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Book of Beasts: Fata Befana

Book of Beasts: Fata Befana

An ancient black-gowned crone rides a broomstick, bearing a bag of toys and candies and a basket of coal. Around her shoulders, she wears a coat made of dead rats.

The Fata Befana, an ancient black-gowned crone rides a broomstick, bearing a bag of toys and candies and a basket of coal. Around her shoulders, she wears a coat made of dead rats.

Naughty or Nice? 

A Befana knows the score about everyone — all their deeds, bad or good, and all their wants and desires. She doesn’t spread this about as idle gossip, but she does judge, sorting everyone into Naughty or Nice in sum.

Sweets for the Sweet

A Befana cooks up all manner of wonderful candies and sweets which she leaves for nice children. Some sweets are medicinal or even magical.

Coal for the Naughty 

A Befana carries a basket of coal to place in the shoes of naughty children, but if she has to deal directly with especially naughty adults, particularly the outright wicked and evil, she may deliver their coal by throwing it, possibly lighting it first.

The Perfect Present 

Befana’s basket of toys can produce the perfect gift for anyone, usually homespun trinkets of sentimental value, but occasional rarer or more valuable items. Only those she knows to be nice get them, however.

Flying Broomstick

A Befana’s broomstick is magical in her hands, sweeping and cleaning as she commands, beating carpets or anything — or anyone — else she commands it to beat, and flying her through the air as she wants.

Kitchen Witch

A Befana prides herself on being the best housekeeper and cook and will judge others by how close they come to her standards. But not all nice folk have the time or skill, so she will set their house to rights if she has to.

Coat of Rats 

Befana’s coat of dead rats is horrifying to behold, even more so when it proves that the rats are not quite dead and she can shake some free to serve as her messengers, servants, and guards.

Pesta Counterpart

If a Pesta hag ever becomes a fata, she usually becomes a Befana, and vice versa.

Designer Notes: I’ve always loved Befana, the Italian Christmas witch, whose name means Epiphany, but delving into her lore, I found her association with rats, making her appear identical to the Pesta in her crone form. The parallel was too good to pass up.

5e D&D Stat Block:

Fata Befana

Medium fey, neutral good

Armor Class 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points 82 (11d8 + 33)

Speed 30 ft.

STR      DEX     CON     INT     WIS     CHA

18(+4)  12(+1)  16(+3)   12(+1)   14(+2)   15(+2)

Skills Perception +4

Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 14

Languages Common, Sylvan

Challenge 3 (700 XP)                            Proficiency Bonus +2

Befana’s Broom. In the Befana’s hands, any mundane broom becomes an animated object capable of flying, carrying the Befana through the air, performing simple tasks, and even attacking people she chooses.

As an Action, the Befana issues a command word and a mundane broom she is holding becomes a broom of flying. She can also direct the broom to perform simple tasks, such as sweeping the floor, whenever she casts the unseen servant spell. 

She can even direct the broom to attack a target, issuing a mental command. In combat, the animated broom functions as a flying sword, except that it does bludgeoning damage rather than slashing damage.

Innate Spellcasting. The Befana’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 12).  It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At will: prestidigitation

3/day each: goodberry (but produces candies), unseen servant (broom only)

2/day each: animal messenger (rat from coat)

Sense Alignment. As an Action, the Befana can study a person and attempt to discern their alignment. If the target fails a DC 12 Charisma saving throw, the Befana discerns the target’s alignment. Celestials, fiends, and undead automatically fail the saving throw.


Burning Coals. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d4 + 4) bludgeoning damage plus 7 (2d6) fire damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) slashing damage.


Creative Director: Kevin Andrew Murphy

Lore: Kevin Andrew Murphy


Statblock: Eugene Marshall


Ink: Bien Flores


Sensitivity Editor: Pamela Punzalan


Art Director: Aaron Acevedo


This creature is from the upcoming Book of Beasts. Keep an eye out every Thursday for a new monster as part of our Monster of the Week series!

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Kevin Andrew Murphy writes short stories, plays, poems, novels, and roleplaying games. A long-standing contributor to Wild Cards (www.wildcardsworld.com), George R.R. Martin’s super-hero series, Kevin’s story for Mississippi Roll, “Find the Lady,” won the 2019 Darrell Award for Best Novella. On the gaming end, Kevin’s currently editor in chief for Savage Sign, the Savage Worlds roleplaying game magazine. Kevin’s next short story is “Anastasia’s Egg” coming out in October in Weird World War III edited by Sean Patrick Hazlett for Baen. A lifelong resident of California’s Bay Area, Kevin has recently relocated to Reno, Nevada.

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