Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Ankheg: Best of the Bestiary

It’s time for yet another of my favorites.

Ankhegs are another excellent low-level monster. They have decent stats, decent lore, and one of my favorite designs in the whole series. The burrowers of the earth are among my favorites in the book.

What can I say? I’m a simple man. Giant ant monsters are cool!

Lore: Ban of Field and Forest

An Ankheg may not be a world-ending threat or a divine protector. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. In fact, they’re still one of the most dangerous beasts in the whole bestiary.

With their monstrous jaws, the beasts travel deep beneath the earth. They burrow upwards to hunt, using their antennae to detect movement on the surface to mark their prey. When the time comes to strike, they’ll rocket out of the dirt and trap their foe in its mandibles, grinding their bones to dust as it melts them down with an acidic drizzle for sake of an easy swallow.

Worst. Way. To die. Ever.

Typically, an Ankheg can be found in their tunnels beneath a busy farmland teeming with livestock or a forest with lots of game. Did you think rats or rabbits were a farmers worst nightmare? Well, you clearly haven’t had to deal with an Ankheg before.

The tunnels left behind by an Ankheg are often narrow and partially collapsed. This may already sound like a nightmare, but I assure you; it gets so much worse. An Ankheg is many things; clean is not one of them. Their abodes are often filled with molted chitin, hatched and empty eggs, or the loot and remains of the beast’s victims.

There are plenty of fun storytelling possibilities for the Ankheg! Perhaps a farmer could hire a low-level party to investigate a mysterious beast that is eating his livestock. Maybe they simply run into it while passing through a forest on another quest. They’re low-level quests, yes, but they’re a low-level monster.

They’re not catastrophic, cosmic destroyers. They are hunters. And that’s more than enough.

Designs: Killer Ants

Design wise, I absolutely love the Ankheg. It’s simple, but intimidating and creative. They truly look like monsters, beasts that you wouldn’t want to see… well, anywhere.

Monster_Manual_5e_-_Ankheg_-_Devon_Cady-Lee_-_p21

Take one look at these guys, and you know what they’re about: digging, eating and acid. A good design tells you something about the subject in the drawing. They should tell a story. And the Ankheg tells a simple, clear and creative story.

All while looking bad ass.

Stats and Abilities: What You See Isn’t All That You Get

While the Ankheg is certainly a low-level monster for early parties, that doesn’t mean they aren’t a powerful foe. Give a new party an encounter with one of these bad boys, and they’ll more than likely struggle a bit. Their abilities will be more than able to give them a fight for their lives.

It’s bite attack is already super scary for a low-level party. Even a more tank-like class like the barbarian would be afraid of them, what with their 2d6 damage, which is combined with another 1d6 acidic damage. Get hit once, and any character in the party is at risk of going down.

Their acidic spray is just as bad. If the beast’s prey are all lined up, it can throw a a spray of acid capable of 3d6 damage, with an additional 10 on a critical hit. The party has to make a dexterity saving throw with a fairly easy DC or face the consequences. Not the most threatening attack, but certainly scary.

Luckily, if you have a large party, it isn’t hard to bring one down. They have an average armor class and a decent pool of HP. Far from unstoppable.

Just stay away from the teeth. Or in general, if you’d like.

Conclusion

I honestly believe that the Ankheg is one of the coolest monsters in the book! They look cool, have cool lore, and their abilities are certainly threatening for a low-level party. If I want a good foe for a new party, these guys are at the top of my personal list!

With all of that in mind, let’s plug them into our list of the best!

  1. Aboleth
  2. Ankheg
  3. Aarackocra
  4. Animated Armor
  5. Planetar
  6. Rug of Smothering
  7. Solar
  8. Deva
  9. Flying Sword

Alright. We’re now only one monster away from finishing the A section. Then we can move on to the B monsters, and some of my all-time favorite D&D Foes. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we need to talk about the Azer.

There’s a sentence no one has ever said.

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