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Crawling claws were the amputated and then reanimated hands of humanoids. They were employed by dark wizards and warlocks to perform watch duty or provide an extra set of hands.[1]

Makes you wonder what can be done with all those other murderer parts, doesn't it?
— Evangelita Lavian, necromancer[1]


Using their fingers as legs, crawling claws could scuttle across the ground or maneuver on vertical surfaces. Crawling claws were always left hands and had to be made from the hands of small-to-medium-sized creatures. They were known to form into swarms known as "applauses" with no discernible front, back, or central body.[3]


Crawling claws were highly lacking in intelligence, and could not perform complicated tasks by themselves.[3] They lacked most of the memories of their past selves, leaving only an array of negative spiteful emotions to guide their actions. Without orders to follow, they would attempt to recreate the murders they'd committed in life, some of the few memories they still possessed. Crawling claws had no loyalty to anyone but their original maker.[1]


Crawling claws were a strange mixture of undead and construct, owing to the nature of their creation. Their most curious trait was their immunity to undead turning magic, raising questions about whether they could be truly classified as undead creatures.[1]


By themselves, crawling claws could only slash and pummel their opponents into submission.[1] They could also leap 6 feet (1.8 meters) vertically into the air and were especially dangerous to those who had fallen over.[4] However, crawling claws were most dangerous when allowed to amass into a group of hundreds, swarming targets one by one in order to kill them.[3]

Despite lacking sensory organs, they could still hear and understand commands as well as perceive the world around them. At the same time, they were immune to the effects of abilities that required actual sight.[3]


Crawling claws were crafted by necromancers and those like them in order to fulfill certain menial tasks. They were useful compared to other undead because of their small size and relative availability in certain regions. They were sometimes employed as familiars by warlocks and wizards.[6]

Crawling claws were one of the many types of undead that served the demipower of necromancy known as Velsharoon.[7]


Beyond the Prime Material plane, crawling claws could be found in the Domains of Dread.[8] In particular, they could be found in the domain of Hazlik, where they acted as guardians over his estate and other strongholds.[9]


Straddling the line between undead and construct, crawling claws were curiosities of magic. The rituals to create crawling claws did not require the victim to have actually died. Instead, the subjects would enter a comatose state in which the hand could knit itself back to the arm, indistinguishable from when it was removed. The souls of both the hand and victim were bound in one direction, with the death of the hand killing the murderer but not vice versa.[1] Even if the subject had been killed beforehand and resurrected, the crawling claws would live on and spells that turned or controlled undead had no effect on the hand. On the other hand, the ritual would fail if the original murderer was already undead, or if their spirit had long since passed.[1][4]

Despite being relatively unintelligent constructs, it was rumored that crawling claws possessed some method of breeding. They would hack off the hands of the recently deceased and somehow animate them with their curse.[1]


Flying Fingers
Flying fingers were crawling claws that had been specially enchanted with the power of flight and to turn back spells, much like a ring of spell turning. Elminster Aumar knew how to create them and at some point gave a rather tame version of one of these as a pet to Ed of the Greenwood.[10]



Dark and Hidden WaysThe Ruins of UndermountainDungeon #29: "Ex Libris"Dungeon #30: "Elminster's Back Door"Undermountain: Maddgoth's CastleHellgate KeepHalls of UndermountainCurse of Strahd

Further Reading[]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 44. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. Bruce R. Cordell, Eytan Bernstein, Brian R. James (January 2009). Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 142. ISBN 0786950692.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 163–164. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 29–30. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 48. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  6. Mike Mearls, et al. (November 2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. Edited by Jeremy Crawford, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 213. ISBN 978-0786966011.
  7. Eric L. Boyd (1997). Powers and Pantheons. (TSR, Inc), p. 77. ISBN 0-7869-0657-X.
  8. Kirk Botulla, Shane Hensley, Nicky Rea, Teeuwynn Woodruff (1994). Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness. Edited by William W. Connors. (TSR, Inc.), p. 8. ISBN 1-56076-914-9.
  9. Andrew Cermak, John W. Mangrum, Ryan Naylor, Chris Nichols, Andrew Wyatt (September 16, 2002). Ravenloft Gazetteer Volume I. (White Wolf Publishing), p. 140. ISBN 1-58846-080-0.
  10. Ed Greenwood (December 1992). “The Wizards Three: Sorcery from Three Worlds”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #188 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 29, 34.