Creature types are a means of categorizing and distinguishing monsters in Dungeons & Dragons.

In Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, creatures are placed in one of fourteen types: aberration, beast, celestial, construct, dragon, elemental, fey, fiend, giant, humanoid, monstrosity, ooze, plant, or undead.

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[edit | edit source]

Creature Catalogue[edit | edit source]

Creature types were first introduced in the Basic Dungeons & Dragons supplement AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986). There were six categories presented in that supplement:[1][2]

Rules Cyclopedia[edit | edit source]

The Rules Cyclopedia (1991) refined this concept into monster types, some of which moved beyond descriptions to include traits associated with each type. Monsters could also belong to more than one type.[3] There was also an overarching type, "enchanted monsters," which could only be harmed by magical weapons or are magically summoned or controlled; they are also affected by spells such as protection from evil 10' radius.[4] Enchanted monsters appear to encompass the conjuration category from the Creature Catalogue.

Normal Animal[edit | edit source]

Normal animals are non-magical, naturally occurring creatures, such as tigers. Variations include giant animals, and prehistoric animals such as dinosaurs.[3]

Construct[edit | edit source]

Constructs are created magically. As non-living creatures, they are immune to poison but do not heal naturally. They are also immune to mental effects. Constructs count as enchanted monsters; lesser constructs such as living statues were vulnerable to any weapon, while greater constructs such as gargoyles and golems could only be hit by magical weapons (but were more difficult to construct).[3]

Dragon[edit | edit source]

Dragons are winged, reptilian creatures, many of which have breath weapons. A subtype is dragon-kin, which includes creatures such as chimerae, hydrae, salamanders, and wyverns.[3]

Humanoid[edit | edit source]

Humanoids are bipeds up to ogre size, but not human or demihuman; goblins are examples of humanoids. However, human and demihuman are variations on this type. Giant humanoids are another variation, referring to humanoids larger than ogres, such as common giants and trolls.[3]

Lowlife[edit | edit source]

Lowlife are mostly nonintelligent creatures such as plants, fungi, insects, arachnids, slimes, oozes, and other invertebrates. Huge examples of these creatures are also included in the type.[3]

Monster[edit | edit source]

Monsters are creatures that do not fit into the other types, often "legendary" or "fabulous" creatures. This type may include creatures that resemble those of other types, but are differentiated by their unusual abilities.[3] Examples include beholders,[5] displacer beasts,[6] minotaurs,[7], sphinxes,[8] and werewolves.[9]

Planar Monster[edit | edit source]

Planar monsters are creatures from outside the Prime Plane. When summoned to the Prime Plane, planar monsters also become enchanted monsters.[3] Examples include djinni[6] and elementals.[10] Some creatures have both Prime Plane and planar monster variations.[3]

Undead[edit | edit source]

Undead creatures were once alive, but have been reanimated by powerful supernatural forces. Undead are immune attacks that harm only the living, as well as mental effects. However, most can be repelled by clerics and holy symbols. Undead created by spells are enchanted monsters.[3]

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit | edit source]

In Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, creature types became more than simple categories. A creature's type was generally determined by its nature, or physical attributes. Each type granted certain traits to all creatures which had that type (with some exceptions), both advantages and disadvantages. Type determined features such as hit dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points. Each creature type also had various advantages and disadvantages. A creature's type also came into play in the way that certain spells and magic items affected it, and also for certain class abilities, such as the ranger's favored enemy ability.

Aberration[edit | edit source]

An aberration has a bizarre anatomy, strange abilities, alien mindset, or any combination thereof. All aberrations have darkvision.[11] Examples include aboleths, beholders, and mind flayers.[12]

Animal[edit | edit source]

An animal is a nonhuman, usually vertebrate creature. Animals have very low intelligence and usually low-light vision. This category does not include invertebrates, which are classed as vermin.[11] Examples include bears, crocodiles, horses, and wolves.[13] Dire animals are also considered animals.[12]

Beast[edit | edit source]

A beast is similar to an animal, but they are non-historical and usually possess darkvision.[11] Examples include bulettes, dinosaurs, griffons, owlbears, and purple worms.[12]

Construct[edit | edit source]

A construct is either an animated object of some sort, or an artificially crafted creature. They are usually unintelligent, and immune to mind-influencing effects. They are immune to many effects that harm living creatures, such as poison and disease, but they cannot be magically restored to life. Constructs usually have darkvision.[11] Examples include golems and retrievers.[12]

Dragon[edit | edit source]

