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The Adventurer’s Guide to Abusing Monsters
So you know where to find a variety of monsters, you know what they're capable of, but.... how
does any of it benefit you? This is where our lovely guide comes in. You thought the monster
descriptions were for the GM and their powers were a property of their owners? No my friend,
they are about to become ours. In here will be listed all the methods by which an enterprising
hunter could exploit the dwellers of the realm through extraction, domination, trapping and
transformation. This compendium will allow you to reference it whenever you encounter a
monster, quickly informing you with the best methods to maximize your utility from these
encounters. However, only unique or particularly worthy uses will be covered here, rather than
obvious applications such as dominating a monster and making it take an attack action, and so
forth. Creatures which do not appear in this guide either have only capabilities which are
apparent at first sight, or another creature can provide the same benefits with superior power or
This guide will require the Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide to Monsters for reference.
Throughout this guide there will be many times when specific exploits with a creature will
demand your complete control over it. That is, you must be able to make the monster act as if it
were your very own character. This prerequisite will be designated simply as "control". There
are two principle ways of accomplishing this, some of which would not be discussed here, since
various other guides and source materials can be found for that purpose, but several processes
will be highlighted.
Ally - Whether it be a happy, reluctant or temporary alliance, achieved by intimidation,
persuasion, mutual interests or promises, even animal handling in some instances, this is the
condition under which you have successfully obtained the allegiance of a creature under certain
circumstances, and it is henceforth willing to use it's abilities at your behest. Sometimes, a
creature’s nature is very much receptive to friendly or malicious alliances, bargains or
threatening, and so forth, and it will be designated as a “Willing Ally”.
Dominate - The far more popular and often necessary way is to directly dominate the creature's
mind or body. Note that due to the popularity of charming spells, you may be confused about
the possibility of dominating monsters immune to charming, however several spells ( Such as
Planar Binding ) are not actually charms, thereby bypassing it, as well as monsters which can
be charmed and then used to control other monsters through alternative means ( Such as the
Intellect Devourer ). This is often accomplished through various magical spells or class abilities,
a popular selection of which will be listed below by type for your convenience:
Humanoids: Create Thrall, Charm Person, Crown of Madness, Dominate Person
Beasts: Animal Friendship, Conjure Animals, Dominate Beast, Awaken, Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants, Master of
Nature, Animal Shapes
Elementals: Conjure Minor Elementals, Conjure Elemental, Planar Ally
Plants: Awaken, Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants, Master of Nature
Fey: Conjure Woodland Beings, Conjure Fey
Undead: Command Undead, Animate Dead, Create Undead
Celestials: Conjure Celestial, Planar Ally
Fiends: Planar Ally
All: Suggestion, Channel Divinity: Read Thoughts, Geas, Modify Memory, Magic Jar, Mass Suggestion, Dominate monster, Gate
Many magical items are also available, but will not be listed here.
When controlling monsters, it would often be required for you to do so for a certain length of
time in order to derive the benefit in the first place, or to make the most out of it. Although a few
of the spells and class abilities above can often accomplish this by themselves for almost all
creature types, sometimes it will not, or you’d want to do so in a lower level, or gain even a
longer period of control. A few methods stand out for that purpose:
Planar Binding - Your method of choice when dealing with celestials, elementals, fey or fiends.
This can control them for incredible lengths of time.
Recast - By far the most universal and potentially infinite option is simply to recast your control
spell. This is usually accomplished by first trapping the monster before the duration of its
servitude expires for enough time to let you renew the spell or ability you used though a Short
Rest or Long Rest, and for the limit on casting the same spell on the target again if there is any
to also expire, then to weaken it as much as possibly under the limitations of the trap, and then
to control it again. If need be, you could even subdue the target once more through combat in
order to recast.
Controlling monsters often requires them to make some kind of saving throw or resist in other
ways before the desired effect can take place. This list will contain some useful spells for
reducing a monster’s ability to reject control over it:
Bane, Bestow Curse, Feeblemind, Hex , Contagion, Polymorph
Frequently, a monster will have benefits which could be fully derived from merely trapping it
rather than going to all the length of controlling it, if possible, and furthermore you might also
want to trap a monster first in order to have enough time to control or extend control over it.
