This hideous humanoid creature has slimy, transparent skin; webbed, humanoid hands; and a snaggle-toothed, horse-like face.
A kelpie is a deadly shapechanging predator that, in its natural form, appears as a hideous combination of emaciated horse and sickly humanoid, with slimy, transparent skin and long, stringy hair. Its face is long and equine, with a mouth filled with jagged teeth.
Few, however, ever see a kelpie in its true form, for kelpies almost always encounter other creatures while in disguise as a humanoid, horse, or hippocampus, reverting to their true form only after their targets have drowned so that they can feast on their victims, leaving behind only the heart and liver (as both of these organs are distasteful to most kelpies).
Kelpies can be found in saltwater and freshwater environments, including fens, rivers, swamps, and underground pools and lakes. Communities living near kelpie lairs believe that folk who die on the water or are killed by a kelpie become kelpies themselves. Kelpies may serve as steeds for aquatic fey or other water monsters while in their hippocampus forms, sometimes without their riders ever knowing the truth of the steed’s sinister nature.
A typical kelpie is 6 feet tall and weighs 170 pounds.
Large fey, chaotic evil
Armor Class 16 (natural armor)
Hit Points 745 (l9dl0+ 38)
Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
|18 (+4)||14 (+2)||14 (+2)||15 (+2)||14 (+2)||11 (+0)|
Skills Perception +6
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages understands Common and Sylvan but can’t speak it.
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
- Amphibious. The kelpie can breathe air and water.
- Horse Form. The kelpie can transform into its horse form or its true form as a bonus action. Its statistics and abilities remain the same in each form. It reverts to its true form if it is killed.
- Grappler. The kelpie has advantage on attack rolls against any creature that is grappled by it.
- Sticky Body. Anyone that touches the kelpie becomes stuck to its body. A medium or smaller creature adhered to the kelpie is also grappled by it (escape DC 16). Ability checks made to escape this grapple have disadvantage. The kelpie’s body can magically stretch to accommodate up to three medium creatures being stuck to it. The kelpie’s movement is not impeded by having creatures stuck to it.
- Multiattack. The kelpie makes two attacks: one with its Bite and one with its Hooves.
- Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft, one target. Hit: 9 (7 dl 0 + 4) piercing damage.
- Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft, one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.
- Kelpie Call. The kelpie targets up to three humanoids that it can see within 30 feet. If the chosen targets can see the kelpie, they must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be compelled to approach and pet the kelpie. A target automatically succeeds on this saving throw if they are immune to being charmed.
Kelpies are cunning, ravenous creatures who make their homes in still water pools and ponds in forests and swamps around the continent. Although they will enthusiastically devour anyone that they can lure to their lairs, they prefer to feast on the flesh of children.
While on land, Kelpies appear as beautiful, well-bred black horses. But while they’re in the water, they take on their true and monstrous form – a vaguely equine creature with bulging wild eyes, slick mottled skin, and a maw filled with jagged teeth.
On their home plane, Kelpies can be found anywhere that evil fey have dominion. On the Prime Material, Kelpies are drawn to bodies of fresh water that were the site of tragedies – especially those involving children. Once a Kelpie claims its home, its presence destroys all fish and creatures living there but causes reeds, kelp, and other water plants to become thick and overgrown. These areas would be hazardous enough on their own, but the Kelpie’s malevolent presence increases the danger exponentially.
Kelpies are clever and patient predators. When they sense the presence of approaching people, they climb from their holes and take the form of a horse feeding by the water’s edge.
Those that see them are unnaturally drawn to them, and once they touch the Kelpie’s skin, they’re ensnared by the viscous, tar-like mucus that covers their bodies. The Kelpie then drags their prey into the deep waters of their home and ravages them.
On occasion, a Kelpie may not have time to emerge from the water before unwary travelers are upon them. At that point, the Kelpie has another nefarious trick that it uses to trap potential meals. It swims into an area where it can be masked by overgrowth and sticks its head above the water, magically mimicking the cries of its last victim. Once the would-be rescuers wade into the waters of the Kelpie’s pond, they’re slowed by the thick tangles of weeds that blanket the creature’s den and are quickly captured.
