Combat tactics and stats for these immortal eel creatures
What are aboleths?
Aboleths are a race of ancient, immortal, aquatic creatures that are as large as they are dangerous. Possessing powerful bodies and devastating psionic abilities, their only weakness is their vulnerability on land. They’re also brutal beings, enraged by a lifetime of being usurped in dominance by the younger races. They desire to take back control wherever they can.
Aboleths make great villains for underwater and underdark adventures. Their love of slavery creates great moral quandaries like whether you should kill their enthralled servants for example. Combat with them also creates unique dynamics too as players must think around the problems of fighting underwater.
Our guide below takes you through the stats for an aboleth as well as explaining what tactics you can employ when using one of these creatures. If you’re a player, we’ve also got tactics for fighting these terrifying foes as well.
The following is the official stat block for an aboleth as detailed in the Monster Manual and the SRD 5.1.
Large aberration, lawful evil
Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 135 (18d10 + 36)
Speed 10 ft., swim 40 ft.
|21 (+5)||9 (-1)||15 (+2)||18 (+4)||15 (+2)||18 (+4)|
Saving Throws Con +6, Int +8, Wis +6
Skills History +12, Perception +10
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 20
Languages Deep Speech, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)
Amphibious. The aboleth can breathe air and water.
Mucous Cloud. While underwater, the aboleth is surrounded by transformative mucus. A creature that touches the aboleth or that hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature is diseased for 1d4 hours. The diseased creature can breathe only underwater.
Probing Telepathy. If a creature communicates telepathically with the aboleth, the aboleth learns the creature’s greatest desires if the aboleth can see the creature.
Multiattack. The aboleth makes three tentacle attacks.
Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or become diseased. The disease has no effect for 1 minute and can be removed by any magic that cures disease. After 1 minute, the diseased creature’s skin becomes translucent and slimy, the creature can’t regain hit points unless it is underwater, and the disease can be removed only by heal or another disease-curing spell of 6th level or higher. When the creature is outside a body of water, it takes 6 (1d12) acid damage every 10 minutes unless moisture is applied to the skin before 10 minutes have passed.
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft. one target. Hit: 15 (3d6 + 5) bludgeoning damage.
Enslave (3/Day). The aboleth targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or be magically charmed by the aboleth until the aboleth dies or until it is on a different plane of existence from the target. The charmed target is under the aboleth’s control and can’t take reactions, and the aboleth and the target can communicate telepathically with each other over any distance.
Whenever the charmed target takes damage, the target can repeat the saving throw. On a success, the
effect ends. No more than once every 24 hours, the target can also repeat the saving throw when it is at least 1 mile away from the aboleth.
The aboleth can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action
option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The aboleth regains spent
legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Detect. The aboleth makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.
Tail Swipe. The aboleth makes one tail attack.
Psychic Drain (Costs 2 Actions). One creature charmed by the aboleth takes 10 (3d6) psychic damage, and the aboleth regains hit points equal to the damage the creature takes.
|Weight||About 6,500 pounds|
|Languages||Deep Speech, Telepathy|
|Habitat||Typically underwater in aquatic parts of the Underdark|
Aboleths are monstrous, eel-like creatures that never stop growing, and as they are immortal, they can grow to gigantic proportions. Typically, they’re about 20ft long and weigh about 6,500 pounds though they can grow to about twice that size. They have long tails, a pair of fins and tubular appendages across their bodies. Their mouths are perfectly round with a row of razor sharp teeth all around.
Aboleths have lived before this universe was even created, originating from the Far Realm. Being immortal, and having shared the memories of their ancestors, aboleths are the wielders of incredible knowledge and many secrets. They are also extremely clever and highly aggressive creatures making them terrifying foes. Of particular concern is the hatred with which they view other creatures.
While the ancient aboleth race has been secluded to mostly amphibious portions of the Underdark, younger races thrive on the surface despite their “inferiority”. While aboleths will rarely venture onto the surface for fear of entering a long dreaming state, they will generally do whatever it takes to gain an advantage over their assumed enemies.
