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Top Ten Most Iconic D&D Monsters

For those among us who love playing Dungeons & Dragons, we know that heroically battling various monsters is just part of the experience. Monster Manuals are filled with hundreds of unique monsters for intrepid explorers with various expansion books that can add hundreds upon hundreds more. While there are a plethora of villains to give players a unique experience, there are those few that seem to pop up in every game, and in each game we groan when we know that the battle is coming. This list is to commemorate those inevitable battles that we all hate and love at the same time, this is the Top Ten Most Iconic D&D Monsters.

Honorable Mentions

download10. Mimics

We have all been there. You have just defeated a monster and you find a gigantic treasure chest filled with your well earned loot. You reach down to open the chest and the chest bites your fucking hand. Mimics are the biggest dick move in the entire game and DMs LOVE to use them. I freely admit that I love using them when I’m a DM. It is fun, in a schadenfreude sense, to see the smile on my players faces fade, knowing that they now have to face a treasure chest that wants to bite their face off. It is a dirty trick and one that we all hate… Until we are the DM of course.

download (1)9. Rust Monster

This monster is the one that all players dread and if they do not have a magic user or an archer in their party, they know just how screwed they really are. Rust monsters take that beautiful hand crafted sword that you cherish so much or your favorite warhammer and turn it into nothing but dust. I hope you have a back up weapon when you come across this beast.

download (2)8. Gelatinous Cube and Other Similar Creatures

These formless hunks of gigantic jell-o have been plaguing players since the beginning. With their formless, acidic bodies these guys are some of the most resilient fuckers that you will ever have to face. They come in various shapes and forms and are a favorite among DMs to give the players a true challenge.

download (3)7. Aboleths

Fucking psychic fish… That is all that I have to say… Fucking… Psychic… Fish… Aboleths are the type of villains that you base your entire game around. They are incredibly smart and are able to take control of each of your friends. The worst of it is that they almost always strike from the shadows. It isn’t going to be your them you will be fighting, it will always be your friends.

download (4)6. Devils & Demons

Locked in an eternal feud with one another, the lawful evil devils and chaotic evil demons make some of the most compelling story telling for potential DMs who want to take their stories to the next plane of existence… Well or bring the fight to them. I have created several campaigns that center around both of these monsters. The lawful evil devils can slowly take over the world while the chaotic evil demons can invade our plane of existence to bring hell on earth.

download (5)5. The Kraken

Are you on a boat in the middle of a campaign? Well tie yourself to the fucking mast and make sure you kiss your ass goodbye because that DM is about to fill you with so many tentacles that it will make an anime girl jealous. I have yet to see a game of Dungeons and Dragons that features a large body of water that has not included this gargantuan terror of the deep. It is a favorite among DMs, it is a challenge among players, and it will have everyone running as quick as possible to the cannons.

download (6)4. Lich

This undead monsters almost always meets the heroes at the end of the campaign. Imbued with magic, extreme intelligence, and typically only coming across as a mere skeleton in a cave. A lich is one of the most dangerous villains in the entire game. Not only that, it has stood the test of time being one of the first villains in the earliest forms of the game to today.

3. The Tarrasque

What better to finish off your game than taking on god-fucking-zilla itself? Well okay… Godzilla… But if Godzilla was substantially larger, followed by fucking hurricanes, and large enough to destroy armies with its shit. The Tarrasque is one of the ultimate trophies for any party to take on. It is not an enemy that you build your campaign around the tarrasque. The tarrasque is the enemy that you face after your campaign is over and your players need one last challenge before they hang up their swords and bows for good. It is a pain in the ass to fight and almost always ends with the tarrasque on top. But it is one of the most fun experiences you will ever have in a RPG.

download (7)2. Orcs & Kobolds

Besides the quintessential “other dudes in armor,” orcs and kobolds will the the villain du jour for the first couple of weeks of your campaign. Dependent upon the terrain, anytime a DM needs a “none human” villain at the early stages of the campaign, they will almost always turn to these tried and true favorites more out of necessity to not wipe the party than true desire. With 5th edition came several scaled down monsters for players to fight. But no matter how scaled down they are you know you will have to face these little suckers at least once.

download (8)1. Dragons

Could it be any other creature? They are in the name of the damn game! Dragons are the stuff of gaming legend. All players want to fight them and all players start crying whenever they get their wish. They come in different varieties, are one of the monsters in the monster manual that can out think you, and come in all versions of the alignment spectrum. It is the villain that has wiped the most parties and the ultimate trophy story for anyone who was able to best one. Without a doubt, dragons are the most iconic villain in all of D&D.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this review please keep returning to Project Derailed for more and also check out my personal site, Tanner Reviews.

Image Credits: Wizards of the Coast

Tanner Bivens (@TannerReviews)
Tanner Bivens is a political science doctoral student at Northern Illinois University, the host of web series Crit or Miss, owner and operator of Tanner Reviews, and a proud part of Project Derailed. If you want to hear a nerd rant for hours about tabletop RpG, movies, and video games, then look no further than this man.

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