Entities from beyond the stars can control minds and want to destroy the human mind.
Beings with tentacles that don’t seem to have them for any other reason than to look scary.
Today, we’ll talk about aberrations in D&D 5e.
Today, I’m going to tell you what aberrations are, where they come from, and a few homebrew rules you can add to your Great Old One-lite creatures.
First, let’s define what an aberration is.
- What Are Aberrations in D&D 5e?
- Where Do Aberrations Come From?
- How Aberrations Behave in Your Game?
- You can add to Aberrations in your D&D 5e game if you want to.
What Are Aberrations in D&D 5e?
Aberrations are a type of monster in D&D 5e.
They are described in the Monster Manual.
They usually look like creatures from another world or another planet.
Aberrations include things like beholders, illithids, and aboleths.
It’s an aberration if it has too many tentacles and isn’t an octopus or squid (or something like a squid, like the kraken).
On page 6, the Monster Manual says the following about aberrations:
“Aberrations are utterly alien beings. Many of theme have innate magical abilites drawn from the creature’s alien mind rather than the mystical forces of the world. The quintessential aberrations are aboleths, beholders, mind flayers, and slaadi”
Most aberrations are based on creatures from horror stories set in space.
Aberrations in D&D are based on creatures like Cthulhu, Rlyeh, and others like them.
So, that’s about what they’re all about.
In D&D 5e, aberrations are creatures that don’t belong in a fantasy world.
Most of the time, they are some kind of being with psychic abilities.
Which is supposed to make them scarier because they can mess with people’s minds.
They also love to do the same thing.
See, aberrations usually don’t care much or at all about other people.
They often have a lot of fear and don’t trust others of their kind.
So, aberrations usually don’t like other creatures even less.
A creature of the aberration type usually only interacts with other creatures when it helps them in some way.
Or sometimes just to boost their egos.
They’re strange, okay?
Some aberrations are very practical and just want to make the best hivemind they can (i.e. illithids).
Some people are very paranoid but stupid enough to accept too many compliments (i.e. certain beholders).
And to make things even better, the more powerful aberrations love being worshipped as gods.
They will get people to join them in whatever strange way they choose to call “recruitment.”
Most of the time, they get people to join their cults by promising them power, making them feel safe, or just plain brainwashing them.
The aberration then tells this army of devoted followers what to do.
Where Do Aberrations Come From?
The truth is, it depends.
Most aberrations have ancestors from a long way that is away from the Outer Planes.
But many of them live all over the universe.
Aberrations can live on the Astral Plane, the Water Elemental Plane, or even the Inner Planes.
So, it’s not easy to answer the question “Where do aberrations come from in D&D 5e?”
Most of the time, aberrations come from a plane of existence other than our own.
Most aboleths start in the water plane.
You could find them on the Astral Plane, though.
Illithids don’t know where they came from, so they are all over the planes like horrible, many-legged roaches.
If you want a general answer, I’d say that aberrations come from a long way away from the Outer Planes.
Most of the time, people who visit the Great Old One are found beyond the known planes.
They are beyond what we can see.
Since aberrations are based on these things, it would make sense for them to live there.
Even so, aberration creatures don’t usually come here directly.
Most likely, your game’s aberration creatures already live in a cave underwater, deep underground, or a criminal’s hideout.
They’ve been there for as long as you like, and they have no plans to leave.
Most of the time they want to grow.
But if you want your aberration monsters to live somewhere that fits the theme, put them in a place that is almost impossible to live in.
The most common choices are underwater or underground.
How Aberrations Behave in Your Game?
In D&D 5e, the thing to remember about aberrations is that they are everywhere.
At least you can guess that the fey is only doing what they are doing for their pleasure.
Aberrations are people who don’t enjoy life.
Sure, some people like having their egos stroked.
Aberrations in the way things work, on the other hand, are almost always practical, paranoid, or bad.
It depends on what kind of anomaly you’re dealing with.
Mindflayers tend to have very practical goals because they want to make sure their hivemind stays alive.
Beholders are very paranoid and often do strange things because they think there is a threat that doesn’t exist.
And all they do is hate.
But they like to start groups of people who worship them.
So, on an individual level, it is easy to understand what the goals of an aberration are.
But because they are so different, it’s hard to say anything general about them.
About the only things that are always the same about aberrations are:
- They dislike humans.
- They don’t like gods.
- They make slaves and cults by using psychic powers and mind control.
- Most of the time, their goals involve taking over or destroying the world or cosmos.
- Usually, there are tentacles involved.
The aberrations are a great choice if you want to give your players a good, completely evil opponent to fight.
The best part is that you can almost decide how to use them.
Even though aberrations in D&D 5e all have similar goals, they all have different ways to reach them.
