The following Monster Hunter class for Grim Hollow and 5e is playtest material. This article covers levels 4-8, levels 1-3 can be found here, with further levels coming in future articles. The Monster Hunter includes writing and mechanics contributed by Benjamin Marcial.
“You think I’m afraid to die? No, friend. In my line of work there are worse things that can happen to a hunter than death. This is simply a matter of price.”
– Jürgen of the Black Arrow
Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
When you reach 5th level, such is your learning in the weaknesses of monsters that you know patience and precision can often deal more damage than rapid strikes.
You can use an action on your turn to perform a grave strike, which is a single weapon attack. When doing so your Intelligence modifier is added to the attack roll and if the attack hits the weapon deals additional damage equal to 1d8 times your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1d8).
A grave strike can also be performed as a reaction such as a readied action or an opportunity attack. You do not lose a use of this ability if the readied action is not performed.
You may use this ability a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of one) and regain all expended uses when you finish a short or long rest.
Once you reach 6th level, you have gathered enough information among the monsters you’ve slain to add another section to your Monster Grimoire.
You may select a new type of monster that you are specialized in hunting from the following list: aberrations, beasts, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, undead, or humanoids (shape changers). You may not choose a monster type you have chosen before. All the benefits you gain from your monster grimoire now also apply to this new creature type.
Additionally, whenever you are making a weapon attack against a creature written about in your monster grimoire, you score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.
Hunting Guild Improvement
Carver Guild: Improved Salvage
When you reach 7th level, you have learned every technique integral to efficiently carving the salvage from monster remains. You have advantage on ability checks made to harvest salvage, and whenever possible you collect twice as much.
Trapper Guild: Improved Crafting
When you reach 7th level, you better understand the nature of salvage gathered from monsters and how to craft those materials more efficiently. Whenever you want to craft an item from salvage, you may do so with half the amount of salvage necessary and in half the time. If it is not possible to craft the item with half the amount of salvage (such as creating a mace of disruption from the skull of a memori lich), you may half one other required cost instead.
“I didn’t know such things were possible before I met with Stelvi. Before we hunted alongside one another.
We were hired to kill a pack of beasts. They’d been mauling caravans and leaving the farmland empty. The lord who owned the land was concerned his stores would be empty if the crop couldn’t be harvested in time. The fool was more concerned about replenishing his tax reserves than preserving the lives of those he ruled. It meant he was willing to pay a high price to have the monsters slain – so much so he hired two of us rather than bothering to have us bid on the contract.
We found the monsters’ tracks amidst the aftermath of one of their ambushes. Their prints were unusual for a monstrosity. The scattered way they left the destroyed caravan suggested they weren’t particularly intelligent. But their prints were no griffins or basilisks that I recognized. It was Stelvi who pointed out they weren’t monstrosities at all. We were hunting a pack of fiends.
We rode the woodland paths three evenings before we were set upon by the creatures, ourselves. Six exploded from the underbrush as if birthed from the hells deep beneath the earth. They appeared as great lizards with dark, scaly spines.
We were far from where we’d set our own trap, but none save the largest among them were a match for the speed of our horses. Thankfully, for the monsters provided a fierce pursuit.
We lead them to the place where we wanted them. The weretraps I buried exploded and caught the largest by surprise. When I dismounted, I shot it with my crossbow and anchored it to the ground. Six seconds later the others were upon us.
I thought Stelvi was odd as soon as I met her. I remember her intense stare and amber eyes, yet the next day and since, they had been green. She maintained strange habits such as eating very little and never sharing a meal. She seemed concerningly under equipped for our profession, carrying naught but an unremarkable longsword and patchwork armor that fitted her poorly.
Despite this I chose to trust her. Worst case, she’d provide valuable seconds getting between me and a grasping claw.
As we rode in flight from the creatures, I watched her slather her mouth with a dark ooze that blistered her lips and blackened her teeth. While I restrained the largest monster, she spat on her sword and wiped the oily goo along the edge. When the first creature confronted her, she cut it open with an up-thrust and its insides sizzled and dissolved.
Two fell upon my horse and began to devour it. A third ran at me and I shot at its eye, but its jaws closed around my shoulder. I felt pain. Then I felt my body begin to lock up. A numbness spread from the wound. I’d have died in that moment save for the creature trying to pin me down beneath its claw. My push plate burst on my chest and forced me to stagger away.
As I caught my breath, the creature dashed towards me again. I breathed in. I waited. I saw the veins in its milky white eye. I fired my crossbow and, with a single bolt, the creature collapsed dead at my feet.
My horse was shrieking. When I looked back, the two creatures were gulping down chunks of stone. My steed had been transformed into a statue. I stretched my stiffened shoulder with concern.
Stelvi had killed a second of the monsters. She moved with a preternatural agility. Her eyes flashed amber once more, as if she had become possessed.
Together we slew the two that had eaten my horse. They had become slow from their meal. I was almost casual with my crossbow. Then I heard the ropes that had restrained the largest snap and we encircled it like two wolves around a bear.
The monster’s tail lashed out and Stelvi’s horse whinnied as it fell on its side. Its guts spilled onto the road.
Stelvi slashed at the monster’s face. I buried bolts in its hind. Then the creature turned in frustration and the dance reversed.