A dragon is a reptilian creature, usually winged, often having supernatural abilities. Dragons cannot be paralyzed or induced to sleep. Dragons usually have darkvision and low-light vision.[11] Examples include dragons, pseudodragons, and wyverns.[12]

Elemental[edit | edit source]

An elemental is composed of one of the four classical elements of air, earth, fire, or water. They can resist effects such as poison and paralysis, and do not have any discernable front or back, making tactics such as flanking or attacks such as critical hits useless. Like constructs, they cannot be resurrected by magic once destroyed, save powerful spells such as wish or miracle. Elementals usually have darkvision.[11] Examples include air, earth, fire, and water elementals, invisible stalkers, and magmin.[12]

Fey[edit | edit source]

A fey is a creature which usually has supernatural abilities and a human-shaped form. A fey also usually connected to nature, or some other force or place. Fey usually have low-light vision.[11] Examples include dryads, pixies, and satyrs.[12]

Giant[edit | edit source]

A giant is a humanoid-shaped creature of great strength and size. Giants usually have darkvision.[11] Examples include giants, ettin, ogres, and trolls.[12]

Humanoid[edit | edit source]

Humanoids are bipeds of Small or Medium size with few or no supernatural or extraordinary abilities. Larger humanoids are usually classed as giants; humanoids with monstrous traits or supernatural abilities are usually classed as monstrous humanoids.[11] Examples include dwarves, goblins, lizardfolk, and orcs.[12]

Magical beast[edit | edit source]

A magical beast is similar to a beast, but usually has a higher intelligence, and usually possesses supernatural or extraordinary abilities. Magical beasts usually have darkvision and low-light vision.[11] Examples include cockatrices, giant eagles, kraken, sphinxes, ropers, and the tarrasque.[12]

Monstrous humanoid[edit | edit source]

A monstrous humanoid is similar to a humanoid, but usually has monstrous or animalistic features. Many also have supernatural abilities. Monstrous humanoids usually have darkvision.[11] Examples include centaurs, hags, kuo-toa, and minotaurs.[12]

Ooze[edit | edit source]

An ooze is an amorphous or mutable creature. Oozes are usually mindless, and thus immune to mind-influencing effects. They possess blindsight but are otherwise blind. Like elementals, they have no clear front or back and are thus immune to flanking or critical hits. Composed mainly of protoplasm, oozes resist effects such as poison and polymorphing.[11] Examples include gelatinous cubes and ochre jellies.[12]

Outsider[edit | edit source]

An outsider is a creature from outside the Material Plane, but different from an elemental. Outsiders usually have darkvision. Like elementals, they cannot be magically resurrected, save through effects like wish or miracle.[11] Examples include aasimar, celestials, demons, devils, mephits, salamanders, tieflings, and titans.[12]

Plant[edit | edit source]

A plant is a vegetable creature, and immune to effects such as poison, stunning, or polymorphing. They also ignore mind-influencing effects, and may have low-light vision (assuming they can see at all).[11] Examples include fungi generally, shambling mounds, and treants.[12]

Shapechanger[edit | edit source]

A shapechanger has a stable form but can transform into other shapes. They usually have darkvision.[11] Examples include doppelgangers and lycanthropes.[12]

Undead[edit | edit source]

An undead is a once-living creature animated by spiritual or supernatural forces. They resist many effects which harm the living, such as poison and disease. They are healed by negative energy. Undead usually have darkvision.[11] Examples include ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and zombies.[12]

Vermin[edit | edit source]

A vermin is an invertebrate, such as an insect, arachnid, arthropod, or worm. Vermin are unintelligent and immune to mind-influencing effects. They usually have darkvision.[11] Examples include beetles, giant ants, and spiders.[14]

Type modifiers[edit | edit source]

Also known as subtypes, type modifiers indicated a creature's association with an element or energy, a state, or some other group of similar characteristics.[15]

These type modifiers included:[12]

Humanoids also had race-specific type modifiers, such as goblinoid.[15]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5[edit | edit source]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 largely retained the same creature type structure as 3rd edition, but made some specific changes.

