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Mid-Week Question: What's your favorite D&D monster?

With Baldur's Gate 3 on our minds, we're naturally also thinking about Dungeons & Dragons in general. So a D&D question for this week: what's your favorite monster?

For me, in my brief stint as a DM, all I wanted to do was trick players into accidentally walking into a gelatinous cube. I put one at the bottom of a pool sitting on top of a gold key, I pressed one up against a doorway hoping they'd just blindly walk into it, and so on. I don't know why it was my singular obsession, but it's just a fun, weird monster to stick in a dungeon!

What's your favorite? Mimic? Owlbear? The iconic Beholder? Let me know by Wednesday morning-ish!
 
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Jan 13, 2020
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I have two.

The first is simple: the tarrasque. The Godzilla of the D&D multiverse, a creature I have never seen used in a campaign nor did I have the courage to make use of it myself, but it nonetheless still holds a certain amount of awe in both its design and potential.

The second would be the flumph. A rather vindictive dungeon master once thought he'd punish me by giving me one as a familiar. I was quite upset over that, but eventually turned it to my advantage (and drew the DM's ire) by maximizing its rather nonthreatening appearance and its quite potent poison abilities.

Before either of those it was long standing that I was quite obsessed with the dracolich.
 
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Frindis

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Jan 14, 2020
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Well, *cough* that has to be the Air Elemental that I got a critical failure summoning:

I was in a full party and we were going around in a cramped labyrinth looking for an entrance that would contain a room with a chest we had a quest finding. Supposedly it was going to be guarded by two gargoyles and we knew we would be in for a fight.

Just as we found the entrance I decided to roleplay one of my bad quirks which were being too impulsive. Soooo, I got that critical failure I mentioned, the air elemental turned against the group and we ended up running like a bunch of headless chicken out of the labyrinth. Even the GM shook his head and we ended up not getting any chest. I was quite popular that day.
 
Jan 22, 2020
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Oh god, about half of the first two monster manuals are made up of god-awful abominations that should never have seen the light of basement flourescents. I'm with Chris in liking the absurd gimmick-based ambush predators, the more specific the better.



For starters, there's the 'Executioners Hood' which disguises itself as a piece of headwear that offers neither protection or style in the hopes that some edgy, goth elven rogue might have lost his old balaclava so it can pop their head off like a cork when worn:



Then there's the equally specific and awkwardly named 'Wolf In Sheep's Clothing' which is basically a carnivorous tree stump that can grow a fake bunny rabbit out of it's head to lure in druid's and furries:



But my favourites in this category would have to be the Lurker and Trapper, which are just big flat manta-like creatures who take the form of the ceiling or floor respectively. The obvious question being; did two different fantasy naturalists discover the same creature hiding on different surfaces, or are they separate but equally ridiculous creatures that evolved to occupy different but similar ecological niches?

 
Jan 22, 2020
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That was the first thing I thought of the very first time I saw the sorting hat in Harry Potter. What a wonderfully wicked little beastie. I am sure you also appreciate the Piercer and Roper as well.
I'd heard of the Piercer, and I love that it's single attack action is dropping from above so it either hits and does a bit of damage, or misses and takes falling damage itself, and that's really it for the encounter beyond a furious, concussed barbarian stomping it into a fine paste.

I had to Google the roper, but it's just as spectacular as I'd hoped :



Even he doesn't look convinced.
 
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Sarafan

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Jan 14, 2020
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There are many fantastic creatures in the D&D system. It's hard to pick only one. I after a lot of hesitation I decided to choose a Lich. It's a high-level, very powerful undead mage, which can throw many ugly spells on your party. Sometimes it evolves into an even nastier version - a demilich. Without the necessary preparations he can wipe a whole party in a matter of turns (or seconds). I still remember the insane amount of effort I had to put to kill Kangaxx from BG2 for the first time. Very powerful creature!
 
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Mar 4, 2020
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Oh, I know this one, but there's a story.

Fire elementals.

Hold up, what do you mean, fire elementals? They're so generic. They're just fire wandering around. They're neither common enough to be familiar, nor exotic and wonderful enough to be really special. They're high enough level to not be a beginner encounter, but not high enough level to matter for your legendary heroes. Why would you pick the generic 5e Fire Elemental? Not even the Fire Elemental Myrmidon (which, if we're being honest, is much cooler)? And why fire?

I was in a campaign where my character was a druid. I say was because there were some party issues. Basically, another player decided to bully my character because of his alignment, which he never acted on in a way his character could even possibly know. Basically, the goodie two-shoes fire sorcerer/paladin multiclass munchkin chosen one hated the maybe kind of evil, grumpy druid who was really just angry at Drow all the time. Genocidally (and evilly, hence the alignment) angry. So, much to my chagrin, my level 6 druid retired from the party after constant feuding with the paladin, and I substituted in a much less interesting character for the next several months of the campaign.

Until...

About three or four months and several levels later, our characters found ourselves in an arena on a pirate island. Each character had to engage in a death match for the sake of a shiny plot McGuffin, with the pirate team (or heroic adventurers) who had the most individual wins taking the item. All the other players and my new character won, with varying degrees of ease. I think I had three HP and one spell slot left at the end, which was not much for level 12. The paladin steps into the arena for his fight, and I receive a familiar character sheet from the DM. Guess who the sorcerer paladin munchkin was fighting?

