Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Demons Part 3: Barlgura (Best of the Bestiary)

King Kong is fucking pissed! And probably not as bad as he will be when I’m done with him!

The Barlgura is far from the most interesting of the Demons. It’s a big angry orangutan from hell. They aren’t super strong, but they can pose a decent challenge for a lower-level party. They are a bit more creative than ‘flaming demon from hell’, but they’re still far from interesting.

In terms of flavor text, there is nothing to talk about here. The Barlgura is the physical manifestation of savagery and brutality from the Abyss. They hunt together in packs, tearing down tougher foes to gain bloody trophies to decorate their territory.

You can use that flavor text to subtly hint at the Barlgura. But you can’t weave an entire story, campaign or side-quest, with that. Once again, they serve as a piece to a larger narrative. They’re a fodder enemy for a demonic themed campaign.

Still, to be fair, a demon that hunts in packs is a bit more interesting than the typical ‘rule by force and stand on your own’. But it’s still not much.

Design: Angry Kong!

Effective? Yes. Mostly. Creative? No.

barlgura
He’s sure intimidating, though!

One look at this thing, and you immediately know what it is. The dark blue skin, bright red fur, burning blood-red eyes and slobbering, massive fangs give the creature its demonic appearance. The fact that it’s a giant orangutan hints at its pack-dwelling nature for those who know about the real-life animal.

But it doesn’t at all hint at one of the monster’s primary abilities: magic. That’s right, this thing is a spellcaster! What part of this monster looks like a spellcaster? Absolutely nothing! Unless you think wrist braces are magical.

It’s clear that the designers didn’t put their imagination caps on when they made this thing. Compared to some of the other demons, this thing stands out. But in the grand scheme of all the monsters? It does look pretty generic.

And it fights the same way.

Stats: Kong Cast Spell At You!

Why the fucking fuck can this thing use magic?! Who in the design process said “You know what this thing needs? Mother-fucking magic! That’ll make this thing complete!” Give me a fucking name!

In terms of defenses, the Barlgura isn’t anything to write home about. It has an AC of 15, making it easy to hit, and an average HP total, making it easy to kill. It’s resistant to cold, fire and lightning damage and completely immune to poison. But that’s about all it has. If you have a group of high-damage dealers, this monster will go down quickly.

This thing is a glass cannon. But it is worth remembering that it is still a cannon.

The Barlgura has four spells: entangle, phantasmal force, disguise self, and invisibility. It can use the former two once a day each and the ladder two twice a day each. None of these spells are incredibly dangerous, but they do make the monster more dangerous. Plus, they force the party to employ more creative tactics to deal with them. Especially if they’re fighting more than one Barlgura.

It also has the Reckless ability, which is much like the barbarian’s Rage ability. While in this state, all of their melee attacks have advantage, but all enemies get advantage on their attacks. This serves as an excellent last-resort ability that can make them far more dangerous in the last minute of the fight.

And then there are the melee attacks, the least dangerous aspect of the Barlgura. It has a bite attack, which can deal a maximum of 27 damage, and a punch attack, which has a maximum of 23 damage. With Multiattack, it can take one bite and two fist attacks. So, if you are rolling absurdly well, this monster can a total of 73 damage in one turn.

But if you do the math, you’ll notice that rolling three nat 20s in a row is nearly impossible. So rest easy, low-level players. This thing won’t be one-hit killing you anytime soon.

As much as I make fun of this thing for having magic, I do think it was a necessary addition. Thanks to its magical abilities, fighting a Barlgura requires much more tactical and creative thinking than ‘hit it till it dies’. If utilized properly, a fight with a Barlgura could be incredibly fun and memorable!

Just be careful not to make the pack too big, all right?

Conclusion

I have mixed thoughts on the Barlgura. Its lore is simple, the fight inspires creativity and it can be a lot of fun, but it isn’t the most creative or interesting monster in the book. It isn’t super memorable, but it is far from the worst monster in the manual.

With all that in mind, lets put the Barlgura on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Couatl
  4. Behir
  5. Aboleth
  6. Chuul
  7. Chimera
  8. Death Knight
  9. Ankheg
  10. Aarackockra
  11. Azer
  12. Demilich
  13. Spectator
  14. Cambion
  15. Animated Armor
  16. Banshee
  17. Basilisk
  18. Bulette
  19. Cloaker
  20. Darkmantle
  21. Barlgura <——–
  22. Balor
  23. Planetar
  24. Carrion Crawler
  25. Rug of Smothering
  26. Bugbear Chief
  27. Bugbear
  28. Vine Blight
  29. Twig Blight
  30. Needle Blight
  31. Bullywug
  32. Cockatrice
  33. Solar
  34. Deva
  35. Cyclops
  36. Centaur
  37. Flying Sword
  38. Crawling Claw

It was a coin-flip whether or not this thing would’ve beaten the Balor demon. While the Barlgura does have slightly more interesting lore and a more creative set of abilities, it does fall behind compared to the Balor’s design and stats. Ultimately, I decided that the Barlgura’s combat abilities just gave it the edge over its demonic brother.

But the real question is: can the Chasme beat either of them? Will the giant mosquito defeat the giant ape? Find out next time on ‘When Will the Demons Stop Disappointing Me?!’

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