The beast type was removed,[18] with its creatures folded into the magical beast type (outside of a few exceptions, such as dinosaurs and rocs, which were moved to the animal type).[19]

Shapechanger also became a subtype rather than a type[18] with its creatures moved into other creature types such as aberration (phasm), magical beast (aranea), monstrous humanoid (doppelganger), or, for templates such as lycanthropes, the same type as the base creature. The shapechanger subtype also expanded to include creatures such as the mimic.[19]

Additional details were also provided about each type, such as whether creatures of a particular type ate, slept, or breathed. Other minor changes included giants now having low-light vision instead of darkvision, and the reptilian subtype only applying to humanoids.[20]

The term "type modifier" was also fully abandoned in favor of "subtype." Many more subtypes were added to the core rules, including:[20]

  • augmented: applied to creatures whose creature type has been altered, such as familiars (which change from animals to magical beast (augmented animal)).
  • extraplanar: applied to creatures when they are on a different plane than their origin. Creatures not listed as extraplanar are native to the Material Plane.
  • native: applied to outsiders with a strong connection to the Material Plane. Unlike other outsiders, they need to eat and sleep. Examples include aasimar, rakshasa, and tieflings.[19]
  • swarm: previously introduced in the 3rd edition Fiend Folio (3e) (2003),[18] this applies to a collection of smaller creatures that act as one, making them resistant to attacks such as critical hits and flanking, and resistant to non-magical attacks and single-target spells. However, swarms can be dispersed by effects such as gust of wind.

Outsiders also gained subtypes for their specific races, such as angel, archon, baatezu, eladrin, guardinal, and tanar'ri.[20]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit | edit source]

Creature types were significantly overhauled in Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. In 4th edition, creature type was split into types, origins, and keywords. Types covered basic elements of a creature's appearance and behavior. Origins covered a creature's place in the 4th edition cosmology. Keywords were used to identify groups of creatures, a creature's links to elemental forces, or define other details.[21]

Beast, humanoid, and magical beast remained classified as types, while elemental and fey became origins.[21] Dragon, construct, giant, ooze, plant, and undead became keywords.[22]

Types[edit | edit source]

Animate[edit | edit source]

Animates are magically animated creatures, such as golems, zombies and shambling mounds. Animates generally possess the construct, plant or undead keywords. Intelligent undead and plant creatures generally belong to the humanoid or magical beast type rather than the animate type, and the warforged are humanoids with the living construct keyword rather than animates.

Beast[edit | edit source]

The beast type encompasses mundane animals, as well as unintelligent monstrous animals, such as basilisks, hydras, owlbears and purple worms, and non-intelligent non-humanoid creatures which do not fit into another category, such as oozes.

Humanoid[edit | edit source]

Intelligent living or undead creatures which are at least roughly humanoid generally belong to the humanoid type. Examples include humans, driders, giants, vampires and warforged.

Magical beast[edit | edit source]

The magical beast type encompasses intelligent non-humanoid living or undead creatures, such as beholders, dragons and treants.

Origins[edit | edit source]

Aberrant[edit | edit source]

Aberrant creatures are native to or corrupted by the Far Realm. Examples of aberrant creatures include aboleths, beholders and mind flayers.

Elemental[edit | edit source]

Elemental creatures are native to the Elemental Chaos or the Abyss. Many elementals from earlier editions have been converted to elemental humanoids or elemental magical beasts, as have many demons and yugoloths, and the slaadi. Other examples of elementals include archons, genies and the tarrasque.

Fey[edit | edit source]

Fey creatures are native to the Feywild. Elves, drow, eladrin and gnomes are considered fey in 4th edition. Other examples of fey include displacer beasts, owlbears, cyclopses and treants.

Immortal[edit | edit source]

Immortal creatures are native to the Astral Sea. Many outsiders from earlier editions have been converted to immortal humanoids or immortal magical beasts. Examples of immortals include angels and devils.

Natural[edit | edit source]

Creatures with the natural origin are native to the natural world. Examples include humans, orcs, and many (but not all) varieties of giants, dragons and monstrous animals.

Shadow[edit | edit source]

Shadow creatures are native to or otherwise connected to the Shadowfell. Examples include ghosts, nightmares, specters and wraiths.

Keywords[edit | edit source]

Creature type keywords included the following:[22]

