n.b. Welcome to Troglodyte Tuesday! A feature in which I present (or re-present) monsters I have created or adapted for use in my own 5E D&D campaigns, including lore, tips for running them, and a stat block. Today we have a low CR creature of elemental evil (earth), the Stone Blight.
I don’t know what a twig blight is.
I imagine they are some kind of evil wood elemental made of twigs. It doesn’t matter what they look like though. I took that image, right or wrong, and when I needed some kind of low CR elemental earth creature for the first adventure on my Temple of Elemental Evil themed game, I slapped it onto a bunch of stones and invented “Stone Blights.” I ended up using them in my revision of “Before We’re Bled Dry” by Lena Meier, which appears in Eat the Rich vol. 1, which presents 17 brief “anti-tyranny adventures,” and is available on the DM’s Guild.
It was not enough for these things to be little earth elementals. I wanted them to be fast and dangerous swirling beings made of stone, punching out with jagged rocks, with attacks that count as both blunt and slashing. This is actually something I love doing in my games. Morningstars (for example) do both piercing and blunt damage, and I like to invent effects and spells that mix and match different damage types. You always use whichever version is worse for the target (of course).
I also liked the image of the weapons used against them shattering or having their edges blunted beyond repair trying to strike these living rocks, so I gave them the Crushing Defense ability requiring attackers to yank their weapons back before they are damaged by making Dexterity saves (though with a DC low enough to be a worry but not a near-certainty). Of course, since ranged weapons cannot be yanked back, they always break. Another reason why keeping track of ammunition (or at least using some ammunition mechanic that can take such a loss into account) is an important part of the resource management aspect of the game.
Finally, the various immunities and defenses of the Stone Blight make it something of a trial-and-error puzzle for the neophyte adventurers that would be facing them. I think having the kind of monster that requires a little bit of “figuring out” in order to most efficiently defeat it is especially important at low levels and for newer players, in order to reinforce at the purely mechanical level that simply trying to hit it with whatever weapon you happen to have may not always be the best option. And from a flavor perspective, being able to describe the weapons being smashed, how ineffectual fire spells are, or how the monk’s stunning strike not only has no effect, but leaves their hand swollen and bruised in the process(!), also helps reinforce that combat is about more than trading blows.
I understand that not everyone necessarily wants a challenge when they play D&D, but for me and the games I run, the challenge is a big part of the game and it isn’t the same without it. As I often say, I don’t run or play D&D to run through a story, but great stories can be made from the challenges we face.
I even made minis from XPS foam to represent the blights. You can see a photo of them in the description accompanying the stat block below. But unfortunately, these don’t look much like what I imagine Stone Blights to look like. These minis are proportionately way too big. But ultimately, they only have to represent the monster, not look exactly like it. I do have an idea for making ones that are closer to what I see in my head and describe below, but not sure I will be able to pull it off.
Below you will find descriptions of the creature, a full stat block, and a link to the 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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