D&D Monster Spotlight: Unseeing & Underground – Grimlocks
If you’re foolish enough to travel underground, you may see the Grimlock; the once-human followers of the Mind Flayers.
The good news is that if your party primarily travels during the day and doesn’t venture into any deep caverns, you’ll likely avoid the Grimlocks. But these humanoid monsters are terrifying to look at with thick, scaly, gray skin, sharp skin, and dark lifeless eyes. And oh yeah, there’s a ten percent chance they may have Madusae roommates. They are also blind and do most of their “seeing” through a highly tuned sense of hearing and smell. So while visual spells such as Phantasmal Force or Darkness would be ineffectual against the Grimlock, Audible Glamer will make it much harder for them to find you.
Though Grimlocks attack fiercely, they have little to no organization. So don’t expect a ton of complex or sophisticated tactics from these guys. In fact, they may stop their own attack halfway through a battle to carry fallen foes or friends alike…. for food. Instead, they rely on the cover of darkness to give them the upper hand and are heavy on the melee attacks. Grimlocks are often on good terms with Mind Flayers since Illithids often have a large supply of humanoid bodies laying around. The Mind Flayers eat their brains and the Grimlocks feast on the rest.
On the rare occasions that Grimlocks come out of the caves to hunt, they prefer to stick to rocky terrain such as mountains. Here their gray skin helps keep them camouflaged from prospective victims. Here they travel and patrol in small packs and are not often encountered on their own. But an adventurer can negate the Grimlock’s hearing or smell, their ability to fight or attack would be severely impeded. This means the most effective way to fight a Grimlock is, of course, dropping a stink bomb.
Four unique varieties of Grimlock are introduced in Fourth Edition. The Grimlock Minion is the most basic version of the monster, the Grimlock Ambusher is a slightly lower level but has a reactive melee attack, Grimlock Berserkers have Barbarian-like frenzies when bloodied, and the Grimlock Follower is a high-level version of the classic, basic Grimlock. In the grand scheme of 4E sub-categories, this is one of the more disappointing ones. Their tactics don’t even have anything interesting because Grimlocks don’t tend to use tactics in their attacks as much as a simple “point and kill” move.
In 5E, Grimlocks get a lot more lore. They are debased, once-human followers of the Mind Flayers who eventually turned to cannibalism and general madness. To this day they still serve the Mind Flayers whenever needed, though the crumbling of the rule of Mind Flayers meant that their enemies hit back. This drove the Grimlocks underground, where they stay to this day. With an AC of eleven and just eleven hit points, these aren’t terribly challenging monsters to encounter. But it’s likely you’ll only see them underground, in the dark, and in packs.
Have you encountered a Grimlock in your D&D adventures? How many did your party have to fight? Were there any medusae around? Let us know in the comments!