Piercer: Death From Above

Some mad genius at Wizards of the Coast really said, “Hey, why not have a weird slug think that disguises itself as a stalactite?” And then they made that. And they put it in the game. And I have nothing but respect for everyone involved in that process.

Lore: They Are the Ceiling

Clinging to the ceilings beneath the earth, piercers are indistinguishable from ordinary stone. When an unsuspecting victim steps beneath them, they leave their perch and… do as their name suggests.

Piercers are the larval form of another monster called a roper. As such, the two often coordinate their attacks. How?

Dunno. The book forgets about that and starts talking about the piercer’s skin.

While piercers can see, they mainly respond to noise and heat to decide when to strike. Should they miss their shot, they must make its way back up the ceiling slowly. In order to protect itself, it secretes a foul-smelling slime that wards off predators. To maximize hunting success, they’ll gather in colonies; when one piercer slays its prey, the others will swarm the corpse and join in the feast.

This lore is incredibly underwhelming. You can write a single encounter out of it, but that’s all. If you’re looking for a central monster for a deep or entertaining D&D story, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Design: Slug Needle Death Thing

This thing is horrifying and all, but I can’t help but grin when I look at its big wide eye and flat mouth. It just looks so silly when you look at it like that!

It just has a dopey face! Tell me I’m wrong!

I love this thing’s design. It fits the lore (such as it is) incredibly well. If this thing were hanging on a dark ceiling rather than laying on the floor, it would be indistinguishable from a normal stalactite. Dude legit looks like a rock.

Is its face really funny? Yeah. But if this thing is falling at you like a bullet from above, then it’s gonna stop bein’ funny real fast.

Stats: Death From Above

You know those slime things from Dark Souls? The ones that drop on top of you in the Catacombs? Yeah, it’s that.

This is far from a dangerous monster. Both its AC and HP are really low, so your players ought to be able to kill it really quickly. Its primary attack only works if something is standing right beneath it. If it misses, hell even if it hits, it has to climb all the way back up to try again.

Oh, and it takes fall damage each time it tries. Poor bastard might just kill itself before it kills anyone in your party.

Now, to be fair, its Drop attack, if successful, can be really dangerous. For every 10 feet it falls, it does an extra 1d6 damage, capping out at 21(6d6). For an early game player, that can be pretty devastating.

But considering they have a climbing speed of 5 ft per round? It stops being scary after that first time.

Throw enough of these at your players and it could make for a pretty intense encounter. They’ve got to watch the roof of the cave while fighting off the piercers that land around them. All the while, the ones they missed begin their trek back up to try again. It may not be a particularly fun fight, but it can make for a quick scare and it is at least more creative than those ‘hit it ’till it dies’ fights.

Placement

This is definitely one of the weaker monsters on the list. Its design is pretty good, and its stats could make for a worse fight, even if it still isn’t a spectacular one. But that lore is just nothing.

With all that in mind, the Piercer is going to #106 on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Mind Flayer
  4. Dragon Turtle
  5. Mummy/Mummy Lord
  6. Nagas (all three of ’em)
  7. Green Dragons
  8. Red Dragons
  9. Blue Dragons
  10. Black Dragons
  11. White Dragons
  12. Silver Dragons
  13. Couatl
  14. Behir
  15. Aboleth
  16. Sea Hag
  17. Lamia
  18. Bronze Dragons
  19. Brass Dragons
  20. Copper Dragons
  21. Gold Dragons
  22. Chuul
  23. Kuo-Toa
  24. Gibbering Mouther
  25. Kraken
  26. Intellect Devourer
  27. Chimera
  28. Death Knight
  29. Fomorian
  30. Bone Devil
  31. Dracolich
  32. Faerie Dragon
  33. Gelatinous Cube
  34. Lich
  35. Peryton
  36. Orcs (all four of ’em)
  37. Magmin
  38. Kobold
  39. Kenku
  40. Hobgoblins
  41. Night Hag
  42. Green Hag
  43. Black Pudding
  44. Ankheg
  45. Hook Horror
  46. Oni
  47. Storm Giant
  48. Hill Giant
  49. Empyrean
  50. Efreeti
  51. Grimlock
  52. Minotaur
  53. Dao
  54. Cloud Giant
  55. Manticore
  56. Drow (all four of ’em)
  57. Shadow Demon
  58. Modrons (all five of ’em)
  59. Marilith
  60. Drider
  61. Aarackockra
  62. Azer
  63. Demilich
  64. Spectator
  65. Gray Ooze
  66. Ochre Jelly
  67. Hydra
  68. Marid
  69. Harpy
  70. Werejackal
  71. Otyugh
  72. Half-Dragon
  73. Cambion
  74. Fire Giant
  75. Nothic
  76. Animated Armor
  77. Banshee
  78. Basilisk
  79. Yochlol
  80. Bulette
  81. Cloaker
  82. Darkmantle
  83. Doppelganger
  84. Ghoul and Ghast
  85. Ettin
  86. Medusa
  87. Pit Fiend
  88. Erinyes
  89. Chain Devil
  90. Bearded Devil
  91. Barbed Devil
  92. Spined Devil
  93. Ice Devil
  94. Mimic
  95. Djinni
  96. Merrow
  97. Nalfeshnee
  98. Glabrezu
  99. Chasme
  100. Grell
  101. Barlgura
  102. Horned Devil
  103. Balor
  104. Shadow Dragon
  105. Myconids (all four of ’em)
  106. Piercer <—————-
  107. Werebear
  108. Lizardfolk
  109. Vrock
  110. Dretch
  111. Gnolls (all three)
  112. Goristro
  113. Hezrou
  114. Manes
  115. Frost Giant
  116. Weretiger
  117. Werewolf
  118. Duergar
  119. Quasit
  120. Dryad
  121. Flumph
  122. Goblin
  123. Nightmare
  124. Wereboar
  125. Wererat
  126. Githyanki
  127. Owlbear
  128. Planetar
  129. Imp
  130. Ogres/Half-ogres
  131. Clay Golem
  132. Flameskull
  133. Displacer Beast
  134. Carrion Crawler
  135. Githzerai
  136. Grick
  137. Invisible Stalker
  138. Rug of Smothering
  139. Bugbear Chief
  140. Bugbear
  141. Flesh Golem
  142. Vine Blight
  143. Twig Blight
  144. Needle Blight
  145. Mephits (all six of ’em)
  146. Bullywug
  147. Hellhound
  148. Ettercap
  149. Gas Spore
  150. Cockatrice
  151. Lemure
  152. Homonculus
  153. Merfolk
  154. Solar
  155. Deva
  156. Gorgon
  157. Hippogriff
  158. Griffon
  159. Cyclops
  160. Centaur
  161. Ghost
  162. Pegasus
  163. Fire Elemental
  164. Water Elemental
  165. Air Elemental
  166. Stone Giant
  167. Deep Gnome
  168. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  169. Iron Golem
  170. Stone Golem
  171. Earth Elemental
  172. Galeb Duhr
  173. Helmed Horror
  174. Flying Sword
  175. Crawling Claw
  176. Violet Fungus
  177. Shrieker
  178. Gargoyle
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4 responses to “Piercer: Death From Above”

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