Swarm of Penguins

Huge swarm of Medium Beasts, unaligned

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 114 (12d12 + 36)
Speed 20 ft., swim 40 ft.

15 (+2) 10 (+0) 16 (+3) 4 (–3) 14 (+2) 12 (+1)

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, cold, piercing, slashing
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, prone, restrained, stunned
Senses passive Perception 12
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Proficiency Bonus +3


  • Swarm. The swarm can occupy another creature’s space and vice-versa, and the swarm can move through any opening large enough for a Medium penguin. The swarm can’t regain hp or gain temporary hp.
  • Tobogganing Tide. The swarm can move at double its walking speed over ice and snow.


  • Beaks. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 0 ft., one creature in the swarm’s space. Hit: 21 (6d6) piercing damage, or 10 (3d6) if the swarm has half its hp or fewer.
  • Toboggan Charge (Recharge 5–6). The swarm moves up to 20 feet in a straight line over ice or snow and can move through the space of any Large or smaller creature. The first time it enters a creature’s space during this move, that creature must make a DC 14 Strength saving throw. On a failure, a creature takes 10 (3d6) bludgeoning damage and 10 (3d6) piercing damage and is forced prone. On a success, a creature takes half the damage and isn’t forced prone.


The massive penguin with black, gold, and white feathers tilts back its head and swallows a slain walrus. The imperator ressembles a standard emperor penguin, though built on a massive scale. It is not only bigger, but also much more intelligent and much more aggressive than its smaller kin. Thankfully, imperators are quite rare. Inhabiting desolate, ice-bound coastal regions, these massive, migratory birds travel hundreds of miles between feeding grounds and attack small boats, whales, and even the livestock of coastal villages while traveling.

Psychic Rapport. Imperators possess an intellect that surpasses the average animal. While their intelligence doesn’t rival most humanoids, they have both a deep cunning and a measure of psychic ability. Imperators can communicate with local penguin populations and even control the penguins’ behavior. In some instances, they forge local populations into a single vast colony, which they use as a personal army to attack and drive off predators and other interlopers. In times of extreme need, they devour smaller penguins as an emergency food source.

Disastrous Omen. Some coastal humanoids treat an imperator as a minor god or nature spirit, considering its appearance an omen and offering sacrifices in hopes of good fortune. However, most humanoids dread any sign of them, because their ravenous appetites can spell disaster for other creatures. A single imperator can devastate local populations of seals, walrus, and fish in a few weeks before moving on.

Imperators with colonies of penguins following them can leave famine in their wake, because the sea is cleared of most fish stocks.

Heroic Prey. Where imperators reside, there is often no greater measure of a hunter or hero than to slay such a beast. Given the havoc they can wreak on food supplies, anyone who can claim to have slain an imperator is looked on most favorably by those who have suffered their visitations before.

Loyal Legions. Colonies of emperor penguins sometimes fall under the sway of the imperator. Penguins that remain under the influence of an imperator for more than one season change, both physically and in temperament. They become larger, smarter, and more aggressive. From a distance, they look like normal, if overlarge, penguins, and their rookeries are strangely orderly, with nests equally spaced in neat rows. However, they attack in force and with surprising ferocity against trespassers, and doubly so when led by their imperator leader. When compelled by an imperator, a swarm of penguins fights without fear and to the death.

Apex Predators of Ice and Sea. A swarm of penguins, like its imperator leader, will not abide any competitors for its sources of food. The swarm attacks any perceived threats, even creatures for which penguins are normally prey, such as seals, sharks, and even whales. On land, the swarm approaches in military-like ranks, emitting low growls. When the penguins close on opponents, they fall on their bellies and slide forward in an onrushing wave of squawking, crushing bodies.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Tome of Beasts 3 © 2022 Open Design LLC; Authors: Eytan Bernstein, Celeste Conowitch, Benjamin L. Eastman, Robert Fairbanks, Scott Gable, Basheer Ghouse, Richard Green, Jeremy Hochhalter, Jeff Lee, Christopher Lockey, Sarah Madsen, Ben Mcfarland, Jonathan Miley, Kelly Pawlik, Sebastian Rombach, Chelsea Steverson, Brian Suskind, Mike Welham

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