D&D 5E Little-Known Monster Facts


The only thing I've changed for all my games, is that Merfolk are not half-person/half-fish but rather half-person/half-dolphin. To me this makes way more sense, biologically, and means that while they can hold their breath, they still have to breath air meaning that anyone from the land who visits their cities will have pockets of air to breath (because the locals need them too). Additionally this allows for giant races that are half whale.

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Orcs, goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears are all derived from the same (goblinoid) stock. And yes, all pretty tolkien-ish.

Goblins - The weakest of the bunch, a degenerative slave race that have no home. Subsist as roaming bands, living on the fringes, or are slaves in the hobgoblin empire (see below).

Orcs - Not your green, bulky, tusked orcs, but white, blue, brown or black skin and red or yellow eyes, stooped and gangly. The original race of "goblinoids", derived from the corruption of elves.

Hobgoblins - The "master race" of the goblinoids, derived through the blending with human stock. Lawful evil to the core. They have a vast desert empire in my homebrew campaign.

Bugbears - The brutes of the goblinoids, heavy muscle for hobgoblins. Also used as shock troops and scouts. The hobgoblins explicitly rule over them.


Speaking of Warforged, seeing as how I don't use Eberron on a regular basis and I found them too cool not to include in my games, they are now construct-outsiders native to Acheron. The story goes, they were built on a remote Prime world as brutally efficient war machines and then proceeded to follow their orders faithfully until no living creatures were left on that world for them to fight. Seemingly left without purpose, they began developing sentience and questioning their existence - and then the whole world was pulled into Acheron on account of their actions. They now roam the planes as mercenaries - less expensive and more reliable than the yugoloths - but the story of how they came to inhabit Acheron somehow spread and few are desperate enough to hire them.

I also moved rakshasas from Acheron to Gehenna, as I always saw them as more "evil" than "lawful" and Gehenna fits their petty clandestine politics to a T. Each rakshasa raja rules a single decadent city-state in Gehenna, and they theoretically all follow a maharaja but most conveniently avoid his orders and spend extended time on the Prime to gain sufficient power to overthrow him. Since they are inherently decadent and lazy, few actually ever carry out their ambitions, so the society is more stable than it would appear on first sight.


Elves, in my home brew, are actually descended angels. They gave up their immortality to act as mentors and helpers to the other mortal races, especially humans. Over time, they've lost knowledge of this past and many of their remaining gifts have dimmed. For example, they once had a potential lifespan of roughly 2,000 years (1E grey elves). Now, it's only a few hundred. A lot of this was done to explain some of the extreme ribbon abilities that 1E AD&D gave to elves. A 1,500-2,000 year lifespan is functionally immortal, even for background characters. They couldn't have psionics. They have spirits and reincarnated, rather than going to a final rest in the outer planes. Stuff like that. Note that this tie wasn't common knowledge. Even the players didn't know it until I decided to retire the world and start a new one.

In trying to figure out why elves couldn't have psionics and what that implied, I eventually decided that one of the origins of psionics was a nascent divine spark. This was humanity's great boon and why they tended to be psionic more often than other races. Along these lines, the occasional human could actually attain demigod status. Of course, psionics could have other origins -- scions of those who wielded artifacts often displayed unusual abilities, as did those who were born into magical wastelands. Elves, on the other hand, had a small chance of actually being completely immune to psionic effects (rather than just the 90% resistance to mental effects). This chance was the same as a human's chance of being a psionic wild talent, or whatever you want to call 1E psionics. This represented how fully they'd been separated from their original divinity.

At one point, I added in kender as a half-elf, half-halfling breed. It worked out okay until everyone started playing all halflings like they were kender. So, I had a plague wipe out every last halfling in my setting. Want a short character? Play a (forest) gnome.

In 1E, all undead walked perfectly quiet. I may have pulled that from a Dragon article, rather than the Monster Manual; either way, I liked it. When I was asked why, I decided it was because the undead had an extremely limited levitation effect that let them hover just above the ground. This led to undead who never set off pressure plates or pits, which was a blast. Not so awesome was the PC who ended up being "technically undead" (I honestly don't even remember how or why); he abused it very thoroughly, including walking over calm water (which I should have vetoed, but he caught me at a weak moment).


ORC (Open RPG) horde ally
The different colors of dragon are not separate species, but rather different stages in their lifecycle. As they move from one age Catagory to the next, they pick up each color's associated damage immunity and breath weapon energy type (essentially adding it to their "collection").

Wyrmling - Black/White
Young - Green
Adult - Blue
Ancient - Red

Wyrmling - Brass/Copper
Young - Bronze
Adult - Silver
Ancient - Gold
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Derro are mentally identical to unsupervised children. They are outgoing, ask lots of questions, and cooperative with any charismatic outsider. Left unsupervised, they will eat, break, or burn down everything in sight.

If you work with kids, just copy the random insanity they come up with. I've found it is the best model for creeping out your table with alien thinking.

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From my last campaign:

Goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears are all members of the same species. Goblinoids, like bees and ants, are bred to take different roles. Goblins are workers, bugbears are heavy workers, hobgoblins are soldiers. Each goblinoid tribe has a queen, who lays eggs and determines which creature each egg will hatch into. They are certainly not mammals. All three goblinoids are sexless - there is another creature that breeds with the queen.

Ogres are a genetic failure of orcs. When an ogre baby is born, it looks and acts like an orc baby (which, being a mammal, acts pretty much like any baby). As it grows up, however, it gets bigger than an orc, but dumber as well. The older the ogre, the bigger and dumber it gets. Ogres aren't evil as such - they just have the mental capacity of a 3 year old in a body that can rip your arms off.

Half-elves and half-orcs are infertile.


First Post
Hm. Hope none of my regular players read this, since it hasn't been revealed yet. Mithril in my setting isn't mined, and in fact isn't found naturally in the earth at all. When a particularly powerful elf dies, his bones slowly transform into the substance after its death. This material is shaped by elf magicians working in concert into its desired shape, and has a profound cultural significance. If there is someone in the elf's bloodline that can use the resulting tool/weapon/armor, they are given first right to it, and if not, then it is seen as the elf's last contribution to their kin and community. Unsurprisingly, the elves are very grateful to those who return lost or stolen mithril items, and equally merciless to those who seek to steal or loot them.


ORC (Open RPG) horde ally
. . . Mithril in my setting isn't mined, and in fact isn't found naturally in the earth at all. When a particularly powerful elf dies, his bones slowly transform into the substance after its death. This material is shaped by elf magicians working in concert into its desired shape, and has a profound cultural significance . . .

Dude, that's awesome. Really demonstrates their alien nature.

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