Monster Monday #32: Kongamato
Updated: Mar 4
Hello everyone! I found thinking up a monster for today's Monster Monday a little difficult, but then I stumbled upon this gem from African folklore - the Kongamato. In essence, this creature is a cryptid of legend that resembles almost perfectly a Pterosaur and it reminded me of the documentary series that I recently enjoyed about dinosaurs. They have allegedly been spotted mostly in semitropical regions of Africa, particularly swamps within Angola, the Congo, and Zambia. Accounts of them vary in terms of size (ranging from a wingspan of 4 to 100 feet), but they all share surprising similarities.
Also known as the 'breaker of boats', they are said too overturn or capsize canoes of the natives that have claimed to see them. They gained attention outside of these tribes thanks to Frank Welland, an explorer who wrote about them on his travels. He mentioned that locals immediately identified the creatures when shown pictures of Pterosaurs, but could not identify other dinosaur illustrations. They were described as being reddish in colour, with leathery wings devoid of feathers. Natives to the area do not consider them to be 'supernatural', more of a natural predator to the area. They resemble the Ropen, a pterosaur-like or giant bat-like creature said to be a demonic resident of New Guinea. Many have also drawn comparisons to Dragons as a whole thanks to their reptilian attributes.
The Kongamato specifically can be purchased as a mount in Final Fantasy XIV in modern media. The Pterosaur as a whole though is a much more popular figure to find. Obvious choices are films focusing on dinosaurs - the Ice Age series, Land Before Time, Rodan, the Jurassic Park series, and Dinosaur. The TV series Primeval also had some great dinosaur cameos! These creatures also often appear within video games - Ark: Survival Evolved does a great job of showing these creatures, Cliff Racers found in Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Aerodactyl found within the Pokémon universe.
So let's talk stat blocks. My first choices are, as always, from Wizards Of The Coast and will probably feel a little obvious...
First, let's have a look at the Quetzalcoatlus (Monsters Of The Multiverse, page 86).
These creatures in my mind are the closest to what I imagine from the Kongamato. The leathery wings (with a wingspan of 30 ft. approximately), the sharp beak, and that 'dinosaur' vibe. This CR 2 Huge Beast is lethal to lower level parties, especially when attacking in packs. Not only that but they can walk on land in a rather creepy manner, have both Flyby and a charged Slam attack, and an 80 ft. Flying speed (making them INCREDIBLY fast). I love this stat block a lot and think its a real contender for the top spot! I also loved the Pteranodon, a Medium CR 1/4 alternative that could serve as younger or smaller versions of these creatures.
Next up - perhaps you want a slightly different take? One more...bipedal/ humanoid? Well look no further than the Pterafolk (Tomb Of Annihilation, page 229).
I loved this one because it felt a little more like folklore - a secretive, sentient species that inhabit the jungles and tend to have a territorial malicious streak? Perfect! They are a CR 1 Large Monstrosity, and I adored their Terror Drive ability. It really sets them apart! They also have Multiattack, which is incredibly useful for a speedy flying predator! I even found a way to have them included as a playable race here at D&D Wiki!
Perhaps you want a bit more power behind your reptilian, flying terror? Look no further than the Wyvern (Basic Rules, page 160)!
This one looks a little more draconic, but I actually love this as an option. It is a Large CR6 Dragon that also has Multiattack and can also make use of a highly venomous Stinger. This is a great creature to include in your adventure, a good way of having your party encounter a wilder, less powerful dragon, while incorporating some of the lore of the Kongamato! While finding other interesting variants, I also had a good look at the stats of a Stirge (Basic Rules, page 153). It is much smaller (a Tiny CR 1/8 Beast) and places a lot of emphasis on Mosquito-like behaviours! I do like the horror behind this choice however, and the creature type really helps with interpreting the real-world lore!
So we have some excellent stat blocks to choose from, now its time to look at plot hooks:
The party head out to some swamps. The locals warn them of the predators that live there, but the party venture forth, undeterred. They are then attacked by a group of Kongamato.
A jungle or swamp themed deity/ powerful figure takes a special interest in a party member. They gift them an egg which, when hatched, is in fact a baby Kongamato.
Some villagers tell the party about the dangers found in the nearby swamp, and one of these is the nesting ground of the Kongamato.
While shopping, the party stumble upon figurines of these creatures absolutely everywhere. They may ask about what they are and every NPC will spin a different, wild tale of various family members or friends having encountered them.
The party need to reach a particular ruin deep in the jungle. Their only hope of being able to get near is to visit and convince a famed Kongamato wrangler to lend some of his best steeds to them to fly upon.
I hope you enjoyed this slightly quirkier choice this week! Have you ever used dinosaurs in your campaign or adventure? Had you head of the Kongamato? Let me know!