25 D&D Most Powerful Monsters To Use In Your Campaign

25 D&D Most Powerful Monsters To Use In Your Campaign
An ancient black dragon is among the most evil and vile creatures in D&D

In this article we’ll explore the most powerful monsters in D&D 5th Edition, making it easier for you to find the perfect monster to drop into your campaign.


1. The Tarrasque

Essentially the D&D equivalent of Godzilla (if Godzilla was very resistant to magic and made a practice of eating people) the Tarrasque is arguably the strongest and most dangerous monster in all of D&D due to its sheer size and strength. It can also shake off most physical and magical damage, making its large pool of hit points that much scarier.

The tarrasque can appear anywhere at any time, spending most of its time in its subterranean lair. All it's waiting for in the ineffable cosmic wake up call it needs and it emerges, destroying everything in its path.

An unaligned, unintelligent beast, the tarrasque regards any creature that isn’t itself as either a threat or food (usually the latter), so it would be best to stay off its radar unless you want to risk everything in a showdown with godzilla.

Between its multiattack, swallow ability,and its Legendary Actions, the Tarrasque is as vicious as they come in the official D&D game.

Why The Tarrasque is a fun addition to your game: 

  • Fighting one is basically the most difficult thing your character will ever do
  • The appearance of The Tarrasque is almost always an apocalyptic event so there’s lots of opportunity for big narrative moments.
  • It’s the TARRASQUE.

Tarrasque Stats:

  • STR: 30
  • DEX: 11
  • CON: 30
  • INT: 3
  • WIS: 11
  • CHA: 11


2. Orcus

Orcus goes by many names and titles, the greatest of which being the Demon Prince of the Undead. One of the many demon lords in the Abyss, Orcus rules a layer of the Abyss called Thanatos. Within Thanatos stands the fortress city of Naratyr with walls of bone and flesh and carpets made of woven hair (seriously? gross.) 

Generally speaking, you would expect to meet Orcus within his lair in Naratyr but as one of the most powerful fiends in all of D&D he could conceivably be plopped in anywhere by a Dungeon Master who wants to terrify (and probably murder) their player characters.

Orcus is the definition of a walking, talking evil demon and his behavior reflects it. He enjoys long walks on the beach and flaying his enemies alive then bringing them back as undead servants. Seriously, this is a super bad dude that embodies everything evil.

Due to his mastery of undeath, his legendary melee weapon The Wand of Orcus, and his Legendary Actions, Orcus is not a being to be fought lightly.

Why Orcus would be a fun addition to your game:

  • In the D&D community he’s well known for being a nasty villain.
  • The Wand of Orcus is a weapon that player characters could potentially wield.
  • Demons (and fiends in general) are just awesome additions as they don’t need any justification for being evil.

Orcus Stats:

  • STR: 27
  • DEX:14
  • CON: 25
  • INT: 20
  • WIS: 20
  • CHA: 25


3.Ancient Red Dragon

I can’t write a list of the most powerful D&D monsters without including at least one dragon… it’s half the name! The most powerful of the true dragons are the ancient dragons: beings of immense size and power and intelligence, they shake the ground when they walk and leave destruction in their wake (well, the evil ones do, anyway). Perhaps the most iconic and recognizable of the ancient dragons is the Ancient Red Dragon.

You would normally find a red dragon hanging out in volcanoes or other hot areas, as they have a natural resistance to fire and also a flair for the dramatic. They will sometimes even make lairs of dwarven strongholds filled with gold (does anybody else hear a company of dwarves and a halfling coming up the road?) or similar environments.

An abnormality among dragons, red dragons tend to spend time outside their lair as well as within, preferring the open sky (and the vantage points therein) to sitting under a mountain somewhere with their hoard of gold.

Not all dragons are evil but red dragons almost always are (all of the chromatic dragons are i.e. blue, black, red, green, white, etc) and very rarely suffer any visitors to their lairs (that is, unless the visitors are super flattering… in which they might just get eaten instead of burned to death). In any case, red dragons are unpredictable and cruel and not to be trifled with.

Almost all dragons have a high flying speed, making it difficult to target with melee weapons. This, coupled with its devastating claw, bite, and breath attacks (not to mention its Legendary Actions) make it pretty darn vicious.

Why an Ancient Red Dragon would be a fun addition to your game:

  • Dragons are a huge part of the game and there’s nothing more iconic than the big red one.
  • Talk about bragging rights for a player character!
  • If a DM needed to kill a PC for shock value… this would be the way to do it.

