D&D Monster Monday: Galeb Duhr

You feel the ground beneath you shake. Is it adrenalin? No, the quaking is getting worse! You look around and see nothing but green hills and clear skies. Abruptly, you turn around as the ground feels as if it is about to erupt. There it is, a galeb duhr, rolling down the hill at lightning-fast speeds. It’s charging you. You can’t outrun it.

It’s high time we checked out a mid-level CR creature again. The galeb duhr is a personal favorite due to how unique their playstyle is in comparison to most big, brutish elementals. While they still hit characteristically hard for an earthen elemental, they are also pretty damn quick and sneaky.

Galeb duhr are magical creatures that can shift their appearance so expertly that they’re practically indistinguishable from a boulder. They can use this technique to perch high upon a hilltop and roll down it, collapsing on top of their prey and decimating them with a single blow.

In many ways, they are very similar to gargoyles, which we’ve talked about previously. They are both stalwart protectors, though unlike gargoyles, galeb duhr are typically good-natured protectors and not cruel guards for evil masters.

Let’s barrel downhill into the Monster Manual and learn all about the living boulder, the galeb duhr!

Galeb Duhr Lore

Galeb duhr look very similar to a boulder. They are stony, round creatures with stubby arms and legs. Though they are medium size so they are fairly large in comparison to most rocks you’d stumble upon.

They are magical creatures and can use their magic to make themselves look identical to a boulder when they wish to rest, hide, or simply wait until something interesting happens. They don’t need to eat or sleep, so they can lay dormant in wait as they watch over whatever it is that they are guarding.

Another magical ability that galeb duhr possess is that they can imbue smaller rocks and boulders with temporary life. For short bursts of time, they can conjure up some additional galeb duhr if they are attacked and need some assistance in a pinch!

galebl duhr 5e monster manual artwork
The 5e artwork heavily focuses on maintaining its boulder-like appearance. Credit: WotC.

Galeb duhr are naturally from the Plane of Earth, which is the plane of existence that is home to all earth elementals. This plan contains riches and treasures in the form of literally any rock, earth, or mineral imaginable.

Because, galeb duhr make fantastic bodyguards and sentinels making them a popular choice for a druid, wizard, or another powerful spellcaster to summon as a guard for their treasure or sacred lands. Unfortunately, when they are summoned to the Material Plan, the galeb duhr are trapped here for good. If they die, they do not return to the Plane of Earth to be reborn.

With all that being said, galeb duhr are actually quite kind and intelligent creatures. If they feel like a creature could be a potential ally they’re certainly no strangers to hashing out their differences and forming a friendship with a willing creature whose goals align with their own.

Galeb Duhr Stats and Abilities

You can find the galeb duhr statblock on page 139 of the Monster Manual

Stats

Size: Medium elemental
AC: 16 (natural armor)
HP: 85 (9d8 + 45)
Speed: 15 ft. (30 ft. when rolling, 60 ft. when rolling downhill)
STR: 20 (+5)
DEX: 14 (+2)
CON: 20 (+5)
INT: 11 (+0)
WIS: 12 (+1)
CHA: 11 (+0)

Their lowest ability score modifiers are at +0 and +1 with the +1 modifier being Wisdom which is frequently used for saving throws. I can’t imagine a galeb duhr needing to make frequent checks using their Intelligence or Charisma. None of these “low” ability scores are detrimental to the creature.

Strength is going to be used frequently as it’s the galeb duhr’s offensive ability score. Considering it’s a +5 modifier, their attacks are going to have a high bonus to hit and have a solid baseline for damage.

Constitution is a huge factor for their plentiful health pool. It’s also one of the most common abilities for saving throws. It’s advantageous that they also have a +5 modifier to Constitution as well as Strenght for these reasons. However, they’ll also have to make regular concentration checks when Animate Boulders is active. Constitution is going to be a regularly used ability, so it’s awesome for it to be their highest modifier.

Dexterity isn’t going to be used much outside of saving throws. It’s a nice perk that they have a +2 in it though!

