This week, we inspect a couple of monsters whose looks were recreated during the D&D minis design process for the upcoming Against the Giants set.
The heroes emerge from the secret passageway into a chamber deep underneath the vine-choked yuan-ti ziggurat. The floor of the chamber writhes with snakes, though the vipers and asps seem to move away from the flames of the heroes’ torches. But then the snakes start sliding toward each other, slithering into a massive, ophidian mound. A horrid cobra head rises from the ground, appearing as if from nowhere amidst the mass of snakes, which begins rising into the monstrous form of the anathema.
The Yuan-ti Anathema was one of the Huge creatures on our initial list for inclusion in a Huge minis set. At the time, we were also in the process of building the 4th edition D&D world, and James Wyatt and the story team had been germinating the idea that anathemas were more like barely-controlled deadly forces, and even normal yuan-ti were terrified of them. The Monster Manual now describes how the anathema once ruled the yuan-ti as kings until they were stricken with madness and imprisoned. Now the yuan-ti regard them as holy creatures but fear that the anathemas would swarm, slay, and eat everything if released. While discussing the new anathema role, we also decided that the look needed to change a bit to reflect their role as a force of nature. I suggested rendering them as a “snake elemental,” a mass of snakes given vaguely humanoid proportions, with its massive cobra head a manifestation of the anathema’s malevolent spirit. We ran with it, and the Yuan-ti Anathema miniature is the result.
One of the minis of the Dreamblade line, the Iron Thug, provided inspiration for this monster. The Chain Golem is a creature made entirely from -- you guessed it -- chains! The concept is pretty straightforward. The Chain Golem is a great example of us getting exactly what we wanted, based on our initial art order, which read as follows:
A Huge humanoid form completely formed of masses of twined chains. Its fists are great chain links flexed to smash puny foes stupid enough to get too close. It might be that a few hooks and spiked iron balls are woven into the mass of chains that make up its body. Though the creature is Huge, its proportions are more stout, with stumpy legs, a lump for a head marked only by glowing red eye sockets, and thick arms that end in chain-wrapped fists.
I had fun with the Chain Golem’s abilities. Its basic attack can immobilize, but it can also use Chain Bind to entrap a target (I imagine it as the Chain Golem absorbing a screaming target into its body), which removes a target from the battle map, slowly squeezing it to death unless it makes a saving throw.
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer for RPG R&D and has been involved in many facets of the D&D product line, including D&D Miniatures.
For the insatiably curious among you, here are the silhouettes of the 16 creatures that will be previewed here. Go ahead and try to figure out what they are. We dare you. (Clicking on any revealed image takes you to its preview.)