Monster ENCyclopedia: Otyugh

Thank as always - another great, if disgusting, entry.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
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.
[h=2]Monster ENCyclopedia: Otyugh[/h]
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 otyugh is the fifteenth entry in an alphabetical browse through a hypothetical Utterly Complete Monster Manual.

The otyugh does not seem to have one particular mythological inspiration. Researching possible origin stories online turns up some interesting theories. On his The Lands of Ara blog, Carter Soles speculates that the otyugh may have been inspired by the Star Wars trash compactor monster (a dianoga) based on the proximity of the release dates of A New Hope and the Monster Manual.

There is also a Dragonsfoot thread which points out some interesting visual similarities between some early D&D creatures and the monsters in the 1960 film Battle Beyond the Sun (a re-edited version of the original Soviet film Nebo Zovyot).

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Battle Beyond the Sun (1960), image from Ayay Images

Both of these are appealing theories, but the first appearance of anything in the otyugh family actually predates the Monster Manual by six months. In the description of one of the rooms in the more obscure 1977 release Dungeon Geomorphs, Set Two: Caves & Caverns there hides an aurotyugh.

As the name hints, this otyugh is made of metal. It is pretending to be a pile of gold, and attacks as soon as it is approached. The aurotyugh is a powerful creature with 18 Hit dice and an Armor Class of 3. Each attack does 3-18 hp of damage and reduces its opponent's AC by one. This is because it has a special ability to soften hard things. The creature itself is worth more than its weight in gold, a whopping 25,000 gp, plus an additional 30,000 gp if its diamond teeth are carefully extracted (but only 5,000 gp if the teeth are hastily pulled).

From this description, it seems as if the aurotyugh has more in common with a rust monster or a mimic than an otyugh, but its name certainly qualifies it for inclusion in a treatise on the otyugh.

[h=3]1st Edition[/h]
Both the otyugh and the neo-otyugh made their first appearance in the Monster Manual, but if you rushed out to buy a copy in December 1977, you'd have gotten a copy without a picture of the otyugh. A number of illustrations were only added to the Monster Manual in later printings, so while the first print included two illustrations of the neo-otyugh, the otyugh illustration was only added to the fourth print in August 1979.

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Otyugh, Monster Manual (1979)

An otyugh has a roundish torso, with three stumpy legs, two tentacle arms and a sensory stalk which houses its eyes. The tentacles have sharp ridges and are capable of delivering forceful blows. It has a large sucker-like mouth on one side of its torso, and this is filled with many teeth. Someone bitten by an otyugh is very likely to contract typhus, an infectious bacterial disease.

Otyughs are omnivorous scavengers, eating dung, offal and carrion, as well as fresh meat when it is available. Only rarely will more than one otyugh be encountered at the same time, but they are frequently found partnered with more powerful creatures, living in their piles of rubbish and droppings. They have no interest in treasure, but sometimes guard the valuables of others.

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Neo-otyugh, Monster Manual (1977)

Otyughs' sensory stalks have sensitive eyes which they hold above the piles of offal they typically lurk in. They are never surprised, but are averse to sunlight or other bright light, and are consequently usually found underground. As well as being able to speak their own unique language, otyughs are “semi-telepathic” and can communicate with other species when they want to.

Mechanically, an otyugh is a small to medium, uncommon monster, with an armor class of 3, and 6-8 hit dice. It has three attacks, two tentacle attack which do 1-8 damage each, and a bite attack which does 2-5 damage and inflicts disease 90% of the time. An otyugh has low to average intelligence, neutral alignment and is slow moving (6").

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Neo-otyugh, Monster Manual (1977)

The neo-otuygh is just a rarer, bigger, more powerful otyugh. It is large in size, reaching eight feet in diameter and three feet or more tall. This seems quite short for a large creature, and doesn't match its apparent size in one of the illustrations. It has 9-12 hit dice and a tougher hide, giving it an armor class of 0. The tentacles of a neo-otyugh do 2-12 damage each, but it seems to have a smaller mouth, so does only 1-3 damage with a bite. Like its smaller sibling, the neo-otyugh is never surprised. It is more intelligent and has better telepathic skills, but is reportedly more aggressive than the otyugh.

The first set of Monster Cards reveals the colour of a neo-otyugh, and it is an unsurprising murky brown. There is what looks like a more pronounced sucker at the end of its sensory stalk, and the damage done by the tentacles is described as both smashing and lacerating. The creature's size has been adjusted to be between nine and twelve feet tall.

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Neo-otyugh, Monster Cards, Set 1 (1982)

Dragon #93 pegs the pronunciation of otyugh as “AT-yug”, and according to Treasure of the Wilds in Dragon #137, the value of an otyugh hide is 500 gp, while that of a neo-otyugh is worth 700 gp.

Ed Greenwood authors The Ecology of the Gulguthra in Dragon #96. Gulguthra (meaning “dung-eater”) is the collective term for otyughs and neo-otyughs. Most of the article is the story of minor Lord who disposes of family enemies by pushing them off a balcony into the kitchen refuse pit where an otyugh dwells. A half-page of notes at the end provides more detail of the otyugh's anatomy and abilities.

An otyugh's body is described as lumpy and primarily brown in colour with mottled purple and green shades. The tentacles are flesh-coloured and terminate in heart-shaped gripping ends. They can grow up to fourteen feet long. A tentacle can either be used to make a slapping attack (1-8 damage) or alternatively, can grab an opponent and do constriction damage (2-4 damage until the hold is broken). Otyughs are terrifically strong (equivalent to a human strength of 18), capable of flinging aside even armored warriors. Neo-otyughs like to use grappled opponents as shields against attacks from other opponents. Groups of four or more people might give them pause, but they will happily attack three or fewer opponents.

An otyugh's mouth serves both as the entry point for food, and as an exit point for waste, which it spits back out. This explains the high chance of disease resulting from the creature's bite. Otyughs themselves seem to be either immune or at least highly resistant to diseases.

The sensory stalk is segmented and constantly swivels, ensuring that the two yellow-purple eyes located on the same side of the stalk detect anything nearby. An otyugh has both ultravision and infravision out to 90 feet. The sensory stalk continues to operate even when the otyugh is in a semi-dormant sleep state. In bright light, the eyes narrow to mere slits, causing the creature discomfort.

Perhaps thankfully, given their habitat, otyughs have a poor sense of smell. This leaves them unable to track prey. The range of an otyugh's telepathy is 40 feet, and that of a neo-otyugh is 60 feet. The neo-otyugh's higher intelligences facilitates more sophisticated communication but it is unusual for either creature to initiate a conversation.

According to the Ecology article, otyughs mate every seven years during winter, usually in ancient bone pits deep underground, where many otyughs gather to reproduce. They are hermaphroditic creatures producing a jellylike “eggmass” as well as being able to fertilize the eggs of another otyugh. An otyugh certainly gets a lot of use out of its large orifice. It expels its own eggmass from its mouth, and takes in the eggs of another otyugh to fertilize them.

The eggs hatch into a miniature otyugh after only a week, and it immediately sets off into the world. The type of otyugh depends on the eggmass. An eggmass produced by an otyugh grows into an otyugh, and that produced by an neo-otyugh produces a neo-otyugh, but any type of otyugh can fertilise any eggs, just not its own. A young otyugh has only 3-5 hit dice, weaker tentacles (equivalent to 16 strength, doing only 1-6/1-6 damage) and a weaker bite (1-4 damage) but has all of the other abilities of an adult. It will grown to adulthood in four months, and will return to its birthplace again when the time comes for it to produce offspring of its own.

Otyughs appear fairly infrequently in 1st Edition adventures. They are mentioned in passing as a creature that might be encountered in an extended campaign using I1: Dwellers if the Forbidden City, and otyughs and neo-otyughs are both listed in the random encounter tables for the Black Abyss in I5: Lost Tomb of Martek.

The adventure L3: Deep Dwarven Delve, released as part of the Silver Anniversary TSR Collector's Edition set, includes an otyugh encounter which is unremarkable except for the fact that the stench from the garbage pit in which it resides is strong enough to have the same nausea-inducing effect as a ghast's aura.

R4: Doc's Island gives us the first otyugh with a name, as the fire giant family living on the island affectionately refer to the one living in their bathroom as “Thing”. Thing isn't hostile and will only attack if threatened.

The neo-otyugh living with a group of bugbears in RPGA4: The Elixir of Life is a little more aggressive and cunning, hiding until the adventurers pass it before moving to block their only means of escaping the area. T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil has bugbears in a less amenable otyugh relationship. Their otyugh previously ate one of the tribe, so the bugbears now steer clear of it. Perhaps because this otyugh is a more aggressive individual, there is a fair amount of treasure in its heap. Some of the treasure is poking out and thus guaranteed to lure in any passing adventurers.

