Last Updated on November 2, 2023
Medium Humanoid (Shapechanger), Chaotic Evil
- Size: Medium
- Creature Type: Humanoid
- Alignment: 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 Non Magical 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.
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.
Shapchangers run the gamut, and usually, they tend toward the humanoid-that-changes-into-something-else category.
Jackalwere 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 jackleweres. 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?
According to 5e lore, the jackalwere was created by the demon lord Graz’zt to serve as minions for his minions.
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. 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.
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 with Fey Ancestry. 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!
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].