Shapchangers run the gamut, and usually, they tend toward the humanoid-that-changes-into-something-else category.
Jackal Wires are different. They are jackals that can change into a humanoid. That’s why the “-were” in their name is a suffix instead of a prefix. A “werejackle” would be a person who changes into a jackal. Obviously.
Jackleweres do not have lycanthropy, and they can not create other jacklewares. So what are they, exactly, if not lycanthropes? What do they want? Where do they come from? What do I do if I find one?
This post is all about answering those questions and more. We will begin with advice for players and then move on to addressing the DMs out there and give you some pointers on how to feature these super-dope monsters in your adventure or campaign.
What Is a Jackalwere in DnD 5e?
A Jacklewere is a Chaotic Evil, CR ½ shapechanger that can go from humanoid to jackal to hybrid.
Medium Humanoid (Shapechanger), Chaotic Evil
- Armor Class: 12
- Hit Points: 18 (4d8)
- Speed: 40 ft.
- STR 11 (+0), DEX 15 (+2), CON 11 (+0), INT 13 (+1) WIS 11 (+0), CHA 10 (+0)
- Skills: Deception +4, Perception +2, Stealth +4
- Damage Immunities: Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren’t Silvered
- Senses: Passive Perception 12
- Languages: Common (can’t speak in jackal form)
- Challenge: 1/2 (100 XP)
- Proficiency Bonus: +2
Shapechanger. The jackalwere can use its action to polymorph into a specific Medium human, a jackal-humanoid hybrid, or back into its true form (that of a Small jackal). Other than its size, its statistics are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
Keen Hearing and Smell. The jackalwere has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Pack Tactics. The jackalwere has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the jackalwere’s allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated.
Bite (Jackal or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.
Scimitar (Human or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) slashing damage.
Sleep Gaze. The jackalwere gazes at one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the target succumbs to a magical slumber, falling unconscious for 10 minutes or until someone uses an action to shake the target awake. A creature that successfully saves against the effect is immune to this jackalwere’s gaze for the next 24 hours. Undead and creatures immune to being charmed aren’t affected by it.
According to 5e lore, the jackalwere was created by the demon lord Graz’zt to serve as minions for his minions. Like a lesser minion situation. Grandchild-minion. Mini-me the Third. You get the idea.
They generally run around using mob tactics and their sleep gaze ability to capture unsuspecting humanoids and drag them back to their overlords for various nefarious purposes.
The Monster Manual also describes them as liars and cowards. Ever dissembling, jackalweres are Chaotic Evil predators from the abyss created for the purpose of being expendable field agents. Of course, they will lie, cheat, and run away if they need to.
They have keen hearing and smell, and they rely on pack tactics, so they will almost always attack when the numbers are on their side.
A Player’s Guide to Jackalweres
Now we will move on to the player’s guide.
Probably right now, you are sitting at a table waiting for the wizard to decide what spell she’s going to cast, or maybe you’re waiting for the bard to stop trying to sleep with someone.
So, you took the time to Google some info on Jackleweres and ended up here in the loving embrace of Black Citadel RPG.
Glad to have you. Keep reading, and hopefully, by the time your turn comes around, you’ll have a plan to impress your party.
Where, When, and Why Will You Encounter Jackleweres?
If you have encountered Jackleweres, you are most likely outnumbered and in a tactical mess. They got the drop on you. They are peppering you with ranged attacks from a fortified position and waiting for you to get close enough to mob.
The Monster Manual says these are grassland and desert-dwelling creatures, though they may also be in the underdark or the abyss.
For some reason, you have attracted their attention, and either they want something you have or they have decided that you or one or more of your party members are the prize.
Most likely, they will attack you when you are unprepared and at a spatial disadvantage. If you want to avoid combat with jackalweres, simply never be taken by surprise and always have high ground.
If they do attack you anyway, there is a reason for it beyond senseless violence. Try to figure out what that reason is if you can. It may turn the tide of the combat and get everyone out safely.
Jackleweres realize the value in avoiding a fight. More than likely, they will try to engage you socially while in a humanoid form. Beware their sleep gaze while in this situation.
Once the dice start rolling and everyone is trying to put the stabby things in everyone else’s squishy bits, they will definitely approach each individual combatant in groups of 2s and 3s in order to take advantage of their pack tactics. Expect them to run away if they can in order to jump you again later.
