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Top Ten D&D Monstrous Humanoids

The gift that keeps on giving! Nord Games’ Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde inspired not one but TWO videos on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel, plus a review here on the website. And now its generating another post.

In the video above, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch talk about their favorite monstrous humanoids in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. They each choose two, discuss the appeal and explore a bit why and how they’ve used them in games, either as player characters or as a Dungeon Master.

It’s worth noting that there is no official “monstrous humanoid” designation in D&D. There’s just straight-up humanoids. Many of them are most certainly monstrous though! Also, despite appearing in the Revenge of the Horde book, ogres and trolls are not humanoids – they’re giants. But in defense of the book, there is no claim made limiting the creature types to humanoids, simply “classic monstrous races.”

And minotaurs are monstrosities.

According to the current D&D Beyond monster database containing material up to and including Tales from the Yawning Portal, there are 231 humanoids in official D&D content. Many are individuals from various adventures and campaigns like Pharblex Spattergoo, an NPC from Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Aside from official sources, there’s plenty of third-party material like the Ultimate Bestiary. Continue reading Top Ten D&D Monstrous Humanoids

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Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #9 – Bandersnatched

Night hag as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Art courtesy of Wizards of the Coast]


In a previous encounter within Series 1 (Auntie Knows Best) there was mention of a Hag Eye. This device was being employed in a manner to draw the characters into the clutches and machinations of a green hag by the name of Auntie Treeshadow. A later encounter introduced a night hag in a mercantile manner (Madam Versiliplex’s Magical Wonders) whereby the items were not exactly what the players may have bargained for.
Either case is an example of how the players might become entangled in the web of a hag’s manipulation, although neither is truly desirable by any sensible player character. Though it may be fun for the Dungeon Master and create great drama and plot hooks, it’s a rare occasion where the PCs come out on top in these instances.
To be fair, banderhobbs might be a weapon in the tool chest of any hag. Mine are but examples. Hags are but the beginning of these entanglements. Whether by the plots and manipulations of one, by a curse, or perhaps a cursed item, a PC may seek to end their relationship with these foul beings. Such a break-up rarely ends amicably.
A banderhobb as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Volo’s Guide to Monsters. [Image courtesy of Wizards of the Coast]
In some cases, a hag may wish to employ a banderhobb to either retrieve a player character, the loved one of a PC, or the last known holder or wielder of a hag item. To properly employ such a creature, the DM will want the right set up.
Just springing such a creature on the party robs that possible encounter of any suspense or tension. Therefore the proper use of the Shadow Step ability is key. Set the stage with dim lighting indoors or outside. Remove sounds of natural wildlife outdoors, as crickets, frogs, birds and the like respond to the presence of this monstrosity in their vicinity. Optionally, if this encounter occurs indoors, it may be that indoor vermin out of sight under carpets, behind curtains, or hiding under beds scurry into the light to try and get out of any open doors or windows. To the wise, this might be an indication of impending danger.






As evening sets and twilight takes over the forest mantle, the party of PCs settle down for the night. In typical fashion, a small campfire might be lit and watches may even be set. What should be a typical night in the wilderness begins. A clever DM might wish to have one or more of these nights pass uneventfully, lulling the player characters into a false sense of security.
Then, should a specific character’s Passive Perception exceed 15 or they choose to roll a Wisdom (Perception) check against DC 15, they will notice the natural fauna (crickets, frogs, birds, etc.) are making no noise. If the PCs do not succeed in this check, feel free to give the banderhobb surprise on it’s first turn.
The initial attack will start from its maximum range of 15 ft. A tongue shooting out from dim light, shadow, or total darkness to attack a PC should create the appropriate horror dynamic. To create the correct context for this and to remove any sort of ambiguity with regard to how this is intended, have the banderhobb throw a simple object like a stone or chunk of wood among the other PCs that has a magic mouth spell on it as a bonus action. The magic mouth will activate and then cackle at them in the hag’s voice (whomever that specific hag is) and boast a warning at the PCs. A typical example might be something akin to “No one betrays the wishes of (insert hag name) without some consequence, little ones (insert mad hag cackle).”
What will occur from this point is simple combat – with one exception. The banderhobb has a singular order – collect a specific character or NPC. It cannot do so by fighting to the death. If it swallows this PC or NPC, it will use Shadow Step to “bamf” from dark area to dark area on his way back to its hag mistress.
Allow the players to track this banderhobb despite its Shadow Step ability through such means as dropped clues, Intelligence checks to remember where the hag might be, or similar skills or checks. The intent is to channel the PCs back toward the hag/hag coven in question. Remember, any target swallowed by a banderhobb will become stable when reduced to 0 hp, so the PC’s life isn’t in question until it gets back to the hag of origin. Questions may arise among the party about resting or pushing when it comes to pursuing the banderhobb during a lengthy pursuit.
Allow such discussions to continue. Discovering player priorities and problem solving methodology is an important source of information for aspiring DMs.
The banderhobb does not care about such discussions. Its mission is to retrieve and return a particular PC for its hag matron. Remember this when running this encounter. Knowing the purpose and intent of any creature in an encounter is imperative – it defines everything they do and are.


