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Book of Beasts: King Gambrinus

Book of Beasts: King Gambrinus

A merry bearded beer-bellied king, complete with crown and ermine cape, rides astride a beer barrel, bearing a beer glass in one hand and a stein in the other.

King Gambrinus, King of Beer, Duke of Ale, Count of Barleywine, Grand Master of Brewers, and Lord of Taverns and Beer Gardens everywhere, goes wherever beer is brewed and drunk and folk make merry.  He usually appears as a jovial bearded human king, his hair and beard as dark or light as whatever beer he is currently drinking or pouring, but King Gambrinus is just as likely to appear as a dwarven king to beer-loving dwarves or a stout giant to stout-drinking giants.  Unless incognito, he always brings at least one beer barrel with him, drawn by a beer wagon with giddy billy goats or mighty draft horses, or ridden like a magical steed itself.

Drink! Drink! Drink!

King Gambrinus can drink any liquid with no ill effect, regardless of the substance or volume, for any liquid that touches his lips turns to beer and he has an endless capacity for beer.  Even the strongest poison will become nothing worse than barley wine the moment he kisses the bottle it’s in.

Fill Your Glass!

Any empty vessel of any size, from a thimble to a giant brewing vat, will immediately fill with whatever beer or ale is in King Gambrinus’s beer glass the moment he touches it with it.

Stein of Plenty

King Gambrinus’s beer stein fills with whatever beer or ale he wants or imagines, and it is spouted so he may pour it forth as he wills.

Strange Brew

Being the grand master of brewing, King Gambrinus sometimes brews and bottles special beers.  Besides being of the finest quality, they double as magical potions.  He always carries at least a dozen different bottles with him, tucked into pockets in his ermine cloak.

Anonymous Judge

While enjoying appearing in his kingly guise, King Gambrinus often visits taverns and festivals, disguising himself as some lesser afficionado of beer, anything from an average adventurer to a common tavern drunkard.  While so disguised, he will secretly judge the beer, the fare, the hospitality, and even tavern games and festival entertainments.  Those who impress him are granted gifts in measure to their success, from bottles of his special brews to magical brewing secrets or even fey boons.  Those who displease him are disciplined in measure to their offense.  Woe to the tavern keeper caught watering King Gambrinus’s ale!  He has been known to turn all their ale to water as punishment.

Beer Barrel Polka

King Gambrinus can clink a tune on his beer glass so merry as to force all creatures to dance, including devils and even the dead, until they drop from exhaustion or he decides it’s time for them to stop.  Indeed, the chiming is so irresistible that it will animate beer vessels, from small steins to huge barrels, causing them to dance and even fly.

A Stout Steed

King Gambrinus does not walk when he can ride.  He often uses an animated flying beer barrel as a stylish means of conveyance but may also ride or fly in from Fairyland on a billy goat, in a goat cart, riding a mighty draft horse, or, if more beer is needed, in his giant beer wagon pulled by a team of draft horses.

Tavern Brawler

King Gambrinus enjoys a good fight as much as the next fey lord, so long as there’s drinking afterward.  He is a master at hand-to-hand fighting, and with chairs and other such weapons common to taverns.  If hard pressed, he will unsheathe his singing and dancing sword Hoplord, which sings drinking songs and unerringly points to the nearest tavern, and let Hoplord fight alongside him, or even fight alone while he takes a break for refreshment.

Queen Gambrina?

Sometimes Amazons, alewives, witches, and others decide that brewing is a woman’s craft or secret mystery.  King Gambrinus does not care.  For him, the important question is: Do they brew beer?  He is fey, so for such occasions, he restyles himself as Queen Gambrina and does much the same as he does as King Gambrinus.

Pure Water

King Gambrinus’s one bane is one of the things he insists on for brewing: pure water, such as would come from a sacred spring or unicorn’s pool.  If he can be tricked into drinking pure water, he may faint from shock and his possessions purloined: his mantle, his crown, his magical glass, stein, and sword, or even his beer barrel or wagon if he brought it.

King Gambrinus Must Die!

Unlike most fey lords, King Gambrinus is not immortal.  He ages as do all mortals, and while he may live to be a hundred or more, extreme longevity is not his gift.  When he dies as an old man—or well before, if he meets with foul play—all that will be left of his body is a stout barrel filled with good beer.  All other beer and ale in the land will turn sour and none may be brewed until a new King Gambrinus or Queen Gambrina is crowned.