All in all, the galeb duhr has an excellent spread of ability scores. They also have a very solid AC at 16 with plenty of health with an average HP of 85. These are hardy, medium-sized creatures.

Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills

Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: exhaustion, paralyzed, poisoned, petrified
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages: Terran
CR: 6 (2,300 XP)

Bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage resistance is pretty sweet and thematically appropriate for a giant boulder. These are pretty much the most common damage types in the game so it’s a valuable resistance to have, especially as a mid-game creature.

Poison damage resistance is another very common damage type. There are plenty of low-level spells and cantrips that deal poison damage, and poisoned weapons won’t be of much use at all against a galeb duhr.

Immunity to the exhaustion, paralysis, poisoned, and petrified conditions is exquisite for any creature that is meant to be a guard or sentinel like the galeb duhr. I mean, there’s really nothing that can stop them. Plus, their ability modifiers are already solid. It’s going to be difficult to impose the remaining conditions that galeb duhr aren’t immune to.

As I said earlier, there are a ton of similarities between the galeb duhr and gargoyles. Their damage resistances, damage immunities, and condition immunities are about the same, aside from the fact that galeb duhr are also immune to the paralyzed condition.

Everyone has darkvision but obviously, it’s great for any watchdog. However, they also have tremorsense like one of our other Monster Monday creatures, the wurm! Tremorsense lets the galeb duhr determine the location of nearby creatures by using vibrations in the earth. As long as the galeb duhr and the creature are both touching the ground, they can use their tremorsense.

Galeb duhr are more than willing to talk things through with other creatures as opposed to a fight to the death. That’s going to be difficult, though as they can only speak Terran. Though creatures that speak Primordial or another dialect of it such as Aquan can speak with a Terran speaker.

Abilities and Traits

False Appearance. While the galeb duhr remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a normal boulder.

Rolling Charge. If the galeb duhr rolls at least 20 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a slam attack on the same turn, the target takes an extra 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

False Appearance is yet another part of their statblock that the galeb duhr share with gargoyles. This is a cool trait as it allows a galeb duhr to perch in an ideal position and wait for the best opportunity to launch a surprise attack or ambush on an unsuspecting enemy.

Of course, False Appearance could be used defensively as a way of hiding from powerful foes that the creature doesn’t dare to face.

galeb duhr dnd 4e artwork
The 4e art in general just feels a lot more threatening. Credit: WotC.

Rolling Charge is very similar to the minotaur’s Charge trait which we’ve talked about before. Essentially, if the galeb duhr is able to move towards an enemy at a straight line and make a successful Slam attack against them, they deal an additional 2d6 bludgeoning damage and potentially knock the target prone pending a Strength saving throw.

This is an important trait to utilize as it’s a significant factor in the success of the creature in combat. It requires a bit of work on the DM’s part as ideally you’ll want to craft a specific encounter for them where Rolling Charge can be effectively used.

Actions

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage.

Animate Boulders (1/Day). The galeb duhr magically animates up to two boulders it can see within 60 feet of it. A boulder has statistics like those of a galeb duhr, except it has Intelligence 1 and Charisma 1, it can’t be charmed or frightened, and it lacks this action option. A boulder remains animated as long as the galeb duhr maintains concentration, up to 1 minute (as if concentrating on a spell).

Note that the galeb duhr does not have Multiattack. This makes it a bit of a risky creature to use as their entire round can be rendered useless if they miss their one and only attack.

With that being said, they have an excellent chance of hitting with their bread and butter attack, Slam. It has +8 to hit which is a fairly generous attack bonus for a CR 6 creature. Dealing an average of 12 bludgeoning damage plus the potential Rolling Charge damage makes it a hefty attack.

Animate Boulders is a wicked cool action. It allows you to conjure up to two secondary galeb duhr that work alongside the primary galeb duhr. These are, by extension, your Multiattack. However, it requires an action to set them up and for you to maintain concentration on them in order to use them.