Banderhobb (1) – As per page 122, Volo’s Guide to Monsters


None, unless you count your friends and allies as treasure


Wow. Complications. Okay, so if the banderhobb fails in its mission you can suspect the particular hag will try again with either another banderhobb or perhaps a charmed NPC or beast. The hag will continue, perhaps even more stubbornly with the loss or death of an expensive and likely hard to summon banderhobb. PCs that successfully rescue their ally can expect more attempts at retrieving a colleague.
Should the banderhobb be successful it may become necessary to declare the unholy act of “splitting the party” and running separate events for the captured ally/PC and the pursuing party. Discuss such things with any players you might have at your table who have been successfully abducted to see what avenues of story building they’re like to pursue. The other PCs may well arrive to find the captured party member/NPC has become a warlock to said hag (fiend or fey depending on the hag in question), creating its own origin story on character creation.
Knowing the specific hag that created, summoned, or used the banderhobb will certainly determine its use and where this story will end. Knowing that important fact will determine the rest of the encounter’s course and target. Keep that in mind should you choose to use “Bandersnatched” at your table.
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D&D 5E Spelljammer Makes the Most of Monsters

It’s been a few weeks since the last trip into the wildspace of Spelljammer for D&D 5E. My home game dabbled in a few one-shots and welcomed a new, first time Dungeon Master. Origins came and went, and several Nerdarchy projects kept me from sharing more insights into the exploits of a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Spelljammer campaign.

Then I saw this tweet from Mike Mearls the other day.

And the enthusiastic replies.

And a long list of other Spelljammer fans sharing affection for the setting.

And fan groups on Facebook, Google+ and more.

We’re out there, Wizards of the Coast! While I can’t speak for all of us, it’s encouraging to know the folks behind the game we love include all of our favorite aspects from its rich history in their grand vision. In time, I’m confident we’ll get our Dark Sun, Al-Qadim, Dragonlance and Eberron fixes in official capacities. Continue reading D&D 5E Spelljammer Makes the Most of Monsters

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Nord Games unleashes Revenge of the Horde on your D&D game

Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde from Nord Games offers an awesome resource for incorporating a variety of monstrous races into your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game. At nearly 200 pages, the book presents creature options for bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, ogres, orcs and more. The book is available through Nord Games in PDF and hardcover options, for $15-45. In addition to the D&D version, there is a Pathfinder edition, too.

Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch backed the Kickstarter campaign, and you can watch their Nord Games-sponsored flip-through video above. In addition to the hardcover book, they received the reference deck, all five encounter builder decks and 258 pawns featuring the new creatures from the D&D book. Continue reading Nord Games unleashes Revenge of the Horde on your D&D game

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Pixelscapes gets psychedelic with D&D monster art

Pixelscapes D&D monster art

Jen Gagne of Pixelscapes stopped by the Nerdarchy live chat with Nerdarchist Dave to talk psychedelic D&D monster art, drawing, sculpture and of course gaming. She’s an amazing artist, unafraid to be bold with her color selection, and she’s been gaming for a really long time.


Gagne streams her art on Twitch at 8:30 EST on most Saturday and Sunday nights, and various paraphernalia of her awesome work can be found here in her online shop. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter, where she frequently takes requests for what monster she’s going to draw next! There’s still plenty of creatures left in the Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide to Monsters to get Gagne busy, and with Tomb of Annihiliation added to the mix she’ll have plenty to keep her busy.

Pixelscapes – more than D&D monster art

Pixelscapes D&D monster art
The troglodyte token, chosen by Nerdarchist Dave in honor of the Scarlet Sisterhood of Steel and Sorcery. Art by Jen Gagne/Pixelscapes

Let’s be real for a second; Gagne is not only incredibly talented as an artist but she is also a kind and genuine person, and it’s so rare to find those two things in the same place. Definitely consider watching her interview to see some examples of her work, including a really awesome insect she sculpted using wire and straight razors.