The Devil’s Table

If there is no King Gambrinus or Queen Gambrina reining on May Day, the morning after the witches feast of Walpurgisnacht, the Devil sets a table, but which Devil is a matter of dispute.  Some sages say Beelzebub.  Others Mephistopheles.  Perhaps the duty rotates.  Regardless, it is agreed that to the Devil’s Table are invited all divinities concerned with brewing: John Barleycorn; Ceres, goddess of the harvest, and Pomona, goddess of orchards; Bacchus, god of wine, and his tutor Silenus; Osiris and Isis, god and goddess of brewing; Soma, god of alcohol; St. Arnulf, patron saint of beer; Hecate, queen of witches and cauldrons; possibly even Kvasir, god of mead; Mayahuel, goddess of tequila and mother to the 400 drunken rabbits; or the Demon Rum himself.  The Devil puts forward his candidate for King or Queen of Beer, and each patron of brewing puts forward their candidate as well, along with their finest brew for the divine and infernal judges to taste.  Those who find the Devil’s Table may submit their entries as well.  The winner is crowned as the new Gambrinus or Gambrina and outfitted with the raiment, regalia, and powers of the position.

King Gambrinus’s Lair

King Gambrinus dwells in a great beer hall and brewery most agree to be somewhere in Fairyland, but the doors to it may open anywhere, from the back room of a humble tavern to the flap of a beer festival tent.  It is staffed by his retinue of brewers, barmen, and barmaids, there as reward or punishment for their deeds or just there as supplicants to learn the secrets of his craft.  Most are human, but gnomes, dwarves, halflings, and even hill giants are common servants of the King of Beer.  It is believed that one can only find one’s way to King Gambrinus’s hall when one is drunk and moreover only by going on a pub crawl to a magical series of pubs, all in one night, but sages disagree on which pubs, what order, and which beers must be drunk at them to find one’s way to Gambrinus’s Hall.

Designer Note

King Gambrinus is a folk hero from German, French, Dutch, and Belgian folklore and the mascot of many modern breweries around the world today.

5e D&D Stat Block:

King Gambrinus

Medium fey, chaotic neutral

Armor Class 18 (natural armor)

Hit Points 262 (25d8 + 150)

Speed 30 ft.

STR 21 (+5)    DEX 9 (-1)     CON 23 (+6)

INT 13 (+1)     WIS 14 (+2)   CHA 20 (+5)

Saving Throws Str + 10, Con +10, Wis +7, Cha +10

Skills Athletics +9, Nature + 6, Perception +7

Damage Resistances  Acid, Fire, Cold; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks

Damage Immunities Poison

Condition Immunities Charmed, Exhaustion, Frightened, Poisoned

Senses Blindsight 10 ft., Passive Perception 17

Languages Common, Sylvan

Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)                 Proficiency Bonus +5

Drinking Stein. As an action, While King Gambrinus can conjure a magical drinking stein full of the alcoholic beverage of his choice. No matter how much he drinks or pours, it never empties. He can pour 1 gallon of the beverage from the stein each round. He can also consume the same amount without end, never getting full. The stein weighs five pounds when empty. Should he lose it, the stein and its contents dissipate the next round.

Fill Your Glass! As an action, King Gambrinus can clink his stein against an empty vessel up to Large size, filling it instantly with whatever beverage his stein currently holds.

Innate Spellcasting. King Gambrinus’ innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 18, +10 to hit with spell attacks). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At-will: charm person, create or destroy water (also beer), cure wounds, lesser restoration, sleep, zone of truth

3/day each: animate objects, confusion, control water (also beer), fly, slow

1/day each: arcane sword, heroes’ feast, irresistible dance, magnificent mansion

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If King Gambrinus fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Water Vulnerability. If King Gambrinus tricked into drinking pure water, he must make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw or fall asleep for one hour.


Multiattack. King Gambrinus makes three attacks.

Improvised Weapon. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 23 (4d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage.

Hoplord, +2 Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +12 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 29 (4d10 + 7) slashing damage.

Punch. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (4d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage.

Legendary Actions

King Gambrinus can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The Bazil regains spent legendary actions at the start of his turn.

Cast a Spell (Costs 2 Actions). King Gambrinus casts one of his at-will spells.

Rouse Hoplord. King Gambrinus calls to his magical longsword, Hoplord, and awakens the slumbering spirit within. Once awakened, the sword floats up to 20 feet toward the nearest foe and makes a melee attack, using King Gambrinus’ statistics. After the attack, the sword floats back to the King’s hand. The sword does not incur opportunity attacks when it moves in this way.

Stein Slam. King Gambrinus makes an improvised weapon attack with his drinking stein or some other object at hand.


Creative Director: Kevin Andrew Murphy

Lore: Kevin Andrew Murphy


Statblock: Eugene Marshall


Ink: Bien Flores


Sensitivity Editor: Pamela Punzalan


Art Director: Aaron Acevedo


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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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