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.
It’s creepy and it’s kooky, mysterious and spooky, it’s altogether ooky, it’s a Crawling Claw! *snap snap* Much like Thing from The Addams Family, the Crawling Claw is not a misnomer in that it is a disembodied hand moving around on its own. Bound through dark, necromantic rituals, the Crawling Claw usually is the hand of a murderer that has been cut off (either alive or freshly dead) with the murderer’s life force bound to it. They serve their creators unerringly, only acting of their own accord in the absence of orders. Thanks to being a hand they can access doors and use keys, allowing them to traverse between rooms to carry out their sinister commands.
The Crawling Claw may easily be the weakest monster we’ve looked at so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad by any stretch. It has decent utility and interesting uses. But first, let’s take a look at what makes it less than stellar. Very low hp (it could be stepped on and killed) with a not amazing armor class means it will not survive any hit that comes its way. Additionally, a slow speed makes it hard to catch up for get away. On the positive side, it is immune to poison, can climb up walls at the same speed it walks, and is immune to turning. That makes it a small but surprising threat when used correctly. Also, it has blindsight (of course it does- no eyes) so you can’t hide from it if you get too close!
The Crawling Claw will not be the mainstay of an adventure by most accounts, but it can be a great servant or familiar to a stronger villain. Imagine entering a dungeon of a necromancer, disembodied hands scurrying around and scatter like cockroaches when you enter a room, waiting to jump out and strike. Or maybe they would retreat back to their creator to deliver news of your arrival, allowing them to prep for your demise. They can be a hindrance, and in great numbers can pose a threat or a distraction while the enemies do their thing. In absence of a controlling force, maybe having some of them running around a graveyard at night, causing mischief and vandalizing the area could be a great setup to framing someone innocent that the party has to find the truth behind. With a little bit of thought, I’m sure you can find a nice place to insert these gruesome creatures.
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