Look, I don’t know about you guys, but when I first heard of Dungeons and Dragons (specifically gnomes) I definitely pictured the garden variety. Although today’s monster definitely looks the part, I reckon you this is not the kind of creature you want to keep out on your lawn. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at…
Let’s get started with some numbers, shall we? Redcaps have a single negative stat, it being a -1 CHA, followed by a +0 INT and matching DEX and WIS of +1. The Redcap’s highest stat is their +4 STR, which seems all the more scary when you consider that they’re a size small.
These chaotic fey have an AC of 13 and a hit point pool of 6d6+24. Unfortunately for them, their small size does mean that they have a restricted movement speed of only 25ft.
Redcaps get proficiency in Athletics (+6) and Perception (+3). They possess Darkvision to a range of up to 60ft and have a Passive Perception of 13. In terms of languages, today’s monster is able to communicate both in Common and in Sylvan.
Other than, well, their red cap, Redcaps can often be identified by the very peculiar sound of their metal boots against, well, pretty much anything. Which is why Redcaps have disadvantage on any stealth checks done while they’re moving. That said, their superb strength makes it so that they excel at any grapple despite their size; today’s monster counts as medium-sized for the purpose of grappling and has no disadvantage when using heavy weapons.
Now, okay, I’ve seen some ridiculous features and attack before, but can we talk about the Redcap’s Ironbound Pursue? They literally run up to an enemy and kick them in the shin so hard that their target goes prone on a failed DEX save. Also nuts? The fact that these small fey get a three attack multiattack with their sickles.
While we’ve discussed quite a few myth inspired monsters, I believe this is the first time we’re covering one that comes from English mythology. The mythological counterpart of our monster is described pretty similarly to our book version; wrinkly old men with buck teeth, sharp claws, and the classic red hat. These beings are said to inhabit abandoned castle where they prey upon any unsuspecting travelers by dropping large rocks on them, after which the Redcap will soak its hat in its victim’s blood.
These creatures were introduced to Dungeons and Dragons all the way back in 3rd edition (3rd Monster Manual, specifically) and have since remained mostly the same minus a couple of changes (slingshot attacks were a thing, for example).
In terms of origin, today’s monsters comes from the Feywild or, well, the areas of the Feywild that border with the material plane, at least. More specifically though, places in which blood has been spilled in murderous rage. Once the land has been bloodied in this fashion, it is likely that crimson mushrooms will grow from it only to later sprout into a Redcap.
If there’s one thing you should know about these creatures before including them in your campaign it’s probably how truly evil and homicidal they are. In fact, unlike many monsters in the Dungeons and Dragons’ repertoire, it’s unlikely that they will stop attacking their target just because it has gone unconscious, which makes them all the more dangerous for our adventurers. To their benefit, this blood-lust is somewhat rooted in need, as Redcaps actually require their hats to be soaked in blood at least once every three days lest they cease to exist.
Although they are able to form communities of their own (other Feywild beings completely despise them) they often argue and fight constantly when doing so. The only way to keep a resemblance of peace is for Redcap elders to take over. These are older Recaps have grown wiser and more powerful thanks to their innate ability to absorb some element of their victims via blood. It’s also not completely unheard of for Hags and other despised fey beings to employ Redcaps in exchange for providing them with victims.
Another very interesting bit about these creatures is that some of them might actually be able to tell who it was that committed the heinous act that brought them into existence, often seeking out these individuals in an attempt to turn them into their next victims.
Is it bad that my first idea for an encounter against this monster was to have them be a punishment for murder hobo players? Look, all I’m saying is, that random NPC the rogue murdered outside of town over a new Thieves’ Tool set? That could be a small gaggle (heh) of Redcaps waiting to happen. All you have to do is give them the ability to know it was the Rogue and BAM! You got yourself a cool encounter that will, hopefully at least, teach a lesson to any murder hobo.
No, okay, but seriously, even if you don’t sick them on your players in this way, I think it’s important to think about some of the places where the party could encounter these cheesy lawn decorations. Technically speaking we could be looking at a wide range of places too; from fresh battle fields to raided towns.
For this article I think I would like to focus on the latter; it could be pretty simple to set it up as a recently raided town that is now basically covered in these crimson mushroom growths. It could be that the party simply stumbles upon the site on a full moon, just as the Redcaps are about to rise, or that they’re sent in from a neighboring town that has recently had some trouble with these beings.
Another way you could go about it in a more ‘fetch’ sort of quest would be to have good aligned Fey require our adventurers to prove their good intentions by getting rid of a few of these and bring back proof in the form of teeth.
I don’t know about you guys but I’m definitely looking forward to pitting my players against some of these guys. If you want to discover other cool monsters to throw at your party do make sure to follow us on our social media so you can know when we have new articles out. We post new content every day of the week!