Ancient Red Dragon Stats:

  • STR: 30
  • DEX: 10
  • CON: 29
  • INT: 18
  • WIS: 15
  • CHA: 23


4. The Kraken

Now that we’ve covered the most dangerous things on land, let's take a trip down to the depths of the oceans and meet Krakens. Based obviously on the legendary creature of myth, krakens share some similarities with their namesake such as tentacles, a dislike of sea-going vessels, and enjoying the taste of pirates (I wonder what scurvy tastes like). 

Krakens can be found at the bottom of the ocean among sunken ships, undersea grottos, or just swimming around doing kraken stuff (eating anything it can find).

Chaotic and evil, krakens are similar in temperament to red dragons but take it a step further as they will go out of their way to mess your day up just because you had the audacity to pass nearby.

Krakens are not only slippery and hard to pin down but they can also pick up and throw large creatures and objects, cast LIGHTNING STORMS, and attack multiple times per turn so any DM planning on unleashing one of these on their players needs to be prepared for a possible Total Party Kill aka TPK.

Why a kraken would be a fun addition to your game:

  • Thanks to Jack Sparrow, the fantasy of facing down a giant tentacle monster can’t be dismissed out of hand.
  • A creature strong enough to create lightning storms and sink ships with ease would be awesome to behold.
  • Your character will definitely be leveling up after this bad boy.

Kraken Stats:

  • STR: 30
  • DEX: 11
  • CON: 25
  • INT: 22
  • WIS:18
  • CHA: 20


5. Empyreans

The first “good” guys on this list, Empyreans are celestials born from gods and look it. Huge, built like hercules, and flawlessly beautiful, there is little that they can’t do. They are so immensely powerful they can affect the weather and plant life around them purely with their emotions.

Thankfully, these massive Adonis-esque creatures usually stick to the many different planes of the Multiverse and are rarely found on the Material Plane (where most campaigns take place). If you did happen to find one, you might hope that it’s a good one… because they can be evil about 25% of the time.

Empyreans can mostly be depended on to be upstanding celestial citizens and defend the weak, punish the wicked, etc. That being said, as high level celestial beings, there would have to be a very good reason for one to intervene in the affairs of mortals or adventurers so getting one to help you might prove to be a chore all on its own. 

As conventionally good creatures, they wouldn’t normally use their powers to hurt innocents. Should you run afoul of a good one or, gods forbid, an evil one… maybe running away isn’t such a bad idea. For one, every one of their attacks are magical. Two, its innate spellcasting allows it to cast some extremely powerful spells as many times as it wants. Three, it has Legendary Actions (I’m sensing a pattern here). All of these, plus its other abilities, add up to an avengers-level threat.

Why Empyreans would make a fun addition to your game:

  • Empyreans are massive juggernauts of strength and could conceivably do anything a DM would need to advance the plot.
  • Including Empyreans would, by default, include Gods which has always been awesome in my experience.
  • I’d really like to get my hands on that big hammer.

Empyrean Stats:

  • STR: 30
  • DEX: 21
  • CON: 30
  • INT: 21
  • WIS: 22
  • CHA: 27


6. Lich

Liches rank among the most used BBEGs (Big Bad Evil Guy) in games nowadays due to their relatable motives (usually trying to escape death) and powerful skill set. Some notable liches in the D&D canon are Vecna (no, not the one from Stranger Things), Acererak, and Szass Tam (seen briefly in Dungeons and Dragons: No Honor Among Thieves). Among the most powerful and intelligent creatures in existence, liches are spellcasters (typically wizards) who have found a way to enter undeath while maintaining their sense of self and motives.

Liches can usually be found in their lairs, working on a variety of experiments and potions, almost always in the interest of consuming the souls of the living to sustain themselves. They can also sometimes be found guarding their phylactery (essentially a horcrux where they hide their soul) as anyone who can find and destroy it will end the lich for good.

Liches spend most of their time in study and experiments but some aspire to more than just academics and have been known to chase things like powerful magical artifacts or godhood (looking at you, Vecna). When encountered accidentally it would be in any mortal's best interest to turn and run. 

Liches also rank among the most vicious of all D&D monster due to their powerful spells, the worst of which being power word kill which will instantly kill any creature that is below 100 hit points without a saving throw or anything. Seriously, defeating a lich requires a nice blend of power, planning, and luck.

Why adding a lich would be a fun addition to your game:

  • They make excellent BBEGs
  • Awesome recurring enemy as without destroying the phylactery it will just come back in a week or so
  • How awesome would it be to find and kill Vecna?