Normally, Kelpies spend their time chasing their own hunger and cruelty, but in some circumstances, they are called to guard the forests and territories of powerful hags or blighted druids. From their pools on the perimeters of these enclaves, Kelpies watch for trespassers, feeding on who they can and capturing those that would be of interest to their masters.
Section 15: Copyright Notice
Monsters Mythica: Kelpie Copyright 2019, Underground Oracle Publishing; authors Jess Pendley and Keith Pendley
Medium fey, chaotic evil
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 27 (5d8 + 5)
Speed 30 ft., swim 40 ft.
|16 (+3)||15 (+2)||12 (+1)||13 (+1)||16 (+3)||12 (+1)|
Skills Perception +5
Damage Resistances cold, poison
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages Common, Sylvan
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
- Amphibious. The kelpie can breathe air or water.
- Magic Resistance. The kelpie has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
- Mounting Challenges. The kelpie can be tamed briefly. A humanoid must make a successful DC 15 Animal Handling check. If successful, the humanoid can command the kelpie for 1 minute. However, the fey will not take any action that would harm itself.
- Shapechange. The kelpie can use a bonus action to polymorph into a Large riding horse or back into its true humanoid form. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in either from. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts back to its humanoid form if it dies.
- Slippery. The kelpie has advantage on ability checks and saving throws made to escape a grapple.
- Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage.
- Hooves (Horse Form). Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.
- Drown. The kelpie can choose to grapple (escape DC 13) a target they hit with a bite attack and drag it underwater.
One of the most unusual creatures to encounter in a lake or river is the kelpie. This dark horse appears harmless at first glance. However, the nasty fey will attempt to drown anyone who gets close. Its true form is a fey humanoid that appears quite human.
Soaked to the Bone. When in horse form it always appears wet. In addition, the humanoid form of the kelpie has smooth, wet, and cold skin. These are clues that point to the creature’s true nature.
Bridled Rage. Some humanoids will attempt to ride these fey. This is a challenging task and can result in the rider being drowned. If a kelpie is successfully tamed, it only lasts for a brief period of time.
Water Horses. Horses born from the mating of kelpies and horses can breathe underwater.
Section 15: Copyright Notice
Monsters of the Wilderness: A Collection of Monsters for 5th Edition Copyright 2022 Cawood Publishing Author Andrew Cawood
Kelpie CR 4
NE Medium fey (aquatic, shapechanger)
Init +7; Senses low-light vision; Perception +13
AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+3 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 38 (7d6+14)
Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +6
Resist fire 10
Speed 40 ft., swim 40 ft.
Melee 2 slams +6 (1d6+2 plus grab)
Special Attacks captivating lure
Str 15, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 17
Base Atk +3; CMB +5 (+9 grapple); CMD 18
Feats Alertness, Deceitful, Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +15, Disguise +15, Perception +13, Sense Motive +13, Stealth+13, Swim +10
Languages Aquan, Common, Sylvan; telepathy (1 mile, previously touched creatures only)
SQ amphibious, change shape (hippocampus or horse, beast shape IV; Small or Medium humanoid, alter self )
Captivating Lure (Su)
Once per day, a kelpie can use a powerful mental attack to lure in a single creature within 60 feet. The target must make a DC 16 Will saving throw or become captivated by the kelpie, thinking it is a desirable woman in mortal danger or (if in hippocampus or horse form) a valuable steed. A victim under the effects of the captivating lure moves toward the kelpie using the most direct means available.
If the path leads it into a dangerous area such as through fire or off a cliff, that creature receives a second saving throw to end the effect before moving into peril; the victim does not consider water a dangerous area, and will enter the water even if it cannot swim or breathe. A captivated creature can take no actions other than to move toward the kelpie and defend itself, even if it is drowning.
