Barghest (Dungeons & Dragons)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alignment Lawful Evil
Image image
Publication history
First appearance The Dragon #26
Mythological origins Barghest

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game, the barghest (/bɑːrˈɡɛst/ bar-GEST)[1] is a type of fictional monster. The barghest is portrayed as a goblin-like creature that comes from the plane of Gehenna to feed on humans. These evil creatures can change form to appear as a dog or wolf, or a large goblin at will. The barghest was introduced in The Dragon magazine, and then the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game's original Monster Manual II, and then continued to appear in the game's second edition, third edition, and fourth edition.

Publication history[edit]

As a game monster, the barghest appeared in Dragon magazine #26 in 1979. Although Dragon #26 does not credit the author, a response to a letter in Dragon #30 confirms that Gary Gygax created the barghest. The barghest would later be included in the Monster Manual II, published in 1983 and the Planescape Campaign Setting from 1994.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)[edit]

The barghest first appeared in the June 1979 issue of The Dragon magazine (#26), in the "Dragon’s Bestiary" feature (billed as "the return of an old and much-requested column", formerly known as "Featured Creature") by Gary Gygax. This article states that "Of the various members of the deodands inhabiting the rifts of the Planes of Gehenna, the barghest is certainly the most common and one of the worst." Barghests are described as lawful evil in alignment, and highly intelligent. The article states that a barghest's natural shape is similar to that of a large goblin, and that it can assume the form of a large war dog or wild dog at will, sometimes giving barghests the misnomer of "devil-dogs".

On the plane of Gehenna, barghests "live in isolation from one another, each having its own stronghold and force of servitors, ruling a smoking rift despotically," according to the article. When a barghest spawns, it sends its litter of six to the Prime Material Plane to feed. These whelps will live alone or in pairs near isolated human communities or with goblin bands, retaining their natural form amongst goblins. Barghests are almost indistinguishable from goblins by other races, except that a barghest's eyes glow orange when the creature becomes excited; in canine form a barghest can become very difficult to notice when motionless, and is almost "impossible to tell from a normal dog, except that other dogs will fear and hate it, attacking at every opportunity." Goblins worship barghests, fearing and serving them and going to great lengths to provide human sacrifices; barghests, in turn, slay the powerful enemies of the goblins and generally enrich their hosts' treasure. A barghest has certain magical abilities, such as being able to charm other creatures, project illusions, and affect other creature's emotions. Magic weapons are required to harm a barghest. A barghest cannot be harmed by fire, but a barghest in canine form can be sent back to its home plane if hit by a magical fire attack. A barghest can slay and devour humans, which causes the barghest to become larger and more powerful through "the unholy vampirism attendant upon the slaughter of humanity." The creature's skin darkens as it grows, from yellow towards a bluish red, eventually terminating in a deep blue. Upon attaining full growth and power, according to the article, the barghest shifts itself back to Gehenna in search of its own reeking valley rift.[2]

The creature's description was reprinted with minor editing in the first edition Monster Manual II (1983).[3] The first edition Manual of the Planes (1987) by Jeff Grubb mentions that barghests are "the only true natives of Gehenna" and confirms their life-cycle of growing up on the Prime Material Plane, before returning to a desolate rift in Gehenna to build small empires and settle into a life of continuous conflict with other barghests.[4]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit]

The barghest appears for second edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the initial Planescape Campaign Setting boxed set (1994), which introduced the Planescape setting. The set was designed by David "Zeb" Cook, who also wrote the Monstrous Supplement booklet in which the barghest appears, with Tony DiTerlizzi providing the creature's first illustrations. This entry notes that a barghest attacks with its claw and bite, or with just a bite when in canine form. This depiction also notes that barghests may become more powerful by devouring demihumans as well as humans. This set also described the barghest life cycle: "As a whelp it is a hunter and tracker consigned to the Prime Material Plane. There it grows in cunning and wisdom until it is ready to enter into the next stage of its life. At this phase it returns to Gehenna and becomes a leader. It is still a hunter, though now its tactics and attitudes are greater, to match the game – other intelligent beings – that it hunts."[5]

The Planes of Conflict (1995) boxed set by Colin McComb, Dale Donovan, and Monte Cook mentions in its "Monstrous Supplement" booklet that barghests are occasionally prey for the flying, ray-like slasraths. The "Liber Malevolentiae" booklet notes that someone seeing a single barghest on Gehenna should know that there are likely plenty of others hiding just out of sight. It is also noted that despite being native to Gehenna, and numerous, barghests don't play a major role in the politics of the lower planes.[6]

