Within Dungeons & Dragons, there are many hundreds of monsters for the Dungeon Master to choose from to challenge a party with. At higher levels, this will often come in the form of a powerful dragon, one of the most classic creatures within the game.
However, there are plenty of other interesting and powerful creatures for a group of adventurers to face. Dungeons & Dragons contains many threats that aren’t dragons. Each of these poses its unique challenge and storytelling opportunities. Some are even more powerful than dragons, and a sure threat to any party.
Updated 3rd of January by Isaac Williams: Dragons have a starring role in D&D, but they’re far from the only high-level antagonists. The worlds of D&D are full of horrific threats of all sorts. This list has been updated with even more of D&D 5e’s most dangerous non-dragon monsters to give DMs even more variety.
15/15 A Molydeus Serves The Demon Lords
A molydeus is a creature that serves the demon lords as one of their most powerful servants. Molydei are inhuman creatures with multiple heads and more than enough attacks to threaten any adventurer. They’re the most dangerous type of demon, even outdoing the iconic balor.
While not quite as hardy as the pit fiend, a molydeus is nevertheless an even more fearsome foe. They have plenty of magic, Resistances, and powerful attacks to make adventurers tremble. They also have a set of Legendary Actions they can call upon. A single molydeus is meant to be able to hold its own against an entire party.
14/15 Warforged Colossi Are Weapons Of War
Most warforged in D&D 5e‘s Eberron setting are humanoid creatures. Their construct nature gives them a few abilities, but nothing absurd. The warforged colossus differs from other warforged. It’s a gargantuan war machine that destroys everything in its path.
A warforged colossus is a physical powerhouse. It has high Armor Class and a huge number of hit points. In addition, it has standard attacks, area-of-effect slams, and a light beam that can devastate entire armies. Its very presence forces enemies to make a difficult Wisdom saving throw or become Frightened.
13/15 Eberron’s Overlords Are Global Threats
The Eberron campaign setting isn’t lacking for ultimate evils. Some of the most dangerous are the Overlords. These are ancient servants of Khyber who once dominated the world. They’re all considered threats greater in scale than most D&D campaigns cover. Of the thirty, only two have statblocks in 5e.
Both of these statblocks are almost unstoppable. They have huge numbers of hit points, many powerful magical abilities, and many cruel tricks to thwart any way of fighting them. Both Rak Tulkhesh and Sul Khatesh are among the most dangerous beings in D&D 5e. Their statblocks are explicitly only for if evil wins and they’re unleashed on the world at full force.
The Lich has earned its place as one of the most dangerous creatures a party can encounter. They’re powerful wizards who have gone even further than their fellows to extend their lives and powers. Liches combine the threat of a powerful spellcaster with the natural advantages of undeath.
As one might expect, the Lich’s power lies not in physical combat but in magical prowess. They can cast some of the most powerful spells in the game, up to and including the infamous Power Word Kill. Even their most basic attack can inflict Paralyzed, one of D&D‘s most devastating conditions. On top of everything else, they get Legendary Actions and Lair Actions.
11/15 Pit Fiends Combine Physical Prowess With Powerful Magic
Pit fiends are the most powerful of regular devils. They’re near the top of the Nine Hells’ hierarchy and hold onto it with sheer might. They’re most obviously physical threats, and they have an array of powerful physical attacks. Each of these hits hard, and the Bite can inflict a lingering poison that will rapidly kill many characters.
In addition, pit fiends are powerful spellcasters. They don’t cast spells conventionally. Instead, they have Innate Spellcasting with some lethal spells. In particular, they can cast Dominate Monster three times per day. This lets pit fiends turn allies against one another or foil a party’s best-laid plans.
10/15 Magic Is Useless Against An Astral Dreadnought
Astral Dreadnoughts in D&D are some of the few entities native to the Astral Plane. They simply roam their existence, looking for other creatures to devour. These gargantuan monstrosities are nigh-unstoppable, but for the most determined and prepared party.
Astral Dreadnoughts are, even at their most basic, powerful physical combatants. However, their other abilities enhance them further. They possess a natural antimagic cone that can stop any magical ability within 150ft of them. In addition, they can devour characters and trap them within an extradimensional prison inside of themselves.
9/15 A Mind Flayer Lich Combines Two Horrors
The only thing worse than an ordinary Lich is one that was once a Mind Flayer. Known as an Illithilich, these combine the most horrific aspects of both creatures, a terrible combination of devastating magic and powerful psionic abilities.
Only the most well-equipped and prepared party of adventurers should consider taking on one of these monsters. Illithilich may not have quite the complement of spells of an ordinary Lich, but they have plenty of other dangerous actions. These include a powerful psionic Mind Blast and the ability to extract and devour the brains of its enemies.
