
  152. Violet Fungus
  153. Shrieker
  154. Gargoyle

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