Two Heads Are Better Than One . . .
and Three Are Better Than Two
By Owen K.C. Stephens
Classical mythology holds numerous examples of multiheaded monsters, from the Hydra to the Chimera to Cerberus, the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hades. The chimera and hydra are well represented in the D&D Monster Manual, but there's no sign of Cerberus. Of course, Cerberus is a unique creature that more appropriately belongs in Deities and Demigods, but what if you want something similar as a whole race in your games?
Considering such creatures hell hounds at the top of their advancement range (8d8) comes close to defining the monster -- except for those extra heads. Just adding an extra bite attack to make a creature two-headed does not seem in keeping with the unique mythic nature of many multiheaded creatures. They should instead stand as paragons of their base species, possessing additional hit dice and all the improvements that go with them, in addition to multiple bites, gore attacks, and even breath weapons. To help Dungeon Masters create their own multiheaded creatures, I present the "multiheaded" template.
Be they freaks of nature, the results of arcane experimentation, or simply a new race, some creatures have more heads than do common examples of their kind. Many multiheaded creatures are actually crossbreeds with some amount of hydra blood magically infused into them. All multiheaded creatures are more powerful and dangerous than similar creatures with fewer heads, and many become local legends.
It is not unusual for multiheaded creatures to be trained as guards and watchmen, as their increased number of eyes and noses equips them well for such tasks. However, a creature's heads don't always get along with each other, and this characteristic can make multiheaded guardians extremely unpredictable. In many cases, such creatures are simply forced into lairs nearby a stronghold, perhaps covering one of its secret entrances.
Creating a Multiheaded Creature
"Multiheaded" is a template that can be added to any corporeal creature with a discernible head. Animals with this template become beasts, but otherwise their type remains unchanged. If the base creature has different types of heads (such as a chimera), determine a specific type for each head. (Special Attacks are determined by head type in these cases.) Up to seven heads may be added to a base creature. Multiheaded creatures use all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted below.
Hit Dice: Each additional head adds 2 HD to the base creature.
AC: Increase natural armor by +1 per additional head.
Attack: Creatures with bite or gore attacks gain one additional bite or gore attack per additional head.
Special Attacks: Base creatures who use weapons gain superior Two-Weapon Fighting. This feat allows them to use two weapons without any penalty to attack or damage. Base creatures with breath weapons or gaze attacks, or who can swallow whole, gain the ability to use that power with each head simultaneously. Special attacks (improved grab, poison, sonic attacks) related to a creature's head can be used with all heads at once.
Special Qualities: Multiheaded creatures have darkvision to 90 ft.
Saves: Same as base creature.
Abilities: Base creature's Constitution is increased by +2 per additional head.
Skills: Each additional head grants the creature a +2 racial bonus to Listen, Search and Spot checks. The creature also gains any additional skill points to which its additional Hit Dice would entitle it, according to its type.
Feats: Base creatures with a bite attack gain Weapon Focus (bite) as a bonus feat. The creature also gains any additional feat slots to which its additional Hit Dice would entitle it, according to its type.
Climate/Terrain: Same as base creature
1 additional head, +2
2-4 additional heads, +3
5-7 additional heads, +4
+1 additional per head-based special attack of base creature
Treasure: As base creature
Alignment: Always chaotic
Advancement: Same as base creature
Lernaean, Pyro- and Cryo- Creatures
Some multiheaded creatures have abilities similar to those possessed by the magic forms of hydras. Each type has a different ability.
These multiheaded creatures have bodies that are immune to attack (but see below). The only way to slay a Lernaean creature is to sever all its heads. However, each time a head is severed, two new heads spring from the stump in 1d4 rounds. A Lernaean creature may never have more than twice its original number of heads, and any heads it gains beyond that number wither and die within a day.
To prevent a severed head from growing back into two, at least 5 points of fire or acid damage must be dealt to the stump (AC 19) before the new heads appear.
Spells such as disintegrate, finger of death, and slay living kill a Lernaean creature outright if they succeed. If the spell deals damage on a successful save, that damage is directed against one of the creature's heads.
These reddish creatures can breathe jets of fire 10 feet high, 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. All heads breath once every 1d4 rounds. Each jet deals 3d6 points of damage per head. A successful Reflex save halves the damage. The save DC is 10 + 1/2 the creature's number of heads + the creature's Con modifier. The creature also gains the fire subtype.
Fire Subtype (Ex): Fire immunity; double damage from cold except on a successful save.
These purplish creatures can breath jets of frost 10 feet high, 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. All heads breath once every 1d4 rounds. Each jet deals 3d6 damage per head. A successful Reflex save halves the damage. The save DC is 10 + 1/2 the creature's number of heads + the creature's Con modifier. The creature also gains the cold subtype.
Cold Subtype (Ex): Cold immunity; double damage from fire except on a successful save.
Sample Multiheaded Creature: Arachnoid Grey Render.