Monsters Mythica: Kelpie

“If the water’s edge be clean and clear, 

the danger there is mild.

If the water’s edge be fouled with murk, 

keep both hands on your child.”

– Local proverb

Kelpies are cunning, ravenous creatures who make their homes in still water pools and ponds in forests and swamps around the continent. Although they will enthusiastically devour anyone that they can lure to their lairs, they prefer to feast on the flesh of children.

  While on land, Kelpies appear as beautiful, well-bred black horses. But while they’re in the water, they take on their true and monstrous form – a vaguely equine creature with bulging wild eyes, slick mottled skin, and a maw filled with jagged teeth.

Our Monsters Mythica series provides reimagined monsters from myth and urban legends as 5e-compatible creatures ready for your fantasy setting. 

Unseelie Opportunists

On their home plane, Kelpies can be found anywhere that evil fey have dominion. On the Prime Material, Kelpies are drawn to bodies of fresh water that were the site of tragedies – especially those involving children. Once a Kelpie claims its home, its presence destroys all fish and creatures living there but causes reeds, kelp, and other water plants to become thick and overgrown. These areas would be hazardous enough on their own, but the Kelpie’s malevolent presence increases the danger exponentially. 

  Kelpies are clever and patient predators. When they sense the presence of approaching people, they climb from their holes and take the form of a horse feeding by the water’s edge. Those that see them are unnaturally drawn to them, and once they touch the Kelpie’s skin, they’re ensnared by the viscous, tar-like mucus that covers their bodies. The Kelpie then drags their prey into the deep waters of their home and ravages them.

  On occasion, a Kelpie may not have time to emerge from the water before unwary travelers are upon them. At that point, the Kelpie has another nefarious trick that it uses to trap potential meals. It swims into an area where it can be masked by overgrowth and sticks its head above the water, magically mimicking the cries of its last victim. Once the would-be rescuers wade into the waters of the Kelpie’s pond, they’re slowed by the thick tangles of weeds that blanket the creature’s den and are quickly captured.

Kelpie’s Waters

Hazard

Any fresh waters that the Kelpie claims as its home are teeming with thick overgrowth that is considered difficult terrain. A creature entering a Kelpie’s waters for the first time on a turn or starting its turn there must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw or become restrained by the overgrowth within the waters. A restrained creature can use its action to try to escape, doing so with a successful DC 16 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. Each 10-foot cube of overgrowth has AC 10, 15 hit points and immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and psychic damage. 

Strange Wardens 

Normally, Kelpies spend their time chasing their own hunger and cruelty, but in some circumstances, they are called to guard the forests and territories of powerful hags or blighted druids. From their pools on the perimeters of these enclaves, Kelpies watch for trespassers, feeding on who they can and capturing those that would be of interest to their masters. 

Kelpie

Large fey, chaotic evil


Armor Class 16 (natural armor)

Hit Points 145 (19d10 + 38)

Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18 (+4) 14 (+2) 14 (+2) 15 (+2) 14 (+2) 11 (+0)

Skills Perception +6

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16

Languages understands Common and Sylvan but can’t speak it.

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)


Amphibious. The kelpie can breathe air and water.

Horse Form. The kelpie can transform into its horse form or its true form as a bonus action. Its statistics and abilities remain the same in each form. It reverts to its true form if it is killed.

Grappler. The kelpie has advantage on attack rolls against any creature that is grappled by it.

Sticky Body. Anyone that touches the kelpie becomes stuck to its body. A medium or smaller creature adhered to the kelpie is also grappled by it (escape DC 16). Ability checks made to escape this grapple have disadvantage. The kelpie’s body can magically stretch to accommodate up to three medium creatures being stuck to it. The kelpie’s movement is not impeded by having creatures stuck to it.

Actions


Multiattack. The kelpie makes two attacks: one with its Bite and one with its Hooves.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) piercing damage.

Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

Kelpie Call. The kelpie targets up to three humanoids that it can see within 30 feet. If the chosen targets can see the kelpie, they must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be compelled to approach and pet the kelpie. A target automatically succeeds on this saving throw if they are immune to being charmed.


Featured Image: Kelpie by Alex Pushkarev

You can download this free PDF on DriveThruRpg.


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