Monster Monday #22: Akhlut
Updated: Mar 4
It is Monday, and you all know what that means! It is time for another Monster Monday post, this time on a creature inspired by the sign Pisces. I've been quite excited to do an underwater creature and set out to find the strangest fish I could, and this is what I came up with - the Akhlut. Commonly described as a strange hybrid between an Orca or Killer Whale and a Wolf, this creature is found in Inuit folklore and conjures up a very strange, slightly terrifying image!
Also known as the Akh'lut or it's considerably longer name, the Kak-whan-u-ghat kig-u-lu'-nik, it is often depicted as a cross between both whale and wolf. Many tales consider it a shapeshifter instead however, easily moving between one form and the other and giving it the ability to traverse on land and through the ocean. Belief in this creature stem from sightings and stories of wolf tracks that lead into the sea. The famous naturalist Edward William Nelson also spoke of similar composite animals in Inuit myth, including a white whale that could transform into a reindeer. The Akhlut is said to be very vicious and will attack those that are too close to the edge of the water, even being willing to chase its prey onto land if it tries to run.
I honestly didn't think I'd find much in modern media involving these creatures as its not very well known, but I was surprised to find a couple of references. My favourite has to be a film by the name of Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf which not only does exactly what it says on the tin, but actually really accurately depicts what a lot of interpretations of the Akhlut look like! The mobile app Disco Zoo also shows a creature that resembles the Inuit legend, calling them 'Orcadogs', 'Walking Orcas' or 'Puppy Whales'. The most famous reference probably comes from the Sonic The Hedgehog comic series in which the villain Dr. Eggman has an Orca general by the name of Akhlut.
So now it's time for some stat blocks!
Unsurprisingly in this case, Wizards Of The Coast really don't offer much to help us, but you might take the two basic beast stat blocks - the Killer Whale (Basic Rules, page 142) and the Wolf (Basic Rules, page 159) -and combine them.
A simple solution for creating the Akhlut was always going to be to create a creature that literally combined these two base Beast stat blocks. If you go down the shapeshifting route then you just need both stat blocks on hand, and at a CR 3 for the Killer Whale and only CR 1/4 for the Wolf, I would probably consider swapping the latter out for a CR 1 Dire Wolf (Basic Rules, page 123) and making this a challenging two-stage encounter for a tier one party! The composite animal gets a little more interesting - that 40 ft. speed combined with a 50 ft. swim speed make this a fast-paced fight. If you plan on having more than one then borrow the Wolf's Pack Tactics for sure, and then grab Echolation too for Blindsight, all while giving it some nasty Bite damage! This combination works for lower level parties, but if you wanted to scale things up and perhaps inject a little more magic and punch into it? Try the CR 3 Winter Wolf (Basic Rules, page 159) paired with the CR 8 Sperm Whale (Icewind Dale: Rime Of The Frostmaiden, page 309).
So next up, let us have a look at Kobold Press because they have some super fun ideas for this kind of mammalian fish composite. First up, the creature itself - the Akhlut (Tome Of Beasts II, page 12).
Having a look at this CR 6 Large Beast stat block, the abilities and attacks found here essentially run along the lines of the above suggestion. Abilities from both the Wolf and the Killer Whale can be found! It does give the creature Multiattack too which I like, with options including that nasty Bite, and a Tail Slam! Beyond that, it also has resistance to Cold damage thanks to its natural cold climate. This brings a group encounter with these into a higher tier of play and has some really cool lore!
Once I got a taste of the crazy mammalian carnivore and fish combinations available however, I couldn't stop! So, from the same book, meet the Aalpamac (Tome Of Beasts II, page 8)!
This CR 7 Huge Monstrosity combines a Trout with a Wolverine, and I really love this creature (and the art)! While it doesn't have four legs and the ability to move fast on land like the original legend, it has an interesting Distance Distortion Aura ability that prevents a player from correctly judging distances between itself and its surroundings. It also has Multiattack, this time with Bite and Claws, and I liked that this has more of a freshwater feel rather than the icy ocean habitat of the Akhlut. There is a lot of cool lore surrounding this stat block and it is an interesting variant on the regional composite creature for sure!
Lastly, I turned to another Kobold Press offering - the Mahoru (Tome Of Beasts, page 281).
Once again, this takes the basic idea of a land and sea predator combination, this time choosing a seal or polar bear for the head and whale for the body. This CR 3 Large Monstrosity takes away some of the power that this creature would have on land, but has some interesting effects in a water-based encounter. Firstly, alongside Pack Tactics, it also has Blood Frenzy meaning that they will almost always be attacking with Advantage. Not only do the Mahoru Bite, but they also Roar with a rather nasty paralysis effect for those that fail the saving throw. By far the scariest thing however is their Vorpal Bite, which has the ability to seriously maim your party beyond the loss of a few HP!
I also found a surprising amount of content online for this creature, including an Akhlut stat block by D&DWiki that gives it the Swallow action to cause some have in a combat encounter. I also liked that u/FungalBrews posed the idea on Reddit of creating a Mount from this creature, as it would be useful in both the water and on land, and u/Dracoe44 created the Whalewolf on Reddit with some really cool lore!
Okay so I've included a few ideas for some stats, now its time to actually have your adventurers meet these creatures!
The party travel to a fishing village and are surprised to hear of a local legendary creature that is terrorising the shores and attacking the fishermen. The inhabitants promise them various debts of gratitude if the creature is defeated.
While fishing, one of these creatures surfaces at the edge of the boat and attempts to seriously injure a player and potentially drag them under the water with it.
The party come across tracks that indicate a pack of wolves ion the area. They lead to a nearby body of water and promptly disappear...
A creature resembling a playful, young Killer Whale surfaces and interacts with the party in an adorable manner. Once it has had it fun, it dives below the surface once more, revealing it's too back legs and tail.
The party are tasked with checking on a hermit living at the water's edge, whom no one has heard from for a number of weeks. They find his house deserted, his belongings as he left them, and no sign of him having left. The pier nearby is stained with spots of dried blood.
I hope you enjoyed this week's creature, I certainly had a blast researching it! Have you ever heard of the Akhlut? Let me know!