Thanks to our +5 Constitution modifier, maintaining concentration shouldn’t be an impossible task by any means. That being said, the action to use them does kind of suck as it forces us to either forego our Slam at advantage if we use our surprise round, or we have to use Animate Boulders when engaged with the enemy.

Galeb Duhr Strengths

Exceptional Defenses

It should come as a surprise to no one that a literal boulder has some excellent defensive capabilities. Rolling in at 16 AC and 85 HP galeb duhr already have a very solid baseline to work with in terms of their survivability. You’re going to have to put in some effort to hit them, and they can take quite a few solid hits.

With resistance to damage from nonmagical weapons and immunity to poison damage, they’re also covered for some of the more common damage types in D&D 5e. This only serves to increase their defenses and, mechanically speaking, essentially double their HP if your party is comprised of characters that use nonmagical weapons.

Their condition immunities are also extremely impactful in ensuring that they stay alive for a few rounds to deal some hefty damage to the party. It’s going to be tough enough to crowd control with given their excellent spread of ability scores, but their four condition immunities make the list of potential crowd control spells and features very short.

galeb duhr 2e artwork
Exeggcute? Credit: WotC.

High Potential Mobility

While the statblock says that they only have 15 ft. speed, you may as well ignore that. As far as I can tell there’s no restriction for simply using the rolling speed instead of walking speed (someone call me out on this if I’m wrong). If we simply use our rolling speed at all times in combat they have 30 ft.

This is where I clarify that they have high potential mobility. If they are rolling downhill, this speed doubles to up to 60 ft. which is double that of a typical PC.

This downward slope speed should be kept in mind when you are crafting encounters for galeb duhr. If you can have them perched on a small hill or slope they’re going to be considerably more effective. They need this speed as it heavily increases their damage output by allowing them to use Rolling Charge.

We should also make a quick nod to their condition immunities. If it weren’t for them, the galeb duhr would have a hell of a time rolling around or using Rolling Charge to its full potential.

Galeb Duhr Weaknesses

Poor Damage & Action Economy

Galeb duhr have a piss-poor action economy by themselves. While a downhill roll could effectively give them a free Dash action by doubling their speed, it’s not likely that you’re going to be able to roll downhill for an entire combat encounter.

They also lack any form of Multiattack, and while the +8 to hit is exceptional, you still have a chance of missing your target.

It always sucks when you have a creature without Multiattack as there’s a very real chance that they do absolutely nothing during their turn. Galeb duhr essentially have one shot at their Slam attack which you best hope includes Rolling Charge or else you’re doing some pretty poor damage for a CR 6 creature.

Rolling Charge being able to knock a creature down does serve as an easy way for the other creatures in the encounter to gain advantage against a helpless enemy, but it doesn’t do much for the galeb duhr that performs the knockdown. It’s more a utility feature for their allies than an offensive perk for them.

Animate Boulder does effectively give the galeb duhr Multiattack in the sense that it has 2 minions that can attack with it for up to 3 Slam or Rolling Charge combos. However, it does take an action to summon your minions and it requires you to maintain concentration on them. It’s great, but it’s got its downsides that make it a “Multiattack, but with conditions”.

Lack of Offensive Options

You can Slam, you can Rolling Charge and Slam, but that’s about it. If the party is able to find a way to slow you down or find high ground you’re effectively just a huge target dummy for them to practice their DPS rotation on.

Now, obviously you could just not include high ground in your encounter, but my point is that if the party is able to find a way to outpace the galeb duhr, they are effectively done for. Unless they can Animate Boulders right beside the party.

The fun parts of the creature are their passive features and bonuses more than anything. There’s not much in the way of variety otherwise besides meleeing their opponents or making more of themselves to melee their opponents.

How to Play a Galeb Duhr

A Rolling Boulder Gathers No Dust

Being able to use Rolling Charge liberally is a huge boon to the galeb duhr’s success in combat. First of all, it adds enough damage to Slam that it bumps it up closer to a CR 6 creature’s damage output.