In I8: Ravager of Time, a neo-otyugh silently patrols a swamp during the night with only its eye-stalk visible as it hunts for prey. The sirines living on the bank of the adjoining lake call the creature “Kli-Qwerg”. The Lands of Deepearth detailed in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide include otyughs and neo-otyughs living in the Cathedral Caverns and scavenging in the Outpost of the Illithids. In one of the adventures in I13: Adventure Pack I, there is a young otyugh. It has made a fairly poor choice of lair, near to a colony of giant ants, and while it snacks on an occasional slow ant, hunger regularly forces it to leave its cave to hunt for other food.

The most detailed encounter with otyughs in 1st Edition is in REF4: The Book of Lairs II which dedicates a two page spread to a family of three living in a city's waste system. Adventurers following one of the suggested plot hooks down into the sewers will reach an area notable both for its stench, and for the absence of other vermin. The rat population has learned to avoid the otyughs, each of which occupies its own cesspool. One of the otyughs extends its eye-stalk into an empty helm, creating the impression that the helm itself has eyes. The largest of the otyugh uses both treasure and telepathy to lure explorers to their death. If the sight of a glowing sword in its heap doesn't bring someone closer, it will broadcast telepathic messages of distress, pretending to be a badly injured human. The three otyughs will work as a team if necessary, co-ordinating their efforts telepathically. They will improvise ranged attacks by flinging dung at spellcasters to disrupt spells, and they even have one of the tunnels rigged to collapse behind them, if they need an escape route.

One final amusing factoid from the AD&D era is that the Official AD&D Paints produced by Polly's Colors in 1979 included “Otyugh Brown” as one of the colors in the paint set.

[h=3]2nd Edition[/h]
The otyugh and neo-otyugh appeared in the looseleaf Monstrous Compendium Volume Two as well as being reprinted in the Monstrous Manual. They share a page, and get an expanded description which incorporates most of the material from the Ecology article. There are a few changes, and many additions.

In colour, they have brownish gray skin, but may appear dung-coloured because that's what constantly covers them. Their size is now given as six to seven feet in diameter (otyugh) or eight feet in diameter (neo-otyugh). They still have three legs (despite the picture) so can pivot quickly, even with their slow speed. Their tentacles are covered with rough thorn-like projections. The otyugh's sensory stalk now has three eyes (instead of two), and the text clarifies that the stalk serves as the receiver/transmitter for the creature's telepathy.

The otyugh's grab attack, and the neo-otyugh's use-an-adventurer-as-shield tactic mentioned in the Ecology article are given set their own little subset of rules and modifiers in typical 2nd Edition fashion. The otyugh's bite now inflicts a non-specific debilitating (80%) or fatal (20%) disease.

The language of the otyughs is described as a mixture of sounds and non-verbal communications -- eye-stalk movements or emission of particular smells. Telepathic conversation is usually limited to simple feelings and emotions. Typical topics include the current temperature and how uncomfortable that makes the otyugh, how annoyingly bright that light is, how hungry the otyugh is feeling, and the possibility of imminent death for its conversation partner.

Their habitat is varyingly specified as “subterranean”, “ruins and dungeons”, and “under piles of offal”. They will attack if they feel threatened, or if they get hungry. Otyughs might now be persuaded not to attack in return for promises of friendship and food, and they still frequently team up with other dungeon denizens. Their reproductive cycle has dropped from seven years to mating annually. The pronunciation of “AT-yug” given in Dragon #93 is contradicted by a new pronunciation given as “Aw-tee-ug”.

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Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989)

Some 2nd Edition pictures of otyughs takes liberties with the creature's appearance. The illustration in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two gives the otyugh only two legs, and instead of a sensory stalk with two or three eyeballs, there are two small individual eyestalks attaching the eyes to to the top of the otyugh's head.

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1992 Trading Card set #254 (1992)

The colour picture on card #254 of the 1992 Trading Card set is also of a bipedal otyugh, and this specimen appears to have a single combined stalk protruding from the top of its head, splitting into two short, spiked tentacles and a central spiked eyestalk housing three eyes. The Monstrous Manual gets the eye-stalk, number of eyes and tentacles consistent with the text, except possibly for the number of legs, and the sudden appearance of what look like long claws as toes.

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Monstrous Manual (1993)

The Complete Ranger's Handbook lists an otyugh as a potential unique follower for an underdark ranger, and rates it a having “medium” trainability. The Complete Paladin's Handbook confirms that a paladin's immunity to disease includes the effects of an otyugh's bite. Player's Option: Combat & Tactics gives an otyugh as an example of a creature without a rear or flank when using the optional threatening rules.

CR5: Deck of Encounters, Set Two describes a neo-otyugh who has progressed from using an adventurer as a shield, to using an adventurer as a striking weapon, thus injuring two people at once (for 2-12 damage each).

In Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, the goblins living in Radruundar have a neo-otyugh as an ally. Brought by the goblins when they moved into the stronghold, this is an exceptionally powerful neo-otyugh of huge size. The variant statistics are perhaps a nod to the greater range of monster sizes supported by the 3rd Edition rules, which were in development at the same time this adventure was being produced.

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Huge neo-otyugh, Axe of the Dwarvish Lords (1999)

[h=3]3rd Edition[/h]
The otyugh features in the first 3rd Edition Monster Manual. Most of the changes from 2nd Edition are minor and mechanical in nature: slightly less damage (1-6/1-6/1-4 down from 1-8/1-8/2-5), an improved grab with 1d6 constriction damage, alertness (replacing “never surprised”), and, reversing earlier lore on poor olfactory abilities, the Scent special quality.

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Monster Manual (2000)

A quick check on the numbers of body parts gives these results:
  • Illustration: three legs, two tentacles, one sensory stalk, three eyeballs.
  • Text: three sturdy legs, two long tentacles covered in thorny protrusions, one vinelike sensory stalk, two eyeballs.
Consistency verdict: Close enough. To be fair, the text specifies that the sensory stalk also includes an “olfactory organ”, so we might generously conclude that an otyugh’s nose looks exactly like an eye ball in some subspecies.

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Three eyes or two eyes plus an olfactory organ?, Monster Manual v.3.5 (2003)

In 3rd Edition, otyughs are classified as aberrations. A typical otyugh is six feet in diameter, and weighs 500 pounds. The disease they inflict is now called filth fever, and it causes Dexterity and Constitution damage. Gone are the otyugh’s telepathic skills; now they just speak Common. Otyughs are found underground, solitary, in pairs or in a cluster of up to four.

The Monster Manual v.3.5 upgrades the otyugh by adding darkvision (60’), toughness (for a few additional hit points), and weapon focus (for a +1 improvement to tentacle attacks). Ominously the otyugh’s alignment also shifts from “always neutral” to “usually neutral”.

As Skip Williams points out in Dragon #276, there is no neo-otyugh in the 3rd Edition Monster Manual. This edition involved a lot of fairly sensible rationalisation of monsters like the neo-otyugh which differed only in size. An otyugh is a large, 6HD creature with advancement of “7-8 HD (Large), 9-15 HD (Huge)”, and both the Monster Manual and Monster Manual v.3.5 use the otyugh as an example of creature advancement.

The size of a 15HD otyugh increases to huge. The larger otyugh has 115 hp, instead of 36 hp. Its base attack score jumps from +4/+8 to +11/+23, and its tentacles are +14 attacks for 1d8+4 damage. An advanced otyugh’s bite does 1d6+2 damage, and its constriction damage is 1d8+4. It gains the Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative and Multiattack feats, as well as higher Strength and Constitution, but slightly lower Dexterity.

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An elf uses the Arcane Strike feat to deal extra damage to an otyugh, Complete Warrior (2003)

The Monsters With Class article in Dragon #292 pegs the otygh’s Effective Character Level (ECL) as 9. In case you are keeping track, that compares to a nightmare’s ECL of 10, the drider’s 11, the lamia’s 12, the ettin’s 15, the barghest’s 25 and the kraken’s 28. Basically playing almost any other monster covered so far in the Monster ENCyclopedia is better than playing an otyugh.

Urban Druids in Dragon #317 suggests an otyugh as an alternative companion for a high level urban druid. The beast heart adept prestige class in Dungeonscape has an option for an otyugh monstrous companion. The fleshwarper prestige class in Lords of Madness includes the secret of the otyugh as one of the elder secrets available to the class. The secret grants immunity to disease. Sage Advice in Dragon #318 rules that creatures that carry diseases are generally immune to those diseases, so an otyugh cannot be infected with filth fever by a dire rat, for example.

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A trio of orcs battle to rescue a gnome from the clutches of an otyugh, Races of Eberron (2005)

Life’s Bazaar was the first module in Dungeon’s Shackled City adventure path series, which began in Dungeon #97. The main opponent in the adventure is Kazmojen, the product of a mad wizard’s attempts to crossbreed dwarves and trolls. One of his servants is an otyugh named Xukasus, who has been polymorphed into an ogre by a magical trap. Xukasus has taken to his ogre form and learned to fight with a falchion. He lives in a room spattered with disgusting remains. Some of the older rubbish has hardened into the rough shape of a chair.

