Kat Kruger

An adventuring party walks into a tavern and sits at a table, weapons at the ready. The bartender comes over and asks, “Why do you look ready for a fight?”

The bard replies, “Mimics.”

The bartender laughs.

The party laughs.

The table laughs.

Mimics are one of the most iconic, and nasty, D&D monsters. The mimic is a unique creation of Gary Gygax and made its first appearance in the original Monster Manual (1977). Since then it’s appeared in every edition of D&D and has even made surprise appearances in hundreds of video games. If anything, it was no surprise to see a mimic in the movie trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. After all, sometimes the dungeon bites back and usually it’s in the form of one of these shapechanging monstrosities. In the trailer, Holga the Barbarian (played by Michelle Rodriguez) falls for the rookie mistake of opening a treasure chest to discover it is in fact a mimic. The chest opens to reveal a mouth with sharp teeth and the mimic’s tongue lashes out only to adhere to the wall behind Holga, thanks no doubt to a successful Dexterity saving throw.

These imitative predators are almost like a highly evolved octopus, blending in with their surroundings before lashing out to capture prey with sticky appendages. Of course, the big difference is mimics can, well, mimic and take on the form of inanimate objects. They take on the appearance of any object that has the texture of wood, stone, or other basic materials. Several variants of the creature have been introduced over the years, with different abilities and sizes but their core features remain the same.

As cunning hunters, mimics use their shapechanging ability to lie in wait for unsuspecting prey. If undetected, a mimic gets a surprise attack on creature that gets a little too close. Springing into action it uses its adhesive trait to stick to its target (whether it be an adventurer or their weapon). That’s when their pseudopods come into play, latching on to its victim and chomping down with a bite attack that also causes acid damage.

If you’re a DM looking to add a mimic to an adventure, there are plenty of tokens, adventures, and other assets available in the Roll20 Marketplace that can help introduce a mimic into your next game. In combat, the basic behaviors of these monstrosities follow the same pattern as above. You’ll likely want to get creative in other ways by choosing what form the monster takes. Mimics are said to have been created by wizards to serve as protectors against treasure hunters. Their purpose and method of attack are straightforward. By now, most adventurers know a treasure chest is going to be the obvious mimic — maybe someone should have mentioned that to Holga the Barbarian. 

Depending on the size of the mimic you’re using, it can take the form of many inanimate objects. In the opening joke of this article, the mimic was a table. Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms, wrote “The Ecology of the Mimic” in Dragon #75 and included reference to a mimic that had assumed the form of a statue in a busy market square in Waterdeep. In D&D history, there have even been mimics large enough to masquerade as cottages. A tent might be just as nasty of a trick using a giant mimic.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introduced juvenile mimics that are classified as Tiny and allowed for the possibility of mimic mugs and other small surprises. That source book also describes mimic colonies that work together and puts forth the idea that an entire village that appears out of nowhere could be made up entirely of mimics! If threatened, these carnivorous communities can even use lair actions. Mimics that slay together, stay together.

What to do after defeating a mimic? A creative party might consider harvesting the creature. With a DM’s blessing, a few things are a within the realm of possibility. Would consuming mimic meat cause a character to polymorph (perhaps at random) until it was digested and, um, out of their system? Perhaps a character could use the guidelines for crafting items found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (see: “Downtime Activities”) to make a particularly sticky glue with the mimic’s adhesive excretions.

Can an adventuring party befriend a mimic? In most cases, no. These are hungry predators that would rather bite your face off after all. However, the “Rule of Cool” allows for interesting things to happen at the table, especially if inspired by Honor Among Thieves where we’ve already seen Doric the Druid (played by Sophia Lillis) transform into an owlbear. That said, some mimics do evolve with the ability to speak Common and Undercommon fluently (or two other languages of the DM’s choice). Of course, negotiations with a mimic likely involve some exchange of food. Why hunt when you can shake down adventurers for free meals?