Lich Stats:

  • STR: 11
  • DEX: 16
  • CON: 16
  • INT: 20
  • WIS: 14
  • CHA: 16


7. Solar

Another powerful celestial on our list would be the Solar which can most accurately be described as an avenging angel. They are basically gods and are very difficult to kill (i don’t know why you’d want to, they're super nice guys). 

Solars are instruments of their gods will and will pursue those ends with divine endurance. Therefore, they can be found anywhere across the Multiverse but mostly in Mount Celestia (D&D’s version of Mount Olympus).

Solars will kill evil creatures with an almost gleeful fervor so if your character isn’t a nice guy I’d keep my distance if I were you. They are usually pretty wise and difficult to trick but they’ve been known to be prideful and self-righteous so there’s no telling what one would do if it believed that it could do good by committing evil acts. Once they do commit one, though, it’s all downhill from there. 

Solars rank among the most terrifying creatures in the game as they have a ranged attack similar to power word kill that and weapon attacks that rival the tarrasque. Try not to get on one's bad side.

Why Solars would be a fun addition to your game:

  • Not just children of gods but literally gods themselves.
  • Anytime you can include celestials or gods in your game your players will love it.
  • A great way to get your players out of trouble if they accidentally get in over their heads, just send one of these to save them.

Solar Stats:

  • STR: 28
  • DEX: 22
  • CON: 26
  • INT: 25
  • WIS: 25
  • CHA: 30


8. Pit Fiend

If we are talking about celestial gods and their servants, we must also talk about archdevils and demon lords and THEIR servants. Enter Pit Fiends, the enforcers of the Nine Hells. The hellish equivalent to Empyreans and Solars, the Pit Fiends serve their archdevils (and themselves) in the political snakepit that is the Nine Hells while also serving as generals in the Blood War, the eternal struggle between demons and devils in D&D.

Usually confined to the Hells (phew), they can be found enacting the will of their archdevil wherever they need to be to do so even if that means the Material Plane or some other plane of the Multiverse. 

As a devil, Pit Fiends are a bit more predictable than demons in D&D. Where demons are evil lawbreakers, I categorize devils as evil lawmakers. As such, they adhere to a strict and cruel hierarchy enforced by their archdevil to keep them in their place which, again, makes them more easy to predict. They’ll still peel your face off if you cross them, though, so keep that in mind.

With the ability to cast one of the most useful spells in the game, fireball, at will, pit fiends can quickly overwhelm a weak or unprepared party of adventurers. Other abilities that contribute to their viciousness is their Fear Aura, making it difficult to get and stay close to it, and its Bite attack which can deal poison damage in addition to the normal damage from the bite. 

Why Pit Fiends would be a fun addition to your game:

  • A phenomenal miniboss in a quest to find/defeat an archdevil.
  • A close analog for a balrog if your characters like LOTR.
  • Being able to cast fireball at will is just fun and I will not be elaborating.

Pit Fiend Stats:

  • STR: 26
  • DEX: 14
  • CON: 24
  • INT: 22
  • WIS: 18
  • CHA: 24


9. Astral Dreadnought

The Astral Dreadnought is a gargantuan creature of nightmare that inhabits the Astral Plane. With magic claws, and demiplane inside of it, and natural armor plating, these things are a sight to behold. 

Found exclusively floating around in the Astral Plane (a world between worlds) they aren’t evil nor are they good, they are just hungry. Eating anything and everything it comes across, the astral dreadnought deposits anything it eats into a tiny little pocket dimension in its giant tummy. 

Best being avoided, dreadnoughts will likely only pursue those that it thinks are worth chasing for the meal so outrunning one might be possible (if one can move quickly enough) but fighting one off might prove impossible for all but the strongest characters.

With an eye that can prevent magic from being used, magic pincers for hands, and the ability to swallow most creatures whole, the astral dreadnought would be higher on this list if it could leave the Astral Plane but thankfully it is stuck there. 

Why adding an astral dreadnought would be fun:

  • It’s always fun to see how your players will react to a massive, ethereal lobster-snail.
  • The demiplane within it could serve as a prison for player characters or NPCs alike.
  • You never know when you’ll need to scare the bejeezus out of your players.

Astral Dreadnought Stats:

  • STR: 28
  • DEX: 7
  • CON: 25
  • INT: 5
  • WIS: 14
  • CHA: 18


10. Demilich

A far cry from the devastating spellcaster it once was, a demilich is what happens when a lich forgets or fails to feed on souls for too long. The result is a skull that, while diminished, still presents a nasty threat to any who disturb it.

Demiliches are almost only found in a tomb or fortress where they won't be bothered by people or creatures wandering by. Usually surrounded by the dusty and decaying bones of its former body, a demilich will react violently when disturbed.

