Okay, so this is a bit of a weird question, but as the title says, has there ever been a case in the history of Dungeons & Dragons where a Nightmare has ever been turned back to good?

I've only ever played 5e, so my D&D history isn't quite up to snuff, but in 5e in the flavor text for a nightmare, it says that they are created from pegasi:

Creating a Nightmare. Nightmares don’t appear naturally in the multiverse. They must be created from pegasi. The ritual that creates a nightmare requires the torturous removal of a pegasus’s wings, driving that noble creature to evil as it is transformed by dark magic.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean as an option in previous editions or in the lore? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a lore question, nowhere in the question is OP asking for rules for it. However, there's a different problem, and that is that D&D is not a setting, it's a ruleset. It's possible to play D&D in an entirely original world where Nightmares are born if a Unicorn wearing sunglasses gives birth while drinking soda. The default setting for 5e is the Forgotten Realms, but I'm fairly certain that in the Forgotten Realms universe in most editions, they're simply a type of fiend-horse from the lower planes. This question might therefore be pretty hard to answer due to conflicting lore. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 15:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm altering the question to ask about the history of the Forgotten Realms specifically. I agree asking about this in the entire scope of every D&D setting only makes a limited amount of sense: if one of them was cured in Dark Sun, so what if you're not playing in there? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant: as far as I can tell, the whole pegasus thing is totally new to 5th edition. Nightmares in previous editions (well, 3rd edition anyway) were just natural denizens of Hades, not corrupted anything-in-particular. That’s going to make any history from previous editions sort of dubiously-applicable, since they’d be talking about a rather different sort of creature apparently. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given @KRyan's comment I've tagged this as [dnd-5e] since the material comes from D&D 5e and might be exclusive to it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


In the previous editions of the game, nightmares were denizens of the Outer Planes and were not described as some corrupted versions of something else. Hence any purification story is unlikely to be found. For example, the 1e Monster Manual from 1977 simply states:

Also known as "demon horses" and "hell horses," nightmares are creatures from the lower planes.

The 1994 Planescape Monstrous Compendium (2e) provides quite some lore about nightmares, like how to attract the attention of one to acquire its services as a mount, how they go to a place called the Hill of Bone in Hades when they die, that they have no biological link to true horses, and their lack of need for food or air as they are minions of evil. Yet, no mention of pegasi:

Nightmares, the evil steeds of the Lower Planes, serve as mounts for baatezu, tanar'ri, night hags, and powerful undead lords.

Likewise we see nightmares in various random encounter tables in the 3e Manual of Planes, and statements that imply large numbers of nightmares, making it difficult to think that all of them can actually be transformed from pegasi. For example under the section about Hades (page 108), we read:

Besides Blood War detritus, night hags, and petitioners, Hades hosts herds of fiery nightmares.

It might perhaps be possible to redeem nightmares the way other fiends are redeemed, but I guess the question is about reverting/countering the process through which pegasi are turned into nightmare.

Hence if we decide to look for a 5e answer, one relevant piece of data comes from Mike Mearls, who tweeted the following on July 25, 2017 when asked about "a documented way a nightmare can turn back into a unicorn":

Nightmares are made from pegasi. In any case, bathe in waters of Mt Celestia to redeem its heart and restore form.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably worth mentioning that redeemed fiends (like nightmares) were absolutely things that could be found in previous editions. I don’t know that a nightmare in particular shows up, but other things definitely do (Fall-from-Grace being the most well-known, though technically non-canon; Eludecia is exceptionally obscure but not-explicitly-non-canon as Fall-from-Grace is. There are others.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 5:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ On that latter point, some maybe-useful links: good chromatic half-dragons in 3.5e, good half-fiends in Pathfinder (which uses the same rules here as 3.5e). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 5:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: I agree there are examples of redeemed fiends; actually there are many more beyond Eludecia and Fall-from-Grace, who by the way appeared on the Dragon magazine after the PS:T. But I think the question is more about reverting a nightmare back to pegasus form than redeeming a fiend. \$\endgroup\$
    – ZwiQ
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 9:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: I edited the answer to mention the redeemed fiends in passing. :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – ZwiQ
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 9:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a very good answer, thank you. I've never played any other editions, so I didn't know if the pegasi thing was recent or not. Still, it's good to know that there are examples of creatures in the history of the forgotten realms (and beyond) that have been "redeemed," so those links provided are very useful, both in the answer, and the comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay Kay
    Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 13:22

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