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Nominate your favourite D&D monster and why

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Time for a favourite D&D monster poll!

This isn’t a “how many monsters can you name” thread. You get to nominate ONE monster and must write at least a paragraph on why, plus your favourite art piece depicting that monster.

Reminder of things you must include
  • ONE nomination. If you nominate more than one, both get disqualified.
  • Paragraph explaining why.
  • Favourite image depicting it.
Remember, it’s not a competition to name a monster somebody hasn’t nominated. It’s your favourite monster.

@Peter Coffey podcast topic!
 
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Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
Owlbear. KotBL was one of my first experiences to D&D, and this image inspired so much awesomeness in my mind. What an epic battle! Who were these heroes? How were they going to win? This epitomized what the game offered: heroes fighting fantastic monsters. For a creature based off of a cheap plastic toy, it became iconic. And because of its hit dice, it was a monster right there in the sweet spot of adventuring. Not too high where you hardly encountered one, and not too low so your PCs had enough experience to survive.
 

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Giltonio_Santos

Adventurer
The githyanki is probably my favorite D&D monster. Cool backstory, iconic powers, iconic enemies and allies (if you're putting githyanki in your campaign, you're automatically allowed to include red dragons, mindflayers, and githzerai, no questions asked!), iconic items, an interesting society, and a strong potential to figure from the beginning to the end of a long campaign as the main villainous opponent.
 

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Fenris-77

Explorer
Owlbear. KotBL was one of my first experiences to D&D, and this image inspired so much awesomeness in my mind. What an epic battle! Who were these heroes? How were they going to win? This epitomized what the game offered: heroes fighting fantastic monsters. For a creature based off of a cheap plastic toy, it became iconic. And because of its hit dice, it was a monster right there in the sweet spot of adventuring. Not too high where you hardly encountered one, and not too low so your PCs had enough experience to survive.
This, QFT. I had essentially this exact reply in mind. Thanks for saving me valuable typing time. Keep on the Borderlands ftw.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm almost afraid to admit it, because they are the bottom of the food chain. Pathetic, cowardly, black-hearted little beasties that will murder you in your sleep because they're bored and they like the sight of blood.

Goblins. Yep. One of the weakest monsters in the MM. The speed bump equivalent of an MMO's rats that you hunt at first level. Maybe it's because they're the underdog, maybe it's the high squeaky voice with oddly enough a bad British accent that I use when I run them. Maybe it's because I like using them against higher level parties when they hear that the cave is "only" overrun by goblins. You want to take pity on them because you know that they've always been the one the "real" monsters kick around, but given a chance they're as mean as can be. Oh, and beware goblins in their home territory. They know they're vulnerable to they work harder than anyone to stack things in their favor.

goblin-step1.png
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
This is not a valid nomination. The instructions are in the first post.
Well lah-dee-dah.:p Fine, be that way. Owlbear.

The basic box was my intro to D&D, and Keep on the Borderlands is my base template for what a module should be. The Owlbear is the big bad beastie in that module, and that was my first experience fighting something that I really thought was going to ace the whole party. That encounter is the one by which all my other D&D encounters are measured.

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schneeland

Explorer
I'd like to add the Beholder.
  • The Beholder is probably the first iconic D&D monster I was exposed to - unaware of its lore at that time - through the Eye of the Beholder video game. It's not a monster that I use frequently these days (a lot more evil necromancers, lizard men, etc.), but any D&D monster manual without the Beholder would feel terribly incomplete.
  • If I have to pick one, I think I like the slimy Beholder illustration from Volo's guide best:
    Beholder.png
 

PabloM

Explorer
Oh, I really like many, and I have a predilection for undeads, devils and demons. However, if the instruction is to choose one and only one, I think the one I like the most is the Displacer Beast. They are aesthetically beautiful, the powers of displacement make them reckless in combat, attack in packs, are intelligent and even today when my players, several levels above the Displacer Beast CR, see one, they start to give me worried looks.
 

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MockingBird

Explorer
2e Kobold. My first experience with D&D was with the starter set that came out in the 90s. It came with a audio CD and 3 small adventures. It also came with a slim down monster manual. This is where I learned what a Kobold was. The illustration of these little pesky beast definitely excited my imagination. I was later let down when they evolved from a k9 likeness to a dragon likeness. To this day my Kobolds are the 2e version
kobold.gif
 

Mort

Community Supporter
The gelatinous cube:

Silly yet deceptively dangerous and as much a hazard as a monster. They were not drawn from mythology or literature but were designed by Gygax to prowl along the typical 10 x 10 dungeon corridor. Had a soft spot for them since my early gaming days.

