D&D Monster Spotlight: Five Underused Monsters to Add to Your Dungeons This Year
It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for a few new dungeons. To make unexpected encounters, pick from one of these underused monsters.
For the most part, many of us come back to the same pool of D&D monsters over and over again. They’re the popular ones that DMs best understand how to utilize in a fight and players enjoy battling (and hopefully defeating). But the Monster Manuals over the years have had hundreds of creatures, and some of them are tragically, chronically ignored. Add one of these underused monsters to one of your dungeons or encounters in the new year for a battle that nobody will see coming.
Mephits can be pretty fun creatures, but many of us just never see one in battle. They’re one of the new lower-level elemental monsters. And there’s a pretty decent variety of them, so your Dungeon Master could throw them into just about any early adventure or location. I think these are often overlooked because elemental monsters are the sort of thing you save for higher-level adventurers, and by that point, these guys are encounter appetizers at best. But if you’re planning on an elements-heavy story, introducing a Mephit early on may be a good way to introduce your players to the universe.
Known as one of the oldest and most wicked races of Giants, I’m honestly surprised Fomorians aren’t more popular in battles than they are. Big, ugly, and mean, they are basically everything you want a monster to be. They’re also a little different from your average giant, not usually able to throw boulders as an attack due. Instead, the Fomorian is a close-up blunt-force weapon sort of encounter. Your party is more likely to find them in the Underdark than in an average cave, but weren’t you looking for an excuse to send your players to the Underdark anyway?
This is a little vaguer, but Swarms in general deserve more use in D&D encounters. What kind of Swarm? Dealer’s choice! Insects are an obvious choice but with a pretty low attack level that would do more to create atmosphere than danger. But bats, rats, snakes, and quippers (basically cartoon piranhas) can all do a lot to freak your players out.
There are a lot of elemental and rock/dirt monsters out there. And of them, the Galeb Duhr should be getting much more attention than it does. On its own, it may not be a huge challenge for some parties, but the Galeb Duhr has the unique ability to animate nearby boulders and bring have them join the fight with it. This is a monster than can add more monsters. It creates more problems wherever it goes. You could be frustrating your players so much more than you already are!
Salamanders are basically just perfect villains. They’re greedy, cruel, slavers who will work for anybody if the price is right. Anywhere a planer rift or elemental vortex exists or evil deeds are being done by hired hands, Salamanders could be. They’re also incredibly dangerous to normal people, able to set forests and towns alike on fire just by passing through them and can restrain or attack any creature with their tail.
What is your favorite underrated or underused monster? Will you be adding any of our picks to any of your future encounters? When was the last time you crossed paths with one of these during a D&D campaign? Let us know in the comments!