• Justin Handlin

Monster Talent Options

Main Topic: Monster Talent Options

Crit Academy discusses Monster Talents. Talents are extraordinary aspects of a Dungeons and Dragons creature’s abilities, background, personality, physique, proficiencies, and features. They offer a means for you to improve a creature's current existing abilities or provide it with new capabilities. With the introduction of Monster Talents, your players will seldom face the same monster again.

Types of Talents Unlike the talents presented in the Character Options: Talents books, there are only four types of talents here, each categorized on how they are supposed to be used. They are Traits, Actions, Reactions, and Legendary Actions. A table is present to guide the number of talents any monster should have for balance purposes, higher CR means more talents.

Often times, monsters have more talents that you can give them than they can actually learn. This gives you options within each group as well.

We truly enjoyed covering this product, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Below you will find a few of the talents that we discussed on the show. But they are just the tip of the iceberg.


The goblin and goblin boss both have 1 talent each.

Born Sneaky

Type: Trait.

The goblin can reroll an ability check that involves the skill Deception, Sleight of Hand, or Stealth. It must use the result of the second roll, even if it is lower.

Once it uses this feature, it cannot use it again until it finishes a short or long rest.

Gang Up

Type: Trait.

The goblin has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least two of the goblin's allies are within 5 feet of the target and the allies aren't incapacitated.

Goblin Tactics

Type: Reaction.

When a creature attacks the goblin with a melee attack and misses, the goblin can use its reaction to move 5 feet. This movement will not trigger opportunity attacks.


The orc (CR 1/2), eye of gruumsh (CR 2), and orog (CR 2) have 1 talent each while the orc war chief (CR 4) can have 2 talents.


Type: Trait.

Prerequisite Orog

A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the orc hits with it.

Death Strike

Type: Trait.

Prerequisite Eye of Gruumsh

If the eye of gruumsh drops to 0 hit points or less and is within 5 feet of an enemy, it can use its reaction to make one melee weapon attack at the enemy with advantage on the roll. If the attack is successful, it is treated as a critical hit.

Frenzied Berserker

Type: Trait.

While the orc has less than full hit points, the orc gains advantage on all melee weapon attack rolls and all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws, but attack rolls against it have advantage.

Inspire Ferocity (1/day)

Type: Reaction.

Prerequisite Orc War Chief

If an orc ally of the orc war chief drops to 0 hit points or less and it is within 30 feet of the orc war chief and the orc war chief can see that ally, the orc war chief can use its reaction and target any number of orc allies within 30 feet. The targets deal maximum damage with their melee weapon attacks until the end of the orc war chief's next turn.

Death Knight

The death knight (CR 17) can have 6 talents.

Aura of Despair

Type: Trait.

A creature hostile to the death knight that starts its turn within 20 feet of the death knight must make a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw, unless the death knight is incapacitated. On a failed save, the target is frightened until the start of its next turn. The target is unable to perform any actions except move at half its speed while frightened in this way. If a creature's saving throw is successful, the creature is immune to the death knight's Aura of Despair for the next 24 hours.

Command Undead

Type: Action.

Talent Cost: 2 (Counts as 2 Talents).

The death knight takes a bonus action to target an allied undead creature with CR 5 or less it can see within 60 feet and telepathically gives it a command to move or attack or do both. The target uses its reaction to move up to its speed and make one melee or ranged attack.

Extra Legendary Action

Type: Trait.

Prerequisite: Legendary Actions.

The death knight can take 1 additional legendary action before the start of its next turn. The death knight can retake this talent up to two additional times. The additional legendary action stacks.

Cast a Spell (Costs 3 Actions). The death knight casts a spell from its list of prepared spells, using a spell slot as normal.

Innate Spellcaster

Type: Action.

The death knight's innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (DC 18). It can innately cast the following spells requiring no material components: 3/day (each): detect magic, see invisibility

2/day (each): animate dead, blight

Spell Reflection (3/day)

Type: Reaction.

Talent Cost: 2 (Counts as 2 Talents).

If the death knight makes a successful saving throw against a spell, or a spell attack misses it,

the death knight can use its reaction to choose another creature (including the spellcaster) it can see within 30 feet of it. The spell targets the chosen creature instead of the death knight. If the spell forced a saving throw, the chosen creature makes its own save. If the spell was an attack, the attack roll is rerolled against the chosen creature.