A petrified otyugh pops up again in the seventh module in the series, Lords of Oblivion (Dungeon #111), in the art treasury of the beholder Vhalantru.

The second Dungeon adventure path was the Age of Worms. An advanced otyugh features in the third module in that series, Encounter at Blackwall Keep. This otyugh has been reared by a tribe of lizardfolk since it was small, and some parts of the lair have since become a tight fit. It has learned to speak the Draconic tongue of the lizardfolk rather than Common. In the Age of Worms adventure path’s Free City, “otyugh” is the name given to a set of three ones in the popular dice game Spellbones (described in Dragon #336). Also in the Free City, there is a stuffed otyugh outside Ret’s Taxidermy. Ret is good at his craft, and would charge 300 gp to stuff another otyugh.

Heroes of Battle suggests that otyughs can be found scavenging ancient battlefields. The Player’s Handbook II mentions that the Restenford Guild of Insurers, Solicitors, and Beggars employs an otyugh assassin. Complete Scoundrel details a legendary site known as the Otyugh Hole below the cells of Saint’s Cudgel prison. Surviving a prolonged period in the Hole grants a special boon, but despite the name, Otyugh Hole doesn’t actually contain any otyughs.

[h=3]4th Edition[/h]
The 4th Edition otyugh depicted in the Monster Manual is consistent in appearance with 3rd Edition, but it is a physically more powerful and less intelligent beast. Not only does the otyugh have no telepathic abilities, but it has lost even the ability to speak.

Otyughs are said to never cooperate with other otyughs. They do still ally with other monsters, but only rarely. Somehow the description makes them sound even more disgusting than previously. Otyughs that manage to capture live prey as an alternative to eating carrion will now bury the fresh meat, and only dine on it once it has started to rot.

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Monster Manual (2008)

Mechanically, the otyugh has gained a stench aura, a +10 bonus to Stealth checks while lurking in refuse, and for the first time, a swim speed equal to its walking speed. The otyugh attacks with a tentacle or its diseased bite. The bite still inflicts filth fever, but there is now a 4th Edition style disease tracker included in the otyugh’s entry and the disease affects AC, Fortitude, Reflex and healing surges.

Otyughs feature significantly in The Radiant Morn (Dungeon #183). The adventure involves a cult of the Archdevil Baalzebul, and the first encounter is an ambush with two otyughs hidden in pits. The final encounter also features otyughs, two ordinary ones, plus the leader of the cult, whose human appearance turns out to be an illusion. The text suggests that when he is first revealed, the DM should “provide a suitable description of tentacles bursting through clothing, the head reshaping into a gaping maw, and the body swelling into a bloated monstrosity, all accompanied by a burst of terrible stench, questionable fluids, and thousands of biting insects which swarm around him”. Enchanté!

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Dungeon #183 (2010)

The fake leader is a charnel otyugh, a variation we’ll cover later. The features of the area in which the cult leader is found include a stinking river of offal, pouring from a large pipe, and a statue from whose mouth an endless stream of slugs slithers.

The Essentials series Monster Vault contained an updated otyugh, as well as detailing the charnel otyugh variation, and even adding back the neo-otyugh. Changes to the vanilla otyugh are more damage (tentacles do 2d8+6 instead of 1d8+6), the replacement of the spying eye special ability with a simple +5 bonus to stealth, and a change to the way the otyugh’s bite inflicts disease. Instead of automatic infection, the target only contracts disease on a failed saving throw at the end of the encounter. The disease inflicted is now called lesser otyugh filth fever, to differentiate it from the neo-otyugh’s greater otyugh filth fever.

The 4th Edition neo-otygh has 232 hp, tentacles that do 3d6+9 damage, and maw damage of 2d6+7. It also includes some throwbacks to earlier otyughs, gaining a limited range of telepathy, and an ability which lets it use a grabbed opponent as a shield. The neo-otyugh also has a power called disgusting lure, which forces enemies to come closer or suffer psychic damage. The alignment drift that began in the Monster Manual 3.5 continues here, with neo-otyughs classified firmly as evil. In 4th Edition, a neo-otyugh is formed when an otyugh eats the flesh of an aberrant creature. This causes it to rapidly morph into a more powerful form.

The Monster Vault dedicates more than a page to otyugh lore, but a lot of the text is just a list of disgusting homes for otyughs: squishy nests of decaying matter, heaps of moldering plants, piles of maggot-ridden bodies, pools of unidentifiable slime, pits brimming with excrement, stagnant swamps and manure-filled animal pens. More interesting is the description of the otyugh’s ambush hunting style. With a great splash, it is said to leap from hiding to smash two well-muscled tentacles, equipped with claws, into its prey. Disoriented and sickened foes struggle to overcome their nausea for long enough to fight. Wait, what was that about tentacles equipped with claws?

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Claws or spikes?, Monster Vault (2010)

The utility of a using an otyugh as a guard beast is also covered in the expanded description. Apparently some otyugh owners underestimate how much carrion and waste is needed to sustain an otyugh’s attention. Even a so-called “trained” otyugh might eat its master if its wallow has become bland or tasteless. The adventure included in the Monster Vault set, Cairn of the Winter King, has an otyugh living in the garbage pit of the Winter King’s kitchens. There’s no indication that it has eaten any of the staff recently, so the kitchens are presumably producing enough waste.

The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond, mentions that otyughs inhabit the Oblivion Bog in the Shadowfell. Armies of otyughs serve the powerful myconid lord Amasutelob, detailed in the 4th Edition Underdark book.

[h=3]5th Edition[/h]
The first glipse of the 5th Edition otyugh came in the Bestiary from the December 2012 D&D Next Playtest packet. There, the otyugh is a large aberration with 84 hit points and three attacks per round. Both tentacle attacks and the otyugh’s bite are +6 attacks, doing 1d8+4 damage. The bite does an additional 1d8 poison damage but no disease and it can grab one person in each tentacle. Grabbed opponents can be slammed into submission with bludgeoning damage and a chance to stun, or used as a shield. The otyugh has limited telepathy and can communicate simple ideas to creatures within 100 feet able to understand a language.

The playtest rules were limited to the mechanics of the creature, with no lore or description provided. They also changed over time. The March 2013 version of the Bestiary dropped the body shield ability, and by the time the otyugh appeared in the D&D Next adventure Dead in Thay it had been tweaked further, with slightly lower strength, a shorter range of darkvision, and lower damage on tentacle attacks (1d6+3), but gaining immunity to disease.

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Monster Manual (2014)

The otyugh that ended up in the 5th Edition Monster Manual is mechanically similar to the D&D Next playtest version(s), but quite a bit more powerful. It is, in fact, the most powerful otyugh across five editions, clocking in at 114 hit points (more than three times 1st-3rd Edition). Assuming all three attacks hit, the otyugh does an average damage of 34 points per round, has two grabbed opponents and a chance to inflict disease on whomever it bit.

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Monster Manual (2014)

This otyugh is faster than its ancestors (speed 30 ft.), and has darkvision out to 120 feet. Otyughs can speak the otyugh language once more, as well as having limited telepathy, also extending out 120 feet. This is broadcast-only telepathy, not permitting the recipient to reply. Otyughs sometime lure in prey by pretending to be something else.

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Monster Manual (2014)

The disease caused by their bite requires daily saving throws until the victim loses all of his or her hit points, or is cured by a successful save. In temperament, these otyughs are closest to their recent 4th Edition Monster Vault ancestors, with a penchant for ambushes and the same text about “trained” otyughs eating a keeper if not kept satisfied.

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Monster Manual (2014)

[h=3]Otyugh variations[/h]
The lifeleech otyugh, introduced in the Monster Manual III, has been warped by arcane magic. It is a buffed version of the normal 3rd edition otyugh (9HD instead of 6HD) but with an aura that leeches all healing magic within 60 feet, giving the otyugh the same benefit as if it had been the target of the spell. It has a sickly gray skin naturally, but it is infused with magical energy. According to the illustration, this makes it a golden yellow colour. Lifeleech otyughs are favoured companions of evil divine spellcasters. They have an innate cruel cunning and try to wound divine spellcasters early in an encounter.

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Lifeleech Otyugh, Monster Manual III (2004)

In the adventure Vile Addiction in Dungeon #145 the lifeleech otyugh is allied with a group of spriggans. A web article provided a few variations of lifeleech otyugh: a lifeleech otyugh jelly (using the gelatinous template from Savage Species), a shadowy spellwarped lifeleech otyugh (using the shadow template from Lords of Madness), and an ice fairy lifeleech otyugh (using the half-fey cold element template from the Fiend Folio).