Content to just sit and wallow, demiliches really only attack when threatened (or if someone comes too close to its phylactery. See lich above).

With a blood curdling howl that can, at worst, kill creatures and at best give them the Frightened condition, the demilich comes out swinging. Add its Life Drain ability, its Legendary Actions and Legendary Resistances and you’re looking at a pretty vicious floating skull even if it has fewer relative hit points. 

Why a demilich would be a fun addition to your game:

  • Showing the inevitable march of time affects even things as powerful as liches is a great way to reinforce verisimilitude.
  • A surprisingly nasty villain considering its size (tiny). 
  • Any creature that can outright kill a creature with an ability is alright by me.

Demilich Stats:

  • STR: 1
  • DEX: 20
  • CON: 10
  • INT: 20
  • WIS: 17
  • CHA: 20


11. Dragon Turtle

Not quite the force of nature that krakens are, dragon turtles are still a force to be reckoned with. Sharing the love of treasure and loot with their land locked brethren, they differ in that they largely don’t care about right or wrong or good and evil. They just like treasure and they’ll hurt you to get it. They are also not stupid, having average intelligence, which makes them all that more dangerous than just a giant amphibian. 

You’ll find Dragon Turtles in the ocean or on small islands, usually accosting ships, sinking them, and rummaging through them for valuables before swallowing them and taking them back to their lair to throw them up (ick).

Dragon Turtles serve no one, although they’ve been known to make pacts with mortals in exchange for valuables. I don’t know about you but if one came to me looking to make a deal I’d think twice before refusing. 

With a steam breath weapon, powerful tail and bite attacks and natural armor, the dragon turtle will make a match for any sea-faring party of adventurers.

Why adding a dragon turtle to your campaign would be fun:

  • Having a creature that is relatively intelligent and still just wants treasure can be a compelling villain/encounter.
  • They are enormous so the encounter possibilities are endless.
  • They can sometimes be bribed by lesser beings with gold and treasure to do their bidding.

Dragon Turtle Stats:

  • STR: 25
  • DEX: 10
  • CON: 20
  • INT: 10
  • WIS: 12
  • CHA: 12


12. Goristro 

Continuing our list is a huge demon known as a Goristro. Resembling demonic minotaurs both physically and in temperament, these guys are hulking power-houses of strength and surprising recall.

Found mostly in the Abyss in service to a demon lord (sometimes as a pet) they inhabit labyrinths and other maze-like lairs as they have an uncanny ability to perfectly recall any path they’ve traveled.

Behaviorally similar to minotaurs, they like to charge headlong into combat, looking to gore their foes with their giant horns before turning on them with their bite and claw attacks. Not the brightest demons in the bucket, these lumbering oafs can be easily deceived.

Goristros excel at damaging structures and objects while also being an imposing presence on the battlefield. Their gore attack can do immense amounts of damage given the room they require to use it. Adding these to its plethora of resistances makes the Goristro a vicious combatant, indeed. 

Why adding a Goristro would add fun to your game:

  • Goristros often serve demon lords (like Orcus, Demogorgon [not the Stranger Things one] and Yeenoghu) which make for phenomenal BBEGs!
  • They provide a great “brute” minion for a more dangerous opponent to use in battle against your party.
  • Lots of cool skill check opportunities with labyrinths and lairs!

Goristro Stats:

  • STR: 25
  • DEX: 11
  • CON: 25
  • INT: 6
  • WIS: 13
  • CHA: 14


13. Death Knight

Death Knights are paladins that have forsaken their oath and died before being redeemed. These unholy undead creatures still retain their ability to cast spells (no healing spells, though) and can continue to rise again and again until they have atoned for whatever transgressions lead them to break their oath.

You’ll find Death Knights commanding legions of undead within ancient castles, in service to a demon lord (Orcus loves Death Knights) or Takhisis (any Dragonlance fans out there?). 

Death Knights are hateful undead creatures and will treat the living with cruelty and malice. They are usually solitary creatures but will serve those they deem worthy (usually someone meaner and/or more capricious than them).

Their command of the ability Hellfire Orb alone makes them a formidable opponent and when you add the nasty effects of their melee attacks, Magic Resistance, and innate spellcasting you get a very nasty, very evil Death Knight intent on the death of your party and everyone they love.

Why a death knight would bring some extra fun to your game:

  • This list has been made up largely of spellcasters and monsters thus far, so a martial halfcaster would be a welcome change, especially if your party doesn’t know what they’re getting into. 
  • The lore and backstory implications of a Death Knight are beyond counting.
  • How much fun would it be to look at your players eyes when you say “Hellfire Orb”?

