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My top 10 Monsters from D&D

Updated on May 22, 2013

I play D&D pretty regularly, and one of the things that always hooks new players is the monster manual. The reasons seem pretty obvious, who doesn't like looking at pictures of awesome monsters? But this lens isn't to hook you to the game (although I highly recommend it) it's to share some of my favorites from the monster manual. Most of these are not playable as characters, although if you get creative you can certainly work them in, but are lots of fun to play against for players and to throw against your players for a DM. Maybe think about using them in your next campaign, or character! All of the illustrations are from the book.

10. Gnoll

Monster Manual, v. 3.5, pg. 130

Many people won't agree with me, but I have a soft spot for gnolls. I love hyenas, and a gnoll is a fun way to work that into a character. They are a race of humanoids with hyena characteristics, such as a hyena head and fur, and generally make good fighters. As encounters they are generally mercenaries, in groups, and not a very high level, but an interesting way to start, and smart enough to use as an adventure hook. They also make great bandits, guards, and such.

Underwater caves are a great way to challenge players

9. Aboleth - Monster Manual 1, v 3.5, pg 8

The only reason the Aboleth is so far down the list is because even though it is an amazing monster, its not very practical to put in a campaign. I have been playing with the idea of an underwater campaign, but this is not in the norm of what players expect. Generally it can be hard to work in underwater battles, and if you do you want to be sure that they are of an appropriate challenge rating, because you're players are generally crippled unless they have a swim speed, but back to the Aboleth. Despite these facts, I had to include it, it's a big, intelligent, solitary creature, and can use magic as well as control people, which makes it a great boss. Kind of the equivalent of an evil underwater dragon, if you don't like dragons.

8. Griffon

Monster Manual 1, v. 3.5, pg.140

The griffon is a pretty universal attraction. People know them form other sources, and they can recognize one pretty easily. They are generally solitary, and pretty territorial, although they will not attack unless provoked (or hungry). The thing about the griffin is that they also make good mounts. You have to be a fairly high level normally, as they can be difficult to train, but thy are about the same size as a horse, so most races will be capable of riding one, and they can fly, which can be a great combat advantage.

7. Tarrasque - Monster Manual 1, v. 3.5, pg. 240

One very rarely actually comes up against a Tarrasque, but they are a lot of fun. They are big (are we starting to see a pattern here?), and really difficult to kill. I mean really, they have one of the highest armor classes in the game. They are also extremely rare, the kind of creature a whole campaign can be built around. Think about it: "There are legends of these beasts in these parts, but they fell asleep long ago.... " and then they wake up. Untold mayhem follows, no?

6. Nightmare

Montser Manual 1, v. 3.5, pg. 195

The nightmare is essentially a black horse with a firy mane and tail, or at least that is how they appear. They are demons, and have some special powers that make them a good deal more powerful that a horse. For example, they are far more intelligent then most animals, and if you're not careful they could be smarter than you. They also have an ethereal form, which means that they can go to the ethereal plan. This allows them to move around out of sight, and even go through walls, but they cannot fight a physical being while they are in this form. They can be used as a mount, but they are really difficult to tame.

5. Oozes - Monster Manual 1, v. 3.5, pg. 201

Oozes come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have a few things in common. The first is that they have no brain, or really any organs at all. They just go around consuming everything in their path. The second is that they can't be killed by slicing them apart, that just makes more of them. I like them a lot mostly because the concept is really funny to me, but also that they are really effective and impossible to fool. For example you can't make them go after a rock instead of you, they aren't smart enough. Illusions don't work on them, they can't be hypnotized or controlled, you basically have to squish them to death. And no, they are really not playable, I've seen it done and its a disaster.

Sculpey III Multipack - Classic Collection
Sculpey III Multipack - Classic Collection

Oozes come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes its just easier to make your own...


