Men & Monsters of Ethiopia: Catoblepas (5th Edition D&D Monster)

Michael O. Varhola
Following is an entry for the Catoblepas, one of the creatures that appears in Skirmisher Publishing's bestselling "Men & Monsters of Ethiopia"! Like the Leucrotta, this strange beast is described in various real-world ancient texts as being associated with Ethiopia and appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons/1st Edition D&D Monster Manual, but was not picked up for the 5th Edition D&D game until game developer Michael O. Varhola adapted it for the afore-mentioned book.  
 
Catoblepas
Large beast, unaligned
______________________________________________
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 42 (5d10 +15)
Speed 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
______________________________________________
STR                DEX               CON               INT                 WIS                CHA
18 (+4)            10 (+0)          16 (+3)           4 (−3)              11 (+0)           2 (−4)
______________________________________________
Damage Immunities poison
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
 
Downward-Looking. A Catoblepas has disadvantage on Perception checks.
Intimidating. A Catoblepas has an appearance so grim and ugly that anyone coming within 10 feet of one must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw and, failing it, suffer disadvantage on melee attacks against the creature. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending this effect on a success. If a creature succeeds on this saving throw or it manages to subsequently shake off the effect, it is immune to the Intimidating presence of any Catoblepones for the following 24 hours.
Resilient (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). If a Catoblepas takes 10 damage or less that would reduce it to 0 hit points, it is reduced to 1 hit point instead.
 
Actions
Tusk. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage.
Poison Breath (Recharge 4-6). A Catoblepas exhales poisonous gas in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw, suffering 17 (5d6) poison damage on a failed save and half as much damage on a successful one. 

"... When it glares like a bull it immediately shudders and raises its mane, and when this has risen erect and the lips about its mouth are bared, it emits from its throat pungent and foul-smelling breath, so that the whole air overhead is infected, and any animals that approach and inhale it are grievously afflicted, lose their voice, and are seized with fatal convulsions. This beast is conscious of its power; and other animals know it too and flee from it as far away as they can."

— Claudius Aelianus, On Animals

A Catoblepas is an ungainly monstrosity that has a body similar to that of a water buffalo, a long neck, and a disproportionately large head akin to that of a boar. It has a thick hide, especially on its back, where it has a scaly appearance. While a Catoblepas can look up to survey its surroundings when needs be, its neck is not quite adequate to support the weight of its head, causing its gaze to be directed toward the ground most of the time. It has narrow, bloodshot eyes that are crowned with high, shaggy brows, and which are covered by a shaggy mane until it lifts it head.

Catoblepones are herbivores that are drawn to the most noxious and toxic plants they can find, being immune to their effects and relishing their taste. This causes them to constantly exhale poisonous vapors, which leads to them inadvertently killing creatures they cross paths with and prompts any that survive to give them a wide berth. Catoblepones are not aggressive but are irritable, and will lash out with their sharp tusks against anyone who comes within reach of them.

Swamps and marshes are the favored habitats for Catoblepones, both because they can find the foods they most enjoy in them and because they are more comfortable when their heavy bodies are partially supported by water. They can also smell distilled poisons of various sorts from a great distance and find them to be extremely delicious, something that can prompt Catoblepones to approach characters carrying such substances or to wander into their camps.