Below you can find some spells which are very useful for that purpose:
Arcane Lock, Enlarge/Reduce, Glyph of Warding, Magic Circle, Fabricate, Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum, Hallow, Telekinesis,
Flesh to Stone, Forbiddance, Forcecage, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, Antimagic Field, Antipathy/Sympathy, Demiplane,
When dealing with particularly powerful monsters or extraplanar beings, sometimes death itself
will offer them an escape from their bondage, if they succeed in doing so. The following spells
are noteworthy for restoring or shielding a target from suicide attempts, the target is completely
unable to resist the effects, and unlike other spells, they don’t require the target’s soul to be
either free or willing for them to work:
Death Ward, Revivify
Finally, as with control, many magical and mundane items are available for trapping, but
likewise due to their unpredictability to appear in a campaign, and their mostly detailed uses,
they will not be discussed here.
Occasionally, the best way to obtain a certain monster’s ability is to transform into it. The
following spells and class abilities often tend to be the most suitable for this purpose:
Wildshape, Shapechange, Polymorph, True Polymorph
As always, magical items will not be elaborated on.
Using Monsters against other Monsters
For almost all of the methods so far, it will frequently be possibly, and even recommended, for
you to employ a specific monster which you currently control, trap, or transformed into in order
to control, trap, transform, or extract from another monster. Whenever such an opportunity crops
up with a certain kind of monster, it will be listed.
We will now review all of our methods so far to determine how they could be most efficiently
combined to accomplish their goals. Since weakening and transforming are are more
straightforward, this will generally mean controlling and trapping, with the most coveted aim
being a permanent or extremely long duration of controlling or trapping a monster. Some spells
and abilities can do so by themselves, while others require some bolstering, and will be
Planar Binding+Magic Circle+Any weakening spell except for Hex+Any summoning spell
- As Planar Binding suggests, you cast an
inverted Magic Circle first ( Up to desired duration in higher spell slot ), then draw in or much more likely, summon a monster
affected by Planar Binding, weaken it with Bestow Curse ( 5th level or higher recommended ), Contagion ( Flesh Rot ), Feeblemind
or Polymorph, and then even try to cast Bane or have someone else do so during the last minute, then bind it to your service.
Any trapping spell+Any weakening spell+Glyph of Warding - Create multiple glyphs of Warding infused with weakening spells
centered in a location to which a monster is about to be brought, lured or summoned into in order to increase the chances of the
monster failing it’s saving throws. Alternatively, infuse a single or multiple glyphs of warding with spells which would neutralize a
target and then lure the target into the area.
Any trapping spell+Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum+Hallow+Forbiddance+Antimagic Field - Intended for securing powerful planar
creatures and spellcasters. Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum will protect an area in which you keep a monster trapped from
divination, teleportation and planar travel. Hallow can do the same or impose Silence with it’s secondary effect. Forbiddance will
provide the same defense, but can be made permanent much more quickly in 30 days, perfect for keeping monsters trapped in your
keep or somewhere else until you need to fetch them. Anti-Magic Field can briefly disable various spellcasters for easier trapping.
Modify Memory - The ability to create a memory of some other event or alter the details of an event is excellent for controlling a
creature as an ally, as long as you can find something consistent with it’s inclinations, beliefs, an alignment. For example, deities are
often a mysterious, and a memory of the creature being instructed by his deity to collaborate with you to achieve some goal could
work well. Even if the deity is evil or unfriendly, you could make the monster recall that the deity also told it that you would only be
used as a pawn until he decides to dismiss you. A memory of the creature finding out that it could easily reach or get something it
wants by temporarily joining you under pretense would also work well for creatures that are hard to ally with.
Magic Jar - Worth mentioning despite it’s obvious application for being the very best control even transformation spell available. You
can possess any creature which fails it’s saving throw indefinitely, possibly also stowing or bringing your body and jar with you for
Antipathy/Sympathy - Use the Sympathy feature for keeping creatures trapped for up to 10 days in a designated area.
Enlarge/Reduce - Only listed for the fact that a Wizard with Spell Mastery can choose to cast it at will, potentially deriving some
benefit from keeping a creature in perpetual smaller size for certain trapping spells which have a size limit on them.
Flesh to Stone - Keep a monster trapped permanently in stone form.
Fabricate+Arcane Lock+Hex - Fabricate can be useful for crafting chains, gags or other trapping devices from materials you come
across, although if you can, smithing them works fine too. An Arcane Lock which can be cast infinitely on many objects and lasts
until dispelled could easily raise the breaking DC of a Mithril or Adamantine locked chain or door into an almost impossible check
even for the strongest of monsters, if the target can cast knock or dispel magic on it would bound or gagged and so forth. Imposing a
disadvantage with Hex can also help if working with lesser materials.
Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion+Antipathy/Sympathy+Demiplane+Telekinesis - Cast Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion,
designate your target monster as a creature which can enter, then throw or push it inside the portal by any means, and close it. The
monster is now trapped in there for 24 hours and expelled to the nearest open space from where you cast the portal at the end of
the duration. Likewise when you do so with Demiplane, you can shove a creature inside, and if you can keep it there for close to 1
hour somehow, it would become trapped permanently when the door closes until you cast demiplane again and choose to connect
your shadowy door to the previously created demiplane. For the purpose of doing both of these things, you could use a spell such
as Telekinesis, and you could also use it to forcefully move a creature into the perimeter of an Antipathy/Sympathy spell with the
You now know how to control, extend control, weaken, trap or transform into almost every
monster, and to reference prerequisites whenever they are needed. Therefore, let us see what
the inhabitants of the realms have to offer us.
extraction, control, trapping, t ransformation, willing ally
If you are ever able to control or transform into an Aboleth, you are in for a world of fun. If you
thought controlling or becoming a dragon was good, this might just change your mind.
Mucous Cloud, Legendary Actions, Lair Actions and Regional Effects - Fantastic for aquatic environments if you transform into the
Tentacle - Harvest those from a slain Aboleth and you potentially have a tool which can inflict 6 acid damage to a creature every 10
minutes when it's outside of water or until it's skin is moisturized.
Enslave (3/Day ) - If you control or transform into the Aboleth, you can enslave any 3 creatures you bring forth to it for at least the
duration of your control or transformation ( Or more if you renew it. ), and if you transformed into an Aboleth, You could create an
unlimited army of infinitely charmed creatures, both underwater and above, being able to send out more of them to bring you new
creatures to enslave with ease as your army expands. They would only be allowed to repeat a saving throw once every 24 hours if
they go more than 1 mile away from you, assuming you don't come along with them ( Which you can easily do in an aquatic
environment, or for land, see "Moving" ), and you can communicate telepathically with them anywhere. Each day you add 3 more
creatures to your army. This is one of, if not the most powerful abilities in all of D&D if you can do it right. Sprinkle some weakening
spells on lured or trapped high-level creatures by other members of the party or yourself and you'll quickly become a God over all
creation, poetically the Aboleth's desire.
Moving as an Aboleth - In case you need to traverse dry land, a large sized wheeled water tank commissioned from your
accomplices, worshipers or servants is a popular option.
Eternal Memories, Gods in the Lakes - The Aboleths have eternal memories of all the knowledge passed from generations long
before the Gods, and their minds are treasure troves of ancient lore. Furthermore when they consume other creatures, they add
their knowledge and experience to theirs. So if you are ever in need of extremely ancient or hidden knowledge, just control or ally
the Aboleth. Or if you are the Aboleth, expand your knowledge by consuming any person or creature you want to.
Enemies of the Gods - Tiny little detail. If you transformed into an Aboleth, you're immortal. From anything. Even the deities
themselves. When your body dies, a new one will coalesce in the Elemental Plane of Water over days or months for you.
Briefly controlling or allying with the Aboleth can grant you untold advantage. Transforming into
one will make you on par with the deities themselves. Since Aboleths are intelligent creatures
and often try to appeal to their target's greatest desires when seducing them for their schemes,
a temporary alliance with an Aboleth is a very really possibility. If you can somehow trap the
Aboleth, bring it out of the water and take it back to a secure water tank or pond or pool in your
keep or a civilized area and ward it, you could have leverage over the Aboleth with intimidation,
since it's going to fear being trapped even more death, assuming it can't just commit suicide. But
you could even prevent that by casting one of the trapping spells designed to stop that.
Rug of Smothering
Dispel Magic or grappling work well for trapping. Secure it in some chest or a bag of holding or
other safe container or means of trapping it, and through any means at your disposal, either lure
an enemy into opening it or throw it while ejecting it open at the same time next to an enemy. A
Dispel magic while laying it stealthily next to an enemy's path would work well until the carpet
springs up again. Using multiple carpets in this fashion if you can locate or make them is even
Damage Transfer - If your rug managed to grapple a creature, and that creature has some attack which deals a lot of damage, it
would be rather entertaining if he striked the carpet with it as the first thing he does.
control, trapping, willing ally
Heated Body - Order your Azers to grapple an enemy, Telekinesis an Azer to your enemy, move it into tight quarters, or anything
else you can think of to put an enemy of yours within 5 feet of the Azer. Every time it touches an enemy, he suffers 1d10 fire
damage, as well as every time it hits the Azer.