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Charnel Lord, H3: Pyramid of Shadows (2008)

The 4th Edition adventure H3: Pyramid of Shadows introduced a unique otyugh known as a charnel lord. Likely descended (at least in design) from the lifeleech otyugh, the charnel lord has a number of unusual abilities, including a necrotic “lifeleech” attack and a rotting bite. It has been corrupted by long term exposure to evil magic, and is more intelligent than a typical otyugh. It is malignant in nature and evil in alignment. In Dungeon #183, and in the Monster Vault, this earlier unique individual is treated as simply one of a variation known as a charnel otyugh.

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Gulguthydra, Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two (1994)

To point out the obvious, the gulguthydra is a cross between a hydra and some sort of gulguthra. It first appeared in the City of Splendors, but was reprinted in the Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two with the Forgotten Realms references filed off. That’s a pity because the Realms-specific creation story (they are the product of wild magic surges during the Time of Troubles) helps explain how such a bizarre crossbreed came to exist. Even mad wizards have their limits.

The gulguthydra is huge, with the three legs and two tentacles of an otyugh, but six hydra heads in place of the sensory stalk and maw. The creature has a rocklike skin, which gives it a good armor class (AC 0) in addition to 15 HD and eight attacks (2 x 2d6 tentacles and 6 x 1d8+4 heads). Gulguthydras will eat nearly anything - animal, vegetable, alive, dead, fresh, rotten. They are aggressive hunters, but only when driven by hunger, and they keep the otyugh’s neutral alignment.

As well as the boisterous relatives covered above, there have been a number of more minor otyugh variants in D&D history. The 1st Edition Manual of the Planes lists flame otyughs — otyughs made of elemental fire — on the encounter tables for the Plane of Fire. Similarly, the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes lists water half-elemental otyughs as Elemental Plane of Water encounters.

The Night Below boxed set has an aquatic cave otyugh, which is just an otyugh that lives in an cave, underwater. The 4th Edition equivalent is the amphibious otyugh, found in FR1: Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. The adventure Tears for Twilight Hollow in Dungeon #90 features two otyugh zombies. The more recent Out of the Abyss has two plant-like otyughs, created as duplicates by the great fungal mind known as Araumycos.

Diseased!, a short online adventure, has two advanced otyughs descended from specimens obtained to guard a chasm a thousand years earlier. During the intervening time, the otyughs have inbred, grown in size and become mentally unstable. Fortress of the Yuan-ti has an otyugh named Gophodros who has mutated because of his longterm exposure to elder evil. Mechanically, Gophodros has the spellwarped template from the Monster Manual III. The Living Forgotten Realms organised play adventure SPEC4-5: Rising Darkness includes a shadow otyugh.

Dragon #176 has an article on “Playing the Paleozoic” which suggests that a giant version of an opabinia, a Cambrian period segmented arthropod with five eye stalks and a proboscis could be a distant relative of the other gulguthras.

[h=3]Otyughs, archfiends and gods[/h]
According to The Book of Vile Darkness, Asmodeus has cursed Baalzebul so that “stinking piles of rotting garbage and feces” accumulate wherever he spends time. Consequently, the Lord of Flies tolerates the presence of a number of otyughs in his palace, and they are rewarded with a constant odiferous banquet.

The Monster Manual V details the lesser, greater, and elder spawn of Juiblex. Appended to this is a description of the Demiplane of Filth, which provides many otyughs a home. In 4th Edition, the close relationship between spawn of Juiblex and otyughs remains in place (Demonomicon), but Juiblex now rules the Stinking Realm, a layer of the Abyss known as Molor (The Plane Below). Otyughs inhabit this filthy decaying place, and anywhere else Juiblex’s spawn are found.

According to Dragon #375, worshipers of Demogorgon sometimes keep otyughs as pets.

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Gargmanethka, Exarch of Turaglas, Dragon #376 (2009)

The Demonomicon of Iggwilv in Dragon #376 details Gargmanethka, a mutated otyugh who serves as exarch for the demon prince Turaglas. Gargmanethka resembles an ordinary otyugh, but is much larger and has oversized tentacles even in relation to its immense size. Eye of its three (!) eyes has a greenish luminescence as does the copious quantity of drool dripping from its jaws and tongue.

As a level 27 elite controller, this is one of the most powerful otyughs appearing to date. Gargmanethka has 496 hit points, and does tentacle damage of 3d8+9 along with several special attacks. There are said to be other mutated otyughs like Gargmanethka. They serve the demon prince Turaglas because they believe he is best placed to bring about the end of the world. According to this fanatical belief, after the world’s destruction, otyughs will feast eternally on the decaying remains.

According to Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, priests of Torog, god of the Underdark, have an affinity for otyughs.

[h=3]Otyugh and other monsters[/h]
The Ecology of the Gulguthra lists doppelgangers, ettins, will-o'-wisps and beholders as creatures with which an otyugh might partner. They have also been documented partnering up with bugbears, wererats (HHQ1: Fighter's Challenge), kobolds (Dragon Mountain, Dragon #332), hobgoblins (Dungeon #74), grimlocks (Dungeon #107, Dungeon #215), zerns (Monster Manual IV), orcs (Dungeon Delve), and bog hags (The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond).

The duergar in the adventure Train of Events (from Dungeon #44) have an affectionate relationship with their otyugh, whom they have creatively named “Dungheap”. Dungheap gets on well enough with the dwarves that it will fight with them (and not eat them) when they are under threat.

The mad chefs in The Mad Chefs of Lac Anchois in Dungeon #64 are a pair of cloud giant brothers. They have a pact with a neo-otyugh which provides waste-disposal services for their unusual restaurant. More recently, Volo’s Guide to Monsters suggests that otyughs would be attracted to the stench of a hill giant den, and Storm King’s Thunder includes a hill giant named Slub who has a fiercely loyal otyugh pet.

According to The Ecology of the Rust Monster in Dragon #88, otyughs will eat rust monsters but in H2: The Mines of Bloodstone, there is a neo-utygh in an alliance with two umber hulks and four rust monsters.

In the 4th Edition Monster Manual, otyughs are encountered with carrion crawlers, hydras and troglodytes. According to Into the Unknown, troglodytes are also the only creatures that smell worse than otyughs. By 5th Edition, carrion crawlers are said to avoid contact with otyughs by scurrying across the ceiling.

[h=3]Otyugh parts and otyugh pets[/h]
According to the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two, otyughs are so disgusting that no alchemist or wizard would want to touch their parts, so a dead otyugh has no value and no known uses. This is contradicted by the hide value of 500-700 gp mentioned in Dragon #137, so perhaps they simply have no magical value. On the other hand, Dungeon #121 includes “the stretched skin of an otyugh” on a list of One Hundred Useless Items. Seven years later, in Dungeon #206, that useless otyugh hide has been turned into a rug, which shows up in the eastern gatehouse of Lanador’s Lair in Skullport.

Otyughs also seem to have low nutritional value. The Book of Vile Darkness notes that a disease known as blue guts is contracted from eating the flesh of creatures like otyughs and gibbering mouthers. Blue guts turns the area of the body around the intestines a blue colour, as well as giving a bluish complexion. It also causes Strength damage. The mystery farmstead serving “otyugh thighs soaked in brine for a year and tenderized with a warhammer before roasting” in Dungeon #133 didn’t get that memo.

In some societies, an otyugh may have value whole and alive. Dragon #303 notes that otyughs are popular features in monster vs. monster arena fights. Despite its thorough disgustingness, there is something strangely endearing about the otyugh, and the idea of one forced to fight to the death in an arena is slightly depressing.

A less depressing career for an otyugh is outlined in the Arms and Equipment Guide. If caught and trained, it can function as a selective guard for the sewer of someone rich or powerful. An otyugh can, for example, be taught to allow only people who know a password to pass. The price placed on a young otyugh is 2,000 gp, and it costs 1,500 gp to train one. Dragon #326 suggests that some cities import otyughs in to their sewers for waste control purposes, although they are clearly not always the trained sort. One person who might provide this as a service is the gnomish bard Alomann. He has an otyugh among his available exotic animals when we meet him in Dungeon #132.

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Dragon #326 (2004)

By 3rd Edition, some use has been found for otyugh parts. In Dragon #309, the spell plague cloud includes dried otyugh blood as part of the material component. This is mixed with 3,000 gp of powdered amber and sealed inside a small flask. There’s no indication how much the dried otyugh blood (or the small flask) costs. Alchemical Charms in Dragon #331 notes that the tongue of an otyugh is one of the ingredients for an alchemical anti-disease tonic which sells for 100 gp.

Unearthed Arcana lists “specially prepared otyugh dung” (worth 1,700 gp) as a metamagic component for empowering an awaken spell. In the undercity of Skullport in the Forgotten Realms, the Street Scrapers gang has figured out another way to profit from otyugh dung. Merchants not willing to pay the gang’s fee for keeping the surrounding streets clean will find heaps of rancid otyugh dung piled outside their shops until they have a change of heart.

