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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Waldman

Monster Monday #8: Yeti

Updated: Mar 4, 2023


It's Monday night which can only mean one thing - it's time for another Monster Monday post! What better way to fight a lack of sleep than to write about terrifying monsters just before I go to bed? Right? Seeing as we're in December now, I thought I'd take a look at a creature famed for living in the snow - the Yeti. Commonly referred to as the Abominable Snowman, this creature is a key figure in Tibetan folklore as it reportedly inhabits the Himalayan mountain range. It's famously a big white-haired (though sometimes it is reportedly black or brown) ape-like creature, resembling a very furry bipedal gorilla though often pictured with horns and sharp teeth also. Unlike many of the creatures I focus upon, this one is very relevant in modern day stories and urban legends. Many people since the 19th century have claimed to have seen or found evidence of the Yeti, though much of it has proven to be a hoax and often scientists attributed these sightings to actually be beasts that are native to the mountains such as bears or yaks.


Also known to the locals as Mirka (meaning 'Wild Man') or Michê (meaning 'Man-Bear'), it is said to have derived from a figure worshipped by the Lepcha people found throughout the area known as a Glacier Being, a god of the hunt. While the Yeti might be exclusive to the Himalayan mountains, it is certainly not the only commonly talked about bipedal ape. The Sasquatch or Bigfoot is a prominent subject of American and Canadian folklore and is said to be found in the forests of North America. In Southern America, you might hear tales of the foul smelling, reddish-brown furred Skunk Ape or the Brazilian Mapinguari which is said to closely resemble a giant Ground Sloth. Australia also has its own version, known as the Yowie which reportedly lives in the Outback and has it's roots in Aboriginal history. Even Europe can't escape these creatures with the Chuchana or Menk of Russian folklore, or the Am Fear Liath Mòr, also known as the Big Grey Man of Scotland which is said to be the result of a 'Brocken Spectre' optical illusion.


Seeing as Yetis are claimed to have been sighted even now, it is not very surprising that they appear in a LOT of places in modern pop culture. For example, the very recent film Smallfoot focuses it's story on a tribe of Yetis, Rise Of The Guardians shows Nicholas St. North as hiring them in his workshop, and the beloved Pixar classic Monsters Inc sees a cameo of the Abominable Snowman. Fans of the Star Wars series will probably not be surprised that the ferocious 'Wampas' of Hoth are in fact based on the Yeti. Many popular video games include side quests or Easter eggs that indicate or investigate the existence of a bipedal ape-like creature such as the Yeti or Bigfoot - examples include Assassin's Creed III, Far Cry IV or Grand Theft Auto V. It appears pretty regularly as a Scooby Doo villain (both the 'real' and costumed villain version) and it is pretty fair to say that the Yeti is somewhat of a pop culture icon.

 

So we've learnt about the creature - how about including it in the game?


Luckily, it is such a popular creature that Wizards Of The Coast already have a few different options so we shall start with the classic Yeti (Basic Rules, page 160).


At a CR 3 this could be quite a challenge for a low level party and seeing as they are pretty intelligent hunters and usually found in herds, it would not be unusual to find a multitude at once. I'm glad to see a Monstrosity creature type, I think it makes the most sense for a creature like this. The Snowy Camouflage is a bit of a given, but the Chilling Gaze ability is what really makes this creature something a little more than just a large, two-legged ape and makes them feel more dangerous. Their Fear Of Fire also makes a lot of sense and gives the players something to work with. Alongside this version, you can also find a baby Yeti Tyke (Icewind Dale: Rime Of The Frostmaiden, page 313) at a CR 1/8 which allows an encounter with a family group, or a more dangerous CR 9 Abominable Yeti (Monster Manual, page 306) which adds a Cold Breath, increases the size from Large to Huge and makes them lone hunters as opposed to living in tribes.


My next choice is also from Wizards Of The Coast - a Girallon (Volo's Guide To Monsters, page 152).


Now I've clearly chosen this CR 4 because it is another bipedal ape, but it has a few differences that make it an interesting choice. First of all, the cosmetic changes of two additional arms and it's preferred Forest environment mean that it's a way of inserting a Bigfoot or Yeti like creature into your game when your players might not be expecting to meet one, and it serves as a more generic encounter rather than one specifically for the cold. Those extra arms also means it can attack FIVE TIMES in one turn AND it has a Bonus Action that essentially allows it to Dash quickly towards enemies, making it pretty formidable, especially for low to mid-tier play. I really like this stat block - it's interesting, and you can do a lot with the lore. Also, if you wanted an Undead version, then feel free to check out the CR 3 Girallon Zombie (Tomb Of Annihilation, page 222).


