Grell 5e: Stats and Guide for Players & DMs

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you took a jellyfish and a parrot and gave it a high intelligence and a carnivorous appetite and made it look like a brain that could fly?

If you haven’t, then congratulations! You’re normal-ish. For whoever designed the grell… Well, they don’t get those congratulations. They’re weird.

Grell have been around since 1st edition, the wild west of TTRPGs. They have always been strange, floating brain-like creatures with big beaks and even bigger appetites.

The only thing that has varied about grell throughout their renditions is the level of civilization they have achieved. In any case, the civilization always reflects the primal drives of the inherent monster.

Feed. Expand. Subjugate only to perpetuate feeding.

Welcome to the Grell. This post will prepare you as a player by going through the stat block, their general tactics, and how you can adjust to counter their tactics.

The second half of the post will be for the DMs out there who want to up their grell game for their unsuspecting players.

What Is a Grell in DnD 5e?

A grell is a CR 3, medium aberration capable of flight that resembles a jellyfish with a pronounced beak and a head shaped like a brain.

A Player’s Guide to Grell 5e

Grell Statblock

Medium Aberration, Neutral Evil

  • Armor Class: 12
  • Hit Points: 55 (10d8 + 10)
  • Speed: 10 ft., fly 30 ft. (hover)
  • STR 15 (+2), DEX 14 (+2), CON 13 (+1), INT 12 (+1), WIS 11 (+0), CHA 9 (-1)
  • Skills: Perception +4, Stealth +6
  • Damage Immunities: Lightning
  • Condition Immunities: Blinded, Prone
  • Senses: Blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), Passive Perception 14
  • Languages: Grell
  • Challenge: 3 (700 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus: +2

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The grell makes two attacks: one with its tentacles and one with its beak.

Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The poisoned target is paralyzed, and it can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success.

The target is also grappled (escape DC 15). If the target is Medium or smaller, it is also restrained until this grapple ends. While grappling the target, the grell has advantage on attack rolls against it and can’t use this attack against other targets. When the grell moves, any Medium or smaller target it is grappling moves with it.

Beak. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) piercing damage.

Statblock Breakdown

As medium creatures, Grell may be limited to the size and number of creatures they hunt. This may change how they act when faced with smaller or larger creatures.
As aberrations, you can’t really expect anything, except that whatever follows will be weird and probably slimy.

This low armor class is probably the only thing in your favor when facing the grell. It does, however, have loads of hit points. So even though you can hit it, will you be able to hit it enough times before it eats you?

This stat breakdown is unimpressive in that nothing in it is very high. That being said, nothing here is particularly low, either. So, while there are no obvious strengths, there are also no easily identifiable weaknesses to exploit.

The lightning immunity seems a bit random here. The only justification I can think of is that grell look kind of like jellyfish, and jellyfish stings can feel like an electric shock, or so I’ve read.

Since they do not have eyes, they can not be blinded. They do have blindsight, which means there is no way to hide from them if you are within 60 feet. Beyond that point, they are completely blind.

This means they can see around corners and behind objects since their perception is not based on line of sight but instead on something else, like perhaps an electromagnetic field.

If you can get your DM to say that the blindsight is based on an electromagnetic field, then you can conceivably hide within a disturbance in that field. For example, a call lightning could blind them for a round. Good luck persuading your DM into that one!

Luckily, a grell has to be in melee in order to do any damage. This puts them well within the range of your party’s big damage dealers.

The downside of this strategy is that you are now in melee with an intelligent floating jellyfish from the plane of madness that wants to carry you away and eat you.

While the poison DC is not an instant killer, it can be just high enough to ruin your day, considering the poison will paralyze and grapple you so that the grell can start trying to crunch your bones.

Nomnomnom…

Their Tactics

The grell are simple creatures. They want to eat what they can catch. Their motivations are almost entirely food motivated, and if you aren’t a grell and you aren’t big enough to kill a grell, you are more than likely a source of motivation.

To this end, a grell will use their levitation ability to hide above you. Then it will descend and hopefully paralyze a target (like the halfling!) so that it can’t cry out. While so paralyzed, the grell will then try to sneak off with its prize without alerting the other party members.

The best time to accomplish this is while the party is resting, so make sure there are at least two people on watch.

If the grell is not confident in its ability to get in and grab a party member without sustaining damage, it will simply not engage until it has the benefit of surprise, numbers, or firepower.

Therefore, you can expect grells to lurk near traps, the fringes of other monsters that may weaken a party, and in lovely oases where the PCs can let their guard down.

If cornered, the grell will rely upon the same tactics: poisonous tentacle attacks until it can escape.

Your Tactics

The best way to fight a grell is to simply not leave yourself open to ambush. Be prepared with the Alert feat, with a weapon of warning, and by never resting and never being vulnerable. Easy.

Since that is impossible, the best thing you can do to fend off a grell attack is to find the PC with the highest constitution saving throw and put them between the grell and your ranged attackers.

