Boss Monsters are not just Monsters

One of the things I’ve always had an issue with in all versions of D&D is the idea that everything is a “Monster”. Many of the monsters in the Monster Manual are unique and would not be encountered more than once in a player’s life time. Bosses should be epic creatures, Smaug the Dragon or Orcus the Demon Prince. These are not stat blocks, these are very special, very powerful and very one-of-a-kind. They should be removed and reframed as NPCs or Monster Bosses, not just XP dumps.

Here are just a few of the monsters who should be more fleshed out before they are inserted into an adventure.


Yes, young dragons or drakes would me much more common and should be listed in the Monster Manual, but older dragons would be very rare indeed! They should be treated as NPCs in their own rights and not just stat blocks. For example, In the book, The Hobbit, the main dragon is sometimes called Smaug the Golden or Smaug the Magnificent, bringing ideas of a unique monster who’s lived for centuries and has a substantial reputation.

Devils / Angels

Devils and Angels are other very limited creatures. There are low level monsters, but the big ones – the Arch-Angels or Demons Lords they are special, each with their own backstory and supporters.

For example, Orcus is the fictional demon prince, and lord of the undead in many campaign settings for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. He is named after Orcus of Roman mythology. His symbol is a mace with a human skull as the head. Orcus is one of the most detailed demon lords of the Dungeons & Dragons game and one of a small handful to be detailed in every edition of the game. Orcus was also named as one of the greatest villains in D&D history by the final print issue of Dragon. There is only one ORCUS. One. Ever. He should be more than a single page of stats. He has a cult, an organization, superpowers AND a crazy will to survive.


High level magic user turned undead? Cleric who’s cheated death by becoming the undead themselves? Another monster who is a unique NPC. They should be played with personality, creativity and above all a willingness to negotiate or run away for revenge on the players.

Npc Monsters And Flavor

The list goes on and on. There are plenty of monsters who are fodder for players – adding an nice unique monster boss to an adventure can add even more flavor. In our games there is a recurring Magic User who is always behind the monster attacks and conspiracies. He always seems to escape just before the PCs have the chance to kill him. They’ve been following clues and rumors trying to end his terror spree.

How Do You Play Your Monster Bosses? Are They Just Xp Dumps And Epic Battles Or Are They Something More In Your Adventures? Post A Comment!


One thought on “Boss Monsters are not just Monsters

  1. This reminds me of how I did one boss. Firstly, there was an anteroom encounter, wherein an interrogated goblin boasted about his strength (He walks through fire, etc.). From there, his SON attacked first, and he was first directly observed as a roar. From there, he nearly felled a character AND defeated a gelatinous cube, and kept on going. The players were TERRIFIED, and when they finally killed him, they all had a collective moment of “YEAH!”


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s