The world of Dungeons & Dragons can be a terrifying place for novice and veteran players alike. It is filled with monstrosities and evils of all kinds. Some creatures resemble wild animals, while others look like they were born straight from a nightmare (looking at you Gibbering Mouth). But the world your players encounter doesn’t have to be solely terrifying. It might surprise you to know that there are some inhabitants of the nine realms with whom your party just might fall in love! Here are 5 underused monsters to use in your campaign to add depth, role-playing opportunities, and intrigue to your next adventure.
If you think all dragons are evil, greedy, and murderous, then you haven’t met this little guy! Colorful butterfly wings attached to a cat-sized, magical dragon, who loves a good practical joke? Sounds like a recipe for role play!
As the Faerie Dragon ages, it changes colors, moving through all the colors of the rainbow, and gains new spellcasting abilities with each color change. Unlike its larger cousin, the Faerie Dragon doesn’t plunder or cause mass destruction and pain in its wake; this little guy simply wants to have a little fun, at your expense!
When wanderers happen by its forest home, the Faerie Dragon turns invisible and plays pranks and tricks on its unsuspecting victims. These pranks are harmless (mostly), and the Faerie Dragon will often even reveal itself after it has had its fun, as long as the subjects aren’t too angry.
Faerie Dragons do share one trait in common with the larger variety of dragons: a propensity towards treasure. Faerie Dragons are easily enticed to guide travelers or to provide safe passage through their homelands by the promise of baubles, sweets, or other trinkets.
Don’t get me wrong, forests can, and should be, dangerous places as all kinds of monsters dwell in the forest. But, it might be a nice change of pace to encounter a trickster, rather than a real threat, especially if the party has just been through a series of rough combats.
Try it out and have some fun! The great thing about encountering a Faerie Dragon is that anything can happen!
Campaign Tie-In Ideas for the Faerie Dragon
- Your party camps in the woods, in the morning they find their bag of holding/equipment/coin purses has gone missing. A trail of coins leads deeper into the woods. As they follow it, they find themselves transported to another Realm (thanks to the Faerie Dragon’s spell “hallucination terrain”).
- Every so often one member of your party feels a tap on his/her shoulder (this works best on the one quickest to anger). The party member behind them promises he/she isn’t doing it…
- As you travel along the long-forgotten forest path, everything seems serene and quiet. All of a sudden, one of your party members becomes a chicken. A floating mouth with a toothy-grin tells you the only way to turn him/her back is to go on a “quest.” (This scenario works best at lower levels before any members of the party get the “Dispel Magic” spell)
The Underdark is, arguably, the most terrifying terrain in Dungeons & Dragons. This pitch-black world will easily overwhelm outsiders of any level or experience. Mind flayers, Aboleths, Intelligence Devours, and many other evil creatures reside and hunt in the Underdark. But thriving in this harsh environment are underground hippies called Myconids.
These colorful, peaceful fungi live in communities called “circles.“ They are intelligent, can move and speak, and seek peace above all else. Deploring violence, they are happy to provide shelter and safe passage through their territory to travelers.
But, here is where things get psychedelic. Myconids see “the meld” as their one purpose in life. During a meld, all the Myconids in the circle come together and share one consciousness, thanks to special spores they naturally secrete. They then release hallucination spores and share a dream. This ritual is all about community and entertainment and the dream serves to lift them out of the dreary world in which they live.
However, as peaceful as these fungi are, they are still fungi. They decompose dead creatures and can even reanimate corpses, turning them into spore servants.
Campaign Tie-In Ideas for Myconids
- One of your party members dies while fighting against a great evil in the Underdark. Grieving, the rest of the party stays with the body. They begin to notice several colorful mushrooms nearby that they hadn’t noticed before. They keep getting closer. Upon closer inspection, they are revealed to be tiny humanoid fungi who tell the party they know a way that their friend can live again. After taking the body back to their home, the party watches in horror as their friend is turned into a Spore Servant. Alternatively, if they leave the body, upon returning to the Underdark they see their friend, but he/she is not the same…
- After accidentally stumbling upon a circle of Myconids engaged in a Meld, your party (or members of your party) hallucinate and become addicted to the hallucination spores produced by the Myconids.
Another resident of the Underdark, Flumphs are, in my opinion, the most interesting monsters in D&D. They resemble floating jellyfish with tentacles hanging below the Flumph’s body and two eye stocks protruding from its top. Unlike the mindless jellyfish, Flumphs are highly intelligent beings. They are wise and have advanced knowledge of religion, philosophy, mathematics, and countless other subjects.
Much like a monster mood-ring, Flumphs change colors based on their emotions. Soft pink means the Flumph is amused. Deep blue means sadness, green means curiosity, and crimson, anger.
Flumphs live in peaceful, utopian communities that have no need for leaders or rulers and they communicate through telepathy and Flumphs can sense all telepathy and will even seek out creatures who have good thoughts.
