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The Tale of the Misappearing Cat

8 August, 2021

Black_Destroyer_Astounding_July_1939This will be an interesting article to write as I will never directly name the monster I am writing about -though I can describe it, it is panther-like with an extra pair of leg and tentacles that grow from it shoulders- I will not name it as it is part of Dungeons & Dragons brand identity, that list of things that cannot be used by anyone except Wizards of the Coast when writing about D&D.  (And, yes, I know I could mention it and it would be fair use but that would not be as much of a challenge and the obliqueness is appropriate to the monster in any case.)

It is perhaps ironic that our monster was based on the Coeurl from the A. E. Van Vogt short story Black Destroyer (the Dump Stat has an excellent deep dive on the creature) while its rivals, the blink dogs, are -to my knowledge- wholly Gygaxian creations and yet are not part of D&D’s product identity.

The monster is one of my favorites though one I have rarely used as a Dungeon Master.  Perhaps because it is so distinctive, you use it and the players know what they are facing.  Also, until now, I have never had a clear idea of how I would use one in play.  But there is much of the Coeurl that can be combined with our creature to make a more interesting one especially as I find the Fifth Edition write up rather . . . disappointing.  And to honor Van Vogt’s creation and early naming conventions from D&D, we will call this version, the Lrueoc.

Moving like a dangerous shadow the big cat appeared at the far end of the hallway, there was something wrong with its silhouette and how could it be there?  We had closed the door behind us, had we not?

Lrueoc (Black Destroyer)
Large monstrosity (from beyond), evil

Armor Class 15

Hit Points 102 (12d10+36)

Speed Walk 45ft.

STR 17 (+ 3) DEX 17 (+ 3) CON 16 (+3) INT 12 (+1) WIS 14 (+ 2) CHA 12 ( +1)

Saving Throws Dex + 6, Con + 6,  Wis + 5

Skills Perception +5, Stealth +6

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15

Challenge 5 (1,100 XP)

Avoidance. If the Lrueoc is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.

Here not Here. The nature of Lrueoc makes it appear to be a short distance from where is actually is, causing attack rolls against it to have disadvantage.  Magical effects such as true seeing can over come this as can clever use of the environment or mundane items.  This also imposes disadvantage on perception check against a Lrueoc 100 or more feet away as its form blurs into the surrounding terrain.  This trait is negated while the Lrueoc is incapacitated or has a speed of 0.

Maul.  Against a prone opponent, the Lrueoc may make a bite and a claw attack as a bonus action.

Tool Use.  The Lrueoc’s tentacles can manipulate items as easily as hands, allowing them to use tools.

Mulitattack. The Lrueoc makes two attacks with its bite, claws or tentacles, in any combination.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10+4) piercing damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8+4) slashing damage.

Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning damage or 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage.  A target hit by two tentacle attacks in the same round must make a Strength save, DC 14, or fall prone.

A jet-black panther the size of a tiger with an extra pair of legs, if that was not strange enough, from its shoulders grow two tentacles that divide at the end into finger-like extensions, capable of gripping and using tools.  Its eyes have a strange green luminescence and its ears are fan-like and large, capable of shifting to catch sound and, perhaps, other vibrations.

The Lrueoc is a solitary hunter, each claiming its own territory and managing the prey within.  They only come together to mate or if an outside threat proves to great to any one Lrueoc alone to face.

TACTICS
Before Combat: Lrueoc recognize people as the greatest threat to its survival and will seek to isolate and kill them when possible.  it is smart and patient, happy to track and observe, waiting for the right moment to strike.  And if it can work out a way to set people against each other, it certainly will.

During Combat: The Lrueoc will focus its attacks on those it considers the most vulnerable, aiming to force its enemies to help their own rather than cooperate to fight it.

Morale: Lrueoc are coldly rational, willing to flee the moment the odds turn against them.  They have no love of combat, though they do enjoy killing.

Notes: I was thinking about doing a legendary version, just for fun, and building a scenario around hunting -and being hunted- by one of these.  Perhaps a logging or mining camp has encroached upon a Lrueoc’s territory and now needs help as there has been sabotage and mysterious deaths

Image Cover from Astounding Magazine, July 1939, found on Wikimedia Commons and should be Fair Use.

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