5E Aberrations in 5e D&D


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"They came a' crawlin' out o' the sea, all slimy an' wet. An' there were hunnerds o' 'em. An' they all 'ad the faces of me old fishin' mates. Even me first wife was in that grim group! All o' 'em was covered all up in coral, and they was screechin', they was. Screechin' to their Kraken god."

A common convention in Lovecraftian horror tales concerns what we, as mortals, may be unaware of, such as Old Ones who dwell at the bottom of depths unknown. This paranoia makes the eventual arrival of the piscine monsters more terrifying than it would have ever been absent the introduction of creeping fear in the beginning of the story.

I'm running a D&D game which evokes horror themes, particularly both undead-related and Lovecraftian, often to impress upon the players the grave threat to the campaign world's stability, and, even, existence.

Thus, I have become more interested in aberrations in 5e D&D. What is their place, why are they so often slighted in terms of monsters included (MToF is good for this, however), and why do aberrations not feature as prominently as many other enemies?

Is it that they are too dark, to uninteresting (not my opinion, as I am one who loves aliens and any being from the stars or the depths in fantasy), or, simply, because the idea of slaying demons is more appealing?

It is my opinion, however, that the reason aberrations are not given as much attention as other enemies by adventure authors is because of the inherent difficulty of giving a motivation to a villain so alien that its true aims cannot be comprehended except after much adventuring or long study.

My question to you, on ENWorld, is whether you think that a large adventure (the type which is honored as a season in AL and given a full campaign book) will feature aberrations prominently, as well as the cults associated with them, and, in general, your opinion on the state of aberrations in 5e D&D. What do you think?


Eberron features a lot of aberrations thanks to the Daelkyr, who sound to be getting more emphasis in the new sourcebook, and there's an Eberron AL season coming soon, so there's always a chance.


I’d like to see more about the far realm with a ‘From Beyond’ vibe. If you attempt to access it ‘things’ come through.


I think traditionally D&D hasn't done the horror vibe fell, more so modern D&D. In D&D you are expected to be able to slay your foes. If you can do that, there is not much horror. Thus, aberrations, which fill that horror niche, and not as prominently featured. Do get that horror vibe you need to make death a more visceral threat fist, IMO. Then you can bring on the aberrations!

FYI, there is a good bit of lore about aboleth's and Volo's had quite a bit about Beholders and Mind Flayers, the two most well known D&D aberrations.


I think part of the problem is that unlike Lovecraft, D&D hasn't really offered much in the way of motivation for abberations. Considering the alien mindset I understand the difficulty in this, and while think MToF did a decent job, it still makes them hard to setup as a long term horror campaign. Mind Flayers are probably the best for this, and I still find them fairly uninspiring compared to Lovecraft.

Interestingly, this is about to come up in my campaign. In my campaign the Old Ones need servitors in the mortal world to open a portal to the multiverse, and so try to expose and corrupt creatures by exposing them to the Far Realm. This isn't an easy process, which is why there's only so many abberations, and unfortunately for them (fortunately for the multiverse), often times the new created abberation loses the drive to attempt to open a portal before they can do so. Unfortunately for the multiverse, most these abberations can spawn others of the same kind, creating a new threat. Great Old One pact warlocks are tools in this, for while the magic prevents them from being corrupted directly, they are usually used to create items/areas/etc. that may later expose a creature to the Far Realm.


Although I love Cthulhu it does not have to be a feature in everything. And aberrations can be done without them. Cthulhu myths imho is kind of best when others pantheons aren’t real. People believe in them because they are better than the true reality of what is really out there.


Illithid or mind-slayers are humanoid aberrations and one of the icons of the game. And the aboleths.

There is space in D&D for an apocalypse of infected mutants like the "alpha-worns" from the videogame "Ninja Blade", "Parasite Eve" or the bosses from "Yakuza: dead souls", or the saga "House of Dead" or the famous "Resident Evil". And we can't forget the classic mind-controlling parasites.

There are enough aberrations, awaiting to be used by the DMs. Usually games about aberrations infiltrated among humanoids need more work by the DMs, and players would rather enemies easy to be found, without investigation.


Craneal encyster. Dragon Magazine 330.


Mind Flayers are the 'face' of the Baldurs Gate III crpg, so maybe we'll see an interesting plot line for them there.