Well, our initial look at flavor text for cues to roleplaying monsters differently generated a good response. So here are some more to utilize in your game.
Good dragons gone bad
Sometimes it is fun to pit the PCs against a metallic dragon. Not that they are really that much different than the chromatic ones, but the “good” dragons have noble motivations. Like overzealous paladins (except they have huge wings and devastating breath weapons), these guys aren’t so easily tricked into “looking the other way.”
An obvious sort of conflict could occur if a metallic dragon and the PCs are pursuing the identical relic of ancient “power,” but for different purposes. The PCs may need it to meet an adventure objective.
But the metallic dragons collect relics out of a desire to keep dangerous magic out of the hands of mortals, who haven’t the wisdom to handle it properly. “Don’t play with matches, kids.”
Bronze dragons are great for this purpose if the PCs are exploring lost shipwrecks or other coastal ruins. Silver dragons come into play if the relic has some historical significance.
Grimlocks and the other red meat
The PC’s humanoid cousins, the Grimlocks, do love the taste of human flesh. But a close read of the fifth edition Monster Manual does not paint them as the sort to hunker down and snack on just any old spare arm or leg they carry around in a sack. (They aren’t hill giants that feast on any old road kill they come across, for goodness sakes).
These grimlocks are a servitor race to the mind-devouring aberrations that inhabit caverns deep. And their adoration of the mind flaying races is religious in nature. Like any cult, their practices are tied up in rituals and ceremonies, and that includes preparing their gruesome lunch.
This ritualized cooking, fattening up captives, adorning them with herbs and spices, chanting around cookpots and the such, is all part of their devotion to the cult. What it means, of course, is that PCs who are captured by the grimlocks have time and opportunity to escape, or their friends have time to plan a raid to liberate them. (1)
Here fishy, fishy
My monster manual paints the fishy kuo-toa as the sort of monstrous humanoids that like to trap and capture their prey. And the more I think about it, that’s a very un-fishlike thing to do.
Anyone who has ever baited a hook, watched one of those “sharks attack!” documentaries or seen the piraña go after hamburger in a fish tank know that fish are among the most opportunistic eating machines on the planet. Swim, swim, swim, swim … and bite!
The kuo-toa need not be completely ravenous. But their hunters should be of the strike first, think later variety. Crafty, when need be, but bold on the attack.
Now some folk might say, that’s not the kuo-toa, that’s the other aquatic races you’re describing, such as the merfolk, merrow or the sea devils themselves, the sahuagin. Perhaps, but all those are humanoid races with societies, so I would expect a less base response from their hunters and warriors. However, kuo-toa are just a step up from the fishies in the sea, heck they look like fish with little arms. I think that, above all, makes them into fierce little biters.
(1) As in all things, there must be a Xena: Warrior Princess reference. For a taste of cannibal adversaries in this mode, check out the sixth season episode “The Abyss.” Note how the cannibals layer Gabrielle in a coating of clay, turning her into a homemade cooking pot.