4. Arrowhawk

Monster Manulal 1, v 3.5, pg 20

Th Arrowhawk is a creature native to the plain of Air. Because the plain of Air has no ground, and therefore nowhere to land, the Arrowhawk has no need of feet and has a flexible idea of what is up and down. They have four wings, a large beak and four eyes, and an almost snakelike body, with a long neck and tail, as seen in the picture. Arrowhawks a generally solitary and very territorial, and will attack anyone who comes near them with their electricity ray or bite. An Arrowhawk can live up to about 75 years, and if considered a juvanile util it reaches 10 years of age. At its larges, an Arrowhawk has a wingspan of 30 ft and a body length of 20 ft, can weigh up to 800 lb, and can move at a speed of 60 ft per round (6 seconds). I like using this creature because it provides a challenge for players that they do not usually face: even though the Arrowhawk is not that hard to kill, it is very hard to get close enough to do it.

3. Bulette

Bulettes, also known as land sharks, are big, solid and scary. They can burrow through the ground and pop up under you the way a shark would in the water, and are very hard to kill. They tend to be gray or brown, and have thick armor on their body. The shape of their body is very compact, thin a cross between a shark, a rhino and a tank, all covered in thick plate armor. A bulette lives only to eat, and will eat anything and everything, right down to armor and treasure. Although they are terrifying to encounter, they also make a great choice for the polymorph self spell, especially if your character doesn't have much of an armor class.

2. Hellcat

Monster Manual 1, v. 3.5, pg. 85

I have always preferred Hellcats to Hellhounds, partly because they are bigger and more impressive, and partly because I love lions, and Hellcats resemble them. They are depicted as devils, and have the name besekira as well. They appear as large incorporeal cats, made of a blinding white light in the dark, and almost impossible to see in the light. For game purposes, however, they are not technically incorporeal, and have a corporeal body, so they can be hit by mundane weapons. They work in groups, not unlike lions, and communicate with each other telepathically.

1. Displacer Beast

Displacer beasts are my favorite, for a few different reasons. They mildly resemble a cat (very mildly) with six legs, tentacles, and they are purple. So already that means that they have 5 natural attacks (two claws, two tentacles and a bite), but I haven't even gotten to the best part. Displacer beast have a 50% miss chance. In game terms, that means that the DM rolls a dice, and you can only hit half of the time. They can do this because they bend light around them, making them appear to me where they are not. How far away from their real body they appear depends on where the light is coming from, but there is really no way to predict it. I did base a character on a displacer beast once. I made a tauric displacer beast elf, named Madeline DuLac. For those non D&D nerds, that means I put an elf on a displacer beast centaur style. It was lots of fun!

This is the book where all of these creatures come from, and their details and stats are here. If you DM at all for 3.5, you should have this book in some form, and I actually get a lot of character ideas from it.

What do you think of my choices? What is your favorite monster?

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    • profile image

      netheril-imaskar-raumathar-jhamm 3 years ago

      See Phaerimm and Sharn! They're awesome!

    • SteezyInk profile image

      SteezyInk 4 years ago

      Awesome list! I love using the nightmare :)

    • KathyZ1 profile image

      KathyZ1 4 years ago

      Wow, amazing. Thanks for your sharing.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 4 years ago from Jackson, MS

      Griffon & Nightmare. Scary beautiful!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Excellent lens with awesome choices! :)

    • Gigmoo profile image

      Gigmoo 4 years ago

      Nice to see bulettes and displacer beasts getting some love! I have a soft spot for Otyugh myself. :)

    • DesignSpace profile image

      DesignSpace 5 years ago

      I love mindflayers and beholders. If it speak deep speech, its awesome!

    • profile image

      myamya 5 years ago

      Great lens, well done! Squidlike

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      @youthministry: I'm not a fan of the Beholder, it just seems so ridiculous....

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 5 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      Good choices. What? No Beholder? LOL.

    • Hypersapien2 profile image

      Hypersapien2 5 years ago from U.S.

      I've never played the game, but I used to be a big fan of the D&D cartoon series.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Definitely some excellent picks here - gotta love springing oozes on an unsuspecting party.

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Great lens, Well done. Squidlike