Of course don’t forget to subscribe to Nerdarchy on YouTube, where there are live chats  at noon Eastern with nerds like you who are working within the subculture to create content, and change the gaming industry.  There are also live games, GM 911 responses to questions from viewers, gaming news, product reviews and fifth edition D&D builds for characters from popular culture. Obviously you’re already on, or you wouldn’t be reading this, but don’t forget to check back regularly because we’re updated every day with new articles on all things geek. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out on Patreon, where you can support Nerdarchy and get loads of cool stuff like opportunities to game with Nerdarchy, extra content for your game and opportunities to have your questions for guests pinned to the very top of the list!

Finally, don’t forget to stay nerdy!


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D&D grung and other monsters are people, too

D&D monsters

Monsters as notable NPCs and player characters in D&D is something I’ve touched on in past columns, including last week’s exploration of the similarities between a TTRPG GM and a Swiss Army knife. Since then, I ran the “Grungle in the Jungle” adventure idea for my gaming group. Inspired by Stream of Annihilation’s One Grung Above from WotC Product Manager Christopher Lindsay this adventure puts the players in control of a band of grung from Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Continue reading D&D grung and other monsters are people, too

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Garibay Monster Collection 001 (Barkrager) – One Dungeons & Dragons 5E Medium Beast

I am building a Dungeons & Dragons 5E Adventure (Ulyain Village) on Youtube video by video (click here to watch). The Barkrager is a creature that inhabits the forest surrounding Ulyain Village, and the creature is presented here for use in your next Dungeons & Dragons 5E game. Continue reading Garibay Monster Collection 001 (Barkrager) – One Dungeons & Dragons 5E Medium Beast

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Critter Compendium brings D&D monsters of the past into the present, with creative new creatures

Critter Compendium by Tobias Beis is a collection of monsters for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, available now as a PDF through the Dungeon Masters Guild for $15. The hefty book presents a wide variety and number of creatures from earlier D&D editions converted to the current ruleset, along with original creations that includes artwork by the author. With 135 entries and appendices describing additional creatures and templates, Critter Compendium has enough creatures to populate several campaigns across the whole gamut of challenge ratings. Continue reading Critter Compendium brings D&D monsters of the past into the present, with creative new creatures

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5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Aberrations

Hello again I am guess you can tell from the title that Nerdarchist Ted is here to talk more about the tome of beasts kobold press 5th edition  awesome monsters found in the Tome of Beasts.  Last week I touched on the Devils in the book.  You can check out that article here.  Today we are going to look at some of the Aberrations that can be found within its pages.

Aberrations are creatures from beyond.  They are nor of this world and are the things of nightmares.  This time Kobold Press brings you 20, if my count is right, new aberrations for use in your 5th edition game.  I can assure you that with this spread you get challenge ratings as low as 1/4 with the map mimic and as high as 19 with the Shoggoth

The Map Mimic is cool because it allows dms to use those nasty surprise creatures at the earliest levels.  And who does not want to have them find a map that leads to another mimic?  Think of all the fun you aberrationcan do with such a thing.

Shoggoth, I believe is right out of Cthulian Horrors.  With a challenge rating of 19 I would imagine it would be so.  This is the type of monster that could have a campaign leading up to it as the major adversary.  And since the tome of beasts gives you so many more options you have enough aberrations to make that type of game happen

The Arboreal Grappler is an awesome Ape with limbs that are at least 10 foot long.  Encounter this guy on the plains and you are all set, but meet this guy in the jungle with heavy tree cover and they might just pull you up into their world and let you fall to your death.   Continue reading 5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Aberrations

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5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Arch Devils and Devils

Last week I delved into the Tome of Beats and the Rulers of the Fey Court.  You can check out that kobold press tome of beastsArticle here.  This week I have torn through the devils and lets see what we get.

Not only does Tome of Beast give us some new lower tier Devils to play with but some Upper tier Arch Devils that can be a source for an entire campaign arc.  If you have not pre-ordered you own copy you can do so here.

We get 4 new Arch Devils to inspire us in new ways.  Kobold press did an excellent job of creating foes with goals and agendas.  They also added a new format of damage requiring weapons to be silvered to damage certain foes.

Arbeyach is the first Arch Devil we get to explore and he is literally made of a swarm of insects.  His greatest weapons is to cause people to be poisoned and he removes resistance and immunities from those close to him.  Be warned.  Though his power wains through inaction he has many that serve him.

Ia’Affrat is actually the offspring of Arbeyach.  While his father is a swarm of insects, he is a swarm of fire.  He is composed of tiny elementals.  So removed from flesh and blood he is immune to weapon damage of any kind.  Do not get into a fight with him unless you are prepared. Continue reading 5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Arch Devils and Devils

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5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Fey Lords and Ladies

last week we delved into the Tome of Beasts and touched on the Dragons.  Today we are going to talk tome of beastsabout the Fey Lords and Ladies. This is from the Tome of Beasts  that is coming out for 5th Edition.  You can pre-order your own copy here.  It is expected to be released on September 13th.

