Glossary of Creature Special Qualities

Extraordinary (Ex) Abilities

Extraordinary abilities are nonmagical, don't become ineffective in an antimagic field, and are not subject to any effect that disrupts magic. Using an extraordinary ability is a free action unless otherwise noted.

Blindsense (Ex)

Using nonvisual senses, such as acute smell or hearing, a creature with blindsense notices things it cannot see. The creature usually does not need to make Spot or Listen checks to pinpoint the location of a creature within range of its blindsense ability, provided that it has line of effect to that creature. Any opponent the creature cannot see still has total concealment against the creature with blindsense, and the creature still has the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. Visibility still affects the movement of a creature with blindsense. A creature with blindsense is still denied its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against attacks from creatures it cannot see.

Blindsight (Ex)

This ability is similar to blindsense, but is far more discerning. Using non-visual senses, such as sensitivity to vibrations, keen smell, acute hearing, or echo-location, a creature with blindsight maneuvers and fights as well as a sighted creature. Invisibility, darkness, and most kinds of concealment are irrelevant, though the creature must have line of effect to a creature or object to discern that creature or object. The ability's range is specified in the creature's descriptive text. The creature usually does not need to make Spot or Listen checks to notice creatures within range of its blindsight ability. Unless otherwise noted, blindsight is continuous, and the creature need do nothing to use it. Some forms of blindsight, however, must be triggered as a free action. If so, this is noted in the creature's description. If a creature must trigger its blindsight ability, the creature gains the benefits of blindsight only during its turn.

Damage Reduction (Ex or Su)

A creature with this special quality ignores damage from most weapons and natural attacks. Wounds heal immediately, or the weapon bounces off harmlessly (in either case, the opponent knows the attack was ineffective). The creature takes normal damage from energy attacks (even nonmagical ones), spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. A certain kind of weapon can sometimes damage the creature normally, as noted below.

The entry indicates the amount of damage ignored (usually 5 to 15 points) and the type of weapon that negates the ability. For example, the werewolf's entry reads "damage reduction 10/silver": Each time a foe hits a werewolf with a weapon, the damage dealt by that attack is reduced by 10 points (to a minimum of 0). However, a silvered weapon deals full damage.

Some monsters are vulnerable to piercing, bludgeoning, or slashing damage. For example, the plague spewer has damage reduction 10/slashing. When hit with bludgeoning or piercing weapons, the damage dealt by each attack is reduced by 5 points, but slashing weapons deal full damage.

Some monsters are vulnerable to certain materials, such as alchemical silver, adamantine, or cold-forged iron. Attacks from weapons that are not made of the correct material have their damage reduced, even if the weapon has an enhancement bonus. Examples: the war troll's damage reduction 5/adamantine, the young redcap's damage reduction 5/cold iron, and the splinterwaif's damage reduction 5/silver.

Some monsters are vulnerable to magic weapons. Any weapon with at least a +1 magical enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls overcomes the damage reduction of these monsters. Such creatures' natural weapons (but not their attacks with weapons) are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. For example, the ssvaklor has damage reduction 10/magic and can strike as a magic weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Some monsters are vulnerable to chaotic-, evil-, good-, or lawful-aligned weapons. When a cleric casts align weapon, affected weapons might gain one or more of these properties, and certain magic weapons have these properties as well. For example, many tanar'ri demons and baatezu devils have damage reduction 10/good, while the prismatic golem has damage reduction 10/evil. A creature with an alignment subtype (chaotic, evil, good, or lawful) can overcome this type of damage reduction with its natural weapons and weapons it wields as if the weapons or natural weapons had an alignment (or alignments) that match the subtype(s) of the creature. An arrow demon, for instance, has the chaotic and evil subtypes, and thus can overcome damage reduction as if its weapons and natural weapons were chaotic-aligned and evil-aligned.

When a damage reduction entry has a dash (-) after the slash, no weapon overcomes the damage reduction.

