10 DND Monsters That Will Make Your Session Amazing

DND Monsters are the core ingredient of a session

Social encounters, Exploration, combat. These are the three pillars of any dungeons and dragons campaign. This is information you may have heard. Congrats! You know dungeons and dragons 101, but the rabbit hole goes much deeper.  One may assume these pillars are created equally. DND primarily revolves around the combat pillar. Most of the mechanics for player options revolve around combat. If you want a game focused on the other pillars there are so many other options to choose from for a roleplay or exploration based game. I’m not saying to neglect the other pillars but understand that the system revolves around combat. Tailor your game to what you and your players want. I typically find that most people who play DND want to bash monster skulls. Monster choice is so important for the gaming experience. A good monster is fun to run and fun to fight. I have compiled a list of monsters that will all be memorable each in different ways. This list tries to make a wide arrange of dnd monsters you can consider for multiple reasons.

DND Monsters

The Purple Wurm strikes fear in the hearts of players

In my experience the Purple worm has a 2/2 record, both sessions highly memorable. I would use it again but the same encounter multiple times can be stale. The purple worm was great at executing its job of being a huge threat. An intense fight included with a Barbarian being eaten, then later on regurgitated to everyone’s surprise and a hole being buried underground that we chased it in. This fight was at a way earlier level than the purple worm’s Challenge rating. My pro tip is to give a variety of encounters per session that include monsters stronger, equal and weaker than the party. This lets the players feel that it is a world and not a linear video game. The purple worm boasts extremely high strength and constitution yet has feeble scores in everything else. This allows the players to tactically target its weakness with saving throw inducing effects. Its Tail Sting is particularly fatal dealing 3d6 +9 base damage on top of a dc 19 constitution saving that deals 12d6 damage on a fail! The purple worm placed against a low enough level party can feel fatal and create danger that fifth edition lacks with its safety nets while also having weaknesses to where it is not impossible to beat.

The way I ran the second purple worm encounter played on the monsters strengths and created a unique encounter. The purple worm was being used as a guardian of treasure by an evil organization. It was guarding a dark cave. This played to the Purple worm’s strength of its blindsight and tremor sense. The players were trying to collect treasure while being unable to see. The goal was not to bring the worm’s enormous hit point pool down which would have been a slog at that level but to collect treasure without dying. This provided something new and I implore you to use this idea or create your own alternate goals for fights in DND. Being near a monster that can kill invoked emotion in my players and I can’t recommend the purple worm enough even if it is lacking abilities. I recommend the Purple worm to dungeon masters who want tension and have players who want to overcome challenges which i imagine is most of us.

The Bodak is one of my favorite DND Monsters

I put an undead creature to roam around the dungeon I created. My players were level 8 and this thing was challenge rating six. The Bodak is the complete opposite of the purple worm, and my group found out, the hard way. I recommend using the purple worm against a lower level party than its challenge rating but the Bodak can threaten higher level parties despite its challenge rating of 6.  It has an impressive stack of resistances and immunities. In addition to its defensive prowess it has abilities such as an aura that deals 5 damage if you end your turn within 30 ft of it, an action that has a low dc con save of 13 but 4d10 on a fail. Most important of all is its Deathly Gaze. This practically forces attacks to be made at disadvantage unless a character is bold and risks failing the con save of 13 by more than 5 and dropping to 0 in pure fear, and can you blame them.  This thing has the potential to TPK if the rolls don’t go in your parties favor. Playing around its ability uses the parties thinking muscles and creates a unique challenge that will go down as the characters scarier moments. Its perfect as a minion for a bigger bad you have. By proxy your BBEG (big bad enemy guy) will be scary if he can command undead such as these.

Rakshasa's will infuriate your players (in a good way)

I mentioned having a BBEG. Well if you don’t have one, why not a Rakshasa. They fit the bill completely. They can shapeshift at will which lets them be key manipulators. They come from Hindu mythology where they are demons with great renown. The players could think they are doing a quest for a humble old man but as luck would have it, they were working for a devil. You can have the Rakshasa taunt the party freely in a way other BBEGs cannot. Most DND fights the players win, thats just how it works. A Rakshasa is immune to all magic under level 6 and has resistance to non magical weapon damage. This causes the players to be the mouse in the game of cat and mouse when usually it is the other way around. A Rakshasa lacks ways to do damage which I find anticlimactic for when they reach his level. I plan on editing the statblock and homebrewing a special Rakshasa that will be a credible threat so stay tuned! While the players will be mad at their first encounters and inability if you play your cards right, fighting a Rakshasa will be super rewarding.

Fight an Army with Kobolds

It’s easy to fall into this super common trap of wanting your players to fight one monster. It makes sense thematically for you usually and you get to run one super cool stat block instead of keeping track of a bunch of little ones. With the way 5e works you need to balance the action economy. It is better to run multiple monsters as well so that control effects dont end the fight. Kobolds are the personification of team work with their pack tactics, granting advantage when they work together. Being overwhelmed is quite the danger so your players will need to work to keep the numbers down. Kobolds are low challenge rating but you  can scale them up with the winged kobold and sorcerer kobold variants. Another perk of Kobolds is that they are minions of dragons so if you are fighting them, there could be a dragon nearby. 