How To Fight Jackalweres
If you are in this unfortunate situation, you can counter their sleep gaze any number of ways, like by being an elf. You can’t always count on that, though.
When the fight starts, however, use Area of Effect spells like fireball, multiple target spells like scorching ray, or poison spray to convince them to spread out a bit. If you can get them alone, you can negate their biggest bonus and put them on the run.
Fog Cloud will not be very effective since they have a keen smell, but a good faerie fire never hurt anyone. Of course, there are always great alchemical items like alchemist fire and blasting powder that will make any situation better or worse depending on your position.
If you can find out what the Jackleweres are after, you may be able to end combat early by offering it to them or by making it too costly for them to pursue it. They are smart enough to negotiate.
A DM’s Guide to Jackalweres
Alright, put the kids to bed. Let’s talk Dm to Dm.
The Monster Manual says Jackaleweres can be found in grasslands and deserts because, uh… that’s where jackals live? Maybe?
Come on. These things were supposedly created by a demon lord in order to serve other major demons. They could be in the abyss, which is similar to the underdark, which would make use of their keen hearing and smell.
They could also be in a city acting in the criminal underworld. They could be summoned up by some evil or otherwise incompetent magician. They could even be pirates.
The point is that what you’ve got here is a creature that can turn into a humanoid and comes from a hell dimension, and when they feel like it, they can turn into a jackal-headed monster. They could be anywhere!
Let’s change things up, though. Instead of making them creations of a demon lord, let’s take their shape-changing and beast-like qualities and put them with the fey. They could act as border guards to the feywild or even predators from the shadowfell out for a hunt. They would fit nicely in Ravenloft as predators or servants of Strahd and Baba Lsaga.
Ignoring what the Monster Manual says, just take the fact that they are shapeshifters who start out as Beasts. That could place them anywhere.
Let us assume that Jackalewares maintain their monstrous disposition and evil alignment in your world, but let’s separate them from Graz’zt for a moment. In what other circumstances could you use Jackalweres? What other creatures could they associate with?
The criminal underground of a heavily urban environment is fertile soil for these monsters. They could be leaders of small-time gangs or bruisers for more powerful crime bosses. As such, they could associate with any type of humanoid, and it would be particularly fun to pair them up with wererats in a sewer-dwelling group of monstrous thugs.
In the wild, they could act as border guards for underground aberrations, protecting the entrances to a mind flayer nest and occasionally kidnapping travelers to give to their slimy neighbors. Alternatively, they could want to take the PCs prisoner and use them as a negotiating piece for some other large predator in their region, like a blue or brass dragon.
If you throw out the Monster Manual’s guidance on making the Jackleweres evil, you could also consider some other purposes and roles jackals have fulfilled in folklore and mythology.
The one that comes to mind is the Egyptian god of death, Anubis. Jackals, being scavengers, eat carrion. So perhaps there is a culture of jackalweres that act as death priests, observing funerary rites and soul transitions. They travel long distances and have a tendency to show up when someone is about to die.
You could even give them a few cleric spells and make them Lawful Good. Wouldn’t that be cool? Perhaps, even, the PCs need to travel to the land of the dead. Maybe one of these Jakaleres knows how the PCs can get there and back again. Sweet!
If, after reading this post and testing our Jackleweres, you decide you want to feature them in a new campaign, check out this story seed. Hopefully, this can get you started using the Jackalwere as your primary NPC and antagonist.
A pack of Jackleweres lives in the Red Rock formation half a day’s journey outside of town. Occasionally, they don their human disguises and go into town to raid for food and supplies, always being careful not to reveal their presence or take too much. Every good predator knows not to overhunt.
Yet, something is wrong in the Red Rocks. Gnolls have started to bubble up from the dark holes underneath the boulders where the Jackalweres haven’t explored. The Jackleweres have tried to push them back but can no longer stand against their superior numbers and the mysterious spellcaster who leads them.
The Jackleweres have decided to move into the city. This has caused quite a disruption in the criminal underworld as the local gangs are being pushed aside by the superior stealth fighters.
In addition, because of their success, the Jackleweres are starting to get noticed as graverobbers who like to eat the dead. Jackals, remember?
The PCs must investigate this new gang, and upon discovering their true nature, they must decide if they should simply wipe out these monsters or ally with them and return them to their traditional home.
After all, who knows what the gnolls are planning, and who can guess what the goal of the mysterious spellcaster is?
Thanks for visiting today! Be good, and roll on!