Dungeons and Dragons has a ton of cool monsters. But these five are just the worst…
There’s no shortage of monsters in Dungeons and Dragons. You’ve got your kobolds, orcs, goblins, dragons, beholders, giants…no shortage of awesome adversaries to slay. And then there are the ones that, when you see their minis hit the table, you groan, roll your eyes, and prepare for an hour and a half of torture and tedium.
Because if there’s one thing that every player loves, it’s losing all of their hard-earned equipment. Sure, some editions tried to make it so that they only affected non-magic weapons, but, even so, they were one surefire way to get any party of players up in arms. Did you invest a lot of money in buying a suit of plate mail for your character? Hope you roll well on your save, or all that gold is basically gone.
But wait, you might be shouting at your screen, ghouls are a staple of undead encounters. They are a viable threat–well, A) you don’t have to be so loud, I’m right here. It’s okay, I get it, ghouls are a classic undead baddie, but they’re annoying as all get out. Fighting ghouls can repeatedly go like this:
DM: Alright, Player A, your turn, make a save.
Player A: Nope. Still paralyzed.
DM: Player B?
Player B: Same here.
DM: The ghouls make their attacks. Player C
Player C has stopped playing and instead is just writing murder the gm over and over and over.
After all, there’s nothing like monsters whose innate abilities are robbing the players of their turn to drag out the pace and flow of a fight to needless levels of agony.
On a similar note, let’s talk about Ghosts. The big reason they’re here is that you can effectively lose your character in a single save. It’s not even a save or die effect, it’s save or age by 1d4x10 years. Unless you’re playing like an Elf or a Dwarf this is a huge impact on the character, even if you’re not immediately thrust into old age, you’re still going to have the entire core of the character changed in a flash.
And if you’re playing something like a half-orc? Man, one bad roll and you’ve aged out of existence. Which, don’t get me wrong, D&D is a deadly game, but this one feels like insult to injury.
This has been a thorn in the side of players for the longest time. I think even the designers knew that this kind of ability would really earn players’ ire–after all that’s one of the big reasons that you have spells like lesser restoration in the first place. They’re there mostly to deal with ability score and/or level drain. There’s a whole host of monsters whose goal is basically to take your character and make them get objectively worse. I am singling out level drain in particular, because it messes with the tempo and balance of the party–put yourself in this scenario, you are a 10th level party, and you get unlucky and earn 4 negative levels. Which then go away. Now you’re 6th, while the party is 10th. Good luck feeling like you’re contributing.
Fortunately, this is gone from 5th Edition. I think the reduced hp maximum mechanic is a great replacement–it is still in keeping with the theme, and it makes the fight harder, but it doesn’t leave characters feeling like they’ve just wasted the last few sessions in a single roll.
Are you on a boat? You’re getting attacked by Kraken. Or giant sharks. Or sea serpents. Or aquatic hydras. Or Lacedons (aquatic ghouls). And then you’re fighting in the water and in addition to fighting literally every sea monster the gM could find in the monster manual, you are also drowning.
Adam Harry hates gnomes enough for us all.
What’s the monster you love to hate? Least favorite monster? Ever had an encounter that made you flip the table in frustration, let us know below!
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