Doing horror in Dungeons and Dragons is incredibly difficult. Since the game is inherently fantastical, people tend to do what they want and not take anything seriously. As such, it’s hard to properly setup a horrifying atmosphere without someone cracking wise or doing something to undercut the whole thing.
It certainly doesn’t help that most of the monsters just aren’t that scary. Sure, you could do a classic zombie plotline. Or stick the players in a graveyard full of ghosts and skeletons. But let’s be honest: that’s not really scary. Fun, yes. But not scary.
It’s hard to create proper horror in D&D. Hell, it’s hard for any TTRPG, even horror themed ones! It takes a highly experienced Dungeon Master to pull it off.
Or you could just throw one of these guys at your players and call it a day.
Lore: A Nightmarish End
Sorcery has created many terrors. But few are as wicked and depraved as a gibbering mouther. Made up of the eyes, mouths, and liquified flesh of its creator’s victims and then driven to insanity, this monstrosity’s sole purpose in its madness is to consume.
When the creature senses its prey, its many mouths begin to mutter amongst themselves, each in a different voice. Some may be high, others shrill, some mournful, others agonized, and some even joyed. The cacophony of sound this creature creates is enough to drive any who hears it to madness. Although those of a strong will may only find themselves paralyzed by fear. They are the unlucky ones, as they can only watch as the gibbering mouther slowly slides forward to consume them.
Gibbering mouthers consume any and all that cross its path. Its liquid form rolls over its paralyzed victims, its mouths going silent as it consumes them. Stone beneath it is reduced to liquid, making it difficult to those that maintain their courage long enough to try and flee. Those they consume leave nothing behind. But their eyes and mouths join in the chorus of the damned, becoming one with it.
While the lore certainly is horrifying, it doesn’t do much for storytelling. The best thing you can do with it is scare your party. Put them up against some evil mage, build up to the creature’s existence with the mage’s research notes and disappearing townsfolk, then drop this monster on your party as the big reveal. If you’re doing a horror-themed session, this is one of the best monsters you could pick! But if you want anything other than that, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Design: A Nightmare Given Form
Well alright then. I didn’t want to sleep tonight anyways.
Yup, this is exactly what the lore described. And it is just as creative and horrific as all of that and more! This is one of my absolute favorite designs in the entire Monster Manual!
The mouths are a big stand-out for me. They’re all over the place, some wide and some small. All of them filled with fangs that would make a vampire blush and gaping open in perpetual hunger. They send one clear message: this thing isn’t out to kill you. It’s out to eat you.
The eyes are another stand-out feature. They dot its entire body almost like freckles. My only real problem with them is that they don’t really convey any emotions. They don’t convey the horror, suffering, and agony that they should, given the lore.
And finally, we have its body. Liquid and malformed, as if its ready to change into whatever shape it needs to to catch its prey. It’s like a slime, only a couple dozen times more gruesome and horrific. Just the idea of it rolling across the ground and changing shapes is enough to keep me up at night!
This is a phenomenal design. It’s horrifying, it’s creative, and it’s incredibly fun to look at and describe! Easily one of the best ones in the entire game.
Stats: Fear Made Manifest
For a monster with a challenge level of 2, this thing is packing some serious damage!
In terms of defenses, there’s not much here. Its AC is a pitiful single digit. Its HP is slightly better, sitting just below 70. Actually killing this thing isn’t much of a challenge.
It’s surviving that’s the problem.
The mouther has two abilities that make it truly dangerous. The first is Abberant Ground; this turns all the ground within a 10-foot radius of the monster is made into difficult terrain. Any creature within that radius must make a DC 10 STR save. Fail, and its speed will be reduced to zero.
The other is Gibbering. While it can see a creature, it speaks in gibberish. Any creature within 20 feet of the mouther must make a DC 10 WIS save. Those that fail lose their ability to take reactions and must roll 1d8. Rolling 1-4 means the creature does nothing. Rolling 5-6 forces the creature to take all of its actions, bonus actions, and movement to run in a random direction. Rolling 7-8 forces the victim to take a melee attack against a random creature within its reach; if it can’t, it does nothing.
Finally, there are its actions. Its bite does a whopping 17(5d6) piercing damage on hit. If the victim is medium sized or smaller, it needs to make a DC 10 STR save or be knocked prone. If this damage kills the creature, it’s body is absorbed by the mouther.
Its second action is Binding Spittle, which recharges on a 5-6 roll. It essentially throws an orb of chemical glob that explodes into light. Anyone within range must make a DC 13 DEX save or be blinded until the end of the mouther’s next turn.
And with Multiattack, it can do both at once! What fun!
This could make for an incredible encounter! Put your players in a dark, cramped room and watch them scream as the floor becomes harder to move on, they become paralyzed, and the monster slowly worms its way towards them. Try not to laugh too hard at their agony!
This is an excellent monster. Its lore is shallow, being nothing more than flavor text and setup for a scare. But both its look and its stats in combat are magnificent! This is one of the most creative and memorable monsters we’ve discussed so far!
With all that in mind, let’s put the Gibbering Mouther on the Best of the Bestiary!
- Death Tyrant
- Dragon Turtle
- Green Dragons
- Red Dragons
- Blue Dragons
- Black Dragons
- White Dragons
- Silver Dragons
- Bronze Dragons
- Brass Dragons
- Copper Dragons
- Gold Dragons
- Gibbering Mouther <—————–
- Death Knight
- Bone Devil
- Faerie Dragon
- Storm Giant
- Hill Giant
- Cloud Giant
- Drow (all four of ’em)
- Shadow Demon
- Fire Giant
- Animated Armor
- Ghoul and Ghast
- Pit Fiend
- Chain Devil
- Bearded Devil
- Barbed Devil
- Spined Devil
- Ice Devil
- Horned Devil
- Shadow Dragon
- Frost Giant
- Displacer Beast
- Carrion Crawler
- Rug of Smothering
- Bugbear Chief
- Vine Blight
- Twig Blight
- Needle Blight
- Gas Spore
- Fire Elemental
- Water Elemental
- Air Elemental
- Stone Giant
- Dinosaurs (All six of them)
- Earth Elemental
- Galeb Duhr
- Flying Sword
- Crawling Claw
- Violet Fungus
3 responses to “Gibbering Mouther: I’m sorry, what?”
Top 20, yeah! I never made the jump to 5th edition, are abominations still a thing? If you exclude dragons they’re dominating so far. And rightly so.
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Abominations are called Aberrations now, but they’re basically the same thing, so yeah, they’re still around. And still the best.
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