In honour of Rob Schwalb who is the first 5e designer, I have heard (publicly) actually, understand the problem with 5e monster design and understands the fix (look to the pinnacle of D&D monster design – which is 4e – for inspiration). You can hear him discuss it on a Tome Show interview about halfway through.  If you haven’t already bought or supported the Shadow of the Demon Lord you should.


The first ulgurstasta was created ages ago by Kyuss, a powerful evil cleric turned Demigod. An ulgurstasta is a nauseating creature that looks like a massive, pale-yellow maggot. Twin rows of dozens of pulpy, rudimentary legs tipped with bony spurs provide it with a surprisingly effective means of locomotion. Its head is studded with dozens of humanoid eyes, below which drools a maw filled with hooked teeth. Millions of distended pores that continually weep a foul-smelling mucus cover its body. The horror radiates a cloying stink of rotting flowers and sour milk.

Sons of Kyuss. Vague notes surviving from Kyuss’s time indicate that the process of creating an ulgurstasta is long and dangerous. The newly formed beast has an Intelligence of 1 and can immediately create new skeletons. It obeys the vocal commands of its creator and can think for itself only upon reaching an Intelligence score of 10. The one thing that Kyuss didn’t count on was the fact that an ulgurstasta retains some of the memories of those it consumes. Thus, the more it ate, the more intelligent it grew. By the time Kyuss vanished, most of his ulgurstastas had become at least as intelligent as ghouls. Knowing that they would be hunted down and destroyed by Kyuss’s remaining enemies, the ulgurstastas retreated deep into the wilderness. Despite their attempt at self-preservation, most of them were hunted down and slain in the coming years, until only a handful survived deep in the Wormcrawl Fissure. Recently, one or two ulgurstastas have supposedly surfaced in isolated areas far from the Wormcrawl (such as in the Pomarj or the Bone March), where the local denizens worship them as gods. The ulgurstasta is a solitary being and has no desire or need to be around others of its kind. Should two beasts of Kyuss meet, they give each other a wide berth.

Necromantic Consumption. Since they were created through powerful necromantic magic, these creatures cannot reproduce, nor do they need to breathe or eat. Their orders once drove them to convert living beings into skeletons, but as time wore on, this drive has been replaced by a need to become more intelligent. As a general rule, every thousand skeletons created by an ulgurstasta allow it to retain enough thoughts and memories to gain a point of Intelligence. It is not unlikely that in some forgotten corner of the Wormcrawl, there might lurk an ulgurstasta of genius level or higher; these ulgurstastas might even have mastered the school of Necromancy themselves.

Undead Nature. A ulgurstasta doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep.

Gargantuan undead, chaotic evil
Armour Class 18 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 247 (15d20 + 90)

Speed 40 ft.

28 (+9) 15 (+2) 22 (+6) 18 (+4) 16 (+3) 19 (+4)
Saving Throws CON +10, WIS +7
Damage Resistance bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities Necrotic, Poison
Damage Immunities acid, cold
Condition Immunities Poisoned
Senses Blindsight 30 ft., Tremorsense 60 ft., Passive Perception 13
Languages Ulgurstastas understand Common, though they cannot speak it.
Challenge 11 (7,200 XP)

Aura: Tendrils. The millions of pores on an ulgurstasta’s body provide it with a deadly defense; each pore contains a coiled, 40-foot-long, hair-thin tendril. When the creature is angered, the tendrils extend to their full range and whip about in a frenzy. This storm of tendrils renders an ulgurstasta immune to nonmagical ranged weapons such as arrows and deals 6 (1d12) points of slashing damage per round to any creature within 40 feet of the ulgurstasta. Anyone in this area also takes a –2 penalty on attack rolls.

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If the ulgurstasta fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Spawn Skeletons. As part of its necrotic breath action, an ulgurstasta can regurgitate dormant skeletons. At any one time, an ulgurstasta has 2d4 skeletons of various sizes in its gut. These undead obey the ulgurstasta’s mental commands without fail and can function in the round after regurgitation. For 1 minute after being vomited up, these skeletons are covered with necromantic acid. They deal necrotic damage with each successful attack in addition to other damage dealt. The necrotic damage amount is equal to its normal damage (for example a skeleton does 1d6 piercing damage it would also do 1d6 necrotic damage). This necrotic damage reduces the targets hit point maximum by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. Creatures killed in this manner rise the next round as skeletons under the command of the ulgurstasta. Ulgurstastas are always followed by a band of previously spawned skeletons.

Multiattack. The ulgurstasta uses its necrotic breath if available and then makes one bite attack.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target.
Hit: 22 (3d8 + 9) piercing damage. If the target is a Large or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 19 Dexterity saving throw or be swallowed by the ulgurstasta. A swallowed creature is blinded and restrained, it has total cover against attacks and other effects outside the worm, and it takes 21 (6d6) necrotic damage at the start of each of the ulgurstasta’s turns. A swallowed creature damaged by this necrotic acid has its hit point maximum reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. Creatures killed in this manner can be regurgitated as part of a necrotic breath action. Dealing a total of at least 30 points of slashing or piercing damage to the stomach in one round (AC 14) in this way creates an opening large enough to permit escape. Once a single swallowed creature exits, muscular action closes the hole; thus, another swallowed opponent must cut its own way out. If the ulgurstasta dies, a swallowed creature is no longer restrained by it and can escape from the corpse by using 20 feet of movement, exiting prone.

Necrotic Breath (Recharge 5-6). In an emergency, an ulgurstasta can regurgitate the contents of its stomach. This results in a cone of necromantic acid 60-­foot cone. Each creature in that cone must make a DC 18 Dexterity saving throw, taking 54 (12d8) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. In either case, its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. Creatures killed in this manner animate in the next round as skeletons under the ulgurstasta’s control. Any dormant skeletons in the ulgurstasta’s gut (see below) are vomited up as well. These undead animate at once and attack everything in sight except the ulgurstasta. An ulgurstasta unable to use its breath weapon often tries to flee until it can replenish its supply of acid.

Bloodied Breath. When reduced to half its original hit points the ulgurstasta necrotic breath recharges and it immediately uses it as a reaction.

Ulgurstasta may become spellcaster the more intelligent they become that can master a few spells as they consume creatures.

In addition, if it uses a spell that targets a creature and they spell fails (for example, the target makes its saving throw) the spell refreshes and the ulgurstasta may pick another action from its list of options.