Today we’re giving a shout out to the mid-level monsters that mean your party has hit the big time. Take a look at five milestone monsters.
There’s something about the phrase mid-level that carries with it a burgeoning sense of dread. And not the terrifying, keep-you-up-in-the-night kind of dread that comes with having to speak in public the next day, nor is it the dread you can put off for a while because that noise in your car is probably nothing and you can forget about it right up until you can’t. No, mid-level carries with it a saturating, banal dread of morning meetings, status reports, and hearing that someone’s got a case of the Mondays.
But it doesn’t have to. In D&D, Mid-Level is an important milestone. It means your game has gotten a little bigger. More of the world (or multiverse) is opening up. Mid-level monsters are some of the most exciting ones to run, because you’ve finally gotten to get away from fighting goblins, orcs, kobolds, and so on. As part of an effort to start your week off with adventure, we’re presenting five of the best mid-level monsters. These aren’t necessarily the campaign end bosses–but they’ll make your players realize they’re not where they started. Take a look at five mid-level milestone monsters.
Creepy, ancient fish monsters from before the dawn of time. These archaic evils are masters of manipulation, plots, and psionics. They are excellent villains that can drive most of a low-level campaign. They’re deadly enough that they sort of sit astride that transition from mid-level menace to high-level threat. Fighting one is an accomplishment–defeating one means you’ve saved a town, or perhaps even a kingdom.
We might have lumped all four elementals into one category here, but elementals are an iconic part of D&D. When you start encountering these, you’ve made your first brush with powerful magic. These can be guardians, summoned allies, summoned enemies. There’s a lot you can do with an elemental. Whether you use them as bound spirits that power magitek vehicles, have them represent primordial threats/wills from the early history of your world, or just as magical soldiers, Elementals add a lot to any game.
Encountering a Githyanki is another important milestone in your campaign. Running up against these psionically active warriors means your campaign has had a brush with extraplanarness. There’s no escaping it–the Astral Plane is baked into who these raiders are. And so when you come across them in your game, you’re taking your first steps into the much larger multiverse, where plane spanning cities full of angels, demons, devils, and berks await you.
Giants have long been a part of D&D’s higher-end foes. Since the days of 1st Edition and Against the Giants, these big, beefy baddies have bludgeoned and bouldered many a foe. When your party is ready to take on not juts one giant, but multiple ones, you know you’ve made it. Whether you’re powerful enough (or just well-coordinated), your party has moved into mythic territory once you start fighting giants.
And where would any milestone list be without including the Mind Flayer. The villains of the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3 and a looming shadow over the mid-levels in general, Mind Flayers are another sign that your campaign world has gotten much bigger. Whether they come from the Underdark or another plane, Mind Flayers represent an insidious threat that your players will need to root out. These monsters mean changing tactics and serious challenges. They’re one of the few monsters that can kill a character no matter the hit points in a relatively short amount of time–and facing these down means you’re ready to deal with it.
So if you’re looking for an encounter to show that your party isn’t in Kansas any more, try one of these five milestone monsters.