• Justin Handlin

5 Most Underused Monsters in Dungeons & Dragons

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The world of Dungeons & Dragons has hundreds, even thousands of monsters for a Dungeon Master to choose from. But, we can often find ourselves using some of the same monsters on a regular basis. A goblin, kobold, and orcs to name a few. But there are so many more interesting monsters to flesh out your adventures and stories with. We polled our audience and discovered what are some of the most underused monsters in D&D.

In this episode not only will we discuss these monsters, but we will also delve into the myriad of different ways you can get the most out of them in your D&D game.

What are the most underused monsters in Dungeons & Dragons?

Galeb Duhr monster dungeons & dragons
Galeb Duhr

5. Galeb Duhr: The galeb duhr is a boulder-like elemental creature with stumpy appendages that act as arms and legs. It has the ability to animate the rocks and boulders around it, and is thus usually encountered in rocky terrain.

The unique features of this creature really put it a stones throw away from necromancers. They can magically animate nearby boulders instantly increasing their ranks, but the creatures themselves don't require sustenance. This makes them perfect guardians. Nevermind the fact they can ambush even the most observant of adventurers with their false appearance.

Fomorian monster dungeons & Dragons

4. Fomorian: Fomorians are an ancient and wicked race native to the Underdark of the Feywild. They live in eerily beautiful caves of incredible size. Glowing crystals and bioluminescent fungi light these places, where fomorians rule as monarchs over courts of sinister fey. These giants were once creatures of beauty until they were cursed after attempting to enslave the Feywild.

Aside from their massive clubs that can fel an entire contingent of soldiers in one swoop. They utilize an evil eye attack to deal psychic damage. Something that can help deal with features and spells that ward or reduce damage. Their most notable feature though ist her ability to pass on their curse and deform and just destroy the ability checks of a creature. The creature is basically stuck in this form until they finish a long rest, where they get another chance to save against it.

Salamanders monster D&D dungeons & dragons

3. Salamander: Salamanders reside in the fiery regions of the Elemental Chaos. They are greedy and cruel creatures, quick to rob or enslave weaker folk. Salamanders prize treasure and gladly serve more powerful masters for the right price. They frequently launch slavetaking raids into the natural world through planar rifts and elemental vortices.

The salamander makes for a great villain alongside their fire snakes. Both have heated bodies, which means they can set entire villages and forests on fire just by wandering through them. Because of this, they are almost like a walking natural disaster when on the material plane. Their greatest tool is their tails. With an attack, they can restrain a creature that is dangerous enough. But once they have a target grappled, they automatically hit the target. This is fantastic against high AC targets.

Intellect Devourer monster D&D dungeons & dragons
Intellect Devourer

2. Intellect Devourers: An intellect devourer resembles a walking brain protected by a crusty covering and set on bestial clawed legs. This foul aberration feeds on the intelligence of

sentient creatures, taking over a victim's body on behalf of its mind flayer masters.

These creatures are just terrors wherever they roam. Not only do they make fantastic trackers with detect sentience. But their devour intellect can leave a target stunned almost indefinitely. Not to mention their ability to just take control of a creature with its body thief ability. A swarm of these can turn your adventurer's pretty much NPC characters indefinitely.

Rust Monsters D&D Dungeons & Dragons
Rust Monster

1. Rust Monsters: Rust monsters roam caverns and dungeons seeking metals to devour, making them a nightmare for any civilized creature dwelling underground. These strange, normally docile creatures corrode ferrous metals, then gobble up the rust they create. In doing so, they have ruined the armor, shields, and weapons of countless adventurers.

The rust monster is a very interesting creature, as they generally aren't very aggressive. They aren't out to harm people in most cases. They just want to eat. To me, this makes them more of a menace and infestation than anything else. Their rust metal feature and corroding feature of their antennae means that anything metal is food. Most people are likely to use this to damage adventurer's armor and weapons permanently. I say they are best used as ways to destroy carts, wagons, towers, and any other structure that may be built with metal. A prison escape of dangerous creatures or villains might be taken as a complex plot by some big bad. In the end, it turns out it was just a hungry rust monster.

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Character Concept: Ella “Icy Touch” Leland

Description: Ella is an attractive woman with an athletic build. Her upper body flexes with years of training wielding a great weapon. Her copper hair is highlighted by streaks of white. Her heavy leather jacket extends down to her knees and fits over a gleaming breastplate. Upon her back a greatsword longer than she stands tall.

Personality: Ella’s military training has had a significant impact on her. Trained to follow orders day in and day out. She approaches every task with the same high degree of military precision. Even the smallest detail of tying her boots.

