Will-o'-wisp (Dungeons & Dragons)

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In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game the will-o'-wisp is a malevolent entity which makes its home in swamps and bogs. This aberration consists of a bizarre, spongy substance which hovers through telekinesis in the air, enveloped in a mysterious glow of yellow, white, green or blue.

Publication history[edit]

The will-o'-wisps were introduced to the Dungeons & Dragons game in its first supplement, Greyhawk (1975).[1]

The will-o'-wisp appeared in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the original Monster Manual (1977).[2] The will-o'-wisp was further detailed in Dragon #99 (July 1985).[3]

The will-o'-wisp appeared in the second edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989),[4] and reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[5] The will-o'-dawn, the will-o'-deep, the will-o'-mist, and the will-o'-sea appeared for the Ravenloft setting in Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness (1994).

The will-o'-wisp appeared in the third edition Monster Manual (2000),[6] and in the 3.5 revised Monster Manual (2003). The will-o'-wisp was further detailed in Dragon #328 (February 2005).[7]

The will-o'-wisp appeared in fourth edition in Monster Manual 2 (2009).

The will-o'-wisp appeared in the fifth edition Monster Manual (2014), in which the creature type is undead.

Characteristics and habits[edit]

When encountered in its swampy homes, a will-o'-wisp typically takes the form of a faintly glowing lantern hovering in the air. In order to sustain itself, it must feed upon the electricity generated by the brains of people who realize they are about to die. It lures those who wander into its midst by taking the form of a guiding light (the creatures can alter their forms, size and color to a small extent), and then have them wander into deep pools where they get sucked down and drown. The wisp then feeds on the energy generated. If the creature cannot lure victims into a trap, it is also capable of generating electricity on its surface to act as a touch attack. If the creature does not wish to be seen, it is capable of extinguishing its glow.

The will-o'-wisp cannot speak, but it is capable of vibrating to make a ghostly, shallow sound which sounds like strange forms of Common and Auran. When communicating with other Will-o'Wisps, it does not make these sounds, but instead communicates with complex changes of its light and size.

The will-o'-wisp is chaotic evil in alignment.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary and Robert Kuntz. Supplement I: Greyhawk (TSR, 1975)
  2. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  3. ^ Findley, Nigel D. "The Ecology of the Will-o'-Wisp." Dragon #99 (TSR, 1985)
  4. ^ Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (TSR, 1989)
  5. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  6. ^ Williams, Skip, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook. Monster Manual. Wizards of the Coast, 2000
  7. ^ Scott, Amber E. "The Ecology of the Will-o'-Wisp." Dragon #328 pg. 54 (Paizo Publishing, 2005)