Lurker (Dungeons & Dragons)

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Lurker Above.JPG
Alignment Neutral
Image image
Publication history
Source books Tome of Horrors 1, Strategic Review#3, 1E Monster Manual, Monstrous Compendium Volume 2, 1E Monster Manual 1, Monstrous Manual, Underdark

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the lurker is an aberration. It is similar to the darkmantle and the piercer, but attacks with suffocation instead of impaling. The Lurker resembles a flat, grey stingray with two small eyes at the front. They are capable of both creeping along a ceiling and slowly gliding through the air. The darkmantle is said to be the result of crossbreeding a lurker with a piercer. Lurkers live underground.

Publication history[edit]

The lurker above first appeared in The Strategic Review #3 (August 1975) and appeared in first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the original Monster Manual (1977).[1]

The lurker above appeared in second edition in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989),[2] and reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[3] The shadow lurker appeared for the Forgotten Realms setting in Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels (1994), and reprinted in Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Two (1995).

The lurker appeared in third edition in Underdark (2003).[4]

Characteristics and habits[edit]

Lurkers attack simarily to the darkmantle and the piercer. They flap/crawl to the roof of a cavern, and attach themselves to the ceiling. They wait until prey comes beneath them and then drop below. Because they are flat and not pointed, they do not impale the prey. Instead, they wrap around the head of the victim and suffocate them. They do not let go until either they or the prey is dead. They can only be fought off by others, or with small weapons the prey was already holding. Lurkers are solitary creatures, unlike the piercer which lives in colonies which can be huge. Females lay glutinous sacks of eggs on the ground, and newborns feed upon vermin which can be found on cave floors, until they are old enough to fly and can attack in the above described method. Lurkers were first described in the AD&D Monster Manual (First Edition) by Gary Gygax. The original name of the monster in that publication read "Lurker Above". The "Above" was subsequently dropped and they became simply lurkers in later editions of AD&D.

Lurkers and their variations cannot speak, and they are neutral in alignment.


Rob Bricken of io9 identified the lurker as one of "The 12 Most Obnoxious Dungeons & Dragons Monsters".[5]

Other publishers[edit]

The lurker above is fully detailed as the "lurking ray" in Paizo Publishing's book Misfit Monsters Redeemed (2010), on pages 46–51.[6]

See also[edit]