Wrathful Wizard Monsters

By RJ on 19 December 2022. 

The wrath of a vengeful wizard is rarely matched. However, when mated with the ferocity of a monster and the skill of a thoughtful Dungeon Master, a monster imbued with the abilities of the wizard class may not only challenge a player character wizard, but an entire party.

Already on RJD20, we've explored mixing monsters with classes like the bard and barbarian, druid and paladin, and now: we move onward to D&D's most esteemed class: the wizard.

Today, we're looking at three wildly wacky wizard monsters for your next D&D session:

  • A pixie arcanist with a wit as quick as her spellcasting!
  • An ettin incredible armed with a barrage of magical abilities and an eerily threatening intellect!
  • An efreeti pyromancer who wields the devastating elemental forces of his blistering home realm!

Each promises a unique experience for your game and your world. How can you pit a pixie arcanist against your party of three murderhobos? Where does an ettin incredible fit in your grand world of sword and sorcery? Does an efreeti pyromancer wield much power in your setting's version of the City of Brass, or is she a jester compared to the warrior-class of the legendary planar settlement?

Before we leap into these monstrous wizards, let this list of eight wizard-based foes inspire you:

  1. An awakened wild boar with a wizard's spellbook stitched to him. Somehow, he's learned how to cast a few cantrips and basic spells.
  2. A deep gnome School of Illusion wizard destined to branch out into the World Above.
  3. A bugbear School of Evocation wizard, also known as an evocationist, who ripped a spellbook from a fallen foe's warm, dead hands and became a master of explosions. She specializes in fireballs.
  4. A wise hill giant School of War wizard specially trained by a resident fire giant sage in the ways of arcane and greater warfare. He has led his tribe to many battles over far superior foes.
  5. An orthon commander specialized in the School of Conjuration, capable of summoning great armies from planes other than his scarred home realm.
  6. An iron giant trained in the School of Enhancement by his archmage creator.
  7. A balor keen in the dark magic of the School of Necromancy, heading a horde of demons and abhorrent undead.
  8. An ancient green dragon wise in the School of Lore, knowledgeable in every single aspect of the world known to mortals...and even some information kept only by those of immortal bend.

Wizard Foe Generator

For this particular strand of foes crossed with one of D&D's most iconic classes, I've crafted the Wizard Foe Generator. Try it out! It provides you with a base monster, where they can be found, and an ability/action inspired by the wizard class from D&D 5E and other editions in the game's history.

Now, let's create three wizardly foes.

Pixie Arcanist

Inherently tricky, tiny creatures, twisting a pixie with the abilities of a wizard makes quite the intimidating enemy...or powerful ally. A pixie arcanist wraps her opponents in sparkling strands of magic, rendering them helpless so her swarms of mystical friends can eliminate them in a swift and safe manner.

They're tricky foes to face

What is a Pixie Arcanist?

The wondrous woodlands of the Feywild glitter with the magic of a thousand peculiar peoples. Hags cackle away in their cursed huts and bone-filled caves. Satyr dance along forest trails singing songs of enchantment. Centaurs roam groves illuminated by the bright Feywild twilight, their hooves stomping along to primal beats that ooze magic. Even the forests themselves bubble with arcane potential: trees talk, leaves whisper, and the animals linger with even the sentience of a normal mortal man.

The stars of the Feywild, though, hold a special kind of magic. And when they fall: only a select few are capable of drawing forth that latent energy.

Feywild stars and their crash sites are dotted with powerful glyphs and words of arcane power, mysteriously written in the most elegant form of the Sylvan language. Pixies, fast-moving and inquisitive, are often the first to arrive to these craters. They scribble down the words and phrases on leaf booklets and scratch them out of the rock and ground. Afterward, they spend months and sometimes years practicing these sky-given groupings of words. Only those who remain dedicated to this practice become pixie arcanists.

The otherworldly spells available to pixie arcanists are from distant stars and often involve glittering, awe-inspiring sights of stardust and bewilderment. 

Some spells channel the energy of a burning star. 

Others freeze foes with the infinite chill of space. 

