Fantasy settings are full of some incredible creatures with abilities beyond your wildest dreams. Dragons, faeries, demons, orcs, and so many more distinctly fantasy races populate adventures in the Forgotten Realms and beyond.
To make it easier to digest this wide variety, D&D uses creature types to clarify what exactly we’re working with.
That all makes perfect sense, but what blows my mind is that there is an entire category of creatures classified purely as being too alien to fit into other fantasy clades.
This creature type, aberrations, contains some of the strangest things you can think of, and most of them are deadly threats you’ll never want to come across.
But we’re not here to talk about them. We’re here to talk about one of the only good aberrations – the kind-hearted flumphs.
What Is a Flumph?
A flumph is an incredibly intelligent sentient creature that resembles a floating jellyfish with large eye stalks and a mouth on its head.
These lawful good creatures are non-invasive parasites, feeding off of the leftover psionic energy from other more powerful and more evil aberrations like mind flayers and aboleths.
At least, that’s what 5e has to say about this creature that dates back to the beginnings of D&D. We’ll get into that more in a bit. First, let’s have a look at that stat block.
Small aberration, lawful good
Hit Points 7 (2d6)
Speed 5 ft., Fly 30 ft.
STR: 6(-2) DEX: 15(+2) CON: 10(+0)
INT: 14(+2) WIS: 14(+2) CHA: 11(+0)
Skills: Arcana +4, History +4, Religion +4
Damage Vulnerabilities: Psychic
Senses: Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 12
Languages: Understands common but can’t speak, Telepathy 60 ft.
Challenge Rating 1/8 (25 XP)
Advanced Telepathy. The flumph can perceive the content of any telepathic communications used within 60 feet of it, and it can’t be surprised by creatures with any form of telepathy.
Prone Deficiency. If the flumph is knocked prone, roll a die. On an odd roll, the flumph lands upside down and is incapacitated.
At the end of each of its turns, the flumph can make a DC 10 dexterity saving throw, righting itself and ending the incapacitated condition if it succeeds.
Telepathic Shroud. The flumph is immune to any effects that could sense its emotions or read its thoughts, as well as all divination spells.
Tendrils. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage plus 2 (1d4) acid damage.
At the end of each of its turns, the target must make a DC 10 constitution saving throw, taking 2 (1d4) acid damage on a failure or ending the recurring acid damage on a success.
A lesser restoration spell cast on the target also ends the recurring acid damage.
Stench Spray (1/Day). Each creature in a 10-foot cone originating from the flumph must make a DC 10 dexterity saving throw or be coated in a foul-smelling liquid.
A coated creature exudes a horrible stench for 1d4 hours. The coated creature is poisoned as long as the stench lasts, and other creatures are poisoned while within 5 feet of the coated creature.
A creature can remove the stench on itself by taking a short rest to bathe in water, alcohol, or vinegar.
From the Monster Manual
For a creature with a CR of one eighth, this is honestly a pretty impressive display of abilities. What we have here is a creature with psionic abilities but none that can be used for offensive purposes.
The 5e flumphs main attack is a relatively weak tendril that does have the ability to continuously deal acid damage.
Realistically though, that’s going to be pretty rare because of how low the DC is. The same thing goes for its stench spray ability with another DC 10 save.
One hilarious thing here is the prone deficiency trait. An upside down flumph is completely incapacitated and has to make a dex save just to right itself.
This deficit that will make most people picture a turtle on its back may be hilarious, but it’s also probably one of the most well-thought-out parts of the stat block.
Flumphs levitate but not through any magical means. They consistently take air in through their top mouth and push it out from… somewhere.
The 5e description actually doesn’t explain how this happens; we just know that it floats.
Either way, when these things get flipped upside down, they no longer have the ability to float, and their weak tentacles do very little to right themselves.
That DC 10 save is how hard it is for these little guys to just wiggle themselves back topside.
Aside from stat blocks and strange anatomies, everything about the flumphs behavior describes a purely good creature.
Using their telepathy, they can sense emotions, seeking out positive emotions of good-aligned beings and running away from any evil thoughts.
Since most of their food source is the psionic energy of evil creatures, they unfortunately end up hearing a lot of very evil thoughts.
Flumphs are so put off by this that when they do manage to see a creature they think is good, they will immediately info dump every bad thing they’ve heard to feel better.
While this 5e description might not adhere much to the abilities, anatomy, or even hierarchy of flumphs in previous editions, they at least get the flavor right.
Flumphs are adorable, precious creatures that are just all together too good for this world.
Flumphs Before 5e
Flumphs have never really been as popular as they are today. You certainly couldn’t buy adorable flumph figures to display that weren’t just miniatures.
Still, they had a much deeper lore and a really different presence altogether. What we have in 5e just feels like the end result of a really bad game of telephone.
