Tactics and Tips
Know Your Enemy (Part 4)
By Eric Cagle

Lore for Pseudodragons, Remorhazes, Ropers, Shambling Mounds, and Spectres

Monster Manual IV introduced a sidebar that has since become the norm when new monsters are provided: the Knowledge check. This handy item takes the guesswork out of what a character (as opposed to the player) knows about a given creature and rewards those characters with ranks in the appropriate Knowledge skill. Over the course of the next few installments, we'll provide Knowledge check results for a variety of monsters, starting with some of the most iconic that lack this sidebar.

We're still moving steadily through the alphabet. This installment we look at the pseudodragon, remorhaz, roper, shambling mound, and spectre.

A Peek Behind the Rules Curtain

So how do designers determine the Difficulty Class for Knowledge checks about creatures? The following is excerpted from Monster Manual IV:

The description of the Knowledge skill indicates that in general, the baseline DC of checks to identify monsters and remember one bit of useful information about their special powers or vulnerabilities is equal to 10 + the monster's HD. Every 5 points by which the check result exceeds the DC yields another useful piece of information (PH 78).

As a general rule of thumb, a DC 15 check or higher will reveal all of the base creature's type and subtype traits as defined in the glossary. This often includes information about energy resistance or various immunities. For instance, a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals that dragons have high hit points (12-sided HD), all good saves, and have darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. They eat, sleep, and breathe.

Information specific to the creature, such as its type of damage resistance, spell-like abilities, or immunities come with the high DC check results.

Pseudodragon Lore

The mischievous (some would say annoying) tiny dragons have become a staple of D&D since their inclusion in the 1980s. Attractive, intelligent, and capricious, pseudodragons are a creature on which adventurers may want to do their homework before allowing in their group.

Knowledge (Arcana)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more pseudodragons. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

15 This tiny reptilian creature with butterfly-like wings is a pseudodragon. This result reveals all dragon traits.

20 Pseudodragons are playful, mischievous members of the dragon family. Powerful individuals prize them as companions, and sorcerers and wizards covet them as familiars.

25 Pseudodragons can communicate telepathically with creatures that speak Common or Sylvan.

30 The eggs and young of pseudodragons can fetch a tremendous price.

Remorhaz Lore

Terror of the frozen wastes, remorhazes are powerful beasts that bring intense heat to the tundra -- something for which not all parties are going to be prepared.

Knowledge (Arcana)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about remorhazes. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs. Knowledge (nature) can also be used, but all check DCs increase by 5.

DC Result

17 This terrifying blend of insect and reptile is a remorhaz. This result reveals all magical beast traits.

22 Remorhazes can swallow their prey whole and can sense the presence of creatures due to the vibrations they make on the ground. When enraged, the remorhaz produces an incredible heat that chars flesh and can even melt weapons.

27 Remorhazes subsist on frost giants, polar bears, elk, and other large arctic creatures. Giants sometimes train or entice remorhazes to guard their lairs.

Roper Lore

Ropers are common "static" creatures found in the depths of the Underdark. Their effective camouflage and huge reach make them nasty opponents. Ropers are remarkably intelligent and could possibly be the source of some information themselves, if they get over the initial desire to eat you . . .

Knowledge (Dungeoneering)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (dungeoneering) can learn more about ropers. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

15 This curious underground dweller is a roper. This result reveals all magical beast traits.

20 Ropers are remarkably intelligent, if evil, creatures. They are immune to electricity, resistant to cold, and vulnerable to fire.

25 Both the shape and coloration of ropers make them extremely difficult to locate in their natural environment.

30 The strands of a roper can sap an opponent's strength. These strands have an incredible reach and grow back if severed.

Shambling Mound Lore

These mobile, voracious compost heaps can be found in the deepest forests and tagging along with druids, rangers, and other outdoorsy types.

Knowledge (Nature)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nature) can learn more about shambling mounds. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

18 This animated mound of vegetation is a shambling mound. This result reveals all plant traits.

23 Shambling mounds are immune to electricity and resistant to fire. They are virtually silent and invisible in their natural environment.

28 Shambling mounds become incredibly active during powerful thunderstorms and can survive direct strikes from lightning.

Spectre Lore

Spectres serve as a nasty surprise for adventurers expecting a "mere" ghost. Their energy drain attack and ability to spawn new spectres make them fearsome and deadly opponents.

Knowledge (Religion)

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) can learn more about spectres. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC Result

17 This incorporeal being is a spectre. This reveals all undead traits.

22 Spectres are commonly mistaken for ghosts, but they are much more malevolent. Animals balk at the presence of spectres and flee if they come within 30 feet of one.

27 The mere touch of a spectre drains the target's energy. A humanoid slain by a spectre becomes one itself soon after death.

32 Spectres are powerless in sunlight and flee from it. When exposed to sunlight, they cannot attack and can barely move.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and Player's Handbook.

About the Author

Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Races of Destiny, and Monster Manual III. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Green Ronin Publishing, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle, where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.


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