“The lich Abraxa has raised you from your grave to locate some of the twelve pieces of the magical Staff of Waterdeep” (George Barr, Forgotten Realms Solo Quest Knight of the Living Dead by Allen Varney, TSR, 1989)
Beholder, Death Kiss
Image © Wizards of the Coast
[I mentioned when I discussed the beholder that I love the idea that beholderkin are dreamed into existence, so I knew I had to stat at least one variation. The death kiss has existed since 2e’s Forgotten Realms Monstrous Compendium, and has cropped up in every edition since then. The 4e version was a literal undead vampire, but this reverted back to an aberration in 5e.. I like how apologetic and shy this one looks, like it’s sorry that it has to drink all of your blood.]
Beholder, Death Kiss
CR 10 NE Aberration
This spherical horror is pale and leathery, with a single red eye set in its center. It has ten long tentacles, each of which ends in a bloodstained, lamprey-like maw.
A death kiss is a beholder-like horror, created when a beholder has a nightmare about losing blood. A newly created death kiss flees from the dreaming beholder as soon as possible, as these creatures have no ranged capacity and can be slain easily by a beholder on a rampage. Death kisses are blood feeding predators that leave the drained husks of their prey behind to feed scavengers. They usually hunt alone, but occasionally team up if two come across each other and neither thinks they have the upper hand.
When a death kiss attacks, it does so from ambush, lashing out with its tentacles extended to their full length. Each tentacle is tipped with a rasping, muscular mouth, and a death kiss may drink from multiple enemies simultaneously. They do this only if they are confident that prey cannot escape—otherwise they wrap a single foe in multiple tentacles and drain them dry. A death kiss is often cocky in melee—their electrically charged blood delivers painful shocks to any creature that would spill it—but flees when badly injured by spells or ranged weapons.
A death kiss can speak through any of its mouths, either one at a time or in unison, and they do so in reedy, high pitched voices. They do not intentionally collect treasure, but when slain, their brain shrinks and crystallizes into a faintly luminous red gem called a “blood-eye”. A blood-eye gem is worth the equivalent of ½ of the normal treasure value of a creature of the death kiss’ CR.
Death Kiss CR 10
NE Large aberration
Init +6; Senses blindsense 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft., Perception +21
AC 23, touch 12, flat-footed 20 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +11 natural, +1 dodge)
hp 144 (17d8+68)
Fort +10, Ref +10, Will +13
Defensive Abilities lightning blood
Speed fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee 4 bites +15 (3d6+4 plus grab)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks blood drain (1d4 Con), grab (Huge), multigrab
Str 18, Dex 15, Con 19, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10
Base Atk +12; CMB +17 (+21 grapple); CMD 35 (cannot be tripped)
Feats Blind-fight, Combat Reflexes, Defensive Combat Training, Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Lunge, Power Attack
Skills Escape Artist +22, Fly +28, Perception +21, Stealth +18
Languages Aklo, Undercommon
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure incidental (see above)
Lightning Blood (Ex) A creature that injures a death kiss with a piercing or slashing weapon takes 1d10 points of electricity damage. Manufactured weapons with the reach property do not endanger their wielders in this way.
Multigrab (Ex) A death kiss can grapple an opponent with one or more bites instead of using its full body. When it uses a single bite, it suffers a -10 penalty to its CMB check made to grab, which is reduced by 2 for every additional bite that is attached to that foe, but the death kiss does not gain the grappled condition. A death kiss deals an additional 1 point of Con damage per extra set of jaws past the first attached. A death kiss can maintain multiple grapples and drink blood from multiple opponents as a swift action, but can make attack rolls with only four of its bites at a time.
I’ll give Road of the Patriarch one thing; I can completely imagine it as a campaign playing out, because the rogue/assassin trying to have a Moment and kill the corrupt priest who is hinted to be their father as the DM brings their backstory back to fuck them All The Way Up and then the fuckin. Chaotic Neutral bard/swashbuckler’s player decides to go :3 and loose a large murder bird and a pissed off dwarf on a warpig in the middle of your Big Character Moment is so on point.
The ivory piece of the staff of Waterdeep is held aloft by a young-looking vampire who is locked in battle with four ghouls (George Barr, Forgotten Realms Solo Quest Knight of the Living Dead by Allen Varney, TSR, 1989)
Introducing: Galápogo Oannes Salif, my Triton Blood Hunter character for an Icewind Dale campaign. They are one very grumpy fishperson with a great dislike for landwalkers.
(Abe Sapien from the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. comics has always been a fav character of mine, so I feel very lucky that I get to play my own creature of black lagoon this time :3)