Dragon Encounters

Making dnd combat fun, finding monsters that fit together, monster tactics and strategies, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons

ANKHEG: Four Ways to use for Burrowing Monsters



Combat rating 3


1 Ankheg* (CR 2)

4-6 Bullywugs (CR 1/4)


* Possibly worshipped


Combat rating 3


1 Ankheg (CR 2)

2-3 Swarms of Insects (CR 1/2)



Combat rating 4


2 Ankhegs  (CR 2)

1 Mimic (CR 2)


Combat rating 5


3 Ankhegs (CR 2)

3 Ghouls (CR 1)

The ankheg’s preferred style of combat is to burrow, and to attack by coming out of its burrow right under the victim, so that only that one person can fight back at it. The person’s body is blocking everybody else from joining in. The trick is to come up with fights where the goal is something other than to kill the enemy, so that the players don’t just decide to not fight but rather move away.

(The other tactic the ankheg have is to use their corrosive spit. For that, they will surface, hit as many enemies as they can with it, and then dive below the surface that same turn. You might want to consider starting a fight containing multiple ankheg with some or all of them needing to recharge. If they all have their corrosive spit action available, the players know exactly how many of them there are. Also, as there is no good defense the players can take, it becomes more a tax on their HP than part of the fight. For an in-game reason, say that the ankheg only start collecting saliva in their mouths when they see an enemy.)

The rest of this article is suggesting various scenarios where the players will have to face land than is infested with a number of ankhegs.

  • Difficulty 3: There is a treasure chest, and the ground leading to it is loose ground infested with ankhegs. The chest is locked, so they can’t just take out the contents and leave. It isn’t bolted to the ground, they can remove it to a safe place and figure out how to open it there, but it’s heavy enough that it will take two people to lift, and they’ll be going at half speed while carrying it. (This is to prevent them from bypassing the encounter too easily by having a monk dash out and in, or with the invisibility spell or some such.)
  • Difficulty 5: The villain escapes through a tunnel. As he escapes, he cuts a rope to release the ankheg from their cage. They are now going to be burrowing toward the sides of the tunnel (the villain himself is wearing ankheg repellent.)
  • Difficulty 4: Have the players fall into a pit trap. The pit is infested with ankheg, attacking the players through the sides and floor of the pit. (Iron bars have been placed in the ground a number a feet away from the pit on all sides and below so that the ankheg can’t escape.)
  • Difficulty 4: A house or cave collapses/is collapsed on the players. Fortunately, the rubble fell in such a way as to create a small hollow around the PCs, but the PCs are trapped and there are hungry ankheg around who are aware of them. (If one of the players is a dwarf, they might be able to dig out. If not, you’ll either need to give them an NPC who understands tunneling, or have someone around who can dig them out. Or you can hope your players don’t understand enough about tunneling to realize the difficulty of digging themselves out without collapsing everything on them and burying themselves alive.)

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About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.