D&D General Classic Monsters - Retired Roll Call?

Retreater

Legend
My wife and I watched the D&D movie yesterday. Don't worry - I'm not including any spoilers here. But she and I had a discussion of some of the "iconic" monsters she hasn't encountered since starting the hobby 7 years ago, and maybe why that is.

My thought is that many of the classic creatures from her list harken back to an old style of play that has disappeared amongst 5e players (which is when she started the hobby).

Here's a selection from the list we made this morning (and the reason why I think she hasn't encountered them) ...

D&D isn't in Dungeons anymore...
Black Pudding
Gelatinous Cube
Carrion Crawler
Mind Flayer
Intellect Devourer
Roper
Umber Hulk

D&D doesn't like to trick players anymore...
Mimic
Roper
Gelatinous Cube
Rust Monster

Mid-Range CR creatures have limited windows of use...
(You can't use them like goblins in large numbers, and a single one isn't a challenge. They don't really have a place in encounter design.)
Displacer Beast
Intellect Devourer
Carrion Crawler

By the time you get to that level, the campaign will end or else the monster won't be a challenge...
Beholder
Marilith
Tarrasque
 

log in or register to remove this ad

I've used most of those apart from the Marilith, Tarrasque and rust monster in game fairly recently, and they show up often enough in WotC adventures - just prepped a beholder for a Radiant Citadel adventure.

Sick of mariliths after Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous in any rate.

What doesn't appear very often: goblins.
 

the Jester

Legend
My game still has a lot of focus on dungeons.

Maybe that is why I have used all of those monsters (except the tarrasque and rust monsters) in 5e!

I haven't used rust monsters on screen, but they are a part of a plot point and a secret resource of my dwarven community.
 



the Jester

Legend
A similar thing I was observing is how each edition has had certain monsters that saw lots of use that later editions used a lot less or even pretty much forgot about. For instance, I remember a lot of giant ants in Basic adventures, 4e pushed foulspawn pretty hard, etc.

I'm sure part of this is my own perspective, but we haven't had, for instance, the giant ant in the primary MM since 2e. So there's some degree of veracity to it.
 

Clint_L

Hero
My wife and I watched the D&D movie yesterday. Don't worry - I'm not including any spoilers here. But she and I had a discussion of some of the "iconic" monsters she hasn't encountered since starting the hobby 7 years ago, and maybe why that is.

My thought is that many of the classic creatures from her list harken back to an old style of play that has disappeared amongst 5e players (which is when she started the hobby).

Here's a selection from the list we made this morning (and the reason why I think she hasn't encountered them) ...

D&D isn't in Dungeons anymore...
Black Pudding
Gelatinous Cube
Carrion Crawler
Mind Flayer
Intellect Devourer
Roper
Umber Hulk

D&D doesn't like to trick players anymore...
Mimic
Roper
Gelatinous Cube
Rust Monster

Mid-Range CR creatures have limited windows of use...
(You can't use them like goblins in large numbers, and a single one isn't a challenge. They don't really have a place in encounter design.)
Displacer Beast
Intellect Devourer
Carrion Crawler

By the time you get to that level, the campaign will end or else the monster won't be a challenge...
Beholder
Marilith
Tarrasque
This is about the way your DM likes to build games, not about D&D in general. Almost every single one of those is a go-to monster for me (except tarrasque for obvious reasons, which is also why you seldom saw them back in the day, either, and the marilith because...meh). And almost all are prominent in published adventures and many of them in marketing and other media as well. Beholders are as iconic as it gets, gelatinous cube is prominent in both the current film and in Onward, a de facto D&D movie, mind flayers are at the heart of the new Baldur's Gate video game and, conceptually, Stranger Things, intellect devourers and a mimic both have prominent gags in the current film (no spoilers; they're in the trailers).

Also, look at any published adventure and tell me the game isn't in dungeons anymore. Every single published WotC adventure focuses on dungeons (or dungeon corollaries like caverns and ruins) as the primary setting for the action.

I appreciate that your individual experience is valid for you, yet I think your sample size is much too small to make assertions about the overall state of the game.
 
Last edited:

Mad_Jack

Legend
I haven't had any real chance to play in a long time, nevermind run an adventure, but I've had a real urge to throw some of those classic monsters into an adventure for a while.

Which is why, now that I'm doing the Dungeon23 thing, I've decided to include an aboleth hiding out in the lowest bowels of the dungeon... The whole place used to be a dwarven stronghold that sank underground when the Underdark cavern beneath it collapsed and water rushed in to form a swamp over the top of it, so it seems appropriate to have some sort of Underdark creatures having made their way up into the place.
I'm kind of leaning into the classic monsters with the whole thing, really - Besides the aboleth in the dungeon, I've got a tribe of lizardmen, a green hag, a nest of wyverns, aquatic elves, a dryad so ancient that she's become an entire forest, and a giant turtle...

Damn, now I want to figure out a way to put some tasloi in the local forest and add one of those pretender-things, I forget the name, that looks like a harmless bunny sitting on a stump... :D
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I've used all of these recently in my Dungeons & Dragons games and played in an adventure involving a tarrasque only a couple years ago. (There was a bio-dungeon inside the tarrasque.) The displacer beast was on a random wilderness encounter chart and more than one of them were encountered for a tier 1 party. The PCs ran away.
 

