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Troglodytes, often referred to as stinkmeat by the duergar,[6] were cave-dwelling reptilian humanoids, with a barbaric culture centered around food and scent. The stench of an angry or frightened troglodyte was so foul that it sickened all living creatures nearby, even after the troglodyte had died.[3]


Troglodyte vs knight

Spear-wielding troglodytes struggling against a knight adventurer.

Troglodytes were shorter than humans on average, standing 5‒6 ft (1.5‒1.8 m) tall with spindly but muscular arms, squat legs and long, slender tails. Their bodies were coated with rough leathery scales, and normally possessed a grayish-brown skin tone, although they also had the chameleon-like ability to change their coloration. They had lizard-like heads, which on males were crowned with frills that extended from their foreheads to their necks. Their black beady eyes struggled to see in the light, and their claws and fangs were obvious to those who saw them.[5]


Troglodytes took sadistic pleasure in mercilessly hunting weaker sentient beings before dragging them back to their caves to be eaten. They were a constantly warring race, convinced the world was full of creatures seeking to kill them, a self-fulfilling prophecy caused by their constant raiding. Their failure to plan for the future led them to conduct regular raids on nearby settlements. They were rejected by most races for their savagery, stench, and relative stupidity, and so took comfort in their isolation from other races and in destroying other sentient beings. There was always warring amongst troglodytes, whether between tribes or within. Despite this, they treated members of their own tribe like their family members, although individual friendships were somewhat rare.[7]


Like chameleons, troglodytes could blend into their surroundings, allowing them to sneak up on unsuspecting prey. Most notable of their abilities was their overwhelming stench. A buildup of olfactory screams, battle cries, and various other messages would combine to forge an overpowering scent. So keen was a troglodyte's sense of smell that they were capable of smelling fear, or rather, the hormones given off by creatures experiencing fear, and would target those who they could smell were most afraid.[8]


An unarmed troglodyte was more than capable of fighting with tooth and claw, ferociously tearing away at their enemies with primal savagery. They would craft stone tools and were especially good at throwing javelins, hurling them at their targets before closing in with stone axes and claws. Because of their sensitivity to light, they would avoid fire and tried to attack when the sun wasn't present, however this did not mean that they were defenseless in these circumstances. Troglodytes navigated primarily through smell and so being blinded was akin to becoming deafened to them.[8]


Underdark 2650 3

Troglodytes and their behemoth.

Troglodyte leaders were decided by sheer strength, with the strongest and toughest troglodyte becoming the chieftain, and the next strongest warriors becoming sub-chieftains. This was regardless of gender. However, weakness of any kind from their leaders was grounds for mutiny. Troglodyte society was clan-based, and the rank system was loose and in a constant state of flux.[1] Because they were once a servitor race, troglodytes would submit to the most powerful entity wishing to rule them, although this was usually other troglodytes.[1]

Incapable both physically and mentally of crafting anything beyond stone tools and lacking in trade goods, troglodytes placed heavy value on metal items, seeing them as a sign of combat prowess. Having one was a serious status symbol and tribes could be torn apart, either socially or physically, on who may possess them.[1] If two tribes went to war, the result would either be the annihilation of one, or the merging of the broken halves, with the strongest living troglodyte taking over. Some troglodytes were so feral that they could not be controlled and would need to be kept locked away to prevent them from attacking others.[9]

Young troglodytes were raised by the whole tribe rather than by their specific parents and were actively encouraged to fight each other at a young age. They could wield weapons by the time they were two years old and they were given steel weapons in order to go with hunters when they became older. Half of the population of a clan was female, and half of the males were hatchlings. Old troglodytes were presumed to have gathered wisdom over the years because they'd survived so long, with elders working as chief advisers. Very few members of a tribe were not warriors, besides dedicated hunter-gatherers and clerics.[1]

Troglodyte lairs were either huge caverns or smaller caverns naturally connected by tunnels. Most troglodytes did not consider specific parts of the lair their living quarters and would fall asleep in random places. Half-eaten food and greasy secretions could be found lying everywhere in the lair, alongside whatever treasures the troglodytes stole during raiding. Lairs were chosen partially based on their proximity to nearby settlements, and also by their drafts. Lairs with a draft towards the inside of the cave allowed the scent of humans to be more easily detected and for the alarmed scents of other troglodytes to be picked up at farther distances.[8] Some troglodytes would tame drakes while others employed monitor lizards in order to guard their warrens. They would mark the borders of their territory with pictographs made with blood and dung or the remains of various creatures to indicate their presence to beings without a proper sense of smell.[1]