Death Knight Stats: 

  • STR: 20
  • DEX: 11
  • CON: 20
  • INT: 12
  • WIS: 16
  • CHA: 18


14. Mummy Lord

Mummies invoke thoughts of grand tombs, treasure, flesh-eating scarabs (thanks a lot Stephen Sommers) and that’s exactly what you get with the Mummy Lord in D&D. The product of an enhanced version of the ritual that creates a mummy, mummy lords retain their sense of self while gaining a magic concoction of steroids that make them way scarier than the charismatic Arnold Vosloo would have you believe.

Found guarding ancient tombs and temples, a mummy lord will lie in silent wait for a hapless group of adventurers or, let's be honest, grave robbers, to stumble into its abode before unleashing the unholy arsenal it has under its control. Also, watch out for lesser undead and traps in the tomb. They like that kind of stuff.

Afraid of fire, cats, and Brendan Fraser and basically nothing else, these guys will stop at nothing to protect their hidden sarcophagus (where they hide all of their goodies). They will also fight tooth and nail to protect their heart as the destruction of it would result in the permanent death of the mummy lord in question (which hopefully means no more Tom Cruise reboots).

While basically a lesser lich, what the mummy lord lacks in raw spellcasting it makes up for in resilience and martial ability. For example, its Rotting Fist attack has the capability to curse it's target (usually a player character) and be unable to regain hit points AND take damage over time until someone casts Remove Curse or the target goes the way of the dodo.

Why you should add a Mummy Lord to your adventure:

  • They are a good option for a powerful undead lich-adjacent bad guy.
  • Having a vulnerability to fire makes it rewarding to your players when they figure it out.
  • Watch The Mummy (1999). ‘Nuff said.]

Mummy Lord Stats:

  • STR: 18
  • DEX: 10
  • CON: 17
  • INT: 11
  • WIS: 18
  • CHA: 16


15. Marilith

A marilith is a demon (I’m sensing another pattern here) with next to no spellcasting but it makes up for that with its tactical mind and high charisma score. Oh, and did I mention it has SIX ARMS?

A large fiend of the demonic variety, Mariliths can be found in the Abyss leading legions of demons in the Blood War. Being half snake, they can also be found in my nightmares.

Behaviorally speaking, these guys are nasty and cruel but no more than any other demon in the Abyss. They’ll actively seek out devils to kill but when they run into mortals in their day-to-day life they'll only attack them on days that end in “y”. No but seriously if I ran into one of these there’d be a Mack-sized hole in the door. 

With six arms, each wielding a sword, and a tail, this creature can take on an entire adventuring party at once and hit them all with melee attacks in one turn. On top of that they can use a reaction on EVERY TURN OF COMBAT (normally one can only use a reaction once per TURN). Oh and that reaction can be used to parry, adding a +5 to its Armor Class. 

Why adding a Marilith to your game would be fun:

  • Watch your party react in horror as the melee attacks just keep coming.
  • Being able to attack seven times per turn is absolutely wild.
  • Do any of your players hate snakes? You’re welcome. 

Marilith Stats:

  • STR: 18
  • DEX: 20
  • CON: 20
  • INT: 18
  • WIS: 16
  • CHA: 20


16. Iron Golem

Next we move on to golems, basically magical robots, that can come in many forms but for the sake of this list we’re focusing on the strongest, the Iron Golem. Large, unstoppable machines, iron golems are perfectly obedient to whoever controls them (usually with a Manual of Golems) and will perform their duties to a “T”. 

Iron Golems could be created by any sufficiently powerful spellcaster but it would cost a great deal of time and currency to make it happen (we’re talking at least four months and 100k gold pieces) so they are very rare. That being said, they could appear anywhere, most likely places in need of a giant metal guardian. 

Iron Golems have no sentience and therefore cannot make decisions for themselves. When given a clear and concise order they will carry it out. When given two orders that contradict each other, it may do one and then the other or neither. Without someone commanding them, they are really heavy paper weights. 

In combat, the iron golem is impervious to attacks of a non-magical nature while also not only being immune to fire damage but actively being healed by fire damage. It also has Magic Resistance (does everything on this list?!) and a poison breath making this very unlike the Iron Giant from all of our favorite childrens movie. 

Why would adding an Iron Golem add more fun to your game:

  • Forcing your players to think outside the box when convention methods don’t work.
  • Who/how/why/where was it created is a great question to ask yourself or for your players to ask you.

