Common Monsters in the Known World
The known world is a wild and dangerous place, filled with savage and mysterious beasts, horrifying undead minions, and more. Only a fraction of these creatures have been catalogued and studied.
Most travelers will have at least a passing familiarity with the following beasts:
Bugbear – Bugbears are massive goblinoid creatures, larger and stronger than hobgoblins. They use a variety of weapons usually gathered from fallen opponents.
Gnoll – Gnolls are large hyena-faced creatures. They are covered in a grey fur with a dark muzzle and yellow mane. They have dark eyes, and long nails. Their armor is usually a mismatch of types taken from their victims.
Goblin – Goblins are small evil creatures with red eyes and a yellow to red colored skin tone. They typically wear leather armor.
Hobgoblin – Hobgoblins are larger, hairier goblins with brown to grey fur. They have bright red or orange faces and yellow or brown colored eyes.
Kobold – Kobolds stand 3 ft tall and have a dark skin tone (brown to black), with no hair. They are vaguely reptilian in appearance with scales, small horns on their heads, short snaky tails and red eyes.
Lizard Man – Lizard Men’s hides are tough and leathery, and are colored in many different shades of green. They have cold black eyes, and hard nails on their fingers. Some have a bony ridge along their backs.
Orc – Orcs are filthy, disgusting creatures with a brown or brownish-green colored skin tone. Their hair is a nest of black or dark brown. They wear rusty and misused armor.
Troglodyte – Troglodytes have dark green skin, but can alter this coloration depending on the area around them (much like a chameleon). They have bony fins along their skulls, and dark reptilian eyes.
Cyclops – Cyclopes are extremely tall, ugly humanoids, each with a single eye centered under its slightly drooping brow. These oafish, antisocial creatures prefer to inhabit lonesome environs, such as out-of-the-way, otherwise deserted islands.
Fire Giant – Fire giants’ hair is the red and orange color of flames, and their skin is soot black. Their teeth are flame orange, and their eyes red. The commonly wear armor on their broad, 6 foot wide shoulders. This armor is sometimes made from the skin of dragons.
Hill Giant – In many ways hill giants resemble larger ogres, including having eyes red-rimmed, and they will often wield some type of bludgeoning weapon. They have skin of rust brown or tan, with similarly colored rust or black hair. They dress in animal skins.
Ogre – Ogres have skin that is dull yellow or dark brown. They have black-green or blue-black hair, and their skin is covered in dark wart-like bumps. They have purple eyes and white pupils, and their hard, thick nails and teeth are orange and sometimes black. They don furs or other animal hides, and their (often) mercenary lifestyle requires that they maintain their weapons and armor in decent condition.
Troll – The hides of trolls are a sickly green or grey and they have cold black eyes.
Black Dragon – Black dragons are found mostly in swamps, marshes and deep, dark caves. Black dragon breath is a stream of corrosive, acidic venom.
Brass Dragon – Brass dragons live in vast caves in arid lands. Brass dragon breath is either a cone of sleep-inducing gas or a cone of fear gas.
White Dragon – White dragons are found in the frigid north. White dragon breath is a cone of deadly frost.
Wererat – The horrid ratmen infest the underground sewers and catacombs under large cities. They can assume any of three forms: human, giant rat, or man-rat. In human or man-rat form, they often arm themselves with swords, but prefer to lure unsuspecting individuals into traps where the victim may be held for ransom or later meals.
Werewolf – A werewolf may be of either sex and of any build. When in wolf form, the lycanthrope tends to walk on its back legs.
Sylvan or Faerie Creatures
Faun – The lower body of a faun is covered with coarse fur that ranges from medium brown to dark brown. The upper half appears to be a deeply tanned human. A faun’s horns and hooves are colored a deep black.
Leprechaun – Leprechauns are a magical race that love to torment those they encounter with practical jokes, general mischief, and swindles. They normally live in green fields or rolling hills on the outskirts of civilization.
Ghoul – Ghouls appear as emaciated, animated corpses with sharp teeth and long fingernails to which shreds of corpse-flesh are sometimes attached. Their voices are weird and eldritch, sometimes described as “meeping” and “glibbering”.
