Deadliest Bestiary Creatures (Monsters you hate seeing across the table)


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I'm curious as far as PF system goes, what monsters do you consider overpowered for their CR? For instance, what creatures are likely to cause a TPK if they're encountered by either an unprepared party, a strange party build, or are encountered at a CR 2 levels higher than the APL? I've noticed a trend with certain APs that sometimes the monsters pulled from the Bestiary give the players more fits than the written up ones, so I'm wondering what people think are some of the deadliest monsters in the Bestiaries?
For my own part, I mainly am concerned with monsters of CRs of 10 or below. since these monsters are more likely to be encountered by players. (Though if there's any standouts in the upper levels, list them!)
Bestiary 1
1)Will o' Wisp: A 6th level party better be prepared for magic immunity, natural invisiblity, an unbeatable flight speed, and an abnormally high AC and touch attack. Oh, and a Fast Healing ability. Elemental resistance is all that will save you, better hope you have enough packed for every PC.
2)Shadow: The only thing that makes fights with shadows fair is that Death Ward provides immunity to them. The problem is that they are a low enough CR for a party facing them to not have access to such magic. Combine near auto-stealth and the ability to outright kill a number of PCs with a lucky critical hit (with no save) make fighting these things a nightmare, especially in multiples. A single one can TPK a whole party if it can spawn off those it kills, quite likely with a surprise round and a high initiative check.
3) Erinyes: An 8th level party has a lot to contend with here, and one of lower level could certainly get wiped. A decently mobile, flying artillery piece packing True Seeing, a very reliable ranged attack, and two extremely debilitating at-will SLAs (Fear and Unholy Blight) make the Erinyes deadly. Combining that with all the immunites, resistances, and abilities that Devils have (DR, SR, teleporting, summoning) and you have a creature that's pretty hard to take down unless you know you're up against one. Unholy Blight at will is the main threat here, as nothing but being Evil or a 12th level Inquisitor can stop the repeated auto-damage the Erinyes can deliver over and over. No other Demon or Devil in the Bestiary of a CR less than 10 can do this.
4) Shadow Demon : In some ways better and worse than fighting an Erinyes, these things have enough potent abilities to wreak havoc on a party. Piggybacking on other creatures with Magic Jar is pretty bad, but the creativity allowed with their Shadow magics as well as being incorporeal (and not undead: only really affected by force spells with the resistances they possess) make them very hard to hurt.Sunlight powerlessness doesn't really mean much if they don't come out during the day or are underground.
5)Mummy : Everytime I've seen someone fight one of these things, something bad happens. Sometimes, its watching the fire-tossing sorcerer get paralyzed and coup-de graced. Other times, its watching as the monk realizes he can't hurt the monster with its DR. Oftentimes, its watching the thing automatically hit any 5th level PC with its +14 attack and inflicting the worst thing about it: Mummy Rot. If you're not packing a 5th level Cleric or don't have spell-casting services nearby (like in a dungeon), you may be kissing your character goodbye, simply because they got hit once... kind of like shadows.
Thoughts?


orcs while may not cause a tpk they are close. If up agianst an equal number of PCs it will be a tough fight.


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I know what you mean. The weapons they favor have a high critical chance (Falchions), for a hit of 4d4+8, enough to drop a number of 1st or even second level PCs. High base strength combined with a good threat range is always a deadly combo, and combine those with darkvision and ferocity and you have a good base threat. For stock bad guys, orcs are some of the harder ones, especially at low levels.


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Large earth elemental. At CR 5, its perfectly capable of one shotting a level 3 or 4 character.


Burrow and Reach is a pretty horrible combo. Out of all the Elementals, I think Earth is the hardest to deal with.


chuul's man. I hate those damn things. I've been playing for 20+years and I've lost 3 characters to them. It really sucked back in 3.x when they had improved grab. They could grab without provoking and if you didn't roll ridiculously well you were lobster chow.


Yeah, quatic encounters can always be tricky, though Freedom of Movement does nerf the lobstrosities. Without it though, dealing with them in the water can be deadly if the party isn't equipped, especially with the rules for weapon damage and visualibility for line of effect.

I think Aboleths can be kind of destabilizing to a game if a PC gets infected with the mucus and isn't within reach of someone capable of reversing the condition. Their powers have a pretty high DC for their CR too. Given the choice between fighting 3 chuuls or 2 aboleths, I'd pick the chuuls. And lobster tastes good.


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Big cliffs.

Two bad rolls is all it takes to kill a low level character, and you need to make a ton of rolls just to get up/down.

Nearly happened to me on the VERY first Pathfinder game I ever did. (I rolled two 1s in a row. Christ, it's like the dice were sending me a death threat).

Can't say I've ever had to fight something that almost nuked the party. But I'll be certainly keeping an eye out for the monsters in this thread now.


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Swarms. I friggin hate fighting swarms.


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Imps.
CR 2

DR 5/good or silver
Flying
Invisible
Poison
Fast healing

The only thing not making it a total nightmare is the d4 damage, which is more than made up for by the poison. (the +8 to attacks means that its going to hit a good deal except vs the tank at that level and the Tank (if you have one) is the guy most likely to save anyway).

Give the bugger a bow and smoething to hide behind and he's just terrible.

Not to mention Beast Shape I at will.

-S


Starfinder Superscriber

I have a few players that scream and throw things at me if an Ogre Magi shows up. I'm not sure why, it's not like I've really killed anyone with one, but they just hate the monster that seems to be able to do a little of everything.


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Pugwampis... the creature that killed a campaign. We were playing Legacy of Fire and ran into them. After three boring hours of the same combat, we all just up and left to play Rockband and the campaign died.


Not necessarily overpowered, but Redcaps gave my PCs some trouble on one or two occasions. Their fast healing and damage reduction proved annoying, and they do a decent amount of damage with their full attacks.

Ghouls are another one; even an APL-appropriate crowd of them can paralyze one or more party members.


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Yeah, never faced an Imp at low level, but I could see one being too hard to pinpoint for an unfocused group to take out, which gives the monster free reign to harass the PCs until they're dead.

My Opinion on Bestiary 2
1)Pugwampi I've never seen such rage directed towards any single monster as I have these little menaces. While humorous and dangerous on their own, paired with large animals, they retain their threat into the mid-levels. My Legacy group hated them from the first encounter to the last, and were very thankful that there were some encounters in later modules where the little buggers weren't present.
2)Witchfire Will-O-Wisps on steroids. Trading off magic immunity for being incorporeal and possessing a host of spell-likes is pretty even, but the Witchflame ability can make it so that the hags can burn through Protection from Energy spells with a couple attacks, and at range. Extremely dangerous considering the damage ouput its capable of. In multiples (like a coven), its easy for them to gang up and char the PCs one by one.
3)Sandman This CR 3 is packing burrow, DR 10, elemental traits, a sleep aura and a sleep attack on every hit. Pretty nasty considering its got decent HP, attack bonus and senses. If it has something else to take advantage of helpless creatures, it can be a brutal low-level combo.
4)Lamia Matriarch Never mind classed ones with lots of gear, a standard one is pretty bad in its own right. Sort of like a high powered succubus coupled with decent melee abilities, except every hit's gonna make you weaker against her charms, aside of which are coupled with her choice of Arcane or Divine spells. An unforgiving DM can swap around the spell-lists to make a real AC monster and not even change the CR (AC 30 is possible by giving Shield of Faith, Shield, and Cat's Grace in place of Divine Favor, Magic Missle, and Death Knell.)
5)Animate Dream Everyone packing Death Ward? It Dim-Doors away. If not, get ready for a near auto touch attack for 6d8 and other bad stuff. Even against Death Warded enemies, it has a slew of some of the best mid-level mind-affecting spells in the game. To top it all off, its incorporeal, has SR, and isn't undead.


Azten wrote:
Swarms. I friggin hate fighting swarms.

I feel dirty not warning my players of the existence of creatures that are immune to all physical weapons, but they've played enough Pathfinder now to know the danger such things present. Against a party without area of effects or even alchemist fire, a lowly spider swarm can toast them if they're in an area they can't move quicker than it. (like while climbing or in lots of difficult terrain.).


Favorite is also the Level 7 NPC Druid BBEG with the Tiger companion, having summoned swarms, using Dire Tiger form with appropiate combat feats, attacking inside a tangled forest with difficult terrain all around and poor visibility.

CR6 my A*S.


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lamia matriarch is the most annoying creature ever, specially when they got class lvls (and sisters)

yes im looking at you, fancy mask lady!!!!


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Necrophidius with their DR, construct traits, paralysis and Dance of death, it can pretty easily wipe out a low level party.

That being said, I love running into monsters that are tougher than you expect.


