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A hydra (plhydrae[4][5] orhydras[1][3]) was reptilian magical beast that had anywhere from five to twelve heads.[3] And very rarely may even have up to fifty heads.[1]


A hydra was not very intelligent, about as much so as an animal. Hydras were usually neutral in alignment.[3]


A hydra was an especially deadly monster, since every time a head was severed, two new ones grew in its place.[3]


Scholars from Candlekeep believed hydras evolved from proto-dragons.[6]

In the late 1340s DR, the explorer Hadley Erridge of Thunderstone in Cormyr suggested to his neighbor, the enterprising and prosperous farmer Del Geery, that he get a hydra to scare off the pests plaguing his crops. Geery agreed to finance Erridge's expedition into the Vast Swamp to capture a live hydra. Two months later, they returned with an adult hydra in an iron cage. Erridge released the hydra and it rampaged about the farm, scaring away all the animals within a few days. However, despite what Erridge said about the hydra returning to the swamp when it ran out of prey, it instead stuck around and began building a nest by the pond. The hydra was, in fact, pregnant. Outraged, Geery gave Erridge the sack then hired a group of warriors to slay the hydra. Afterwards, he hired the best rangers and wizards in Cormyr to help him discover the uses to which he could put a hydra carcass, intending to use every part of the beast and recover his losses. He was so successful at this new trade that he began to fund new hydra-hunting expeditions in the Vast Swamp.[7] By 1367 DR, he'd earned a reputation and a fortune in the hydra trade.[7][8]


A dwarf in battle with a hydra.

A relative of the standard hydra that was able to breathe frost from its heads.[3]
A small, subterranean relative of the standard hydra that went extinct around 50 DR.[9]
Lernaean hydra
A relative of the standard hydra, once considered the only variety that could regenerate lost heads.[citation needed]
A relative of the standard hydra that was able to breathe jets of fire.[3]
Sea hydra
A rare aquatic offshoot of the standard hydra.[10]


A pregnant hydra preparing to give birth would build a nest for this purpose. It dug a pit beside a pond or body of water, then lined it with sticks and weeds.[7]


A hydra from the wilderness near Neverwinter.

Hydras were typically found in the marshes of regions with a temperate climate.[3]

Many hydras were known to inhabit the Forest of Wyrms.[11] They also were quite common in the jungles of Chult.[12]


Some individuals of most types of hydras were servants of the dark Chultan demigod Eshowdow, and their appearance was considered a good omen by his followers.[13]


The enterprising farmer and hydra-hunter Del Geery developed a number of useful agricultural products from the body parts of the hydra, as follows:[7]

  • Hydra teeth could be used to fashion almost-unbreakable blades for hoes, plows, and saws.
  • A hydra's hide could be dried and made into warming covers for raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries maintaining the air around the plants at 70 °F (21 °C), extending the growing period deep into autumn. The hides broke down when the temperature dropped below freezing for two days in a row. Hydra hides were only effective on these three types of berry bush, not on people, beasts, or other plants.
  • Dried hydra tongues could be used to predict the weather when hung in the wind like a flag. If the tongue turned red, then the temperature was expected to rise by up to 10 °F (5.6 °C) in the next 24 hours. If the tongue turned green, then the temperature was likely to fall to freezing. If the tongue turned black, then rain was expected the following day.
  • Ground, powdered hydra bones were an excellent desiccant. Added to a small grain bin, a pound of ground bone would absorb all moisture and stop rot and mold.
  • A mixture of hydra fat and cornmeal made for an oddly useful rat poison. It was irresistible to rats, and they grew so fat they could hardly walk, and were easily caught or predated upon.
  • Finally, the head itself, when mounted on a pole in a field, would scare away birds and small mammals. It could be preserved for up to six months.[7]



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Further reading[]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 190. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 165. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 155–157. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 200. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 53. ISBN 0-935696-00-8.
  6. Nigel Findley, et al. (October 1990). Draconomicon. Edited by Mike Breault. (TSR, Inc.), p. 10. ISBN 0-8803-8876-5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 James Butler, Elizabeth T. Danforth, Jean Rabe (September 1994). “The Settled Lands”. In Karen S. Boomgarden ed. Elminster's Ecologies (TSR, Inc), pp. 23–24. ISBN 1-5607-6917-3.
  8. Ed Greenwood (July 1995). Volo's Guide to Cormyr. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 194. ISBN 0-7869-0151-9.
  9. Ed Greenwood, The Hooded One (2004-07-20). Duergahydra. Candlekeep Forum. Retrieved on 2021-08-22.
  10. Steven E. Schend (1999). Sea of Fallen Stars. (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 0-7869-1393-2.
  11. Tim Beach (October 1995). “Encounter Tables”. In Julia Martin ed. Elminster's Ecologies Appendix II (TSR, Inc), p. 8. ISBN 0786901713.
  12. James Lowder, Jean Rabe (1993). The Jungles of Chult. (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 1-5607-6605-0.
  13. Eric L. Boyd (September 1997). Powers & Pantheons. Edited by Julia Martin. (TSR, Inc.), p. 81. ISBN 978-0786906574.