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.
Is it dark in here, or did I just get engulfed by a ceiling-dwelling monster? The Darkmantle hangs from the ceiling, disguising itself as a stalactite until some unsuspecting prey passes underneath. It drops down, unleashes a magical darkness around it, latches onto it’s prey with it’s tentacles, and crushes their target’s head while suffocating them. There is good news though; if the Darkmantle misses you or otherwise loses the element of surprise, they’re not too bad to dispatch!
Truth be told, the Darkmantle is not tough at all. Very easy to hit, slow unless they’re flying (which still isn’t that fast), and not super durable, it should only take a few swings of a sword to slice up these leathery predators.That said, they don’t rely on a tough exterior to capture and kill their prey, but rather their ability to stealth and appear as stalactites. Their one magical ability creates a cloud of darkness around them that not even darkvision can see into, and can actually cancel out magical light. All of those set up for their attack- wrapping around the head of an unsuspecting adventurer and crushing their head. They actually don’t cause a ton of damage, but someone on the receiving end may find themselves blinded and suffocating, which are certainly cause for panic.
I like Darkmantles in tandem with other monsters. I wrote about how to use them with the roper a while back for an interesting encounter, and still heartily recommend that combination after success in my own games. For something less intense though, they’re a good enemy to have scattered throughout caves, dropping down in inopportune times. They don’t have to be threatening on their own, but having one fall on you while battling a gang of goblins will certainly be bad news. For extra fun, have some fall on the goblins (or other enemies) as well! Treat them like a trap, and keep your players on their toes.
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