Top 25 Best D&D Villains of All Time

Best D&D Villains
The most memorable villains we loved to hate.

From Heath Ledger’s Joker to the unforgettable Darth Vader, everyone loves a good villain. Things becomes even more interesting when you have the opportunity to fight them face to face while bravely wielding your own sword pencil and an overpowered character sheet, together with some good friends and a giant pizza on a saturday night.

From 1974 until now, Dungeons and Dragons has had enough time to create some of the most hated (or beloved?) villains who will certainly lie forever on the memories of those who met them. And we reunite here a list of the top 25 most unforgettable antagonists of the entire D&D universe.

25. Illithid (Mind Flayers)

Mind Flayers

Not a single individual, but as an entire race, the Illithid (or Mind Flayers) dwell within the nightmares of many player characters. An ancient race, the Mind Flayers travel across the multiverse using their psionic powers to dominate and enslave entire worlds, meanwhile devouring a brain or two in the process. Just the thought of their slimy tentacles sliding your character’s face while preparing to suck their mind out of their skulls gives me the creeps!

  • As plane travelers, nowhere is really safe from their influence;
  • They inhabit the depths of the Underdark, where they are respected by drows, duergar, beholders and all sorts of “nice neighbourhood”;
  • They have psionic abilities, which are amongst the most amazing powers in the D&D universe;
  • As pure representatives of evil, all Illithid see themselves as a superior race, with a right to dominate other species;
  • Their thematic is extremely alien (they put larvae to reproduce) and creepy, giving space for some awesomely bizarre adventures;

As for their powers, Mind Flayers can have several variations, the most common of those showing:

  • Darkvision, Telepathy and Magic Resistance;
  • Can detect thoughts and levitate at will;
  • Can cast dominate monster and plane shift;
  • Can emit a powerful Mind Blast which deals 4d8+4 psychic damage and might stun in a 60-foot cone!

Mind Flayers can be terrifying opponents, being masters of manipulation, spellcasters, psionic and highly intelligent. They are also never found alone, always followed by their slaves and an occasional intellect devourer or two. Quite the fight!

24. Dragotha, the Death Dragon

As a former consort of Tiamat, Dragotha used to be a powerful ancient red dragon, but it was more than 2000 years ago. After defeating one after another of his rivals, powerful dragons wanting his position beside Tiamat, Dragotha one day was challenged and, again, slayed a dragon who was secretly Tiamat’s son. Fearing the fury of his goddess, Dragotha fled to Oerth. That’s when things start to get interesting.

Knowing that Tiamat would send her servants to end his life, Dragotha made a pact with Kyuss, the demigod of death, promising to serve him in exchange for eternal life. As Tiamat’s servants came after him, Dragotha was slayed and, after that, risen as a dracolich by Kyuss. The dragon felt betrayed by the Worm that Walks, and retired to an isolated canyon to plan his revenge.

Every century or so, Dragotha comes out of his hiding to release his fury upon this world, meanwhile trying to plan the destruction of Kyuss, Tiamat and their respective cults.

Dragotha’s lair is one of the most terrifying places in the Greyhawk setting, being crowded with powerful undead under the dracolich’s control, and containing several necromantic spells ready to drain the life of the unprepared adventurer.

  • Dragotha is a dracolich, meaning he is a dragon and an undead at the same time;
  • He was the consort of Tiamat, and was one of the most powerful ancient red dragons to exist;
  • Dragotha is more than 2000 years old;
  • The dragon is motivated by vengeance and hatred, like many great villains, but he also has an incredible background story;

Dragotha’s stats were published on the Dragon magazine #134, but this is the only “official” information on the dragon, and for AD&D. Wizards of the Coast later released an adventure called Dragotha’s Lair, which featured details about it’s lair and the dragon itself. Amongst Dragotha’s special powers and characteristics, we can include:

All the special resistances of an undead, plus the endurance of a dragon;

  • A Death Wind breath capable of melting the flesh of living beings, leaving behind clothes, bones and the heart;
  • A necromantic link to any living creatures around him, letting him regenerate 5 hit points per round (In the old rules. A homebrew version makes it 10);
  • Dragotha can’t be killed if his body is not entirely disintegrated;
  • Have I mentioned the hordes of undead walking around his lair?

All in all, Dragotha is an excellent enemy to test even the mightiest of parties.

23. Kyuss, the Worm that Walks

More known by his creations, the Spawn of Kyuss, Kyuss is an Elder Evil. According to the ancient prophecies (and many of them have been confirmed by his cultists), he will be the Herald of the Age of Worms, a time when the undead will rise and destroy the world. Also known as the Bonemaster, the Wormgod, and the Worm that Walks, his symbol is a skull erupting with writhing green worms.