Masters of Metal and Gems - These guys are considered the best smiths in the entire planes. They built the City of Brass. When
called by magic to the Prime Material, it's usually to forge an elaborate magic item or work of art. If you ever need any blacksmithing
done, control an Azer.
Detect Life - Know the presence and general direction of any creature within 5 miles.
Wail - Weaken your enemies if needed, Get away 30 feet from the Banshee or send into a group of enemies. Any of them who fail
their saves are down.
extraction, control, trapping, t ransformation, willing ally
Petrifying Gaze - Infinite petrification of enemies with the assistance of your Basilisks.
Adaptable Predators - Take as many eggs as you can, raise the Basilisk in captivity during your campaign, enjoy your own Basilisk
extraction, control, trapping, t ransformation, willing ally
If you could control, trap or transform into the beholder though previously discussed means, you
will gain access to a wide range of powers. Since the benefits of the Eye Rays are obvious
enough, I will discuss the finer aspects.
Eyestalks - If you ever destroy a Beholder, harvest at least four of it's stalks, preferably as many as you can find.
Superior Planning ( VGM ) - The mind of a Beholder can envision any possibility and scheme in a manner which makes humans
seem like babies in comparison, often making it impossible to catch a beholder unaware. If you ever need a plan in your campaign,
a Beholder could grant you one, should you compel it to do so.
Despotic Perspective ( VGM ) - In order to entice a Beholder to assisting you, you could deceive it by claiming to know of a plot by a
rival beholder, or offer to help in destroying a rival in exchange for something.
Disintegration Ray - I know I said the application of the rays are already detailed in the MM and VGM, but this should be underlined.
With the infinite firing of this ray which the Beholder uses to shape it's lair and the Telekinetic Eye Ray, you could carve a path
through almost any solid matter or construct things from your environment on the fly.
Beholder, Eye Tyrant
extraction, control, trapping, t ransformation, willing ally
Easier to ally with.
Beholder, Death Tyrant
extraction, control, trapping, t ransformation
Negative Energy Cone - Unlimited zombies.
Control, willing ally
Variant: Gazer Familiar - Only notable for it's role as a familiar and the endless eye ray attacks it offers as such.
control, willing ally
Magical Guardians - You can use four eyestalks from a slain beholder to create a ritual that will summon the spectator to guard
things for you.
Dark Conquest - Through the trapping and transferal of a blight creature , you could probably infect entire forested or vegetated
areas with more spawning blights.
Talking Heads ( VGM ) - A trick given by Elminster, that if you could make the severed heads carried by bugbears on spikes through
Speak with Dead or Minor Illusion and other spells, you could make the bugbears do almost anything, since they believe their gods
are the origin of that.
control, willing ally
Leaders and followers - A goblin king is incredibly easy to secretly ally with, or most likely, control, even at the lowest level, allowing
you to control hundreds of goblins under his leadership.
control, trapping, transformation, willing ally
Nilbogism ( VGM ) - A nilbog spirit can't truly die nor be attacked in it's incorporeal form, and can seek new goblins to possess
perpetually. Likewise a creature attempting to damage it must succeed on a saving throw or be charmed until the end of it's next turn
Reversal of Fortune ( VGM ) - Turn another creature's damage to 0 as our reaction and regain 1d6 hit points.
Host ( VGM ) - By easily controlling a Hobgoblin warlord while undetected, you could rally a thousand hobgoblins, goblins, bugbears
and their pets to attack a settlement or lair of your choosing. By the way, none of the Hobgoblin spellcasters have the ability to
detect the magic or dispel it.
Hobgoblin, Hobgoblin Iron Shadow
Shadow Jaunt ( VGM ) - Good for very fast reconnaissance in dark and difficult environments when controlled.
Underground Hunters - Makes for decent reconnaissance or tunneling when controlled.
Fiendish Blessing - The Cambion adds it's Charisma bonus ( +3 ) to it's AC and it's AC is shown as "19 ( scale mail )". Assuming
that bonus has already been added somehow, if you gave your Cambion full plate armor, it would have an AC increase of +4 from
scale, raising it's AC to 23. Giving it a shield will make it 25. That's a permanent AC of 25 just from regular items, and with a simple
spell like "Shield of Faith" it can be 27 for a round. You can effectively have an almost indestructible tank. And if you have Plate+3 or
Shield+3 or Ring and Cloak and Ioun Stone of protection, a Staff of Power, and Charisma increasing magical items or potions, it's
going to be a literally indestructible tank.
Resistance to nonmagical weapons - Even more utility for your ultimate tank.
Fiendish Charm - And being able to also control an unlimited number of humanoids for 1 day is not too bad either.