Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Behir: Dragon-Slaying Pets to the Giants (Best of the Bestiary)

I’ve already eaten three giant rats, six troglodytes, and a mind flayer today. But that’s okay. Plenty of room in my belly for you and your friends. -Lludd the Behir, Confronting Adventurers in The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth

I always forget that the Behir exists. But after reading his page, I’m not sure why that’s the case. Sure, their design isn’t the most telling or interesting, even if it is pretty fucking cool. But their stats and lore more than make up for their lacking appearance.

Lore: Foes of the Dragons

I expected many things from the Behir. Dragon-Slaying was not one of them.

A Behir is a serpentine creature that lives in caverns. They set up camp in areas that no other monster can reach, so that any possible hunter would have to endure a harrowing climb before reaching them. A prime area for a Behir ambush would include: deep pits, high caves in the walls of a cliff, and caverns past long, narrow tunnels.

They move quickly when not climbing, and finish their prey just as quickly. They’ll swallow their prey whole, choose a safe place to go into hibernation, then begin to digest. While in this state, they will avoid any other would-be hunters that enter its lair.

However, the Behir were not always simple predators. Long ago, when Giants and Dragons were at war, the first Behirs were created and used as weapons against the Dragons. Because of this, they still carry an innate hatred for the iconic beasts.

This hatred is so great that a Behir will never make its lair in a Dragon-infested area. Don’t misconstrue this as fear; should a Dragon try to establish its home near a Behir, then the serpentine monster will be compelled to kill it or drive it off. It’s only when the Dragon proves to be the Behir’s superior in combat that it will back down, leave and find a new lair.

Which, given its stats, must happen very often. But we’ll get to that soon.

This lore could make for a decent side-quest. Perhaps the players could be sent to hunt a Behir, only to find that its out hunting a nearby Dragon. They then could be dragged into the conflict between the two monsters and choose a side: bargain with the Behir to slay the Dragon, or team up with the Dragon to drive off the Behir. They are limited, but a creative DM could craft a very interesting story with a Behir.

That, or they could have one of their players get eaten alive. Whatever floats your boat.

Design: Creative, But Not Telling

In terms of appearance, the Behir is an odd one. They look incredibly interesting and cool! But in no way does their design reflect their lore!

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Doesn’t exactly scream ‘Slayer of Dragons’, now does it?

Even if its design doesn’t help in telling the story of a Behir, I cannot deny that its fucking rad! It is one of the most creative looking monsters we’ve seen so far! Just looking at him, while it doesn’t tell you anything about its lore, tells you exactly what you need to know: this fucker blasts lightning, and it can, and likely will, eat you whole.

Stats: Imma Fucking Eatcha

Holy fuck this thing could make for a fun mid-level fight!

These guys have pretty good stats for a boss fight, given the party is leveled 7-10. Its AC and HP are pretty high, it moves really quickly, its hard to sneak around (and very good at sneaking around you) and it does high damage with each blow.

Most of its abilities are exactly what you’d expect. A Behir can bite, constrict a target with its massive body, and breath lighting. Simple and straightforward, and they make for an equally simple fight. However, the real meat and potatoes of the Behir’s moveset is found in their final move: Swallow.

Its exactly what you’d expect. After landing a successful bite against a medium or smaller creature, and it is grappled, the target is then swallowed. While swallowed, the target is blind and restrained, and they are completely immune to any damage coming from the outside. However, they take 6d6 damage on each turn, with an extra 21 on a critical hit.

Escaping the Behir’s throat is far from easy. First, the swallow victim must deal 30 damage or more on a single turn. Then the Behir must make a save, which has a decently low DC, to prevent throwing them back up. If a player cannot escape, they’ll have to endure until the Behir is dead, and they can escape the corpse by expending some movement.

This is where the real creativity of a Behir fight can be found. How will the party react to having one of them, be they an NPC or a player, getting swallowed? How will they try to get them out? Meanwhile, how will the Behir’s tactics change with a meal in its throat?

It isn’t the most creative encounter you could build. But it is a potentially very engaging and fun one, if executed correctly. As such, the Behir is an incredibly useful tool for any DM.

Conclusion

When I started this post, I had no particular fondness for the Behir. But after having read further into it, I’ve grown rather fond of them. In fact, they’ve quickly shot up to being one of my favorites in the whole book!

With all that in mind, it’s time to put them on the Best of the Bestiary.

  1. Aboleth
  2. Behir
  3. Ankheg
  4. Aarackocra
  5. Azer
  6. Animated Armor
  7. Banshee
  8. Basilisk
  9. Planetar
  10. Rug of Smothering
  11. Solar
  12. Deva
  13. Flying Sword

While their designs aren’t the best in terms of natural storytelling, they still undeniably look awesome. When combined with their interesting lore and great combat mechanics, it wasn’t much of a competition. They aren’t my favorite, and their spot will likely drop as we get further into the book. But they are damn good nonetheless.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get started on next week’s Best of the Bestiary. Because now, we’re getting to the most iconic D&D monster of all time. And there is a lot to cover.

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