Fantasy monsters pop up everywhere these days: film, print, video games.
Perhaps most importantly, where would the likes of fantasy tabletop games such as Dungeons & Dragons be without its monsters, dragon or otherwise?
Well, there’d be some pretty empty dungeons for a start, and probably a lot of unguarded treasure… Still, that’d be quite boring, right? RIGHT? Shiny loot aside, let’s take a look at some classic fantasy monsters, the undisputed stars (or, in some cases, cubes) of tabletop gaming and beyond.
Who would believe that the scourge of adventurers everywhere (well, those with things that can rust) would have originated from a cheap plastic toy? Essentially a giant, metal-eating insect, rust monsters can destroy an entire party’s weapons and armour in mere seconds.
Although enchanted weapons have a slight chance of resisting the rust monster’s inconvenient appetite, chances are you’re going to have to make another trip to the blacksmith’s (just don’t bring the blasted thing back with you).
Easily one of D&D’s most iconic creatures. A floating ball of flesh with a large mouth, one huge eye in its centre and many more on stalks surrounding it. Oh yeah, and also they tend to have lethal magic powers. They have a surprisingly complex culture according to fluff, following an insane and controlling goddess known as the Great Mother. I mean, who would really be that eager to face a creature that commonly lists “Death Ray” as one of its abilities?
A ten foot square cube of mindless, transparent ooze frequently found in dungeons. They absorb everything in their paths, digesting what they can and secreting what they can’t as they go along (this is generally inorganic matter, although sometimes things seem to get stuck in them). Gelatinous cubes look pretty harmless… unless you happen to touch them; they’re capable of paralysing potential prey upon contact.
In short, don’t go sticking extremities into random quantities of goo (in dungeons or anywhere else for that matter).
Also known as illithids, mind flayers are pretty standard humanoids to look at… apart from the whole “my head is like an octopus crossed with a lamprey” thing. Also they want to eat your delicious brains, and are capable of incredibly powerful psionic attacks in order to help them get at them. Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of illithid biology is the way in which they reproduce. Young illithids are implanted into host’s brains, and if this beautiful life process (known as ceremorphosis) fails, then you can end up with a human body with an illithid’s brain, personality and digestive tract (so watch out if the party rogue keeps commenting on how tasty brains look).
Essentially a giant, lizard-like creature that needs to constantly destroy and/or eat things in order to survive. Most parties are going to have a certain amount of trouble if they encounter one of these behemoths (so pray they prove as elusive in your campaign as Duke Nukem Forever used to be). Fifty feet tall and seventy feet long, its scaly, spiky form should strike fear into the hearts of most adventurers. As a note, Tarrasquemas is usually celebrated by the traditional gaming community on the 9th of September, so be prepared.
Another classic creature of evil; Voldemort, eat your heart out.
Created via necromancy, a lich is a usually skeletal creature that stores its soul in a magical receptacle known as a phylactery. Remarkably tough and able to paralyse (and just plain freak out) party members, liches are usually evil (although good liches are not non-existent). Let’s face it: you’ve haven’t played D&D unless you’ve come up against one of these bad boys.
Largely based on those depicted in the works of J R R Tolkien, D&D orcs are huge, bulky humanoids with green or grey skin, pointed ears and tusk-like lower canine teeth. Tribal and carnivorous, they are often evil and frequently amusing (see Warhammer 40k’s orks, for example).
Half-orc player characters are quite common, offering the benefits of increased strength and darkvision (among others) at the cost of intelligence and charisma. Then again, who needs those?
Around nine feet tall and five hundred pounds, trolls are serious business. With their rubbery, mottled grey-green skin, gangly limbs and hunches (that’s being that tall for you), they look pretty distinctive.
Appearances aside, they’re actually oddly agile, and have terrifyingly effective regenerative capabilities. If you don’t have some fire on you when facing a troll, you’re pretty boned (and then the troll might wear said bones as a trophy).
Arguably the most common alternative to goblins, kobolds are usually the first thing players encounter if it’s not the latter. Small, scaly creatures that appear to look a bit like bipedal crocodiles in more recent editions, they allegedly smell like a cross between stagnant water and wet dog; lovely.
A D&D staple. Small, dumb and usually green, they are always itching for a fight. They’re the perfect thing for a new party to cut their adventuring teeth on; very little can go wrong with babby’s first goblin encounter (unless the DM happens to get a really lucky roll, of course).
Ella strikes again (and swears she doesn’t wantonly hunger for tasty, tasty brains… much).
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