Iron Golem Stats:

  • STR: 24
  • DEX: 9
  • CON: 20
  • INT: 3
  • WIS: 11
  • CHA: 1


17. Purple Worm

An iconic D&D monster (possibly inspired by or the inspiration of Shai-Hulud from Frank Herbert’s Dune), purple worms are massive creatures that tunnel through solid rock like it's just difficult terrain and eat anything they come across. 

Found commonly in the Underdark, (a subterranean realm full of Drow, Mind Flayers, and Duergar) they can also be found on the surface among mountains and other rocky environments.

Purple worms are attracted to sound (not unlike Shai-Hulud) and will hunt for their food tirelessly. They have been known to crash parties and attack settlements in search of Paul Atreides or food. They also ingest the rock they burrow through creating and refining precious metals and gems that can be found by any looking to crawl inside the corpse (or living body) of one.

Purple worms don’t have six arms or spellcasting but what they do have are nasty bite and tail attacks that carry with them acid and poison damage, respectively. These, coupled with its ability to swallow creatures whole (what is with D&D and swallowing creatures?), make a purple worm a nasty foe to run across randomly and a sufficiently brutal fight for even a prepared party.

Why you should add a purple worm to your game:

  • There’s nothing quite like being swallowed by a creature and living to tell the tale.
  • The ten-foot wide tunnels they leave behind can make traversing underground easier.
  • Their attraction to loud noises makes for a great surprise addition to a loud, ongoing battle.

Purple Worm Stats:

  • STR: 28
  • DEX: 7
  • CON: 22
  • INT: 1
  • WIS: 8
  • CHA: 4


18. Vampire

Vampires in D&D aren’t unlike vampires in most other media and fiction. They sleep during the day, drink the blood of mortals at night, and have awesome vision and dental care. They can shapechange and create Vampire Spawn that live (or unlive…?) only to serve the vampire that created them. Wouldn’t it be wild if all the Cullens worked for Carlisle instead of just living with him like a weird immortal family?

True vampires, like Edward Cullen and Count Strahd Von Zarovich, can usually be found in castles or tombs (bro, they’re vampires) while their ravenous vampire spawn can be found out eating people or doing the vampire’s bidding.

Vampires are reclusive creatures with strong emotional ties to their former lives while also being twisted and terrible monsters. This makes the things they cared for twisted as well, turning love into obsession and a book series into a multi-million dollar movie deal.

Vampires have a myriad of nasty actions in their stat block that add up to an especially vicious villain, including Legendary Resistances, Misty Escape, Regeneration, and Multiattack, to name a few. 

Why adding a vampire to your game would be awesome:

  • Vampires make EXCELLENT BBEGs.
  • Misty Escape allows you to introduce them early and have them escape to be a recurring villain.
  • Even if your party kills it, they have to make sure it stays down which could lead to cool lore deep dives.

Vampire Stats:

  • STR: 18
  • DEX: 18
  • CON: 18
  • INT: 17
  • WIS: 15
  • CHA: 18


19. Ice Devil

Ice Devils serve Pit Fiends in the Nine Hells, albeit begrudgingly. They bully lesser devils and lead armies of them in the Blood War, all the while plotting ways to be promoted to the level of a Pit Fiend. Oh and they are giant bipedal insects that carry spears, because that’s not horrible at all. 

Included in the Nine Hells are two levels that are colder than the others, Stygia and Cania, which is where you can usually find these nightmares. I wouldn’t recommend seeking one out as they are infernal commanders and therefore will likely have an entourage a few hundred strong.

As evil as they come (like many creatures on this list), an ice devil will do anything it must to rise through the ranks of the infernal armies, even if that means eliminating other devils that stand in his way. When met in battle, the ice devil will attempt to slow and separate its foes before eliminating them one by one. 

The ice devil sometimes carries an Ice Spear, a weapon that can slow and impede its targets. It also has innate spellcasting and can cast Wall of Ice (a 6th level spell) once per day while also having multiattack, making the defeat of one a feat of both strength and planning (and luck).

Why you should add an Ice Devil to your campaign:

  • Wall of Ice is an awesome spell to cast to separate your party and make them think outside the box.
  • It’s a giant sentient, demonic insect that can claw, stab, or bite you. 
  • The Ice Spear is another awesome way to throw curve balls at your party and see what they respond with. 

Ice Devil Stats:

  • STR: 21
  • DEX: 14
  • CON: 18
  • INT: 18
  • WIS: 15
  • CHA: 18


20. Beholder

Notable Beholders in official D&D adventures and canon are Xanathar and Karazikar, among others. They are highly intelligent, suspicious beings that hail from the Far Realm originally and regard any creature other than themselves (even other Beholders) as threats.