Unlike just about every other creature in the Underdark, Flumphs do not kill or feed on flesh. Instead, they feed on psychic energy, but only what they need, and creatures do not feel any discomfort from such feedings. Flumphs are often found near Mind Flayer communities where they are treated like harmless parasites.
If your party is deviling into the secrets of the Underdark, they know they will encounter dangerous and evil creatures. They are expecting Aboleths, and ancient evils, so why not Flumph it up a little? Before encountering the deadly Mind Flayer city, have them spend some time in a Flumph community. This could provide a great opportunity for role play, as well as give the party useful information they might not otherwise have discovered.
Campaign Tie-In Ideas for Flumphs:
- After making camp in the Underdark, your party wakes up surrounded by green, gently glowing creatures. They hear gently echoing in their minds, “Greetings Surface Dwellers! We are pleased to make your acquaintance!”
- One of your party members is separated from the group having been chased by monsters and gravely wounded. From around a rock, they see two eyes on long stocks peering at them, glowing a deep, sad blue.
A high-level wizard or sorcerer can mix clay and a little blood to (sometimes) create a new best friend. The appearance of the Homunculus depends on the will of the creator, meaning this monster can take the shape of whatever you want.
Homunculus have a strong connection to their master, sensing, feeling, and experiencing everything in unison with him/her, even from long distances. The Homunculus’s alignment entirely depends on their creator and when the master dies, so does the Homunculus.
Homunculus are extensions of their masters and can share thoughts with them, making a good homunculus a trusted ally, and an evil one an undetectable spy.
Campaign Tie-In Ideas for Homunculus
- A good wizard helps the group from afar using his/her Homunculus to guide and assist them. Until one day, your adventurers watch in horror as their little friend slowly turns to dust…
- An evil wizard sends his homunculus to befriend his enemies. Your party receives it as an adorable pet. They have no idea that they are being watched…
Grungs are small, sentient, humanoid frogs. Living in fiercely guarded territories of the rain forest and jungles, Grungs resemble poison dart frogs walking on two legs. They are brightly colored, have large eyes, and weld tiny, poisoned weapons.
But what the Grungs lack in size, they make up for in cruelty.
Grungs think of themselves as far superior to other creatures and will attempt to enslave any other creature they come across. In order to keep the slaves under control (Grungs are small, after all) they constantly keep captured creatures poisoned with a toxin they secrete from their skin. After long term exposure to this toxin, the slave will become a husk of its former self, only being restored through magic or a wish.
Grung society uses a caste system in which each color of the Grung’s skin represents a caste. The color of Grung also determines the poison effect a creature suffers after touching a Grung or after being hit by a poisoned Grung weapon. Poison effects range from paralysis (green) to being charmed (gold).
*See the Monster Manual for a full list of poison effects
Campaign Tie-In Ideas for Grungs
- While in a city that borders the jungle, your party comes across a flyer or (hears from someone) about a job opportunity. Apparently, people entering the jungle are going missing, and adventurers are being sought to put an end to the mystery.
- While hacking and slashing through the thick jungle, your party catches a glimpse of something colorful among the trees. After taking a closer look, they are awed by the candy-colored frogs which come out of the trees to meet them. They are adorable until the net falls from above.
Bonus! Wood Woad
These human-size walking trees rarely talk. They silently guard forests and areas of supernatural beauty, and often follow Treants and other creatures with a strong connection to nature.
You might never guess that these seemingly harmless creatures are the product of a dark ritual.
Powerful Druids remove a victim’s heart(while they are still alive) and place a seed inside it. The heart is then planted in the hollow of a tree which is watered with the blood of the sacrificed person. After three days, a sprout forms and quickly grows into a Wood Woad who will ceaselessly follow the orders of the one who created it.
A Wood Woad is immortal and does not require anything other than earth and sunlight to live. This means that Wood Woads often outlive their original purpose. When this happens, Wood Woads have been known to go looking for a new purpose, following creatures with a powerful connection to nature.
Campaign Tie-In Ideas for Wood Woad
- When the Druid in your party reaches a high level, each time he/she goes into the forest, roll a percentage die to see if a Wood Woad begins following them. This becomes a great role-playing opportunity when the Druid begins to collect a parade of Wood Woads who say nothing, but won’t leave the Druid alone.
- A woman asks your party to get rid of a monster that has been stalking her home. As your party investigates, they find that the father of the family was sacrificed in a dark ritual. When not commanded to do otherwise, he returns to his old home to keep watch over his family from afar.
Your game will certainly have high-level villains and monsters to fight, but by using some lesser-known and more role play designed creatures, your campaign can begin to feel more like life and less like just a game. The next time you are looking for something for your party to encounter, I hope you will try one of these monsters, I am sure you will not be disappointed!
Until next time,
May your game have advantage, my friends!