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5E Humanoids

by JTrithen

I was looking at making Mystara humanoids/goblinoids more unique. Specifically, because Bruce Heard assigned the BECMI/RC general skills to specific races in GAZ10: Orcs of Thar, it seemed to be a good idea and make sense to try to continue to associate this with the 5E skills system, most likely incorporating these into traits of the specific humanoids monster races (bugbear, gnoll, goblin, hobgoblin, kobold, ogre, orc, and troll).

In 5E, the humanoid races have features, which are essentially their unique monster special abilities in game mechanics/terms. Many monsters have 2 or more features. For example, trolls have the usual "Regeneration" as a feature, along with "Keen Smell" as another feature. Goblins have Nimble Escape, which allows them to use "Disengage" or "Hide" actions as an extra bonus action during their combat turn. Those are just a couple of examples. Most of the normal 5E goblinoids/humanoids just have 1 feature.

Going back to BECMI/RC and GAZ10, the list of specific general skils associated with each humanoid race (along with the ability associated with that skill) is as follows:

Bugbear: Fighting Frenzy (Con)
Gnoll: Bravery (Wis)
Goblihn: Monster Empathy (Wis)
Hobgoblin: Alertness (Dex)
Kobold: Escape Artist (Dex)
Ogre: Muscle (Str)
Common Orc: Endurance (Con)
Red Orc: Outdoor Stealth (Dex)
Yellow Orc: Martial Arts (Dex)
Troll: Sleeping (Con), Drinking (Con)

I went through and decided I would associate a "feature" with each of these humanoids for 5E. This would replace a 5E feature of that humanoid (as listed in the 5E Monster Manual. I think this makes the humanoids less "5E" and more "Mystaran"-flavored.
For example, for the troll, I replaced its Keen Smell feature with something else, since a special smell ability is not very unique to or associated with Bruce Heard's GAZ10 Mystaran version of the troll. Of course, I'm leaving the troll's classic Regeneration feature as-is.

Some of the 5E humanoids' features are pretty cool. It's hard to decide to just eliminate them. One could also just ADD these unique "Mystaran-esque" features to the humanoids. If one were to do so, one has to be careful with the new feature's capability (or power). If it's too strong, it could effectively adjust the strength or 5E Challenge Rating of the monster. You could also lessen the new feature's strength a little (which I have tinkered around with a little, but won't really elaborate on).

When reading descriptions in the 5E Monster Manual about monsters, including humanoids, some style and cultural personality text is often included. This certainly helps describe 5E's "take" on the monster, which is often in line with the previous generations of D&D editions. Sometimes these cultural inclinations don't seem to be really reflected in the monster stats, though. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion. For example, even though goblins as a race are generally known for their affinity for and sometimes training of rats and wolves, it doesn't mean that every goblin is a wolf rider or rat trainer. I like this kind of flexibility in a race's culture, personally. However, it does seem alittle odd that something like this is sometimes missing in the monster stats. The 5E goblin does not have any kind of feature like the "animal handling" skill, which is a common 5E skill (used for PCs and NPCs). So in my listing below I incorporated the "Monster Empathy" general skill that GAZ10 goblins and converted it into a 5E goblin feature. Also keep in mind that if one was to play a 5E goblin PC (which is possible with their Volo's Guide to Monsters supplement, you could possibly take "animal handling" as a character skill

A list of the humanoids is below, showing their 5E feature and the new feature I've replaced that feature with, plus an explanation of its ability that I came up with. Some notes follow.

Replaced 5E Feature: Brute
New Feature: "Death Frenzy" –- After being reduced to 0 hit points or less (though not enough negative hit points that equal or exceed the bugbear’s maximum hit points), the bugbear has the ability to keep on fighting. Each rond that the bugbear succeeds on a DC 15 [‘21] Constitution ability check, it continues to fight. Once a check is failed or when the combat ends, the bugbear collapses, and is subjected to the "prone" and "unconscious" conditions. If the bugbear has 0 hit points, he is stabilized; if the bugbear has negative hit points, it can make death saving throws to reach a stabilized state, though is still under the effects of the prone and unconscious conditions.

5E Feature being Replaced: Rampage
New Feature: "Bravery" -- The gnoll has advantage on Wisdom saving throws vs. magical fear.

