Tarrasque (Dungeons & Dragons)

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A custom built miniature of the Tarrasque.
First appearanceMonster Manual II (1983)
Based onTarasque
TypeMagical beast
AlignmentNeutral (1st edition to 3.5 edition), unaligned (4th edition onward)

In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, the tarrasque (/tɑːˈræsk/ tah-RASK)[1][2] is a magical beast.

The tarrasque is a gigantic lizard-like creature which exists only to eat, kill, and destroy. In most campaign settings, only one tarrasque is said to exist on each world. The tarrasque has a low intelligence and cannot speak. It is neutrally aligned, for despite its violent and savage nature, it lacks the mental capacity to choose between good and evil.

The tarrasque was introduced to the D&D game in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It is based upon the French legend of the tarasque.

Publication history[edit]

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

The tarrasque first appears in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988) Monster Manual II (1983).[3]

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

The tarrasque appears in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989),[4] for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999), and is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[5]

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

The tarrasque appears in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002).[6]

The tarrasque appears in the revised Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007).[7]

The tarrasque was detailed in Dragon #359 (September 2007), in the "Ecology of the Tarrasque".[8] This article also included the advanced tarrasque.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2014)[edit]

The tarrasque appears in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2014), under the abomination entry.[9] Fourth Edition marks the first time that the tarrasque doesn't regenerate health.

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

The tarrasque appears in the Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–). It is one of the only monsters with a Challenge Rating of 30, the other is Tiamat. Like in 4th Edition, the tarrasque does not regenerate health.

Game description[edit]

The tarrasque is very large, 50 feet (15 meters) tall and 70 feet (21 meters) long, and has a Tyrannosaurus rex–like form, although it is much more broad and muscular, with a differently shaped head, and with larger and more developed front arms. It has brown skin, with scabs and warts and bits of encrusted dung all over it which are grey in color. Protecting its back and tail is a thick, glossy caramel-colored shell or carapace. It has spikes coming from its chin, the sides of the mouth, the underside of its neck, the elbows of its front arms, and its shell. The creature also has two horns projecting forwards from the top of its head. The tarrasque's skin is very hard and thick, and provides excellent armor. The second edition of the game included rules for extracting treasure from the creature's carcass.

The 2nd edition Monstrous Manual calls the creature "the most dreaded monster native to the Prime Material Plane" and "a killing machine", and goes on to say:

It is hoped that the tarrasque is a solitary creation, some hideous abomination unleashed by the dark arts or by elder, forgotten gods to punish all of nature. The elemental nature of the tarrasque leads the few living tarrasque experts to speculate that the elemental princes of evil have something to do with its existence. In any case, the location of the tarrasque remains a mystery, as it rarely leaves witnesses in its wake, and nature quickly grows over all remnants of its presence. It is rumored that the tarrasque is responsible for the extinction of one ancient civilization, for the records of their last days spoke of a 'great reptilian punisher sent by the gods to end the world'."[5]

The tarrasque has also been called "a creature that embodies wanton destruction"[10] and "singularly deadly".[11] It was ranked No. 2 on the list of the ten best high-level monsters in Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition For Dummies.[10]


In the 4th edition version of the game, the tarrasque cannot be killed; reducing it to 0 hit points causes it to burrow into the core of the earth to slumber for a time (instead of killing it).


Various explanations of the tarrasque's origins exist: some claim that it is a curse from the gods, while others say that it was created by evil wizards.[citation needed]

In the Spelljammer series, the accessory Practical Planetology suggests the tarrasques originate from the planet Falx. Several hundred tarrasques live there,[12] where they feed upon the native Imbul, a lizard-like creature.[13]

In the 4th edition version of the game, the tarrasque is listed as an "abomination" and classed as a "Gargantuan elemental magical beast"—a living engine of death and destruction created by a primordial race for use as a weapon against the gods.


Rob Bricken from io9 named the tarrasque as the 10th most memorable D&D monster.[14]

Screen Rant compiled a list of the game's "10 Most Powerful (And 10 Weakest) Monsters, Ranked" in 2018, calling this one of the strongest, saying "There are a lot of giant monsters that roam the various Dungeons & Dragons worlds, but none is more feared than the Tarrasque. This creature is an engine of destruction and it can crush entire cities in a single rampage."[15]

Other publishers[edit]

The tarrasque appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (2009), on page 262.[16]


  1. ^ "Dungeons & Dragons FAQ". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
  2. ^ Mentzer, Frank. "Ay pronunseeAY shun gyd" Dragon #93 (TSR, 1985)
  3. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
  4. ^ Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
  5. ^ a b Stewart, Doug, ed. (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. TSR, Inc. p. 339.
  6. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  7. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
  8. ^ Greenwood, Ed and Johnathan Richards. "The Ecology of the Tarrasque". Dragon #359 (Paizo Publishing, 2007)
  9. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  10. ^ a b Slavicsek, Bill; Baker, Richard; Mearls, Mike (January 2009). "32: The Ten Best High-Level Monsters". Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  11. ^ Wischstadt, Bryon (April 2003). Faeries. Bastion Press, Inc. p. 119. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  12. ^ Findley, Nigel D. Practical Planetology, p. 8, (TSR, 1991)
  13. ^ Findley, Nigel D. Practical Planetology, p. 56, (TSR, 1991)
  14. ^ Bricken, Rob (September 16, 2013). "The 10 Most Memorable Dungeons & Dragons Monsters". io9. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  15. ^ "Dungeons & Dragons: 10 Most Powerful (And 10 Weakest) Monsters, Ranked". ScreenRant. May 20, 2018.
  16. ^ Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (Paizo Publishing, 2009)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]