If ISO had a placard to put on monsters with the Death Burst Trait...

Are your players getting a little too confident? Do they feel like they can just run up to monsters and hack away at them without any tactics or preparation? Death Burst may be just the trait you’re looking for.

This article was originally published in August 2022. It is being republished with updates.

Death Burst triggers when the creature dies, typically dealing damage to other creatures within a specified radius of the “burster”. Some monsters with this trait cause blindness, such as the dust mephit. Others have a death burst, but it’s called something else, like the Colossus of Akros and its Crumbling Destruction trait, or Death Throes for draconians

CreatureCreature TypeCRSource
Art ElementalElemental1/4SCC
Aurak DraconianMonstrosity (Sorcerer)6DSotDQ
Baaz DraconiamMonstrosity1/2DSotDQ
BalorFiend (Demon)19MM
Bozak DraconianMonstrosity (Sorcerer)2DSotDQ
CamlashFiend (Demon)19Vecna: Eve of Ruin
Captain HaskMonstrosity (Sorcerer)6DSotDQ
Cinder HulkElemental7BGG
Colossus of AkrosMonstrosity23MoT
Draconian DreadnoughtMonstrosity4FTD
Draconian Foot SoldierMonstrosity1/2FTD
Draconian InfiltratorMonstrosity3FTD
Draconian MageMonstrosity2FTD
Draconian MastermindMonstrosity6FTD
Dracophage SubjectMonstrosity3DSotDQ
Dust HulkElemental5Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants
Dust MephitElemental1/2MM
Empyrean Brazen BullCelestial10Lairs of Etharis
Frost WormMonstrosity17EGW
Fume DrakeElemental1/4DoSI
Galvanice WeirdElemental1GGR
Gas SporePlant1/2MM
GauthAberration (Beholder)6VGM or MPMM
Ice MephitElemental1/2MM
Kapak DraconianMonstrosity3DSotDQ
Magma MephitElemental1/2MM
Mist HulkElemental6BGG
Mud MephitElemental1/4MM
Rime HulkElemental5BGG
Sivak DraconianMonstrosity4DSotDQ
Skeletal BloodfinUndead9CRCotN
Slithering BloodfinAberration9CRCotN
Smoke MephitElemental1/4MM
Spirit Statue MascotConstruct1/4SCC
Steam MephitElemental1/4MM
StonemelderHumanoid (Human)4PotA
SunbirdMonstrosity13Plane Shift: Ixalan
TarnhemFiend (Demon)19Infernal Machine Rebuild
Traag DraconianMonstrosity5MCV2DC
ViruzzaAberration (Shapechanger)8DSotDQ
Walking Delerium GeodeElemental5Dungeons of Drakkenheim

You should consider the environment for the encounter as well. Make sure to keep spaces enclosed so that the burst is harder to avoid. Shut down long lines of sight with objects. This will make it harder for your players to snipe the enemies from a safe distance. Also, consider sending an NPC in first to get a taste of the sweet burst so that your players know the stake. Unless you’d rather they find out the hard way.

Get Out of Here! This Article is About to Death Burst!

Wanna know what other monsters are on my Hotlist? Or, maybe instead of the deadliest you want monsters that provide interesting challenges in and out of combat? Check out my Blocklist.

Categories: Ability Check


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