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Greyhawk creature
A kuo-toa. Art by Andre Hou.
Alignment Neutral evil (chaotic tendencies)
Type Monstrous Humanoid
Subtype Aquatic
First appearance Shrine of the Kuo-Toa

The kuo-toa are fish-like Monstrous Humanoids that dwell in the Underdark.


Kuo-toans maintain friendly relations with the drow, their Underdark neighbours. They often raid seaside settlements for human victims.


Kuo-toa settlements are known to exist in the Underdark, near the Vault of the Drow beneath the Hellfurnaces, in the settlement of Bhal-Hamatugn and in the Sunless Sea. There, they are allied with the illithids against the White Kingdom and their cloaker allies. They inhabited the city of J'bhulgolboth beneath Narwell until its recent destruction.

Typical physical characteristics

Kuo-toa have scaly, bipedal bodies with fish-like heads. Average specimens stand five feet tall, and weigh about 160 pounds. Scales are generally silvery-grey, but kuo-toan pigmentation is affected by mood; angry kuo-toans tend to be dark red, while fear transforms a kuo-toan's color to pale-grey or white. The creatures smell strongly of rotten fish.


Kuo-toa are often neutral evil with chaotic tendencies.



Most kuo-toans worship the goddess Blibdoolpoolp, though a few remote tribes worship Dagon.


Kuo-toa speak Undercommon, the subterranean trade language. Additionally, they speak their own arcane tongue, Kuo-Toan. They also have a priestly tongue, a corrupted form of Aquan, the language used on the Elemental Plane of Water.


In ancient times, the kuo-toa inhabited the shores and islands of the upper world, but as humanity and those demihumans associated with them grew more numerous and powerful, they were slowly driven to more remote regions, taking refuge in sea caverns and subterranean waters. Some took refuge in the oceans, but these were mostly wiped out by aquatic predators, leaving the subterranean breeds to carry on as the last of their kind, prone to inbreeding and insanity. The word "goggler," once a racial epithet directed at kuo-toa, lost its meaning and became forgotten. The kuo-toa have not forgotten their old enemies, however.

Creative origins

The name "kuo-toa" was created by Gary Gygax, co-creator of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. However, the concept is thought to be inspired by the Deep Ones, creatures that appear in H. P. Lovecraft's novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Like the kuo-toa, the deep ones are a monstrous marine-dwelling race of fish-headed humanoids, who worship a being called Dagon.

The kuo-toa is considered a "Product Identity" by Wizards of the Coast and as such are not released under its Open Gaming License.[1]

Publishing history

The kuo-toa first appeared in dungeon modules Shrine of the Kuo-Toa (1978), and Vault of the Drow (1978). They made their 2nd edition debut in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989), and were reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).

The first appearance of the kuo-toa in 3rd edition was in the Monster Manual (2000). The entry was updated for 3.5 in the revised Monster Manual (2003). They were presented as a player character race for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting in Underdark (2003).

The kuo-toa made their 4th edition debut in the Monster Manual (2008).


  • Cagle, Eric. "The Minions of Darkness." Dragon #300. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2002.
  • Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1989.
  • Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2008.
  • Mona, Erik. "Ancient History: The Great Embarkation." Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, unpublished. Available online:[2]
  • Stephens, Owen K.C. "By Any Other Name: Races of the Underdark." Dragon #281. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2001.
  • Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.
  • Turnbull, Don, ed. Fiend Folio. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1981.
  • Tweet, Johnathan, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams. Player's Handbook. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.
  • -----. Player's Handbook Core Rulebook I v.3.5. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.