Tell by its stripes: Tiger options for your game

Getting ready to have an intelligent (hopefully) discussion on weres of all types, I decided to look into one of the types of lycanthropes I usually skip: Weretigers. And, in the process, started brewing up all sorts of options of how to use the tiger motif in your upcoming campaign.

Check us out Tuesday Nights for LORE & MORE on Twitch.tv/themagictavern for fun every week. On the 27th, we talk about all sorts of weres and their options. Spooktober is going to be littered with crazy monsters to scare and prepare that party to level up or just be on the receiving end of a TPK.

art from @Eldecrynn on Twitter

LOW LEVEL DANGER

First of all, why not just use a basic tiger in your 1st level campaign?

Maybe the Big Bad likes tigers. Or possibly he works in motifs. Whatever the reason, tigers make dangerous low level encounters. Test the waters out with one and then, if you party shows the ability to overpower it, drop a couple. Their strength and dexterity are amazing and they have a 40 speed which means MOST characters aren’t outrunning it.

And you might want to say your prayers to your deity if the tiger gets a good pounce on you. At least it’s not opposing strength checks only a 13 DC on a check, but, dang, miss that one and you’re prone and it gets a second bite as a bonus action.

And for higher level encounters just multiply the danger by duplicating the tigers many times or mix them in with some other threat. It makes a good Jungle threat!

THE BIGGER THEY ARE!

And, speaking of jungles. While reading Dragon Magazine #266, I came upon a whole article on Lycanthrope and giant physiology. It seems most of the true giants are immune to the curse due to their very large physical constitution. But Hill, Frost and Jungle giants are fully susceptible to at least some lycanthrope.

So flip the narrative on that giant story. Attacking the really big bad and having him break out into stripes and fur sets a whole new precedent. Make sure at least most of them have magic weapons or their up the jungle vine without any hope. I know they’re no Jungle giants in 5E, but feel free to, at least, begin with the Hill Giant or Frost Giant write up in the Monster Manual. Just add the goodies given by lycanthrope and the fun begins!

A regular Weretiger is a CR5, so these can make an appearance around 5th level usually. Then, maybe have one of the bosses be a jungle giant. Maybe a cult leader for the feral god, Malar.

Weretigers are stronger than all but the Werebear and faster or as fast as most. The pic they give in the Monster Manual makes them look more together than the rest but their intelligence is only a 10.

Maybe level a few up as Fighters or even a Paladin for Malar for higher level challenges.

In some of the Ravenloft material, there’s mention of Jahed, a weretiger who ended up in the dread domains. An interesting tidbit that a DM could use to add flavor and storyline into their PC or NPC Weretiger, is that, once Jahed transforms, he can’t transform back unless he takes a sentient life. Great struggle for a good character or a story element in a mystery involving a rash of murders.

WHAT ABOUT FIENDISH TABAXI?

In one of my favorite articles last year, Not everything with horns is a Tiefling, I explored the mixing of fiendish blood beyond the humans. We reintroduced the fiend/elvish mix, the Fey’ri, the Orc blooded, Tanarukks, the Dwarven/Fiend, MAELUTHS and the halfling mix, WISPLINGS. We even delved into the extremes with Minotaur Fiends called BAPHITAURS.

But, one of the things I’m working on for my homebrew world is a Fiendish blooded Tabaxi. Now, although you could just use the numbers for Tiefling, I think this mix deserves more of a special workup (MORE LATER).

On top of merely giving them horns and making them look devilish, giving them the looks of the tiger would be a great direction. But, of course, this begs the question. Where does it come from? I can see some of you are way ahead of me. This brings in our favorite Tiger themed fiend, the Rakshasa.

Rakshasas are truly unique in the world of D&D. Although pulled from Indian Mythology, their lore is solely their own. Master shapeshifters and deceivers, they can insert themselves into any society. What would make us think they wouldn’t gravitate to the Tabaxi?

And, once deeply infiltrating the tribes of the tabaxi, what delusion are we under that they would not become intimate. They are master charmers after all.

This would open up a unique breed of Tabaxis that would probably carry the stripes of their forefathers in whatever form they are born into. Much like our talk about Tabaxi on LORE & MORE, there are several ‘cat looks’ for Tabaxi.

The Panther, the cheetah, the mountain lion, snow leapard and the lionel are the major looks for any catfolk.

But adding the Rakshasa blood, not only adds the tell-tale stripes, also adds the many types of Rakshasa that have been introduced across D&D’s history.

Ak’chazar

These Rakshasas were smaller and sported white fur. They specialized mostly as Necromancers, but could practice any type of magic. Like most Necromancers, they let the undead do the heavy lifting while they pulled the strings from the shadows.

This type of Rakshasa could even go as far as to attain lichhood.

Naztharune

These black furred Rakshasas were better built than the Ak’chazar but also clung to the shadows. Although they had a few magical abilities, they were mostly accomplished rogues; shifting in and out of the shadows either by stealth or magic. They also hung to the back in many organizations. Many times they worked under other Rakshasas. Their specialty was assassination.

NAITYAN

The Naityan who were born with black fur and red stripes were without their cousin’s natural magical ability. Instead, they were accomplished and natural combatants in the martial arts.

They were masters of many forms that they shifted into while fighting. This sounds much like a Monk’s Way and I am developing it for this special type of fiend.

The alternate forms of a naityan rakshasa included a serpentine creature, a humanoid hell hound, and a horrifying, humanoid eel with slick, black skin. But the most frightening form is that of a humanoid displacer beast with tentacles and hooks.

Each has its own set of abilities in their given form.

THE ZAKYA

The Zakya Rakshasa were the ultimate in martial fighting. Found in the original Eberron campaign setting, they were known to use their shapeshifting ability to infiltrate fighting organizations, dojos and adventure’s guilds in order to learn their martial secrets, take and learn their specialized weapons and kill the teachers.

Most of the Rakshasa magic was lost to them, but they had innate abilities to heal themselves and make accurate strikes on their opponents.

I’m just pitching ideas right now, but I have deeper info coming and sourcebooks planned. But you can see that a Rakshasa blooded Tabaxi could end up with one of the list of prowess in both magic, stealth and combat; making them hyper dangerous.

CAMPAIGN PITCH: THE STEEL TIGER

One of the mythological depictions of the tiger is in Chinese myths. Four mystical creatures each representing a direction along with other mystical properties could easily be turned into an outline for an adventurer.

Also called the ‘FOUR GUARDIANS’ or ‘GODS’, they are the protectors of the four directions and elements. As with many of the Chinese depictions of gods and spirits, there’s not much more information, but the framework is here for an amazing story.

The Vermillion Bird or The Phoenix represents the South, red and fire. The legends of the living, dying and rebirth of the firebird permeates most mythologies.

The Black Turtle or, in D&D, TORTLE sets up a great connection for a character or NPC to take their place in history. This creature represents black, winter and water.

The Azure Dragon is an easy one for D&D. The green/blue dragon represents the east, spring and wood.

And, THEN, the WHITE TIGER. It represents white, west and metal. Therefore, I see it as the STEEL TIGER.

There is also a yellow dragon that makes up the center; balancing out this group. She represents deep earth and is called, Houtu, the Great Earth Mother.

I am also working this into my extensive homebrew world I’m working on. But I hope this sparked a few ideas. I would LOVE to hear them. I say it every week that we do NOT brew in a vacuum and we bounce ideas off each other and our followers all of the time. Can’t wait to see what you do with all of this!

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