A few creatures are harmed by more than one kind of weapon. The bonedrinker, for example, has damage reduction 5/silver or good. Either kind of weapon - silver or good - overcomes its damage reduction.

A few other creatures require combinations of different types of attacks to overcome their damage reduction. The sorrowsworn demon has damage reduction 10/cold and good, meaning that a weapon must be made of cold forged iron and be good-aligned in order to overcome this demon's damage reduction. A shadesteel golem has damage reduction 10/adamantine and magic, meaning that only adamantine weapons with at least a +1 enhancement bonus deal full damage to it. A weapon that falls into one category but not the other is of no help in overcoming the creature damage reduction - a magic sword or a nonmagical mace is no better at harming a lich than any other weapon.

Darkvision (Ex)

A creature with this special ability can see in the dark, out to the distance given in the creature's entry. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and a creature with darkvision can function just fine with no light at all.

Endless (Ex)

A creature with this special quality ceases to age once it achieves a certain point in its life cycle, most often sometime after reaching adulthood but prior to its equivalent of middle age. These creatures exist in a special kind of physiological stasis, counteracting all the consequences of advancing years that usually lead to frailty and eventually death. While they must still perform all the necessary sustaining actions (eating, sleeping, breathing, and so on) normally demanded of their type, they never suffer from any sort of physical deterioration or consequent reduction in Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. Lacking this special insight into their own mortality, and the incentive to find new, less taxing ways to deal with challenges, they also never gain any improvements to their Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma due to advancing age.
From Dragon #354

Fast Healing (Ex)

A creature with the fast healing special quality regains hit points at an exceptionally fast rate, usually 1 or more hit points per round, as given in the creature's entry (for example, a cave troll has fast healing 8). Except where noted here, fast healing is just like ">natural healing. Fast healing does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation, and it does not allow a creature to regrow lost body parts. Unless otherwise stated, it does not allow lost body parts to be reattached.

Frightful Presence (Ex)

This special quality makes a creature's very presence unsettling to foes. It takes effect automatically when the creature performs some sort of dramatic action (such as charging, attacking, or snarling). Opponents within range who witness the action may become frightened or shaken.

Actions required to trigger the ability are given in the creature's descriptive text. The range is usually 30 feet, and the duration is usually 5d6 rounds.

This ability affects only opponents with fewer Hit Dice or levels than the creature has. An affected opponent can resist the effects with a successful Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 frightful creature's racial HD + frightful creature's Cha modifier; the exact DC is given in the creature's descriptive text). An opponent that succeeds on the saving throw is immune to that same creature's frightful presence for 24 hours. Frightful presence is a mind-affecting fear effect.

Low-Light Vision (Ex)

A creature with low-light vision can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of shadowy illumination. It retains the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.

Mob Anatomy (Ex)

A mob has no clear front or back and no discernible anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or sneak attacks. A mob cannot be flanked, tripped, grappled, or bull rushed.

Unlike standard swarms, mobs are made up of relatively small numbers of individual creatures, so spells or effects that target specific numbers of creatures can have an effect on a mob. Each specific creature that is slain, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated by spells or effects that target specific creatures bestows two negative levels on the mob. A mob that gains negative levels equal to its Hit Dice breaks up as if reduced to O hit points. Negative levels gained in this manner are not the result of negative energy (and thus cannot be blocked by death ward or removed by restoration ), but never result in permanent level loss. A mob takes half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and evocation spells.

Mob Traits (Ex)

A mob reduced to 0 hits points breaks up, although damage taken until this point does not degrade its ability to attack. A mob is never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Mobs do not make standard attacks. Instead, they deal 5d6 bludgeoning damage to any creature whose space they occupy at the end of their move, with no attack roll needed. Mob attack ignore concealment and cover. Damage reduction applies to mob attacks. A mob that simply moves over a creature and does not end its movement with that creature in one of its occupied squares can trample a creature. A trampled creature takes 2d6 damage and can either make an attack of opportunity against the mob or can make a DC 25 Reflex save to take half damage.

