A few days ago, I recall reading on a blog about how there are limited monsters for low level adventurers to fight. With that in mind, I started looking over the lower Challenge Levels (A-4) from the Swords & Wizardry, and discovered the following numbers associated with common creature types:
- Animals: 6
- Fey: 2
- Fungus: 1
- Giants: 1
- Humanoids: 16 (humans 4, other pc races 2)
- Magical Beasts: 3
- Planar Monsters: 1
- Undead: 4
- Vermin: 9 (giant insects 8)
In essence, that indicates that low-level adventurers are most frequently challenged by other humanoids, giant insects, animals, and undead. Aside from a few magical beasts (specifically blink dogs, hippogriffs and pegasi), there's not much else to choose from. With that in mind, I thought I would offer a few low-level monsters to add challenge to your 1st and 2nd level games.
This offering of low-level monsters focuses on magical beasts. These are the monsters that haunt the dreams of little children, the creatures of the night that the townfolk stand a chance of defending their loved ones against, the little beasties that make for some different encounters than the party has encountered before. Please feel free to use them and abuse them as you see fit.
The fyrcat is a man-sized feline predator with an innate supernatural ability to cause fear and inspire terror. When the fyrcat uses this ability, anyone within a cone that extends to 60 feet and a width of 30 feet that fails a saving throw flees in fear, and has a 60% chance of dropping anything they are holding.
Fyrcat: AC 7 ; HD 3; Atk: bite (1d6); ST: 14; SP: cause fear; MV: 18; CL 4; XP 120.
The sirenbird resembles a small hawk with azure feathers, and has a remarkably melodic call. Those that hear the song of the sirenbird and fail a saving throw are charmed and drawn to the magical bird, who may attack its mesmerized prey with surprise, inflicting double damage with a successful attack.
Sirenbird: AC 7 ; HD 1; Atk: two talons (1d3) and one bite (1d4); ST: 17; SP: mesmerizing call (save negates); MV: 3, fly 18; CL 3; XP 60.
The shard serpent looks much like a cobra made entirely of crystal. This small beast can burrow through the earth as fast as it can slither upon its surface, and once every 1d4 rounds, it may spray a single target within thirty feet with a shower of crystalline slithers, inflicting 2d4 damage (halved with a successful save).
Shard Serpent: AC 5 ; HD 1; Atk: bite (1d4); ST: 17; SP: crystalline spray (2d4, save for half damage); MV: 12, burrow 12; CL 3; XP 60.
The troll mastiff resembles a two-headed wolf covered with warts and stiff, wiry hair. This beast is named as much for its appearance as it is for its regenerative ability, as any damage inflicted upon a troll mastiff regenerates at a rate of one hit point per round, unless caused by fire or acid.
Troll Mastiff: AC 6 ; HD 2; Atk: two bites (1d4); ST: 16; SP: regeneration (1 hit point/round); MV: 18; CL 3; XP 60.