MDMC #43 : Create an Adjustable Creature!

Vine Serpent

Small Plant
Hit Dice: 1d8+1 (5hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 20ft
Armor Class: 11 (+1 size), touch 11, flat-footed 10
Base Attack/Grapple: +0 / -4
Attack: Spear +1 melee (1d6)
Full Attack: Spear +1 melee (1d6)
Space/Reach: 5ft / 5ft
Special Attacks: Pollen Spray
Special Qualities: Low-light vision, limited plant traits (see below), resistance to mind-affecting effects, woodland stride
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +0, Will -1
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 11, Con 13, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 8
Skills: Climb +2, Hide +8, Knowledge (Nature) +2, Move Silently +6, Spot -2
Feats: Stealthy
Environment: Temperate Forests
Organization: Band (6-18) or Field (20-50)
Challenge Rating: 1/2
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: By character class
Level Adjustment: +1 (+2 if full immunities)

Vine serpents look like a collection of vines 5 ft long. The front third of the creature is lifted up upright like a snake preparing to attack. A few leaves sprout over the body but the vast majority are around the head of the creature. Sixteen tendrils are also found around the head although they are hard to notice when tucked in. The sixteen tendrils are relatively weak but can work together for strength equal to a human. A large mouth is the only other feature on the head. A healthy vine serpents has a reddish color with a slightly green color to the leaves.

Vine serpents are parasitic plants. After growing for two months, their root system dies. For the remainder of their lives, the vine serpents must use other plants to feed. The tendrils of the vine serpents penetrate into the stems of other plants to draw nutrients. Small plants can be easily overwhelmed by the needs of the parasite and often die. Thick bark prevent directly feeding on trees but they have learned to cut into trunks with axes or other tools. The vine serpent's mouth is for speaking not eating. It leads to a small air chamber but no internal organs. Yellow flowers bloom in the air chamber hidden from view.

The parasitic nature of the vine serpents have caused them to be hunted by druids and other forest protectors. For this reason they distrust most humanoids and try to avoid interacting with them. They rarely stay too long in one location for fear of discovery.

Vine Serpents speak their own language plus Common.


Vine serpents have learned to use simple weapons effectively. If they must face a foe, they try to attack with ranged weapons and retreat into undergrowth or hide in the trees. If forced into melee, they try to gang up on opponents. A vine serpent will spray the opponent with pollen while another vine serpent attacks.

Woodland Stride (Ex): A vine serpent may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at its normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are enchanted or magically manipulated to impede motion still affect it.

Pollen Spray (Ex): Once per day a vine serpent can spray an opponent within reach of the creature with pollen. The opponent must make a fortitude save vs. DC 11 or become sickened from sneezing for the next 1d4+2 rounds. The save DC is Constitution-based. Dwarves are immune to this spray. Most vine serpents have not met a dwarf and do not know of their immunity.

Plant Traits: Most vine serpents do not have all the immunities of plants. They do not have immunity to mind-affecting effects, paralysis, or stunning. One in ten vine serpents retain the full immunities of plants.

Resistance to Mind-Affecting Effects: Vine serpents gain a +4 to mind-affecting effects. They do not gain morale bonuses but can suffer morale penalties.

Skills: Vine serpents have a +2 racial bonus to Climb due to their numerous tendrils. The leaf mane around the head allows a vine serpent to see but the light sensitivity is poor. Vine serpents suffer from -2 racial penalty to Spot.

Vine serpents characters possess the following traits:
-- +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma.
-- Small size: +1 bonus to Armor Class, +1 bonus on attack rolls, +4 bonus on Hide checks, -4 penalty on grapple checks, lifting and carrying limits 3/4 those of Medium characters.
-- A vine serpent's base land speed is 20ft.
-- Low-light Vision
-- Racial Hit Dice: A vine serpent begins with one level of plant, which provides 1d8 Hit Dice, a base attack bonus of +0 and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +2
-- Racial Skills: A vine serpent's plant level gives it skill points equal to 4 x (2+ Int Modifier). Its class skills are Climb, Hide, Knowledge (Nature), and Move Silently.
-- Racial Feats: A vine serpent's magical beast level gives it one feat.
-- Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Vine serpents are proficient with the use of simple weapons. They are not proficient with the use of armor or shields
-- Special Attacks (see above): Pollen spray
-- Special Qualities (see above): Low-light vision, limited plant traits, resistance to mind-affecting effects, woodland stride
-- +2 racial bonus on Climb checks; -2 racial penalty on Spot checks.
-- Automatic Languages: Common, Vine serpent; Bonus Languages: Elven, Sylvan
-- Favored Class: Ranger
-- Level Adjustment: +1 (+2 if full immunities)