While originating in the Far Realm, Beholders can most often be found in their Underdark lairs or running crime syndicates in major cities. They can almost never be found near another beholder as they hate each other almost as much as they hate feet, apparently.

Suspicious and xenophobic by nature, a beholder protects its lair with extreme prejudice unless the intruders can convince it that they intend to be servants to its greatness whereas the beholder may let them serve it for a while before killing them. Beholders are also greedy by default and hoard treasures (sometimes petrified adventurers) and will never part with them under any circumstances.

Beholders are among the nastiest foes an adventurer can face due to its many, many eyes stalks that can all attack individually. Having three separate eye ray attacks per turn (chosen randomly from a list of TEN different abilities [one of which can just disintegrate you outright]), an anti-magic cone that’s emitted from its one big eye, and bite attacks, beholders are an iconic D&D monster and frequently used BBEGs for a reason. 

Why you should add a beholder to your game:

  • Their lairs, being formed by their disintegration ray, are not conventionally laid out and will make your party really plan ahead and think about how to get from room to room.
  • Just describing a beholder can be enough to instill fear in the hearts of your players.
  • Killing one is almost a rite of passage for D&D players in this day and age.

Beholder Stats:

  • STR: 10
  • DEX: 14
  • CON: 18
  • INT: 17
  • WIS: 15
  • CHA: 17


21. Storm Giant

Giants, obviously, are forces of nature in their own right and none stand as strong or as powerful as the storm giants. Generally regarded as very wise, aloof, and friendly, it's still best not to get on their bad side as an angry storm giant can bring down, well, storms.

Storm giants prefer to stay away from civilization, building fortresses and palaces in far off places like in the clouds, on mountaintops, or even at the bottom of the ocean. They are also usually found on their own as they don’t interact with each other much as they just prefer to be alone with their thoughts and observation of the eras transpiring around them.

Chaotic good (generally speaking) storm giants are content to stay in their lofty abodes and will entertain visitors to a certain degree, answering questions (like how did you get to the top of this mountain?) or dropping the odd pearl of wisdom.

Storm giants can cast Control Weather as an action instead of over the course of ten minutes like a player can, and considering that it's an eighth level spell that's pretty vicious. They can also throw lightning bolts that have a potential to do almost one hundred damage on a failed saving throw (which is a lot for its difficulty level) and if you get close it can just cleave you with two greatsword attacks from a greatsword the size of a small bus.

Why adding a storm giant to your game could add some fun:

  • So many of the monsters on this list are evil so it’d be a refreshing change of pace to introduce one that's just genuinely a nice guy.
  • Being able to throw lightning bolts is an awesome way to introduce a new patron or friend to the party.
  • It’s nice to have a high level NPC step in and help every once in a while.

Storm Giant Stats:

  • STR: 29
  • DEX: 14
  • CON: 20
  • INT: 16
  • WIS: 18
  • CHA: 18


22. Rakshasa

We’ve officially crossed into the stranger section of our list with the Rakshasa. Basically a devil wearing a mortal suit, these tricksters hail from the Nine Hells. Devils that used strange magic to free themselves from their devilish forms (and their imprisonment in the Hells), rakshasas are secretive and hungry for the flesh of mortals.

Rakshasas can appear anywhere there is an ample supply of gold and fresh meat but usually dark taverns in major cities are a good place to start looking for one. They sometimes will disguise themselves as someone or something important while searching for their next victim.

Secretive, covert, and insidious, rakshasas haunt the shadows looking for their next mark or meal (sometimes someone is both). Illusionists and tricksters by nature, much of their offensive capabilities double as illusions. 

A far cry from the tarrasque or Orcus, the rakshasa can still prove to be too much for a party that isn’t sufficiently leveled as they are immune to any magic sixth level or lower. This means that a party of roughly eighth level and lower would have a very difficult time. On top of its natural magic resistance, its claws can also curse their targets. I haven’t ever been cursed but I’m not keen to try it out.

Why a rakshasa would spice up your fun:

  • Having an evil but sometimes useful trickster in their pocket can be fun for a party.
  • Even if it dies it’ll just come back a few months later and hunt them down.
  • Needing to track a creature to somewhere specific to kill it permanently is always a fun time (in this case, the Nine Hells).

