Monster ENCyclopedia
  • Monster ENCyclopedia


    One of D&D’s hottest creatures lives in the coolest climes. Arctic explorers might place “burned alive” low down on their list of risks, but that’s exactly what will happen if they run into a remorhaz. A capable hunter, the remorhaz grows large enough to swallow a polar bear whole. Anything it eats is rapidly immolated by the chemical fires raging in the creature’s stomach. Join this edition of the Monster ENCyclopedia as we examine the remorhaz (from a safe distance).

    Don’t blink or you’ll miss this entry in the Monster ENCyclopedia series. Malicious and often murderous, these tiny fey will turn you into a pincushion for their miniature daggers. If you are unlucky, the poison in your wounds will knock you out. This time we’re taking a look at one of D&D’s fastest moving creatures, the quickling.

    Whether they are magical hybrids, alien invaders or creatures warped by a curse, perytons are single minded in their pursuit of their victims. If, as that shape in the sky draws closer, you notice that it casts a humanoid shadow on the ground below, beware! Once a peryton decides it wants to eat your heart, the only way to stop it is to kill it. The peryton has appeared in every edition since AD&D -- join the Monster ENCyclopedia as we take a look at this half-giant eagle, half-stag monstrousity.

    This is a special instalment in the Monster ENCyclopedia series, which has been taking a slow and steady (very steady!) alphabetical tour through various D&D monsters. Each previous entry in the series focussed on the history of just one monster. This entry is a little different. Tomb of Annihilation is set in the jungles of Chult, and is triggered when resurrection stops working across the world. This hook doesn’t stop the adventure from delightfully resurrecting a number of lesser known D&D creatures to flesh out the jungles. These aren’t creatures likely to get Monster ENCyclopedia entries by themselves (well, maybe the froghemoth), so this is a combined entry looking at the history of several of these monsters.

    Many of the Monster ENCyclopedia entries so far have been creatures you would not want to hug. A hug from a drider or a kraken would be repulsive. Hugging a catobleplas would be deadly. This next entry has three (or two) legs, two (or more) grabby tentacles, a sensory stalk with two (or three) eyeballs, and a single large orifice which it uses for eating, excreting and reproducing. It lives in poop. It eats poop. Dose yourself with typhus vaccine, and climb down into the sewerage tank to meet another “don't hug” creature: the otyugh.

    The nightmare is the steed of choice for all kinds of D&D villains. Black in colour with flaming hooves, it is a highly intelligent creature. As it progressed through editions it gained weight and became more flammable. But is there more to the nightmare than simply being a mount for bad guys? This instalment of the Monster ENCyclopedia takes a closer look at this evil equine to find out.

    Breathe deeply. The tickle you can feel in the back of your throat means the spores have started working. Sit back, relax, and let your mind join the rest of the circle in the meld! Save vs. poison to avoid reading a Monster ENCyclopedia entry dedicated to hallucinogenic mushrooms. D&D's myconids are under the spotlight this time as we track the fungus folk from their debut in In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords through to their most recent appearance in Out of the Abyss. Visit the Monster ENCyclopedia index for links to other entries in this series.

    What's half-human and either half-lion, half-goat, half-deer, half-snake or half-beetle swarm? It's the lamia, a creature whose appearance (and reproductive cycle) has varied substantially over four decades of D&D appearances. From blood-drinking monsters of 1st Edition to regal servants of Graz'zt in 5th Edition, the lamia has smelled of perfumed flowers and become a fey swarm of beetles along the way. Constant through its physical transformations are the lamia's ability to disguise itself and its desire to trick, beguile and ultimately consume humanoids. Join the Monster ENCyclopedia for a look at the D&D lamia.

    Every world has kraken legends. Gigantic tentacled creatures lurk in the watery depths, scheming and plotting so that they might grow in power with every new edition of D&D. Krakens think nothing of mutilating slaves and refer to their own mating rituals as the Hateful Compulsion. Are they proxies of demon lords, invaders from the Far Realm or the spawn of some even greater ocean threat? Join the Monster ENCyclopedia for a look at the D&D kraken.

    Be warned, this Monster ENCyclopedia entry might put you to sleep. If you gaze into its eyes, that is. Not quite a lycanthrope, the beguiling jackalwere has shapeshifted its way through five editions of the D&D game, from the 1st Edition Monster Manual right through to the 5th Edition Monster Manual.

    They dwell in the oceans, resemble manta rays and are fiercely loyal to the demon lord Demogorgon. The ixitxachitl has appeared in every edition of the game so far, and probably has one of the most mispronounced names in D&D history. This Monster ENCyclopedia entry examines the history of these evil, aquatic denizens from Supplement II: Blackmoor right through to Out of the Abyss.

    What creature has two arms, no hands, echolocation, an exoskeleton and enjoys eating either mushrooms or drow, depending which edition we're talking about? It's the hook horror! This Monster ENCyclopedia entry traces the development of the hook horror from a shy herbivore to an aggressive predator.

    It has been a little while since the Monster ENCyclopedia looked at the flumph, but this sporadic monster series is now back with the galeb duhr. Read on for the exciting story of how D&D's classic rock-man grew two extra limbs and shrank from 12 feet to 4 feet in just four editions.

    Was there ever any doubt about the flumph as the first choice of an 'F' monster for the Monster ENCyclopedia? After appearing only in relatively obscure sources for several editions, one of D&D's most notorious creatures received a promotion to a prime spot in the 5th Edition Monster Manual. Join us for a look back at the thirty-three-and-a-third-year history of the flumph.

    Author's note: This series is back after an extended break. I knew that quite a few of the creatures I was planning to cover were going to be appearing in the 5th Edition Monster Manual, so I wanted to wait for that to be released before continuing. Unfortunately, a four month long postal strike stranded my copy in limbo. That copy of the Monster Manual is still missing in action, but I was able to buy another one during a recent trip to Australia, and finally finish this next instalment. My apologies for the delay!

    Driders are half-spider, half-drow creatures created by the god Lolth from drow who fail a test designed to measure their worthiness. Appropriately then, the first appearance of the drider is in Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits. This is a series of posts about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions.

    The catoblepas was first described nearly two thousand years ago by Pliny the Elder, as a buffalo/boar hybrid with a deadly gaze. However, that's the legendary Ethiopian beast version, and not the D&D version. D&D has a much shorter publication history (thankfully, or these posts would be a lot longer), and since this is a series about the monsters of D&D, our catoblepas story starts with a single (uncredited) paragraph in The Strategic Review, Vol. II No. 2.

    The barghest originated in Dragon #26 in the Dragon's Bestiary column. This first appearance lacks an illustration, so D&D players would have only a written description of the barghest to start with. (The picture below comes from the later Planescape Campaign Setting). There is also no credit for the column, but in response to a letter in Dragon #30, the editor confirms that Gary Gygax was the creator of the barghest. This is a series of posts about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions.

    This is a series of posts about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions. Because this is the first post in this series, it starts with the first creature to appear in any A-Z of the denizens of the worlds of D&D, the aarakocra.