This tag covers questions relating to either monstrous antagonists specifically, or all enemies of the player characters generally; which usage is correct varies depending on the traditions of specific games. Use as appropriate for the game in question.

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56
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1answer
3k views

What's the inspiration for the owlbear?

The standard explanation for the owlbear in-universe is "A Wizard Did It." Which is fine, as far as it goes, because the trope of "madman tinkering with bizarre mutations" is part of our speculative ...
51
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26answers
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What alternatives are there to replace orcs, kobolds, and hobgoblins in low-level encounters?

In your average "generic D&D" campaign and setting, orcs, kobolds, and hobgoblins are frequently used to stock low level adventures and dungeons. These are usually nice for 1st/2nd level ...
37
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is Survival not a class skill for animals?

Question in title. Seems odd that an animal isn't naturally inclined to get bonuses to Survival, which typically involves dealing with the wilds and it's associated difficulties (an animal's natural ...
36
votes
2answers
5k views

What makes the Monstrous Crab so dangerous?

It was recently mentioned that the Monstrous Crab is generally capable of wiping out even a powerful 3rd level party. It seems to me that, lacking any anti-ranged capability whatsoever, it is ...
34
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11answers
2k views

What are some dangerous non-fantasy creatures?

We're running a fantasy game where the adventurers frequently travel through the wilderness. Too many of the threatening encounters they have are with fantasy creatures (like goblins, orcs, etc.). ...
30
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6answers
6k views

Is giving a kobold a weapon considered a marriage proposal?

I have a friend who played D&D 4e longer then me. One day we were adventuring in Kobold Hall and I convinced a female kobold to join our group. Soon after my character gave the kobold a weapon, my ...
29
votes
7answers
3k views

How much do I tell new players about new monsters?

Background I am a brand-new DM, about to lead a game for brand-new players. I have a lot of knowledge of rules from playing Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights over and over, leafing through a ...
27
votes
3answers
3k views

What inspired the D&D version of the Rakshasa?

Rakshasa have been part of D&D for more than 35 years, appearing in every edition. These evil magic cat-people are clearly inspired by the rakshas from Hindu and Buddhist mythologies, but they ...
24
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2answers
2k views

A medusa and a beholder look at each other. What happens?

What happens when a medusa and a beholder look at each other? Will the beholder petrify, or will the medusa lose her power?
23
votes
11answers
3k views

How can an aristocracy be perpetuated between creatures that can't interbreed?

The 25-year-old human prince of a 50-year-old small nation (total population maybe 100,000 spread out in a rather large valley among settlements no larger than 5,000 creatures each) is looking to ...
23
votes
4answers
6k views

Are Legendary monsters in the Monster Manual ever able to be defeated?

I'm starting my first 5e campaign soon and I'm just learning about balancing encounters. While looking up challenge ratings I noticed a very troubling truth: Of 30 challenge levels in the Monster ...
23
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3answers
3k views

How can I play monsters and NPCs up to their potential?

In many cases discussions about balance in 3.5 will, inevitably, involve one side or another invoking an anecdote of the time they fought this monster, or a member of that class, and they didn't ...
23
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6answers
1k views

How can I make monster knowledge checks fun?

By now most players know, or should know, that a monster knowledge check can make all the difference when you’re fighting a monster for the very first time. But how can we make them both fun and not ...
23
votes
4answers
3k views

Monster Manual 1 - Is it balanced? Should I balance it?

I've been DM'ing a little lately 4 edition D&D and of course I'm confused again: My first adventure was a big question mark, I didn't use the exact guidelines for creating an encounter and ...
23
votes
1answer
1k views

Will petrification prevent lich from being reborn near phylactery (possibly forever)?

If I am not mistaken, liches now aren't immune to being petrified. Granted, they have Legendary resistance and high CON save, but spamming petrification by Prismatic Spray/Wall: Indigo, Flesh to ...
22
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4answers
43k views

Calculating and balancing challenge ratings

Are there standard rules for calculating CR of groups? For example, in my Pathfinder bestiary, a single Stirge is listed as CR 1/2, and a group of 2d4 (average 5) of them is listed as an average CR 4. ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

What does a doppelganger smell like?

