5 Classic Dungeons & Dragons Monsters

When you think of tabletop roleplaying games, Dungeons and Dragons, without question, is at the top of the list. This pencil and paper, RPG has been rocking our hearts and minds since 1974. Along the way there have been several iterations and (either rightly or wrongly) there will be several more. D&D has left a lasting impression on our culture, and its influence can be felt from television to our handheld devices. If you’ve never played a game of Dungeons and Dragons, I highly encourage you to do so at least once. And if you’re a long time role-player you already know the thrills of banding together with a group of fellow adventurers, fighting monsters and gathering treasure. It is with this thrill in mind that I have put together a short list of 5 classic D&D monsters that are as much mainstays of the gaming table as Cheetos and Mountain Dew. NOTE: I’ve left dragons off the list, because I feel like they’re implied.


-Owlbear: The party enters a wooded clearing, just outside the abandoned temple. That old man at the tavern said you’d find “treasure beyond your wildest dreams” in there, you just need to go inside. He wasn’t trying to set you up was he? Suddenly you and your party hear a glass-shattering screech before turning to see a ten foot tall shape. This creature has the head and claws of an owl, and the thick frame of a bear. Its predatory eyes fall upon you, and as it lumbers forward, you realize the clicking of its razor sharp beak may be the last thing you ever hear.

Gelatinous Cube

-Gelatinous Cube: You’re walking down a suspicious cavern cistern, when a you notice a slight shimmer in front of you. Startled, you step back. A perception check reveals a 10 foot by 10 foot creature made entirely of a gelatinous sludge. A less cautious member of your party blunders past you only to run right into the cube. Now trapped, he is stunned with electricity and slowly digested. It’s a shame too, how are you going to split up his loot now?

Giant Toad - DCSIII

-Giant Frog: Your adventures have led you further and further into the catacombs of this long forgotten temple. As you travel downward on the narrow steps, you notice that the walls are slick with moisture and luminescent greenery. Suddenly the stairs drop in to an open cavern. When your party takes a moment to gather themselves, they hear several deep croaks and wet ‘plopping’ sounds. Turning your torch toward the noise revealing a pack of eight giant amphibians. A successful nature check reveals that each creature is oozing a poisonous slime which, if touched by bare skin, can cause infection or even death.


-The Beholder: You and your fellow adventurers find yourselves battered but unbroken, as you enter what appears to be a wide but decrepit throne room. And there, floating above a throne, is a spherical creature with a mouth of razor-sharp teeth below a giant eye. You’re frozen with fear (but also because the creature has zapped your party with a beam from two of its ten eye-stalks). As you look on to your companions, you see two of them turn to stone from the ground up, forming perfect statues. Looking back at the beholder, it shoots you a sinister grin and tells you and your remaining companions, that if you swear allegiance to him, he may not kill you.


-Mimic (Treasure Chest Monster): You’ve done it! You’ve battled your way through the forest, the upper corridors of the abandoned temple, through diabolical traps and shambling abominations. You’ve faced danger at every turn and now it’s time to claim your reward. The room shimmers with gold inlay, and setting right in front of you are three chests each brimming with treasure no doubt. Uneasy with the situation, you stay back. A perception check reveals nothing, but a successful dungeoneering check reveals one of the chests is not like the others. Just as the thief approaches the middle chest it springs to life grabbing him with its pseudopod and opening it’s giant maw to feed.


Honorable Mentions: Spider, Skeletons, Zombies, Goblins: These creatures are brilliant low-level monsters and add a wonderful atmosphere to any adventure.

So these are my picks for classic D&D monsters. What are some of the creatures you like to encounter or stock your dungeons with?


P.S. I know this video made the rounds before, but I thought I’d post here given the theme of the article. If you’re a fan of sword & sorcery RPGs or just a fan of beautiful animation, check out The Reward

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