Glossary of Creature Description Entries
This line in a monster entry gives the alignment that the creature is most likely to have. Every entry includes a qualifier that indicates how broadly that alignment applies to all monsters of that kind.
Always: The creature is born with the indicated alignment. The creature may have a hereditary predisposition to the alignment or come from a plane that predetermines it. It is possible for individuals to change alignment, but such individuals are either unique or rare exceptions.
Usually: The majority (more than 50%) of these creatures have the given alignment. This may be due to strong cultural influences, or it may be a legacy of the creatures' origin. For example, most elves inherited their chaotic good alignment from their creator, the deity Corellon Larethian.
Often: The creature tends toward the given alignment, either by nature or nurture, but not strongly. A plurality (40-50%) of individuals have the given alignment, but exceptions are common.
Any skill in which a monster has acquired at least one rank or in which the creature has a racial bonus is considered a class skill for that kind of creature. Some monsters, such as the true dragons, have their class skills explicitly listed. Other monsters' class skills can be determined from their statistics blocks.
Creatures with a Swim speed always have Swim as a class skill. Creatures with a Climb speed always have Climb as a class skill. Skills listed in an entry merely because of synergy with another skill are not class skills. For example, a ssvaklor's class skills are Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, Survival and Swim. It has other skill modifiers, such as Diplomacy, Disguise and Intimidate, that are due to synergy benefits granted by other skills. The statistics block also includes a Jump modifier due to its speed, even though Jump is not a class skill for the creature.
Effective Character Level (ECL)
This number represents a creature's overall power relative to that of a character from the Player's Handbook. A creature with an ECL of 10 is roughly equivalent to a 10th-level character. A creature's ECL is the sum of its Hit Dice (including class levels) and level adjustment. For instance, a splinterwaif has 2 HD and a +4 level adjustment. It is the equivalent of a 6th-level character.
This entry in a statistics block describes the type of climate and terrain where the creature is typically found. This is a preference, but is not exclusionary. Note that these environments can also exist in portions of dungeons due to magical effects or other supernatural interference, or as features in dungeons or other environment areas.
Any: No preferred environment.
Cold: Arctic and subarctic climes. Any area that has winter-like conditions for the greater portion of the year.
Temperate: Any area that has alternating warm and cold seasons.
Warm: Tropical and subtropical climes. Any area that has summer conditions for the greater portion of the year is warm.
Aquatic: Fresh or salt water.
Deserts: Any dry area with sparse vegetation.
Forests: Any area covered with trees.
Hills: Any area with rugged but not mountainous terrain.
Marshes: Low, flat, waterlogged areas; including swamps.
Mountains: Rugged terrain, with a higher elevation than hills.
Plains: Any fairly flat area that is not a desert, marsh, or forest.
Plane Name: An extraplanar creature's home plane.
Underground: Subterranean areas.
A monster that takes levels in a class (or more than one class) has a favored class, just as player characters do. In addition, a monster's racial Hit Dice also count as a favored class, in effect: If the monster becomes a multiclass character, neither its favored class nor its racial Hit Dice count when determining whether the creature takes an experience point penalty.
Certain monsters can used as the basis for interesting, viable player characters. These creatures have a level adjustment entry, which is a number that is added to the creature's total Hit Dice to arrive at its effective character level. A creature with multiple special abilities is more powerful as a player character than its Hit Dice alone would indicate. For example, a drow elf has spell resistance, bonuses to its ability scores, and spell-like abilities. Its level adjustment of +2 indicates that a 1st-level drow wizard is the equivalent of a 3rd-level character.
Some creatures level adjustment entries include the word "(cohort)." Although these creatures may be problematic as PCs, they make good companions for a character who has taken the Leadership feat. Some other creatures aren't intended for use as PCs or cohorts but can become companions through the use of the Improved Familiar feat. In these cases, the level adjustment entry is a dash followed by the words "(Improved Familiar)."
Level adjustment is not the same thing as an adjustment to a creature's Challenge Rating because of some special qualities it possesses. Challenge Rating reflects how difficult an opponent is to fight in a limited number of encounters. Level adjustment shows how powerful a creature is as a player character or cohort in campaign play. For instance, a drow receives a +1 adjustment to its Challenge Rating to account for its special abilities, indicating that it's tougher in a fight than its Hit Dice would suggest, but its level adjustment is +2 to balance its abilities over long-term play.
