Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Ettin: Two Heads Aren’t Always Better Than One

Do you, the DM, want to play the ‘big dumb brute’ character but you don’t want to make an NPC to fill that role? Fear not! There’s a monster in this book just for you!

Okay, so… is the Ettin supposed to be threatening? Because I honestly can’t see it that way! If anything, it’s fucking hilarious! It’s the perfect monster to use as a DM if you want to act like an idiot and make your friends chuckle!

Or to just act like a gross dude who hates himself. Although I don’t know why you’d want to act like me.

Lore: The Average Sibling Relationship

Ettins are essentially large, two-headed orcs. Foul and disgusting, encrusted by dirt and grime due to their lack of bathing, they are among the most vile creatures of the Material Plane.

The two heads are each a personality of their own, with their own names and desires, making them two being trapped in the same body. Being constantly stuck with one another, the two heads come to loathe each other, resulting in frequent bickering. Even more frustrating is how others will address them; when referring to an Ettin, others will combine the two names and refer to them as one being, calling an Ettin named, for example, Bag and Rag as Bagrag.

As much as Ettins dislike their pairs, they dislike other Ettins even more. Interactions between these creatures often become a screaming match between four creatures. Because of this, they’ll often live alone, only suffering the presence of another Ettin for the sake of breeding.

Yes, there are female Ettins. They conquer the males for the sake of breeding in an odd sort of ritual. Once the child is born, the male is released from service. Once they’re old enough, the mother will send them away and abandon their den.

When faced with a mutual problem, an Ettin’s heads can set aside their differences and work together. Each one fights with a weapon in hand, as if they were independent. When sleeping, one head will stay awake and keep an eye out, enjoying a rare moment of solitude.

The origin of Ettins is now but a legend. Some say that a group of orcs had wandered into a temple of the Demogorgon. Within, the magic warped them into hideous monsters that scattered into the wild. Whatever the truth, orcs often treat Ettins like a distant cousin, employing them to help them with war efforts. With a bit of loot and food, even an Ettin’s loyalty can be bought.

This lore isn’t something you can spin a whole campaign out of. But it can work really well for a fun encounter! If nothing else, these creatures give DMs something fun to play around with. Is it especially compelling lore? Not really. But it is fun!

Design: Perfectly Simple

The Ettin doesn’t have an especially complex design. But in a way, it’s simplicity works in its favor! Plus, there are more than a few little details that go a long way in giving this monster some personality!

Which of these two looks more tired of the other, do you think? My money’s on blue.

The main appeal is in the heads themselves. You can take one look at these dudes and tell they don’t get along! Their opposing color scheme and wildly different facial expressions tell you without a single word that these two are not the type to get along.

Their orc-like design is also a nice hint to their mystical origins. Looking at those tusks and bulging fat-guy muscles (you know those guys that are somehow chubby but also ripped as hell?) gives a pretty good hint that they might go right along with the fantasy staple enemy.

Also, this shit be real nasty. It just looks gross!

This isn’t an especially complex or interesting design. But it’s plenty effective at communicating what this thing is: a big dumb brute made of two guys that absolutely fucking hate each other.

Stats: Two in One Combo!

This is an exceptionally simple monster. It’s only unique trick is the two heads thing, so you can never catch it off-guard while its sleeping. Aside from that, it’s a very bog-standard big brute with big weapon monster.

A decently tough one for a low-level party, I’ll admit. It’s AC is pretty low, but it has decent enough HP to make up for it. If you’re pitting it up against a group of third-level or lower players, its weapons ought to give them a good scare. But if they’re any higher than that, this guy won’t be all that threatening.

But hey! He can add a nice bit of flavor to a battle against orcs later on!

Placement

The Ettin really isn’t a complicated monster. From its lore to its design and even its stats, everything is very surface-level and basic. You won’t need to try anything complicated when you use it. It’s just some big dumb fun.

With all that in mind, let’s put the Ettin on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Bronze Dragons
  14. Brass Dragons
  15. Copper Dragons
  16. Gold Dragons
  17. Chuul
  18. Chimera
  19. Death Knight
  20. Bone Devil
  21. Dracolich
  22. Ankheg
  23. Empyrean
  24. Drow (all four of ’em)
  25. Shadow Demon
  26. Marilith
  27. Drider
  28. Aarackockra
  29. Azer
  30. Demilich
  31. Spectator
  32. Cambion
  33. Animated Armor
  34. Banshee
  35. Basilisk
  36. Yochlol
  37. Bulette
  38. Cloaker
  39. Darkmantle
  40. Doppelganger
  41. Ettin <————————–
  42. Pit Fiend
  43. Erinyes
  44. Chain Devil
  45. Bearded Devil
  46. Barbed Devil
  47. Spined Devil
  48. Ice Devil
  49. Nalfeshnee
  50. Glabrezu
  51. Chasme
  52. Barlgura
  53. Horned Devil
  54. Balor
  55. Shadow Dragon
  56. Vrock
  57. Dretch
  58. Goristro
  59. Hezrou
  60. Manes
  61. Duergar
  62. Quasit
  63. Dryad
  64. Planetar
  65. Imp
  66. Displacer Beast
  67. Carrion Crawler
  68. Rug of Smothering
  69. Bugbear Chief
  70. Bugbear
  71. Vine Blight
  72. Twig Blight
  73. Needle Blight
  74. Bullywug
  75. Ettercap
  76. Cockatrice
  77. Lemure
  78. Solar
  79. Deva
  80. Cyclops
  81. Centaur
  82. Fire Elemental
  83. Water Elemental
  84. Air Elemental
  85. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  86. Earth Elemental
  87. Flying Sword
  88. Crawling Claw

3 thoughts on “Ettin: Two Heads Aren’t Always Better Than One”

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