They divide the fey lords and ladies up into regions and tell you the power and political side of things.  if you wanted to run a game dealing with them there is the structure set up already.  Each of these mighty beings has the ability to alter the land around around them coming in with legendary actions, lair actions and regional effects.  These beings are not toppled easily and unless you have a DM set things up poorly or you set up machinations correctly you are never going to encounter them alone.

The mythological Cold Iron comes back into play with these might Fey Lords and Ladies.  There has been no previous mention, I am familiar with. There is a side bar for how to obtain them in the game but crafter beware.  These beings are powerful and live a long time.  They might kill you just for making them.  The reason cold iron is a thing as these mighty beings can’t be harmed with weapons that are not made of the stuff.  Only 2 of the Fey lords and Ladies are able to be hurt with just regular magic weapons.  The rest require you to have Cold Iron Weapons. Continue reading 5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Fey Lords and Ladies

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5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Dragons

tome of beasts

Every Dungeon Master loves access to new monsters.  And what Dungeon Master does not like using Dragons.  With the Open Gaming License we are starting to see 3rd party publishers getting hardbound products out as options to, well give us more options.

Kobold Press has released a new product out for Pre-order.  You can preorder your copy here.  We did a review on Daves copy that he got early because he backed the kickstarter.

I was sad when I found out that missed getting my own early copy.  When we looked at the pdf we were not disappointed.  There are so many awesome monsters in this book as well as some new beasts and NPCs to easily add into your game.

Today I am just going to talk about the Dragons that are in this book. Next week I will touch on some dragonsother monster groups.  I will keep this series going until the book is released.

In this book you get 6 new Dragon types for your 5th edition game.  Kobold Press does not give you any carbon copy of dragons that exist in your 5th edition monster manual but 6 new whole cloth creations that stand out as unique.

Almost all of the dragons have 4 separate stat blocks for the 4 age categories of Dragons: ancient, adult, young and wyrmling. I make my notes below

The cave dragon is a fierce beast that constantly needs to eat.  It lives underground where its sensitivity to sunlight keeps it safe.  But sadly living underground is not a place abundant with food.  It is not mindless and is a true dragon.  I compare this one with a white dragon with lower stats and its desire for food out weighs its desire for any coin.  Sorry adventurers if you are looking to slay a dragon Continue reading 5th Edition Tome of Beasts – Dragons

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In gaming as in literature, the villains make the heroes

Can you name this villain? Here’s a hint: He’s a certain Canadian mounty’s worst nightmare.

What is a hero without a villain? Not much, I’d say. Oh, a character can still be the main actor of a tale, the protagonist of a story, but without that villain, the hero can’t really be heroic.

Some might argue there are tales of heroes without a villain, such as survival stories in which the hero bests the elements to save the day, or maybe a romantic tale in which there is only a misunderstanding between love interests though eventually one or both of them proves their heroism by overcoming that misunderstanding. To that I say the villain is still there, but is not so readily seen. In the survival story, the elements themselves can be the villain. In the love story, if there is not an out-and-out villain, the misunderstanding that brings about conflict can be the villain. Sometimes the villain is the hero’s own inner struggle. Continue reading In gaming as in literature, the villains make the heroes

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Ecology of the Abizder – Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Monster Mash Up

dungeons and dragons

dungeons and dragonsHello out there in Nerdarchy Land.  Last week Dave talked you about Rest and random encounters.  You can check that out here.  Today I am going to get down and dirty, with our fast and dirty monsters.

Let me present the ecology of the Abizder.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Monster Mash Up

Continue reading Ecology of the Abizder – Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Monster Mash Up

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Ecology of the Blitzorn – Fast and Dirty Monsters – 5th Edition

BltzornThe Blitzorn, sorry Dave you spelled it wrong in the video below, is the primal hunter on the para-elemental planes.  Agrar the hunter claims the Blitzorn is what would happen if a tiger mated with a thunderstorm.  A beast as large as a mighty tiger but made entirely out  of a thunder cloud.  So let me present you this monster for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

Fast and Dirty Monsters – D&D 5th Edition

The markings that you would see on a tiger are made of actual lightning arcing through the cloud that is their being.  These creatures though native to the elemental plane of lightning at time a storm draws energy from the elemental plane an it can draw these creatures from their home to hunt and stalk here on the prime. Continue reading Ecology of the Blitzorn – Fast and Dirty Monsters – 5th Edition