A victim within 5 feet of the kelpie simply stands and offers no resistance to its attacks. This effect continues as long as the kelpie is alive and the victim is within 1 mile of the kelpie. This is a mind-affecting charm effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Environment any water
Organization solitary or shoal (2–5)
Section 15: Copyright Notice
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 2, © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors Wolfgang Baur, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, Graeme Davis, Crystal Frasier, Joshua J. Frost, Tim Hitchcock, Brandon Hodge, James Jacobs, Steve Kenson, Hal MacLean, Martin Mason, Rob McCreary, Erik Mona, Jason Nelson, Patrick Renie, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Owen K.C. Stephens, James L. Sutter, Russ Taylor, and Greg A. Vaughan, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.
“The Kelpie’s Revenge”
Episode 1: “The Cursed Mill”
The adventure begins in a small village in medieval Britain. The villagers are plagued by a series of strange occurrences at the local mill. The mill has been beset by bad luck and strange accidents. The villagers blame a malevolent spirit known as the Kelpie, a shape-shifting creature that haunts the nearby rivers. The players decide to investigate.
They discover the mill was built on sacred land and the Kelpie is angered by the villagers’ desecration of its home. The Kelpie has cursed the mill and all who work there, causing the accidents and relegating the villagers to poverty. The players will have to navigate the treacherous rivers, avoid traps and overcome obstacles to reach the Kelpie’s lair and confront the creature.
Episode 2: “The Kelpie’s Bargain”
The players discover that the Kelpie is willing to make a bargain with them to lift the curse. The Kelpie will lift the curse on the mill and the village in exchange for a sacrifice. The Kelpie demands the sacrifice of the miller’s daughter, who it claims is the rightful owner of the land. The daughter is actually a descendant of the druidic cult that worshiped the Kelpie as a powerful being and has a special connection to the land.
The players will have to decide whether to accept the Kelpie’s bargain or find an alternative way to lift the curse. They will have to gather information about the Kelpie, the curse and the miller’s daughter’s connection to the land by talking to NPCs, visiting ancient ruins and consulting with druidic scholars or other knowledgeable characters.
Episode 3: “The Final Confrontation”
The players will finally come face to face with the Kelpie in a final, epic confrontation. They will have to use all of their abilities and resources to defeat the Kelpie and lift the curse from the village and the mill.
In the end, the players will have saved the village from a terrible fate and restored prosperity to the land. However, they will have to weigh the moral implications of their actions, as the pact made by the miller’s ancestors may have been necessary to maintain balance in the land.
Episode 4: “The Cult of the Kelpie”
As the players delves deeper into their investigation they will encounter the druidic cult that worshiped the Kelpie. The cultists will be hostile and will try to stop the players from lifting the curse. The players will have to use their combat skills and spells to defeat the cultists and uncover the truth behind the cult’s practices and beliefs.
Episode 5: “The Kelpies’ Domain”
The final episode will lead the players to the Kelpies domain, the Fey Wild a mysterious and mystical underwater realm where the Kelpie and its kin reside. Here, the players will have to face the Kelpie’s most loyal followers and powerful guardians in order to reach the Kelpie itself. They will have to use all of their abilities and resources to overcome the challenges and obstacles that the Kelpie’s domain presents, such as enchanted creatures, deadly traps, and treacherous currents.
The final confrontation with the Kelpie will take place in this realm, where the creature will use its full power and abilities to protect its home and its followers. The players will have to use all of their skills, spells, and enchanted items to defeat the Kelpie and break the curse once and for all.
In the end, the players will have succeeded in their quest, but not without making difficult choices and facing moral dilemmas. They will have to weigh the consequences of their actions and the sacrifices made, and consider the true cost of breaking the Kelpie’s curse.
“The Hunt for the Kelpie”
Episode 1: The Missing Sheep
The adventure begins in a small farming village nestled in the rolling hills of the countryside. The villagers have been experiencing strange occurrences and have reported that their sheep have been disappearing at an alarming rate. The villagers believe that the creature responsible is a Kelpie, a shape-shifting water horse known to lure unsuspecting victims to their doom.
Upon arrival, the adventurers must investigate the village and the surrounding area to find out what is causing the strange occurrences. They may discover that the Kelpie has taken up residence in the nearby lake and has been using its shape-shifting abilities to disguise itself as a friendly horse to lure the sheep to their doom.