Now, my druid had been off murdering Drow, so he was also leveled quite a bit from when we last saw him, but this multi-class monster was overpowered. Like, actually breaking the rules and taking advantage of the relatively inexperienced DMs (we had two rotating DMs) to get away with power-gaming shenanigans. This character was the brainchild of the best player I've ever met, who can make *ANY* character or build incredibly powerful while still having a great story and personality, and a newbie who simply fudged and bent things using his advice and his own lack of experience to get away with "Oh, I didn't realize that worked that way" (followed by DMs allowing his BS because they didn't realize how broken it was getting, and finally realizing their mistake too late to rein in the awfulness- and I don't just mean that to be rude, he legit abused his backstory to basically give himself a private religious order and his character may have been a demigod, divine intervention included).

This is the stereotypical "fantasy-writer-turned-player" who dominates the campaign around things that just sort of aggravate the DMs, to the point of telling them that things didn't actually happen the way they said it did and, for example, trying to conjure allies and abilities from his backstory, doing things without making checks or running things by the DMs which domineered the campaign, and the like. It wasn't just me getting frustrated by it, and his at the table behavior made us more frustrated. He would show up irregularly without notifying anyone when he was gone, he would zone out when anyone else was playing, and his character would judge other characters for things he couldn't have possibly noticed, such as when the party was split, because, spoiler warning, his character was a demigod (according to him, at least).

So, when my newly leveled druid stepped into the arena, I was still pretty much guaranteed to get slaughtered. Circle of the Moon druids are powerful, but their weakness is sustained fights at that level, and between paladin and sorcerer features, this abomination had more armor, more effective health, more spell damage, and generally just better stats across the board. I could have probably won had we been at level cap, but I simply lacked a killer feature to counter his balance of durability, damage, and annoying spells. However, he had one weakness.

He was almost entirely specialized into doing fire damage. His spell list (somewhat unbeknownst to me, as I only really saw him use the same four spells for damage) was almost entirely fire damage. No control spells, no defensive spells, only fire damage spells. His feats were fire damage feats. His entire character gimmick was burning things. So, when the fight began, I scrambled for one thing: Elemental Shape: Fire Elemental.

After a devastating damage spike at the start of the match, as he burned his highest spell slot and some sorcery points to try to nuke my druid in one shot, I moved towards him and announced my bonus action: Elemental Shape. Queue a sorcerer/paladin munchkin desperately trying to kill a fire elemental, loaded with HP, while doing absolutely no damage with his fire spells. It was still a close battle- having convinced the DMs to let him alter his stat block, get more HP than he should have, and being min maxed with feats and abilities, it was still a powerful character.

However, he ultimately succumbed to the unrelenting flames, once again leaving me with very little HP (in elemental and druid form- guy won initiative and almost one shot my druid before I could enter elemental shape because it was a broken build, produced by the min-max prowess of the best power gamer and character builder I've ever met and the unhinged imagination of a self-insert fan fic author) and I celebrated my (much belated) vindication.

I still smile when I think about fire elementals, because I remember my victory over a particularly egregious table rival.

To be fair, the DMs were going to force him to retire his character after the session anyway, because they found out it was technically not rules legal (his character failed the multiclassing requirements and they found out before the session), but it felt good to have my character who I retired to keep the table from devolving into bickering vindicate himself in the arena. It is my only player kill, and I don't really regret it. And that is why I have a warm spot in my heart for Fire Elementals.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
 
The 3.5 Chaos Beast. It's a horrible writhing, ever-changing mass with teeth, tentacles, claws and whatever else something can use to attack with. It's attacks don't do a lot of damage, but if you fail the DC 15 fortitude save, you become a spongy, amorphous mass that melts, flows, writhes, and boils.

From now on, you have to try to keep your form together by making DC 15 Charisma saves or lose the ability to do basically anything and lose 1 Wisdom point per round. If your Wisdom falls to 0, you become a Chaos Beast.

The condition is permanent until someone heals you with a Restoration spell (so better hope your Cleric has a level 4 spell slot left).

It's a very fun monster to use against players who don't know it, as they quickly go from "let's smash it" to "oh **** oh **** oh **** don't let it touch me!"

Another good one is the Gibbering Mouther. It also has a nasty ability, this one requiring a wisdom save every round and inflicting a Confusion effect on a fail.
 
Dec 15, 2019
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Oh god, about half of the first two monster manuals are made up of god-awful abominations that should never have seen the light of basement flourescents. I'm with Chris in liking the absurd gimmick-based ambush predators, the more specific the better.



For starters, there's the 'Executioners Hood' which disguises itself as a piece of headwear that offers neither protection or style in the hopes that some edgy, goth elven rogue might have lost his old balaclava so it can pop their head off like a cork when worn:



Then there's the equally specific and awkwardly named 'Wolf In Sheep's Clothing' which is basically a carnivorous tree stump that can grow a fake bunny rabbit out of it's head to lure in druid's and furries:



But my favourites in this category would have to be the Lurker and Trapper, which are just big flat manta-like creatures who take the form of the ceiling or floor respectively. The obvious question being; did two different fantasy naturalists discover the same creature hiding on different surfaces, or are they separate but equally ridiculous creatures that evolved to occupy different but similar ecological niches?
These are types of Mimic, aren't they? At least, I think Mimics were around before these critters, maybe D&D v1. If we're going taxonomically group them, then Mimic might be the genus and then, lurkers, trappers, the Executioners Hood and that stump thing would be the species, along with the original treasure chest Mimic.

There: nice and orderly, now I can sleep tonight.
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
These are types of Mimic, aren't they? At least, I think Mimics were around before these critters, maybe D&D v1.
All 3 were in the original AD&D Monster Manual. I wouldn't know much about them if they weren't. ;)

A straight up D&D monster? Ooohhkay, let's see...

Purple worm. Any time one would show up, the fighters would all try to get eaten so they could cut it up from the inside!
 

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