Mind flayers have a hivemind, beholders are very powerful and good at planning, and aboleths have people who follow them.
All kinds of different problems that your players can solve in different ways.
Just remember that aberrations hate and don’t care about anything but themselves when you play with them.
Illithids are technically a hivemind, and even though they have many bodies, they exist as a single being.
You can add to Aberrations in your D&D 5e game if you want to.
Here are a few rules I’d add to my game to make aberrations more different from other monsters.
Sanity Ability Score
A big part of eldritch horror is that people lose their minds.
If your players have to deal with aberrations, I’d say they should make Sanity saves instead of Wisdom saves.
On page 265 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, there is an option for a different rule called “Sanity.”
You use it when your players are faced with something so strange that their minds can’t deal with it.
Or if they run into something that can break their minds.
Aberrations do both of these things.
I like this alternative rule because:
1) It makes more sense than blanket Wisdom saves
2) It fits better with the story.
Asking your players to make a Sanity saving throw is fun and satisfying.
And the panic they feel when it’s their turn to roll.
Summoning Big Aberrations
What do I mean when I say “big differences”?
I’m talking about at least the beholder and aboleth.
Or, for example, the Elder Brain.
But that’s not so sure, since you technically need to make an Elder Brain start a long process.
But that’s not what I meant.
I’m talking about all those strange rituals that the Great Old Ones always seem to enjoy.
Blood rites, human sacrifices, and chants are in a language that has been lost or is hard to understand.
After all, if it works for the big guys, why wouldn’t it work for powerful aberrations?
Come up with some wild and weird rituals (as long as they make sense and don’t scare your players) to call your big bad aberration.
Maybe people who want to follow your monster have to wear a certain shade of yellow and chant in the middle of the day.
Or, a certain number of seemingly mundane objects need to be arranged in a specific location, at a specific time.
Or, maybe a certain person needs to have a bad day for whatever reason.
Do you think the oddity gives a damn?
The point is that if the Great Old Ones, who created aberrations and gave them their ideas, can be called upon, you can use that idea for your powerful monsters.
Next, make it so that your aberrations can grant wishes.
Maybe not the wish spell as such.
But giving them the ability to give power to those who follow them adds to their presence.
They’re like gods, so their powers should match that.
If your aberrations are worshipped, they may promise power to the desperate to bring them in.
Also, they could give their most loyal followers powers to help them carry out their plans.
This is how you get Warlocks, after all.
Most of the time, though, they go right to the source (as in the Big Bads way out past known existence) but even so, it should always cost something.
When getting the benefit of a lesser aberration, mutilation and madness should go hand in hand.
The Great Old Ones have a raw power that they can give to regular people.
And they are so far away that their power might not be able to change a normal person’s body.
But I think it would be hard for a normal aberration to pass on their power.
So, those who follow them or whom they control would have bad effects.
But they can only get magic powers from the creature if they worship it.
It sounds like a good deal.
There’s also the matter of giving in to the aberration’s every wish.
If you take this power, you would have to do what the creature says.
If they don’t listen, they could lose their power or even die.
If we’re being honest, most likely both.
The number of people who follow aberrations is a big deal.
Give your messed-up bad guys a cult of people who worship or work for them.
This gives them a dangerous enemy to fight.
And they’ll have to deal with the moral questions that come up when fighting and killing people who aren’t monsters.
Also, a cult of people who worship eldritch entities fits the theme of any game where aberrations are the main enemies.
Even better, you can use this to make an army of enemies with eldritch powers to fight your players.
Give them strange powers and set up a hierarchy of cultists that the party will have to deal with and stop or not.
And a Great Old One is about to be called.
Anyway you play it.
No matter what, I think that any D&D oddity worth its salt should have at least a small group of people who follow it.
The thing is strong, always hungry, and doesn’t like anything.
So, they need helpers to get what they want.
You can’t expect them to do everything on their own, after all.
Here are a few questions that people often ask about aberrations in D&D 5e.
What Do Aberrations Speak in D&D 5e?
Most aberrations in D&D 5e speak in Deep Speech.
Sometimes they can speak English or another language.
But Deep Speech is the most important one to know if you want to talk to an aberration.
Are Aberrations Undead?
No, in D&D 5e, aberrations are not dead.
They are two different kinds of creatures.
While the word “aberration” means something that isn’t the same as usual, it could be used to describe undead people.
They are two different kinds of creatures in Dungeons & Dragons.
Are Beholders Aberrations?
Yes, beholders are aberrations in D&D 5e.
People probably think of them when they think of an oddity.
About all, there is to say about aberrations in D&D 5e.
- They’re meant to be completely strange and almost scary creatures, no matter where they are.
- They are based on cosmic horror monsters and other things like Cthulhu.
- Aberrations come from places beyond the outer planes, but they usually live underground or in the water.