Ambushes can help set the pace of any D&D session. The next time you’re looking for something to spring on a party of adventurers, try one of these.
When it comes to adventure, ambushes are a perfect tool to help maintain the pace, heighten engagement, and keep the players thinking on their toes. Nothing says “pay attention now” like an arrow coming out of the shadows. D&D is rife with monsters that work best when they’re able to lurk in the shadows, so the next time you’re looking for a surprise encounter, try one of these monsters, and see how it shakes things up.
These beasts make excellent stalkers when your party strays into snowbound lands. With a Snow Camouflage ability that grants them advantage on their stealth checks, and a keen sense of smell that can allow them to stalk a prey for miles before striking in a flurry of claw attacks and its signature chilling gaze, this hits hard and can run away swiftly, climbing up out of the party’s line of sight if need be.
Darklings are a fey creature, introduced in Volo’s Guide to Monsters. The basic one comes with a +7 stealth score, deals 2d6 points of sneak attack damage atop the standard 5, and when it dies, it might blind foes. These make for perfect stealth assassins, and if you want a harder challenge, try a Darkling Elder.
A classic D&D monster with some of the best art we’ve never seen, the Invisible Stalker is a D&D tradition. How do you kill something that you can’t see? The next time you feel like busting out something a little Predator feeling, the Invisible Stalker is a great choice.
When you’re delving in caves, remember it’s stalagMITE because the ones on the ground MIGHT be a Roper. These tentacle monsters are vulnerable if they are surrounded, but if they pick and choose carefully, they can drag foes to their doom and keep them grappled and trappled.
Finally, a simple monster from the basic rules… Scouts are everything you want in a skirmisher ready to ambush a party. At CR 1/2 they make for great low-level opponents that can punch above their weight thanks to their multiattack. Have a few stealthed and at range, and you’ll be peppering your party from long range (with advantage) while they waste precious rounds rushing their positions.
These are just a few great ambush monsters… what are yours? Let us know in the comments!