N is for Nature
Time for another Monsters post, this time about all sorts of natural creatures.
Because I’ve generally played in and run Dungeons and Dragons games in relatively low magic worlds natural creatures, or variations on them have frequently been used as opponents.
In a forest, bears, boars, dogs, or wolves could decide to attack a party of adventurers as they travel through the woods, or their camp at night. An entire adventure could revolve around hunting down a nest of giant insects that have been destroying a farmer’s crops. In a jungle setting gorillas and snakes could make travel dangerous.
Creatures like owlbears, bulettes, carrion crawlers, and a wide variety of giant natural creatures might be natural within their own setting, while being different enough from their real world counterparts to add a bit of fantasy to the encounter. While some gamers attribute magical backgrounds to some of these creatures, their appearances and actions are close enough to natural that they don’t seem overly exotic.
But if you’d like to take it one step further, there are other creatures with minor magical powers you can choose from. Blink dogs, fire toads, ice lizards and similar creatures start with a natural creature and add minor magical abilities or attacks so the creatures aren’t quite like their real world counterparts.
Of course, how much magic, and how much natural you like in your encounters is entirely up to you, but the various monster manuals include a large enough variety of creatures to make choices that match your style of game.