D&D Monster Monday: Grick
You wake up surrounded by harsh hissing. Before you can react you feel a thud on your chest. An enormous, snake-like grick has landed on top of you. A sharp pain originates in your abdomen as you feel its sharp beak dig into your flesh.
The Underdark is a terrifying place, and not just because of the drow and their dangerous allies. No, all sorts of otherworldly horrors take refuge in the Underdark. These are well-known and respected threats to high-level adventurers.
However, the Underdark is dangerous even in its more accessible locations. Low-level threats like today’s subject, the grick, are abundant. They exist to pick at the scraps and weak would-be adventurers that the powerful Underdark denizens ignore.
Gricks are phenomenal ambushers. Their snake-like bodies can fit comfortably in crevices, rocks, and debris that an inexperienced adventurer would pay no mind to. When the time is right, they’ll strike, often killing their foe and dragging their corpse off for the rest of their pack to feast upon.
Let’s check the dark crevices of the Monster Manual for gricks before we dive into this week’s Monster Monday!
Gricks are referred to as “passive predators” due to their uncanny ability to blend in with the rocks of the Underdark caves and caverns they reside in. They’ll wait for their prey to let their guard down before they pounce upon them. Oftentimes they’ll drop onto creatures from above.
Gricks are weak creatures on their own. Hence why they form packs with other gricks. These packs are formed by an alpha grick which is an oversized grick that attacks other gricks to its presence.
Packs will claim a cave or cavern and pick it clean of whatever easy prey they can find. Once the resources dry out the alpha will make the call to move the pack to a new cave.
Gricks are scavengers. The only thing they won’t eat is other gricks. They’ll take whatever meal they can get be it the scraps of more powerful creatures or a kill of their own.
Grick Stats and Abilities
You can find the grick’s statblock on page 175 of the Monster Manual.
Size: medium monstrosity
AC: 14 (natural armor)
HP: 27 (6d8)
Speed: 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
STR: 14 (+2)
DEX: 14 (+2)
CON: 11 (+0)
INT: 3 (-4)
WIS: 14 (+2)
CHA: 5 (-3)
All in all, this is a solid spread for a low-CR beast-like creature. The grick has a few decent stats and a few abysmal stats. Thankfully, though 2 of the three of their best ability scores are also common saving throw abilities.
Their low HP due to their +0 CON modifier is the most impactful weakness in this portion of the statblock. However, we need to keep in mind that these are ambushers. They’re not looking to slug it out on even footing. They want to hit hard, hit fast, and get out if that doesn’t kill their target.
Sure, the -4 and -3 modifiers for INT and CHA are also detrimental, but it’s rare for theses to be utilized much in combat.
Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills
Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
CR: 2 (450 XP)
Resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage is powerful at the low tiers of play. It’s rare for low-level parties to have magical weapons at this stage of the game in most campaigns. This high-value resistance, however, bolsters their mediocre HP significantly against most parties.
Of course, an Underdark hunter needs to have darkvision. Their decent passive Perception is also helpful.
CR 2 is a fair ranking for them. It’s tough to rank them due to their high power variance. I think they could use a smidge of a boost. They are super reliant on getting a surprise round to be a big threat. If they don’t get that they’re pretty weak.
Traits and Abilities
Stone Camouflage. The grick has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in rocky terrain.
Stone Camouflage is both flavorful and super effective at ensuring these ambushers can ambush. Couple this with their +2 DEX modifier and you have a creature that’s difficult for most low-level adventurers to passively perceive.
This uncanny ability to hide in crevices and rubble gives the grick a more trap-like playstyle than a typical monster. We’ll touch more on that later, but it’s a unique niche to have in a creature.
Multiattack. The grick makes one attack with its tentacles. If that attack hits, the grick can make one beak attack against the same target.
Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 + 2) slashing damage.
Beak. Melee Weapon Attack:+4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Giving a low-CR creature Multiattack is difficult to balance. Such an increase in a creature’s action economy is super powerful in the early game. The PCs can only attack once, maybe twice if they’re dual wielding (or a monk). Having creatures match or, more often, exceed a PC’s action economy gets dangerous quickly.
That’s why we often see low-CR creatures with Multiattack have a Multiattack with restrictions. For example, the goblin boss’ second attack being made at disadvantage.
The grick requires its Tentacles attack to hit before it can attack with its beak. The grick is only able to make the Beak attack at the same target it hit with Tentacles.
+4 to hit is average for a CR 2 creature so it has a decent chance at making both attacks. Assuming both attacks do hit it will deal an average of 14 damage per round. Honestly, even before these restrictions, their average damage is still a smidge low. The restrictions make it even worse.
