D&D Monster Monday: Quaggoth
You frantically dash through the pitch-black tunnel. You can hear sets of heavy feet galloping not far behind you, their claws scraping the cave’s stone floor. To your dismay, you’ve been lead straight to a dead-end! The footfalls cease and a low, guttural voice speaks out in Undercommon as the rest of the quaggoth hunting pack howls with laughter and anticipation. Dinner has been served!
It’s been a while since we looked at a low CR creature. The quaggoth is a spectacular choice to resolve this conundrum! While their statblock as a whole is fairly basic, they do have a very interesting and unique mechanic that I’d love to see a lot more of in 5e.
They also have some extremely interesting lore, especially for a low CR creature. That’s not to say that a creature’s CR determines how interesting or in-depth their lore can be, but typically more powerful creatures can cause considerably more havoc/mischief and therefore have some fun stories to tell.
In a sense, the quaggoth represents what I think an average CR 2 creature should be. They have a couple of unique traits and aspects to their statblock, but as a whole, they’re well-balanced in that they have both solid offensive and defensive capabilities.
Open up your Monster Manuals because it’s time for another foray into the Underdark as we take a look at the ancient enemy of the elves, the quaggoth!
In current D&D 5e lore quaggoth are referred to as both “savage and territorial”. Their existence in the Underdark includes hunting, traversing the chasms, and when they can’t find food, cannibalism. It’s not a fulfilling life in the slightest.
However, it wasn’t always this way. Quaggoths used to live on the surface and, while not the most advanced creatures, they were certainly intelligent creatures with a society, language, and culture. They were a nocturnal species of hunters that lived and worked in tribes.
Then the elves came to the mortal realm and ruined everything. Both the elves and quaggoths were at war for quite some time, with the elves eventually winning the conflict and banishing the quaggoths to the Underdark.
As time moved on the quaggoths turned from a once proud and thriving group into desperate hunters with little land or resources to sustain their people. Even their bodies changed to adapt to their new, bleak surroundings.
Of course, it should surprise no one that the quaggoth absolutely despise elves. I mean, you can’t particularly blame them. They show up out of nowhere, kick them out of their lands, and then just do nothing for hundreds of years for the hell of it.
This hatred though has actually aided many quaggoths. The drow and quaggoths have been able to use this hatred as a topic of bonding. Well, at least the drow have been able to use quaggoths as servants or as weapons for raiding encampments of surface elves.
It’s not the greatest life for a quaggoth, but being a servant to a rich drow family at least means a three square meals a day. That’s about three more than quaggoths that live in the wilds of the Underdark!
Quaggoth Stats and Abilities
You can find the quaggoth statblock on page 256 of the Monster Manual.
Size: Medium humanoid (quaggoth)
AC: 13 (natural armor)
HP: 45 (6d8 + 18)
Speed: 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
STR: 17 (+3)
DEX: 12 (+1)
CON: 16 (+3)
INT: 6 (-2)
WIS: 12 (+1)
CHA: 7 (-2)
All in all, the quaggoth is an extremely average creature. Their AC isn’t amazing, but they have a respectable amount of HP to make up for it. Honestly, even then 13 AC at CR 2 isn’t that bad.
While their base speed of 30 ft. is completely average, the quaggoth does have a bonus of 30 ft. of climb speed. Different forms of movement can give you as the DM some new tools for creating interesting encounters so keep that in mind when you plan a quaggoth encounter!
Their ability scores as a whole are honestly quite good. They have solid Strength and Constitution with above-average Dexterity and Wisdom. All three of the primary saving throw abilities are at +1 or +3 which is good. Their dump stats are both Intelligence and Charisma which at least in regards to combat isn’t going to be terribly missed.
With that being said, their low Charisma and Intelligence do allude to quaggoths being easily manipulated, so keep that in mind if your players get creative! It also explains how the drow can use them as tools without much effort besides keeping them fed and somewhat comfortable.
