Monster Lore


4th Edition

Sovereign Court

Hey everyone,

So, I am trying to figure out what official rules there might be for identifying monsters and their weaknesses, or if there are none, what you guys do for house rules.

3.5 et al used to employ various knowledge skills for various monsters (dungeoneering, planes, etc).

5e of course has a truncated list of skills.

So how do you guys handle it? Do you just assume that players have to learn about monster abilities and such?


It would be an Intelligence check with a DC determined by DM. Proficiency with Arcana, Medicine, Nature, or Religion applying depending on the specific creature and with DM's discretion.


I require my players to give me a reason why they would know anything about a particular monster.

From there, if it's a natural creature, it's a nature roll. Otherwise it's an arcane roll. Other rolls may substitute. Undead and such typically fall under religion. Depending on the players argument, it may be something else. For example, if a player claims that a creature is an enemy from their cultural lore, it'll be a history check. If it's a current enemy, there may be no roll at all.

Whether or not they know anything about a creature, I also allow a roll to determine apparent relative threat (and sometime no roll at all). They key word is "apparent" as some very dangerous monsters may show no threat at all, where some easy monsters may pretend to be very dangerous. This may be an insight or investigation check, depending on which stat the player wants to use and how much time they wish to spend studying the creature. Insight can tell them how much of a threat it feels like, while prolonged investigation may tell them exact abilities (especially if witnessed in a fight with another creature). We use this to help the players judge relative CR to make a meta game decision on how they want to roleplay their characters.

It's pretty fluid and there's a lot of player-GM communication.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I'm not aware of 3.X's "monster ID" dynamic even being a thing in 5E, let alone having a structured system to it; though of course I'm only working from the PHB.

What I've been doing in my own game is if the monster has some significant ability, I'll just make up a check that seems appropriate. So, basically just pulling stuff out of my arse. Kind of like I do for monster stats/abilities in the first place. ;)

Sovereign Court

Thanks for the help everyone. I had this odd feeling that the rule might have been buried in the DMG somewhere, but I imagine now that it is not the case. Hmm...


For beasts and mundane critters I ask for a Nature check, undead and outsiders are Religion, anything supernatural that isn't an outsider or undead is Arcana. Legendary creatures, like the Tarrasque, could also be a History check.

There's no hard and fast rules for it in the books, unfortunately.

Community / Forums / Gamer Life / Gaming / D&D / 4th Edition / Monster Lore All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in 4th Edition