The Drolviss

January 12th, 2015

Alex Riggs

Exotic Encounters Archive

                It’s the start of a new week, and that means it’s time for a new monster. I’m a big fan of using monsters for more than just CR-appropriate-by-the-numbers combats, and so I like the occasional weird monster who can serve as a useful prop or background piece to set the tone at higher-level adventures. Something weird, which, while providing a fun encounter at the appropriate CR, can also just be a good non-combat attention-grabber at higher levels. Personally, I look forward to filling a forest or canyon somewhere with a few dozen of this week’s monster, and seeing how players react.



                This strange creature appears at first glance to be an ordinary bird perched on a tree—about the size of an eagle, with feathers of a deep, midnight blue and beady black eyes. On closer inspection, however, you see that it is not perched with its claws, because it has no claws. Instead, the lower half of its body is a writhing mass of short, stubby black tentacles, with two larger tentacles extending beyond the rest.

DROLVISS                          CR 2
XP 600
N Small magical beast
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +7


AC 15, touch 15, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 size)
hp 16 (3d10)
Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +2


Speed 10 ft.; fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee bite +5 (1d4+1), 2 arms +5 (1d3+1 plus grasping tentacles)
Special Attacks diving strike, spit ink


Str 12, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 4, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB +3 (+7 grapple); CMD 17 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Dodge, Mobility
Skills Fly +3, Perception +7


Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, pod (3–6), or tragedy (7-32)
Treasure incidental


                Diving Strike (Ex): As a full-round action, a drolviss can fly up to twice its speed and make a single attack at any point during its movement. The movement must be in a straight line, except for vertical movement (so the drolviss could move downwards during the first half of its movement, then upwards during the second half, as long as all of this was in a straight line two-dimensionally). If the drolviss moves at least 15 feet vertically downward as part of this movement before making its attack, it gains a +2 bonus on the attack roll. This movement provokes attacks of opportunity normally.

                Grasping Tentacles (Ex): In addition to its two longer arms, a drolviss has a mass of shorter tentacles which squirm and grasp at anything the drolviss strikes with its arms. This ability functions as the grab special ability, except that it can be used to grab creatures of any size, as the tentacles wrap around the target’s arm, leg, or other appendage.

                Alternatively, when using this ability, the drolviss can choose to make a steal combat maneuver instead of initiating a grapple. In this case, the drolviss grips the stolen item in its tentacles, and cannot use this ability again until it drops the item. Initiating a steal combat maneuver in this way does not provoke attacks of opportunity, but the normal +4 bonus to grapple checks from the grab ability does not apply.

                Spit Ink (Ex): As a standard action, a drolviss can expel a blob of black ink from the depths of its mass of tentacles, firing the dark blob at a nearby creature. Treat this as a ranged touch attack with a range increment of 10 feet and a maximum range of 100 feet. These ranges are doubled for the purposes of vertical distance. If the attack hits, it deals no damage, but the target is blinded for 1d4 rounds. The target can attempt to remove the ink from his or her face in order to end the blindness as a move action, but the ink is sticky and difficult to remove, requiring a successful Reflex save (DC 11). The saving throw DC is Constitution-based.



                Although most adventurers regard drolviss as annoying pests, and even those who are not consummate warriors have relatively little to fear from these strange creatures, as they very rarely attack humanoids, the fact remains that, from time to time, drolviss have been known to prey on humanoid creatures, especially gnomes, halflings, and other races closer to their size. Cowardly scavengers, it takes quite a bit to drive drolviss to become lethal in this way, and given the opportunity, they greatly prefer to live off of small rodents and birds, like most birds of prey. It is really only when drolviss come together in large groups, or when game is particularly scarce, that they become a threat.

                Of course, that doesn’t mean that they can’t provide problems in other ways, and there are very few who welcome the sight of one drolviss, much less a pod or tragedy of them. In addition to any threat that a drolviss might pose to an adventurer’s familiar or animal companion (and indeed, a drolviss who is unwilling to attack a humanoid is curiously brave when it comes to snatching up such a creature, even if it rests on its master’s shoulder, though such attacks are always of the snatch-and-run variety), the creatures are known for their love of collecting small trinkets. They will often raid campsites in the night for small treasures, and some bolder ones may even attempt to grab items from a person’s possession. Frustratingly, drolviss seem to have a sixth sense about the value of items, and prefer the more valuable than the less, making them difficult to fool with shiny but worthless trinkets.