Second of all, it gives the galeb duhr a chance to knock their opponent prone. Obviously, this is great as it can give other creature or the galeb duhr’s Animate Boulders advantage on their attacks until the creature is able to stand up. However, the prone condition also requires the creature to use half their movement to stand up.

Using half of your movement all but ensures that your target is not going to be able to outpace the galeb duhr, keeping the creature within your grasp.

Regardless, the name of the game to playing a galeb duhr effectively is to be able to constantly use Rolling Charge, even if you need to risk opportunity attacks to do so. Slam into different members of the enemy forces so that even if you fall, you have depleted the intruders’ resources enough that your master can finish them off handily.

galeb duhr 1e artwork
Yeah, uhm. Let’s stick with the 5e artwork instead. Credit: WotC.

Hidden Boulder, Flattened Party

False Appearance gives a big, bulky creature like the galeb duhr a surprising amount of stealth and ambush capabilities. You are indiscernible from a regular boulder provided that you don’t move, and considering that galeb duhr don’t need to sleep, eat, or breathe they can stay still until they have an ideal opportunity.

This gives you an all but certain chance of getting a surprise round if you play your cards right. Depending on your map design and the party’s actions you have two separate options for your galeb duhr.

The first option is that they can Slam or ideally, Rolling Charge into an unsuspecting opponent. They’d probably make this attack at advantage if the galeb duhr was able to successfully hide and ambush the party.

Our second option is to use this surprise round to Animate Boulders and move into an ideal position for a Rolling Charge on your next turn. This is the ideal option if for whatever reason you can’t get off a Rolling Charge at advantage on your turn.

Remember, Animate Boulders only lasts one minute at the absolute most. It’s not something you can have just prepped from the start of combat in most cases. If you’re going to be forced to use an action to use it, you may as well use it during a round where you can take actions but the party cannot!

On the other hand, though, a surprise, Rolling Charge at advantage assault on a squishier opponent could be worth holding off one more turn for Animate Boulders if you can deal some devastating damage.

Five Galeb Duhr Plot Hooks

I’m going to be adding something new to future Monster Mondays thanks to a suggestion. Going forward I’ll add five (or so) plot hooks for encounters or adventures that involve the creature. Feel free to suggest your own in the comments as well!

  1. Guardian of the Mine – A local mine has been left eerily untouched for ages. Upon exploration, you find the slumbering galeb duhr have been guarding the mine and warding off any would-be thieves and adventurers from plundering its riches!
  2. Blockage in the River – The water level in the stream that runs alongside the town has significantly lowered. The townspeople say that enormous boulders appeared in the middle of the stream overnight.
  3. Protectors of the Forest – A local druidic circle has created enormous stone elementals that have dissuaded travellers from using the road that traverses through the forest.
  4. A Mysterious Fortification – A crude stone hovel in the forest has been constructed. No one knows who could’ve built such a fortification and what their intentions are.
  5. Explosions in the Distance – The villagers have been hearing loud explosions off in the distance by a local quarry. Local children went to explore out of curiosity and saw earthen elementals cannonballing themselves into the quarry’s walls.

Conclusions

Galeb duhr are really fun creatures to play around with as a DM. They have some interesting lore and are an excellent choice for a creature to act as a sponge to soak up the party’s resources. These earthen elementals can take quite a punch and there’s not a whole lot that can slow them down.

They have some pretty obvious weaknesses and flaws, but these can be easily managed by good encounter design. For example, don’t give the party too many ways to hide or avoid the galeb duhr’s Rolling Charge, and try to start the creatures at the top of an incline so they get their 60 ft. of rolling speed.

Galeb duhr have excellent potential. They can spawn two copies of themselves and can effectively double their movement speed in ideal conditions. The challenge is making sure that they can fulfill this potential because otherwise, they’re not anything to write home about.

Regardless, I find the galeb duhr to be really fun earthen guardians just like gargoyles. It’s a nice change of pace from a typical humanoid mercenary or guardsman type fight!

Previous Monster Monday – Okiti Swashbuckler

Next Monster Monday – TBD

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