Resistances, Immunities, Saves, and Skills
Skills: Athletics +5
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: poisoned
Senses: darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 10
CR: 2 (450 XP)
The quaggoth has lived a life of hardship in the Underdark. They have to work exceptionally hard to obtain what little sustenance they can find. It’s understandable that they’d have proficiency in Athletics given that they’re running and climbing around difficult terrain every single day.
Their bodies have clearly adapted to the Underdark as they have gained an immunity to the poisonous and venomous creatures and plant life that inhabits much of the Underdark. Not only that, but they have exceptional darkvision without any of the drawbacks of the drow’s Sunlight Sensitivity.
All in all, the quaggoth statblock has some nice perks in this section!
Abilities and Traits
Wounded Fury. While it has 10 hit points or fewer, the quaggoth has advantage on attack rolls. In addition, it deals an extra 7 (2d6) damage to any target it hits with a melee attack.
Essentially, while a quaggoth is under 25% (ish) of their total HP their Claw attack deals double damage. Think of Wounded Fury as the quaggoth’s fight-or-flight response. The quaggoth’s response is, of course, fight!
Now I’ve never played D&D 4e, but I have heard much about the Bloodied condition. Wounded Fury is a callback to that mechanic, and honestly, I wish that there were more traits like this in 5e. I feel as though these traits can really liven up a fight and keep a party on their toes.
Hell, give a creature completely new abilities, actions, or legendary actions when they’re severely damaged and the party may have to completely change their tactics around mid-fight!
Wounded Fury is an interesting trait and I need to cut myself off here before I go completely off-topic.
Multiattack.The quaggoth makes two claw attacks.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) slashing damage.
A two-attack Multiattack is standard. There’s nothing wrong with that, but nothing to write home about either.
This Multiattack consists of two Claw attacks which have a respectable +5 to hit and each deal an average of 6 slashing damage. That means a quaggoth will deal an average of 12 slashing damage per turn.
Now, if you include Wounded Fury then the quaggoth will up that average to 26 slashing damage per turn. Let’s hope the party knows the meaning of “focus fire” or else there’s a very real chance that they’re going to get absolutely demolished if they let a quaggoth benefit from Wounded Fury for too long!
As I said before, 13 AC is a decent amount of armor for a CR 2 creature. It’s not particularly high, but it’s enough of a buffer against low-level PCs. Despite that, though, the quaggoth still has a hefty amount of HP. They can take quite a few hits before being knocked out of a fight should their armor fail them.
They have positive modifiers in DEX, CON, and WIS so they at least have a decent chance of succeeding most spell saves. There’s still a very real chance they’ll fail saves with only a modest +1 modifier in DEX and WIS, but they have nothing working against them at least.
Oh, and they have immunity to poison damage and the poisoned condition. That rules out a decent chunk of low-level spells and Cantrips which certainly boosts their survivability as well!
Finally, that +5 to Athletics will ensure that the quaggoth won’t be an easy creature to grapple despite being a medium-size creature.
Honestly, 12 slashing damage between two Claw attacks is genuinely a respectable amount of damage for a CR 2 creature. With a +5 to hit the quaggoth has a favorable chance of landing most of these attacks as well.
That being said, if the party is unfortunate or disorganized enough to experience multiple turns of Wounded Fury Multiattacks then congrats, you’ve probably just had your first TPK of the campaign! Seriously, 26 slashing damage per turn, per quaggoth is no joke for a CR 2 creature.
However, this is well-balanced in that the window of opportunity for a quaggoth to utilize Wounded Fury is very small.
Powerless Against Ranged Attackers
The quaggoth has the same problem as many other low CR beast-like creatures; they have no ranged attack options.
Now, they have other features in their statblock that certainly make up for this area of weakness, but if your party composition is comprised of mostly ranged attacks, a group of quaggoth won’t be a particularly challenging encounter.
They really have no answers for someone that can hit them from afar and continue to outpace them, which brings me to my next point, they’re easy to kite as well!
Quaggoths aren’t gifted in the movement speed department. Sure, they have climb speed which is nothing to scoff at, but if they are pursuing the party on flat ground they’re simply just keeping pace with the party with only 30 ft. of speed per turn.
