Best of the Bestiary, D&D

Kraken: Tyrannical Lord of the Sea

A kraken dreams of casting its tentacles into the heavens and strangling that which birthed it, and when its dream exceeds its reach, it settles for the occasional passing ship.

From ‘Night of the Kraken Cult’ by Malfeore Serrange, Pirate-Mage of Tethyr

Here we go, ladies and germs. It’s time for a big one. Quite literally this time around!

Lore: Abandoned Tools of the Gods

Beneath the waves of the seas, the kraken sleeps. Its name has been forgotten by those who live on land, and those who live in the depths have erased its name from their histories. But when it eventually awakens, all who have forgotten it will remember and tremble.

Long ago, the krakens served as the warriors of the gods. When those wars ended, they broke free. Nations quake when a kraken rises from the ocean, and storms will rise along with them. They are a primeval force that make the greatest achievements of civilization nothing more than a joke.

Some krakens are treated as gods, worshipped by cults across the land. Others ally with Olhydra, the Princess of Elemental Water, and use her cultists for their own. A pleased kraken can calm the seas for their followers. But they are cunning creatures, and their will can never be predicted. Only one thing can be sure: if it is allowed, the kraken will be the ruin of all things.

The lore here is… fine. Most of it is spent describing what happens when one shows up. Which is helpful for building an encounter. And its not like you don’t have narrative opportunities! Put your players up against a kraken-worshipping cult and have the beast itself be the final boss! Or perhaps a high-level party is caught up in a plot by a vengeful god to use the krakens as they were once used. Put your creativity cap on, you can work with it!

Design: Trying Hard to be Cool

I have… mixed feelings on this design. I do like how it doesn’t just do your standard giant-tentacled monster; this is a more creative take on the kraken. But… I don’t know, I can’t really take it seriously.

Why does it have a tentacle beard?

You can definitely tell this is a kraken. It looks suitably bestial and terrible, especially when you remember that this thing is in the Gargantuan size category. That writhing mass of tentacles is in perfect line with the classic depictions of this monster. At the head of that, we don’t have a squid or an octopus; we’ve got a monstrous looking fish with rows of teeth and thick bone-like ridges.

They were likely going for a scary-looking sea monster. And yes, if something like this was looming beneath my ship on the open sea, I could shit myself! But looking at is from a DM’s perspective, it looks kinda… silly. Like it’s trying too hard to be intimidating.

It isn’t a bad design. I know from experience how much it scares players. But it just doesn’t do much for me.

Stats: Lord of Lightning and Storms

Buckle up, boys and girls. Time for a big one.

Killing a kraken isn’t easy. Not just because it’s big enough to fight Godzilla, either. Its AC isn’t the highest we’ve ever seen, but its HP sure does come close, nearly hitting the 500 mark. On top of that, it is completely immune to lightning damage, as well as all nonmagical melee strikes. You can’t paralyze it and you sure as hell can’t frighten it; how do you scare something that knows it’s the most dangerous thing on the seas?

On top of that, it can breath both air and water, making it capable of fighting on land as well as on the seas. Granted, it is much slower on land. But with a beast of this size, is that really a surprise? Plus, it is completely resistant to difficult terrain, and only needs to spend five feet of movement to escape magical restraints or being grappled.

How you would grapple this thing, I will never know.

In terms of regular actions, the kraken has four options to choose from. All of which are all but guaranteed to hit thanks to their monstrous +17 to hit. Its bite doesn’t just do monstrous damage; should the victim be grappled, the kraken will swallow them, dealing an extra 42(12d6) acid damage at the start of each turn should they still be inside. Should a kraken fail a DC 25 Con save, it will barf all swallowed creatures back up. The only way to initiate that is for it to take 50 or more damage in a single turn from a creature inside of it.

Its tentacle does slightly less damage than its bite, but it can grapple its victims should they fail a DC 18 save. On top of that, each of the kraken’s ten tentacles are capable of grappling one foe.

Fling does exactly what you think. It picks up one thing it has grappled and throws it. Should they strike a solid surface, they’ll take a small amount of damage for every 10 feet they flew. If the target was another creature, said creature must make a Dex save or take the same damage and be knocked prone.

Finally, it has Lightning Storm. The kraken creates three bolts of lightning and throws them at one target. The target must make a Dex save; should they fail, they’ll take full damage, should they succeed, they’ll take half.

