Make Combat More Interesting with Monster Abilities for D&D Creatures and NPCs

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Hey nerds! I’ve been playing Diablo 3 recently and that has inspired me to create about a dozen new special monster abilities to add your D&D creatures and NPCs in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. These abilities are designed to make combat more interesting and probably harder. I have not done any playtesting of these, so feel free to send me a message on Twitter with your thoughts.

monster abilities D&D creatures and NPCs make combat more interesting
Monster abilities on D&D creatures and NPCs can make make combat more interesting for players and Dungeon Masters alike.

Monster abilities for any occasion


These are chaotic creatures, often having loss of mental acuity and rational thought.

Whenever the creature is forced to make a saving throw, roll a d6. On a result of 1-2 the creature rolls the save. On a result of 3-5 the effect of the saving throw is reversed onto the creature that forced this creature to make the save. This creature acts as the origin of the spell. On a result of 6 the creature automatically passes the saving throw.


These should be legendary creatures.

As a Legendary Action at any point, the creature can cause the value of any d20 to be inverted. To do so, the d20 is flipped over to the side opposite that it was rolled to. The number now facing up replaces the die roll and the effects of a save, attack or other action is applied.


These should be celestial creatures or those tied to fire.

The creature shines bright light within 30 ft. of them, and dim light for another 30 ft. Ranged attacks outside of 60 ft. of the dim light that the creature is aware of have disadvantage. Within the dim light given off by the creature they do not have disadvantage. Ranged attacks within 30 ft. of the bright light of the creature have advantage. Any other creature within 5 ft. make a Constitution saving throw or are blinded until the end of their turn.


These should be Challenge 15 or higher creatures from the Underdark or Shadowfell, or who are similarly edgy.

A 15 ft. radius around the creature is magical darkness. An additional 15 ft. is dim light. For the purposes of magical light, the dark and dim light count as 4th level.


These should be melee combatants, humanoids or similarly intelligent creatures of Challenge 10 or higher.

The creature has resistance to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage. When a weapon attack made against them hits, they can chose to add half of the damage they took to their next weapon attack. The choice is made before the attack roll and can be done once per turn.


These creatures could be described as disgusting looking, and tend to be aberrations.

The creature has disadvantage on Persuasion checks, and advantage on Intimidation checks. Any creatures in a 15 ft. radius must make a Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for one minute and stunned until the beginning of their next turn. Any time a creature starts their turn within the radius or enter it they take 1, 2, or 3d6 poison damage.


Casters or creatures that focus on lightning damage, but this can easily be altered to any damage type.

Any time a weapon attack hits this creature, the attacker must make a Dexterity/Constitution (your choice) save or take 1-4 d6 lightning damage. As an action, the creature can expel lighting energy, dealing 1-6d6 lightning damage to all creatures within 10 ft.


Necrotic based creatures, including vampires.

Whenever this creature causes one or more creature to take damage within 30 ft of it, the creature can choose any affected creature and heal half the damage taken by one creature.


Magical creatures, casters or otherwise.

Anytime this creature is hit with a weapon attack, it rolls a d20. On a 20, the creature is teleported within 5 ft. of its starting location, and gains resistance to that attack.


Naturally fast creatures, or creatures that are large enough to merit a lot of movement.

As a bonus action, this creature can take the Dash action without provoking attacks of opportunity.


Naturally tough creatures.

If this creature takes damage that would take its health to 0, it makes a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to half the damage taken to fall to 1 hit point instead of 0.


Evil creatures with ties to fire.

As an action on its turn, the creature can chose a point within 25 ft., with a radius of 5 ft. The ground around that point becomes extremely hot, dealing 2-6 d6 of fire damage to any creature standing within the space, when the heat is summoned and at the end of their turn.

Wall Raiser

Spellcasters, elemental monks

As an action the creature can summon 1-3 stone walls 6 inches thick, 5 ft. tall and 10-25 ft. long. They can chose to place these anywhere within 60 ft. of them. The walls come out of the ground and can block the edge of a square but cannot interact with a creature. A wall has AC 15 and hit points equal to twice the creature’s Challenge.

Spicing up your D&D creatures and NPCs

There you have it, a selection of monster abilities you can add to your favorite D&D creatures and NPCs for a little something extra. What do you think? What sorts of monster abilities have you added to your favorite creatures, or do you have ideas for any other ones? Share them in the comments! In the video below, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss some of the deadliest monster abilities out there, so you can find more diabolical inspiration for your own games. Stay nerdy!

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