I ran an encounter the other day that I didn't think would be too hard for my party to handle, since it was 6 well geared PCs at level 10 vs 4 efreet. Just before the combat I looked a little bit harder on their spell abilities, and man they have some pretty good action economy. Quickened scorching ray, scorching ray, invisibility, wall of fire, good CC ability, decent enough intelligence to use the abilities well, and an escape plan (gaseous form). Even with the PCs getting the drop on them they were able to control the battlefield and pick apart the party since not all of the PCs had rings of fire resistance. Only thing that saved them is once of the PCs purged the invisibility so the ninja was able to flank and start killing.

I've heard that the hellwasps or whatever the name of those evil bees are are pretty rough. Immune or resistant to the most common type of AoE damage means you can't just use alchemical items to just kill them, and even if you could they have a decent amount of HP.

Second the pugwumpis. Shatter + unluck penalty and dangerous environments equals a bad day for the party. I mean how many PCs actually prepare repair spells at low level? Fighting them in their nest was one of the most memorable fights in a long while.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

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Ghouls consistently kill pcs in my campaigns. Seems like I'm alway losing 1 or 2 to old fashioned ghouls.

One encounter with a gibbering mouther taught me a healthy respect. A lot of nasty powers they can use with standard attacks, and confusion allow levels is tough.

Grand Lodge

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My new favourite "tough" monster has to be a leech swarm. I've had these thrown at my group several times in Pathfinder Society scenarios in the last month, and they are tough! At CR 4, they have auto-hit 2d6 damage, plus 1d3 STR & CON damage, plus poison for 1d4 DEX damage, plus distraction. The only thing that makes them manageable is that they only move 5'.


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i ran an encounter last night with a lurker in light (cr5) for 4 4th level PC's who had a really hard time of it.

this was the second time they had encountered it and it took them over an hour of real time to deal with the one encounter, even on fast combat rounds.

they got stuck in a readied action loop and the lurker who had been faerie fired by the druid before wouldn't attack while he looked ready to cast a spell, was their second encounter of the day and they still had a fair few resources left but by the end of the encounter they were forced to spam wand charges to keep people alive from the invisible flyby sneak attacks.

they also got really lucky that their healer didn't get blinded (passed 3 saves at dc16), if he had got blinded the alchemist, barbarian and druid would have been ruined. eventually they killed it with readied grappling actions because i failed an escape artist roll.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Selgard wrote:

Imps.

CR 2

<...>

Give the bugger a bow and something to hide behind and he's just terrible.

Not to mention Beast Shape I at will.

-S

RotRL Spoiler:
The quasit under Sandpoint can be kind of grim for a low-level party, so I figure an imp is going to be at least that rough.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I've found the clockwork soldier to have obscene attack and damage rolls for its CR. True melee monsters they are. What's more, they are proficient in any martial weapon! Ever encounter these guys with polearms at level 6, in a small room? Everyone in the party is going to die.

Also, I second the will-o-wisp as a contender. Would have TPK'd our entire party once if not for GM intervention (once they realized the terrible encounter design of it all).

Anything with a nasty gaze attack, like a group of bodaks or a medusa makes it on this list: All they have to do is use the total defense action (and other tricks) to pump their AC, and wait until the PCs eventually fail their saves and die.


Azten wrote:
Swarms. I friggin hate fighting swarms.

I was dming a pyramid dungeon from paizo, and I was very impressed when a player worked out via hints, that invisible swarms were coming towards them. They didn't fight, even try to, they just got the hell out of there.

Ogres can cane if you are low level. All that to hit, all that to damage.
Orcs can quickly take out low level spellcasters, straight to death. 1st level high strength warriors taking down spellcasters 1-3.

I know one party member playing a warlock a few years back, grew to hate the flail snails of a border region. Spells hit allies, rebounded on them personally, and the snails can mix it up close too.

As dm, I usually bring out a type of hag eventually. They always punch above their weight, and have taken players hostage. Fill a niche like the ogre magi.

Next game, first ed monsters ahoy, killer bees and the like. I'll post if any make a real mark.


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Ogres! I mean I've seen ogres give APL 5 party a run for their money. Bumping into a single Ogre at level 1 is brutal but appropriate as for APL1 party for a tough fight as that is APL+2 Hard. I've seen a single Ogre TPK a parties and I've seen Ogre's die with out harming a party all. Between levels 1-4 Ogres are really a question luck and tactic determining how well you fare.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Rust Monster

Any creature that teams up with a rust monster can prove deadly. Bye bye plate mail after 2 strikes by a rust monster and the creature that teams up with it just basically got a +8 to its attack roll. :(


Rakshasa basically stole my list, although I probably would have replaced the will o' wisp with a swarm or another incorporeal undead of some kind (wraith, spectre, etc.) -- I haven't encountered any will o' wisps with my PCs.