With multiattack, the kraken can make three tentacle strikes, or replace any one of the three with Fling. This means the beast can freely toss your players around like they’re dolls it isn’t happy with. But if it wants to take a chomp out of them or cast a spell, it’ll need a turn to set up the combo. That creates a nice balance to the battle, so it doesn’t just steamroll the party by eating them all at once.

But we’re not done yet. This boy has three Legendary Actions! With these, it can use another tentacle attack or Fling, or it could use two to cast Lightning Storm. Or, by using all three at once, it can use Ink Cloud. This essentially creates a giant cloud of poison that is dispersed through the water, obscuring the area and dealing poison damage.

On top of all of that, it has Lair Actions. If you take it on in the dark depths of the sea, you’ll have a whole slew of other things to deal with. Such as:

  • A strong current that throws players around should they fail a Strength save
  • An increase in lightning vulnerability until the initiative count of 20 on the next round
  • The water is filled with lightning, dealing damage

All of this combines for one of the most hectic and insane final bosses you could get in Dungeons and Dragons. There is a lot the players need to keep track of, and a lot the monster is capable of. It could be the greatest fight in your whole campaign, a grand finale beyond any other!

Unless you have a beholder. Or a dragon. Or any other giant final boss. But this one is still really cool!

Placement

This is a really strong monster. The lore is only alright, as is the design. But god damn, those stats are insane! This is a monster worthy of the final boss spot!

With all that in mind, let’s put the Kraken 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. Sea Hag
  14. Bronze Dragons
  15. Brass Dragons
  16. Copper Dragons
  17. Gold Dragons
  18. Chuul
  19. Gibbering Mouther
  20. Kraken <————————
  21. Intellect Devourer
  22. Chimera
  23. Death Knight
  24. Fomorian
  25. Bone Devil
  26. Dracolich
  27. Faerie Dragon
  28. Kobold
  29. Kenku
  30. Hobgoblins
  31. Night Hag
  32. Green Hag
  33. Ankheg
  34. Hook Horror
  35. Storm Giant
  36. Hill Giant
  37. Empyrean
  38. Efreeti
  39. Grimlock
  40. Dao
  41. Cloud Giant
  42. Drow (all four of ’em)
  43. Shadow Demon
  44. Marilith
  45. Drider
  46. Aarackockra
  47. Azer
  48. Demilich
  49. Spectator
  50. Hydra
  51. Marid
  52. Harpy
  53. Werejackal
  54. Half-Dragon
  55. Cambion
  56. Fire Giant
  57. Animated Armor
  58. Banshee
  59. Basilisk
  60. Yochlol
  61. Bulette
  62. Cloaker
  63. Darkmantle
  64. Doppelganger
  65. Ghoul and Ghast
  66. Ettin
  67. Pit Fiend
  68. Erinyes
  69. Chain Devil
  70. Bearded Devil
  71. Barbed Devil
  72. Spined Devil
  73. Ice Devil
  74. Djinni
  75. Nalfeshnee
  76. Glabrezu
  77. Chasme
  78. Grell
  79. Barlgura
  80. Horned Devil
  81. Balor
  82. Shadow Dragon
  83. Vrock
  84. Dretch
  85. Gnolls (all three)
  86. Goristro
  87. Hezrou
  88. Manes
  89. Frost Giant
  90. Duergar
  91. Quasit
  92. Dryad
  93. Flumph
  94. Goblin
  95. Githyanki
  96. Planetar
  97. Imp
  98. Clay Golem
  99. Flameskull
  100. Displacer Beast
  101. Carrion Crawler
  102. Githzerai
  103. Grick
  104. Invisible Stalker
  105. Rug of Smothering
  106. Bugbear Chief
  107. Bugbear
  108. Flesh Golem
  109. Vine Blight
  110. Twig Blight
  111. Needle Blight
  112. Bullywug
  113. Hellhound
  114. Ettercap
  115. Gas Spore
  116. Cockatrice
  117. Lemure
  118. Homonculus
  119. Solar
  120. Deva
  121. Gorgon
  122. Hippogriff
  123. Griffon
  124. Cyclops
  125. Centaur
  126. Ghost
  127. Fire Elemental
  128. Water Elemental
  129. Air Elemental
  130. Stone Giant
  131. Deep Gnome
  132. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  133. Iron Golem
  134. Stone Golem
  135. Earth Elemental
  136. Galeb Duhr
  137. Helmed Horror
  138. Flying Sword
  139. Crawling Claw
  140. Violet Fungus
  141. Shrieker
  142. Gargoyle

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