The party is assembled. The Dungeon Master sets the scene, about to introduce a horrifying foe from beyond the material plane. The group rolls initiative, ready to battle the monster... and thus a scene played out for decades carries on eternally, going from table to table. Since its creation in 1974, the popular Dungeons & Dragons TTRPG (Table Top Role Playing Game) has spawned legendary warriors and heroes of all shapes and sizes.
But what good is a hero without a villain, or in many cases, a monster? While you start your adventures off battling goblins and kobolds, you'll eventually work your way up to meatier adversaries. Ogres, Giants, and even the dreaded Mind Flayers can be fought and won. If you're truly lucky (and your campaign miraculously meets often enough), you will eventually face the toughest monsters the Monster Manual has to throw at you. To prepare yourself for your eventual legendary adventures, here are the 10 most powerful creatures in Dungeons and Dragons!
A classic staple from D&D history, the Beholder is a floating Aberration from the Underdark, far below the surface of the earth. A Beholder can float and possesses numerous eye-stalks across its body that fire off various magical rays at their opponents, making them unpredictable in a fight.
Given that its giant central eye can nullify all magic, the Beholder spells disaster for spellcasters in particular. Beholders make for excellent villains, with their paranoia and vanity causing them to scheme and plot the demise of everyone around them.
9 Death Knight
When a noble paladin falls from grace and dies before they can atone, a dark process takes hold over their body. They become an undead force of malevolent evil, attacking the institutions they worshipped in life. They become... a Death Knight.
An armored individual with undead features and glowing red eyes, they are evil incarnate. Possessing the strength and power they wielded in life, they are augmented by their undead fortitude and magic. They can cut through an adventuring party with their unholy abilities and martial prowess with ease. If a Death Knight has you in its' sights, be prepared for a fight to the death.
8 Purple Worm
As the ground shakes and rumbles from below, an enormous monstrosity of writhing purple flesh emerges. A burrowing beast of enormous strength, the Purple Worm is not to be taken lightly.
Sizing in at an average 80-feet-long and five-foot in diameter, they are tough, resilient, and hungry. Using their enormous size, they can easily swallow a party member whole, while a powerful stinger at the end of the warm can incapacitate anyone left uneaten with a deadly poison. Hiding from them is not an option; they are able to sense vibrations in the ground, meaning there's no escaping a Purple Worm if you're stuck on the ground.
7 Pit Fiend
At the top of the infernal hierarchy is a Pit Fiend, a winged creature of enormous strength and size. Known for their cruelty and brutality, a Pit Fiend doesn't hesitate to cut down the weaker imps and devils who get in their way. When an adventuring party tries to do the same, it will use magical powers, brute strength, and poisonous bites to bring them to task.
Pit Fiends are cunning strategists who know how to turn the tide of a battle in their favor, either by outsmarting their opponent or beating them into submission. Given that Pit Fiends are devils who have murdered and lied their way to the top of the food chain, it's wise to give them a wide berth.
Some mages reject the mortal confines of life and death, instead of submitting to dark necromantic powers in order to achieve immortality. While this process separates their soul from their body and turns them into an undead abomination, they achieve a form of everlasting life known as Lichdom. As a Lich, they possess increased powers and abilities, along with any knowledge they had as a mortal.
A Lich is driven by two needs: to keep amassing knowledge and to maintain their Lichdom. How do they do so? By feeding their phylactery—the object containing their soul—the souls of any poor adventurers who stumble upon their lair. If you wander into a tower and find that a Lich has made their home there, it's probably already too late.
5 Astral Dreadnought
The Astral Dreadnought was introduced to fifth edition D&D in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, and is one of the deadliest and most horrifying monsters listed in its pages. A gargantuan monstrosity created to hunt down and destroy travelers of the Astral plane, these creatures know only hunger and destruction. With thick, armored hides and an anti-magic eye similar to a Beholder's, its physical size and prowess hide an even greater power.
The monster is capable of swallowing creatures whole, consuming them. When it does so, it transports them to a demiplane that requires the use of a wish to gain access to, and only skilled and powerful magic users can attempt to escape. While the Astral Sea is filled with monstrous creatures, the Astral Dreadnought is in a league of its own.
In the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, an unspeakable evil lies in wait. With a toothy maw and powerful tentacles, it will drag any poor ship down to the ocean floor, never to be seen again. Powerful, ancient, and master of its domain, the Kraken is the terror of the seas in any D&D campaign.
Given that they are aquatic creatures, facing one means you are always fighting them on their own turf. Their tentacles are able to restrain even the toughest fighter or barbarian. Once restrained, all it takes is a single bite before you're swallowed by the Kraken. They are not mindless beasts; they are ancient, elder beings, and take pleasure in the pain they inflict on mortals. If you find yourself in the Kraken's grasp, take one last look up to see the dwindling light of a surface you'll never see again.
3 Elder Tempest
Another new edition from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the Elder Tempest is an elemental being born and made in the heart of a storm. Being a creature of pure elemental energy, it can control the storm and bring forth destruction wherever it goes.
The Elder Tempest is able to harness the powers of the wind, thunder, and lightning to destroy anything in its path. It moves so fast that it is gone before you can swing your blade; the buffeting winds surrounding it make arrows and ranged weapons nearly useless. All one can do is watch as it quickly strikes at their allies with wind and lightning, powerless to stop the fury of this elemental monstrosity.
2 Ancient Red Dragon
It wouldn't be half as fun if the game was just called Dungeons. Dragons have been in D&D since the beginning, with metallic dragons typically seen as good and chromatic dragons seen as evil. And none is more vicious and cruel than that of the Red Dragons.
Spewing fire and flame, an Ancient Red Dragon has survived for centuries, growing to enormous strength and size. Their breath can turn a creature to ash almost instantly, and their thick scaled hide makes it difficult to attack. With one flap of their wings, they can flatten their foes to the ground, raining death from above. Only the strongest of dragons live to be Ancient Dragons. If you spot a large bead of red in the skies above, things are about to get very, very hot.
There is a common joke among Dungeon Masters that unruly players will make "the Tarrasque appear" if they don't stop their behavior. The joke being that a Tarrasque is almost instant death for a party, regardless of how powerful they are. Weighing in at 170 tons, the Tarrasque is 50-feet-tall and 70-feet-wide. The Tarrasque has one simple goal in life: to eat and destroy everything it sees.
With an armored hide so thick that only magically enchanted weapons can hope to pierce through, this beast is a killing machine. They inspire fear in anyone who dares to look at it, and can swallow adventurers in a single gulp. Their claws, horns, and tail can level a building in a single swing, and their skin is so thick it can even reflect spells back at a caster. The Tarrasque is considered a campaign ender, because of how simply impossible it is to defeat one. Still, to the few and mighty warriors who have fought a Tarrasque and won, we tip our character sheets to you and wish that all your rolls are critical.