NPC Workshop: Lythari
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Welcome to the first installment of a new series I’m calling NPC Workshop! In this series, I create a new nonplayer character (NPC) that you can use at your own RPG table. I’ll even show you how I did it! This week, we take a look at the Lythari from Dungeons & Dragon’s Forgotten Realms, and we create a stat block for a low-tier NPC for use in your 5th Edition game. Enjoy!
Of the many creatures in European folklore, very few are as well-known today as the werewolf. Literally meaning “man-wolf,” a werewolf (or lycanthrope) is most famous for its ability to shape-shift into a wolf or a hybrid form that combines traits from both humans and wolves. However, being a werewolf means being a monster, forever cursed with a beast-like rage and hunger whenever the full moon appears. But what if there were werewolves that could control their shapeshifting and remain good people? One group of people in D&D who can do just that are the lythari, a line of elves who can turn into wolves at will.
“The Ly’Tel’Quessir have the ability to polymorph into wolves. Unlike werewolves, lythari don’t have a hybrid form and aren’t afflicted by a curse. They dwell together in secretive packs, primarily in wolf form, living free in the deep wilds of the world.”
– Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, pg. 106
The lythari (or gray elves as I call them in my own campaigns) are a rare group of elves found in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Also known as the Ly’Tel’Quessir in their own tongue, the lythari are natural-born lycanthropes who are not controlled by their bestial nature. However, they lack a hybrid form, which further distinguishes them from werewolves. First found in D&D 3e, lythari are chaotic good like their elf brethren and were originally Challenge Rating (CR) 3.
While I don’t have access to the original 3e materials, I wanted to create a Lythari stat block for 5e which placed the creature around CR 1/2 to 1, and I wanted it to serve as a template for further variations of lythari.
To create a lythari, you will need a copy of the D&D 5e Basic Rules or Monster Manual, as well as the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
1. Determine a reference point
To create a less powerful lythari, I needed a reference point to start building the stat block. I chose the statistics for a scout as my starting point because they already fit the CR I was looking for, and they are the epitome of wilderness survival characters. There are other alternatives for a reference point, such as the drow or archer (found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters), but I liked this one best.
Other creature stats I referenced for the lythari were drow, werewolf, and wolf.
2. Add traits
The easiest traits to add were for elves, so I started with those. On pg. 282 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, there are features that can be added to NPC stat blocks to customize their ancestry. Under Elf, I added the ability modifiers (see the next section for information on this), Fey Ancestry, darkvision, proficiency in the Perception skill, and the language proficiencies. These traits can also be found in the drow statistics. I decided to remove the scout’s Keen Hearing and Sight trait and all other skills (for now) because it seemed too powerful with the additional traits.
Next was the most challenging part: the Shapechanger trait. The wording to this trait is lengthy because it’s important to detail exactly what happens when the lythari changes shape, as well as how it works in combat. I mostly used the wording from the werewolf statistics, but I made a minor adjustment to how the lythari’s equipment was handled. I instead detailed the lythari’s equipment merged with its wolf form when it transformed, much like how a druid can when using the Wild Shape ability. I also kept the different movement speed variations and armor class (AC) from the werewolf.
Finally, I distinguished which attacks could be used in each of the lythari’s forms. I made the multiattack only available in its humanoid form. I also added the bite attack from the wolf statistics for use in the lythari’s wolf form.
3. Adjust stats
The ability modifiers I took for elf NPCs gave a +2 to the lythari’s Dexterity, and I chose a +1 to Wisdom. The boost to Dexterity gave a +1 increase to all Dex-based attacks (including the new bite), all related skills, and the lythari’s AC. The +1 to Wisdom affected related skills, but nothing else in the stat block.
I wanted the lythari to be a little sturdier than the average scout, so I increased the number of hit dice by 2, bringing the average hit points to 27. I also gave the lythari proficiency in Stealth and Survival to harken back to the scout template.
Lastly, I noticed that the wolf’s bite attack had a DC to knock a creature prone that seemed to be linked to its Strength modifier. Instead of lowering the DC for the bite, I decided to increase the lythari’s Strength score to be equal to a wolf’s.
4. Finishing touches and name
Using the table on pg. 274 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the instructions for determining a creature’s CR, I found that the new CR for my lythari had been raised to 1. Satisfied, I named my new creature the Lythari Wanderer, to epitomize the standard lythari an adventurer may find patrolling the woods. However, it’s unlikely they will be able to distinguish the lythari from your average wolf. I’ve included the new lythari stat block below:
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever encountered the lythari in your D&D game? If you’re a DM, how could you incorporate the lythari into your campaign? Is there a certain creature you would like me to make a stat block for? Let me know in the comments below, or you can reach out to me on social media! Cheers!
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Header photo by Philip Swinburn on Unsplash.