So what about further afield? It wouldn't be an article of mine without a Kobold Press addition or two would it? Let's start with the Sasquatch (Tome Of Beasts 2, page 314).


Once again, this creature is lacking in the cold-specific department but could very easily be adapted to a Mountain or Arctic environment. It's a CR 5, and from this you can see the sort of challenge rating that we are sitting at when it comes to these types of monsters. This stat block takes advantage of the creature's famed elusiveness and uses it's Vanishing Tantrum ability to make a quick getaway if it has to, and I love that it has been given Reckless and Relentless in order to make it hit harder, but harder to kill. This is honestly a great stat block if you are looking for something a little different!


I also really enjoyed the Sloth, Giant (Creature Codex, page 345) as an option too.


It reminded me a lot of the Mapinguari and the Skunk Ape and really gives the feeling of a Yeti but with a bit of a different look. It is the toughest so far too at a CR 7, and is classed as a Beast instead of a Monstrosity! First off, it has a Foul Odour ability, and once per day it can use Hunter's Dash which allows it to double it's speed and gain advantage on all attacks for 1 round! I also liked it's Sloth's Embrace attack action too, it gives it something a little different to do than Multiattack each turn! Overall, this is a really solid choice for a bipedal ape-like being that you want to use to evoke the sense of a Yeti.


As for other options - I really enjoyed reading through Dragonix's Monster Manual Expanded and stumbling upon a couple of extra Yeti variants (both on page 293). The CR 5 Yeti Shaman gives the Yeti access to some spellcasting and I found this concept pretty fascinating, especially if you are building them into your game as a sentient, intelligent race rather than just a 'monster'. The CR 4 Yeti Snowstalker is the standard Yeti stat block but with some ranger-esque additions - they are stealthier, do well in difficult terrain, and do extra damage to their foes.

 

Now that we've got some stat blocks in play, how about some reasons to have your party encounter these creatures? Here are some plot hooks!

  1. The party are travelling up a mountain pass when they hear a ferocious howl up ahead, and shortly after another in response for behind them. It seems that they are trapped between whatever is making those noises!

  2. A mountain village hire the party to kill a group of Yetis that they fear will come and attack their settlement. Upon arriving however, the Yetis are actually peaceful creatures who are happy to continue hunting the local fauna in exchange for the humans leaving them alone. Can the party broker a peace between two groups that clearly trust each other so little?

  3. While exploring what appears to be an abandoned cave, the party stumble across a family of Yetis, including children. Their mother responds to the party's presence in a hostile manner, fearing for the safety of her children.

  4. Local wildlife has been turning up dead and the nearby town are not sure what is causing this. There have been reports of a large ape-like creature roaming the area, and even some prints found but hunters so far have been unsuccessful in catching the beast.

  5. As the party journey through the tundra, they find it very difficult to spot the hulking, massive figure watching them through the blizzard that is setting in. It follows them for some time, watching them tire out and succumb to the cold conditions before striking.

 

I hope you enjoyed this week's Monster Monday post, so sorry that this one is a little down to the wire! What are your favourite Yeti or Sasquatch stories or sightings? Have you ever included one in your game? Let me know!

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2 Comments


Daniel Riquelme
Daniel Riquelme
Dec 14, 2021

I have never included the Yeti in my games, probably because I have only seen references of it in media that does not take it seriously (Scooby-Doo and GTA V is where I have seen referenced it).


I am thinking how I would run the Yeti in my games and the only thing that it comes to my mind is Disneyland’s and Disney World’s rides. I think these rides made an excellent job to set a scary tone in the mountains and that the Yeti is watching, waiting for the right time to attack.


Wonderful article, Kat. Please, keep them coming!

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Katrina Waldman
Katrina Waldman
Dec 16, 2021
Replying to

It's interesting, you're so right! So often the places that the Yeti or the Sasquatch appear in media are often not seriously scary and are there for comedy for to be unmasked as a hoax like in Scooby Doo. I think this might be because these tales are so prevalent in modern day culture and proven to be hoaxes or explained away by scientists that sightings are associated with conspiracy theorists or fraudsters.


I think what makes this being so interesting however is that stories that share a lot of similarities (i.e. a bipedal, strong and intelligent ape that inhabits a region, is elusive and mysterious and hides away from humanity, and exhibits some strange behaviours sometimes) are found all…


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