Monster Spotlight: What The Otyugh Is This Thing?!
They live in waste, the eat waste, and if you’re not careful you’ll become their waste. This week let’s take a look at the otyugh so you know what to avoid.
You know how sometimes you just stare at the monster manual for thirty silent seconds before saying, “Um… What the heck?” That’s the Otyugh. How is that name pronounced? I have no clue. Why does it look like that? I couldn’t tell you. Who thought of it? The devil, I assume.
The otyugh is an omnivorous scavenger who is more that happy to chow down on some fresh meat but also regular eats whatever decaying flesh and organs they can find and dung. On their own an otyugh may not be keen to attack most adventurers with their neutral alignment and willingness to eat pretty much anything, but they are generally found with at least one other otyugh (they typically live and travel with partners) as well as other, more powerful subterranean monsters. They’ll scavenge off of these more powerful monsters, consuming whatever droppings or extra meat they leave behind. When the mighty and proud otyugh isn’t traveling with a stronger monster they prefer to live in piles of “dung and rubbish, and thrive there.”
Second edition has additions and that make the otyugh both much more terrible and much more funny. They attack by lurking beneath piles trash and decay with only their eye-stalks poking out (y’know, like the dianoga in Star Wars) and when an enticing enough prey comes into range they will use their ridged tentacles to smash or grapple it. They aren’t specifically described as scavengers here implying that they are more actively interested in hunting for fresh meat, even if refuse is still entirely on the menu.
This version is almost a hybrid of the two before it. Scavengers when they need to be, but active hunters when they’re in the mood for a fresh meal, the 3E otyugh is a little scarier and much more of its own monster than 1E. They now use their tentacles to constrict as well as grapple, and their bite is putrid and disease filled, requiring a constitution save and up to three days of incubation and illness. They’re disgusting and horrible, but they’re well thought out and unique creatures that I can’t help but respect.
More than anything else, 4E adds lore that is simply amusing to the otyugh. In this edition they bury their victims under their heaps of trash and wait for them to rot before eating them, which is quite the departure from the idea of them hunting when they’re in the mood for a fresh meal. The otyugh is sometimes used by more intelligent monsters as a guard dog, but often their best use is as a “garbage disposal.” Also, they infest sewer systems, which is officially both the best and worst piece of D&D trivia I know and something I will be filing away for a future campaign.
Fifth edition doesn’t change too too much about the otyugh, and why would they? Look at him! He’s perfect just the way he is! But what they do change is simply flavor and, in my opinion, pretty funny. Many more intelligent monsters and subterranean begins will try to “employ” a otyugh as a problem-disappearer but under estimate exactly how much refuse and garbage an otyugh needs to eat to stay loyal and occupied. You may think that like a particularly stupid or untrained dog a domesticated otyugh may wander off if they’t not being fed enough, but the monster manual specifies that many who have kept a “trained” otyugh have been devoured once all of the waste had been consumed.
Have you encountered an otyugh? How close did you come to being eaten? Have you ever seen one kept as a “pet” and at what level of success? Let us know in the comments.