  • air: elemental creatures made of air.
  • angel: immortal creatures, typically with wings, that communicate telepathically.
  • aquatic: creatures that breathe in water are are adept swimmers.
  • blind: creatures without sight, which are also immune to gaze attacks.
  • cold: creatures made of ice.
  • construct: unliving creatures.
  • demon: evil elemental creatures native to the Abyss.
  • devil: evil immortal creatures native to the Nine Hells.
  • dragon: reptilian creatures, typically having wings and breath weapons.
  • earth: elemental creatures made of earth, and also immune to petrification.
  • fire: elemental creatures made of fire.
  • giant: humanoid creatures of at least Large size.
  • homunculus: animate constructs assigned as guardians.
  • living construct: has aspects of both living beings and constructs.
  • mount: creatures who provide their mounted riders with advantages.
  • ooze: amorphous creatures that rely on senses such as blindsight and tremorsense, and are adept at squeezing through smaller areas.
  • plant: creatures composed of vegetable matter.
  • reptile: cold-blooded creatures that lay eggs.
  • shapechanger: creatures that can alter their form.
  • spider: true arachnids as well as creatures with spider-like features.
  • swarm: treated as a single creature, but composed of many smaller creatures, resistant to many forms of attack but vulnerable to near and area attacks.
  • undead: non-living creatures with resistance to necrotic damage but vulnerability to radiant damage.
  • water: elemental creatures made of water.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[edit | edit source]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition's creature types (monster types or simply types) are similar to that of 3rd edition and 3.5. The outsider type has been split into celestial and fiend; animal and vermin have been combined into beast; and several other 3rd edition and 3.5 types have been removed, while the monstrosity type has been added. Types do not provide special features unto themselves, and are mainly descriptive, although types remain relevant for various game effects.

Aberration[edit | edit source]

Aberrations are alien entities, often with powers drawn from their minds. Examples include aboleths, beholders, mind flayers, and slaadi.[23]

Beast[edit | edit source]

Beasts are nonhumanoid creatures that are part of the natural world. Some beasts have magical powers, but are generally low in intelligence. Ordinary animals, dinosaurs, and giant animals are included in this type.[23] Other examples include quippers and stirges.[24]

Celestial[edit | edit source]

Celestials are creatures native to the Upper Planes, and good by nature. Examples include angels, couatls, and pegasi.[23]

Construct[edit | edit source]

Constructs are creatures that are created artificially. Examples include golems, although modrons are also constructs.[23]

Dragon[edit | edit source]

Dragons are large, powerful reptilian creatures. This includes both true dragons such as the chromatic and metallic dragons, but also related creatures such as wyverns.[23]

Elemental[edit | edit source]

Elementals are creatures from the Elemental Planes. Examples include the common elementals as well as azer, genies, and invisible stalkers.[23]

Fey[edit | edit source]

Fey are creatures of magic with a connection to nature. Often they are connected to the Feywild, or certain Outer Planes such as Arborea or the Beastlands. Examples include dryads and satyrs.[23]

Fiend[edit | edit source]

Fiends are creatures native to the Lower Planes, and evil by nature. Examples include demons, devils, and rakshasa.[23]

Giant[edit | edit source]

Giants are human-like but larger than humans. Examples include the true giants as well as ogres and trolls.[23]

Humanoid[edit | edit source]

Humanoids are the main people of most worlds, bipeds with culture but few natural magical abilities. Examples include humans, dwarves, elves, and the goblinoid races.[23]

Monstrosity[edit | edit source]

Monstrosities are unnatural creatures from a variety of origins, including curses and magical experimentation. Examples include minotaurs and owlbears. The monstrosity type is also a "catch-all" category for monsters that don't fit into other types.[23]

Ooze[edit | edit source]

Oozes are gelatinous creatures with no fixed form. Examples include black puddings and gelatinous cubes.[23]

Plant[edit | edit source]

Plants include both vegetable and fungal creatures. Examples include shambling mounds and myconids.[23]

Undead[edit | edit source]

Undead creatures were once alive, but reanimated by unnatural forces. Examples include ghosts, specters, vampires, and zombies.[23]

Tags[edit | edit source]

Tags provide additional categorizations on top of the existing types. Humanoids, for example, may have tags like orc.[23] Tags replace the subtypes of 3rd edition and the keywords of 4th edition.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986), p.3.
  2. AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986), p.90-91.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.155-156.
  4. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.153.
  5. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.160.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.166.
  7. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.195.
  8. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.205.
  9. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.190.
  10. Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.175.
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 11.16 d20 3.0 SRD (Open Gaming Foundation). Retrieved 2020-08-14.
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.4.
  13. Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.193-204.
  14. Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.205-210.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.6.
  16. Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.161.
  17. Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.169.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 D&D v.3.5 Accessory Update Booklet. 2003-07-18. Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.4-5.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.305-317.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.6.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.280-283.
  23. 23.00 23.01 23.02 23.03 23.04 23.05 23.06 23.07 23.08 23.09 23.10 23.11 23.12 23.13 23.14 Monsters (The Hypertext d20 SRD 5E). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
  24. Monsters List (Roll20 - D&D 5th Edition Compendium). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
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