If the party can create (and keep) any amount of distance between the quaggoth and themselves they’ve severely limited the quaggoths’ effectiveness. They’ll be forced to either Dash or take the ranged attacks head-on.
One such way that the party can create this distance is by utilizing spells that impact creatures’ movement.
For example, if your wizard can drop Grease on the quaggoth they’re essentially done for the fight. Really, any spell that creates an area of difficult terrain will seriously hinder a group of quaggoths from chasing the party down.
How to Play a Quaggoth
Corner Your Prey, Make Them Climb!
Using a mix of drow and quaggoths would be an ideal choice for an encounter. You can use the drow’s hand crossbows to pick off the party’s backline casters and archers while the quaggoth engages the party’s frontline. It’s also thematically appropriate!
That being said if you wish to use the quaggoth as a pack of hunters that could still work well in your favor. Your goal here should be to corner the party. Quaggoth, while not very intelligent, are fairly wise creatures. They’d know how to split into groups to corner a group of creatures!
Basically, don’t give the party an opening to simply run through a long hallway or kite the quaggoths around a huge room. Make the quaggoth split off and pincer the party, or chase them into a tunnel with a dead-end! Hell, even add some obstacles that the quaggoth can climb over.
The Underdark is a rocky, chaotic terrain. Make sure that your battlemaps reflect this and you’ll certainly aid your quaggoths!
Fight to Your Last Breath!
Wounded Fury is a gigantic neon sign for the DM to realize that the quaggoth is not the sort of creature that would ever retreat from a fight. When they are severely wounded they’re going to simply double down on their prey and fight even harder.
If the party makes the mistake of dropping a quaggoth to low HP, but not finishing them off, make sure to use the damage buff to ensure that the party never makes that mistake again!
If you want to be a real risky devil you could clump up your quaggoths to try and bait some nice AoE damage on them. If you can get two or three quaggoths to pop Wounded Fury at the same time the party is going to be in for a real treat.
5 Quaggoth Plot Hooks
- The Cattle and the Farmers – A tribe of peaceful elves that live near a series of caves have noticed that one or two of their members go missing randomly throughout the night, never to return. Oddly enough, they seem to have accepted this as a normal aspect of their lives.
- Missing Guards – A wealthy drow family has noticed that a few quaggoth have escaped from their living facility. They’re dangerous beasts so they need seasoned adventurers to bring them back, preferrably alive.
- Drowish Destruction – A small town of wood elves has been raided and ransacked by a drow and quaggoth raiding party. Sneak in there and rescue whatever survivers you can find!
- A Prized Specimen – Illvadir Valeztar, a wealthy drow collector, has posted a job for collecting a Thonot, or what is essentially a quaggoth with psionic abilities. Bring one to him alive and you’ll be handsomly rewarded!
- Break the Chains – After spending some time in Menzoberranzan, you’re starting to think that the quaggoth don’t have it so great in drow society despite what the locals have told you. Aid them, and the rest of the drow’s servants in obtaining their freedom!
The quaggoth is honestly a well-balanced creature. They’re just all-around a solid creature, especially for a CR 2 creature. They can deal a respectable amount of damage and can take a few hits in a scrap. That’s really all you can ask for in a low CR creature, so I think they’re a great choice for any low-level Underdark adventure!
Wounded Fury in particular sticks out for me as a trait that showcases a feature that I wish 5e had, enrage mechanics. It’s like bringing some raid bosses in WoW to low HP, some start to hit a lot harder or have completely new mechanics. I’d love to see more of this!
Quaggoth lore is also pretty interesting and quite tragic. They go from a flourishing species of nocturnal hunters into a desperate group of cannibals that are manipulated by the drow simply through their mutual hate for the surface-dwelling elves.
Quaggoths are a great low-level Underdark creature, plus they have lore-justified reasons to be found sparingly on the surface. You can really stick them anywhere without needing to think too deeply! I’d definitely recommend throwing them into the early portions of your next campaign!