Let’s start with the anatomy.
Rather than yellow, most flumphs are a pale white color. Pale yellows and greens are reserved for monastic flumphs, which we’ll get into in a bit. Flumphs also glow different colors based on their moods.
- Pink – Amusement
- Blue – Sadness
- Green – Curiosity
- Red – Anger
The basic shape design of flumphs is accurate in 5e, but we’re missing some key parts. In addition to the mouth on top, there should be an aperture on the bottom of the flumph and several along the rim.
The flumph pushes air through the bottom to float and through any of its side “mouths” to maneuver and guide itself.
Flumphs in earlier editions did have tentacles, but their tendrils did not end in spikes like the 5e image or stat block would suggest.
Rather, they were relatively weak and used for communication in the flumphs complex sign language.
That spray by the way, was their main form of offense, or rather defense. Flumphs are passive creatures and avoid fights, so if trouble comes their way they pucker up and spray.
Rather than just poisoning creatures, their stench would convince their pursuers to flee, almost as if they had been turned.
The huge anatomical difference is that flumphs in earlier editions had many actual spikes jutting out from their underside.
If they did get into combat and stay there, they would hover above a creature and stab down on them. None of this stabbing tendrils nonsense; my little floating saucers are going to cause some serious pain.
Not to mention, flumphs have never had any psionic abilities. They are omnivores whose acid excretions would be used to melt down smaller creatures or plants so they could absorb them through their hollow tentacles.
They certainly weren’t telepathic. Some could speak languages with a lot of training, but they have very little reason to. They got along just fine communicating with each other.
More than anything else, what upsets about 5e’s flumphs is the gross under representation of flumph intelligence and culture. I can’t believe that is a real sentence.
Flumphs are monastic creatures, and many would have the ability to cast cleric spells.
The flumph you see in 5e is a basic flumph, which is actually a deformed mutation without as much intelligence as the monastic race.
They gathered in cloisters to worship gods that were unknown to all but the most educated humanoid scholars.
These religious flumphs had a level of organization that the 5e entry goes out of its way to say doesn’t exist.
These cloisters were led by an abbot, an extremely strong flumph with several more hit dice that could cast most cleric spells.
Underneath the abbot would be several priors, one for every 6 flumphs in the community. The regular flumphs were all monks.
This sort of hierarchy isn’t unheard of in 5e. Even myconids have a well-thought-out ranking system with differentiation between sprouts, adults, and sovereigns.
Why then, did the poor flumphs get the short end of the stick?
Putting Flumphs in an Adventure
Well, honestly, flumphs probably didn’t receive much attention because they’ve always been more of a joke than anything else.
They exist mainly as comic relief and a fun way to psych your characters out into thinking they’ve landed in a beholder’s nest.
It’s actually kind of surprising that they made it into the Monster Manual at all, considering that there are still famous creatures and characters that haven’t received an official 5e stat block.
All that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with flumphs though.
Whether you want to use the old version or the new version, at their core they’re the same goofy little monsters that just want to be good and see good in the world.
Flumphs are often found in the underdark, and the 5e suggestion to keep them close to other more evil aberrations makes for some nice introductions.
Rather than sticking a drow or duergar in a random cave system to help your adventurers out, you can put some flumphs in their way so they get an idea of what’s going on.
The wild magic sorcerer’s table has the option of summoning flumphs on a 37 or 38, so you have a 1 in 50 chance of this happening if that’s a character at your table.
Since the summoned flumphs are frightened of the sorcerer, there’s a lot of ways you can go about this.
You can have them show up and immediately all burst out their stench gas. This will be a very silly, if a bit annoying, way to impede the party’s progress just a bit.
My favorite way to do this is to treat them like a multiversal tourist group whose jump to another plane got hijacked by wild magic.
Now you have some flumphs with maps and little novelty t-shirts (have fun figuring out how that works) very confused and very startled. How it goes from there is up to you.
Flumphs have naturally had some guest appearances in some adventures. In the Dungeon of the Mad Mage, they crop up in the Seadeeps, mostly as a way to warn players of all the evil creatures and their various plots.
There is one adventure though, where flumphs took center stage. In Dungeon Magazine Issue #118, an entire adventure is published called Box of Flumph.
This adventure, which is focused on some imprisoned flumphs being used to drive competition out of mines, is very simple and straightforward, intended for a party of four 1st-level adventurers.
It’s extremely easy to convert into 5e, and I highly suggest it if you’re looking for a fun one-off or an out-of-the-ordinary adventure for beginners.
Flumph, flumph, flumph. Okay, I think I’ve go the name out of my system, now if only I had some vinegar to get this stench off of me.
I hope you’ve learned something here today, and I hope that something is that you should always trust a flumph.
As always, happy adventuring.