Tar Beetle

Small beast, unaligned

8 (-1) 13 (+1) 12 (+1) 1 (-5) 12 (+1) 1 (-5)

Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 9 (2d6 + 2)
Speed 40 ft., swim 20 ft.
Condition Immunities charmed
Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 30 ft., passive Perception 11
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Special Traits

  • Swamp Camouflage. The tar beetle has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in marshy terrain.


  • Mandibles. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) slashing damage.
  • Tar Spray (Recharge 5-6). The tar beetle sprays out a 15-foot cone of sticky tar. Creatures within the cone must make a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw or become restrained. A creature can spend its action to escape the tar or to help another creature remove the tar.


The tar beetle sprays a cone of tar at its prey and then scuttles rapidly from its hiding place to attack with two pincers. Its mandibles are extremely sharp and are equally effective at cutting through armor or flesh. Tar beetles rarely attack if outnumbered unless trespassers wander too close to their nest. When attacking multiple opponents, beetles ignore immobilized individuals, concentrating on active opponents when possible. Any trapped prey is later dragged back to the beetles’ nest.


The tar beetle is a voracious and stealthy marsh-dwelling predator. Typically hunting in clusters of two to five individuals, the beetles lie partially submerged in pools that have been overgrown with vegetation, which makes the beetles difficult to detect. Upon sensing prey, they spray a cone of tar, attempting to immobilize the victim to a point where it can be overwhelmed easily.

Adapted for the Swamp. The tar beetle has a dark green chitinous shell with dozens of spine-like growths clustered along its back. These spines – which normally resting flush against the beetle’s shell, but that stand erect when the insect is submerged – serve as breathing tubes. The coloring of the spines also provides natural camouflage when the beetle is hunting; with much of its body concealed under the murky water, a tar beetle resembles another clump of marsh grass.

Solitary males are commonly encountered during the spring mating season, and they are extremely aggressive. They attack any trespassers that intrude on their hunting ground.

Tar Nests. The beetles build large nests of mud, twigs, branches and rotting vegetation held together by their tar, which rise like small hills amid swamp waters. Each nest contains tunnels that lead to larva chambers and waste and storage pits, and each nest supports up to 20 beetles, including an egg-laying queen. Tar beetle larvae hatch during the summer and require a month to grow to maturity, during which time they are fed dead or immobilized prey, which are kept in the storage pits. If the nest is threatened, the queen and half of the adults put up a fierce defense while the remaining beetles carry larvae to safety.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Creature Collection 5e Copyright 2020 Onyx Path Publishing, Inc.