Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Jersey Devil

Every summer my family and I make the trek to one of the New Jersey shore points for vacation. Growing up on the east coast it has been a tradition as long as I can remember. Salt water taffy, weird shops on the board walk, disco fries, the smell of salt water and the cackle of seagulls. And like many places in the country New Jersey has its own legendary monster which lives in the Pine Barrens.

For several hundred years now people have reported seeing this beastie steeped in heavy folklore. So much that the state even named its professional hockey team The New Jersey Devils. According to legend in the early 1700s a settler named Mother Leeds thirteenth child morphed into a terrible creature soon after birth. Complete with massive claws, wings and glowing eyes it dispatched its mother and all other witnesses in short order.

After the carnage the horrific creature flew away and made its lair somewhere in the prodigious Pine Barrens. During the 18th and 19th centuries the legend of the Jersey (or Leeds) Devil grew as residents of the surrounding areas became frightened. At one point schools were actually closed and people refused to leave their homes for fear of the creature attacking them. To this day as with Big Foot it remains common for residents or visitors to report finding strange foot prints or tufts of hair. Or perhaps they report seeing a strange flapping shadow or hear some unearthly howl during the night.

The Jersey devil seems like a perfect critter to add to an existing D&D campaign or to create a one shot adventure for. As with all folklore monsters sometimes the best inspiration comes from real life stories and legends. Krampus who has spiked in popularity recently is perhaps the best example of this. Depending on how serious you are about your monster research maybe a camping trip inside the New Jersey Pine Barrens is in order? After all it really is a rite of passage for anyone on the east coast who is a folklore buff. I would recommend bringing your lucky D20 though because saving throws versus fear are the worst!

For now I have created a version of the Jersey Devil for 5E Dungeons & Dragons:

Medium Cryptid (devil), Chaotic evil
Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 142 (15d10 + 60)
Speed 40 ft. , fly 40ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 16 (+3) CON 17 (+3) INT 13 (+1) WIS 18 (+4) CHA 16 (+3)

Damage Resistances cold; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non-magical 
weapons that aren't silvered
Damage Immunities fire, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft 

Languages Infernal
Challenge 15 (13,000 XP)
Devil's Sight. Magical darkness doesn't impede the Jersey Devil's darkvision.
Magic Resistance. The Jersey Devil has advantage on saving throws 

against spells and other magical effects.
Multiattack. The Jersey Devil makes three attacks: two with its claws and one with its sting.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage.
Sting. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5ft., one target.
Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) piercing damage
Bonechilling Wail. The Jersey Devil’s terrible cries can be heard for upwards to a mile away. Anyone within 100’ of this wail however must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened until the end of the Jersey Devil’s next turn. If the target fails the saving throw by 5 or more, it is also becomes paralyzed for the same duration. A target that succeeds on the saving throw is immune to the Bonechilling Wail for the next 24 hours.

Legendary Actions
The Jersey Devil can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. The Jersey Devil regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Attack. The Jersey Devil makes one attack with its Claw, Sting or Bonechilling Wail.

Wing Attack (Costs 2 Actions). The Jersey Devil beats its wings. Each creature within 15 feet must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw or take 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone. The Jersey Devil can then fly up to half its flying speed.

Blood Frenzy (Costs 3 Actions). The Jersey Devil makes a claw attack against a target at 0 HP and if successful instead of failing one death save automatically they fail two.    

For more information on the Jersey Devil visit the The New Jersey Historical Society.