30 years of Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy roleplaying games have given adventurers hundreds of monsters to conquer in glorious combat. Some of these monsters are terrifying, others are formidable, but some are just… well, dumb. Here are some of the stupidest, silliest, and most pathetic monsters ever devised – as well as how they might actually be of use in a D&D or Pathfinder game:
First published in: Tome of Magic (2006)
Oh, for Pelor’s sake… What are we even looking at, here? “Claws flash as it cartwheels end over end on five furred legs,” the fluff text reads. The Roving Mauler is a 5-foot tall starfish with lion legs and a lion head on either side of its ridiculous body. The combat description even explicitly states that it has sharp teeth, but it can’t attack with them. The creators took what is arguably the proudest animal known to man and made it into a rolling joke. I would kill this monster on sight out of sympathy.
How to use it: The Roving Mauler is based on Buer, a goetic spirit from a 16th century demonomicon. Buer is described as a “Great President of Hell,” presiding over fifty legions of demons, and while the D&D version of Buer presented in Tome of Magic retains some of the historical lore, the essence of Buer is lost. Playing closer to the original lore may be the key to saving this creature – rather than some magical, crippled lion living in the wild, make the Roving Maulers in your campaigns fiercely intelligent demons with the capacity to speak, breathe fire, and possess other clearly supernatural abilities that better match its shape.
First published in: Fiend Folio (1981)
Hey, look! It’s an airborne jellyfish. Better still, its eyes are conveniently located on fragile stalks, just waiting to be lobbed off with a casual sword swing. It is said that flumphs are helpless if flipped on their “back” – I can’t even imagine what part of this creature is its back, and I think it’s fair to assume that a flumph is just helpless all the time. In case that wasn’t enough, flumphs are Lawful Good, which just adds further insult, and they are sentient, so they are keenly aware of just how pathetic they are.
How to use it: The only way this creature works is if it is not used as a villain, but rather as some form of quest-giver or ally. Imagine the players need to consult an ancient, reclusive sage of legend, track down his distant hideout, and finally meet him to discover that “he” is actually this bizarre creature. Expectations subverted, and the players may even try to attack the beast on sight, thinking it killed the sage, leading to some… tense roleplaying scenarios thereafter.
First published in: Dragon Magazine #243 (1998)
No, they couldn’t even call it the duckrabbit to give it some sense of dignity. It’s not even a giant duckbunny. You know all those jokes about how a house cat can kill a commoner, as per the 3rd edition rules? Yeah, the duckbunny can’t even do that.
How to use it: Clearly the result of a magical crossbreeding experiment, a duckbunny is best used as an accessory to set atmosphere – ignore the stat block altogether, because this thing should never be in combat. Have the adventurers sneak into an old mage’s tower and run across a number of oddities and curios, including a pet duckbunny, and they’ll start to get a clear picture of just how mad this wizard is.
First published in: Fiend Folio (1981)
It’s a giant snail. With six tentacles tipped with a mace-head. The flail snail is the medieval fantasy equivalent of a children’s drawing of an imagined superhero, “Gun Man! He’s awesome and his arms are guns and he shoots bad guys with his gun arms.” Notably, Paizo made the choice to return the Flail Snail to life in a Pathfinder bestiary.
How to use it: When you have a creature that is designed to be a weapon, it’s best if the players instantly understand the purpose behind the design. A flail snail randomly found in a cavern will be scoffed at as an evolutionary joke; a pair of these creatures serving as the silent guardians at the flanks of a mace-wielding warrior mage seated on his throne instantly tell a story.
First published in: City of Splendors (1994)
Watch out – that stack of dirty clothes may animate into a golem! Was the Raggamoffyn designed by someone’s mom in an attempt to get him to do his laundry? Oh, and they prefer to fight by possessing a host – by wrapping themselves around a “victim.” Are you fighting a deadly monster, or just a crazy homeless person? Who knows!
How to use it: Raggamoffyns are sentient scraps of cloth, leather, and metal, sometimes said to be formed from the remnants of worn out magical garments. It’s possible to keep the gimmick behind this monster – a sentient construct that wraps itself around a victim and possesses it – while applying it to different fluff. Rather than rags, make the raggamoffyn an ooze, or a mist, or a swarm of flying creatures.
First published in: Fiend Folio (1981)
For the love of all that is good and lawful… Take the stupidest traits from all of the world’s silliest birds, and you get the Achaierai. Stumpy, flightless wings; garish clown plumage; a goofy parrot head; and not two, but four lanky chicken legs. The best part? This creature is lawful evil and loves to torture its victims. I can’t imagine a worse nightmare.
How to use it: All you really need to do to use this creature in an adventure without your players bursting into laughter is change its appearance. Make it look menacing: black plumage, vulture or hawk-like features, eyes that burn with malevolence… A simple paint job transforms the Achaierai from clown to killer.
First published in: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (1980)
Any pretense of menace or danger invoked by this creature is instantly dissipated when you learn it’s called a vegepygmy. Three feet tall and made of plant material, a “mold man” is born when a humanoid is slain by russet mold. Sadly, it’s the birth, not the death, that is the real tragedy.
How to use it: Set up properly, this creature can be downright frightening. Build up a tense scene in which your players come upon the victim of a russet mold, his prone body horribly mutated with plant material. He seems to be breathing – his chest pulses, ribs crack, and then his torso bursts open, with the little monsters pouring out and rushing at the heroes.
First published in: Fiend Folio (2003)
The paeliryon is a 20 foot tall devil that suffers from “massive obesity,” stinks, has elements of both male and female anatomy (don’t ask where the male parts are…), a hideous face covered in warts and boils, and it wears way too much makeup. But its nails are always fabulous.
How to use it: Paeliryons are described as schemers that work behind the scenes, running spy rings and playing puppet master. Why does it have to look the way it does? Make this thing look less nightmare Lady Gaga and more Azmodan from Diablo 3 – problem solved.
First published in: Eldritch Wizardry supplement (1976)
Thought eaters are described as “unintelligent.” Never has a D&D artist better captured a concept in his portrayal of a monster. This sad, pathetic wretch of a creature just screams, “Please, kill me!”
How to use it: The revised Thought Eater published in 3rd Edition is a successful incarnation of this monster – it looks less like a platypus and more like an eldritch horror taken from Ancient Egyptian mythos. A denizen of the Ethereal plane, the Thought Eater feeds on psychic energy; it can only spend a few rounds in the material plane before its semi-corporeal flesh begins to slough off from its body.
First published in: Monster Manual II (1983)
It’s a stinky cow from the Nine Hells. This creature is irredeemable.
How to use it: Don’t.
To be fair, the list doesn’t stop there. Sound off in the comments with your personal dumbest D&D monsters.