Any creature with a Constitution score is a living creature. Constructs and undead are not living creatures.
Some monsters employ manufactured weapons when they attack. Creatures that use swords, bows, spears, and the like follow the same rules as characters, including those for additional attacks from a high base attack bonus and two-weapon fighting penalties. This category also includes found "items," such as rocks and logs, that a creature wields in combat - in essence, any weapon that is not intrinsic to the creature.
Some creatures combine attacks with natural and manufactured weapons when they make a full attack. When they do so, the manufactured weapon attack is considered the primary attack unless the creature's description indicates otherwise (using the manufactured weapon consumes most of the creature's attention), and any natural weapons the creature also uses are considered secondary natural attacks. These secondary attacks do not interfere with the primary attack as attacking with an off-hand weapon does, but they take the usual -5 penalty (or -2 with the Multiattack feat) for such attacks, even if the natural weapon used is normally the creature's primary natural weapon.
Creatures may have modes of movement other than walking and running. These are natural, not magical, unless specifically noted in a monster description.
Burrow: A creature with a burrow speed can tunnel through dirt, but not through rock unless the descriptive text says otherwise. Creatures cannot charge or run while burrowing. Most burrowing creatures do not leave behind tunnels other creatures can use (either because the material they tunnel through fills in behind them or because they do not actually dislocate any material when burrowing); see the individual creature descriptions for details.
Climb: A creature with a climb speed has a +8 racial bonus on all Climb checks. The creature must make a Climb check to climb any wall or slope with a DC of more than 0, but it always can choose to take 10 (see Checks without Rolls, page 65 of the Player's Handbook), even if rushed or threatened while climbing. The creature climbs at the given speed while climbing. If it chooses an accelerated climb (see the Climb skill), it moves at double the given climb speed (or its base land speed, whichever is lower) and makes a single Climb check at a -5 penalty. Creatures cannot run while climbing. A creature retains its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while climbing, and opponents get no special bonus on their attacks against a climbing creature.
Fly: A creature with a fly speed can move through the air at the indicated speed if carrying no more than a light load; see Carrying Capacity, page 161 of the Player's Handbook. (Note that medium armor does not necessarily constitute a medium load.) All fly speeds include a parenthetical note indicating maneuverability, as follows:
- Perfect: The creature can perform almost any aerial maneuver it wishes. It moves through the air as well as a human moves over smooth ground.
- Good: The creature is very agile in the air (like a housefly or a hummingbird), but cannot change direction as readily as those with perfect maneuverability.
- Average: The creature can fly as adroitly as a small bird.
- Poor: The creature flies as well as a very large bird.
- Clumsy: The creature can barely maneuver at all.
A creature that flies can make dive attacks. A dive attack works just like a charge, but the diving creature must move a minimum of 30 feet and descend at least 10 feet. It can make only claw or talon attacks, but these deal double damage. A creature can use the run action while flying, provided it flies in a straight line. For more information, see Tactical Aerial Movement, page 20 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.
Swim: A creature with a swim speed can move through water at its swim speed without making Swim checks. It has a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. The creature can always can choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. The creature can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.
Natural weapons are weapons that are physically a part of a creature. A creature making a melee attack with a natural weapon is considered armed and does nor provoke attacks of opportunity. Likewise, it threatens any space it can reach.
Creatures do not receive additional attacks from a high base attack bonus when using natural weapons. The number of attacks a creature can make with its natural weapons depends on the type of the attack-generally, a creature can make one bite attack, one attack per claw or tentacle, one gore attack, one sting attack, or one slam attack (although Large ceatures with arms or armlike limbs can make a slam attack with each arm). Refer to the individual monster descriptions.
Unless otherwise noted, a natural weapon threatens a critical hit on a natural attack roll of 20.
When a creature has more than one natural weapon, one of them (or sometimes a pair or set of them) is the primary weapon. All the creature's remaining natural weapons are secondary.
