To put it simply—there aren’t enough cat-based monsters in D&D.
In the Pathfinder Bestiary, we’ve got lions, tigers (both of them), cheetahs, leopards, and… rakshasha, which now only look like cats, but are evil outsider spirits who screw with people. (Wait, demons?) If I pull out my 3.5 MM, I can use displacer beasts, and there was a coeurl in one of the adventure path modules to make up for it. Going over all of those, we can lump most of them under “great cats,” rakshasha, and “tentacled phase cat” (to prevent either kind of copyright infringement).
There are a number of snake-based creatures, frog-based creatures (including multiple playable races), spider-based creatures, and a bunch of dog-based creatures, an unnecessary number of lizard and reptile and dragon related things. Hell, reptiles even have turtle-based creatures to complete their trifecta.
Why the hate on cats?
Let me roll back a minute; there is an actual reason why this is bugging me. When I first became infatuated with the idea of DragonStar as a pulp swords-and-planets vehicle, I immediately thought of two villains. The first was casting Ming the Merciless as a red dragon sorcerer, with an army of leveled kobold mooks to hound the players. The second was of cats: a race of primitive bipedal catfolk, with related beasts of burden and monsters. Look at Barsoom; it’s got several predatory felines, amongst other things. (And yes, thri-kreen and thaots also entered my mind fairly quickly.)
But, even in the diverse backlog of monster manuals and creature guides, there just aren’t that many bipedal cat warriors, and even fewer that are OGC. (Looking at you, catfolk.)
So, having raved about the Advanced Bestiary without providing enough examples of how awesome it is, and lacking suitable cat people (putting out fire) for my pulp d20 fantasy and space opera needs…
To fix the lack of bipedal cat-people… add the bipedal template to things. Freakin’ duh. It’s not complicated, and while it’s not the best option out there, it gets the job done admirably. All it does is lower land speeds to 30 ft., and gets rid of primary melee attacks like claw or pincer that are replaced with limbs—and thus the ability to use weapons and tools.
Technically, the bipedal template leaves the base creature as it is (in this case, animals), and with only 2 Int they can’t take class levels. To fix this, I changed their type to monstrous humanoids—the template should take this into account, or at least make it an optional idea; lizardfolk aren’t animals, after all—and boosted intelligence, enabling them to speak, gain class levels, etc.
I went a little hog-wild on these, and used the jaguar and smilodon from the Tome Of Horrors II. The TOH2 smilodon is a bit less powerful than the smilodon in the Bestiary, so I figured it was a bit more suited as a humanoid race (especially for giving them levels of Barbarian; giving class levels needs a lower-level base creature). The leopard is from the PF Bestiary.
Leopard Catfolk (Leopardfolk) CR 2XP 600
N Medium monstrous humanoid
Init +4; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +5
DEFENSEAC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +4 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 23 (3d10+6)
Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +2
OFFENSESpeed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee bite +6 (1d6+3 plus grab), scimitar +6 (1d6+3/18-20×2) Ranged shortbow +6 (1d6)
Special Attacks pounce
STATISTICSStr 16, Dex 19, Con 15, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 6 Base Atk +2; CMB +5 (+9 grapple); CMD 19 (23 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +5, Climb +8, Perception +5, Stealth +8 (+12 in undergrowth); Racial Modifiers +4 on Stealth in undergrowth Gear hide armor, dagger, scimitar, shortbow with 20 arrows, bedroll, bundle of dried meat
The leopardfolk should be pretty standard for low-level catfolk; the Bipedal template adds nothing to their CR, so this is literally just a bipedal leopard. Still, it’s on par with a bugbear or flind for low-powered bipedal thug in terms of CR, a hit-and-run guerrilla fighter. Their higher Intelligence reflects the idea of cunning ambushers and stealthy hunters.
Jaguar Catfolk (Jaguarfolk) CR 3XP 800
N Medium animal
Init +3; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +6
DEFENSEAC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 32 (4d10+8)
Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +2
OFFENSESpeed 30 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee bite +7 (1d6+4 plus grab), macuahuitl +6 (1d12+6/18-20×2) Ranged shortbow +3 (1d6)
Special Attacks improved grab, pounce
STATISTICSStr 18, Dex 17, Con 15, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +3; CMB +7 (+11 grapple); CMD 20 (24 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Focus (macuahuitl)
Skills Acrobatics +9, Climb +8, Perception +6, Stealth +11 (+19 in undergrowth); Racial Modifiers +4 swim, +4 stealth, +4 acrobatics, +8 on Stealth in undergrowth Gear macuahuitl, shortbow with 20 arrows, bundle of dried fish
In comparison to the leopardfolk, the bipedal jaguar was designed as an Aztec-style barbarian theme. While still a highly stealthy race, it’s more likely to jump out and try to club you to death than fill you full of arrows and disappear. They’re also not generally as smart as the leopards, but are much tougher fighters.
Saber-Tooth Catfolk (Feral Catfolk) CR 5XP 1,600
N Medium animal
Init +6; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +6
DEFENSEAC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 60 (6d10+24)
Fort +9, Ref +7, Will +3
OFFENSESpeed 30 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee bite +11 (1d6+6/19-20 plus grab), great macuahuitl +6 (4d4+9/18-20×2) Ranged shortbow +2 (1d6)
Special Attacks improved grab, pounce, wounding bite
STATISTICSStr 23, Dex 15, Con 19, Int 5, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +4; CMB +10 (+14 grapple); CMD 22 (26 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Focus (bite), Improved Critical (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +11, Climb +8, Perception +5, Stealth +12 (+20 in undergrowth); Racial Modifiers +4 acrobatics, +4 stealth, +8 on Stealth in undergrowth Gear macuahuitl, shortbow with 20 arrows, bundle of dried meat
Special AbilitiesWounding Bite (Ex):A feral catfolk that scores a critical hit with its bite attack deals 2 points of Constitution damage from blood loss to the victim.