[h=3]Otyughs as inspiration for artistic works[/h]
In the adventure 'Til Death Do Us Part in Dungeon #29, the deceased mage Julius's spellbook includes a “truly dreadful” poem entitled “Ode to an Otyugh”. In a similar vein, one of the servants in the adventure Quelkin's Quandry in Dungeon #47 owns an entire book titled “Odes to an Otyugh”.

An anonymous merchant is selling glove-puppet otyughs in Dungeon #123.

In The Night Thelva Clovenaxe Flew, an Ed Greenwood short story in Dragon #425, the fortune teller Jhalang the Crazed uses a deck of unusual cards to tell the fortune of the dwarf Ruthgulur, in return for a little of his life force. One of the cards depicts an neo-otyugh with ambitions to attend college and become a bard.

[h=3]Otyughs and magic[/h]
One of the many creatures into which a paddleboard of wondrous transformation might transform its target is an otyugh (Dragon #134).

Dragon #171 has a list of 101 beans from a bag of beans, one of which grows into a pyxis when planted. A pyxis is a powerful wooden box that, once opened, spews forth 1-4 grotesque monsters (such as otyughs, beholders, aboleths and ropers) per round until 10-100 have escaped, at which point the pyxis grants one wish.

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You smell an otyugh swarm before you see it, Spell Compendium (2005)

The otyugh swarm spell, first published in Defenders of the Faith, creates 3d4 ordinary or 1d3+1 huge otyughs, manufactured from a significant pile (at least 6,000 pounds!) of rubbish or filth. The created otyughs will serve actively for seven days, or as guards for seven months. The spell is part of the Pestilence domain, and was reprinted in Complete Divine, and again in the Spell Compendium complete with an illustration.

Otyughs roam the underground waterways beneath the city of Huzuz, detailed in City of Delights. According to Cities of Bone, they also dwell in the Catacombs below the city of Moradask. The adventure The Assassin Within from Dungeon #47 is set in the city of Qadib. There, in the cellar of the philosophy teacher Hakim ibn Rashad, dwells a lone otyugh.

The Birthright Campaign Setting Rulebook includes the otyugh on its list of Monstrous Manual creatures that might be encountered in Cerilia.

[h=3]Dark Sun[/h]
Although there don't seem to be otyughs in any printed Dark Sun sources, they do make an appearance in the Dark Sun: Shattered Lands video game. Apparently, otyughs of Athas have four tentacles.

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Otyugh, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (1993), image from

Although the Heroes of the Lance didn’t encounter any otyughs during the course of their adventures, the creature do occur on Krynn. According to DL15: Mists of Krynn, a neo-otyugh resides in the tomb of Pahkar-Ran Theremikos in Silvanesti. DL16: World of Krynn places an ordinary otyugh in a garbage pit in Dargaard Keep.

According to the Dark Queen of Krynn computer game, the setting also has greater otyughs. These are the same as ordinary otyughs, but with 14 HD and attacks that do 2d10/2d10/1d6 damage. This makes them more powerful than the 2nd Edition neo-otyugh, so “greater neo-otyugh” might be technically have been a better name.

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Greater Otyugh, Dark Queen of Krynn (1992), image from RPG Codex

The Dragonlance Campaign Setting for 3.5 Edition reprints the otyugh swarm spell but adds a material component (1,000 gp of ruby dust). The spell comes from the pestilence domain of cleric spells, which is used by followers of Morgion. In Holy Orders of the Stars, the sample Aspect of Morgion is an advanced otyugh (it has 15 HD). Otyughs also defend the Bronze Tower, Morgion’s keep in the Abyss (Legends of the Twins).

The kuo-toa living in the Coral Citadel in Spectre of Sorrows keep an otyugh.

Otyughs can be found in Undersharn (Sharn: City of Towers), and in the offal pits of the Sea Caves, a remote town somewhere on the Khorvaire coast (Dragons of Eberron). Scavenging bands of Carrion Tribe barbarians roam the Demon Wastes near Ashtakala, some of them accompanied by pet otyughs (Explorer’s Handbook).

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Eberron Campaign Setting (2004)

Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade details an ancient ziggurat in the wilderness of Thrane. An otyugh lives in one of the ziggurat’s long-abandoned prayer rooms. It hides behinds mossy tapestries, and eats passers-by to supplement its usual diet of fungus.

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EMH-05: Gambit at Dreadhold (2005)

The Mark of Heroes series adventures EMH-05: Gambit at Dreadhold and EMH-11: The Graywall Incident feature otyughs (and lifeleech otyughs) in the sewers of Dreadhold and ridden by mongrelfolk in the city of Graywall. In the Xen’Drik Expedition adventure CVN-7: Dark Fugitive there is a hungry otyugh living in an abandoned dockside storage building.

According to the Monster Manual III, the lifeleech otyugh variants are most commonly found in Droaam, where they serve under the Daughters of Sora Kell as guardians and mounts. Dhakaani magic is blamed for their origins.

[h=3]Forgotten Realms[/h]
Otyughs have been present in the Realms since the initial Forgotten Realms boxed set. There is an otyugh living in the privy in The Halls of the Beast-Tamers, one of the sample adventures. Even before that, the otyugh story in Ed Greenwood’s Ecology article was set in the eastern Dalelands.

Other locations in the Forgotten Realms with documented otyugh or neo-otyugh inhabitants include Waterdeep, both in the sewers (FR1: Waterdeep and the North) and the city itself (City System), the nearby Rat Hills (Dragon #128), Dragonspear Castle (FRQ2: Hordes of Dragonspear), the shattered sewers of Neverwinter (Neverwinter Campaign Setting), the Zhentil Keep dump (Ruins of Zhentil Keep), and the Surmarsh in Thay (Spellbound, Unapproachable East).

In the north of Faerûn, the People of Claw Hollow (Silver Marches) have a crippled otyugh they call “the Devourer” trapped in a natural cavern, to use for waste disposal. Otyughs also live in the eastern land of Shou Lung (FRA2: Black Courser) and in the city of Alashan (FRA3: Blood Charge).

[SIZE=+1]“This band of ruffians is so unwashed and uncivilized as to make a pile of otyugh dung seem pleasingly noble.” — Mintiper Moonsilver, bard and Harper, Year of the Worm[/SIZE]

According to Forgotten Realms Adventures, Scornubel is home to Phiraz of the Naturalists, a recognized expert on otyughs. Phiraz is the sage who provided parts of the information for the Ecology article, but it should be noted that some of his observations and understandings were described as “vague”. The revised Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting includes “otyugh/neo-otyugh” in its list of spoken languages of the realms.

FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds makes heavy use of gulguthras. Otyughs are random encounters in the Tilverton sewers, and one can be found below the kitchen in the Fire Knives’ hideout. There is also a neo-otyugh named Happy Hogun living in the sewers. Not too far away there are three otyughs and a neo-otyugh living on Moander’s Mound, a giant hill of debris.

The lingering remnants of Moander’s essence also permeate the destroyed city of Yûlash on the western edge of the Moonsea. There, two otyughs have grown large, tinged with evil. They have a symbiotic relationship with the great shambling mound inhabiting the dread altar (Mysteries of the Moonsea).

Faiths & Avatars includes otyughs, neo-otyughs and gulguthydras as creatures which the goddess Talona, Mistress of Disease, might use to do her bidding. The 3rd Edition web enhancement Deity Do’s and Don’ts lists otyughs as preferred monsters for both Talona and the orc god Yurtrus. Demihumans of the Realms suggests otyugh as a possible starting language for dark elves, shield dwarves, gold dwarves, and deep gnomes.

The article The Athalantan Campaign in Dragon #228 details the historical land of Athalantar. The youngest prince of the land, Nrymm Aumar, was turned into an otyugh by the magelords of Athalantar and then kept in the middens of Athalgard, where he was eventually slain while still an otyugh.

The greater otyugh from the Dark Queen of Krynn game originated in the Forgotten Realms, appearing first in Ruins of Undermountain and then in the Pools of Darkness PC game. It is a huge, 14HD monster which inhabits the monstrous dung heaps of the Underdark.

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Gulguthydra, City of Splendors (1994)

In the gulguthydra’s first appearance in City of Splendors it had a much more hydra-like depiction than it did in the subsequent Monstrous Compendium Annual. The creatures have only been reported in the Rat Hills and the Mere of Dead Men since their magical creation during the Time of Troubles. The fire from the recent Rat Hills Conflagration drove two gulguthydra out of the garbage dump, possibly into the Waterdhavian sewers.

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Gulguthydra, Monsters of Faerûn (2001)

The gulguthydra was updated to 3rd Edition in Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn, where it is described as coated with a foot-thick layer of greasy slime and excrement so that when it moves, it slides along a cushion of its own hideous mess. It is noted that at least two gulguthydras inhabiting the Farsea Marsh are surrounded by colonies of eyeball beholderkin. According to City of Splendors: Waterdeep, gulguthydras have spread into Undermountain.

