The Tarrasque- The Big Daddy of bosses in Dungeons and Dragons – used to scare young adventures and, for a frustrated Dungeon Master – it may be their last hope to put overconfident players in their place. All players have heard of this colossal monster that is the size of mountains and in many cases “indestructible” This article will go over some of the things you may not know about the mighty Tarrasque.

Description

The Monster Manual describes the Tarrasque as the most terrifying creature known to inhabit the Material Plane. The creature is 50 feet tall (15 meters) and 70 feet long (21 meters). This quadruped has a long tail for balance and a reflective carapace with two large horns on its head (and down its back going by all the pictures). The creature has a large toothy maw with two small eyes, which is not needed to see you with, allowing the Tarrasque to be unhindered by blinding effects or removal of the eyes. This Titan cannot be charmed or frightened and has the movement speed of half that of a Human. There is only one believed to be in existence and is borderline to be impossible to destroy, as it has unlimited regeneration.

Tarrasque in each Edition.

AD&D/ 1st Edition and Second Edition.

The Tarrasque’s normal attacks are with its two forelimb claws (1d12 points of damage each), a sweeping tail lash (2d12 points of damage), a savage bite (5d10 points of damage plus acts as a sword of sharpness, severing a limb on a natural attack roll of 18 or better), and two thrusting horn attacks (1d10 points of damage each).

The movement of the Tarrasque is rather slow, with an ability to “Rush” giving it a movement speed of 15 (bearing in mind that humans move at 12 in this edition). Creatures with less than 3 levels of hit points will be paralysed with fright with no saving throws until it’s out of sight; creatures with 3 levels or higher flee in panic. Creatures with levels higher than 7 are able to ignore the effect with a successful saving throw – but why would you want to stay around?

The Carapace makes the Tarrasque immune to magic effects: bolts, rays and magic missiles will have no effect on the creature. There is a 1 in 6 chance the spell could “bounce” back to the caster. Heat or fire have no effect and it is immune to Psionics,. Only enchanted weapons of  +1 or better have a chance to damage the Tarrasque. If you are able to damage the beast, it has regenerations that it will regain 1 hit point every round.

This terror is luckily only active for a short time, appearing to feed for about 1 to 2 weeks and then disappearing into the ground in a hidden lair for about 4 to 20 weeks. Every couple of decades, the Tarrasque can stay active for several months which would then lead the creature to hibernate for 4 to 16 years – the ratio seems to be about 1:30.

You are able to defeat The Tarrasque if you are able to reduce the creature to -30 or more and then use a “Wish Spell” to wish it dead. If the wish is not acted, then even the smallest part of the Tarrasque will regenerate the entirety of the creature. It is rumoured that the carapace holds many gems if treated with acid and then heated in a furnace. It is thought that 10 to 100 diamonds, worth 1000GP each, can be acquired this way. The underbelly, mixed with its blood and adamantite is said to produce a metal that can be work on by master Dwarf Blacksmiths. It takes up to 2 years to produce 1 to 4 shields of +5 enchantment. 

3.5 Edition

This edition seemed to flesh out the Tarrasque – adding a bit more to the creature stats allowing more refined play. Although it describes the creature much the same as the 1st and 2nd Editions (terrifying) it does describe more effects of the creature. These are all Extraordinary abilities

New abilities include:

Swallow Whole (Ex): The tarrasque can try to swallow a grabbed opponent of Gargantuan size or smaller with a successful grapple check. Once inside, the swallowed creature immediately take 20d6 points of crushing damage and 20d6 points of acid damage as they are buffeted and immersed in the tarrasque’s stomach. The swallowed creature also takes this damage for each of the tarrasque’s turns that pass with them inside. They also must begin making Constitution checks every round to avoid drowning. Creatures that die in the tarrasque’s stomach cannot be resurrected by any means that require remains.