History: After her small village was attacked by gnolls and razed to the ground. She vowed never to feel helpless again. She ventured into the heart of a zealous army full of righteous energy tempered with military discipline.

Motivation: Ella seeks to protect and serve. She trained mercilessly and shares that training with others who wish to learn. Ella doesn’t wish for anyone to feel as helpless as she did that day. She will lay down her life to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Monster Variant: Aerial (Birdman/Aarakokra) Lancer

Origin: Vrock

Lost Features: Everything related to being a demon, darkvision, telepathy, etc.: Spores beak.

New Features:

Lance. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d12 + 3) piercing damage

Thunder Lance (Recharge 5-6). The lancer can emit a bursting thunderclap that deafens and damages those nearby. Creatures within 15 feet must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or take 36 (8d8) thunder damage and be deafened permanently. On a success the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t deafened. The deafness lasts until it is removed by lesser restoration or similar magic.


Counter Parry. The lancer adds 2 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it. To do so, the lancer must see the attack and be wielding a weapon. If this bonus causes the attack to miss, the lancer may also make a single lance attack as part of the same reaction.

Encounter: Gathering Rumors

The characters have been hired by local guards to capture an escaped prisoner. The guards know the prisoner Durban Redclaw a werewolf, is hiding in the city. He leads a local gang known as “The Pack”. The guards have blocked off all the exits and have patrols watching for anyone leaving the city. They need help tracking Durban down. Characters can go to public gathering places to attempt to obtain information. After 2d4 hours, characters sifting through rumors can make a DC 15 Charisma (Deception/Persuasion) or Intelligence (Investigation) check. The characters must succeed on four skill checks before acquiring two failures. On a total success (no failures) they learn all of the following pieces of information. On a success (some failures) they learn only the first two pieces of information and on a failure, Durban and his crew set traps and ambush the characters when they arrive.

Durban's absence has hurt his gang's reputation. Other gangs have been encroaching on his territory, and it's only a matter of time before there's another power struggle played out in the streets.

5th Street is a bustling center of trade and the territory of the Shadowfangs. They have become emboldened since Durban was put away and are readying for war to take out “The Pack” once and for all.

Roden Street is where you'll find crafting facilities for the town, and it's Durban's gang's turf. His enforcers are still squabbling over who should lead. For now, they all have an uneasy truce with each other.

Some of Durban’s gang were reportedly hanging around a well at a very early hour west of the market. They didn't look like they were getting a drink and threatened anyone that came too close.

The well has a large cavern with a secret hideout for Durban while he lays low. The characters can meet with the Shadowfangs to gather the info contained in the final bullet point info. Should they get a total success they will have gathered enough to locate and capture Durban in his hidden well hideout.

Magic Item: Stonemeld Armor

Armor, very rare (requires attunement)

The stony surface of this sigil-covered armor appears as if it is carved from the rock itself. While wearing this armor you gain the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on saving throws against being petrified.

  • You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in rocky terrain.

  • You can use an action to cast the meld into stone spell.

  • You can use an action to cast the stoneskin spell. Once used, this property of the armor can’t be used again until the next dawn.

Dungeon Master Tip: DM Etiquette

DMs have a responsibility to conduct themselves ethically not only because they are beholden to the same standards of decency as the rest of the table, but because of the inherent power their position holds. As a DM, you are the one who should be setting the gold standard for the rest of the group because you are the one who is most often looked to as the social enforcer of respect at the table. Trust is an essential component of being an effective DM. A DM that the players trust can get away with trying audacious things in combat, even if they seem harsh at first, because the players know the DM isn’t doing them out of malice. Conversely, if the players don’t trust you, they are less likely to be willing to try less structured styles of play and will be less engaged with the narrative. Having respect for the players is a key component of establishing trust among them.

Don’t assume that, just because you were already friends with them, that they have full confidence in your ability to run a game or even a fight. Note that this section covers the most important aspects of DM etiquette in regards to combat specifically.

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick Good Metagaming

Despite the fact that the blanket negative connotation that metagaming has been given may be unfair, at least in some situations. There are instances of it that few would disagree are bad: one player getting an unfair advantage over another, the game becoming less fun because one player points out everything that is happening on a meta-level, and breaking the group’s social contract with regards to when it is

okay to metagame.

With that said, there are good types of metagaming, or at least potentially good. This includes prosocial discussion among the players about the game, discussion that encourages party cohesion, or gentle advice to new players figuring out how their characters work.

-Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to Combat-

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