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000–2007)[edit]

The barghest appears in the Monster Manual (2000) for the game's third edition. In this edition, the barghest is given the outsider creature type. This book describes barghests as "fiends that can change into lupine form. They come into the world to feed on blood and souls and thus grow stronger." In this version, a barghest is six-feet tall and can take on the form of a large wolf. They disdain weapons and love killing, but prefer ambush over direct combat. Barghests can work in packs, and will hide and use illusions to conceal their true numbers. A barghest can feed on the corpse of a slain humanoid opponent, devouring both flesh and life force to increase its own life energy; this destroys the victim's body and prevents any form of magic that normally brings the dead to life from succeeding. This version of the barghest does not return to its home plane when hit by a magical fire attack. This book also introduces the greater barghest, an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) version which occasionally uses a magic two-handed weapon in combat.[7] The barghest also appears in the revised Monster Manual (2003) for edition 3.5. This book notes that a barghest is native to the Bleak Eternity of Gehenna, and that it resembles a goblin-wolf hybrid in its natural form. This book states that a barghest immediately becomes a greater barghest after consuming enough corpses.[8]

The adventure The Speaker in Dreams (2001) includes two pairs of barghests living in the town of Brindinford,[9] and in the adventure Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (2001), a great barghest named Riu Lotaas serves as henchman to the duergar commander of the Crater Ridge Mines in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.[10]

In the book Savage Species (2003), the barghest is presented as a player character race, in the form of a character class.[11]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2013)[edit]

The barghest appears in the game's fourth edition in Monster Manual 2 (2009), with stat blocks for a Barghest Savager and a Barghest Battle Lord. One of the Chaos Scar series of adventures, "The Pillar of Eyes", published in Dungeon #180 (July 2010) features Foosteth the Fat, an overweight barghest who is so lazy that he seldom leaves his throne room, preferring his underlings to do his villainous business for him.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–)[edit]

The D&D Next/Playtest adventure Dead in Thay (2014) includes a full Barghest stat block. The Barghest were officially introduced to the finalized Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition in Volo's Guide to Monsters. Here, they are reinvented as creatures born as goblins, whose true shape is the lupine form, and who need to feed on goblins to gain entry into Gehenna.

Use in campaign settings[edit]

The barghest is depicted as a shapeshifting beast in the Forgotten Realms novel Sojourn (1991), written by R.A. Salvatore. One of the sub-plots of the novel deals with the machinations of a pair of barghests named Ulgulu and Kempfana. Lost Empires of Faerûn (2005) detailed the sub-species of planetouched, the offspring of barghests and demons known as the worghest.[12] In the article "Legacies of Ancient Times" in Dragon #350, Eric L. Boyd provides more information on the worghests.[13] Class Chronicles: Warlocks, Part Two (2007) on the Wizards of the Coast web site details an immense greater barghest known as Tarkomang.

The Eberron Campaign Setting (2004) notes that in the Eberron setting, barghests originate in Mabar, the plane of Endless Night.[14]

Other media[edit]

The barghest is featured in the D&D Miniatures: Harbinger set (2003), the greater barghest is featured in the D&D Miniatures: Night Below set (2007), and the barghest Savager is featured in D&D Miniatures: Legendary Evils (2009).

Other publishers[edit]

The barghest appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (2009), on page 27.[15]


  1. ^ Mentzer, Frank. "Ay pronunseeAY shun gyd" Dragon #93 (TSR, 1985)
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary. "Dragon's Bestiary" The Dragon #26 (TSR, 1979)
  3. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
  4. ^ Grubb, Jeff. Manual of the Planes (TSR, 1987 ).
  5. ^ Cook, David "Zeb". Planescape Campaign Setting (TSR, 1994)
  6. ^ McComb, Colin, Dale Donovan, and Monte Cook. Planes of Conflict. (TSR, 1995)
  7. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  8. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual, pp 22–23 (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  9. ^ Wyatt, James. The Speaker in Dreams (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
  10. ^ Cook, Monte. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)
  11. ^ Eckelberry, David, Rich Redman, and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes. Savage Species (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  12. ^ Baker, Richard, Ed Bonny, and Travis Stout. Lost Empires of Faerûn (Wizards of the Coast, 2005)
  13. ^ Boyd, Eric L. Legacies of Ancient Empires: Planetouched of Faerûn, Dragon #350 (Paizo Publishing), December 2006
  14. ^ Baker, Keith, Bill Slavicsek, and James Wyatt. Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast, 2004)
  15. ^ Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (Paizo Publishing, 2009)

External links[edit]