Sample NPC: Cuscuta
Vine Serpent Fighter 1 Paladin 3
Small Plant
Hit Dice: 1d8+1d10+3d10+5 (33hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 20ft
Armor Class: 18 (+1 size, +3 dex, +4 armor), touch 14, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +4 / +1
Attack: +1 Spiked Chain +9 melee (1d6+2) or Longbow +8 ranged (1d6+1)
Full Attack: +1 Spiked Chain +9 melee (1d6+2) or Longbow +8 ranged (1d6+1)
Space/Reach: 5ft / 5ft
Special Attacks: Pollen Spray, smite evil
Special Qualities: Aura of courage, aura of good, detect evil, divine grace, divine health, lay on-hands low-light vision, limited plant traits, resistance to mind-affecting effects, woodland stride
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +5, Will +3
Abilities: Str 13 Dex 16 Con 12 Int 8 Wis 12 Cha 12
Skills: Climb +4, Diplomacy +2, Hide +11, Knowledge (religion) +2, Move Silently +9, Spot -1
Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Spiked Chain), Stealthy, Weapon Finesse
Challenge Rating: 4
Alignment: Lawful Good

Aura of Courage (Su): A paladin is immune to fear (magical or otherwise). Each ally within 10 feet of Cuscuta gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against fear effects. This ability functions while the paladin is conscious, but not if it is unconscious or dead.

Aura of Good (Ex): The power of a Cuscuta's aura of good (see the detect good spell) is equal to its paladin level.

Detect Evil (Sp): At will, a paladin can use detect evil, as the spell.

Divine Grace (Su): Cuscuta gains a bonus equal to its +1 Charisma bonus on all saving throws.

Divine Health (Ex): Cuscuta gains immunity to all diseases, including supernatural and magical diseases.

Lay on Hands (Su): Cuscuta can heal wounds up to 3 hit points by touch each day. A paladin may choose to divide its healing among multiple recipients, and it doesn't have to use it all at once. Using lay on hands is a standard action. Alternatively, a paladin can deal damage to undead creatures with a successful melee touch attack. The paladin decides how many of its daily allotment of points to use as damage after successfully touching an undead creature.

Smite Evil (Su): Once per day, Cuscuta may attempt to smite evil with one normal melee attack. Add its +1 Charisma bonus to its attack roll and deals 3 extra point of damage. Smiting a creature that is not evil has no effect, but the ability is still used up for the day.

Equipment: +1 Spiked Chain, Chain shirt, Mighty (+1 Str) Composite Longbow, Wand of Cure Light Wounds (34 charges).

Cuscuta has adapted some chain mail to function as a chain shirt around its unusual body. It likes to greet people without weapons drawn although it will be ready just in case. It prefers melee but recognizes the safety of distance. Cuscuta uses a spiked chain because it feel almost like an extension of his tendrils.

A short time ago Cuscuta stumbled across an old lost elven shrine in the trees. It couldn't understand the text but the pictures opened its mind. Near as Cuscuta could tell it told of the creation of the world by Dentatasquamata. The betrayal of Megalocarpa had done more than release the walkers. It had driven the vine serpents from their lands and into their nomadic lifestyle. Cuscuta decided that it would wander no more. This would be its home.

The elder vine serpents tried to dissuade Cuscuta. Half the other vine serpents agreed to stay. Cuscuta did not intend to split its people but it could not continue on. Reluctantly Cuscuta continues to lead but it has a collection of trusted advisers more knowledgeable than it. Soon the walkers will find them. The paladin doesn't want to fight and will give everyone a chance to leave peacefully first.

(Cuscuta misinterpreted the elven myths drawn in the shrine. The vine serpent worships Dentatasquamata. Megalocarpa is supposedly an evil god that created the walkers (humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, etc.).)

Adventure Suggestions

Wandering into Cuscuta's new homeland could cause a conflict with the party.

The party encounters a battered elven patrol. The patrol tells they were attack by the vine serpents. They were overwhelmed but instead of being killed the leader healed the wounded enough to walk and told them to leave.

A disease is running through the village. Cuscuta heads out in search for help. After detecting evil from the party, it arranges to meet them near tough terrain. If the party proves hostile it'll darts into the undergrowth to elude them.

A group of vine serpents surround the party while on the way to see a powerful elven mage. Cuscuta slithers forward and demands to know where they have taken the other vine serpents. The paladin is reluctant to accept help from walkers in the search but will if he believes they are not involved. The characters could help track the kidnappers, suggest using the elven mage's services, or simply leave peacefully. The truth is that the elven mage believes dwarven magic is behind the creation of the vine serpents. He has captured some to perform experiments on to test this idea.

Thematic Elements
2. One or more of the monstrous race's abilities are more or less effective against one or more (but not all) races found in the Player's Handbook (such as the ineffectiveness of a ghoul's paralysis against elves and half-elves).
3. The entry contains all the information normally found in the Monster Manual for monsters suitable as player characters and the race has a Level Adjustment no greater than +2.
8. The monstrous race is a Magical Beast, Ooze or Plant.
11. The NPC has a Challenge Rating of less than seven.