Monster Monday - Quasit (familiar variant) - This is a tiny fiend hat can go invisible, is immune to poison, can polymorph into a bat, toad, or centipede, and has darkvision. Because the claws of the quasit are poison, it is also a familiar that can attack and is thus not suitable for most low-level PCs. https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/quasit-familiar-variant
Monster Monday - Centaur Mummy https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/centaur-mummy
The Centaur Mummy is a guardian from The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan adventure. Far from being the mostly-good druidic friends of the forest, this undead fiend is bad news and has a bad attitude toward everyone. Probably even the necromancer who created it is glad he’s dead so he doesn’t have to deal with this guy any longer.
Have you ever faced a Centaur Mummy or have you ever used one as a DM to fight against a party of adventurers?
Monster Monday - Balhannoth https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/balhannoth
Balhannoths are terrifying aberrations that dwell primarily in the Underdark and the Shadowfell. They look like eyeless beholders with long tentacles, each of which has a paddle-like appendage that has sharp tooth-like spines on it. The Balhannoth cannot fly, but it can teleport and go invisible and it attaches to ceilings and overhanging branches and other types of things where it waits for prey. It can use legendary actions to teleport away with a creature it has just attacked and grappled, and it can use powerful psychic attacks to make passing sentient beings believe they are close to places of safety or close to something that is their heart’s desire.
Have you ever fought a balhannoth? Have you ever used one against a party of adventurers in a campaign you were running?
Monster Monday - Giant Lizard (variant) https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/giant-lizard-variant
This monstrosity is used as a pack animal and a beast of burden by Lizardfolk and dwellers in the Underdark. This creature can get particularly vicious when it is hungry. It’s most frightening aspect appears when it has not eaten in several days, at which point it has been known to assault sentient beings like this.
Monster Monday - Living Unseen Servant https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/living-unseen-servant
A living unseen servant is essentially the same thing as the wizard spell unseen servant, but given permanent status and monster stats. It still has the same basic form, features, and limitations of a normal unseen servant, but now it also has hit points, an armor class, and can fight very minimally. In 5e, these creatures are introduced deep in Undermountain where the ancient Mad Mage lives below Waterdeep.
Monster Monday - Evoker https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/evoker
Since Basic D&D “monster” has been synonymous with “adversary” in the game. The Evoker is an NPC that might be an opponent, might be an ally, or might just be having a drink at the bar when a brawl breaks out.
From the official description: “Evokers are specialist wizards who harness magical energy and elemental forces to destroy. Many tend to be hotheaded and aggressive. Others are cold and reserved, unleashing their power at just the right moment to exploit an opponent’s weakness.” (D&D Beyond entry, see link above).
Pro Tip: One cool thing about the fact that D&D has all the specialists listed as Monsters is that you can have a look at what a class (in this case a wizard) who follows a certain specialty (in this case an Evoker) may look like at a certain level (12th in the case of the Evoker). This template is certainly not the only way to build a 12th level wizard but it gives you an idea of what kind of powers and capabilities the wizard would have at that point in their career.
Monster Monday - Ogre Howdah https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/ogre-howdah
The Ogre Howdah is a large version of the ogre that is “trained” to carry a platform on its shoulders and back from which four small humanoids can fight. This makes the Ogre Howdah a very potent enemy, since it can use its own attacks and it has the attacks of the humanoids fighting from the platform mounted on it.
Have you ever faced one of these monsters in a game you played? How would you use one of these as a DM in your campaign?
Monster Monday - Gelatinous Cube https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/gelatinous-cube
The Gelatinous Cube is one of those iconic monsters of D&D that has been around since the earliest days of the earliest edition of the game. It is the perfect monster for fastidious dungeon builders to leave behind because it is a living vacuum and floor polisher, as the following quote from the Monster Manual and the D&D Beyond creature description shows:
Gelatinous cubes scour dungeon passages in silent, predictable patterns, leaving perfectly clean paths in their wake. They consume living tissue while leaving bones and other materials undissolved.
A gelatinous cube is all but transparent, making it hard to spot until it attacks. A cube that is well fed can be easier to spot, since its victims’ bones, coins, and other objects can be seen suspended inside the creature.
A right of passage for every new DM and every new player is encountering one of these creatures or throwing one in a dungeon to see how adventurers fare with it.
What is your fondest or most terrifying memory of encountering a gelatinous cube or sliding one in front of a party of players in your game?
Monster Monday - Rutterkin CR2 demon that are the guard dogs of the Abyss. They roam the Abyss in mobs searching for intruders, which they surround and devour. Delightful. https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/rutterkin
These demonic creatures are from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, and I have a campaign where I plan to reskin this creature as another kind of monster. In fact, I identified demons as a class as a kind of creature that I would reskin, using their existing stat blocks and modifying some attack types and/or damage types and changing the effect of some abilities to a different kind. So in this case, instead of “crippling fear” for the ability, my campaign will have the reskinned Rutterkin inflict “crippling madness” which will impose a random effect of short-term madness on the target for the duration of one minute.
What about you—as a DM have you used Rutterkin and would you use them in a campaign as they exist or as a reskinned creature of another type?
Monster Monday - Centaur Mummy CR6 undead centaur. This delightful monstrosity appeared in the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan from Tales from the Yawning Portal. https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/centaur-mummy
In its original setting of the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, the Centaur Mummy is an undead guardian of a chamber with two mandates. The first is to prevent any creatures except undead from descending beyond the chamber deeper into the shrine, and the second is to prevent any undead from ascending beyond the chamber from deeper into the shrine toward the outside world. It is pitched as the mummified remains of a sacred offspring of the god that is the guardian of the underworld. As with most guardians, there is a way to bypass it safely. In this case, there is a password from
Have you ever used such a guardian in one of your homebrew campaigns? What kind of setting would you use this in for one of your games?