Kyuss was once a high priest of Orcus, infamous for plundering corpses from necropolises to create his first spawns. He was exiled from society, and then became the prophet of a wicked cult who believed in the dreaded Age of Worms. They moved to Wormcrawl Island and found ruins of a dead civilization, which contained metal plates holding terrible secrets but also confirming every one of his prophecies.

Kyuss then used the secrets discovered in the inscriptions and sacrificed his entire congregation in order to transcend mortality. He thus became a demigod, but the process cursed him to be bound to the ruins forever. Now he seeks to spread his spawns across the world of Faerûn, while waiting for the opportunity to leave the island and bring forth the Age of Worms.

The Worm that Walks is seen as a 30 foot (9 meters) tall giant composed of a shifting mass of maggots and worms;

  • He can increase or decrease his size at will;
  • Infamous for creating the Spawn of Kyuss, a type of zombie who spreads its condition through worms;
  • Was the responsible for turning Dragotha into a dracolich;
  • Is an Elder Evil. AN ELDER EVIL!
  • Kyuss doesn’t need to be fought personally to make for an incredible villain, since his spawns and story “speak” for him;

Unfortunately, Kyuss stats were never officially published, though a homebrew description of the Worm King can be found here.

22. Eclavdra, Exarch of Lolth

How do you call a drow priestess of Lolth who betrayed her mistress and was lately rewarded for that, has been a servant to the Elder Elemental Eye, a consort of Graz'zt, an ambassador of Graz'zt and Iuz, and the main antagonist in several adventures and novels of the Dungeons and Dragons universe? I call it an astonishing villain!

Eclavra is a drow of exceptional beauty and ambition who is a major villain in Gygax's Gord the Rogue novels, and first appeared in G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King, being the first drow ever named in D&D. After betraying Lolth not once, but twice, she won her place at the side of the Demon Queen, proving she had intelligence and guile to outwit a cunning goddess.

  • Eclavdra has been given immortality and divine power as an Exarch of Lolth, as a reward for betraying the goddess twice (since Lolth is Mistress of Lies);
  • She has a powerful tentacle rod, a relic of her days serving the Elder Elemental Eye;
  • She is described as being incredibly beautiful, but with terrifying cruelty and total lack of compassion;
  • She is a smart villain, who is always scheming from behind the scenes and manipulating others on her favor;
  • Eclavdra allied herself with Graz'zt against Lolth in order to grab power in the Abyss, only to later seduce him and betray him to regain the favor of Lolth;
  • Eclavdra acted as an ambassador at the court of Iuz, the Evil;

Eclavdra’s stats can be found at Lolth’s entry in the Monster Manual 3 of the 4th edition of D&D.  Her status of Exarch makes her a powerful foe, but it is her guile and charm that make her such a special villain to face on your campaigns.

21. The Xanathar

If you’ve been playing the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons recently, you have probably heard of the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. THIS is the Xanathar we’re talking about.

If beholders by themselves make incredible antagonists, The Xanathar overcomes all expectations by being the most renamed beholder in all of Faerûn. Or beholders, since The Xanathar is not actually a name, but a title. The Xanathar is the leader of the Xanathar Thieves’ Guild in Waterdeep.

In the beginning, a beholder just called the Eye founded the Agents of the Eye criminal organization and led it from the background, his existence almost forgotten. He then discovered another beholder leading the Xanathar Thieves’ Guild, stole his precious notes, killed him and unified the organizations, assuming control of all criminal business in the Undermountain and subjugating every other beholder in the region under his command.

After the death of the Eye, several other beholders assumed the title of The Xanathar, some more paranoid or tyrannical than others. But The Xanathar will always be a name to be recognized and respected as one of the crimelords of greatest power in the Swordcoast.

  • As a leader of an immense and well organized guild, The Xanathar is one of the most powerful entities in the Swordcoast.
  • A name to be respected, The Xanathar is rarely seen face-to-face, usually sending emissaries on his place to do his business;
  • Many activities of slavery, smuggling and pacts with entities from the Underdark taken in Waterdeep lead directly to his guild;
  • With all the knowledge at his disposition, adventurers might need The Xanathar’s help to solve some complex situation, which leads to them owning him favors and granting him even more power;

The Xanathar’s game stats are actually not important, since it is the name behind it that really represents villainy.  But if the DM so wishes, any variant of the beholder might suit his needs.

More on this topic:


With all his expertise and knowledge on how to hack dragons with spells and swords, Gustavo never imagined adventuring could be ever funnier from behind a PC's screen.
Gamer Since: 1996
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: AC Odyssey, The Witcher 3, League of Legends
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, League of Legends, Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings

More Top Stories