Monster Manual A-Z is a series of quick looks at each and every monster presented in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. New monsters go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in alphabetical order, touching on lore, mechanics, and ways to use them in your campaign. To search for all Monster Manual A-Z articles, search MMAZ in the search bar as we’ve excluded them from our Roleplaying Games tag to keep things tidy.
You know what I’d want to see even less than a sword swung in my direction? A flying sword swinging itself! Animated Objects are great fun to catch unsuspecting adventurers off guard and present unique challenges in combat situations depending on what object is animated. Regardless of whether it’s a suit of armor, a flying sword, or a rug that wants to strangle you, innate magic fuels these monsters and runs out only when they have been battered enough to no longer function correctly. Need an emotionless guardian to ask a riddle or demand a password? Animated Armor is for you! How about a way to get rid of those pesky door to door salesmen? Enchant your own Rug of Smothering! And what better way to ward off burglars than a sword that attacks them when they break into your wizard tower?
Intimidating though they may be, Animated Objects are not the strongest of monsters. They’re traps and front door guardians, meant to hinder and dissuade adventurers, not necessarily eviscerate them. On the positives side, each version has a false appearance, making them indistinguishable from non-magical version even to the keenest eye. They do stop functioning within antimagic fields however, though if your party has the ability to make an antimagic field at will then these objects should already be no problem for them. Beyond these shared traits though, each one serves its purpose well. The Flying Sword has a high flying speed, able to catch up to any fleeing adventurer and take a swing. Of course, it comes with a decent AC but lower hit points, making it not too hard to vanquish. The Animated Armor acts well as a guardian with a high AC and relatively high amount of hit points. The fact it makes two attacks, though low in damage, should also be a good deterrent to any would-be thieves. And lastly, the Rug of Smothering does just that- it smothers! While it has a low AC and high hit points, it also smothers targets, grappling and restraining them and causing constant damage until they escape. Additionally, whenever the Rug takes damage while smothering someone, the target being smothered instead takes half of the damage, meaning it’s not a great idea to stab it while your wizard is suffocating inside.
There are some good ways you can use Animated Objects, especially if you open your mind to using them as traps and puzzle pieces rather than just plain old monsters. As stated, Animated Armor could recite a riddle, warning, or ask for a password in order to allow entrance. Some may even hold conversations, meaning that persuasion could come into effect when dealing with one. In any event, giving your adventurers a moment to interact with the Armor before becoming hostile opens up new ways of thinking for them, even allowing them to bypass combat! The Flying Sword on the other hand, is made to slice and dice. I would leave these in inconspicuous places and make your players nervous. Sword hanging on the wall? Have it fly at them. Rusty old sword in a skeletons grasp? Have it fly at them! Sword that is a part of a suit of armor that is also Animated Armor? Have the armor throw it towards the wizard in the back and slash away! While less versatile than the Armor, a Flying Sword can be just as fun- especially when you start using the stat block for axes, daggers, maces, and more. Just be sure to easily swap out the damage amount and type! And lastly, what better way to welcome unwanted guests than to have the welcome mat come alive and smother them? Or heck, why not a Tapestry of Smothering? Why not have a sleazy merchant with a “carpet of flying” sell the group the rug, only to be surprised when they find themselves inside rather than on top of it? At the end of the day, if you throw these Animated Objects at your players enough, they’ll stop trusting the ground the walk on, let alone the chair at the tavern or even their own sword.
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