Unicorn (Dungeons & Dragons)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Image Wizards.com image
Publication history
Mythological origins Unicorn

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, a unicorn is a mysterious, majestic magical beast. It resembles an imposing and beautiful white horse, with glowing eyes, a silky mane and tail, and the stereotypical spiraling, shell-shaped horn coming from its forehead. Unlike horses, they have cloven hooves, and males have a goat's beard.

Publication history[edit]

The Dungeons & Dragons unicorn was based upon the unicorn of European mythology.[citation needed]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974–1976)[edit]

The unicorn 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 creatures that can be ridden by maiden-warriors and will obey them.[1]

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

The unicorn appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977),[2] where it is described as dwelling in temperate woodlands; this chaotic good creature shuns contact with nearly all creatures.

The unicorn is further detailed in Dragon #77 (September 1983), in "The Ecology of the Unicorn," by Roger E. Moore.[3]

Karmerynn, a unique large male unicorn from the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, appears in the supplement Moonshae (1987).

Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the unicorn, in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977),[4] and Expert Set (1981 & 1983).[5][6] The unicorn was also later featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991),[7] and the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game set (1999).[8]

The unicorn also appears in Thunder Rift (1992).

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

The unicorn appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989),[9] and are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[10]

Several variant unicorns are featured in Dragon #190 (February 1993), including the alicorn, the bay unicorn, the black unicorn, the brown unicorn, the cunnequine, the faerie unicorn, the gray unicorn, the palomino unicorn, the pinto unicorn, the sea unicorn, the unisus, and the zebracorn.[11]

The shadow unicorn first appears in the Ravenloft setting in Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness (1994).

The black unicorn first appears in the Forgotten Realms setting's Spellbound boxed set (1995), and later appears in Monstrous Compendium Appendix Annual Volume Three (1996).

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

The unicorn appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[12]

The black unicorn reappears in Monsters of Faerûn (2001).

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

The unicorn appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003), along with the celestial charger.

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

The unicorn appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008).[13]

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

The unicorn appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2014).[14]

Characteristics and habits[edit]

Unicorns exist to protect forests from intelligent creatures. They dwell deep within their forests, and shun most creatures, only conferring with feys such as pixies, dryads, and sprites. They will show themselves to save their forests, however. Unicorns are strongly magical creatures, with most of their abilities coming from their horn. They can live up to 1000 years, and show effects of aging only weeks before death. They are able to sense evil nearby, and radiate an aura which protects them from most evil spells. The touch of their horn can both heal wounds and cure poison. Also, once a day, a unicorn can teleport to anywhere in its forest home (although they cannot teleport in from outside the forest). Unicorns attack by impaling foes on their horns, or with their hooves.

Unicorns are highly prized for the magical properties of their horns and their value as mounts. There has been no official way as to how D&D unicorns are captured, but in myth, they were lured from their homes with virginal maidens.

Unicorns, unlike most animalistic creatures, are capable of speech. They can speak Common and Sylvan.

Many unicorns revere the god Eachthighern.

They are chaotic good in alignment.

Two "sub-species" of Unicorn exist in two separate campaign settings of Dungeons & Dragons. Faerun, the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, is home to the Black Unicorns; evil counterparts created through magical breeding programs by the Zhents. Black Unicorns, like normal Unicorns, will only allow human or elf maids to ride them- though their Evil alignment means that their rider must also be Evil. Drow Maids are preferred riders. Ravenloft is home to the fan-created "Shadow Unicorn"; a vile monster that, unlike normal or Black Unicorns, cannot be ridden. Shadow Unicorns are all the descendants of a fan-made Darklord named Addar, a corrupted Unicorn, and are the result of his mating with the female Nightmare that helped lure him into evil — and to Ravenloft.

Other media[edit]

A baby unicorn named Uni features in the Dungeons & Dragons animated TV series.

D&D Miniatures[edit]

The unicorn appears in the D&D Miniatures: Archfiends set #22 (2004).

Additional reading[edit]

  • Kretzer, Dan. "Lords & Legends" Dragon #139 (TSR, 1988).
  • Tanner, Chris. "Good Monsters" Dragon #307 (Paizo, 2003).


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  3. ^ Moore, Roger E. "The Ecology of the Unicorn" Dragon #77 (TSR, 1983)
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by J. Eric Holmes. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1977)
  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 One (TSR, 1989)
  10. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  11. ^ Wybo II, John. "Unique Unicorns" Dragon #190 (TSR, 1993)
  12. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  13. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  14. ^ Wizards RPG Team and others. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2014)