Wight – Wights are undead corpses risen with a twisted intelligence. Although they are not damaged by sunlight, they loathe the rays of the sun and do not emerge by choice from their barrows and lairs during daylight. A human killed by a wight becomes a wight under the control of its maker.
Wraith – Wraiths are insubstantial undead creatures. Wraiths are shadowy, man-like shapes, dark and indistinct.
Giant Beetle (Bombardier/Boring/Fire/Rhinoceros/Stag/Water) – Giant Bombardier Beetles are frequently found in forested regions and scavenge for food above ground. When attacked, it releases a noxious gas that stuns and deafens its foe. Giant Boring Beetles are found in trees and tunnels. Giant Fire Beetles have glowing red glands that will continue to illuminate a 10 ft radius up to six days after the beetle dies. Giant Rhinoceros Beetles are found in the tropics and live on fruit and vegetation. Giant Stag Beetles live in woodlands near farmlands and eat the shoots of cultivated grains. Giant Water Beetles dwell in water and attack with powerful mandibles.
Carcass Creeper – A fearsome, subterranean omnivore, the carcass creeper has been described as the magical hybrid of a cutworm and a squid. It requires a steady supply of fresh corpses in which to lay its eggs.
The well-armored head belies a tender, vulnerable body so the creeper will rely on its speed and many paralyzing tentacles to protect itself as it secures prey. Each of the tentacles has a 2 ft reach, although larger specimens are not unknown.
Centipede (Large/Huge) – Centipedes are long, segmented arthropods with one pair of legs per body segment. They are poisonous creatures, but their venom is relatively weak.
Cockatrice – A cockatrice has the head, legs and wings of a rooster, and the body of a serpent.
Dakon – Dakon are intelligent apes resembling gorillas with light brown coloration, green eyes, and black hands. Dakon are peaceful, fighting only in defence or to regain treasure stolen from them. These apes are likely to be settle anywhere but avoid large expanses of water. They are on good terms with lawful humans and demi-humans and are able to speak the common tongue, but they have a deep mistrust of humanoids and shun them.
Gargoyle – Gargoyles often appear to be winged stone statues, for they can perch indefinitely without moving, allowing them to surprise their foes.
Gelatinous Cube – Gelatinous Cubes are dungeon scavengers. They move slowly through corridors and rooms, absorbing carrion, fungi, algae and other nutrients from the surfaces they touch. Gelatinous Cubes can only digest organic material, and they will sometimes sweep up inorganic substances (including metal items such as coins, glass or ceramic items such as potion bottles, etc.). These incidental items are sometimes kept in the body of the ‘Cube for many days before being ejected.
Griffon – Griffons have the body, tail, and back legs of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and an eagle’s talons as its front feet. They build nests on cliff faces and rocky outcrops. Where possible they even have been known to build nests inside shallow caves. Horses are their favorite meal and being the fearsome hunters they are, griffons will usually attack their prey on sight.
Hydra – A hydra is a multi-headed reptilian monster that lives in damp, dark places like swamps, bogs, or marshes. Sometimes they are found underground if the lair is sufficiently dank and wet.
Giant Leech – Giant leeches inhabit warmer, fresh water.
Giant Lizard – Giant Lizards dwell in marshy or swampy areas.
Giant Cave Lizard – Cave Lizards dwell in underground settings such as caverns and dungeons. A cave lizard’s coloration allows it to blend with its surroundings and the cave lizard is capable of running on the walls or even on the ceiling at its full movement rate.
Manticore – A manticore has a lion’s body with a human head and bat-like wings. Its tail is thick and club-like at the end, and bristles with iron spikes.
Dark, dank caves or desolate underground caverns are the favored lair of the manticore. These fearsome beasts are man-eaters.
Merman – Mermen, or more properly “merfolk” according to the sages, are the inhabitants of oceans and seas in the warmer areas of the world being particularly fond of tropical seas. Mermen are much like rural humans, farming and harvesting vegetation on the ocean floor and hunting in the area around their settlements; they hunt for fish and other sea-going creatures. Merfolk have been known to herd certain fish, keeping them corralled in large, spherical netted seaweed pens in much the same way their human counterparts will herd cattle.
