Re-Skinning: Getting Crazy With Chimeras

Today we are going to take another step forward in the world of re-skinning. We are going to continue with monsters and take a side step from what we have done before. The first time we did some re-skinning we took the chimera and made a variation for three specific climates / ecosystems. Second we took some dragons and went crazy, making new plant dragons out of existing dragon stats. Today we are going to pull from these experiences to make even more chimeras.

Why stop at those different colored dragon heads? Why stick to colors? Today we are going to make some catastrophe chimeras. If you have looked at the old 3rd Edition Draconomicon or some of the 4th Edition stuff you know that there have occasionally been dragons made paced on the elements and natural disasters. Pathfinder has also done similar things. Magma dragons or earthquake dragons; things like that. Having thought about some specifics to focus on, the following natural disasters are the ones we will use today.

volcanic eruption

The first thing I think we should do in the process of making catastrophe chimeras is to pick a base chimera (since we have a few choices now). Keep in mind while I did not design a white dragon chimera, Paizo did for an adventure path. Utilize cold in place of fire damage as well as walrus and polar bear heads. So we have plenty of options. Let’s use the following.

original chimera (red head & fire damage)
original chimera
tundra chimera (white head & cold damage)

The choices for the volcano chimera and the avalanche chimera are pretty obvious. An earthquake chimera is a bit more difficult, lets start with the base one for safety. For the volcano chimera we can make the look of the wings and other draconic portions as cooling lava. Glowing red between basalt black scales. For the avalanche, we can go with a smooth white color, almost blue, with scales like ice. For the earthquake a nice rich brown with rough almost granite colored scales. But what should we do for his breath weapon. I’m thinking that we keep the cone attack and fill it with stone and sand. This attack would do bludgeoning damage.

Next we have to take care of the other two heads. The first question is, do we even need to change them? I would say yes. First why not? Second, it will help make them unique. Following the path we took originally, we need a head that will bit and one that will gore. We also want to make sure it matches the habitat of the chimera in question. We may have to get a little obscure or random with this, but that’s ok. I think the following will be best.

a mountain goat head and a bear head
a gargoyle head and a bulette head
a yak head and a snow leopard head

With these we get some individuality among the various chimeras we have now created. With these three chimera you can introduce a variety of dangers that can synergize with weather. Weather on its own should never be forgotten as a formidable foe and these chimeras can give something behind the weather, something for the PCs to fight back against. This brings me to something I wanted to do with these chimeras and help lead into the next re-skin article: additional capability.

To me the catastrophe chimeras would do well to have an additional, weather/disaster related, ability. For today let’s go simple and just add an effect to their breaths. To keep things easy we will make the secondary effect happen on a failed save, but not a successful one. These effects will last for 1 minute but allow a saving throw at the end of each of the affected character’s turns. So, what should we use. Personally I think the following a pretty good choices.

restrained (STR save)
knocked prone and blinded (stand up and CON save)
stunned (CON save)

There are a few ways to take these, and other options, but let’s talk about why I chose these real quick. In terms of restrained, I picture magma filling the fire breath of the volcano chimera. This would dry around the feet of the target and keep them in place. Perhaps you would even allow attacking the stone would give you advantage or actually break you free. The earthquake chimera, I picture rocks knocking you down and sand in your eyes. I felt adding the prone effect as adding to the blind which, in general, is not as debilitating as the other two chimeras. For the avalanche snow and ice covers you and freezes you to the bone, causing the stun effect.

Is this enough? For now, but not in total. With these re-skinning articles and all the chimeras I have been working on I have thought about the fact that this is a whole load of CR 6 creatures. Should they all be the same? Why or why not? What else can we do? How can we make the chimera a staple of a campaign and not a one-off encounter? That will be the topic of the next article, two weeks from now. I am going to go over my thoughts on what can be done to effect these. And with all these chimera, I will (eventually) be creating a DM’s Guild supplement with actual stat blocks to reference for all of these. Fair warning, it will take time as I have a list of things I need to finish already.