MM35_PG201.jpg
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Vampire - wishes in as viable for late tier-2 and early tier-3 with its minions kicking in earlier in tier-2. A wide variety of approaches and threats, exploitable limitations and usually intelligent with resourcess.

Just too good.
 

Krachek

Explorer
Mind flayer

Psionic
Alien or outer plane origin
Dangerous
And eat brains....

Got everything to make great story.
81D108A0-0F8E-4515-9CC5-63F953E850E5.jpeg
 

LordEntrails

Explorer
If I think about this too long I might, nay I most certainly would, change my mind. But the first thing that came to mind well before reading any of the other posts is the owlbear. There are others that are more scary, others that are more iconic (to me). But owlbear is core to the formation of several characters I have played through the years. From Keep on the Borderlands to modern campaigns (and the barbarian of mine who proudly wears an owlbear cloak). Sure, the owlbear is something of a... well, they have never really been the same have they? Depending upon the edition and the artist, they might be ridiculous looking, or cuddly and cute, or just dangerous looking, but perhaps that lack of definition is part of what makes them D&D. Each table plays D&D a bit different, just like every owlbear is a bit different. Usually they are all recognizable for what they are (a table of D&D players or an owlbear), but each is unique.
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Bitbrain

Explorer
Black Dragon.

It goes back to the very first time I watched the animated Disney film Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent’s transformation, the accompanying music, the green flames with enough force to knock prince Philip off his horse, her sheer cruelty and unrelenting power . . . I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Gary Gigax drew inspiration for the Black Dragon from Maleficent.

And even though in D&D they breathe acid instead of fire, because of Sleeping Beauty, the Black Dragon was and will forever be the definitive dragon in my mind.

CBD5CEF1-92AB-405B-B90C-D455AFF9176E.jpeg
 
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Cyan Wisp

Explorer
Aranea

Being a recovering arachnophobe, spiders have always been one of my monster go-tos. They are perfect amoral predators and come with aeons of cultural emotional baggage, for good or ill. My first exposure to the Aranea was through Module X1: Isle of Dread, but it wasn’t until 3.5e that I really came to appreciate their potential as antagonists - intelligent, shapechanging magical spiders with a plan. They were aligned “usually neutral” in 3.5e, so they’re not obviously “bad guys” and may even have trading links (if a little unnerving) with civilised society. I like to use them in a secret society aspect; working away in the background infiltrating society or conducting Dr Moreau-esque breeding experiments - always trying to further the superiority of Aranea.

Aranea2.jpg
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
Gelatinous Cube.

There are a few monsters which scream D&D to me. The cube is the one that represents the essence of D&D the most. I have not encountered anything else like it in other fiction. Oozes aren't an uncommon thing for sure, but they usually, ooze. That is, they flow a bit like liquid. Encountering a cube is a classic D&D exploration encounter. No other single encounter gets to the heart of the game (well...maybe dragons :p but they're common in fantasy in general).

Glabbagool.png
 

pogre

Adventurer
Otyugh
When they appeared the Otyugh instantly became a feature of nearly every dungeon for me. Natural sewer systems that clean up after the denizens. A significant challenge for lower level PCs and sometimes even a hassle for high level parties, the Otyugh seemed to be one of the underground denizens happy to be there. Part of my fascination with them, particularly during 1e but even to this day, stems from StarWars. I loved the scene of the heroes falling in a trash compactor and strange tentacles rising up out of the muck to attack. Plus in a bizarre kind of way they're cute.

Otyugh.jpg
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
I nominate the Umber Hulk.

Unique to D&D as far as I know, it was one of those what was a great equalizer even as you got more powerful - and was feared because of that. Subterranean, burrowing out of the tunnel walls to ambush you, confusing your party members or maybe yourself. Sure, everyone ran from the sheer destructive might of a beholder or a dragon, but you never knew when a group of umber hulks were waiting just on the other side of that cave wall.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
The original Meenlock.

1566696049405.png


There are a lot of awesome and cool monsters. But I still remember the first time I read the entry in the Fiend Folio for the Meenlock, and how it ended ...

If they succeed in doing so, they will take the victim to their shaft, sealing it after entry. After a short but gruesome treatment, the victim himself becomes a meenlock.

The whole description was so awesomely chilling. Too often in D&D you had "monsters as bags of hit points." The meenlocks fell into that category of monsters, like rot grubs, and the Sons of Kyuss, that could terrify, that evoked a profound sense of Cronenbergian body horror.

The next time the lights are out, and the wind begins to sound like a whisper, just remember the Meenlocks.
 
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