5E Feature being Replaced: Nimble Escape
New Feature: "Beast Empathy" -- A DC 15 Wisdom check can be used with this trait -- just like the use of the animal handling skill -- to calm down a beast (normal, dire, or giant-sized version of an animal), keep a beast mount (such as wolf) from being spooked, or intuit a beast’s (normal, dire, or giant-sized animal’s) intentions. A check can also be used to control the goblin’s beast mount when attempting a risky maneuver.

5E Feature being Replaced: Martial Advantage
New Feature: "Alertness" -- With a successful DC 15 Dexterity check, the hobgoblin draws their weapon fast enough to give them advantage to initiative.

5E Feature being Replaced: Pack Tactics
New Feature: "Slippery ("Escape Artist") -- The kobold has advantage on ability checks and saving throws made to escape a grapple.

"5E Feature being Replaced: None -- the 5E ogre does not have a monster "feature"
Added Feature: "Brawn" – The ogre has advantage on Strength ability checks or attacks for feats of brute strength related to inanimate objects like bending bars, smashing through doors and walls, etc.

Common Orc
5E Feature being Replaced: Aggressive
New Feature: "Endurance" –- The orc can perform a task for longer periods of time without being as susceptible to the effects of exhaustion. A successful DC 15 Constitution check means an activity that would normally result in a level of exhaustion would then result in one less level of exhaustion than would normally be incurred. For each level that might be suffered after that as the activity continues, a check will receive subsequent penalties of -5 (-5 for the first penalty, -10 for the second, etc.). The orc then needs three times the normal length of recovery time – three times the normal length of a long rest – to negate the effects of one level of exhaustion (along with the usual food and drink requirements).

Red Orc
No 5E Feature being replaced (since there are no "red orcs" in 5E)
Feature: "Outdoor Stealth" – The orc has a feature that is equivalent to the stealth skill and has advantage with this trait, but can only be used outdoors in the orc’s native terrain (wherever their lair is), which could be caverns, hills, broken terrain, or city streets (in an orc city/settlement).

Yellow Orc
No 5E Feature being replaced (since there are no "yellow orcs" in 5E)
Feature: "Martial Arts -- The orc has one of the "styles" of martial arts below.

When the red orc uses the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a weapon that they are proficient with on their turn, the red orc can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action. (For example, the red orc can take the Attack action and attack with a longsword, and can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming the red orc hasn’t already taken a bonus action this turn.)
For weapon proficiency purposes, if the proficiencies of the red orc are not already known (such as with an NPC or PC red orc with a class), the red orc can be assumed to be proficient with the following weapons:
Swords (greatsword, longsword, shortsword)
Axes (greataxe, handaxe)
When unarmored, the red orc’s AC is increased by its Wisdom modifier, and with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check can take the Dodge action as a bonus action on their turn.
Weapon Mastery
With one specific weapon only, which is a one-time selection made for the red orc during monster creation, when the red orc rolls a 19 or 20 on an Attack roll, they score a critical hit with either a successful DC 15 Strength or DC 15 Dexterity check.

5E Feature being Replaced: Keen Smell
New Feature: "Grappling Bite" – When the troll makes a successful bite attack, as a bonus action, the troll can choose to additionally inflict a tenacious rending with its jaws that automatically cause the target to suffer the Restrained condition and possibly an additional 6 (1d4+4) damage if a successful DC 15 Strength ability check is made by the troll. The target recovers from the Restrained condition at the beginning of the troll’s next turn.

Note that the troll has drinking and sleeping as general skills in GAZ10. These are very flavorful abilities that don't give much to the monster as far as mechanics in 5E terms. At least I didn't convert those BECMI/RC general skills to a 5E feature that implemented a significant mechanical adjustment in game terms. INstead I opted to try to find something that was still kind of similar to the "flavor" of Mystaran GAZ10 trolls. THese trolls like to eat a lot. Maybe there was an eating general skill in BECMI/RC that could be implemented to a 5E feature. But I don't know of one.
What I chose to do instead was do something regarding the troll's mouth or "maw" that might be fun. I looked at other 5E monster features and came up with the Grappling Bite. One could also call it the Rending Maw or something like that. That particular feature is similar to the 5E Swallow feature that some other monsters have -- like the 5E behir and the purple worm.

Let me know if you have any thoughts, questions, like what you see, or whatever.