The villagers will ask the adventurers to put an end to the Kelpie’s reign of terror and to save their remaining sheep. The adventurers must venture to the lake to hunt for the Kelpie and put an end to its mischief.
Episode 2: The Kelpie’s Lair
As the adventurers make their way to the lake, they will encounter various obstacles and challenges along the way. They may come across other creatures of Celtic folklore, such as faeries and will-o’-the-wisps, who may help or hinder them on their quest.
When they reach the lake, the adventurers must find a way to enter the Kelpie’s lair, which is hidden beneath the waters of the lake. This may involve solving puzzles, performing rituals, or even finding a way to breathe underwater.
Once inside the lair, the adventurers will come face to face with the Kelpie in its true form. The Kelpie will put up a fierce fight, using its shape-shifting abilities and water-based powers to try and defeat the adventurers.
The adventurers must defeat the Kelpie and put an end to its mischief once and for all.
Note: This is a rough draft and can be adjusted accordingly to your desired settings and characters.
“The Lure of the Kelpie”
Episode 1: “The Legend of the Kelpie”
The adventure begins in a small village in medieval Scotland, where the villagers are plagued by a terrifying creature known as the Kelpie. The villagers believe that the Kelpie is a shape-shifting creature that haunts the nearby rivers, luring unsuspecting travelers to their death. The players are passing through the village when they hear of the legend of the Kelpie and decide to investigate.
The players will have to navigate the treacherous rivers, avoiding traps and overcoming obstacles to reach the heart of the Kelpie’s lair. Along the way, they will encounter strange creatures and ancient ruins that hint at a deeper mystery surrounding the Kelpie.
As they delve deeper into the rivers, the players will discover that the legend of the Kelpie is rooted in a tragic event that occurred many years ago. The villagers had angered a druidic cult that worshiped the Kelpie as a powerful being. The druids cursed the village and summoned the Kelpie to take revenge.
The players will have to uncover the truth about the curse and find a way to defeat the Kelpie and lift the curse from the village. They will have to gather information about the druidic cult and the Kelpie by talking to NPCs and visiting ancient ruins.
Episode 2: “The Hunt for the Kelpie”
With the knowledge of the curse, the players set out to find the Kelpie and put an end to its reign of terror.
They will have to track the Kelpie through the rivers, using all of their skills and abilities to outsmart it. Along the way, they will encounter other creatures that have been affected by the curse, including giant river monsters and enchanted fish. The players will also have to overcome the druidic cult’s minions, who will stop at nothing to protect their Kelpie.
The players will finally come face to face with the Kelpie in a final, epic battle. They will have to use all of their abilities and resources to defeat the Kelpie and lift the curse from the village.
In the end, the players will have saved the village from a terrible fate and restored peace to the land. But the memory of the Kelpie will live on, a reminder of the power of curses and the strength of those who dare to confront them.
“The Kelpie’s Bargain”
Episode 1: “The Offer” The adventure begins with the players arriving at a small, isolated village in medieval Scotland. The villagers are in a state of despair as a terrible drought has plagued the area for months, leaving crops withered and the wells dry. In their desperation, the villagers have turned to a mysterious figure known as the Kelpie for help.
The Kelpie, a shape-shifting creature that haunts the nearby rivers, has offered to bring water back to the village in exchange for a sacrifice. The villagers, desperate for relief, have agreed to the Kelpie’s terms. The players, hearing of the villagers’ plight, decide to investigate. They soon discover that the Kelpie’s offer is not as simple as it seems.
The creature is not just asking for a sacrifice, but a human sacrifice. And the villagers have already chosen the victim – a young girl from the village. The players will have to race against time to stop the sacrifice from taking place and find a way to break the Kelpie’s curse. They will have to navigate the treacherous rivers, avoid traps and overcome obstacles to reach the Kelpie’s lair and confront the creature.
