By Noam Wegner
The same old 5e monsters game after game can get stale. Drop any of these 5e monsters into your game to give your players a fun surprise!
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The Playwright Lich
The desiccated figure standing before you wears an immaculate set of silk trousers, a cape, and a decorated vest. The undead creature’s parchment-like face crinkles into a smile before greeting you with a sweeping bow.
Immortal Art - At any cost. Every artist dreams of immortalizing their name through the creation of a masterpiece. A magnum opus that generations of audiences will venerate for centuries after the death of its creator. The Playwright Lich has chased this ideal to an insane extreme, refusing to abandon its legacy to eventual decline nor its quest for eternal adulation.
All the world’s a stage. A playwright lich can be found wherever there is a call for masterful writing, art, and performance. You may find such a creature impersonating descendants of a lineage while continuing to operate a famous (or infamous) theatre company, writing works, and even mingling with and manipulating high society and royalty. Others may operate openly and be found as masters of multiversal troupes that travel the planes of existence, seeking new players to join their company for eternity.
Art that brooks no rival. The playwright lich refuses to indulge artists that may compete with its legacy. Performers who rise to prominence within the playwright lich’s domain may receive an invitation to join the lich’s theater company and fall under the creature’s sway. Those who refuse this invitation will find their lives and families threatened by the underlings of the playwright lich.
The Playwright Lich’s Lair
A playwright lich will always establish its lair within a theatre, opera house, or other performance space with vast stage areas, seating and standing room to accommodate all manner of patron, and opulent furnishings depicting the undying glories of the playwright lich’s previous works.
Lair Actions. Within a playwright lich’s lair, guests both welcome and otherwise are forced to follow the playwright lich’s directions. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the playwright lich can take one lair action to cause one of the following effects and may not use the same effect two rounds in a row:
- The playwright lich casts the command spell on every creature of his choice in the lair. They needn't see each one, but they must be aware that an individual is in the lair to target that creature. The playwright lich issues the same command to all the targets.
- The playwright lich causes up to five doors within the lair to become walls and an equal number of doors to appear on walls where there previously were none. If no room previously existed where a door appears, it opens into a blank void and flies open. Any creature standing within 20 feet of the door must succeed on a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw or take 22 (4d10) force damage.
- The playwright lich conjures an area of stage dressing on the ground, taking up an area of up to 10 feet on a side. The set dressing remains for 1 hour or until the playwright lich uses this lair action again. This area of set dressing is difficult terrain.
Medium undead, neutral evil
Armor Class 17 (natural)
Hit Points 135 (18d8 + 54)
Speed 30 ft.
|11 (+0)||16 (+3)||16 (+3)||16 (+3)||14 (+2)||20 (+5)|
Saves DEX +11, INT +11, CHA +13
Skills Arcana +19, Deception +21, History +11, Persuasion +21, Performance +21
Damage Immunities Poison; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks
Damage Resistances Cold, Lightning, Necrotic
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Any languages it knew in life
Challenge 25 (75,000 XP) Proficiency Bonus +8
Aura of Inspiration. The playwright lich utters stage directions whenever a friendly creature that it can see within 30 feet of it makes an attack roll or a saving throw. The creature can add a d12 to its roll provided it can hear and understand the playwright lich. A creature can benefit from only one inspiration die at a time. This effect ends if the playwright lich is incapacitated.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the playwright lich fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
Rejuvenation. The next time an audience views a play written by the playwright lich in its entirety, the destroyed playwright lich gains a new body, regaining all its hit points and becoming active again. The new body appears within the theater hosting the performance.
Spellcasting. The Playwright Lich is a 20th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 21, +13 to hit with spell attacks). It has the following Bard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): mage hand, message, vicious mockery
1st level (4 slots): disguise self, hideous laughter, thunderwave
2nd level (3 slots): enthrall, suggestion
3rd level (3 slots): major image, sending
4th level (3 slots): compulsion, hallucinatory terrain, polymorph
5th level (3 slots): animate objects, scrying, seeming
6th level (1 slot): guards and wards, irresistible dance, programmed illusion
7th level (1 slot): mirage arcane, project image, teleport
8th level (1 slot): dominate monster, power word stun
9th level (1 slot): power word kill
Turn Resistance. The playwright lich has advantage on saving throws against any effect that turns undead.
Paralyzing Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +16 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 10 (3d6) cold damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 19 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for one minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Company Call (Recharge 5-6). The playwright lich calls up the enslaved spirits of former actors; 1d4 spirits arise in unoccupied spaces within 15 feet of the playwright lich. Each spirit has the statistics of a gladiator, except they are undead. The spirits act after the playwright lich on the same initiative count and fight until they're destroyed. They disappear when the playwright lich is destroyed.
Teleport. The playwright lich magically teleports, along with any equipment they are wearing or carrying, up to 120 feet to an unoccupied space they can see.