8/15 Krakens Rule The Sea
Krakens are gargantuan ocean monstrosities with the power to destroy ships and seaside towns with ease. They’re some of the most dangerous aquatic creatures in all of D&D 5e. Such is their sheer power that some cults form to worship them like gods.
Krakens are almost literally unstoppable. They have high Armor Class and a huge number of hit points. In addition, they have many immunities, Legendary Resistances, and an ability that prevents their speed being lowered. Krakens complement this with powerful attacks, including flinging grappled enemies, devouring them, or creating a lightning storm underwater.
7/15 Empyreans Are The Children Of Gods
Empyreans are the literal children of the gods. This alone lets them rank among the most powerful entities to walk the planes. While most are creatures of good and law, some empyreans may be corrupted and turned to evil. These evil empyreans are some of the most dangerous enemies in the multiverse for adventurers.
Empyreans combine powerful physical capabilities with some equally strong divine magic. In addition, their position as the progeny of the gods grants them the ability to bolster any creature that fights alongside them. They also get Legendary Actions and Legendary Resistances.
6/15 Zaratan Are As Destructive As The Earth Itself
A zaratan is one the most powerful of earth elementals. They’re sentient physical manifestations of the world itself. They typically aren’t evil, but neither are they good. Instead, they’re simply as dangerous and implacable as a planet in their own right.
Should a party of adventurers be forced to stop a zaratan in its tracks, they will be hard-pressed to do so. In its inexorable march onward, the footsteps of the zaratan can create shock waves that deal significant damage and send creatures flying. Even if the party manages to damage it, the creature will simply hide within its nearly impenetrable shell until it can regenerate.
5/15 Demon Lords Rule Part Of The Multiverse
Demon Lords don’t have one single statblock. Instead, they’re a particular class of demon, the very cream of the crop. Demon Lords each rule one layer of the Abyss and have the power to back that status up. They have very diverse statblocks. Some are brute physical threats, others have strange and unique abilities, and others are powerful spellcasters.
Demon Lords vary greatly, except that they’re all very powerful. Beings like Demogorgon and Orcus are among the most powerful in all of D&D 5e, with a Challenge Rating of over 25. Even comparatively lesser Demon Lords like Zuggtmoy are a greater threat than most D&D parties can face.
4/15 Elder Tempests Are Storms Brought To Life
When the most powerful of storms takes on a life of its own, it may become an elder tempest. An elemental being of immense power, it appears as a writhing serpent made of cloud, rain, and lightning. All of D&D‘s Elder Elementals are fearsome, but few match an elder tempest for destructive power.
The elder tempest has powerful elemental attacks of wind and lightning and can fly freely within the tempest that created it. It’s one of the most resilient foes in the game. Elder tempests are immune to most conditions and capable of doing high damage. In addition, Siege Monster lets them deal double damage to structures. They’re not just a threat to parties, but to entire cities.
3/15 The Marut Were Created To Protect The Planes
Maruts are constructs created to enforce contracts and laws throughout the Multiverse. As such, they’re designed to be able to fight some of D&D‘s most fearsome extraplanar monsters. They’re more than able to succeed in this, which also makes them a threat to any D&D characters who cross them.
What makes a marut so dangerous is its inability to miss. All of a marut’s attacks automatically hit and deal a fixed amount of force damage. Fighting a marut is like fighting a ticking clock — and one that is very hard to beat. In addition, they can simply teleport some PCs away to the Hall of Judgment and leave with them.
2/15 Tromokratis Is Beyond Legendary
Tromokratis is a kraken unique to the Theros setting. It’s an example of that setting’s Mythic Monsters, creatures that go above the normal power scale of D&D. For most of the fight, Tromokratis fights like a powerful legendary creature. It has many of the usual abilities, such as Magic Resistance, Legendary Resistances, and several powerful attacks.
However, it goes one step further. Reducing Tromokratis to zero hit points doesn’t kill it. Instead, it simply causes it to use its Mythic Trait. This causes the fight to enter a second, more difficult phase. Tromokratis gains access to new, more powerful Legendary Actions, while forcing players to fight it in a specific way.
1/15 The Tarrasque Is The Most Dangerous Creature In D&D
The tarrasque is perhaps the most infamous monster in all of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s a being of pure destruction that exists to inflict carnage on the world around it. Everything about the creature is designed to make it unstoppable and capable of inflicting devastation.
Most powerful monsters have some form of magical or supernatural ability. The tarrasque mostly gets by on mundane brute strength. Its attacks are accurate and hard-hitting, and it can grapple and swallow enemies. However, it also has a Reflective Carapace. The tarrasque is completely immune to certain spells and can reflect them right back at attackers.
NEXT: 20 Monsters That Are Perfect For Low Level D&D Adventures