Mimics are perhaps the most recognizable monster in D&D, aside from dragons and maybe beholders. These tricky monsters have been trapping greedy adventurers since the very first edition, and they’re still around eating heroes to this day. How can you spot one of these monstrosities so that you don’t meet the same fate? And How can you, as a dungeon master, use these monsters to their fullest potential? Let’s delve deeper and find out.
Mimics were first introduced in the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons, as a creation of Gary Gygax. They were a naturally occurring, subterranean race of beings. They spoke in their own language, they have an amorphous body that they could form into any simple object, such as a chest, to lure in greedy treasure seekers. Once they get close enough, the mimic pounces, secreting an adhesive substance to keep the victim in place while it beats them with a club like pod. In later editions the mimic would evolve into a species made by wizards to protect their treasure, only to have the mimics develop independence and revolt against their masters. They eventually lost their unique language, but most mimics still speak Deep Speech, the language of aberrations, or Common, though they may know more depending on their creator. This can lead to some interesting social encounters.
Mimics are great centerpieces to an encounter. However, they play the role a bit differently than you would a dragon or a beholder. They’re not flashy, in fact they’re far from it. Mimics are more traps then they are monsters, and they fit into encounters as such. The classic way of putting one into your game is baiting your players. Lead them into a room thinking that treasure awaits them, only to have them be surprised by one last attack. Of course you can leave the treasure inside the mimic to reward your players’ survival.
Mimics also work well with other creatures, especially if those creatures have made an alliance with the mimic. Imagine a room with walls lined with large stone slabs, runes carved along their surfaces. In the middle of the room stands a circle of cultists preparing a ritual. Your heroes go to stop them, initiating a fight. One of the cultists blasts your player, sending him flying into one of the stone slabs. Except he doesn’t bounce off. He instead gets stuck to the wall like a fly to flypaper. It then dawns on your players that each of these slabs is actually a mimic waiting to be fed! Now your players must defeat the cultists without being pushed into the jaws of a mimic. This is just one of the many ways you can make an encounter more dynamic with the help of cleverly placed monsters.
Mimics can be used in social encounters as well. For the price of food, a bargain may be struck with one. This deal can be in exchange for the players’ life, safe passage through an area the mimic is preying over, or even information the mimic might possess. The mimic may be protecting one area at the command of its creator, or it could be looking around that area for a tasty treat. In some rare instances, the mimic may in fact be the area itself. Take for example a game I ran for my players for Halloween some years ago. They went to investigate a haunted house, but it wasn’t until they were deep inside the house that hey figured out the house itself was a mimic. This lead to several interesting encounters and an escape attempt. They tried to bargain with the mimic, who was toying with them as a cat does to a mouse, as they fought the other monsters in that horrific ecosystem of monsters. It was a fun blend of both social and violent encounters, which is where the mimic truly shines.
So has this spotlight inspired you to place a mimic in your game? If so, how do you plan on implementing them? What memories do you have of mimics in the games you’ve already played? Let me know down below! And, as always, keep those dice rolling high!