It’s Hybrid Week at Necromancers of the Northwest, and that means today we’re taking a look at hybrid monsters. There is a long history of creatures that are, essentially, a composite of two (or more) things. Ancient mythology is full of such creatures: the gryphon, the cockatrice, the manticore, the sphinx, the pegasus, the hippocampus, and so many more. Tabletop roleplaying games have added to this rich pantheon with classics of its own, such as the owlbear and the drider. Whether it’s mad science or just bizarre biology, there’s something fun (and, if we’re honest with ourselves, perhaps just a bit easy) about sticking two different creatures together to make a third.
Today, we’re providing ten different animal parts you might use to make a hybrid creature of your own. While articles like this are often all fluff and no crunch, this time, we’ve decided to include some suggestions for what kinds of mechanical effects adding these to a monster might have, although you’ll still need to do some of the legwork yourself, and you may want to consider adding or subtracting a few Hit Dice, and making some ability score adjustments, depending on what’s being added to what. As a general rule, assume that any one of the entries below is worth a +0 CR adjustment, but for every two of them, the creature’s CR should increase by +1.
1. Armadillo Plating. The hybrid creature’s back is covered with a thick, leathery shell, designed to protect it against harm. Its spine is curved, allowing it to curl up into a ball similar to an armadillo, but giving it a misshapen, humpbacked appearance under most circumstances. Depending on the nature of the hybridization, the leathery shell might have an obviously different skin tone from the rest of the creature’s body, but somehow if the tough, cracked surface is the creature’s own skin, the effect is even more unsettling. The hybrid creature’s natural armor bonus to AC increases by +2, and it gains the protective ball racial ability of an armadillo.
2. Crocodile Snout. The hybrid creature’s mouth is that of a crocodile, alligator, or cayman: a lengthy, extended snout with powerful biting jaws and rows of razor sharp teeth. With this particular hybridization, since crocodiles have noses on the ends of their snouts, it is not uncommon for the hybrid creature to wind up with two separate sets of nostrils. In these cases, one is often non-functional, but this is not always the case. The hybrid creature gains a bite primary natural attack, as well as the grab and death roll abilities of the crocodile.
3. Elephant Tusks. The hybrid creature has a pair of large, curved tusks jutting from the front of its face. Because these tusks would be too heavy for most hybrid creatures to be able to function effectively, this hybridization nearly always carries some of the elephant’s sheer bulk and size with it, making the hybrid creature larger, as well. The hybrid creature’s size category increases by one step, and it gains a gore natural attack.
4. Octopus Tentacles. The hybrid creature has a suite of octopus-like tendrils that extend from various parts of its body. Although few hybrids possess the full set of eight tentacles, most have at least four. The tentacles are rubbery and secrete a clear mucus that keeps them damp at all times. Commonly, they are a different color than the rest of the creature’s skin, but this is not always the case. The tentacles grant the hybrid creature a single tentacles secondary natural attack, which deals no damage but does have the grab universal monster ability. They also grant a +4 racial bonus to CMB for the purposes of grappling, and a +4 racial bonus on Escape Artist checks.
5. Owl Wings. A pair of brown and white feathery wings extend from the back of the hybrid creature. While it varies depending on the creature’s frame, most of the time these wings wrap around and cling to its sides when not in use, and can almost pass for a cloak or blanket, if not scrutinized too closely. Even if the wings are much larger than those of an actual owl, they function just as well, allowing swift and silent flight. The hybrid creature gains a fly speed equal to twice its base land speed, with good maneuverability, and a +4 racial bonus on Stealth checks made while flying.
6. Porcupine Quills. The hybrid creature’s back is covered in a forest of long, bristling spines of varying lengths, each of which ends in a sharp point. In some cases, other parts of the creature’s body may have spines as well, including legs and forearms, or, in some cases where the hybridization went wrong, the spines may extend even from softer tissue, such as the face. The hybrid creature gains the quills ability of a porcupine, and a +4 racial bonus on Stealth checks made in tall grass.
7. Scorpion Stinger. An oversized, chitinous stinger extends from somewhere on the hybrid creature’s body, ending in a gleaming and deadly-looking point. If the hybrid creature normally has a tail, this typically replaces it, although in some cases it simply grows beside the tail, instead. The transition from chitinous shell to the rest of the creature’s skin, be it fur, scales, or naked flesh, is a gradual one, giving the creature a patch of dark, glossy shell at the base of the tail. The hybrid creature gains a sting natural attack that delivers giant scorpion poison on each successful hit.
8. Shark Snout. The entire front portion of the hybrid creature’s face has been altered to resemble that of a shark, with a giant, gaping maw of teeth, a highly powerful and specialized nose, and even gills. Most creatures with this hybridization are bald, and have the sleek-yet-rough sandpaper skin of a shark over the entirety of their head, and sometimes over even more of their body. The hybrid creature gains the aquatic subtype, the keen scent ability of a shark, and a primary bite natural attack.
9. Tiger Claws. The hybrid creature’s arms and legs end in cat-like paws, which boast sets of razor-sharp, retractable claws, just like those found on a tiger. Even more, the creature’s musculature contains the sleek, fibrous muscles of a tiger, packing a great deal of strength and speed into a relatively small package. Often, these hybrids possess the tiger’s trademark stripes (even if the hybrid creature has scales or naked flesh, rather than fur), but this is not always the case. The hybrid creature gains two primary claw natural attacks, as well as the pounce and rake universal monster abilities.
10. Tyrannosaurus Body. The creature’s entire body has been shifted to better fit the mold of the ancient apex predator, the tyrannosaurus rex. In addition to gaining additional bulk, the creature’s head (and especially its mouth and jaws) swell and become proportionally larger, while its arms become smaller and weaker. The hybrid creature’s size category increases one step. It gains a bite primary natural attack with the grab and swallow whole universal monster abilities. If it had claw attacks, they become secondary and deal damage as though it were two size categories smaller than it actually is. If it had arms that could wield weapons, it gains the undersized weapons special ability.