Regeneration (Ex)

A creature with this ability is difficult to kill. Damage dealt to the creature is treated as nonlethal damage. The creature automatically heals nonlethal damage at a fixed rate per round, as given in the entry (for example, a dread blossom swarm has regeneration 5). Certain attack forms, typically fire and acid, deal lethal damage to the creature, which doesn't go away. The creature's descriptive text describes the details.

A regenerating creature that has been rendered unconscious through nonlethal damage can be killed with a coup de grace. The attack cannot be of a type that automatically converts to nonlethal damage.

Attack forms that don't deal hit point damage (for example, most poisons) ignore regeneration. Regeneration also does not restore hit points lost from starvation, thirst, or suffocation.

Regenerating creatures can regrow lost portions of their bodies and can reattach severed limbs or body parts; details are in the creature's descriptive text. Severed parts that are not reattached wither and die normally.

A creature must have a Constitution score to have the regeneration ability.

Resistance to Energy (Ex)

A creature with this special quality ignores some damage of the indicated type each time it rakes damage of that kind (commonly acid, cold, fire, or electricity). The entry indicates the amount and type of damage ignored. For example, a witchknife has resistance to fire 5, so it ignores the first 5 points of fire damage dealt to it anytime it takes fire damage.

Scent (Ex)

This special quality allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at triple normal range.

When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed - only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. Whenever the creature comes within 5 feet of the source, the creature pinpoints the source's location.

A creature with the Track feat and the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Wisdom (or Survival) check to find or follow a track. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10 (no matter what kind of surface holds the scent). This DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry's odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Track feat. Creatures tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility.

Telepathic Link (Ex)

Creatures with this ability share a communal consciousness, enabling them to communicate telepathically with other creatures of their kind. A group of such creatures within a certain distance of each other (specified in the creature's entry) are in constant contact. If one is aware of a particular danger, they all are. If one in the group is not flat-footed, none of them are. No creature in the group is considered flanked unless all are.

Tremorsense (Ex)

A creature with tremorsense is sensitive to vibrations in the ground and can automatically pinpoint the location of anything that is in contact with the ground. Aquatic creatures with tremorsense can also sense the location of creatures moving through water. The ability's range is specified in the creature's descriptive text.

Turn Resistance (Ex)

A creature with this special quality (usually an undead) is less easily affected by clerics or paladins (see Turn or Rebuke Undead). When resolving a turn, rebuke, command, or bolster attempt, add the indicated number to the creature's Hit Dice total. For example, a deathshrieker has 18 Hit Dice and +4 turn resistance. Attempts to turn, rebuke, command, or bolster treat a deathshrieker as though it had 22 Hit Dice, though it is an 18 HD creature for any other purpose.


A creature that has immunity to an effect is never harmed (or helped) by that effect. A creature cannot suppress an immunity in order to receive a beneficial effect.

Spell-like (Sp) Abilities

Spell-like abilities are magical and work just like spells (though they are not spells and so have no verbal, somatic, material, focus, or XP components). They go away in an antimagic field and are subject to spell resistance if the spell the ability resembles or duplicates would be subject to spell resistance.

A spell-like ability usually has a limit on how often it can be used. A spell-like ability that can be used at will has no use limit. Using a spell-like ability is a standard action unless otherwise noted, and doing so while threatened provokes attacks of opportunity. It is possible to make a Concentration check to use a spell-like ability defensively and avoid provoking attacks of opportunity, just as when casting a spell. A spell-like ability can be disrupted just as a spell can be. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.

For creatures with spell-like abilities, a designated caster level defines how difficult it is to dispel their spell-like effects and to define any level-dependent variables (such as range and duration) the abilities might have. The creature's caster level never affects which spell-like abilities the creature has; sometimes the given caster level is lower than the level a spellcasting character would need to cast the spell of the same name. If no caster level is specified, the caster level is equal to the creature's racial Hit Dice.

The saving throw (if any) against a spell-like ability is 10 + the level of the spell the ability resembles or duplicates + the creature's Cha modifier.