Rakshasa Stats: 

  • STR: 14
  • DEX: 17
  • CON: 18
  • INT: 13
  • WIS: 16
  • CHA: 20


23. Erinyes

Erinyes are to the Nine Hells as Mariliths are to the Abyss, albeit not quite as powerful. The fairest and stunning of all devils, they are often mistaken for celestials (there’re legends that tell of the first erinyes being fallen angels but that’s unconfirmed).

Found in the Nine Hells, they can be found enacting the will of Asmodeus (big daddy devil) across the Hells as well as on the Material Plane. 

Lawful evil, like most devils, erinyes will more than likely attack any mortal found in the Hells on sight and may as likely kill them as capture them for torture or delivery to their archdevil. They also like to take advantage of getting mistaken for angels while out doing devilish acts.

Every weapon that the erinyes employs can inflict the poisoned condition and poison damage (lots of it) which is what earned it a spot on this list. It can also make three attacks per turn with these poisoned weapons while also having a parry reaction it can use to add a +4 to its Armor Class.

Why adding an erinyes would add fun, too:

  • A beautiful devil is always a good way to lure your players into making a bad decision.
  • Resistance to non-magical and non-silvered weapons can make your party think twice about trading blows with one.
  • They have a flying speed making them very difficult to pin down. 

Erinyes Stats:

  • STR: 18
  • DEX: 16
  • CON: 18
  • INT: 14
  • WIS: 14
  • CHA: 18


24. Death Slaad

All slaadi are absolute nightmare fuel and death slaadi are no different. The final transformation of a green slaad, death slaadi are the oldest and strongest. They have powerful innate spellcasting as well as nasty melee abilities.

Spawned from a divine experiment gone wrong in Limbo, slaad can be found sowing discord in the material plane when they aren’t hunting Modrons in Limbo (modrons are little machine creatures created by the god of order and law, Primus).

A creatures of chaos, all slaadi but specifically death slaadi spend their days and lives trying to breed chaos and carnage wherever they can. Lesser slaadi spend a lot of energy infecting other creatures in chaos phage, a particularly nasty disease that eventually turns one into a slaad. Death slaadi are the leaders of their kind and don’t bother themselves with the minutiae of furthering their race.

Death slaadi can cast spells like fireball, cloudkill, and plane shift making them strong spellcasters while adding strong melee abilities like adding up to twelve necrotic damage on every attack. 

Why adding death slaadi to your game would be fun:

  • Including a death slaad could lead to including all the rest of them and they make excellent villains but you should warn your players about the body horror they invoke.
  • Death slaadi draw energy from the Negative Energy Plane which opens up a whole slew of new villains!
  • Slaadi in general are great villains as they are not only evil but actively propagating their evilness.

Death Slaad Stats:

  • STR: 20
  • DEX: 15
  • CON: 19
  • INT: 19
  • WIS: 10
  • CHA: 16


25. Aboleth

Capping off our list of the 25 Most Powerful Monsters to Use in Your Campaign is the aboleth. Aboleths are psionically powerful aquatic beings that preceded gods and dominated the early life forms of the primordial world. When the real gods arrived they destroyed everything the aboleths had built and, buddy, they didn’t like that.

Aboleths are very slow moving on land and are therefore usually found in lakes, oceans, or the Plane of Water. Here, away from actual gods, they are served like deities by any creatures that are unfortunate enough to be nearby.

Preferring to be served than to kill mortals, these nasties will only attack if they cannot convince your party to serve them. They will even go so far as to promise your players great desires in return for service and reward them with illusory gifts.

Fighting an aboleth can be a challenging endeavor as even getting close to one is difficult and dangerous due to its Mucous Cloud ability. It also has three tentacle attacks, a tail attack, the ability to dominate your players AND Legendary Actions making the aboleth last on our list but certainly not least in the grand scheme.

Why adding an aboleth would be cool:

  • Can add a feeling of scope to your campaign, these things remember the beginning of time!
  • Super weird, nasty, tentacled tadpole monster.
  • It can hear your thoughts! Quick! Think of cute puppies or something!

Aboleth Stats:

  • STR: 21
  • DEX: 9
  • CON: 15
  • INT: 18
  • WIS: 15
  • CHA: 18

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As a bard, Mack enjoys the simple things in life like giving his friends buff and giving the orcs debuffs. A fantasy nerd at heart, he spends his free time exploring any magical world he can find.
Gamer Since: 2010
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Baldur's Gate 3, ARK: Survival Ascended, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Top 3 Favorite Games:Baldur's Gate, Batman: Arkham Knight, Dark Souls 3

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dndnerd7000's picture

dndnerd7000 1 month 5 days ago

Hi! Thank you so much for writing this! I'm making a level 20 one-shot for the first time and this is super helpful :)

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