Medusa (Dungeons & Dragons)

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Type Monstrous humanoid
Image image
Stats Open Game License stats
Publication history
Mythological origins Medusa

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game, the medusa is a monstrous humanoid creature with a mass of writhing, hissing snakes instead of hair.

Publication history[edit]

The medusa of Dungeons & Dragons is based on the eponymous gorgon Medusa of Greek Mythology.[citation needed]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)[edit]

The medusa was one of the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974), where they were described as human-type monsters with the lower body of a snake, that turns those who look at it to stone.[1] They were also detailed in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement.[2][3]

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

The medusa appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977), where it is described as a hateful humanoid creature that tries to beguile humans to look into her eyes, causing them to turn to stone.[4]

The maedar, the male counterpart to the medusa, is introduced in Dragon #106 (February 1986), in Ed Greenwood's "The Ecology of the Maedar."[5] which also focuses on the medusa. The glyptar, a gemstone-like creature associated with the maedar, is introduced in Dragon #140 (December 1988) in the "Dragon's Bestiary" column.

Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the medusa, in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977, 1981, 1983),[6][7][8] and the Companion Rules (1984).[9] The medusa was also later featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991),[10] and the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1994).

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

The medusa appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989),[11] which also introduces the greater medusa. The medusa and greater medusa are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[12]

The maedar and glyptar appear in the first Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (1989),[13] and later appear in Dungeons of Mystery (1992), and are then reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).

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

The medusa appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[14]

Savage Species (2003) presented the medusa as both a race and a playable class.[15]

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

The medusa appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).

The amphibious medusa appears in Stormwrack (2005).[16]

The maedar and glyptar later return in the "Creature Catalog" feature in Dragon #355 (May 2007).

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

The medusa appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008).[17]


Despite common belief, not all medusae are female. Male medusae are known as maedar. In some campaign settings, medusae are born from eggs, like reptiles.


Medusae typically inhabit temperate marshes, usually making their lairs in caves or ruins.

Typical physical characteristics[edit]

The most striking characteristic of female medusae is the mass of writhing poisonous snakes atop their heads. They otherwise appear as humans of their gender, save for their fangs and scaly skin. Like the gorgon of legend, a female medusa's gaze can turn one into stone.

Maedar appear as muscular, hairless, human males, and lack the female medusa's snake-like hair and petrifying gaze. They do, however, hold the power to turn stone into flesh, and use this ability to provide food for their mates.


Medusae are usually lawful evil.


Medusae are usually solitary, though will sometimes gather in small coveys or mated pairs.

Medusae in various campaign settings[edit]

Medusae in Eberron[edit]

In the Eberron campaign setting, medusae are part of the monster nation Droaam. Their ruler, under the Daughters of Sora Kell, is the Queen of Stone.

Medusae in other media[edit]

The main protagonist of the Forgotten Realms novel Lady of Poison is a male half-medusa named Marrec, a priest of Lurue.

Other publishers[edit]

The greater medusa appeared in the Tome of Horrors (2002) from Necromancer Games.[18]

The medusa is fully detailed in Paizo Publishing's book Mythical Monsters Revisited (2012), on pages 40–45.[19]


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary; Blume, Brian (1976). "Eldritch Wizardry" (1 ed.). Lake Geneva, WI: TSR. 
  3. ^ Mortdred (2001-02-05). "Review of Eldritch Wizardry". RPGnet. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  5. ^ Greenwood, Ed. "The Ecology of the Maedar," Dragon #106 (TSR, 1986)
  6. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by J. Eric Holmes. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1977)
  7. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Tom Moldvay. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1981)
  8. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 1: Basic Rules (TSR, 1983)
  9. ^ Mentzer, Frank. Dungeons & Dragons Set 3: Companion Rules (TSR, 1984)
  10. ^ Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  11. ^ Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
  12. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  13. ^ Conners, William, et al. Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (TSR, 1989)
  14. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  15. ^ Eckelberry, David, Rich Redman, and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes. Savage Species (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  16. ^ Drader, Darrin. Stormwrack, (Wizards of the Coast, 2006)
  17. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  18. ^ Green, Scott; Peterson, Clark (2002). Tome of Horrors. Necromancer Games. p. 328. ISBN 1-58846-112-2. 
  19. ^ Benner, Jesse, Jonathan H. Keith, Michael Kenway, Jason Nelson, Anthony Pryor, and Greg A. Vaughan. Mythical Monsters Revisited (Paizo, 2012)

External links[edit]