Although there is a pair of mated otyughs in WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, the idea of otyughs pairing off to spawn seems to have been dropped after this solitary mention. In the 1st to 2nd Edition transition adventure WG8: Fate of Istus, the vampire Nerlax keeps two otyughs as pets.

Otyughs and neo-otyughs can be found in the sewers under the City of Greyhawk (WGA1: Falcon’s Revenge). In the follow-up adventure, WGA2: Falconmaster, there are two otyughs living symbiotically with a large number of jermlaine and even a group of trolls. The ruins of Castle Greyhawk house a small otyugh in the Tower of War and a blissfully gleeful neo-otyugh in the Tower of Power (WGR1: Greyhawk Ruins). The small otyugh in the Tower of War has become 1d3 otyughs by 3rd Edition’s Expedition to the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk.

According to From the Ashes, otyughs nest in the dungeons of Maure Castle, swamp otyughs are found in the Rushmoor Marshes and acid-squirting otyughs in the Vast Swamp.
The mage Belszane keeps neo-otyughs in the Wailing Halls, located in the Gnarley Forest. In the same forest, there are rumours of a deep temple of Tharizdun, said to house neo-otyughs horribly altered to have tenacles, pincered beaks and a displacement ability.

Bigby’s Modest Home, detailed in WGR2: Treasure of Greyhawk has a monster summoning spell protecting the basement. When triggered, it summons a neo-otyugh. According to WGR4: The Marklands, an otyugh was recently sighted in the deserted village of Blackwell in the Gold Country. Another otyugh (now slain) killed a dozen men near Callistor on the Gnatmarsh. Otyughs are said to live in the ruins below the city of Oldred.

WGR5: Iuz the Evil notes that otyughs live in the Undercity of Dorakaa. There are two tough neo-otyughs guarding Iuz’s sewers in WGR6: The City of Skulls. Ivid the Undying mentions escaped otyughs living in the sewers of Rauxes. There are two otyughs living in the Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad, and according to Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff the “world's happiest otyugh” lives at the bottom of the privy in Castle Thrasmotnir, in Pest's Crossing.

The 3rd Edition Living Greyhawk Gazetteer mentions otyughs dwelling in the Rushmoors and the adventure The Stink in Dungeon #105 features a disease-ridden dungeon inhabited by creatures loyal to Incabulos, including both otyughs and advanced otyughs. The town of Saltmarsh, first featured in U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, gets an update in the Dungeon Master’s Guide II. There we learn that the previous high priest of the Cathedral of Kord was killed by an otyugh a few years earlier.

[h=3]Historical settings[/h]
Dragon #176 suggests that otyughs and neo-otyughs could be suitable swamp encounters in a fantasy version of the paleozoic. DMGR5: Creative Campaigning lists the otyugh on a long list of creatures appropriate for an African flavoured campaign. On the other hand, HR6: Age of Heroes Campaign Setting disallows otyughs in a Greek setting.

They are not really D&D settings, but otyughs also feature in a few futuristic sources, including the post apocalyptic d20 Omega World in Polyhedron #94 and on the list of appropriate monsters in d20 Future. The Urban Arcana Campaign Setting for d20 Modern has a half-page otyugh write up in the Creatures chapter, including stats for an advanced version and, in a later section, an otyugh as an example of a liquified zombie.

[h=4]Kingdoms of Kalamar[/h]
Otyughs are found on the rocky Island of Ucea, near the city of Saaniema in Reanaaria Bay (Player’s Guide to the Sovereign Lands), and are sometimes kept on board larger ships to keep waste under control (Salt and Sea Dogs: The Pirates of Tellene).

[h=3]Oriental adventures[/h]
In the Grey Wastes region of Akari Island lies a temple known as Opawangchicheng. According to OA3: Ochima: The Spirit Warrior, an otyugh dwells in the temple’s junkpile.

Otyughs are among the strange creatures living in the Streetsweeper’s Yard in Sigil’s Clerk’s Ward (The Great Modron March). In the Lady’s Ward is an abandoned mansion known as Nontegue Manor. It is abandoned because the previous residents (the Nontegues) were eaten by a cunning and stealthy group of otyughs, lead by a roper (Faction War).

On the layer of the Abyss known as Vudra lies Kaliva’s Island. In the island’s Yuan-ti Caves there is an otyugh dwelling in the refuse pit (Dungeon #60).

The Inner Planes describes the Paraelemental Plane of Ooze as a place viewed as paradise by otyughs and neo-otyughs. Lucky gulguthra finding some way to reach this plane defend their new home fiercely so that they can wallow forever in the infinite filth.

One of the more obscure of Ravenloft’s domains is Nosos. Originally appearing in RR4: Islands of Terror, the island represents the horrors of runaway industrialisation and pollution. The description of Nosos in Domains of Dread suggests that otyughs dwell in the city’s filth.

There is a neo-otyugh living in the refuse room in Azalin’s crypt-lair in RM1: Roots of Evil.

There is a new creature called a sewer fiend in Children of the Night: Vampires. It looks a bit like a legless variation of an otyugh and has two arms and an eyestalk. The text suggests it might be the result of attempts to cross a neo-otyugh with a bear.

The 4th Edition Adventurers League title DDAL04-11: The Donjon is set in Barovia, although not necessarily exactly the same Barovia as in previous editions. An otyugh nests in the marshy ruined tower of Muskeg Hill.

According to Rock of Bral, both the leading and trailing jettisons of the Rock are crewed by otyughs. A sarcastic neo-otyugh leads the otyughs at the front, and this band occasionally targets approaching ships with stinking, fetid missiles. A neo-otygh also leads a larger group of otyughs at the back. They operate a quiet and efficient waste removal service, and use a powerful device to expel unwanted garbage from the Rock’s gravity plane.

In Greyspace, Otyughs inhabit the small, crescent-shaped planet known as Ginsel (SJR6: Greyspace).

The otyugh is surprisingly well represented in miniatures, despite its unusual shape. The first otyugh “miniature” of any description was a plastic neo-otyugh “Official AD&D” action figure, released in 1983. Amusingly, the packaging gives the pronunciation of “NE-O-OT-YUG”, which will later be contradicted in 1985 (“AT-yug”) and again in 1989 (“Aw-tee-ug”). Also, only two eyeballs!

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Neo-Otyugh, Official AD&D action figures, (1983)

The first attempt at a more traditional miniature was a lead neo-otyugh produced as part of a short-lived line of TSR produced AD&D minis in 1983 and 1984.

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TSR5610: Neo-Otyugh and Azer and Korred, image from Lost Minis Wiki (1984)

The next otyugh mini came along more than a decade later. It was a pewter mini produced in late 1996 or early 1997 by Ral Partha, just before their licence to make D&D figures ended.

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Ral Partha 11-529: Otyugh, image from Lost Minis Wiki (1996)

During its time as the custodian of the D&D brand, Wizards of the Coast has produced three different otyugh miniatures. The first was a metal miniature released in 2002 as part of the Chainmail line.

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Chainmail #88400: Otyugh, image from Battle Sheets!, WotC website (2002)

This was followed by two prepainted plastic miniatures, figure #27 in the 2004 Giants of Legends set and a lifeleech otyugh as figure #44 in the 2007 Night Below set.

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Otyugh, D&D Miniatures: Giants of Legend #27 (2004)

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Lifeleech Otyugh, D&D Miniatures: Night Below #44 (2007)

The article Minis in the Game (in Dragon #376) provides an interesting side-by-side picture of the 1984, 2002, and 2007 minis, to demonstrate scale creep over time.

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Otyugh minis, Dragon #376 (2009)

[h=3]Board games[/h]
To celebrate the rerelease of the Dungeon! board gane in 2012, Wizards of the Coast published No Rest for the Wicked, an adventure using the Dungeon! map. It includes an encounter with a ravenous charnel otyugh that has waddled into a kitchen and is now devouring everything it can. The kitchen also houses two horrified mimics, who usually prey on humanoid visitors, but who don’t view the otyugh as remotely edible, and are now watching in distress as it rampages through their home.

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Wrath of Ashardalon (2011)

The otyugh also features as an enemy in the co-operative Adventure System board game Wrath of Ashardalon. The miniature included with the game is an unpainted version of the otyugh from the Giants of Legends set.

[h=3]Computer games[/h]
Otyghs have appeared in many D&D video games, likely because most city-based stories eventually involve a sewer visit, and otyughs fill the niche of tentacled sewer monster so perfectly. The earliest digital otyughs seem to be in 1989’s Curse of the Azure Bonds.

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Curse of the Azure Bonds, image from CRPG Notes (1989)

Although Curse of the Azure Bonds features both otyughs and more powerful neo-otyughs, Pools of Darkness introduced the even more fearsome greater otyugh.

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Greater Otyugh, Pools of Darkness, Adventurer's Journal (1991)

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Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000)

A more detailed otyugh features in Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn in (2000), and in Icewind Dale II (2002). When Baldur’s Gate II was rereleased in 2010 as Baldur’s Gate II Complete, it was bundled with a collection of concept art, including a striking illustration of an otyugh.