Cutting Words. When a creature that the playwright lich can see within 60 feet of it makes an attack roll, an ability check, or a damage roll, they can use their reaction to roll 1d12 and subtract the number rolled from the creature’s roll. The playwright lich can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll but before the game master determines whether the attack roll or ability check succeeds or fails, or before the creature deals its damage. The creature is immune if it can’t hear the playwright lich or is immune to being charmed.
The playwright lich 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 playwright lich regains spent legendary actions at the start of their turn.
Cantrip. The playwright lich casts a cantrip.
Teleport. The playwright lich uses its Teleport action.
Awestrike (Costs 3 actions).The playwright lich masterfully plays, sings, or recites for a creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw or be stunned for 1 minute. The stunned target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a target's saving throw is successful or the effect ends, the target has advantage on all saving throws against the playwright lich’s awestrike for the next 24 hours.
Knee-high to a human, this shaggy, brown-furred creature keeps its large, black eyes averted as it goes about its chores.
Shy but Dedicated. A stage brownie is a species of reserved fey possessed of surprising strength for their size. These fey typically live in theaters and opera houses, making bargains of service with the mortals that operate the venue. In exchange for living space and meals, stage brownies offer their organized mindset to operate backstage mechanisms, construct and clean sets, sew and repair costumes, and create effects to enhance performances. When threatened, they use their innate magic to evade enemies until they can rally and overwhelm their foes with superior numbers.
Small fey, lawful neutral
Armor Class 14 (natural)
Hit Points 22 (4d6 + 8)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
|14 (+2)||12 (+1)||14 (+2)||10 (+0)||14 (+2)||14 (+2)|
Skills Athletics +4, Perception +4, Stealth +3
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Common, Sylvan
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP) Proficiency Bonus: +2
Innate Spellcasting. The stage brownie’s innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 12). It can innately cast the following spells:
At will: dancing lights, mage hand, mending, message, thaumaturgy
1/day each: unseen servant
Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) bludgeoning damage.
Superior Invisibility. The stage brownie magically turns invisible until its concentration ends (as if concentrating on a spell). Any equipment the stage brownie wears or carries is invisible with it.
“The greatest trick that evil ever played was convincing everyone it was inevitable. That it smothers everything and everyone. But evil's not so big. And you're not so small. But they have to trick you into thinking it doesn't matter. Because that's the only way, they can keep it looking like there's only one way the story can end! They've tried that song and dance before - and you know what happened? A host of voices shouted, "NO!" And those voices still shout, and they shout justice, and poetry, and art, and music! When you choose to join that shout and dig in your heels, you'll see them gather up their little red britches and go home crying like the cowards they are, and they know it! Evil knows its days are numbered!”
- Ezekiel, Aria Angel
Celestial performers. Among the soldiers and armies of the upper planes, aria angels are tale-tellers and chroniclers, recording and creating stories in the form of epic poetry and song. Where other celestials engage in contests of force against the powers of evil, aria angels remember that the mortal heart is also a battlefield. And for this fight, the aria angel comes armed not with a sword but with a rousing tale and a compassionate soul.
Medium celestial, chaotic good
Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 136 (16d8 + 64)
Speed 30 ft., fly 90 ft.
|18 (+4)||18 (+4)||18 (+4)||13 (+1)||20 (+5)||20 (+5)|
Skills Insight +9, Perception +9, Performance +9
Saves Wis +9, Cha +9
Damage Resistances radiant; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, frightened
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 19
Languages all, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP) Proficiency Bonus: +4
Angelic Aura. At the beginning of its turn, the aria angel may inspire any number of friendly creatures within 30 feet that it can see. If the creature can see or hear the angel, that creature gains one inspiration roll on a d8. Once within the next 10 minutes, the target can roll the die and add the number rolled to one ability check, attack roll, damage roll, or saving throw it makes. The target can wait until after it rolls the die before deciding to use the inspiration die but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Alternatively, when an attack roll is made against the creature, it can use its reaction to roll the Inspiration die and add the number rolled to its AC against that attack, after seeing the roll but before knowing whether it hits or misses. Once the die is rolled, it is lost. A creature can only have one inspiration die at a time.
Angelic Weapons. The aria angel’s weapon attacks are magical. When the aria angel hits with any weapon, the weapon deals an extra 18 (4d8) radiant damage (included in the attack).
Innate Spellcasting. The aria angel’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). The aria angel can innately cast the following spells, requiring only verbal components:
At will: bless, guidance, resistance, spare the dying
3/day each: beacon of hope, mass healing word, spirit guardians, revivify
1/day each: commune, death ward, raise dead
Magic Resistance. The aria angel has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) piercing damage plus 18 (4d8) radiant damage.
Harp-bow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage plus 18 (4d8) radiant damage.
Change Shape. The aria angel magically polymorphs into a humanoid or beast with a challenge rating equal to or less than its own or back to its true form. It reverts to its true form if it dies. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying is absorbed or borne by the new form (the aria angel’s choice). In a new form, the aria angel retains its game statistics and ability to speak, but its AC, movement modes, Strength, Dexterity, and special senses are replaced by those of the new form, and it gains any statistics and capabilities (except class features, legendary actions, and lair actions) that the new form has but that it lacks.
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