Cyclops (Dungeons & Dragons)

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For the mythological creature, see Cyclops.
A cyclopskin
Alignment Chaotic Evil
Type Giant
Image image
Publication history
Source books Arcana Evolved, Shining South (3.5E), 3E Deities and Demigods, 2E Legends and Lore, Monstrous Manual
Mythological origins Cyclops

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the cyclops is a giant. There are two types of cyclopes present in the game; the smaller cyclopskin and the massive cyclops. The cyclopskin resemble 7 12-foot-tall (2.3 m), ugly humanoids with a single bloodshot eye in the center of their foreheads. They are burly and muscular and are covered in hairs, scars, and scabs and smell of dirt and dung. Their tough, ruddy brown skin is thick and doubles as armor. Many cyclops also bear a stubby horn. The cyclops resembles closely its cyclopskin cousins but is much larger, growing up to forty feet tall. It is also much more savage and bestial.

Publication history[edit]

The D&D cyclops was based upon the Cyclopes of Greek mythology and Roman mythology.[1]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)[edit]

The cyclopeses was one of the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974).[2] The cyclopes also appears in the game's Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes (1976).[3]

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

The greater cyclops and lesser cyclops appeared in the original Deities & Demigods Cyclopedia (1980), which was later reprinted as Legends & Lore (1985).

The cyclopskin first appeared in the Monster Manual II (1983).[4]

Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the cyclops, in the Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set (1981 & 1983).[5][6] The cyclops was also later featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991),[7] and the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1994). The cyclops appeared as a type of giant in the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game set (1999).[8]

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

The cyclops appears first, as a type of giant-kin, in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989).[9] The cyclops and cyclopskin then appear as types of giant in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[10]

The cyclopes and lesser cyclopes appear in Legends & Lore (1990) for this edition.

The desert cyclops appears for the Al-Qadim campaign setting appeared in Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse (1994).

The cyclopskin was detailed in Dragon #254 (December 1998), in the "Ecology of the Cyclopskin".[11]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)[edit]

The Deities and Demigods (2002) for this edition featured the greater cyclops and lesser cyclops.[12]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)[edit]

The cyclops appeared as a type of giant, as well as a player character race, for the Forgotten Realms setting in Shining South (2004).

The cyclopean was detailed in Dragon #323 (September 2004), in "Winning races - Cyclopeans" by Eric Cagle.

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

The cyclops appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including the cyclops guard, the cyclops warrior, the cyclops impaler, the cyclops rambler, the cyclops hewer, the cyclops battleweaver, and the cyclops storm shaman. They are presented as the willing servants of the fomorians.[13] The cyclops also appeared in the Monster Manual 2 (2009).

Characteristics and habits[edit]

Both cylopes and cyclopskin are elusive brutes who live in desolate wilderness, far away from civilization. Quite little is known of their habits or purpose in life, and many believe this not to be so much as the fact that they live far away and are hard to study, but because they simply do not have any. Cyclopskin live in the extreme wilds or on isolated islands, in small camps huddled around a cave, ruin or some other lair. They are rather primitive, brutish creatures with no regard for the land, and their territory can often be recognized due to how remarkably unsanitary it is, with piles of filth and waste lying everywhere, and painfully apparent despoliation. Their hierarchies are strongly based on violence and domination, with the most powerful one, the one with the strength to pound every other cyclopskin in the tribe into submission, being appointed the leader. The only technology they have is the knowledge on how to domesticate farm animals, but they do, however, exercise this heavily, and most cyclopskin lairs have pens in which large numbers of goats and sheep are kept for food purposes. Though omnivorous, they prefer this meat to vegetable diets. Cyclopskin protect themselves at night from predators by placing a boulder or a wooden gate at the entrance to their lair. This seems to be more for the protection of the herded animals than the cyclopskin. Any treasure a tribe has is kept in a sack at the back of the lair, and is typically accessible only to the leader. As for cyclopes, they have much the same culture as that of cyclopskin only they are completely solitary, and they appear to even more bestial and dumb.

Cyclopes and cyclopskin have very little regard for other life. They are, however, defensive creatures, and only attack that which enters their territory. Though an armed band might be left alone, weaker forces will be attacked outright. Cyclopskin fight with clubs and bardiches. Some also use throwing spears, but due to the one eye, they are poor ranged combatants. Cyclopes also use these weapons, but due to their size, their brute strength is commonly enough. Cyclopes can also pluck entire trees and huge boulders from the earth, and hurl them hundreds of yards. Because of the tough skin, both cyclopskin and cyclopes rarely need to wear anything better than animal hides. Cyclopskin, upon defeating an opponent, may not as much kill it as take it prisoner and keep it as a slave. Cyclopes just eat their defeated. Though as said before, cyclopskin and cyclopes generally stay away from civilized life and keep to the wilderness, only attacking if they are attacked, occasionally a particularly charismatic one might be able to unite the cyclops tribes in an area, and lead them in a raid upon a settlement.

Cyclopskin are often enslaved or hired by bandits, pirates and other such people to act as pawns, bodyguards, thugs and other lowly yet menial positions.

Cyclopes and cyclopskin speak Undercommon and Giant. They are chaotic evil in alignment.

Critical reception[edit]

The cyclops impaler was ranked tenth among the ten best mid-level 4th Edition monsters by the authors of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition For Dummies. The authors described the cyclopses as "one-eyed giants from the Feywild that often serve more powerful masters," with the impaler having "all kinds of ranged powers that make it a great monster to put at the back of a band of other, more melee-oriented creatures" since "the cyclopes impalers hurl spears and use their evil eye and impaling volley powers to harass the heroes from a distance".[14]

Other publishers[edit]

The cyclops appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (2009), on page 52.[15] The great cyclops appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3 (2011), on page 31.[16] The cyclops is fully detailed in Paizo Publishing's book Giants Revisited (2012), on pages 10–15.[17]


  1. ^ DeVarque, Aardy. "Literary Sources of D&D". Archived from the original on 2007-07-21. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  3. ^ Kuntz, Robert J. and James Ward. Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes (TSR, 1976)
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
  5. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Dave Cook. Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set (TSR, 1981)
  6. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 2: Expert Rules (TSR, 1983)
  7. ^ Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  8. ^ Slavicsek, Bill. Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (TSR, 1999)
  9. ^ Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
  10. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  11. ^ Richards, Johnathan M. "The Ecology of the Cyclopskin: Brokk's Lucky Day." Dragon #254. TSR, 1998
  12. ^ Redman, Rich, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt. Deities and Demigods (Wizards of the Coast, 2002)
  13. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  14. ^ Slavicsek, Bill; Baker, Richard; Mearls, Mike (January 2009). "31: The Ten Best Mid-Level Monsters". Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved July 17, 2012. 
  15. ^ Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (Paizo Publishing, 2009)
  16. ^ Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3 (Paizo Publishing, 2011)
  17. ^ Benner, Jesse, Ryan Costello, Brian R. James, Jason Nelson, Russ Taylor, and Ray Vallese. Giants Revisited (Paizo, 2012)