Troglodyte Tuesday: Bearowl

Taking a break from trolls this week.

When I was recently putting together a post attempting to adapt the rules for knockdown my group used in 2E/3E days to 5E (themselves adapted from the 2E Player’s Option: Combat & Tactics – look for the post next week) I went through and did the math for figuring out the knockdown dice and save DCs for the attacks of various monsters as examples. One of the monsters I picked was the owlbear because it is a quintessential D&D monster, like a mindflayer, a bullette, or a lurker above. As I read over some of these monsters for the first time in this edition (because I had not gotten around to using them yet), I was struck at how boring and static so many of them seemed. Furthermore, monsters like the owlbear were stripped of the special attacks that they possessed in previous editions.

It just so happened that as I was coming to this realization, the latest “draft” of Wizards of the Coast’s (not so) Open Gaming License, that puts the “mechanics” of D&D into the Creative Commons but holds back the most “D&Dish” things for their new predatory and parasitic license was made public. Under this narrow new (and not at all “open”) license, a third party publisher wanting to use an owlbear would have to agree to WotC’s shady limitations. It struck me as funny that here was WotC limiting who could make or depict owlbears when they cannot even design a decent one.

So I decided to make my own better owlbear, so here I present the: BEAROWL!

I wasn’t planning on writing up lore for it — you know where to look for it — but the more this version of the monster developed, the more I felt like I wanted to explain some about its ecology and hunting tactics.

This is just meant to be a quick little exercise. All the monsters in past installments of Troglodyte Tuesday were ones I actually used in my games. This time I am just creating something because I was inspired and my running an owlbear encounter again is inevitable. Heck, the last one I ran was 20 years ago! In fact, the owlbear mini I use as a representation of the bearowl is one painted for me by Hélène Guillaume, a player in my “Out of the Frying Pan” 3E D&D campaign, and whose character would ironically be killed by said owlbear.

The important thing for me in developing the bearowl was recreating the bearhug ability of old. I also gave it the grappler feature so its beak attacks on grappled targets have advantage. The Worrying Beak reaction lets it get a good blow in as soon as it grabs someone up. There are two big departures from past versions: the addition of Feathery Fall, which allows Bearowls to drop distances of up to 60 feet without taking damage by flapping their feathery arms and a screech like the ones owls use to freeze mice and rabbits with fear. Oh and I broke apart their claw attack into two separate attacks, connecting the hug to getting a bonus action grapple when they hit with both.

​Below you will find descriptions of the creature, a full stat block, and a link to PDF version of the full description and 5E stat block.

Click here for a PDF version of full description and stat block.

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