Monster Monday - Boneclaw CR12 Undead that is the result of a wizard's failed attempt to become a lich. https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/boneclaw
As a DM, I am in love with this creature for the delicious possibilities it gives me if I have a party member who plays evil a little too evil. I would love to point out one of the creature characteristics from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes on this one:
Dark Reflections. A boneclaw’s master might not want such a servant or even know it has one. Boneclaws bind to petty criminals, bullies, and even particularly cruel children. Even if the master is unaware of its new, horrid bodyguard, its local area will be plagued by disappearances and grisly murders, tied together by the common thread of the master’s envy or hunger for revenge.
So if a PC suffers a loss that makes him go dark (I played a Paladin once in a game long ago who succumbed “to the dark side” after his betrothed was brutally murdered by a recurring villain of the campaign), I might well just saddle that PC with one of these lovely monstrosities. In some ways this creature is like the D&D equivalent of The Terminator in that it has a relentless focus on destruction powered by the dark impulses of whatever creature it has chosen for its “master,” even if that master doesn’t know the Boneclaw is there.
Another aspect of this creature I love is its limited immortality. As long as the “master” lives, the Boneclaw cannot be destroyed. If its body is felled, then it reforms within hours and goes back to following the bidding of its master—even if the master doesn’t know that this thing is doing its bidding.
OK fellow DMs, what are some ways you can dream up to use one of these in your campaign?
Monster Monday - Grung Wildling https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/grung-wildling
The grungs are froglike people that live in the swamps of Chult and first showed up in the rules supplement Volo’s Guide to Monsters and the adventure Tomb of Annihilation.
The Wildlings are the scholar and caster caste of grung tribes, and they have red skin. There’s a curiosity with the stat blocks for these creatures: Grung Wildlings are considered 9th level spellcasters, but they only have up to 3rd level spells, 27 HP, a modest armor class, and a CR1. This is because Wildlings use the Ranger class table for their spells, and rangers get spells more slowly and have a smaller pool than many other casters.
Because grungs are a bit of an oddity, they lend themselves to being reskinned for other campaigns. For instance, you can build an entire new race of creatures with different castes and abilities, and you can plug each caste into the stat block for a grung. Imagine a race of insectoids or extra-planar creatures. Then you can just swap out the poison for another type of damage (as appropriate) and swap out the need for immersion in water for something else. If they are a bunch of living rock people, for instance, then perhaps they have to spend an hour merged into a stone like a boulder or bedrock or something to avoid the exhaustion.
Monster Monday - Drow: Medium humanoid (elf); neutral evil. Drow are malevolent elves that dwell in the Underdark and worship Lloth, the Spider Queen, who dwells in the Abyss. https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/drow
The Drow are everyone’s favorite Underdark antiheroes. Where wood elves are natural woodland sprites and high elves are mystic masters of arcane magic, the drow are the shadow reflection, practicing magics to create unnatural blends of spider and elf and haunting the deep dark places in the world where they worship their terrible and malevolent spider goddess, Lolth.
There’s also a troubling bit of misogyny going on with the Drow. Most playable and non-playable humanoid races don’t specify the power structure of their cultures, but it’s very often portrayed as a patriarchy, which is the historic “norm” (speaking in a factual sense, not a value judgment sense) for western civilizations in the real world. But drow are specifically set up as a matriarchy, where females hold the power. In a subtle way, this is saying that societies ruled by women tend to be evil.
If you make heavy use of drow in a campaign you run, how could use offset this subtle misogyny in other cultures in your homebrew world? have you ever seen a game where the power structure of drow was turned on its head?
Monster Monday - Young Copper Dragon: Large dragon; chaotic good. Copper dragons live in dry uplands and on hilltops and they make their lairs in narrow caves, where they use false walls to hide their treasure. https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/young-copper-dragon
In my opinion, copper dragons are underused in D&D campaigns. As metallic dragons, they are one of the good-aligned dragon types, and they are also the pranksters and jokers of the dragon world. They have a hair trigger when their hoard is threatened, however, and can flash from joking to deadly serious enemies if someone tries to steal from them.
Copper dragons enjoy the company of bards, and love swapping funny stories, bawdy songs, and witty stories—and they expect everyone to laugh at their jokes. What is the most creative use of a copper dragon you have seen in a game? What ideas do you have for putting a copper dragon into your own campaign?
Monster Monday - Hurricane: Medium Humanoid; lawful evil. A Hurricane is a devotee of the Cult of the Howling Hatred, the evil cult of Elemental Air. https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/hurricane
The Hurricane is one of the lieutenant rank of the enemy in the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign. These guys are third level spellcasters, and serve as very disruptive hand-to-hand combatants. They gained advantages to AC for wearing no armor and had a lot of utility spells. But they could jump into the middle of a fight, cast Thunderwave to clear out space for their own troops, and then magically leap away to safety.
If you were running a campaign that was set on the Elemental Plane of Air or any plane of existence where there might be a lot of air elementals and other creatures that might come from the Plane of Air, then throwing members of the Cult of the Howling Hatred into that environment would be very appropriate, and could constitute a good basis for the structure of an native fighting force (of course depending on the nature of your campaign, these could be allies or enemies of the party).
What are some other ways you could see using these enemies outside of the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign?
In 2019 I’ll be adding some daily quick-hit content to the blog and other social media platforms in the form of daily items to correspond with every day of the week. And the best part about it is that I’ve used my polyhedral dice and online RNGs to pick which item out of every category each week. So there are bound to be some duplicates and there might well be some duds as well as doozies. It should be a load of fun!Read More