The low AC of the grell will leave it vulnerable to standard attacks (excepting lightning damage). Stay out of its range, and you will be fine.

Ideally, you should hit it with ranged attacks from beyond 60 feet so that it can’t perceive you without backtracking your attacks.

A DM’s Guide to Grell 5e

My hope with this next bit is to give you a resource you can use in your next game to make your players shudder with revulsion and fear at this alien predator.

Grell Environments

Grells typically exist in the Underdark, either in small packs or large colonies. Packs will roam for food. Colonies, however, will need a steady income of food sources in order to maintain their cohesion. Otherwise, they will revert back to packs after a brief period of cannibalism.

Outside of the Underdark, grells can exist anywhere they can hide from predators or prey animals organized enough to destroy them. This means hiding in large cities, roaming the wilderness, or stowing away on large naval, aerial, or spelljammer ships.

Organization

Grell that exist in large numbers are civilized enough to develop a caste system. This caste system has looked generally the same since D&D 1e, composed of soldiers, philosophers, and patriarchs.

Younger grell are soldiers. As they grow in intelligence and maturity, they can discover a specific type of racial magic called grell alchemy. Once they harness this alchemy, they can become philosophers and begin to organize groups of soldiers under themselves. Patriarchs are even older and more powerful.

Below we have provided a homebrew version of the Grell Philosopher along with a breakdown of why we made the choices we did.

If you would like to take this one step further and create a grell patriarch, I would suggest that you give it all the spells of the grell philosopher below, make it Huge, give it 20d8 +20 HP, and up its proficiency bonus by 2.

Grell Philosopher

Grell Philosopher Statblock

Large Aberration, Neutral Evil

  • Armor Class: 16 (mage armor)
  • Hit Points: 75 (15d8 + 15)
  • Speed: 10 ft., fly 30 ft. (hover)
  • STR 15 (+2), DEX 16 (+3), CON 13 (+1), INT 16 (+3), WIS 11 (+0), CHA 9 (-1)
  • Skills: Perception +5, Stealth +8
  • Damage Immunities: Lightning
  • Condition Immunities: Blinded, Prone
  • Senses: Blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius), Passive Perception 15
  • Languages: Grell
  • Challenge: 5
  • Proficiency Bonus: +3

Grell Alchemy. The grell has achieved an alchemical ability that allows it to change its body in various ways. These changes have given the grell subtle changes in physiology that allow it to cast certain spells with no material components.

Innate Spellcasting, 3rd level caster; +6 to attack, Save DC 14

At will: shocking grasp, firebolt (lightning damage), message

2/day: Mage armor, witch bolt

1/day: Blur

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The grell makes two attacks: one with its tentacles and one with its beak. Alternatively, it may replace its tentacle attacks with shocking grasp or one use of witch bolt before making a beak attack.

Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d10 + 2) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The poisoned target is paralyzed, and it can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success.

The target is also grappled (escape DC 16). If the target is Medium or smaller, it is also restrained until this grapple ends. While grappling the target, the grell has advantage on attack rolls against it and can’t use this attack against other targets. When the grell moves, any Medium or smaller target it is grappling moves with it.

Beak. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (2d4 + 2) piercing damage.

The main improvement here is the grell’s size. The philosopher is a large creature, representing the greater age and maturity of the grell who, like the jellyfish, never stops growing throughout its life.

This grell can cast mage armor. We also improved its dexterity by one.

We improved the Dexterity to represent the grell’s greater affinity for flying. We have also improved the Intelligence to justify its spellcasting ability.

Nothing from skills through proficiency bonus has changed except the improvement to stealth to represent the higher Dexterity.

These new abilities give the grell philosopher better hunting techniques. In short, with these bonuses to its movement and attack options, the grell philosopher can better hunt on its own.

As a result, the grell philosopher will attract followers, provided it shares its prey and seeks to provide for its crew.

The actions remain the same. In general, the grell philosopher will rely upon magical attacks since its poison is still weaker.

Story Seed

If you enjoy the utter weirdness of the grell or if you enjoy throwing eldritch horror-styled monsters at your players, consider this lovely gem of a story seed inspired by the 1999 film, Galaxy Quest.

A Grell Adventure

Two grell philosophers have discovered two hats of disguises. Using these, they have gone to the local adventurer’s guild seeking help to “reclaim our ancestral treasure.”

The Grell have decided they want to take over a dungeon complex but do not have the resources to do it themselves. Their hope is to lead the adventures down there to clear out whatever monstrous threat lives down there. The hope is that the PCs will be weakened enough after their battle with the local monsters that the grell can sweep in and kill the PCs after.

When roleplaying the philosophers, imagine them as horrible imposters that have never had to make sounds before but are attempting to with a combination of message, magic mouth, or any other magical process you can think of. Give them weird inflections and humorous idioms.

“PleASe HeLp US SaVE Our anceSTRAL hOmE!”