Every single published WotC adventure focuses on dungeons (or dungeon corollaries like caverns and ruins) as the primary setting for the action.
I pretty much agree with all your comments but this one. Dragon Heist is the exception that immediately comes up. And though I don't have, isn't Chult/ToA pretty much an outdoor exploration adventure?
 

Dausuul

Legend
My wife and I watched the D&D movie yesterday. Don't worry - I'm not including any spoilers here. But she and I had a discussion of some of the "iconic" monsters she hasn't encountered since starting the hobby 7 years ago, and maybe why that is.

My thought is that many of the classic creatures from her list harken back to an old style of play that has disappeared amongst 5e players (which is when she started the hobby).

Here's a selection from the list we made this morning (and the reason why I think she hasn't encountered them) ...

D&D isn't in Dungeons anymore...
Black Pudding
Gelatinous Cube
Carrion Crawler
Mind Flayer
Intellect Devourer
Roper
Umber Hulk

D&D doesn't like to trick players anymore...
Mimic
Roper
Gelatinous Cube
Rust Monster

Mid-Range CR creatures have limited windows of use...
(You can't use them like goblins in large numbers, and a single one isn't a challenge. They don't really have a place in encounter design.)
Displacer Beast
Intellect Devourer
Carrion Crawler

By the time you get to that level, the campaign will end or else the monster won't be a challenge...
Beholder
Marilith
Tarrasque
Out of these, I have used beholders, black puddings, and mariliths. And I will be introducing carrion crawlers and mind flayers in the campaign I started last night. Possibly displacer beasts at some point, too. (Probably not intellect devourers, though. Some of my players know enough about monster stats to be familiar with how vicious the intellect devourer is, and "Oh, good, it's just a mind flayer and not an intellect devourer" is not a reaction I want to get.) I have not used a tarrasque, but I have fought them in multiple incarnations, both 3E and 5E.

The gelatinous cube, roper, mimic, and umber hulk I am unlikely to use, but only because I don't like them on aesthetic grounds. Functionally, I have no problem with any of them.

D&D just has a crapton of monsters, that's all, and each DM (and adventure writer) is going to have things they like and things they don't. And of the things they like, they won't all fit the theme of any given campaign.
 
Last edited:



MGibster

Legend
I used Ropers back in 2019 but I have to admit it was the first time I had seen them used since Bush was president. The first George Bush I mean. I remember when Rust Monsters were one of the scariest things out there. That and undead that would drain levels!
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I use carrion crawlers a lot (homage to Mentzer's Basic) and I try to have Umber Hulks (or at least side tunnels caused by Umberhulks passing through)

I do use a few oozes but admit that Gelatinous Cube hasnt been one of them and I never liked Mindflayers or the Tarrasque so havent used them. Beholders I only use as a joke

Mariliths however fit with my ‘Empire of the Serpent Queen’ and so get use as Temple-Guard abomination, so yes its all very much about DM pallette
 

Retreater

Legend
Maybe it's that there's an easy thematic unity for goblinoids, giants, or undead.
Creatures like displacer beasts or umber hulks are just random things that don't really serve any thematic purpose. At least to my mind.
I run almost entirely prewritten adventures. None of these creatures have shown up.
It's just hundreds of goblins, skeletons, etc. Kinda bland, honestly.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I pretty much agree with all your comments but this one. Dragon Heist is the exception that immediately comes up. And though I don't have, isn't Chult/ToA pretty much an outdoor exploration adventure?
ToA is mostly dungeon - there's more wilderness than many adventures, but when you read through the adventure you see that most of the action is taking place either in mini-dungeons or the huge one at the end. Dragon Heist is also mostly either in mini-dungeons or dungeon proxies (i.e. the courthouse is really just another dungeon map, same with the villa, Xanathar's lair, Dragon's Vault, Cellar Complex, etc.). There is no WotC 5e adventure that is mostly outdoors, at least when it comes to the encounters.

D&D has never strayed far from its dungeon roots; though now adventures typically have more "in between" stuff than the old modules did (i.e. instead of a mega-dungeon you typically get a bunch of smaller dungeon or dungeon-proxies linked by some travel, some town encounters (often RP-focused) and then a final, larger dungeon of some kind).
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Maybe it's that there's an easy thematic unity for goblinoids, giants, or undead.
Creatures like displacer beasts or umber hulks are just random things that don't really serve any thematic purpose. At least to my mind.
I run almost entirely prewritten adventures. None of these creatures have shown up.
It's just hundreds of goblins, skeletons, etc. Kinda bland, honestly.
I’d note too that the three you named are ‘people’ -small vicious people or big brutish people or even decayed putrid people - but all people who can be rationalised in Human milieu. Once you move out of People you then begin to bring in more thematic monsters be they demons, dragons, Manticores or Abberations

Many in the OPs list dont fit the default “Medieval Europe setting” and to me it looks like most things on the list fit more into the Sci-Fi end of the fantasy spectrum reflecting the Pulp ((Sword & Planet) and Lovecraftian influences on the unique DnD IP
 


Stormonu

Legend
Yeah, was playing with my son recently and crestfallen when I had to explain to him what a shrieker was.

But overall, D&D has sooo many monsters that you'll never encounter even a quarter of them within the life of a single campaign.
 

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top