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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Waldman

Monster Monday #18: Minotaur

Updated: Mar 4, 2023


My current plan to choose a monster every week that is inspired by the signs of the Zodiac is a lot of fun, and introducing me to some really fun monsters! This week's chosen star-sign was Taurus, and so I decided to go with a rather obvious choice - the Minotaur! While it might not be the most obscure choice, this happens to be one of my favourite beings of Greek myth and so I couldn't resist! Known for being part-man and part-bull, this monstrous creature is famed for the labyrinthian home in which it hunts and stalks its victims, and its eventual demise at the hands of the hero Theseus.


As with most things in Greek myth, the Minotaur came about because King Minos of Crete upset one of the gods - in this case Poseidon. As punishment, Minos's wife was charmed to fall in love with a bull and thus, the Minotaur was born. King Minos ordered Daedalus the architect to construct a great labyrinth for the creature to dwell within and began sending in human sacrifices for the creature to eat. Theseus volunteered to enter the Labyrinth and, receiving a fair bit of help from the quick-witted Ariadne, outsmarted and killed the beast. Many historians have associated the Minotaur as a representation of the Canaanite god Baal-Moloch, also often depicted with a bull's head and human body, and Theseus slaying the beast representing the Athenians breaking away from Minoan Crete. Others point towards the Cretan sun god being a bull also, and his association with Asterius, a figure associated with the stars is also noteworthy.


Minotaurs are very popular in modern media and pop culture, as they are a very well-known mythical beast. It plays a part in Dante's Inferno, as one of the guardians of Dis found within the zone dedicated entirely to violence. Prominent TV shows and films that have seen appearances include an episode of Doctor Who, a horrifying variation in American Horror Story: Coven, various recreations of the myth itself, and in the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as the violent General of the White Witch's army. It is also referenced in a variety of video games - Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, Age Of Mythology, Warcraft, Fate/Grand Order, and Hades being just a few.

 

So now it's time for some stat blocks, and there'll be a lot of recognisable ones here I'm sure!


Let's start with Wizards Of The Coast. The VERY obvious choice seems like the best starting point - the Minotaur (Basic Rules, page 145).


In the world of DnD, these creatures are pretty well established. They are, after all, a playable race and are treated as commonplace creatures rather than the unique, legendary monster found within the Greek myth. So it's of no surprise that they are a Large CR 3 Monstrosity in this stat block, to make them feel strong but relatively accessible. That being said, for a low level party, this could still be a terrifying encounter. Especially if you make use of it's innate Labyrinthine Recall ability that will give it an advantage over any party exploring a maze-like environment. Don't underestimate how challenging something like this could be if used effectively and creatively. If you want to have a little bit of extra fun flavour, why not try the CR 2 Minotaur Skeleton (Basic Rules, page 346)?


So does Wizards Of The Coast have anything a little more high stakes to play around with? Absolutely, thanks to some fun lore! Meet the Goristro (Monster Manual, page 59).


This Huge CR 19 Fiend is QUITE the step up and they are described within the lore as being a much more monstrous, demonic version of the Minotaur stat block and I love that they take things to a much higher level of play. This one certainly feels like a creature that could be THE Minotaur of myth - a savage, violent, terrifying beast. The same Labyrinthine Recall ability still exists here, as do some staples such as Charge and Gore. Despite it's high CR, the stat block itself is actually pretty simple? A great stat block that can be easily adjusted to bring down the CR if needed. Another cool stat block at the same CR comes in the form of Bael (Mordenkainen's Tome Of Foes, page 170) who is also a Fiend though is this time a Devil rather than a demon. The lore doesn't necessarily tie in with his Minotaur-like looks, though it is certainly not a stat block to be taken lightly! I definitely see this one as a reference to Baal-Moloch and if you want to terrify your players with a high-level open field encounter then this might be the route to go down.


If you want too really take things further though, why not drop in the Horned King of the Minotaurs himself, Baphomet (Out Of The Abyss, page 234).


With this CR 21 Huge Fiend, you'll be shocked at what a couple of extra CR levels can do! There are some great Innate Spellcasting choices to make a labyrinthian encounter even cooler, Frightful Presence makes a LOT of sense for this terrifying beast, and the inclusion of Legendary actions and resistances, as well as lair effects, makes this one encounter you aren't likely to forget. Being stalked by this horrifying Demon is definitely going to give your party a huge challenge too, even if its one that they need to avoid at all costs instead of facing head on.


So now let us have a little look at Kobold Press, who have offered up some small, adjusted examples of Minotaurs, the Labyrinth Keeper and the Moon Priestess (Creature Codex, page 267).


The Labyrinth Keeper is a Large CR 5 Monstrosity and has a few extra perks beyond what is found in the base Minotaur stat block. If you want a creature that is more than just brute force and makes use of some Reckless Spellcasting then look no further! If you want to take it even further, why not try the Large CR 7 Monstrosity Moon Priestess that has some more varied, cleric-themed spells to choose from! While neither of these really make me think of the original mythology beyond see of the references to bull gods, they are very unique and provide a fun way of challenging your players at lower tier play. I also stumbled across the Minotaur, Lost (Creature Codex, page 268) that is yet another Undead variation on the creature, this time at CR 8. I loved the lore and brutality of it, and it reminded me a lot of a scaled down Baphomet.


For some other suggestions on improving Wizard Of The Coast's Minotaur stat block, why not try out Dragonix's Monster Manual Expanded for the CR 6 Minotaur Shaman and CR 4 Minotaur Warrior stat blocks? The Minotaur Shaman once again introduces some spellcasting, while the Minotaur Warrior gives it a much higher AC and some other fighting perks. The Legendary Bestiary also has some great shouts for both the Minotaur (page 29) and the Minotaur Skeleton (page 20) in terms of alternative or extra actions. Alternatively, try out the CR 7 Gorebull (page 46) and the CR 15 Chosen Of Baphomet (page 47) from the Book Of Beautiful Horrors by Nathan Haslé for a few extra abilities such as Banquet Of Flesh, Bloodgreed, and Primal Fury.

 

Time for some plot hooks! How will we put these creatures in our game?

  1. The players are framed and arrested by the city's ruler and bought before him. They have heard of his pet and know the fate that awaits them if they don't convince him of their innocence.

  2. While exploring an underground cave system full of twists and turns, they begin to realise that they are travelling past the same locations repeatedly. They are lost within a labyrinth! What's more, they could have sworn they heard something following them...

  3. The party visit a seemingly deserted island and find many strange statues and monuments throughout of a bull-headed man. They eventually stumble upon a community of people who are all in deep worship.

  4. A high-level wizard or mage casts Maze on the party to test their worth, and they are transported to a labyrinthian demi-plane that they must escape. They are warned to be wary of its long-dead inhabitants.

  5. The party come across a community of peaceful Minotaurs, hiding from the rest of the world because their kind are associated heavily with violence and bloodlust.

 

I hope you liked reading about the Minotaur! Did you learn anything new? Have any ever showed up in your game? Let me know!

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