One of my players got the (fun) idea that her character could be able to smell the difference between a doppelganger copy and the real person. She's a shifter, so in theory she has an excellent sense ...
20
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3answers
3k views

What is the history of vampires having high natural armor class?

Based on this question to Order of the Stick #1002 featuring combat between the main protagonist and a vampire, I wonder what is historical motivation for D&D vampires being tough to hit, not ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I use minions effectively?

I'm a newbie DM. It seems that minions in an encounter benefit the PCs more than they benefit me: The Barbarian can kill them for free THP and a Swift Charge (I thought they were supposed to slow ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Were Illithids inspired by Cthulhu?

Mind Flayers seem to look a whole lot like Cthulhu. Is there any relationship/inspiration between the two?
20
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2answers
524 views

Tarrasque: Rush & Jump Skill Interaction

Background I am having a little trouble wrapping my brain around the Jump skill. I want to plan a battle with my players and the Tarrasque; two of them have the ability to fly - and it does not. I ...
19
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4answers
1k views

How can I make combat more challenging without making it too frustrating?

My fellow DMs and I have come across a problem. It feels like the party has been doing a good job of dispatching our monsters with relative ease. We are not upset about this part, our party has done ...
19
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4answers
561 views

What furniture does a beholder have in its personal quarters?

A beholder's lair is made up of several chambers and... The farthest chamber from the entrance is the beholder’s personal quarters, where the creature sleeps and studies any magic treasure it has ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Does a summoned monster's alignment matter?

I am playing in a 3.5 game recently, and a question has come up that none of us could really answer. Does the alignment of a summoned monster (as per the Summon Monster I-IX spells) matter at all? For ...
17
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2answers
2k views

When do Lair Actions occur?

The Monster Manual describes Lair Actions as occurring "On initiative count 20 (losing all ties)..." (p 11). What does "initiative count 20" mean? I can't find that phrase anywhere in the PHB or in ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Harmlessly Harvesting Poison from a Monster Companion

The person who is DMing our Tyranny of Dragons campaign (HotDQ->RoT) is considering allowing my evil character to track down a Wyvern nest and find an egg to obtain a tamed mount using a significant ...
16
votes
8answers
639 views

What would clever creatures do to protect their lair?

(This question is for fantasy worlds like in D&D and other such games.) Usually, as the adventuring party goes up in ability, they end up facing stronger and more powerful characters. Let's say ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Is an Ooze a living creature?

Is an Ooze or something with Ooze traits a living creature for the purposes of things like Vampiric Touch?
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Ogre CR calculation: is it wrong or am I missing something?

My question is about the basic ogre CR calculation in the monster manual, which doesn't make senses to me. I tried to make a concept of an "armored ogre" with chain mail and pikes (AC 16 and 15 ...
16
votes
2answers
4k views

Creating solo monsters

One thing I haven't found in 4th edition online is a plethora of solo monsters. The idea of these fights are fascinating! Sadly though, all the products in 4th focus on multiple opponent fights (with ...
16
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3answers
2k views

What updates should be done to older monsters to bring them in line with MM3 era monsters?

I know that to better balance paragon and epic level players against similar level monsters, WotC changed the math used for monsters for MM3, and I believe that they changed some of the types of ...
15
votes
3answers
668 views

What does a Troglodyte actually smell like?

In 1st Edition AD&D, the Monster Manual states that Troglodytes ...emit a secretion which smells extremely disgusting to humans... If I want to keep the party on their toes, I would like ...
15
votes
1answer
977 views

How does a Vampire Spawn become a Vampire?

I was looking at the Vampire and Vampire Spawn entries in the monster manual, and a little blurb in the green box next to Von Zarovich's note talks about player characters becoming vampire spawns, ...
15
votes
1answer
610 views

At what level do monsters cast cantrips?