The wounds it was dealt by the other hunter hissed and burned. Black ooze dripped from her bottom lip. I could see her own injuries ooze black instead of red. And the realization sunk in. Stelvi was not entirely human herself.
When the final lupilisk was dead – their name learned from my hunting partner – Stelvi walked to her dying horse. She ended the animal’s misery with her sword. As I collected the scales and fangs from our prey, I watched her from the corner of my eye.
Stelvi knelt in the horse’s spilled offal. I thought she might be salvaging its heart or bones. Instead, she lifted its remains to her mouth devoured its innards. And as she did her wounds stopped bleeding and her bruises lost their dark color.
She caught me staring at her. I asked if she was human. She asked if she needed to be worried.
I was still holding my carving knife. She gripped the hilt of her sword.”
– From the grimoire of Jürgen of the Black Arrow
New Subclass: Devourer Guild
Folk in Etharis do not always speak highly of monster hunters, and many consider them to be just as depraved and inhuman as the evils they are sent to vanquish. Many of the appalling tales told about monster hunters can be attributed to the Devourer Guild, accused of being monstrous cannibals themselves.
The truth is barely any better. Devourer’s have spent their days consuming the flesh and vitae of the monsters they have slain, and over time their metabolism has changed to tolerate this disgusting practice. Devourers adopt mutations shortly after consuming the substance their prey is made from.
When you choose this guild at 3rd level, you gain the ability to consume portions from monster remains which cause your body to adopt powerful and frightening new mutations.
Salvaging Portions. A single portion can be salvaged from the physical remains of any creature. Unless it is consumed a portion lasts for 24 hours, before it either rots or its innate magic dissipates, and it no longer has any effect.
Consuming Portions. Whenever you spend a bonus action to consume a portion, you magically gain a benefit depending on the creature’s type. You can consume a number of portions up to 1 + your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1). Each portion you consume after that causes you to gain a level of exhaustion. When you finish a long rest, you regain the ability to safely consume portions. You can benefit from multiple portions at the same time but consuming more than one portion from the same monster type provides no additional effects.
If a portion effect enables you to cast a spell, Intelligence becomes your spellcasting ability.
Aberrations. For the next hour you can speak telepathically to any creature you are aware of within 60 feet of you. Additionally, during that time you have resistance to psychic damage.
Beasts. You regain hit points equal to 2d8 + your monster hunter level.
Celestials. For the next hour you automatically know whenever you are being lied to. Additionally, once during that same period you can cast the branding smite spell innately.
Constructs. For the next ten minutes, you have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical attacks not made with adamantine weapons.
Dragons. For the next ten minutes, you grow leathery wings from your back which give you a flying speed of 50 feet.
Elementals. Choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder. For the next minute whenever you take damage of that type, instead of losing hit points you instead gain hit points equal to the amount of damage that would be taken.
Fey. Once within the next ten minutes you can innately cast the invisibility spell requiring no material components.
Fiends. Once within the next ten minutes you can innately cast the charm person spell or the suggestion spell requiring no material components. This effect ends once you have cast either of these spells.
Giants. For the next minute you gain advantage on all Strength based ability checks and saving throws. You also add your Strength score to the damage twice for any Strength based weapon attacks you make.
Humanoids (Shape Changer). For the next hour you can magically polymorph your physical appearance. This functions similarly to the disguise self spell but with two key differences. Firstly, you cannot change the appearance of your clothing, weapons, or equipment. However, your disguise is physical in nature and stands up to physical inspection.
Monstrosities. For the next hour you gain natural weapons such as claws and fangs. Whenever you make an unarmed strike, you deal 1d6 slashing damage instead of the normal amount. You can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action on each of your turns.
Oozes. For the next hour you can move through any space wide enough for a creature one size smaller than you without squeezing. Additionally, during that same period you can choose to deal acid damage with any weapon attack you make as your saliva and blood become corrosive to others.
Plants. For the next ten minutes you can innately cast the spike growth spell requiring no material components.
Undead. For the next minute whenever you inflict damage to a creature with a weapon attack, you gain temporary hit points equal to half the damage dealt.
When you reach 7th level, your body begins to grow new permanent mutations because of your continued consumption of monsters. Choose two of the following mutations that become permanent for you.
Metabolized Constitution. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage. If you already have or gain a similar ability due to another magic item, class, or racial trait (such as Dwarvern Resilience) you instead become immune to poison damage and immune to the poisoned condition.
Obsessive Consumption. You can now consume a number of portions up to 2 + your Constitution modifier (minimum of 2) before taking any levels of exhaustion.
Permanent Scales. When you are not wearing armor, your AC equals 13 + your Dexterity modifier.
Preternatural Reflexes. You can take the Dash or Disengage action as a bonus action on your turn.
Rapid Recovery. You can use your action to spend a single Hit Dice, recovering hit points equal to the result + your Constitution modifier.
Terrifying Appearance. Your appearance becomes frightening to others to behold. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill. If you are already proficient in this skill you instead gain expertise, doubling your proficiency bonus whenever you make a Charisma (Intimidation) check.
Wall Crawler. You have a climbing speed equal to your movement speed, and can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Wolfen Senses. You have advantage on Intelligence (Investigation) checks and Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.