Though I know this creature from the original Fiend Folio version, the penanggal is a disgusting monster from actual mythology and legend, in this case, from the monsters of malaysian folklore. Similar to the Pilipino manananggal, the penanggal is an evil female vampire that detaches from a normal woman. It creates a particularly horrific visual, which makes it especially great for a roleplaying game as a “what is that thing?” encounter.
A penanggal (plural penanggalan) is an undead monster that appears by day to be a young and beautiful woman. At night, however, her head detaches from her body, trailing its entrails, to become a vampiric monster flying through the night.
Penanggalan prefer to feed on the blood of pregnant women or young children, but will feed on any victims they can capture. Those whose blood they drink are infected with a wasting disease, even if the penanggal is not able to feed again.
When the penanggal returns to her body, she must soak her entrails in vinegar to shrink them before returning them to her body. This means the lair of a penanggal is notable due to the smell of vinegar.
Medium Undead, Lawful Evil
Armor Class: 12 or 13 in monstrous form (no armor)
Hit Points: 60 (8d8 +24)
Speed: 30 ft or 40 ft fly in monstrous form
STR 10 (+0); DEX 14 (+2); CON 16 (+3); INT 13 (+1); WIS 12 (+1); CHA 16 (+3)
Skills: Deception +7, Perception +5, Stealth +6
Damage Resistances: Necrotic
Damage Immunities: Poison
Condition Immunities: Exhaustion, poisoned
Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages: Languages knowns in life
Secret Undead: A penanggal may appear in human form. While in human form, magic will reveal only her alignment in life, not her lawful evil alignment. In human form, the penanggalan in human form is not affected by daylight and cannot be affected by a cleric’s turn undead or destroy undead abilities.
Vulnerable to Sunlight: A penanggal struck by daylight while her head and organs are detached is paralyzed until it is out of the sunlight.
Acidic Flesh: Any creature that begins or ends its turn or who is in close combat with a penanggal takes 1d4 acid damage and the targe cannot regain hit points until the start of the penanggal’s next turn.
Multiattack: the penanggal is able to make two attacks, only one of which may be a bite.
Dagger (human form only): Melee weapon attack, +6 to hit, reach 5 ft, one creature. Hit: 4 (d4+2) piercing damage.
Bite (either form): Melee weapon attack, +6 to hit, reach 5 ft, one creature. Hit: 4 (d4+2) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) necrotic damage. The target must also make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1d6 rounds. The target must also make a CON save vs. DC 14 at the end of the day or be cursed with a wasting disease. Every day the target must save or gain a level of exhaustion. This happens at the end of each consecutive day until the curse is removed or until the target makes three consecutive successful saves. These levels of exhaustion cannot be removed while the character still suffers the curse. The curse can only be removed with a Remove Curse spell.
Grasping Entrails (monstrous form only): Melee weapon attack, +6 to hit, reach 10 ft, one creature. Hit: 5 (d6+2) bludgeoning damage plus 3 (1d6) acid damage plus 3 (1d6) necrotic damage, the target is grappled, and the target cannot regain hit points until the start of the penanggal’s next turn.
Charm: The penanggal targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it if the target can see the penanggal. If the target can see the penanggal, the target must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw against the creature’s magic or be charmed by the penanggal. The charmed target regards the creature as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. The charmed target isn’t under the creature’s control, but it takes the penanggal’s requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and is willing to allow the penanggal’s bite attack. Typically, the monster uses this to make prey docile for feeding.
Each time the penanggal does anything harmful to the target, the target can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success. Otherwise, the effect lasts 24 hours or until the creature is destroyed, is on a different plane of existence than the target, or takes a bonus action to end the effect.
Horrific Transformation (human form only): the penanggal separates her head from her body. All creatures within 30 feet that see the change must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or drop to 0 hit points from fear. Those who do save are frightened for 1d6 rounds.