I hate puzzle monsters; they're either boring or frustrating.

An honorable mention goes to any creature that can summon more copies of itself. I'm looking at you, Schir Demon!


I had forgotten to check out hellwasp. I know they were brutal in 3.5. I did not check the PF stats yet, but if they are the same then I would add them also.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

I saw a party almost get wiped by a Caryatid Column a few weeks ago at PFS. They were a Tier 1-2 party going up against a CR 3 with DR 5/-, Immunity to Magic, and it breaks your weapons when you hit it. Ouch!


Dire Lion - Tough to beat for its CR
Dread Wraith - Level Draining machine
Jabberwock - Nastiest dragon in the whole game
Hags with levels in witch class - Kill Them quick!
Rust Monster - Run!


John Woodford wrote:
Selgard wrote:

Imps.

CR 2

<...>

Give the bugger a bow and something to hide behind and he's just terrible.

Not to mention Beast Shape I at will.

-S

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
I knooow thats why I know they suck like a gaping chest wound. We finally killed it when a character leapt into the air during an "its visible" moment and dragged it to the ground, very nearly ending himself in the process. (jump -over- the pool not -into- the pool)
Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Good god, but I hate going up against alignmental outsiders. Almost all of them have DR against things no low-level PC has access to, under normal circumstances...yet some of them still act as CR 1...

A level 1 character grows to despise a Lemure...huzzah, my sword can deal up to 10 damage! Oh wait...5...oh...dang...


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Lot's of good stuff in this thread so far.

Last session I almost killed the party with a ghoul encounter... I didn't pull punches, (except not using coup de grace) but ended up involving an NPC who I had not intended to involve in combat.

I find that many monsters that seem reasonable become devastating when used as a boss monster against PCs a level or two lower. For example, an Aboleth is a reasonable CR 7, but against a 5th level party? DC 22 Dominate Person 3/Day, Yeow!

I almost feel that some monsters need a little + or - after their CR to indicate that they are extra deadly against lower level parties, or don't remain much or a threat against higher level groups.


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I'd say the lowly Cr 3 Lion is probably King of the Beasts (or Animal sub-type, I should say), considering that its entirely "fair" for a 1st level party to encounter one in the right setting. 5 Attacks at +9 with a DM rolling halfway decent is enough to rip even a 3rd level character to shreds. Also, in their natural terrain, this lowly CR 3 monstosity is getting a +16 stealth skill which will eclipse even the most dedicated Perception-monkeys at 3rd level or below. It only gets worse with Tigers, Dire Lions, and anything else with a decent speed, pounce, and rake abilities.

Out of everything so far, in hindsight I'd say Shadows are my least of least favorite creatures to fight against. Ability drain with no save on every hit is horrible, and its easy for an encounter with Shadows to go horribly wrong in one round due to misses, low damage rolls versus incorporeal, and hot rolls from the Shadows (or the horror of a critical hit).


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Any creature that takes it's full HD worth of non-key classes and only ups it's CR by 1/2 the levels added. For that matter, any group of creatures that has a channeling healer with selective channeling to keep them going and going and going.


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Lobstrosities cut off Roland's fingers so they win hardest monster by default lol

Liberty's Edge

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Phase spiders. Super-deadly poison, ability to phase in, attack, and phase out in a single round. I've had players very upset at me for using these in a swamp, where their mobility was limited.

It was great.


Templated undead with Cha-based classes. A vampire bard, lich oracle, or a graveknight antipaladin are all very nasty at CR 12+.


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

I saw a party almost get wiped by a Caryatid Column a few weeks ago at PFS. They were a Tier 1-2 party going up against a CR 3 with DR 5/-, Immunity to Magic, and it breaks your weapons when you hit it. Ouch!

LOL that sounds like they riped it out the first round of Undermountain... You arent supposed to fight that you are supposed run like hell!


Evilest Creatures ever 1 to 10

1. Swarms
2. banshee
3. Poltergiests
4. Ghouls
5. Imps
6. Solar
7. Giant Funnel Spider
8. Liches
9. Drow
10.Trolls


doctor_wu wrote:
orcs while may not cause a tpk they are close. If up agianst an equal number of PCs it will be a tough fight.