Volos Monster Race Talents Included


Deft Claws

You can strike with your claws with more subtlety

and finesse.

Benefit: You can treat your claws as finesse weapons when making unarmed strikes.

Naturally Inquisitive

Your insatiable quest for knowledge and secrets have made you a great barterer and finder of lore.

Benefit: You can reroll an ability check that involves the skill Investigate, Perception, and

Persuasion. You must use the result of the second roll, even if it is lower.

Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Nine Lives

You can escape death, but just barely.

Benefit: If you take damage that reduces your hit points to 0 or less, you can use your reaction to make a Dexterity saving throw with a DC equal to the damage taken, unless the damage is from a critical hit. On a success, your hit point drops to 1 instead.

Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until you finish a long rest.


You rush toward a target like a pouncing cat and

possibly knock it down.

Benefit: If you move at least 30 feet straight toward a creature and then hit it with your unarmed attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a Strength saving throw. The DC is equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier. On a failed save, the target is knocked prone. If the target is prone, you can make one melee weapon attack against it as a bonus action.

Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until you finish a short or long rest.


This episode is brought to you by our generous sponsor, Kobold Press!

Unearthed Tips and Tricks! We bring you new and creative content for you to bring with you on your next adventure.

Character Concept:

Patron Gabe

Get Over Here!

  1. I think you’ll see where I’m going with this. First, start with a Gold Dragonborn Monk that wears a ninja mask.

  2. Next, give them the Magic Initiate feat, and take the Thorn Whip cantrip.

  3. Use Thorn Whip to pull your enemies from across the battlefield, and follow up (on your next round, unfortunately) with an uppercut.

  4. When the enemy is mostly dead (and/or stunned from a Stunning Fist, you can FINISH HIM by pulling back your mask and breathing fire, burning him to ash.

Monster Variant:

Sand Shark

Origin: Giant Shark

New Features:

Burrow: 60 feet.

Tremorsense 60 feet


A monster that has a burrowing speed can use that speed to move through sand, earth, mud, or ice. A monster can't burrow through solid rock unless it has a special trait that allows it to do so.


A monster with tremorsense can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within a specific radius, provided that the monster and the source of the vibrations are in contact with the same ground or substance. Tremorsense can't be used to detect flying or incorporeal creatures.


While underwater, the sand shark is invisible to a creature above the surface of the ground. If the giant sand shark surprises a creature and hits it with an attack during the first round of combat, the target takes an extra 10 (3d6) damage from the attack.


A Large or smaller creature that is hit by the giant shark's bite attack is grappled (escape DC 17). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and the giant shark can automatically hit the target with its bite but can't make bite attacks against other targets.


The Weeping Willow

The heroes are traveling through a vast forest on their way to complete some sort of task assigned to them. During their camp, the forest comes to life, vines, and treants attack the heroes. Beasts of nature attack(antelope, panthers, wolves, bears) and even maybe some fey.

They fight their way to a dying massive weeping willow tree, half scorched. The PCs discover the tree is the source of the assault. Using a form of magic to urge the forest into attacking intruders.

The heroes do not know that the tree is a protector of the area. Only with magic spells like commune with nature or speak with plants do they learn the truth. That the blaze that was started was intentional. And the tree is looking for vengeance.

Magic Item:

Patron Johm Gemstone

The Waltzing Crossbow:

Requires attunement

With a toss into the air and a command word, the crossbow hovers 5 ft off the ground. You can use a bonus action to have the crossbow fire at a target with the lowest range increment. The crossbow has four shots before returning to you and needing to be reloaded. The Waltzing crossbow is stationary once activated besides returning to you for reloading. Thought you may reposition it once it returns to you. You can use your action to load four new bolts.

Dungeon Master Tip:

Patrick E.

Hollow Rolling!

While DMing one session, I wasn’t thinking and just started rolling a bunch of dice behind my DM screen for no particular reason. When I looked up, I noticed that several players saw what I was doing and had worried looks. So from then on...of course, I would roll randomly for no other reason than to see their reaction.

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

It's ok to be weak!

Give and play to your character's weakness, physical or mental.




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