Mari Lwyd

Large undead, chaotic neutral

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit points 68 (8d10 + 24)
Speed 40 ft.

18 (+4) 15 (+2) 16 (+3) 10 (+0) 13 (+1) 17 (+3)

Skills Deception +5, Intimidation +5, Perception +3, Performance +5, Persuasion +5
Saving Throws Wis +3, Cha +5
Damage Vulnerabilities bludgeoning, psychic, thunder
Damage Immunities cold, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Common
Proficiency Bonus +2
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)


  • Forbiddance. The mari lwyd can’t enter a residence without an invitation from one of the occupants.
  • Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the mari lwyd has disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws.
  • Undead Nature. A mari lwyd doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.


  • Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage and 10 (3d6) necrotic damage. A humanoid slain by this attack rises 24 hours later as a zombie under the mari lwyd’s control, unless the humanoid is restored to life or its body is destroyed. The mari lwyd can have no more than seven zombies under its control at one time.
  • Pwnco. The mari lwyd sings a magical melody. Every humanoid and giant within 300 feet of the mari lwyd that can hear the song must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed until the song ends. The mari lwyd must take a bonus action on its subsequent turns to continue singing. It can stop singing at any time. The song ends if the mari lwyd is incapacitated. While charmed by the mari lwyd, a target is incapacitated and ignores the songs of other mari lwyd. If the charmed target is more than 5 feet away from the mari lwyd, the target must move on its turn toward the mari lwyd by the most direct route. It doesn’t avoid opportunity attacks, but before moving into damaging terrain, such as lava or a pit, and whenever it takes damage from a source other than the mari lwyd, a target can repeat the saving throw. A creature can also repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If a creature’s saving throw is successful, the effect ends on it. A target that successfully saves is immune to this mari lwyd’s song for the next 24 hours.


You see a horrifying sight: a skeletal horse adorned with colorful ribbons and a white sheet.

The mari lwyd (mah-REE-loyd) is a horse-headed skeleton that roams from house to house on winter holidays, demanding to be let in. Able singers can defeat it with a performance if they wish to keep the thing out, but it’s not that easy.

The mari lwyd custom is typically performed during the winter festivities. The exact date and duration of the custom vary between villages, but it often takes place after dusk and continues late into the night. The mari lwyd visits houses and establishments within the local area, traveling from place to place in a processional manner.

The mari lwyd is associated with wassailing, a practice of singing and offering blessings to ensure a bountiful harvest. The mari lwyd’s party consists of a group of four to seven zombies, dressed in festive attire with ribbons and rosettes. There are various stock characters among them, including a leader carrying a staff or whip, a bard providing music, and other comical figures.

The mari lwyd party approaches a house and engages in a unique form of musical battle called pwnco. They sing a song requesting admittance, while the inhabitants of the house respond with excuses to deny entry. The back-and-forth continues until the householders run out of ideas, at which point they must allow the mari lwyd party to enter. Once inside, the victims are bitten to death and reanimated as zombies who join the mari lwyd on its nightly roaming, which continues until dawn.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

5E RPG: Celtic Bestiary. Copyright 2023, Mal and Tal Enterprises, LLC; Author Michael Tresca.

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