Water Naga – Water nagas are intelligent, snake-like creatures. The water naga’s scales range from deep green to turquoise and its eye color varies from light green to brilliant amber. It dwells deep below the surface of fresh water lakes ponds and rivers. The water naga is typically quite curious and harmless unless provoked.
Otyugh – Otyughs are repulsive beasts that feed off the refuse and waste habitually discarded by other creatures. They are generally found in large rubbish pits and cisterns, being not always content with discards, they wait beneath the surface for anyone foolish enough to stray too close. Otyughs have no discernible head, the bulk of their form consisting of a great horn-plated torso supported by three stocky legs that conceal a powerful, sharp-toothed maw. Three long tentacular appendages extend from their bodies, two of which are hard and thorny, being used to attack and grapple prey; the third is actually a sensory organ with three eyes at its end.
Piercer – A piercer looks exactly like a stalactite. It is a living creature encased in a stone covering. Piercers are sensitive to noise and heat and when they detect a source of either passing beneath them they drop, seeking to kill and devour their target.
Rust Monster – Rust monsters are creatures vaguely resembling a 5 ft long and 3 ft tall giant bug-like armadillo that weighs about 200 lbs. Rust monsters have rust-red coloration on their dorsal hides, yellowish tan on their ventral hides, and two prehensile antennae on their heads.
Sahuagin – Sahuagin are evil humanoid ichthyans. They dwell in shallow, warmer salt waters and raid villages and communities on land for loot and sport. They are nocturnal.
Scorpion (Large/Huge/Giant) – Large, huge and giant scorpions are vicious, fearless predators found almost anywhere.
Sea Serpent – Descriptions of sea serpents vary with the region in which they are found. Sometimes they appear as giant sea snakes and other times as dragon-like serpentine creatures with legs or flippers. What is known for certain is a sea serpent can be encountered in any ocean, sea, or large body of fresh water.
Shrieker – Shriekers are mobile fungi that wander around quietly underground soaking up moisture. They give off an ear-piercing shriek whenever they detect light within 30 ft or movement within 10 ft.
Giant Slug – Giant slugs live in dungeons and other underground complexes where they can avoid sunlight. Since these creatures are boneless they can squeeze through narrow openings and navigate around most obstructions. They use their sharp tongues to burrow through wood and hard ground. Giant slugs have a nasty bite, but their most effective weapon is their ability to spit acid up to 100 ft away.
Giant Snake (Boa/Adder) – All giant snakes are carnivorous and can be found in every type of climate except for the coldest. Boas will drop on its prey from above, coiling around the chosen target victim and attacking by both biting and squeezing. Adders is the common name for giant poisonous snakes; they come in a variety of species.
Hieracosphinx – The dreaded Hieracosphinx is an eminently evil being. A hawk-headed, winged lion, it prowls desolate places and preys on unsuspecting lone travellers or weak parties of people. Its appetite for warm flesh is nearly insatiable and it is utterly merciless in its pursuit. The creature will often toy with opponents, chasing them for league upon league through the desert under the blazing sun, and when they think they have reached relative safety, the beast will swoop down and attack with its razor sharp beak and talons, rending and slicing flesh like a long sword.
Spider (Large/Huge/Giant/Giant Water) – Spiders come in various shapes and colors, and are frequently-encountered denizens of dungeons and ruins. Some hunt, while others build webs to ensnare prey.
Stunjelly – Stunjellies appear, at a distance, to be no more than a normal section of wall, but should any individual stray too close, they will turn translucent and attack. Most known examples occupy an area 10 ft wide by 10 ft high and 2 to 5 ft thick, but larger versions have occasionally been reported.
Volt – Volts are peculiar, magical creatures that attack almost anything that ventures near their lair. They appear as little balls of grey fur with two protruding eyes and a long, whip-like tail that crackles with electricity.
Will-O-the-Wisp – Will-o-the-wisps are strange, fey creatures that resemble dancing lights or torches. Living in desolate and dangerous locations, they seek to draw unwary travelers into bogs or quicksand.
Wyvern – Wyverns are distant cousins of dragons, extremely voracious but dull of intellect. They do not have front legs, and cannot attack effectively with their hind legs. In combat, wyverns rely on their bite and deadly poison stinger.