The troglodytes' spoken language was a simplified version of Draconic; it could be transcribed but never by the troglodytes themselves. However, only half of the troglodyte language was communicated verbally and it was restricted to simple phrases. The rest of the language was based on the variety of smells that they could produce, making it unintelligible to most other races. Because troglodytes had a variety of concepts that could only be conveyed via scent, translation of certain ideas was basically impossible. Similarly, they did not use maps to navigate, but rather a series of scents travelers should experience while they approached the destination.[8]


Originally created by the sarrukh, troglodytes first worshiped the World Serpent, but after the downfall of that empire, the god of the troglodytes became Laogzed. They would worship him by hosting great feasts to celebrate victory, feeding upon their recently slaughtered foes, although the desire to do this as often as possible led them to over-hunt the area. Clerics were well appreciated for their ability not only to cause pain with divine power, but also heal injuries. Their deity offered troglodytes nothing but aspiration to be as fat and content as they saw him,[1] with the only benefit to worshiping him being the low standards he held. After every battle, the dead of the tribe would be gathered together and blessed by the priest before being eaten in a ceremony known as "Renewal" in which their meat was "returned" to the tribe.[7]

Occasionally troglodytes of great intelligence and strength would be born, and these rare few would be known as champions. Champions of Laogzed were capable of spewing globs of acid and were typically chieftains.[10]

Troglodytes could also worship other Abyssal deities such as the brutal Demogorgon through sacrificial rituals. Non-cleric magic users included the more intelligent deep scourges, shamans who used the alchemy of their own stench to create attacks, as well as the curse chanters.[11][9]



A troglodyte's lack of intelligence made a mind spell most effective against one.

Troglodytes were carnivorous, subsisting purely on meat they obtained via raiding. While they would eat any meat, they had a strong preference for human meat, causing ferocious reactions when smelt. Their sense of smell was so incredibly powerful that they could tell minute differences in scents undetectable to most races, to the point of having a language based on them.[8] Troglodytes stayed with their mates so long as they were alive, but would find new ones if one member died. After being laid by the female, troglodyte eggs were incubated in a nearby waterway and kept safe with leather nets. Troglodyte eggs were lighter hued and speckled with darker color.[6] Clutches were removed from the waterway a day or so before hatching in order to render the shells brittle enough to be broken.[7]


Troglodytes were created by the sarrukh of Mhairshaulk to scout a part of the Underdark known as the Serpent Deeps. The discovery of races like the aboleths and illithids resulted in their use as sentries for a time, and attempted invasions by these forces failed because of the troglodyte's vigilance and the enemies' inability to cooperate.[7][12]

They spread and settled throughout the Underdark at some point after the fall of the Mhairshaulk empire. They were eventually found by the yuan-ti (although some reports claimed the illithids were responsible) who bred those they found into the more powerful, but less intelligent, tren. After failing to defend Serpentes, the yuan-ti traded many tren to other races who almost immediately released them because of their overpowering odor. After this, many tren found their way back into the arms of the troglodyte race.[7]

As skirmishes between their tribes were common, and troglodytes had trouble planning for the future, they rarely posed a threat in the Underdark and were more seen as a nuisance for when they staged raids to acquire food.[1]


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford, Christopher Perkins (2014-09-30). Monster Manual 5th edition. Edited by Scott Fitzgerald Gray. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 290. ISBN 978-0786965614.
  2. Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 252. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual v.3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 246–247. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Doug Stewart (June 1993). Monstrous Manual. (TSR, Inc), p. 348. ISBN 1-5607-6619-0.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Gary Gygax (December 1977). Monster Manual, 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 97. ISBN 0-935696-00-8.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Voronica Whitney-Robinson (September 2012). The Crimson Gold. (Wizards of the Coast), chap. 1. ISBN 0-7869-3120-5.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 44–48. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Spike Y. Jones (November 1996). “The Ecology of the Troglodyte”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #235 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 79, 82–83, 86.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
  10. Christopher Perkins, Adam Lee, Richard Whitters (September 1, 2015). Out of the Abyss. Edited by Jeremy Crawford. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 45, 47–48. ISBN 978-0-7869-6581-6.
  11. Rob Heinsoo, Stephen Schubert (May 19, 2009). Monster Manual 2 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 42–50. ISBN 0786995101.
  12. Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.