Some spell-like abilities duplicate spells that may work differently or be of a different level when cast by characters of different classes. A monster's spell-like abilities are presumed to be the sorcerer/wizard versions. If the spell in question is not a sorcerer/wizard spell, then default to cleric, druid, bard, paladin, and ranger, in that order.

Psionics (Sp)

These are spell-like abilities that a creature generates with the power of its mind. The saving throw (if any) against a psionic ability is 10 + the level of the spell the ability resembles or duplicates + the creature's Cha modifier.

Spell Resistance (Ex)

A creature with spell resistance can avoid the effects of spells and spell-like abilities that directly affect it. To determine if a spell or spell-like ability works against a creature with spell resistance, the caster must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level). If the result equals or exceeds the creature's spell resistance, the spell works normally, although the creature is still allowed a saving throw.

Summon (Sp)

A creature with the summon ability can summon specific other creatures of its kind much as though casting a summon monster spell, but it usually has only a limited chance of success (as specified in the creature's entry). Roll d%: On a failure, no creature answers the summons. Summoned creatures automatically return whence they came after 1 hour. A creature that has just been summoned cannot use its own summon ability for 1 hour.

Most creatures with the ability to summon do not use it lightly, since it leaves them beholden to the summoned creature. In general, they use it only when necessary to save their own lives.

An appropriate spell level is given for each summoning ability for purposes of Concentration checks and attempts to dispel the summoned creature. As stated on page 37 of the Dungeon Master's Guide, no experience points are awarded for summoned monsters.

Supernatural (Su) Abilities

Supernatural abilities are magical and go away in an antimagic field but are not subject to spell resistance. Supernatural abilities cannot be dispelled. Using a supernatural ability is a standard action unless otherwise noted. Supernatural abilities may have a use limit or be usable at will, just like spell-like abilities. However, supernatural abilities do not provoke attacks of opportunity and never require Concentration checks. Unless otherwise noted, a supernatural ability has an effective caster level equal to the creature's Hit Dice.

The saving throw (if any) against a supernatural ability is 10 + 1/2 the creature's HD + the creature's ability modifier (usually Charisma).

Alternate Form (Su)

A creature with this special quality has the ability to assume one or more specific alternate forms. A true seeing spell or ability reveals the creature's natural form. A creature using alternate form reverts to its natural form when killed, but separated body parts retain their shape. A creature cannot use alternate form to take the form of a creature with a template. Assuming an alternate form results in the following changes to the creature:

Change Shape (Su)

A creature with this special quality has the ability to assume the appearance of a specific creature or type of creature (usually a humanoid), but retains most of its own physical qualities. A creature cannot change shape to a form more than one size category smaller or larger than its original form. A true seeing spell or ability reveals the creature's natural form. A creature using change shape reverts to its natural form when killed, but separated body parts retain their shape. A creature cannot use change shape to take the form of a creature with a template. Changing shape results in the following changes to the creature:

Ki Power (Su)

A ninja can channel her ki to manifest special powers of stealth and mobility. She can use her ki powers a number of times per day equal to one-half her class level (minimum 1) + her Wisdom bonus (if any). Ki powers can be used only if a ninja is wearing no armor and is unencumbered.

As long as a ninja's ki pool isn't empty (that is, as long as she has at least one daily use remaining), she gains a +2 bonus on her Will saves.

A ninja's ki powers are ghost step, ki dodge, ghost strike, greater ki dodge, and ghost walk. (Complete Adventurer 5)

Telepathy (Su)

A creature with this ability can communicate telepathically with any other creature within a certain range (specified in the creature's entry, usually 100 feet) that has a language. It is possible to address multiple creatures at once telepathically, although maintaining a telepathic conversation with more than one creature at a time is just as difficult as simultaneously speaking and listening to multiple people at the same time.

Vulnerability to Energy

Some creatures have vulnerability to a certain kind of energy effect (typically either cold or fire). Such a creature takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from the effect, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.

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