Episode 2: “The Bargain” As the players delve deeper into the rivers, they will discover that the Kelpie’s curse is rooted in a dark bargain made long ago by the ancestors of the village. In exchange for wealth and prosperity, the villagers had agreed to offer sacrifices to the Kelpie. The sacrifices were to be made every year, but over time, the villagers had forgotten about their bargain with the Kelpie and the sacrifices had stopped.
As the players reach the Kelpie’s lair, they will find the creature in its true form – a powerful water horse. The Kelpie will explain that it needs the sacrifices to maintain its power and keep the rivers flowing. Without them, the drought will continue and the village will perish.
The players will have to find a way to break the curse and stop the sacrifices without causing harm to the village. They may discover that the sacrifices were originally made to honor the Kelpie and appease it, rather than appease an evil creature. They may decide to offer a different form of sacrifice, such as crops or livestock, or work to find a way to bring water back to the village through other means.
The players will have to use all of their skills and resources to come to a peaceful solution with the Kelpie and save the village from the curse. The Kelpie will be willing to negotiate and come to a new bargain, but it will not be easy. The players will have to be clever and resourceful to break the curse and bring water back to the village.
As the players succeed in stopping the sacrifice, the villagers will be overjoyed and grateful. The Kelpie will keep its word and bring water back to the village. The players will be hailed as heroes and their names will be remembered in the village’s history forever.
History and mythology
Kelpie is a supernatural shape-shifting water horse that haunts the rivers and lochs of Scotland and Ireland. It also appears in Scandinavia where it in Sweden is known by the name Bäckahästen, the brook horse. In Norway it is called nøkken, where the horse shape is often used, but is not its true form.
A kelpie would lure people onto its back and then dive into a deep lake to magically vanish. A kelpie’s bridle could work magic if stolen; onversely, a human bridle on a kelpie could compel it to work for a human.
In Scandinavia, the brook horse was a transformation of the Nix, a water spirit in the shape of a man. It was often described as a majestic white horse that would appear near rivers, particularly during foggy weather. Anyone who Climbed onto its back would not be able to get off again. The horse would then Jump into the river, drowning the rider.
The brook horse could also be harnessed and made to plough, either because it was trying to trick a person or because the person had tricked the horse into it. The kelpie sometimes appeared as a rough hairy man who would grip and crush travellers, but it most commonly took the form of a beautiful tame horse standing by a stream or river.
If anyone mounted it, it would charge into the deepest part of the water, submerging and taking the rider with it. They would sometimes interbreed with humans’ horses, and the foals were said to be fine fleetfooted horses. The kelpie was also said to warn of forthcoming storms by wailing and howling. Rarely, kelpies could be benign.
The following tale is a good illustration of the brook horse:
A long time ago, there was a girl who was not only pretty but also big and strong. She worked as a maid on a farm by Lake Hjärtasjön in southern Nerike. She was ploughing with the farm’s horse on one of the fields by the lake. It was springtime and beautiful weather. The birds chirped and the wagtails flitted in the tracks of the girl and the horse in order to pick worms. All of a sudden, a horse appeared out of the lake. It was big and beautiful, bright in color and with large spots on the sides.
The horse had a beautiful mane which fluttered in the wind and a tail that trailed on the ground. The horse pranced for the girl to show her how beautiful he was. The girl, however, knew that it was the brook horse and ignored it. Then the brook horse came closer and closer and finally he was so close that he could bite the farm horse in the mane.
The girl hit the brook horse with the bridle and cried: “Disappear you scoundrel, or you’ll have to plough so you’ll never forget it.” As soon as she had said this, the brook horse had changed places with the farm horse, and the brook horse started ploughing the field with such speed that soil and stones whirled in its wake, and the girl hung like a mitten from the plough.
Faster than the cock crows seven times, the ploughing was finished and the brook horse headed for the lake, dragging both the plough and the girl. But the girl had a piece of steel in her pocket, and she made the sign of the cross. Immediately she fell down on the ground, and she saw the brook horse disappear into the lake with the plough. She heard a frustrated neighing when the brook horse understood that his trick had failed. Until this day, a deep track can be seen in the field. (Hellström 1985:16)