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Otyugh concept art, Baldur’s Gate II Complete (2010)

It is probably only fitting that we close out this Monster ENCyclopedia entry by noticing that this last otyugh’s sensory stalk has not two, not three, but no less than eight eyeballs. Or, just maybe, it has only two eyeballs, and a whole lot of noses!

[h=3]Otyugh names[/h]
Dungheap, Feaster, Gargmanethka, Gophodros, Happy Hogun, Kli-Qwerg, Lashgul, Nrymm, Theran of the False Truth, Thing, Xukasus.

[h=3]Comparative statistics[/h]

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Dungeon Geomorphs, Set Two: Caves & Caverns (April 1977)
Monster Manual, p73, 77 (December 1977, August 1978)
Dungeon Masters Guide, p208 (August 1979)
I1: Dwellers if the Forbidden City, p23 (November 1981)
Monster Cards, Set 1 (May 1982)
WG4: The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, p24 (July 1982)
R4: Doc's Island, p22, 25 (July 1983)
RPGA4: The Elixir of Life, p6 (July 1983)
I5: Lost Tomb of Martek, p16 (July 1983)
Dragon #88, “The Ecology of the Rust Monster”, p23 (August 1984)
Dragon #93, “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”, p28 (January 1985)
Dragon #96, “The Ecology of the Gulguthra”, p20-22 (April 1985)
T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil, p70 (August 1985)
I8: Ravager of Time, p18 (April 1986)
Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, p79, 84 (June 1986)
H2: The Mines of Bloodstone, p29 (December 1986)
OA3: Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior, p41 (January 1987)
REF4: The Book of Lairs II, p7-9 (April 1987)
I13: Adventure Pack I, p10-11 (May 1987)
Manual of the Planes, p39 (June 1987)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, DM’s Sourcebook of the Realms, p48 (July 1987)
FR1: Waterdeep and the North, p27 (October 1987)
Dragon #128, “Welcome to Waterdeep” p14 (December 1987)
Dragon #134, “Bazaar of the Bizarre”, p44 (June 1988)
DL15: Mists of Krynn, p79 (June 1988)
City System, p25 (July 1988)
Dragon #137, “Treasure of the Wilds”, p18 (September 1988)
Dragon #138, “Through the Looking Glass”, p11 (October 1988)
DL16: World of Krynn, p61 (November 1988)
WG8: Fate of Istus, p79-80 (February 1989)
FRC2: Curse of the Azure Bonds, p21-22, 28, 36 (March 1989)
Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (August 1989)
WGA1: Falcon’s Revenge, p29 (March 1990)
Forgotten Realms Adventures, p102 (March 1990)
WGA2: Falconmaster, p27-28, 30, 32-33 (June 1990)
FRA2: Black Courser, p58 (July 1990)
WGR1: Greyhawk Ruins, p14, 48 (July 1990)
FRA3: Blood Charge, p53 (November 1990)
Ruins of Undermountain, Campaign Guide to Undermountain, p54, 99, 127 and Undermountain Adventures, p26 (February 1991)
Dungeon #29, “’Til Death Do Us Part”, p56 (May 1991)
Pools of Darkness, Adventurer's Journal, p15 (June 1991)
Dragon #171, “101 Surprises in a Bag of Beans”, p118 (July 1991)
Dragon #176, “Playing in the Paleozoic”, p84, 90 (December 1991)
HHQ1: Fighter's Challenge, p15 (January 1992)
WGR2: Treasures of Greyhawk, p39 (June 1992)
1992 Trading Card set, #254 (June 1992)
SJR5: Rock of Bral, p48, 78 (August 1992)
From the Ashes, Atlas of the Flanaess, p36, 61 and Campaign Book, p30, 48-49 (October 1992)
FRQ2: Hordes of Dragonspear, p23 (October 1992)
SJR6: Greyspace, p49 (November 1992)
Dark Queen of Krynn, Adventurer's Journal, p23 (1992)
DMGR5: Creative Campaigning, p25 (January 1993)
WGR4: The Marklands, p31, 70, 73 (January 1993)
WGR5: Iuz the Evil, p26 (March 1993)
WGR6: The City of Skulls, p19 (May 1993)
City of Delight, Golden Huzuz, p89, 91 (June 1993)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, A Grand Tour of the Realms, p25 (June 1993)
Monstrous Manual , p283 (June 1993)
Dragon Mountain, Book II, p24 (April 1993)
RM1: Roots of Evil, p68 (April 1993)
Dungeon #44, “Train of Events”, p71 (November 1993)
PHBR11: The Complete Ranger's Handbook, p34 (December 1993)
HR6: Age of Heroes Campaign Setting, p63 (March 1994)
Cities of Bone, Campaign Guide, p32 (May 1994)
PHBR12: The Complete Paladin's Handbook, p12 (May 1994)
Dungeon #47, “Quelkin's Quandry”, p26 and “The Assassin Within”, p67 (May 1994)
CR5: Deck of Encounters, Set Two (June 1994)
Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two, p68 (December 1994)
Ivid the Undying (March 1995)
Ruins of Zhentil Keep, Campaign Book, p102 (March 1995)
Birthright Campaign Setting, Rulebook, p89 (June 1995)
Player's Option: Combat & Tactics, p12 (June 1995)
Spellbound, Campaign Guide, p22 (June 1995)
Night Below: An Underdark Campaign, Book II: The Perils of the Underdark, p10 (November 1995)
Faiths & Avatars, p153 (March 1996)
Dragon #228, “The Athalantar Campaign”, p28 (April 1996)
Dungeon #60, “Nemesis”, p49 (July 1996)
Children of the Night: Vampires, p83 (November 1996)
Domains of Dread, p?92 (August 1997)
Dungeon #64, “The Mad Chefs of Lac Anchois”, p74 (September 1997)
The Great Modron March, p118 (October 1997)
Empires of the Shining Sea, p171-172 (September 1998)
Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad, p27, 44 (October 1998)
Faction War, p84, 86 (October 1998)
The Inner Planes, p84 (November 1998)
FOR12: Demihumans of the Realms, p6-8, 10 (January 1999)
Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, p73-75 (April 1999)
Dungeon #74, “Night of the Bloodbirds”, p52 (May 1999)
Skullport, p21 (June 1999)
Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff, p77 (August 1999)
L3: Deep Dwarven Delve, p6, 20 (August 1999)
Dragon #276, “Profiles: Skip Williams”, p12-13 (October 2000)
Monster Manual, p14, 147-148 (October 2000)
Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, p153 (November 2000)
Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn, p58-59 (February 2001)
Defenders of the Faith: A Guidebook to Clerics and Paladins, p88 (May 2001)
Manual of the Planes, p80 (September 2001)
Dungeon #90, “Tears for Twilight Hollow”, p100-101 (January 2002)
Dragon #293, “Monsters With Class”, p54-55 (March 2002)
Deity Do’s and Don’ts: A Faiths and Pantheons Web Enhancement, p14-15 (May 2002)
Silver Marches, p127 (July 2002)
Dungeon #94/Polyedron #153 “Omega Word”, p42 (September 2002)
Book of Vile Darkness, p30, 160 (October 2002)
Dragon #303, “Glory and Triumpf”, p36 (January 2003)
Arms and Equipment Guide, p75 (March 2003)
Dungeon #97, “Life’s Bazaar”, p81 (March 2003)
Unapproachable East, p156 (May 2003)
Urban Arcana Campaign Setting, p227-228, 247 (June 2003)
Dragon #309, “War Spells”, p50 (July 2003)
Monster Manual v.3.5, p204-205, 292 (July 2003)
Dragonlance Campaign Setting, p104, 109 (August 2003)
Salt and Sea Dogs: The Pirates of Tellene, p131 (September 2003)
Complete Warrior, p96 (November 2003)
Dungeon #105, “The Stink”, p47, 51, 54, 55 (December 2003)
Dungeon #107, “Mellorn Hospitality”, p28 (February 2004)
Unearthed Arcana, p141 (February 2004)
Dragon #317, “Urban Druids”, p33 (March 2004)
Dragon #318, “Sage Advice”, p102 (April 2004)
Complete Divine, p172 (May 2004)
Dungeon #111, “Lords of Oblivion”, p64 (June 2004)
Eberron Campaign Setting, p44 (June 2004)
D&D Miniatures: Giants of Legend set, #27/72 (July 2004)
d20 Future, p211 (August 2004)
Monster Manual III, p119 (September 2004)
Whispers of the Vampire’s Blade, p28-29 (September 2004)
Sharn: City of Towers, p177 (November 2004)
Dragon #326, “Down the Drain”, p50, 54 (December 2004)
Dungeon #121, “One Hundred Useless Items”, p101 (April 2005)
Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations, p191 (April 2005)
Races of Eberron, p103 (April 2005)
Heroes of Battle, p40 (May 2005)
Dragon #331, “Alchemical Charms”, p32 (May 2005)
City of Splendors: Waterdeep, p127 (June 2005)
Dungeon #123, “100 Market Stalls”, p98 (June 2005)
Dungeon Master’s Guide II, p126 (June 2005)
Dragon #332, Ecology of the Kobold, p67 (July 2005)
Explorer’s Handbook, p111 (August 2005)
Spectre of Sorrows, p78 (July 2005)
Dungeon #126, “Encounter at Blackwall Keep”, p30-33 (September 2005)
Dragon #336, “Wormfood”, p68 (October 2005)
Holy Orders of the Stars, p102-103 (September 2005)
Dungeon #128, “Backdrop: The Free City”, p66 (November 2005)
Spell Compendium, p151-152 (December 2005)
EMH-05: Gambit at Dreadhold, p20-22, 24 (2005)
Legends of the Twins, p81 (February 2006)
Dungeon #132, “Down at the Docks”, p97 (March 2006)
Dungeon #133, “One Hundred Meals”, p101 (April 2006)
Player’s Handbook II, p177-178 (May 2006)
Mysteries of the Moonsea, p149-150 (June 2006)
Monster Manual IV, p196 (July 2006)
Player’s Guide to the Sovereign Lands, p187 (October 2006)
CVN-7: Dark Fugitive, p14-15 (2006)
EMH-11: The Graywall Incident, p13 (2006)
Complete Scoundrel, p151-152 (January 2007)
Dungeonscape, p49 (February 2007)
FR1: Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave, p18, 34-35 (March 2007)
Diseased!, p18-19 (April 2007)
Dungeon #145, “Vile Addiction”, p36 (April 2007)
Elite Opponents: Variant Lifeleech Otyughs, Wizards of the Coast website (May 2007)
Monster Manual V, p165 (July 2007)
D&D Miniatures: Night Below set, #44/60 (July 2007)
Expedition to the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk, p47 (August 2007)
Fortress of the Yuan-ti, p14, 34 (September 2007)
Dragons of Eberron, p94-95 (October 2007)
Dungeon #153, p50 (February 2008)
Monster Manual, p40, 165, 211 (June 2008)
Dungeon Delve, p24 (March 2009)
H3: Pyramid of Shadows, Adventure Book One, p20 (August 2008)
Dragon #375, “Monster Month”, p129 (May 2009)
Dragon #376, “Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Turaglas, the Ebon Maw”, p16-17 (June 2009)
Dragon #376, “Minis in the Game”, p78 (June 2009)
The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos, p120-121 (December 2009)
Underdark, p109 (January 2010)
Demonomicon, p148 (July 2010)
Dungeon #183, “The Radiant Morn”, p28-30, 35-27 (October 2010)
Monster Vault, p230-233 and Cairn of the Winter King, p15, 26-27 (October 2010)
SPEC3-2: Roots of Corruption - Dark Seeds, p15-60 (February 2011)
Wrath of Ashardalon (February 2011)
The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond, p3, 6-7 (May 2011)
Neverwinter Campaign Setting, p163 (August 2011)
Dungeon #206, “Eyes on the Ball”, p13 (September 2012)
Dungeon #214, “The Last Slave Lord”, p38 (June 2013)
Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, p94-96 (May 2012)
SPEC4-5: Rising Darkness, p34-35 (August 2012)
D&D Next Playtest Packet, Bestiary, p76 (December 2012)
D&D Next Playtest Packet, Bestiary, p72 (March 2013)
Dungeon #214, “No Rest for the Wicked”, p14-16 (May 2013)
Dragon #425, “The Night Thelva Clovenaxe Flew”, p49 (July 2013)
Dead in Thay, p35, 45, 94 (April 2014)
Monster Manual, p37, 248, 352 (September 2014)
Out of the Abyss, p212 (September 2015)
DDAL04-11: The Donjon, p21 (May 2016)
Storm King’s Thunder, p144 (September 2016)
Volo’s Guide to Monsters, p29 (November 2016)