All are coveted by wizards of the Material Plane...

In Eldar, pixie arcanists quickly find their way from the Feywild into other planes of existence. Some believe the stars of other realms like the Hells or even some layers of the Abyss hide even darker "star carvings." In the Material Plane's largest settlement, Galen the City of Magic, a pixie arcanist teaches a special course on this small but unique sphere of arcana.

In Golgifell, fey crossings to Brisantha are some of the most common "magical" occurrences found and witnessed by normal mortals. Fey usually don't wander into the mortal world if they can help it, but some pixies have been known to guard these fey crossings, ordered to by their commanding Fey Court. Pixie arcanists in particular deeply enjoy gazing at the idyllic starscape of Golgifell, and wonder if "star carvings" exist in this world as they do in their own.

Sample Pixie Arcanist

Here's an example pixie arcanist using the Wizard Foe Generator to attach a new ability and action to the base pixie monster.

Base Monster: Pixie, Monster Manual page 253

Added AbilityFalse Self. The pixie arcanist can cast disguise self at will, but it can also shift between Tiny, Small, Medium, and Large creatures. Huge creatures can only shift to Large size.

Added ActionStudent of Cantrip Excellence. The pixie arcanist can cast up to three cantrips with a single action. Each cantrip can be different or the same.

Plot Hook: Pickpocketing becomes the norm of a bustling port city when a pixie arcanist uses her starry arcana to enhance the skills of a local guild of thieves. Their weird magic perplexes the law enforcement, so they bring in those more versed in the arcane arts.

Flavor both outlined abilities as starry-themed: the creatures the pixie arcanist pretends to become have star tattoos on their body. The cantrips manifest in a burst of stardust.

Ettin Incredible

Ready to surprise your players and subvert their characters' expectations? This is the foe for you. An ettin incredible might turn a predictable, blow-for-blow blow-up with a typical ettin into a fight for survival against a creature that should never be able to handle magical abilities in a regular D&D setting. 

No one expects an ettin wizard.

What is an Ettin Incredible?

Only rarely do giantish gods allow one of their misshapen children the mental prowess to pursue a life of magic. Normal ettins are already weird folk among giant kind, pushed to the edges of society. Most times, they aren't even accepted among giants. They are forced to commandeer goblin tribes, serve the whims of orcs and hobgoblins, or become vicious rivals in troll territory. However, in the rarest of circumstances, an ettin is born with an incredible intellect. These ettins are rapidly sought after by giants at the top of the chain (called the Ordning in many worlds) and trained in the ways of arcane magic.

These very rare ettins are known as ettin incredibles.

Unlike almost any other creature, they are able to cast not one, but two spells concurrently. From one mouth and mind, an ettin incredible might spew forth words of power to conjur a fireball while the other crackles out a lightning bolt. Even more impressive, they can concentrate on two different spells at once: one mind might keep a blur around itself, while the other ensures an attacking barbarian stays affected by hold person as the ettin's fire giant allies eviscerate her.

Some ettin incredibles manage to escape servitude once they learn how to wield magic. These ettin incredibles, even solo, are formidable foes.

In Eldar, ettin incredibles originated in Nargond during Giantfall. Not products of giantish gods, these ettin incredibles manifested the wild magic latent in the air of the world during this tumultuous time. As the empire of giants fell and sent tsunamis roaring across the planet, ettin incredibles further ensured giant kind's doom. They leapt into the world and tore scattered factions apart, obliterating them with intense arcane surges and forgotten spells. As quickly as they appeared, they fragmented and wandered across the broken landmasses. Some bloodlines still exist, ettins capable of immense thought and insight, but the most common way of finding them is pure chance. If they are born into the world, they often become leaders of hill giant tribes or respected sages of frost giant jarls and fire giant citadels.

In Golgifell, ettin incredibles are the norm: regular ettins do not exist. Even though ettin incredibles take on the regular "ettin" role, they are still extremely rare alongside all other giants except hill giants. Encountering an ettin in Golgifell is an event best left unattended. The lack of magic in the rest of the world almost seems to redouble itself in ettins, overwhelming any who interact with them. In the most remote wilderlands like Res Mana, ettins boast huge armies and followers who worship them as gods-on-earth.

