Best of the Bestiary, D&D

Kuoa-Toa: Fish-Men, Non-One Piece Edition

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?

Weird question: what does it sound like when this dude walks?

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.

Moving on.

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.

Placement

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!

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

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