The bigger they are, the dumber and stronger they are. That might be a little mean, but I gave these guys the name “feral catfolk” for a reason. The saber-tooth cat bipeds are primitive to reflect their primitive nature; I figure these are like the Unchosen gnolls from Legacy of Fire, hulking primordial brutes. Add in a unique bite quality and we’re good to go.
And Now for Something Completely Different
Remember how I mentioned Barsoom earlier? Burroughs’ feline monsters were pretty strange, not exactly your run of the mill cat monsters. The coeurl is another good example of this, partly because it also origi
nated from (in this case, ’40s era) pulp fiction, and partly because it inspired the displacer beast.
With that in mind, I wanted to throw together something that stood out as being just plain weird, something terribly aberrant with a Barsoomian pulp flavor. This is what the end result.
Striped Clawcat CR 10?
XP 9,600N Large vermin Init +6; Senses low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft. scent; Perception +11
DEFENSEAC 16, touch 10, flat-footed 15 (+1 Dex, +6 natural, –1 size)
hp 105 (14d8+42)
Fort +12, Ref +8, Will +5
OFFENSESpeed 50 ft.
Melee 2 claws +17 (2d4+6/19–20 plus grab), bite +17 (2d6+6 plus grab), sting +16 (1d6+6 plus poison, Reach 10 ft.), 2 pincers +11 (1d8+3 plus grab)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks pounce, rake (2 claws +16, 2d4+6), constrict (1d6+6)
STATISTICSStr 23, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 1, Wis 11, Cha 6
Base Atk +10; CMB +19 (+23 grapple); CMD 31 (35 vs. trip)
Feats Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Run, Skill Focus (Perception), Skill Focus (Stealth), Weapon Focus (bite, claw)
Skills Acrobatics +5, Perception +11, Stealth +14 (+22 in tall grass), Swim +10; Racial Modifiers +4 Acrobatics, +4 Stealth (+8 in tall grass)
Poison (Ex): Sting—injury; save Fort DC 22; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Strength damage; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based and includes a +2 racial bonus.
This is why the Amalgam template is awesome.
This was created by combining a 5 HD monstrous scorpion (taken from the 3.5 MM?) with a dire tiger/smilodon (PF Bestiary). It ends up a silent jungle killer. The smilodon was already king at stealth and perception, and gained a bevy of additional attacks from its new limbs: a pair of pincers and a poisonous tail stinger. Combine its Stealth and Perception skills with all those forms of vision, and tremorsense, and it sees players before they can see it. This lil beauty will probably get surprise rounds every time.
According to the Pathfinder rules, the formula for a monster’s poison Fort save DC is (DC 10 + 1/2 poisoning creature’s racial HD + creature’s Con modifier), or for this one, (10 + 7 + 3, +2 racial, DC 22). So, deadly poison compared to the base scorpion.
This one was fairly easy to make since both creatures were already large, and two fairly similar types (vermin and animal, which have a lot of overlap). I’m not great at gauging CRs for Amalgams. I’m leaning towards 10 from all those additional special attacks and the smilodon gaining vermin traits, though it gained no hp and lost some AC. It could be as high as 11.
Bonus Section: Aztec Gear
If you’re particularly observant, you noticed that the Aztec cats had macuahutils as primary weapons. The macuahutil would be a wooden sword-like weapon embedded with chunks of sharpened obsidian. Essentially, the Aztecs made swords without knowing what a sword was, and this was the result: a heavy wooden club with a half-dozen or so chunks of obsidian embedded into it to provide a cutting edge.
Looking around, I found some stats for them on a D&D wiki; since I was looking for Aztec armaments, I found it fitting. They are pretty damaging, but when you consider the weight, heft, and cutting edges of a massive club filled with sharpened volcanic glass, it makes sense. Requires the Exotic Weapon: Macuahuitl feat. Also note how fragile they are; obsidian breaks easily (I usually run it Spycraft style with an Error range of 1-3), and the macuahuitl can break from too much wear and tear unlike a sword. I’d also give them minimum strength requirements of 10 and 12, or something. Stats are as follows:
Macuahuitl, one-handed:10 hardness -2 to all attack rolls
|Small||30 gp||1d10||4 lb.||4 hp|
|Medium||30 gp||1d12||5 lb.||8 hp|
|Large||45 gp||3d6||6 lb.||16 hp|
Macuahuitl, two-handed:10 hardness -4 to all attack rolls
In terms of other weaponry, the Aztecs were fairly advanced when you consider how alienated and isolated they were from other societies. Besides the macuahuitl, the Aztecs used bows and arrows, slings, blowguns, and the atlatl dart thrower, which also has a 3.5 version. In terms of armor, the Aztecs used shields made of wood or maize cane, and cloth armor (use padded armor stats); not a whole lot of defense going on there.
Pathfinder Bestiary copyright Paizo Publishing. Advanced Bestiary copyright Green Ronin. Tome of Horrors 2 copyright Necromancer Games/Sword & Sorcery Studios.