Sample Ettin Incredible

Below is one example of an ettin incredible created with the Wizard Foe Generator. Beware: it's powerful.

Base Monster: Ettin, Monster Manual page 132

Added AbilityPerfect Mind. The ettin incredible is able to concentrate on two spells simultaneously.

Added ActionImpossible Arcana. The ettin incredible is able to cast two spells in a single turn with a single action.

Plot Hook: Doom befalls a frontier town when a duo of ettin incredibles dominate both a tribe of orcs and a pack of gnolls. At the helm with extreme intelligence and a horde of formidable minions, the ettin incredibles intend on conquering the town and moving closer to "true" civilization.

Efreeti Pyromancer

No enemy fought by your party before has wielded fire magic quite like an efreeti pyromancer. Area domination, explosive damage, and a temper enraged by the might a thousand fires are all staples of this wizard-like wonder from the Elemental Plane of Fire. 

Did I mention she rides in a sleigh pulled by hippos made of magma?

What is an Efreeti Pyromancer?

The typical tyrannical lives of an efreeti noble bore the wisest among their kind. Those who seek unrivaled power delve into the depths of the Plane of Fire, learning the secrets of primeval pyromancy. They become masters of the most scorching element, wielders of the sacred fire, one of the vital elements of creation.

Once they master the secrets of the sacred fire, they become creators as well. A power thought only known to the gods in the hands of a mere creature. Efreeti pyromancers can breathe fiery essence into normal beasts. They can turn snakes into blazing serpents; giant eagles into phoenix-like birds; massive hippos into beasts of molten magma.

From remote studies, they perfect this craft and plot domination of the Plane of Fire and realms beyond. However, an efreeti pyromancer in a world not its own, such as the Material Plane, can easily wreak havoc. 

Entities of pure flame are not meant to exist in worlds of balance.

In Eldar, efreeti pyromancers began as solitary scholars but eventually formed the Cabal of Eternal Flame. As a unit, they've built a dominion across most the Plane of Fire that rivals the strength of the City of Brass. Some suspect they were behind the Devastation in the Material Plane, wherein a huge swath of Aelonis was elementally destroyed. All know they pay homage to Imix, the Prince of Elemental Fire, though some believe he is not their master: some think they control the archomental.

In Golgifell, there's but one tale of an efreeti who took over the Gulonde. In his reign, he turned the sands black and the rivers to lava. The rivers faded, but the black sand remained and cursed the endless desert forevermore. At times, his bellowing laughter can be heard on the wind during great storms of sand. These storms spawn beasts of pure flame, echoes of the pyromancer's initial scarring of the desert.

Example Efreeti Pyromancer

Here is an example of an efreeti pyromancer built with the Wizard Foe Generator.

Base Monster: Efreeti, Monster Manual page 145

Added AbilitySculpt Magic. Spells that would otherwise damage the efreeti pyromancer's allies no longer do so.

Added ActionPlane Bringer. Once per day, the efreeti pyromancer can summon a creature from another plane of existence that is CR 2 or less. The summoned creature returns to its home plane when a new creature is summoned.

Plot Hook: An efreeti pyromancer enters a jungle realm, transforming it into a woodland of fiery beasts and molten magma rivers. Her spree of terror must end, else it'll spread into the nearby countryside.

In Summary

If you're stuck preparing your latest D&D NPC or encounter and really need some magical inspiration, the wizard class serves as an excellent source. Always remember:

  • The Wizard Foe Generator is a rapid-fire way to form a compelling foe for your characters to face.
  • Schools of wizardry work wonderfully as background information, foe motivations, and even plot devices in your world.
  • Enemies based on wizards don't need to use spells, just re-flavor them as innate abilities and actions.

In last week's article, I explored why the spotlight should be shared amongst all at the table, and how it's not only the job of the Dungeon Master to ensure this. If you enjoyed this post, check out last week's post as well!

Here's to greatening your game and world: cheers!

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