I second orcs. Without a good sleep spell they are really dangerous.

My two other picks are the huge air elemental for its huge damage, reach, and flight and the Shadow Demon mentioned by the OP.

I've routed a party of 6 7th level characters with one shadow demon on the same day they killed a CR 13 dragon. Nasty.


CommandoDude wrote:

Big cliffs.

Two bad rolls is all it takes to kill a low level character, and you need to make a ton of rolls just to get up/down.

Nearly happened to me on the VERY first Pathfinder game I ever did. (I rolled two 1s in a row. Christ, it's like the dice were sending me a death threat).

Take 10. No reason you should be rolling for cliffs unless they're really hard to climb.

Dark Archive

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Back in the day, the carrion crawler and the grell were nasty. Every round, eight saves vs. paralysis get handed out.


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Ravingdork wrote:

I've found the clockwork soldier to have obscene attack and damage rolls for its CR. True melee monsters they are. What's more, they are proficient in any martial weapon! Ever encounter these guys with polearms at level 6, in a small room? Everyone in the party is going to die.

Also, I second the will-o-wisp as a contender. Would have TPK'd our entire party once if not for GM intervention (once they realized the terrible encounter design of it all).

Anything with a nasty gaze attack, like a group of bodaks or a medusa makes it on this list: All they have to do is use the total defense action (and other tricks) to pump their AC, and wait until the PCs eventually fail their saves and die.

Ouch, I overlooked those... A +18 melee attack at CR 6 is indeed pretty obscene. 28 Strength on a medium creature?? WTF? That's kind of what throws everything off on those buggers.

Personally as a player, I've never had problems against gaze critters simply because I usually know what to do against such things(take a 50% miss chance rather than a save against horrible things and rely on perception to "pinpoint invisible creatures") As a DM, I know how to foil this tactic by giving such creatures rogue levels (almost auto sneak if you're averting your eyes) or ways to subvert the terrain against blind enemies (like druid levels).
That said, I've played in a game where a basilisk nearly wiped the entire party of inexperienced players and its attack bonus without a miss chance was nearly enough to overcome mine. If the gaze-attack monster is presented with ambiguity (disguise) or is unknown by the players, the probability of it getting off its ability is pretty high, and a round of bad saves can easily equal a TPK. Surprise rounds coupled with strategic placement of the monster can also trigger this. Probably the worst offenders of this are Medusae and Basilisks, as a single bad surprise round coupled with bad saves can end a party.


The ghaele azata is pretty nasty if you're not good aligned.


brreitz wrote:

Phase spiders. Super-deadly poison, ability to phase in, attack, and phase out in a single round. I've had players very upset at me for using these in a swamp, where their mobility was limited.

It was great.

Oh fight of readied actions.. Like the aforementioned Lurker in Light, both of these monsters trade off the insta-kill factor of the monsters I've mentioned to prolong the agony of unprepared PCs with repeating hit-and-run tactics.

Even a party prepared to deal with the Phase Spider's poison better be ready for the obscene hit and run tactics this thing is capable of. What's worse, the spider can be encountered levels before anything remotely close to Plane Shift is available to counter the possibility of a downed, snatched PC.
I've been curious as how the Lurker in Light plays out in an actual encounter. It seems like the kind of monster that some builds would excel against, while others (especially 3rd level parties) might have no answer for against its hit and run tactics.
Both good examples.


HappyDaze wrote:
The ghaele azata is pretty nasty if you're not good aligned.

Mmmm.. That reminds me of a near TPK, a long time in a place that you young whipper-snappers may have never heard of...

"The Spire of Long Shadows"

Oh, Angels of the Worm, you were a good part of the TPK debacle that was that dungeon.


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Hag coven... three hags take a full-round action and 20 by 20 area is force-caged. Not that it must trap the party within - they only need to block them in a tunnel. Repeat to block escape, and start spamming at-will bestow curses, charm monsters and baleful polymorphs. Suffocate debilitated heroes in renewed forcecubes and cackle manicly. Takes some time, but it's ultimately frustrating on unprepared players.


Completely caned a party with half-ogre scouts. Should have been difficult, but not impossible to take, but they had harpoons, skirmish, could move through difficult terrain easily. The party just couldn't fight them off, and lost a member. He used to be an adventurer like you, then he took a harpoon crit to the back.

Brreitz, I'm throwing phase spiders into a horror/stalking dungeon game next.

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