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.
- 1 Basic Dungeons & Dragons
- 2 Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition
- 3 Dungeons & Dragons 3.5
- 4 Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition
- 5 Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition
- 6 References
Basic Dungeons & Dragons
- Animals: Includes common animals, extinct animals, and giant versions of common animals. Examples are bears, dinosaurs, and giant lizards.
- Conjurations: Includes creatures from other planes or strongly tied to other planes. Examples are elementals, golems, and salamanders.
- Humanoids: Human-shaped but reasonably intelligent creatures, to include giants. Examples also include men, dwarves, goblins, and trolls.
- Lowlife: Generally non-intelligent and simple creatures, such as plants, fungi, oozes, insects, arachnids, and other invertebrates. Examples are strangle vine, shriekers, gelatinous cubes, giant ants, spiders, and giant leeches.
- Monsters: Includes "other fantastical creatures" with strange appearances or unnatural powers. Examples are beholders, cockatrices, dragons, hook horrors, minotaurs, rust monsters, and werewolves.
- Undead: Creatures created by "powerful forces" acting on the bodies and souls of the dead. Examples are ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and zombies.
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. 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. Enchanted monsters appear to encompass the conjuration category from the Creature Catalogue.
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).
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.
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.
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. Examples include beholders, displacer beasts, minotaurs,, sphinxes, and werewolves.
Planar monsters are creatures from outside the Prime Plane. When summoned to the Prime Plane, planar monsters also become enchanted monsters. Examples include djinni and elementals. Some creatures have both Prime Plane and planar monster variations.
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.
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition
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.
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. Examples include bears, crocodiles, horses, and wolves. Dire animals are also considered animals.
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. Examples include golems and retrievers.
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. Examples include dragons, pseudodragons, and wyverns.
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. Examples include air, earth, fire, and water elementals, invisible stalkers, and magmin.
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. Examples include dryads, pixies, and satyrs.
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. Examples include dwarves, goblins, lizardfolk, and orcs.
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. Examples include cockatrices, giant eagles, kraken, sphinxes, ropers, and the tarrasque.
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. Examples include centaurs, hags, kuo-toa, and minotaurs.
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. Examples include gelatinous cubes and ochre jellies.
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. Examples include aasimar, celestials, demons, devils, mephits, salamanders, tieflings, and titans.
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). Examples include fungi generally, shambling mounds, and treants.
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. Examples include ghouls, ghosts, vampires, and zombies.
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. Examples include beetles, giant ants, and spiders.
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.
These type modifiers included:
- air: associated with certain elementals and outsiders, as well as cloud giants, will-o'-wisps, and green and silver dragons.
- aquatic: associated with creatures that live in watery environments, such as aboleths, crocodiles, lizardfolk, merfolk, octopi, and whales.
- chaotic: associated with chaotic outsiders, such as chaos beasts, demons, djinni, and slaadi.
- cold: associated with cold creatures, such as frost giants, ice mephits, and white dragons. Cold creatures are also immune to cold attacks but vulnerable to fire.
- earth: associated with certain elementals and outsiders, as well as gargoyles, stone giants, and blue and copper dragons.
- electricity: associated with creatures such as behirs and storm giants.
- evil: associated with evil outsiders, such as demons, devils, night hags, and rakshasa.
- incorporeal: undead creatures with no physical form, able to pass through solid objects, and only able to be harmed by magic or other incorporeal creatures. Examples include shadows and spectres.
- fire: associated with fire creatures, such as fire elementals, fire giants, fire mephits, and red dragons. Fire creatures are also immune to fire attacks but vulnerable to cold.
- good: associated with good outsiders, such as celestials, couatl, and titans.
- lawful: associated with lawful outsiders, such as archons, devils, formians, and rakshasa.
- reptilian: associated with creatures such as basilisks, kobolds, lizardfolk, and trogolodytes.
- water: associated with certain elementals and outsiders, as well as black and bronze dragons.
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 largely retained the same creature type structure as 3rd edition, but made some specific changes.
Shapechanger also became a subtype rather than a type 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.
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.
The term "type modifier" was also fully abandoned in favor of "subtype." Many more subtypes were added to the core rules, including:
- 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.
- swarm: previously introduced in the 3rd edition Fiend Folio (3e) (2003), 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.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Creature type keywords included the following:
- 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
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.
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. Other examples include quippers and stirges.
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.
- AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986), p.3.
- AC9 Creature Catalogue (1986), p.90-91.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.155-156.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.153.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.160.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.166.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.195.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.205.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.190.
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.175.
- d20 3.0 SRD (Open Gaming Foundation). Retrieved 2020-08-14.
- Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.4.
- Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.193-204.
- Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.205-210.
- Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.6.
- Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.161.
- Monster Manual (3.0) (2000), p.169.
- D&D v.3.5 Accessory Update Booklet. 2003-07-18. Retrieved 2020-08-15.
- Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.4-5.
- Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.305-317.
- Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.6.
- Monster Manual (4e) (2008), p.280-283.
- Monsters (The Hypertext d20 SRD 5E). Retrieved 2020-08-15.
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