The final monster from the poll I ran on Twitter and Google Plus was the Cloaker. I wasn’t expecting the flying manta ray to be first (and was very surprised when that honor went to the Black Pudding), but I wasn’t expecting it to be last either.
The Cloaker is a pretty weird monster. A flying manta ray that looks like a leathery black cloak while at rest, hence it’s name. It’s probably one of those monsters created in the early days of Dungeons & Dragons where the DM was expected to take on a more antagonistic role. “There’s what appears to be a black cloak on the floor of this room.” the DM would say, rubbing their hands gleefully behind the DM’s screen as the PCs went to go pick it up. It feels like a “gotcha” monster, like the treasure chest mimicking Mimic, or the metal destroying Rust Monster.
Anyway, the main features of the Cloaker differ between the different editions of Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. In some editions its sonic attack sickens people, in others it disorients them, and in others it causes fear. Sometimes it’s able to magically manipulate shadows, and other times it can create multiple illusions of itself. Things that stay the same though are its “cloaking ability” (sorry for the pun), and a tendency to suffocate characters with its wings.
With a number of abilities to choose from, I turned the ones that seemed most interesting into stunts. As usual, I tried to spread the stunts around with regards to the types of actions they modified and the approaches they used. I’ve found that I can suggest tactics and a certain play style for these monsters by referencing elements that aren’t actually included in the stunt. For example, the Engulf stunt grants the Cloaker a +2 bonus when it Forcefully attacks a character who has the Ensnared aspect attached to it. But the stunt doesn’t create the aspect; that’s something the GM has to do separately. The stunt encourages the GM to take a certain action with the monster, or to ensure certain things are true, to set up the stunt. I rather like that. It also means I don’t have to turn every notable thing about the monster into a stunt. I can suggest additional abilities by referencing them in the stunts I do include.
I made the Cloaker a Hitter; an enemy that has some trick or ability to dish out a lot of damage, but goes down quickly when the PCs are finally able to do damage in return. With the Engulf stunt, a Cloaker who’s wrapped itself around a PC’s head (represented by an aspect) will Forcefully attack at +4. The attack increases to +6 if it invokes the aspect on the roll. As the characters I made only have a lead approach of +3, the Cloaker is more than likely succeeding with style on an attack this way. With the Phantasm stunt, the monster will Cleverly defend at +5, or +7 if it invokes an aspect, meaning it’ll be really hard to deal with unless the characters find a way to get rid of the illusion aspects.
High Concept: Large Flying Manta-like Aberration
Motivation: I Must Eliminate Mortals from This Plane
Aspect: Xenophobic Subterranean Lurker
Aspect: Razor-Sharp Tail Spike
- Careful: Fair (+2)
- Clever: Good (+3)
- Flashy: Average (+1)
- Forceful: Fair (+2)
- Quick: Good (+3)
- Sneaky: Great (+4)
- Phantasms: Because I can magically create mirror images of myself, I get +2 to Cleverly defend against attacks while an aspect such as Mirror Images, Illusory Duplicates, or Dancing Images is present.
- Engulf: Because my wings hold victims in place while I bite them, I get +2 to Forcefully attack someone whom I’ve trapped this way, represented by an aspect such as Ensnared, Suffocating!, or Wrapped Up.
- Subsonic Moan: Because I can emit a nauseating moan, I can spend a Fate point to Sneakily create an advantage on every other character in my zone, giving an Unsettled aspect to each defender I succeed against.
Weight: 2 (Large)
Role: Enemy: Fair Hitter
Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢
- Mild (2):
The monster illustration is the free paper mini made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you support the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.