The primary weapon is given in the creature's Attack entry, and the primary weapon or weapons is given first in the creature's Full Attack entry. A creature's primary natural weapon is its most effective natural attack, usually by virtue of the creature's physiology, training, or innate talent with the weapon. An attack with a primary natural weapon uses the creature's full attack bonus. Attacks with secondary natural weapons are less effective and are made with a -5 penalty on the attack roll, no matter how many there are. (Creatures with the Multiattack feat take only a -2 penalty on secondary attacks.)
Natural weapons have types just as other weapons do. The most common are summarized below.
Bite: The creature attacks with its mouth, dealing piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning damage.
Claw or Talon: The creature rips with a sharp appendage, dealing piercing and slashing damage.
Gore: The creature spears the opponent with an antler, horn, or similar appendage, dealing piercing damage.
Slap or Slam: The creature batters opponents with an appendage, dealing bludgeoning damage.
Sting: The creature stabs with a stinger, dealing piercing damage. Sting attacks usually deal damage from poison in addition to hit point damage.
Tentacle: The creature flails at opponents with a powerful tentacle, dealing bludgeoning (and sometimes slashing) damage.
Some creatures lack certain ability scores. These creatures do not have an ability score of 0 - they lack the ability altogether. The modifier for a nonability is +0. Other effects of nonabiliries are detailed below.
Strength: Any creature that can physically manipulate other objects has at least 1 point of Strength. A creature with no Strength score can't exert force, usually because it has no physical body (a prismatic golem, for example). The creature automatically fails Strength checks. If the creature can attack, it applies its Dexterity modifier to its base attack bonus instead of a Strength modifier.
Dexterity: Any creature that can move has at least 1 point of Dexterity. A creature with no Dexterity score can't move. If it can perform actions (such as casting spells), it applies its Intelligence modifier to initiative checks instead of a Dexterity modifier. The creature automatically fails Reflex saves and Dexterity checks.
Constitution: Any living creature has at least 1 point of Constitution. A creature with no Constitution has no body (a vasuthant, for example) or no metabolism (a gloom golem). It is immune to any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless the effect works on objects or is harmless. For example, a zombie is unaffected by any type of poison but is susceptible to a disintegrate spell. The creature is also immune to ability damage, ability drain, and energy drain, and automatically fails Constitution checks. A creature with no Constitution cannot tire and thus can run indefinitely without tiring (unless the creature's description says it cannot run).
Intelligence: Any creature that can think, learn, or rememher has at least 1 point of Intelligence. A creature with no Intelligence score (such as a shredstorm) is mindless, an automaton operating on simple instincts or programmed instructions. It has immunity to mind-affecting spells and abilities (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects) and automatically fails Intelligence checks. Mindless creatures do not gain feats or skills, although they may have bonus feats or racial skill bonuses.
Wisdom: Any creature that can perceive its environment in any fashion has at least 1 point of Wisdom. Anything with no Wisdom score is an object, not a creature. Anything without a Wisdom score also has no Charisma score.
Charisma: Any creature capable of telling the difference between itself and things that are not itself has at least point of Charisma. Anything with no Charisma score is an object, not a creature. Anything without a Charisma score also has no Wisdom score.
Racial Hit Dice
The Hit Dice a monster has by virtue of what type of creature it is. Hit Dice gained from taking class levels are not racial Hit Dice. For example, the armand warden is a 9 HD creature because of its four levels of monk, but it has 5 racial Hit Dice (the same number as a typical armand without any class levels).
The nine size categories are (in ascending order) Fine, Diminutive, Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Gargantuan, and Colossal. A creature's size provides a modifier to its Armor Class and attack bonus, a modifier on grapple checks it attempts, and a modifier on Hide checks. The Creature Sizes table on the following page provides a summary of the attributes that apply to each size category.