The tarrasque’s interior is under a constant antimagic field. If you use psionics in your game, they are similarly suppressed. The only way to get out of the tarrasque’s gut is to deal at least 50 points of damage to its stomach lining with a light slashing weapon in a single turn, at which point the trapped opponent is freed. Attacking the lining is easy enough (treat as an automatic hit), but the suppression of magic inside spells doom for many who are swallowed. The tarrasque’s stomach may hold 2 Gargantuan, 8 Huge, 32 Large, 128 Medium, or 512 Small or smaller creatures.

Spines: The tarrasque may fire one of the massive horns on its head at any target within any range with unbelievable force, making a ranged attack roll and dealing normal horn damage. It may do this as a move action. The tarrasque may use Power Attack and other such attack options normally with these horns. Thanks to its regenerative capabilities, the tarrasque regrows these horns by its next turn.

The tarrasque also has reworked spell resistance/immunity in this edition. While almost untouchable to anything below level 21, it is possible to overcome it’s spell requirements with high base stats and lucky rolls.

4th Edition

Fourth Edition managed to both buff and debuff the Tarrasque, making its attack better yet lowering its hit points and abilities.

5th Edition

Another debuff to the Tarrasque but adding Legendary Resistance and more immunities – so although weaker, there are fewer things that can cause damage to this monstrosity. It is worth noting that the creature no longer has the regeneration nor is there any mention of a wish to defeat it.

Lesser known facts

The stomach/s: Edition 3.5 touches on the immense horror of a creature that can devour towns and cities, rock and mountains, forests and dirt. Everything is seen as food and it doesn’t matter what it is, this will provide nourishment until it is satisfied. It is said that the Tarrasque digestive system will destroy anything that goes through it; it has an expanding gullet that works anything consumed into 3 stomachs grinding it down. Nothing survives these stomachs and is one of the most destructive things in the multiverse, able to destroy objects and the magic they may hold. It is one of the few ways to destroy an artefact. This process would probably be able to kill a god, as a new god is born from the ashes of the old one – if there is no ash, there’s no new god.

This would be a good way to kill another Tarrasque – if one ate the other, then there would be nothing left of that Tarrasque. This is probably the reason why there is only one in existence.

“The first and uppermost stomach is a hot, wet place of troubling stone and spines”. The walls are covered with internal spikes able to break down bigger rock, containers and shatter glass into smaller pieces. The second stomach is a fleshy cauldron of corrosive acid. This acid has specific properties that strip magic from digested items – this is where everything breaks down. The third stomach is a long winding tube of immense heat – anything that survives will soon be destroyed and the acidic soup is then absorbed.

Movement: The Tarrasque is known to find shelter in a lair deep in the earth. The type of rock will determine how comfortable the Tarrasque is and will have an effect on how long the creature is dormant. If the rock is warm a quiet, then it will stay asleep for longer but if the rock has other creatures nearby or has water running through it, this could cause the Tarraque to awaken. The Tarrasque does not burrow into the earth but seemingly becoming one with the rock – very much like “Earth glide”. With this, the Tarrasque can appear anywhere in the world, even under the oceans or underground, so seeing this Monstrous creature twice in the same place is very rare.

Level 12 spell: We have spoken about the uses of the Tarasque with its underbelly and carapace but the pituitary gland was 1 of 3 special ingredients needed to produce Karsus’s avatar – the first and last 12th level spell cast, which caused the death of a god and made the caster a god himself. This was so powerful that the new Goddess of Magic shifted magic so no one could cast level 9 or higher ever again.

Have you learnt anything new about the Tarrasque? If you know something I missed, let us know.


Richard Eccles

General Geek with a taste for everything geeky, everything from D&D to Board Games. I'm a Technical Manager to pay the bills - so spend far too much time in front of a screen.

2 Comments

Abelhawk · March 1, 2021 at 9:58 pm

I like the crafting materials points at the end of the 1st edition entry. Is that just mentioned in the text of the 1st edition Monster Manual? The flail snail is the only creature I’ve seen in 5e that specifically talks about crafting reagents that it holds.

    Richard Eccles · March 18, 2021 at 9:24 am

    From what I have seen. All the other editions seem to assume you know about the Tarrasque in 1st Ed and barely add to the creatures stats or story. The Flail Snail? I will need to look into this creature 🙂

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