Aboleths will sometimes form broods that work as a type of supportive group structure with an overseer at its head. These broods will often have aboleth servitors (mindless slaves) to perform whatever tasks they desire. Often, these take the form of kua-toa who are aquatic creatures themselves.
Playing as an aboleth
Aboleths are ancient, evil creatures that care nothing for other races whom they consider to be inferior to themselves. They also have powerful psionic abilities capable of enslaving the minds of other creatures.
If you’re playing a session with an aboleth, you’ll want to lean heavily on this evil, domineering nature. Any form of negotiating with an aboleth will likely involve the aboleth getting something in return, or attempting to outright enslave the players.
Below are some tactics you can use when playing as an aboleth:
- Enthralled servants: Aboleths often keep a contingent of enthralled servants to protect their lairs and do their bidding, particularly when they need to perform activities on land. These slaves often take the form of kua-toa who can operate both aquatically and on the surface, but aboleths aren’t picky about who they enslave. More often though, these will be creatures native to the Underdark where aboleths tend to live.
- Prepare players for aquatic combat: Part of what makes aboleths so terrifying is that they are aquatic creatures so for a party to confront one, they will often need to do so in water which places characters at a distinct disadvantage. You may want to prepare ways that players can operate underwater such as through spells and magical items that allow characters to breath underwater. Of course, having a time limit on how long you can be underwater can create a new and frightening dynamic to combat.
- Enslave: If you’re fighting with an aboleth, use enslave to thin the crowd of enemies. Players only get to make a saving roll again when they take damage so focus your efforts on other party members while you have creatures enslaved.
- Fight in the water: You’re much faster underwater so try and push players to fight you on your own terms in the water. Afflicting characters with your mucus cloud will force them to stay in the water. This will put most characters at a disadvantage as they’ll move slower and have disadvantage on attack rolls (unless wielding a limited number of weapons) while forcing them closer to you as ranged weapons can’t shoot as far. It will also nullify some elements of spellcasters who will struggle to cast a lot of spells underwater.
- Use your legendary actions: As a powerful being, you also have legendary actions so don’t forget to use these between turns. Primarily you’ll want to use the extra tail attacks to deal more damage, but if you’re looking a little worse for wear, can use psychic drain to heal yourself. Just be aware that this will damage an enslaved character who will get to make a save against being enslaved so may bring another character back into play.
Fighting an aboleth
If you’re one of the hapless souls that’s ended up fighting an aboleth, then there are a few things you can do to tip the odds in your favour.
- Avoid enslave: Enslave is a major save or suck ability. It requires a wisdom saving throw which are not the worst to save against. Coming prepared with abilities that enhance saving throws like bardic inspiration, heroes feast, enhance ability and other similar abilities and spells.
- End enslaved: If an aboleth does manage to enslave an ally, you’ll want to end it as soon as possible to get them back into the fray. The easiest way to do this is to cause a small amount of damage to them allowing them to take another save. Try using an unarmed attack to punch them into consciousness. Some spells can help here too. Protection against good and evil is the lowest level version of this. It’s better used before the combat to prevent charmed, but can give advantage against it if already afflicted by enslaved. Mind blank and greater restoration are higher level spells that will end the condition outright.
- Fight on land: This may be more easily said than done as aboleths avoid the land as much as possible, but if you can coax one onto the land to fight it (or at least do so from range while it’s in the water) then you’ll have a much better chance of success. It’ll move slower and you will move quicker and have a much better range of weapons and spells at your disposal.
- Ranged combat: Where possible, especially if you can get on land, you should fight an aboleth at range. They’re have little in the way of ranged options. Of course, if you’re in water, this becomes very challenging as an aboleth will almost certainly be faster than you and your ranged options will be limited anyway. Staying on land if you can is the best way to make this work but can be difficult to accomplish.
Looking for another creature to use in your campaign? See our guides guides about the various monsters of the D&D universe: