Don’t Use 5E Elementals Use This D&D Monster Instead

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If you are tired of using elementals in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game and want some alternatives try these monsters instead. This is from our Don’t Use this D&D Monster Use This Instead series. The video is below complete with transcription if you prefer to read along.

Don’t Use 5E Elementals Use This D&D Monster Instead Video

Don’t Use 5E Elementals Use This D&D Monster Instead Transcription

Welcome back to don’t use this monster instead, use this monster. Today we’re going to talk about elementals. Quite elemental, my friend, not the elemental types so much as the actual elemental monsters themselves — air, earth, fire, water. So this is your basic challenge 5 elemental. Yeah. And in your games you probably see them or have heard about them quite a lot. There’s not a whole lot to them and I think there’s more interesting options that are out there.



5e Elemental
An air elemental as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
These monsters typically have like 90 to 126 hit points. They each usually have one or two special abilities. I consider these more of your bruiser minion type monsters and also they’re generally conjured as well. They’re conjured and they have that low Intelligence. So you’ve got something where someone who is more powerful is guiding, is directing them to whatever the mission happens to be. They also tend to be rather stupid as well with a 5 to 6 Intelligence range. That’s not a whole lot to work with when it comes to planning, tactics and strategy. They’re not going to be your masterminds, that’s for sure, you know.

So we’re getting rid of the elemental and the way we usually do this as you pick a monster, I pick a monster then we kind of run the numbers a little bit and talk about it. All right. So obviously we talked about the elemental being your basic challenge 5 monster and some of the stats that we have. So Dave, why don’t you tell them what you’ve picked.

I actually went with an ooze. I went with the black pudding and they are a challenge 4. So they are actually a little bit lower than the elemental, but I feel like the black pudding punches above its weight class. I mean they only have a 7 Armor Class so you’re probably going to hit them every time, but 85 hit points so they’re at the bottom end of the elementals, they’re not as witty and smart as an elemental, I’ll give you that. They only have a 1 Intelligence. So you’re going to need someone who can control them and guide them or at least place them where they’re needed to get rid of those pesky adventurers.


earth elemental D&D
An earth elemental as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
So why do you feel that this is a good replacement for the elemental?They get a lot of immunities when it comes to conditions and forms of attack. Much like the elemental they hit hard and they also can take some punishment as well. They make a good kind of mindless minion. I feel like you need someone that’s going to have some kind of power or control over them. Maybe like a priest of Juiblex perhaps. The reason why I think these monsters tend to punch above their weight class — one, they have their Split ability. If you attack them with slashing weapons or lightning attacks they break up. They can break up several times. So you have more opponents and it doesn’t take away from their hit points. But now you have more opponents to deal with. Not only that, they also have the corrosive effect that is going to damage armor and weapons. So attacking them is dangerous to your weapons. Being attacked by them is dangerous to your armor. The longer the fight goes on, the more these critters are going to be wearing down your gear. If I were to use these in a campaign, like I said, I mentioned the priests of Juiblex and that’s the way I would go, giving the priests the ability to command and control them and possibly communicate with them.

5E D&D fire elemental
A fire elemental as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
Granted these things are about as smart as the stupidest animal you can find, but with a demon inspired priest I think you could kind of goad them and get them to do what you want and they’re going to function as that minion, that bruiser. Yeah, they’re not making any plans for themselves, but they can go here and do that, attack this.That sounds pretty cool and you’ve got a good story to go along with it, but I think I got you beat here.

All right. What do you got?

All right, so I’m going to open up to page one 71 in my trusty Monster Manual and I’m going to bust out the gorgon. So the gorgon weighs in with an Armor Class of 19 that’s crossing the threshold with all of the other elementals.

We’re looking at 114 hit points, so pretty high up there in regards to a hit points. It’s not as much as your earth elemental, but higher than most of the others. We don’t have a lot in the way of resistances or immunities, but we do have immunity to the petrified condition. They’re perceptive. So that’s gonna be a nice guard type minion to use. They do have a quick speed. So that’s going to be in line with some of the more faster elementals. When you look at that Petrifying Breath they’ve got the ability to potentially shut down an adventurer with just a couple of bad saves. There’s that. I kind of like these mixed in with a medusa. A monster that is also referred to as a gorgon.

5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons water elemental
A water elemental as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
Now you might have to give them a magic item or ability that makes them immune to the petrification themselves. But the gorgon themselves would be great minions for a medusa because they are immune to being petrified. So they don’t have to worry about that Petrifying Gaze the medusa has. If you really wanted to step it up even further, you could bust out an other elemental and have them be a minion of a dao.Oh, that would be a great way to go. So while they are the elemental type, they’re not actual elementals. They’re more like genies or ffreeti but of the earth. But they’re from the earth plane and their type is elemental. But the if you have a very earth based adventure you could have gorgons running around and the dao don’t have to worry about the breath weapon or the gaze of a medusa.

So you could have this whole petrification theme running around and the dao as a kind of slave master cracking the whip to all of them. Perhaps like he’s got a whole trade market on turning things into stone and selling the statues with this horde of creatures that all have the ability to be like, all right, stand and freeze.

So now in my mind, I’m picturing the dao as the lord and then maybe a medusa as a shepherdess with her flock of gorgons or herd as the case may be for the whole theme. I somehow want to put cockatrices in a catapult to fling at my players for some reason. You could keep the whole theme. I believe Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes has the Stone Cursed, which would fit in that theme as well.

D&D Monster dao
A dao as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]
You could definitely go run with the whole idea that petrification is the theme. And also with some foreshadowing, it would really mess with the players. There are statues, that’s gotta be from a medusa. Then they do run into the gorgons instead and then they do run into a medusa. Holy crap everything is trying to turn them into stone.

So I actually inspired on the thought they’re there to be a another layer to the dungeon and what people might not be thinking. So like what if the dao themselves is actually like seeding adventures like through agents and putting out a quest to come into this maze that he’s got layered with his creatures just to lure in people to have them turned into stone and whatever position they’re going to be so that they can sell the statues. Because the adventurers are more interesting.

They’re using their powers. They’re more likely to be petrified in interesting poses or positions. Then you could go even a step further so that there are nobles who wind up paying to scry in on this place when the adventures are going. You’ve got so many layers of market and how much research the players are going to do.

You could wind up in higher level adventurers lured into the check out this scrying thing. They see what what’s going on and now they want to go through the dungeon, see if they can actually beat it. I mean, you’ve got a lot of different layers you can look at. That’s kind of interesting. And that’s what I thought immediately when you started talking about the scrying — they get an invitation to go to check out this TV show, this form of entertainment.

They’re gambling, they’re betting and then they’re like, oh. Or the players are like this is not right at all. I’m diametrically opposed to this as an adventurer myself. I totally disagree with this. A total riff on a game show type thing. But you could have a lot of fun with it. And now I want to build all of this. I’m really psyched.

Well, the dao themselves appears in the scrying and he’s got a nice suit on, robes and he’s talking about the different contestants, the adventurers. He kind of goes down their special qualifications and what they bring to the table and why you would want this particular adventurer on your lawn.

Or maybe in your fountain as the case may be. So I think that could be a lot of fun and far more interesting to do this kind of layout. Then to just throw out some elementals. I totally agree. So, but the question is, what do you find folks think we got a place where we can discuss that as down in the comments below.

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My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.

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