[h=3]Other ENCyclopedia entries[/h]
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Another fantastic entry, Echohawk. I can't tell you how much I enjoy this series!

Incidentally, if memory serves, I think there were gulguthydras involved in the sealed, "mature content" adventure ("Porphyry House of Horrors") in Dungeon #95 - they had been polymorphed into human women and were being used as prostitutes, I believe. I recall there being some discussion in the letters pages in the following months about whether the gulguthydra's "stench" quality would carry over to their polymorphed forms.

Also, had Dave Gross not left the editor's seat at Dragon when he did, there's a good chance "The Ecology of the Gulguthydra" would have been published - it had already gone through its final editorial pass and was ready for the contract to be sent, when the new editor decided to do away with the "fiction-and footnote" format of the "Ecology" articles. For those interested, HERE is a link to the unpublished article.



"Despite its thorough disgustingness, there is something strangely endearing about the otyugh"

I've always thought so, and used them repeatedly in many of my D&D Games. They're one of my favourite monsters. One of the reasons I bought 'Wrath of Ashardalon' was because of the Otyugh figure.

Absolutely brilliant article.

There was a 3rd party adventure that I had many years ago 'The Lair of the Monster Maker' (I think - it was a long time ago, and I really can't remember the name), that featured Otyughs very heavily - the Monster Maker is said to have created them, and the adventure had statistics for them as well. I suspect it was a simple rip off from the Monster Manual, but to so obviously crib from the MM always seemed odd to me. (The adventure also had a great d100 minor Magical Items table- things like Boots of Comfort, Hair Colour changing helmets or Self Lighting pipes, and the dungeon was cursed by the Monster Maker so 'there was a monster in each room' . The best bad excuse for random monsters inhabiting a dungeon I've come across.


My favorite lumbering monster! I love that big smelly beast!

Great article!

One suggestion though: you could include Pathfinder in the overview, seeing as that system is D&D 3.75 and still widely played.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
I'm sorry to have to disappoint you both!
[MENTION=2024]ParagonofVirtue[/MENTION] - Much as I like Paizo, I don't have any plans to cover Pathfinder for the simple reason that I'm looking specifically at D&D monsters. Golarion has never been an official D&D setting, and I don't want to stray into the wider realm of d20 settings. These articles are on the long side as it is :).
[MENTION=81852]Desh-Rae-Halra[/MENTION] - Sorry, but the creature I've chosen for "R" isn't the roper :(.


First Post
I thought this entry stunk... (sorry, that was lame)

There was a well-written encounter against an otyugh in the FR novel The Nether Scroll. The protagonists are travelling from Weathercote Wood on the way to the Mines of Dekanter. One of the party wanders off in the night to be alone and is waylaid by an otyugh - I assume it emerged up out of a cave entrance or something, as this is the first non-dungeon-like encounter I've read with this beast. It may have been feasting on some goblin corpses from a previous battle, I'd have to re-read the section to be sure.

What made this scene memorable was the otyugh's usage of its telepathic abilities, which I've never put much thought into before. While attacking the person, it kept "broadcasting" how it wanted to feed on him, which only added to his already present terror. The otyugh grabbed him with a tentacle and started bashing him into nearby rocks, slowly bludgeoning him to pulp, all the while sending images of what it would do once he was thoroughly dead (and I guess tenderized). It really stressed the aberration/ Old Evil angle of an otyugh, which I hadn't seen played up before.


Mechanically, an otyugh is a small to medium, uncommon monster

Eh? All the copies of the 1E Monster Manual I own have "SIZE: M-L", not S-M.

There is a new creature called a sewer fiend in Children of the Night: Vampires. It looks a bit like a legless variation of an otyugh and has two arms and an eyestalk. The text suggests it might be the result of attempts to cross a neo-otyugh with a bear.

Goodie, another monster for the Creature Catalog conversions queue. What page is it on?


I seem to recall an interview or comment published somewhere that indicated the monster grew out of a half-joking question of who cleans up after all the monsters in a dungeon. I think they also mentioned the monster in Star Wars as further inspiration once the question came up.

I can't find it anywhere, though.


First Post
Yuck! What a deliciously disgusting entry in this awesome article series!

Given what I've learned here, I must definitely work on my portrayal of these 'Golguthra' - a term I wasn't familiar with.
It does remind me a bit of the Golgothan in the 'Dogma' movie, though, surely that's no coincidence?!

I'd also like to note that some of the illustrations and early minis remind me a bit of Lovecraft's 'Great Race of Yith'.

Anyway, otyughs are some of the sillier classic D&D monsters that I don't mind at all. They certainly fit their niche quite well and make for memorable encounters.

Forsaken Temple

First Post
These are one of my favorite monsters. The loose leaf compendium really did a bad job on most most monsters. Dolled them up too much.
I’m planning on tossing two of these bad boys at my players soon and that isn’t even the worst part, they’ll be forced into the Shadowfell.
I only wanted to make sure that Otyughs could swim and I got sucked into (see what I did there) into the whole entry. You brought back a lot of memories. Thanks.

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