Don't mess with the Oni's fury

Your travels were going well aboard the greatest ship in the world, the tectonic. You wake up in the morning but something feels off. You don’t see anyone around as you walk into the cabin hallway. You hear noises coming from the deck.  Theres a crowd of people, youre able to get to the front where you get a horrifying sight. A dead body of your friend. Impossible, no weapons were allowed on board. How could this be? You scream it into the air.

An oni is perfect for a murder mystery. It has so much utility including shapeshifting, flight, invisibility and darkness. The Ogre Shaman also has access to potent magic, the most lethal being cone of cold. Oni’s are ruthless in strength as well making them above average at everything. It’s seriously hard to name a flaw around this creature. They are so cool as well! Making a session revolve around an Oni is one of the coolest decisions you can make for your table. Your players are sure to have their mind boggled at the sheer amount of things these creatures can do.  In combat their attacks are magical and they regenerate 10 hp.

The aesthetic factor is super cool on the Oni as well. Coming from Japanese folklore they have a legendary reputation. You can play into how powerful these things are and have fun narrating their ruthlessness. One of our groups antagonists is a gang made up purely of Oni’s. They truly are a nightmare and a great pick.


Make your players fight something they know with the Medusa

A lot of the entries so far have been about catching the players off guard. Theres something to be said about the moment a player recognizes what is going on. We can bring that moment to people who are fans of Percy Jackson books or greek mythology in general with the iconic Medusa. Everyone knows not to look in the medusa’s eyes, unlike the Bodak. Fighting something with a preconceived status of strength will make your players feel like legendary, mythological heroes. Medusa’s are also associated with snakes which can make for thematic dungeon building. In Dnd medusas aren’t that scary unless the players are surprised by one as they can choose to avert their eyes. However, A medusa encounter I might recommend doesn’t need to be just combat. In fact tomb of annihilation, a great wizards of the coast published module, the medusa hides her face and you can actually be cordial terms. Subverting a players expectations can be a great tool as well.

Aboleths are Aquatic Horrors.

The Aboleths are an aberrant race that believe themselves to be gods. While I don’t agree, they are super close to it. I would say they out punch their Challenge rating. You’ll fight them in water which limits your mobility, even if you are on a shore they can choose to retreat. They have access to lair actions and legendary actions which boosts their action economy. They have interesting abilities including inflicting an ailment that causes creatures to only be able to breathe underwater and can charm allies into fighting for it.


The way I would run an aboleth is to have a cult that serves it. This would highlight all of its abilities so the party can appreciate all that this monster is. Have random villagers go missing but are spotted near a shore. When the party tries to save them, the aboleth gets in the way and tries to enslave the party. You wouldn’t think an Aboleth would have much bravado but its telepathic ability and attitude mix to create something special.

Everyone Loves Vampires

I would make the claim that vampires are the most interesting creatures. Their special rules make them stand out in a sea of other monsters. Strahd’s reputation as a villain definitely doesn’t hurt either. Vampires have something to them that other monsters don’t. In my opinion its their sense of honor. I talked about the Oni’s ruthlessness but the gentlemanly vibe a vampire gives can be just as powerful. Having a vampire toy with the party is bound to invoke emotion which to reiterate is what creates the experiences we are looking for. Vampires also have a wide array of minions such as vampire spawn and werewolves to choose from. You can have a very nice gothic theme using them. For most monsters on this list, i would build a session around although a vampires story can have enough depth for an entire campaign.

Drow are a society of evil

I love Dark elves as villains. I could be a sucker for them because my first campaign was out of the abyss. They still invoke rage in me to this day. Its funny to think I met all my friends in a drow prison. We were able to escape but we were pursued relentlessly. Learning about the horrors of drow society made my character disgusted by their way of life. Lolth is a great patron goddess to the drow as she embodies and displays their evilness so well. Drow can range from weak to powerful which is a plus for dropping them in their session. Having drow raiders trying to take slaves from the surface would be horrifying if you made them a credible threat. On a TPK you could transition to out of the Abyss. Drow posses strong magic but can also be melee threats as well. Drow as a society are an evil your party can fight. Having a culture be evil made the monsters have depth when i fought them. I can’t recommend them enough for your game. Of course you can also choose to have Drow not be evil in your campaign setting and have a few bad apples, they are still super cool!

Oblexes need to be talked about more

Have you ever heard of Oblexes? They are super intelligent oozes created by Mindflayers. That is absolutely insane. Furthermore they eat memories, and are able to create replicas of their victims using the memories. Imagine the look on your players faces when that fate befalls a beloved NPC. The Elder Oblex can potentially create 12 simulacrums of victims. It has access to spellcasting which is pretty terrifying on an ooze. AN OOZE! These spells include dominate person, dimension door and hypnotic pattern. On top of this it can eat memories which  makes them subtract a d4 from attacks and ability checks until a short rest. That can be brutal because it stacks by increasing the die to a d6 the next time the target is memory drained. This monster has mechanics lore and aesthetic. I didn’t think an ooze could be so cool. 

I would use an Oblex as a natural disaster leaving everything in its wake, people would be drained and simulacrums running around. Imagine a city destroyed by an elder oblex.

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