They invent their own gods… the very definition of insanity.Sabal Mizzrym of Menzoberranzan
Whoever at Wizards of the Coast wrote that was swinging hard with that one.
Lore: Devout Fish, Bad Fish
Once, the kuo-toa lived on the surface. Humans drove them beneath the ground, where they lost their minds and their taste for daylight. Some time after this, they were enslaved by the illithids. Being simple-minded creatures, they were unable to handle the mental torment unleashed on them. By the end, they had been driven entirely insane. In their madness, they invented gods to protect them from threats such as the drow, another old enemy.
These gods aren’t just their imaginings. Should enough kuo-toa worship the same imagining, it will come to life as a reality. Their forms can be nonsensical or even entirely random. One of the most worshipped is Blibdoolpoolp the Sea Mother, a human with a crayfish’s head, claws, and shell. Though not all of their gods are of their own invention; some worship aboleths, who take pleasure in freely manipulating such mindless creatures.
At the head of these fanatics is the archpriest, who demand their subjects to worship their specific god. They can give spells to their most devout underlings, whips, who are often the archpriest’s children. When the archpriest dies, they fight to the death for the title. Should they fail, death is often the consequence.
There is a lot of fun lore to use here. It can make for some pretty fun encounters for the players. I can speak from experience on this one; a friend used these guys for a campaign he ran, and it was one of the most fun encounters we ever had. They’re not quite worthy of being the main bad guys, but they’re a fun addition to any campaign.
Design: That’s Just a Fish In Clothes
What else am I supposed to say?
This design is so simple and mindless that it is honestly incredibly fitting. It’s literally just a fish in a tunic. Sure, the archpriest and whip both have artwork in the book as well, but they’re both more or less the same as this one, but with different clothes. They’re all just fish-men.
To be fair, I do love the art. Just look at its eyes! You can tell that thing doesn’t have a wit in its head!
As underwhelming as the design is, it’s fun enough to forgive. It doesn’t hold a candle to most other entries in the Monster Manual, but it’s dumb enough to be kinda fun. So… it’s fine.
Stats: The Sushi Bar
Three. We have three of these to talk about. And each have several paragraphs of abilities on them. Luckily, most of it is shared between all three. So let’s blast through all of that, shall we?
- Amphibious: they can breath air and water
- Otherwordly Perception: they can sense the presence of any creature that is invisible or on the Ethereal Plane within 30 feet of them and can pinpoint them if they move
- Slippery: they have advantage on grapple escapes
- Sunlight Sensitivity: they have disadvantage on attack and sight rolls in sunlight
Then there are the spells. The Archpriest has:
- Cantrips (at will): guidance, sacred flame, thaumaturgy
- 1st level (4 slots): detect magic, sanctuary, shield of faith
- 2nd level (3 slots): hold person, spiritual weapon
- 3rd level (3 slots): spirit guardians, tongues
- 4th level (3 slots): control water, divination
- 5th level (2 slots): mass cure wounds, scrying
Good god. That is… one hell of a list. Luckily, the whip isn’t nearly so dangerous. It only has:
- Cantrips (at will): sacred flame, thaumaturgy
- 1st level (3 slots): bane, shield of faith
Curiously, the base kuo-toa has an ability that the other two don’t: Sticky Shield, a reaction. When a creature misses an attack on them, it uses its sticky shield to catch the weapon. If the attacker fails a DC 11 Strength save, the weapon will become stuck in the shield. So long as they hold the weapon, they are grappled. They must try the save again and succeed in order to pull it free.
Each of the three have different Actions. They each have basic melee weapons, each with different effects. The base version has a net that can restrain its target. The archpriest has a scepter that adds extra lightning damage. The whip has a special staff that can grapple anyone who is hit by it.
On their own, the only one that is truly dangerous is the Archpriest. Put together into a group, every single one of these is dangerous. Each one has a plethora of abilities that can make for an annoying battle that presses the limits of your players and their creativity.
Again: speaking from experience on that one.
These make for a surprisingly good monster! The design is a bit boring, if silly enough to make you smile. But that is more than made up for by the incredible lore and varied stats.
With all that in mind, let’s put the Kuo-Toa on the Best of the Bestiary!
- Death Tyrant
- Dragon Turtle
- Green Dragons
- Red Dragons
- Blue Dragons
- Black Dragons
- White Dragons
- Silver Dragons
- Sea Hag
- Bronze Dragons
- Brass Dragons
- Copper Dragons
- Gold Dragons
- Kuo-Toa <——————-
- Gibbering Mouther
- Intellect Devourer
- Death Knight
- Bone Devil
- Faerie Dragon
- Night Hag
- Green Hag
- Hook Horror
- 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
- Gnolls (all three)
- Frost Giant
- Clay Golem
- Displacer Beast
- Carrion Crawler
- Invisible Stalker
- Rug of Smothering
- Bugbear Chief
- Flesh Golem
- Vine Blight
- Twig Blight
- Needle Blight
- Gas Spore
- Fire Elemental
- Water Elemental
- Air Elemental
- Stone Giant
- Deep Gnome
- Dinosaurs (All six of them)
- Iron Golem
- Stone Golem
- Earth Elemental
- Galeb Duhr
- Helmed Horror
- Flying Sword
- Crawling Claw
- Violet Fungus
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