Today we’ll be talking about a classic monster that has been in every edition on Dungeons and Dragons. The idea of the rust monster came to Gary Gygax in a similar way to what led to this post: we both found a figurine. While Gary was designing the game, he went to a local dimestore. In there he found a bag labeled “dinosaurs”. What he found in that bag created an iconic monster that would plague the adventures of players for years upon years. A terror that was based on a figurine that looked like a lobster with a propeller on its tail.
Despite its funny appearance, the rust monster possesses one of the most heart-stopping abilities in the game: the power to degrade equipment. Looting is a huge part of d&d, so players are likely to have weapons and armor. The threat of losing that loot will cause your players to really think twice about tussling with these creatures. Now while they may be fearsome due to their rusting ability, they are not lethal in the slightest. They do next to no damage. This is what makes them prime material for an interesting encounter.
So how can we form a fight around these beasts? Well, rust monsters have only one motive: to rust and eat metal. Using this bit of info we can pair them with an ally. As long as they don’t carry metal on them, really any other creature can occupy the same space as them. If you’re starting small, you can put them in a cave with a band of bone spear wielding kobolds that can bring the damage while the rust monsters eat away at your party. At later levels, players can dispose of rust monsters pretty easily. That is unless there are a couple of wizards to throw out some spells to hinder your players. With spells flying around and rust monsters threatening from up close, you create an interesting fight that splits the party’s focus. How you create a rust monster encounter depends on when you plan on throwing said encounter into your game.
The rust monster’s uniqueness is both a boon and a curse. The first encounter with rust monsters is almost always memorable, but any fights after that become annoying. So when is the right time to throw out that special first impression? It depends on how your party is faring. Generally speaking, earlier is better. If your players have adventured for a while and gained a fairly good set of gear, then having that gear taken away from them might leave you with some sour players. If you throw the rust monsters at them early, then there’s no need to worry about their gear, since it’ll be their starting stuff. One interesting way a rust monster can be used is as an “eraser” tool. If you mess up and give your players some loot that is slightly too good for them then you can use the power of rust to wipe the slate clean. Just be sure to reward them with some properly tuned loot afterwards, or else you’ll get salty players.
There you have it. An in depth discussion on rust monsters and how to properly utilize them. Was it helpful to you? Would you like to see more spotlights like this? What monster should I tackle next? Let me know down below. Until the next time, keep those dice rolling high!