A 9 HD Yuan-ti Pureblood can innately cast the poison spray cantrip 3 times per day. The monster description says the save is DC 12, but it does not go into damage. So does it do 1d12 or 2d12 damage?
15
votes
2answers
8k views

Are there any Animal Companions that are not actually Animals?

I’m just curious if any supplement out there includes an Animal Companion that is not, in fact, an Animal. As in the type. I mean that just any Druid of sufficient level can take; there are ...
15
votes
1answer
383 views

What is this creature that increases in strength as its allies die?

I remember some years ago coming across a creature in 3.5e that works in groups and as each individual of the group is slain the surviving creatures increase in strength. Can anyone give me the ...
15
votes
2answers
548 views

Can you heal a split black pudding?

In 3.5, black puddings possess: Split (Ex) Slashing and piercing weapons deal no damage to a black pudding. Instead the creature splits into two identical puddings, each with half of the ...
14
votes
1answer
903 views

Killing Elementals

So, you've got, let's say, an air elemental you want to kill, and it's basically made of air. How do you kill it? Simply by hitting it with any weapon seems a little bit illogical to me - it's air and ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

What happens when Zombies are Slowed?

I'm referring to the specific system of DnD 3.5 and to Zombies being slowed with the spell Slow. Zombies already have "Partial Action" in that they only have a standard action per round. I understand ...
14
votes
7answers
832 views

How much should characters know about encountered creatures in 4e?

The shift from 3.5e to 4e in D&D has meant a big shift towards emphasizing tactics during combat. While I was apprehensive about this at first, it turns out it's quite entertaining, and a good ...
14
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2answers
2k views

Do fire spells cast underwater still affect creatures vulnerable to fire?

Related Question: Can magic items that deal fire damage function underwater? As mentioned in the above question: From the DMG p93: Spells or spell-like effects with the fire descriptor are ...
14
votes
2answers
225 views

What happens to active spells on a black pudding when it splits?

Bob the wizard and his chums have encountered a black pudding and Bob has cast Slow on it to give him some time to run for it. However, helpfully, the next round the parties tank, Kevin the Barbarian, ...
14
votes
1answer
502 views

Are there guidelines for creating & customising MM3-style monsters?

I've heard that Monster Manual 3 came with an improved design philosophy for monsters (particularly solos), and there are questions about updating pre-MM3 monsters for MM3. I want to create and ...
13
votes
12answers
3k views

How do you make a vampire cleric stay dead?

In our current D&D 3.5 campaign we have made enemies with powerful drow vampire clerics. They have an annoying habit of resurrecting as their god is one who brings people back from the dead to ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

What is a Wyrm in D&D?

So I keep seeing things like "The Great Wyrm", "Forest of the Wyrm", "Wyrm aged" and they seem to be all related to Dragons. Is Wyrm just another name for Dragons? Is this a general thing or does it ...
13
votes
8answers
540 views

How do I use the same type of creature as characters level up without using more of them?

Is there a good formula/strategy for making monsters harder as characters level up without just throwing more of them? My kids, for example, love Kobolds but I just don't want combats of 30 of them.
13
votes
2answers
820 views

What language is reasonable for a Roper to speak or understand?

I'm DMing a published 5e campaign that has a Roper in it. The campaign book tells me... This seems all well and good, except in the monster's stat block its language is listed as '—', which I ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

Why are Solars so powerful compared to other Outsiders in D&D?

Going through a number of D&D books that feature the Solar I noted that it is amongst the most powerful monsters in the book, frequently only matched in level and power by the likes of the ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Where does the distinction between “Mindflayer” and “Illithid” come from?

I know that a Mindflayer is an Illithid and visa versa. And, I know in some of the D&D fiction, like Forgotten Realms and the like, that Mindflayers refer to themselves or their race as Illithids, ...
13
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2answers
1k views

Does Petrifying Gaze special ability still work posthumously in D&D 3.5/Pathfinder?

Meaning can a PC use the severed head of a medusa or basilisk as a weapon to petrify his opponents?