|Fine||+8||-16||+16||6 in. or less||1/8 lb. or less||1/2 ft. (1/100)||0ft. (0)||-|
|Diminutive||+4||-12||+12||6 in-1 ft.||1/8 lb. -1 lb.||1 ft. (1/25)||0ft. (0)||-|
|Tiny||+2||-8||+8||1 ft.-2 ft.||1-8 lb.||2-1/2 ft. (1/4)||0 ft. (0)||-|
|Small||+1||-4||+4||2 ft.-4 ft.||8-60 lb.||5 ft. (1)||5 ft. (1)||-|
|Medium||+0||+0||+0||4 ft.-8 ft.||60-500 lb.||5 ft. (1)||5 ft. (1)||5 ft. (1)|
|Large||-1||+4||-4||8 ft.-16 ft.||500-4,000 lb.||10 ft. (2 x 2)||10 ft. (2)||5 ft. (1)|
|Huge||-2||+8||-8||16 ft.-32 ft.||2-16 tons||15 ft. (3 x 3)||15 ft. (3)||10 ft. (2)|
|Gargantuan||-4||+12||-12||32 ft.-64 ft.||16- 125 tons||20 ft. (4 x 4)||20 ft. (4)||15 ft. (3)|
|Colossal||-8||+16||-16||64 ft. or more||125 tons or more||30 ft.+ (6 x 6+)||30 ft.+ (6+)||20 ft.+ (4+)|
|*Biped's height, quadruped's body length (nose to base of tail).|
**Assumes that the creature is roughly as dense as a regular animal. A creature made of stone will weigh considerably more. A gaseous creature will weigh much less.
Sometimes a creature can cast arcane or divine spells just as a member of a spellcasring class can (and can activate magic items accordingly). Such creatures are subject to the same spellcasting rules that characters are, except as follows.
A spellcasting creature that lacks hands or arms can provide any somatic component a spell might require by moving its body. Such a creature also does need material components for its spells. The creature can cast the spell by either touching the required component (but not if the component is in another creature's possession) or having the required component on its person. Sometimes speilcasting creatures utilize the Eschew Materials feat to avoid fussing with noncostly components.
A spellcasting creature is not actually a member of a class unless its entry says so, and it does not gain any class abilities. For example, a creature that casts arcane spells as a sorcerer cannot acquire a familiar. A creature with access to cleric spells must prepare them in the normal manner and receives domain spells if noted, but it does not receive domain granted powers unless it has at least one level in the cleric class.
This entry in a monster description describes how much wealth a creature owns. (See pages 52-56 of the Dungeon Master's Guide for derails about treasure, particularly Tables 3-5 through 3-8.) In most cases, a creature keeps valuables in its home or lair and has no treasure with it when it travels. Intelligent creatures that own useful, portable treasure (such as magic items) tend to carry and use these, leaving bulky items at home.
Treasure can include coins, goods, and items. Creatures can have varying amounts of each, as follows.
Standard: Refer to Table 3-5 in the Dungeon Master's Guide and roll d% once for each type of treasure (Coins, Goods, Items) on the Level section of the table that corresponds to the creature's Challenge Rating (for groups of creatures, use the Encounter Level for the encounter instead).
Some creatures have double, triple, or even quadruple standard treasure; in these cases, roll for each type of treasure two, three, or four times.
None: The creature collects no treasure of its own.
Nonstandard: Some creatures have quirks or habits that affect the types of treasure they collect. These creatures use the same treasure tables, but with special adjustments.
Fractional Coins: Roll on the Coins column in the section corresponding to the creature's Challenge Rating, but divide the result as indicated.
% Goods or Items: The creature has goods or items only some of the rime. Before checking for goods or items, roll d% against the given percentage. On a success, make a normal roll on the appropriate Goods or Items column (which may still result in no goods or items).
Double Goods or Items: Roll twice on the appropriate Goods or Items column.
Parenthetical Notes: Some entries for goods or items include notes that limit the types of treasure a creature collects.
When a note includes the word "no," it means the creature does not collect or cannot keep that thing. If a random roll generates such a result, treat the result as "none" instead. For example, if a creature's "items" entry reads "no flammables," and a random roll generates a scroll, the creature instead has no item at all (the scroll burned up, or the creature left it behind).
When a note includes the word "only," the creature goes out of its way to collect treasure of the indicated type. If an entry for goods indicates "gems only," roll on the appropriate Goods column and treat any "art" result as "gems" instead.
It's sometimes necessary to reroll until the right sort of item appears. For example, if a creature's items entry reads "nonflammables only," roll normally on the appropriate Items column. If you get a flammable item, reroll on the same portion of the table until you get a nonflammable one. If the table you rolled on contains only flammable items, back up a step and reroll until you get to a table that can give you an appropriate item.