Shambling Mound: The Abomination of Nature

Lore: Child of Swamps and Storms

Sometimes referred to as a shambler, a shambling mound resides in dark swamps or rain forests, eating everything organic that crosses its path. Plants, animals, none can escape its hunger. Luckily, they are as slow as they are rare, keeping them from cleansing an ecosystem. Even so, there is an unsettling silence wherever these monsters reside.

As they’re made of various forms of rotting vegetation, shamblers can easily blend into their environments to hunt. Being too slow to chase, they absorb nutrients from everything around them as they wait for their prey to come to them. Should one stumble upon it, it will strike with surprising – and terrifying – vigor.

When lightning strikes at an ordinary swamp plant, or when fey magic goes to work, a shambler is born. At its heart is a root-stem; its plant body protects this stem while it simultaneously feeds on itself. Should lightning strike again, it would invigorate the stem, bolstering the shambling mound even further.

In a surprising bout of intelligence, the root-stem is capable of feigning death in the face of an overwhelming opponent. If not fully destroyed, the shambler can rise again and continue hunting. Because of this, truly ridding oneself of a shambler infestation is far more difficult than with most pests.

This lore is a prime example of how less can be more. Mainly in that this one has got blocks and blocks of text, yet it’s actual storytelling potential is extremely limited. Honestly, I don’t even think it’s worth a side quest. At best, you can write a random encounter in a jungle with it.

Not off to a great start. But there’s still plenty of time to turn it around.

Design: Wrath of the Plants

Man, giant plant monsters are so fucking cool! There’s not even a real reason for that, they’re just cool!

Don’t worry, kids, that guy is having a fun time in there. That isn’t screaming, it’s cheering.

I love this design! It’s not just cool, it’s brimming with creativity and it effectively communicates the lore without so much as a word! This is a top tier design, no doubt about it!

The fact that it’s a weird mish-mash of all these different kinds of plants is perfect. You’ve got some weird mushrooms, vines, tree roots, the thing is a walking swamp. It’s like a Resident Evil monster in D&D!

Also, hilarious as it is, the inclusion of the one dude in the artwork really sells how horrifying this monster can be. If it gets you, it isn’t just gonna chomp your head off and be done with it. It’ll swallow you whole and crush you into fertilizer. That, to me, is so much worse than the alternative.

This is a rock solid design through and through. Easily the best aspect of the monster.

Which is really unfortunate to say at the halfway point.

Stats: Nature’s Devourer

You know, for a monster that’s essentially just a bunch of dead plants stacked on top of each other, this guy is surprisingly durable!

Killing a shambling mound is not a quick effort. While its AC isn’t exceptional, its HP is definitely nothing to sneeze at. More than that, it is resistant to cold and fire damage, as well as completely immune to lightning and the blind, deaf, and exhausted conditions. This is one tough cookie.

Oh yeah, it isn’t just immune to lightning. It completely absorbs it. Hit this guy with any lightning magic and all you’ll do is heal it.

Aside from that, the fight is relatively straight-forward. The shambler can either slam into you with its body or just straight-up try to eat you.

Simple as it is, it doesn’t make for an amazing fight. Nor does it make for a terrible one. There is more going on here than just ‘hit it until it dies.’ But the bulk of the strategizing is just ‘avoid lightning’ and ‘don’t get swallowed.’ It’s not as bad as it should be, but it could be more interesting.

How in the hell did they make a plant monster that doesn’t even do plant things?!


Honestly, this one is really disappointing. It’s design is one of the best we’ve seen in ages! But the lore and the stats just can’t keep up.

With all that in mind, the Shambling Mound is going to #134 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. Shadow
  28. Chimera
  29. Death Knight
  30. Fomorian
  31. Bone Devil
  32. Dracolich
  33. Faerie Dragon
  34. Gelatinous Cube
  35. Lich
  36. Peryton
  37. Remorhaz
  38. Orcs (all four of ’em)
  39. Magmin
  40. Kobold
  41. Kenku
  42. Hobgoblins
  43. Night Hag
  44. Green Hag
  45. Black Pudding
  46. Ankheg
  47. Hook Horror
  48. Oni
  49. Purple Worm
  50. Storm Giant
  51. Hill Giant
  52. Empyrean
  53. Efreeti
  54. Grimlock
  55. Minotaur
  56. Dao
  57. Cloud Giant
  58. Manticore
  59. Scarecrow
  60. Drow (all four of ’em)
  61. Shadow Demon
  62. Modrons (all five of ’em)
  63. Marilith
  64. Drider
  65. Aarackockra
  66. Azer
  67. Demilich
  68. Spectator
  69. Gray Ooze
  70. Ochre Jelly
  71. Hydra
  72. Rakshasa
  73. Marid
  74. Salamander
  75. Harpy
  76. Werejackal
  77. Otyugh
  78. Satyr
  79. Half-Dragon
  80. Cambion
  81. Fire Giant
  82. Nothic
  83. Pixie
  84. Animated Armor
  85. Roper
  86. Banshee
  87. Basilisk
  88. Yochlol
  89. Bulette
  90. Cloaker
  91. Darkmantle
  92. Doppelganger
  93. Revenant
  94. Ghoul and Ghast
  95. Sahuagin (all three)
  96. Ettin
  97. Medusa
  98. Pit Fiend
  99. Erinyes
  100. Chain Devil
  101. Bearded Devil
  102. Barbed Devil
  103. Spined Devil
  104. Ice Devil
  105. Mimic
  106. Djinni
  107. Merrow
  108. Nalfeshnee
  109. Glabrezu
  110. Chasme
  111. Grell
  112. Barlgura
  113. Horned Devil
  114. Balor
  115. Shadow Dragon
  116. Myconids (all four of ’em)
  117. Piercer
  118. Werebear
  119. Lizardfolk
  120. Vrock
  121. Dretch
  122. Pseudodragon
  123. Gnolls (all three)
  124. Goristro
  125. Hezrou
  126. Manes
  127. Quaggoth
  128. Frost Giant
  129. Weretiger
  130. Werewolf
  131. Duergar
  132. Quasit
  133. Dryad
  134. Shambling Mound <————————-
  135. Flumph
  136. Goblin
  137. Nightmare
  138. Rust Monster
  139. Wereboar
  140. Wererat
  141. Githyanki
  142. Owlbear
  143. Planetar
  144. Imp
  145. Ogres/Half-ogres
  146. Roc
  147. Clay Golem
  148. Flameskull
  149. Displacer Beast
  150. Carrion Crawler
  151. Githzerai
  152. Grick
  153. Invisible Stalker
  154. Rug of Smothering
  155. Bugbear Chief
  156. Bugbear
  157. Flesh Golem
  158. Vine Blight
  159. Twig Blight
  160. Needle Blight
  161. Mephits (all six of ’em)
  162. Bullywug
  163. Hellhound
  164. Ettercap
  165. Gas Spore
  166. Cockatrice
  167. Lemure
  168. Homonculus
  169. Merfolk
  170. Solar
  171. Deva
  172. Gorgon
  173. Hippogriff
  174. Griffon
  175. Cyclops
  176. Centaur
  177. Ghost
  178. Pegasus
  179. Fire Elemental
  180. Water Elemental
  181. Air Elemental
  182. Stone Giant
  183. Deep Gnome
  184. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  185. Iron Golem
  186. Stone Golem
  187. Earth Elemental
  188. Galeb Duhr
  189. Helmed Horror
  190. Flying Sword
  191. Crawling Claw
  192. Violet Fungus
  193. Shrieker
  194. Gargoyle

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