Friday, April 4, 2014

Answering Questions: Mike Monaco Set 2 (4 of 4)

Owlbears...whaddaya think? -- Mike Monaco

I think that Owlbears are some of the most under utilized monsters in the book. They're these huge predators the exemplify the worst possible after effects of having a wizard experimenting near your home and people throw them out like they were a punchline to some stupid joke. 

I've seen groups that treat them like they were goblins, barely worth fighting, let alone worth worrying about and I always want to run that encounter. I want to remind them why an Owlbear isn't a joke. I want them to have nightmares about that one time they ran into an Owlbear ten years back. I want them to get quite when the subject is brought up at the table and I want it to kill the conversation. I want grown men to walk away from the table and refuse to talk about them for fear that they might bring one about just by mentioning them too loudly.

There are monsters in this hobby that we should be ashamed of and shake our heads at the very mention of their names; but not the god damned owlbear. That one should be a triumph for this hobby and a warning sign for all new players: Here be owlbears, run in fear. 


  1. :)

    Consider that an owl is so quite a freaking mouse doesn't hear it coming. Getting surprised by a bear is never a good thing. My group does not consider them a joke. Actually my brother, DMing, did warn us of an owlbear's apporach once with "whooo, whooo, GRRRR!" and that was kind of funny until our party was nearly torn apart. When my 1st level assassin/cleric managed to ambush and assassinate one he became a a legend.

  2. I love owlbears. Used one in my home campaign last year, and it killed my daughter's character, Sneakatara Boatman. That was a problem, so I retconned it to bring her back to life, but... I learned a valuable lesson.

    1. Ooh I bet she took that hard. Owlbears are awesome, but they can be a bit much for young kids.

  3. The Owlbear is possibly my favorite monster. I also remember DMing a fateful encounter where the adventurers heard the call of the Owlbear. I don't think I can recreate it here.

  4. Love the Owlbear!

    This requires a Dan the Bard link.

    You are welcome.

  5. At Gary Con this past weekend I was playing in a "Keep on the Borderlands" game and I told the GM that I knew the module pretty much by heart. He said that was ok. He started with a description of the cave he chose for us to explore first. He got out exactly one sentence (something about stench, and bones and leaves) and I said "I know where we are" and wrote down "Owlbear Lair" on the back of my character sheet. Naturally I kept the other players in suspense.

  6. Meh.

    Much like Dragons, Giants and a host of other D&D monsters, the Owlbear as is simply isn't very scary.

    As an experiment, I designed one for Ars Magica once and it did all you wished they would and more.

    First, it was huge. As large as the largest recorded bears of The British Isles.

    Second, it could fly. Mostly it swooped down silently and snatched people off the ground. It had the Owl's eyesight and could easily see targets in the dark.

    It could turn it's head nearly all the way around and about 90 degrees sideways. It was not going to be back stabbed or surprised.

    They can be scary but it takes a little work.

  7. I typed up a set of nesting tables somewhere for creating custom owlbears. I should use it more.

  8. I have often used this creature in my campaigns since OD&D. I always liked his multiple attack, claws and bite, and its ability to hugs causing additional damage.
    It was one of the first miniatures of creatures of the AD&D 1st ed. I bought (do you remember the violet blister from Ral Pharta?). I remember it was on three-legged posture with the fourth raised to strike, and was one of the first miniatures that I painted. I still have it somewhere in my collection of miniatures! After that I bought also the two-legs standing and also the Reaper version.
    Oh my god... I'm so old! :)

  9. Ah probably I have also the AD&D Citadel version, if I remember well.


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