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Greyhawk creature
An aboleth, as portrayed in Dungeon #152. Art by Francis Tsai.
Alignment Usually lawful evil
Type Aberration
Subtype Aquatic
First appearance Dwellers of the Forbidden City

Aboleths are an aberrant creature dwelling in the deep waters of the Underdark.


An aboleth brood consists of a parent and one to three offspring. Though the offspring are as large and as strong as the parent, they defer to the parent in all matters and obey it implicitly.

Aboleth have both male and female sexual organs. A mature aboleth reproduces once every five years by concealing itself in a cavern or other remote area, then laying a single egg and covering it in slime. The parent aboleth guards the egg while the embryo grows and develops, a process that takes about five years. A newborn aboleth takes about 10 years to mature.

The omnivorous aboleth will eat any organic matter, usually algae and micro-organisms, but they are also fond of intelligent prey so they can absorb nutrients and information at the same time. Aboleth have no natural enemies, as even the mightiest marine creatures give them a wide berth.


Aboleth cities are vast affairs of bizarre and alien architecture, located deep underwater. They dwell in the Sunless Sea, in the Lake of Ebon, in the Forbidden City, and in the city of Golismorga beneath the Isle of Dread.

Typical physical characteristics

Aboleths are fishlike amphibians, 7 meters long and weighing about 3,000 kilograms; they continue to grow as they age, however, and some fantastically ancient specimens might reach 13 meters in length. They are a kind of hybrid of fish and eel with some insectoid and annelid qualities; they have long, tubular bodies, like that of an eel, but fish-like tails at the end and two fins near the head and a dorsal fin near the back. Their bodies are also segmented, which is a worm or insect-like characteristic. Their underbellies are orange-pink, and their topsides sea-green. A little bit back from the head are four long tentacles, two on each side, two on the topside and two on the underbelly. Their heads are roughly triangle shaped, with a spherical, somewhat beak-like nose. Above the nose are their three eyes, each one set atop the other. Tendrils and a few shorter tentacles dangle from the bottom of the head. Four blue-black slime-secreting orifices line the bottom of their bodies.

Aboleths have powerful psionic powers, being natural psions like the illithids. However, the aboleth, like the other archetypal aberrations, has a much more fearsome ability: aboleths secrete a viscous grey fluid, much like mucus, which brings about a terrible transformation in air-breathing creatures. The skin of the victim is transformed into a membrane which allows it to breathe in water, but robs the creature of air-breathing. This allows the aboleth to keep slaves, which it dominates and keeps captive with its mind. This same mucus is the only way aboleths breathe at all – if robbed of the ability to extrude aboleth slime, they suffocate in water or on land. Out of the water, an aboleth's membranelike skin dries out quickly, but this does not prove fatal. Instead, the aboleth will eventually enter a state of suspended animation, called long dreaming, a fate considered far worse than simply dying. It forms a tough, waterproof membrane, but, once the membrane is pierced, liquid floods out and death is usually not far off for the aboleth. With the exception of the gained damage reduction and increased armor class, an aboleth out of water is simply a sitting duck.

Another strange feature of aboleths is their memory. An aboleth is born with a racial memory, each individual inheriting the memories of its ancestors. Furthermore, it assimilates the memories of those it consumes. An aboleth's memories are stored in an ever-growing part of its brain which extends down its back as it ages. Aboleths enjoy spending time lost in particularly fine memories of their ancestors, and if they have nothing better to do, they may relive entire portions of their lives.

Aboleths do not die of age, and so live on indefinitely barring violence or disease.


Aboleths are usually lawful evil.


Aboleths are utterly self-centered as a race; they know they were among the first beings in existence, and see all else as theirs. Their enmity towards other races stems in part from their perception that these "upstart" races have stolen what is rightfully the aboleths'. All that stops them from conquering the surface is their weakness on land (though an aboleth is always a fierce opponent) and the fact that they would rather enjoy themselves than waste time subduing feeble creatures such as humans. By contrast they are greatly unsettled by the illithids due to their lack of information over that race's creation.


Aboleths have no gods. While they acknowledge the presence and power of gods, they have memories of a time long before any modern gods were worshipped and recall such gods' birth and often demise. They are not concerned with an afterlife since they intend to live forvever, considering death a failure. They do have a certain respect and reverence for the ancient beings known as the "Elder Evils" Bolothamogg, Holashner, Piscaethces, Shothotugg, and Y’chak, based on the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. According to the 2nd edition box set Night Below they do have a god, known as the Blood Queen.

Monster Mythology indicates that a minority of them worship Juiblex. They have been known to worship Tharizdun as well.


Aboleths speak their own language, as well as Undercommon and Aquan.


The aboleths are said to be the first mortal race, coming into being millions of years ago when the Elder Evil Piscaethces accidentally brushed against the Material Plane from her original home in the Far Realm. The aboleths, with their perfect racial memory, remember this period with crystal clarity, believing they know for an absolute fact that they were the first mortal race and that they precede the first of the powers that other races call "gods." The aboleths built a global aquatic empire when the Oerth was still a desolate place of boiling oceans and unbreathable air. With their dominance established, they began to create other forms of life with their arcane science: oozes, elementals, and eventually monsters and humanoids. After timeless ages, this empire fell, the victim of perhaps a slave rebellion, or the return of one of the Elder Evils, or a civil war. The most popular theory among those sages who concern themselves with these blasphemous tales is that the mortal races developed something new: faith, and that it is mortal faith that called the first true deities into being, and that these deities destroyed the aboleth empire so that their worshippers could inherit the world and flourish. Over the millennia, however, there have been countless cycles when the aboleths managed to conquer vast new empires, only to lose them again as the aeons turn.

Creative origins

Aboleths were created by David Cook for his module Dwellers of the Forbidden City.

See also


External links