Hello everyone! Welcome to my new art blog, A Is For Aboleth. Sporadically, I’ll be uploading a new illustration and review of the creatures featured in the 3rd edition of Dungeons and Dragons (henceforth referred to as 3E), in roughly the order of their publication, starting with the contents of the original Monster Manual.
(Note: I’m going to be pretty loose in my interpretations of these fictional monsters people made up in the 70s. Fair warning y’all)
Anyhoo! Man, I love aberrations. Easily in my top 3 favorite creature types in 3E, mostly because it contains a huge amount of my favorite monsters, and one of those is the Aboleth. The first Monster Manual kicks things off right with some serious Lovecraft muscle: the aboleth is weird lookin’, has crazy and unique abilities, and psionics on top of that! By the way, I love psionics like a mother loves a sickly but precocious child. Tons of flavor here, things that live in the water are already creepy and hyperintelligent ones who have inherited their ancestors’ memories from before the birth of the world and can turn you into a quivering pillar of jelly with a touch are doubly so. They’re right at home both alongside the other prime-time aberrations like mind flayers and beholders as smart, alien Big Bads and as a part of the Underdark community of monsters.
On the crunch side, the aboleth’s Mucus Cloud and Transformation attacks are just plain crazy and offer serious freak-out material for desciption-minded DMs, and its Psionics supply a full set of illusory spell-like abilities (henceforth SLAs) to befuddle players with. Mind control abilities like Enslave are common among aberrations, which is little relief for players; my main complaints with the aboleth’s moveset are problems that we’re going to see over and over again with 3E monsters going forward: It has a bunch of redundant SLAs that could easily fall under a single ability or two, and Enslave and Transformation are pretty darn close to the dreaded Save-Or-Die Attack, and at the relatively low Challenge Rating (CR) of 7 both of them can quickly ruin a party that isn’t prepared with anti-status spells or has a careless DM. Like I said, like 80% of all “spellcaster”-role monsters are going to have these issues so nothing against the aboleth personally.
- Lots of flavor, strong theme
- Truly unique attacks
- Provides a great low/mid-level aquatic Big Bad which are kind of few and far between
- Spellcasting Monster Syndrome
AIFA Grade: A. Starting things off strong!
Next time on A Is For Aboleth: our first Outsider type, the evil and ridiculous looking Achaierai!