Small for a monster but gigantic for a mosquito, the Stirge is a monster you may not think is too threatening until an entire swarm is after your blood.
Stirges are a mixture between birds and giant fantasy mosquitoes, with feathered bodies and long blood sucking proboscis. They prefer to live in dark, tangled forests or underground and wait for a warm blooded creature to happen by so that they can drink some of their blood. They drain the equivalent of twelve hit points worth of blood before flying off to digest, and presumably leaving a giant itchy welt in their wake. The only way to remove a Stirge once it’s started to feed is by killing it, which is probably more gross than squishing a mosquito exponential to the comparative size of the Stirge.
With a two foot wingspan, Stirges are medium to large for a normal bird, small by D&D monster standards, and terrifyingly huge for a mosquito adjacent creature that wants to suck your blood. In addition to living in forests and in underground lairs, Stirges can also be found in attics, sleeping upside down like vampires and bats. If you attempt to attack a Stirge who has latched onto a member of your party and miss, there is an increased chance of hitting the Stirges victim for even more hit point loss by accident. Jungle Stirges are still part of the Stirge ecosystem, of course, but in 2E they are exceptionally large versions of the normal household two foot Stirges.
Less birdlike and more batlike in third edition, Stirges are ever the same terrifying giant bloodsucking pests as they have ever been. They are especially dangerous to lower level adventurers and animals as they can take twelve hit points worth of blood very quickly and then move onto the next victim if they are not filled or killed first, and they have bonuses to grapple checks, making them very effective at attaching to a victim and almost impossible to dislodge.
One or two Stirges on their own would probably be more than many of us would want to deal with, but Fourth Edition was sure to let us know that they often prefer to travel in swarms and sometimes you may be (un)lucky enough to encounter a Dire Stirge. Adding to the list of terrible place Stirges sometimes like to make their homes and nests, they can now be found in hollowed tree trunks and beneath building foundations.
Fifth Edition’s version of the Stirge is one of the least scary. With only two hit points, and an armor class of fourteen, a small number of them would be an annoyance at worst. Swarm are still pretty undesirable, but their only attack now is their blood drain, and they detach on their own after taking just ten hit points worth of blood, or just about two turns in game-play. I don’t want one near me, but this Stirge is much closer to a large real-world mosquito and only seems a little harder to kill.
Have you encountered a Stirge or a swarm of them in your own D&D adventures? How did your party deal with them? Where were they nesting when you encountered them? Let us know in the comments!