Monster Manual A-Z is a series of quick looks at each and every monster presented in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. New monsters go up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in alphabetical order, touching on lore, mechanics, and ways to use them in your campaign. To search for all Monster Manual A-Z articles, search MMAZ in the search bar as we’ve excluded them from our Roleplaying Games tag to keep things tidy.
If looks could kill, then… well, looks can kill if you’re facing a Basilisk! Or more accurately, looks can petrify you and turn you into stone if you meet the Basilisk’s gaze with your own. Not only do these scaly, human-sized monsters pose a hazard in that regard, their jaws can crush and consume stone. They have fluids within that revert the stone to flesh so they can digest it, and while it can be harvested to cure someone who’s been turned to stone, it also means that normal flesh that gets bitten is going to feel an extra string of poison. On a really cool note, they can be trained and domesticated and learn to avert their gaze of anyone their master doesn’t command them to look at, so that’s awesome.
Slow, scaly, and strong- three words that describe how the Basilisk works. But these predators don’t need to be fast, their petrifying gaze does the dirty work. Taking a very short period of time and only a couple failed saves, anyone messing with a Basilisk will be stone before they know it. You could of course, try to advert your eyes, but hitting something you can’t see can prove to be difficult. Even if you do manage to get up close and personal with the Basilisk without turning into a statue, they have reasonably tough hide and a lot of hit points, not to mention those tough jaws that could easily bite through the fiercest warrior with a few chomps. There is one thing however- if a Basilisk sees its own reflection it will attempt to target itself, and potentially turn itself into stone.
What I like about the Basilisk is how you can set it up to be used in a good story. Need a defender of an ancient relic? Throw in a Basilisk. Maybe an evil politician needs protection from would-be assassins (and a growing realistic statue collection)? Give them some Basilisks. Or hey, throw a Basilisk den off the side of the road with bits of animal statues leading the way like breadcrumbs- you know adventurers can’t resist the intrigue. In any event, I would forewarn adventurers, especially ones who have not squared off with these monsters, of the dangers through tales and stories in game. Maybe the Basilisks that protect their treasure or master are rumored or part of the story, so that your players know what to expect and potentially how to cure the petrification.
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