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  • Writer's pictureMac Boyle

Bestiary Entry: the "Putrid Dog", or Mätäkoira

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

Mac here, actually posting on this thing for the first time. I've never used Wix before, and I must say I'm not thrilled with the interface, given that it seems to resist basic customization options like "fonts" and "subheadings". What I actually ended up doing was writing this up on my old semi-defunct Blogspot site, where said options are available to me, and then copy/pasting it over. So if you want to see the better-formatted version, it's here.

Anyway, though, one of the things I've been wanting to do with this space is actually provide stats and descriptions for things we say would make good monsters, items, and the like. This one has been kicking around in my head for a while, and at the moment I'm waiting for Audacity to do some audio processing, so I might as well write it up. So here's a monster from Episode 3 (The Gesta Romanorum Pt. 1, or, The Virgin Mary Told Me to Do It).

I did the work in Pathfinder 1e, since that's the system that makes the most sense to me, but if you play true D&D instead, there are stat blocks for 3.5e and 5e at the bottom. (I assume if you're running something pre-3e, you're already comfortable with converting monsters yourself; I likewise assume that nobody is running 4e.)

Mätäkoira (“Putrid Dog”)

CR 3; XP 800

N Small Magical Beast

Init +1; Senses: Low-Light Vision, Scent, True Seeing, Darkvision 60ft; Perception +10

Auras: Stench (DC 16, 1d3+5 rounds)


AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 15 (+1 size, +1 Dex, +4 natural)

HP 48 (5d10+20)

Saves Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +3

DR 5/Cold Iron SR 11


Speed 30 ft.

Melee bite +5 (1d4-1 + 1d8 holy)

Special Attacks Breath Weapon (30ft. line, 1d8 damage + 2d8 holy, Reflex DC 16 for half, usable every 1d4 rounds), Holy Bite


Abilities Str 8, Dex 12, Con 18, Int 4, Wis 14, Cha 14

Base Atk +5; CMB +3; CMD 14 (18 vs. trip)

Feats Run

Skills Perception +10

SQ Magical Beast Traits, Stench, Turn Undead

Special Abilities

Breath Weapon (Su) A Mätäkoira can spit a 30ft. line of holy water as a breath weapon. This attack causes 1d8 damage, plus an additional 2d8 damage to any creature that would take damage from holy water, and allows a DC 16 reflex save for half damage. A Mätäkoira can use its breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds.

Holy Bite (Su) The bite of a Mätäkoira does an additional 1d8 damage to any creature that would take damage from holy water.

Stench (Ex) A Mätäkoira secretes an oily chemical that nearly every other creature finds offensive. All living creatures (except those with Stench) within 30 feet must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 16) or be sickened for 1d3+5 rounds. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the same creature’s stench for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from the sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonus on their saving throws. The save DC is constitution based.

Turn Undead (Su) Five times a day, a Mätäkoira can channel positive energy to force all undead creatures within a 30 ft. radius to flee. This effect can be resisted with a DC 14 Will save.


Environment: any forest

Organization: solitary, pair, or pack (3–12)

Treasure: none


The Mätäkoira gives the inescapable impression of being a purpose-created entity, bred and magically enhanced to hunt evil outsiders and the undead; the consensus opinion among people who study such things is that it is exactly this, the fruit of some magical breeding program to create a dog that hunts unholy things the way a dachshund was bred to hunt badgers. Who, exactly, created this specialized breed of hunting-hound is unclear — the fact that Mätäkoirat seem unusually vulnerable to cold iron has led many to speculate that there is some connection to the Fae. (Though the same logic could be used to argue simply that one of the lineages included in the breeding program came from the Realm of Faerie, with or without the permission of any Fae who might have been around.)

Likewise, the appearance of the Mätäkoira remains unexplained. Its vulgar name, the Putrid Dog, comes not only from its stench, but from its physical aspect: a Mätäkoira at rest can easily be mistaken for a rotting carcass. Again, there is ongoing discussion in the (figurative and literal) ivory towers. One theory is that whoever created these beasts simply did not care much about aesthetics: the unpleasant appearance that characterizes Mätäkoirat is an inadvertent side effect of whatever magical process gave rise to their abilities, and the breeder just didn’t bother trying to mitigate it. The other leading theory is that it is intentional camouflage: a Mätäkoira can effectively not only avoid attention by “playing dead”, but can also be passed off as a member of the undead itself.

Mätäkoirat generally keep to themselves in the wild, living like any other wild dog — with two notable exceptions: first, they are particularly shy & elusive; second, they instinctively attack any undead creature or evil outsider that they might encounter in their territory. For this reason, some landowners intentionally encourage small populations of Mätäkoirat in their woodlands. Mätäkoirat take well to domestication and training, but despite their value as a companion, their unpleasant look & smell makes them less than popular. Nonetheless, a few monasteries maintain a population of domesticated Mätäkoirat on their lands, and willingly provide Mätäkoira puppies to any iron-stomached holy warriors who might want one. (Attempts to breed Mätäkoirat with a more tolerable odor have yet to produce useful results: while crossing them with other breeds of dog has resulted in a lesser stench, the offspring also have a greatly-diminished ability to produce holy water or channel positive energy.)

3.5e Stat Block

Mätäkoira (“Putrid Dog”): CR 4; Small magical beast; HD 5d10+20; hp 48; Init +1; Spd 30ft; AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 15; BAB +5; Grp 0; Atk +5 melee (1d4-1+1d8 holy, bite); Space/Reach 5ft/5ft; SA breath weapon, holy bite; SQ magical beast traits, stench, turn undead; AL N; SV Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +3; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 18, Int 4, Wis 14, Cha 14.

Skills and Feats: Spot +10; Run.

Breath Weapon (Su): 30ft line, 1d8 dmg+2d8 holy, Ref 16 half, usable every 1d4 rounds.

Holy Bite (Su): +1d8 holy dmg to bite.

Stench (Ex): 30ft radius, Fort 16 or sickened 1d3+5 rounds.

Turn Undead: As lvl-3 cleric, 5/day.

Magical Beast Traits: darkvision 60ft, low-light vision

5e Stat Block

Mätäkoira (“Putrid Dog”)

Small monstrosity, unaligned

AC 13; HP 45 (6d6+24); SPD 30'; CR 3 (700 XP)

Abilities Str 8, Dex 12, Con 18, Int 4, Wis 14, Cha 14

Skills Perception +4

Damage Resistance against nonmagical except cold iron

Senses darkvision 60', passive perception 14


Stench. Any creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the Mätäkoira must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned until the start of its next turn. On a successful saving throw, the creature is immune to the Mätäkoira's Stench for 24 hours.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 (1d4-1) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) holy damage.

Holy Water (Recharge 5–6). The Mätäkoira spits holy water in a 30-ft line. Each creature in that area must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw, taking 4 (1d8) bludgeoning damage plus 9 (2d8) holy damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Turn Undead. All undead creatures that can see or hear the Mätäkoira within a 30-ft radius must succeed on a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw or be turned for 1 minute or until it takes any damage.

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