Climbing speed isn’t a universally-useful unique form of movement in 5e. However, in the Underdark, it’s very useful. Ergo, in their preferred environment the grick’s 30 ft. of climb speed is a great boon.
Gricks can use this speed to get into hard-to-reach places or on top of rocky outcroppings in caverns. Here they can drop down or lash out at passers-by. This unlocks more options for the gricks to pop out of for ambushes.
Stone Camouflage + their +2 Dexterity modifier makes the grick solid at hiding throughout the rocky caves of the Underdark. This almost ensures that gricks will get a much-needed surprise round on most low-level parties.
While advantage is a great boon, this isn’t enough to hide from seasoned adventurers. Gricks have a shelf life in 5e. They’re respectable opponents in the early game, but quickly fall off when the party can perceive them before a fight.
However, in the early game, these creatures are terrifying. They can pop out of anywhere! Their unpredictability is one of their strengths as ambushers.
Mediocre Damage Output
14 damage per round is below average for a CR 2 creature. Especially since this is between two attacks, one of which requires the initial attack to hit to be attempted.
This initial hit is easy to land during their initial surprise round, but it’s not as guaranteed outside of that.
Their lack of target choice is another negative to their offensive capabilities. They can only attack one creature per round with both of their attacks.
Sitting Ducks if Spotted
The grick has very few options. Their entire schtick is to ambush their prey and get the jump on them. If that doesn’t happen, they’re screwed.
They have no ranged attacks to retaliate against parties who kite them or spot them from afar. They’re also at an inherent disadvantage if they’re spotted and unable to get their surprise round in. They need it to get some extra damage in and make themselves a true threat.
How to Play a Grick
Traps Not Creatures
As I mentioned before, gricks can function more like a trap than a proper creature encounter. You can disperse ambushes throughout the cave or dungeon the party is exploring. If the party fails to detect them, they’ll lash out and smack them just like a trap would.
After the initial attack via a surprise round, the fight will break-out into a typical encounter. However, that initial attack is what makes them akin to traps. Especially since they can hide almost anywhere.
This also allows them to fill the role of trap or terrain obstacle and minion or reinforcement in a boss battle. They can leap out mid-fight or strike at the party as they maneuver around the battlefield. This is a valuable and rare niche for a creature to fill, and it gives them some sort of usage in higher tiers of play as minions.
Hit and Run
After the surprise round, assess the situation. If the gricks are getting slaughtered without dealing damage to the party, have them retreat, regroup, and hide again somewhere further in the cave or dungeon.
Utilize their climb speed to traverse terrain the party can’t reach. They can outrun the party as they slither through these rocky outcroppings and tight crevices.
It’s a shame that they don’t have a burrowing speed, but their climbing in the Underdark is still a fairly easy-to-use movement type throughout its cave systems. Have them outrun and hide from their opponents to keep striking them when they least expect it.
5 Grick Plot Hooks
- Infestation – A pack of gricks has moved into a mine system. Clear them out and you will be rewarded handsomly by the deurgar that own this mining operation.
- Ripe for the Picking – Gricks are known to have treasures in their lairs from all the adventurers they kill and consume. Starve their pack out or expel them from their den and you can make a pretty penny!
- Rare Scales – Gricks have an uncanny ability to camoflague in the Underdark environment. A skilled craftsmen can use their scales to create lightweight armor that can leverage their camoflague ability.
- A Strange Pet – A local’s grick has seemed to run off. They can’t find it in any of its usual hidey holes. They’re worried that it was killed or scared off by something terrifying.
- Scavengers – The mind flayer colony and gricks have had a symbiotic relationship for some time. The mind flayers throw their trash into the pit below their colony and the gricks consume it, keeping the garbage heap small. However, the gricks have suddenly disappeared. This is proving to be a logistics nightmare to the mind flayer colony as their garbage heap is increasing in size at an unsustainable rate.
Gricks are interesting creatures with a unique use case. They can be leveraged as traps, minions, and random encounters throughout an Underdark dungeon all in the same adventure.
Keep in mind these are beast-like creatures. They don’t have long-term goals or desires. Gricks feed on trash or weak prey to their satisfaction. Once they run out of these they move onto the next cave, cavern, or other rocky location. Their instincts dictate their lives. Nothing more, nothing less.
They have plenty of drawbacks but they’re fun creatures with interesting use cases. A creative DM can unlock their potential and scare the hell out of the party as they traverse the dark crevices of the Underdark.