A leviathan is one of the most fearsome and exotic creatures in all of Dungeons and Dragons (DND).
What is a DND leviathan?
In DND, a leviathan is a massive, sea-dwelling monster and elder water elemental. A leviathan is able to remain nearly invisible in water, create massive tidal waves, and destroy entire ships with its slam attack. A leviathan has 328 Hit Points, an Armor Class of 17, and a Challenge Rating of 20.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about a DND leviathan.
DND Leviathan Stats
|Challenge Rating||20 (25,000 Experience Points)|
|Hit Points||Average of 328 (16d20 +160)|
|Armor Class (AC)||17|
|Speed||Swimming 120 feet, Moving 40 feet|
|30 (+10 Bonus)||24 (+7 Bonus)||30 (+10 Bonus)||2 (-4)||18 (+4 Bonus)||17 (+3 Bonus)|
Damage Immunities – Immune to poison and acid
Damage Resistances – Piercing, slashing from non-magical strikes, and bludgeoning
Condition Immunities – Prone, grappled, stunned, exhausted, restrained, paralyzed, poisoned, and petrified
Senses – Passive Perception up to 14 feet. Darkvision up to 60 feet
Languages – Uses telepathy but does not speak. A leviathan can comprehend Common, Abyssal, Infernal, Celestial, Draconic, and Primordial
DND Leviathan: Overview
A leviathan is a watery monster and powerful elder elemental.
You don’t want to encounter one in the wild. Only the most advanced group of player characters should face the leviathan’s cataclysmic combat abilities.
A DND leviathan is described as a towering wall of churning waters that drags whole armadas of ships into the depths and washes coastal settlements off the map.
The churning living waters that make up the form of the leviathan twist to resemble a great serpent.
Its eyes are deep black, resembling the waters where no sunlight reaches, and its jaw is filled with sharp watery spears that can sink the strongest of galleons.
Its gargantuan form rivals that of the legendary Krakens.
It is the wrath of primordial waters given form, like all elder elementals.
Nothing is safe from its watery form as it can move its immense mass through any opening that is not water-tight. Like all water elementals, it can control its own water pressure.
All it has to do to destroy its foes is slam its immense, highly-pressurized weight into them, turning them into pulp.
Or if it wishes, it can simply engulf an enemy–crushing them with its pressure or waiting for them to drown.
As the embodiment of raging primordial waters, this elder elemental can magically manipulate any source of water around it.
Using this magical connection, it conjures an immense tidal wave as tall and thick as city walls.
This tidal wave moves forward constantly at great speeds after it is summoned, crushing everything in its wake.
Since the wave is powerful enough to carry away giants, the best strategy for most creatures is to get out of the way using teleportation magic.
If that’s not possible, then flying up and over the wave or burrowing deep enough underground that you aren’t swept away would also work.
The wave does slowly dissipate becoming smaller and weaker the further it goes.
Any creature trapped within the wave can technically swim through it, but the crushing force of the wave would make this difficult at best and fatal at worst.
While the tidal wave is impressive enough, it is not the most sinister aspect of the Leviathan.
You see, water elementals are completely invisible when they are in a body of water because they are made of water.
Only a well-trained eye can spy one moving through a lake or a river and only those with a magical sense can find a water elemental hiding motionless in a body of water.
They are practically invisible while not moving.
This applies to the entire Leviathan. If it remains totally motionless within a large enough body of water, the Leviathan is essentially invisible except for magical sight, making a leviathan a force of cataclysmic destruction and an ambush predator.
While this great elemental spirit can move outside of the water, it normally will not.
Elementals are not evil by nature and, in the case of water elementals, they tend to stay within their element.
A leviathan will stay in the water and will likely only move if forced to or if the currents change.
The ritual of summoning a DND leviathan requires a large body of water.
An immense river lake or ocean will work. The ritual does not care if it is saltwater or freshwater, only that there is enough of it.
A small stream or puddle or a bucket of water from a well will not do for summoning a leviathan.
During the summoning, those same waters will rush and expand like a flood the instant the elder elemental is summoned.
This is not noticeable in the middle of an ocean but it is much more conspicuous and destructive if done on rivers and lakes as these are areas where humanoid creatures tend to settle.
Containment of this elder elemental would seem easier than that of a blazing phoenix or a storming serpent but that is not the case.
The waters that make up the serpentine form of the leviathan are not just under immense pressure.
They are also acidic.
This is not too surprising. Water elementals are naturally apprehensive of all forms of life that are not their own.
These elementals make their bodies physically acidic in order to dissolve any marine life that gets too close and is too stupid to leave the elemental alone.
This is not done for a need for food or nutrients.
Elementals do not require such things. Rather this is done out of a desire to remain pure.
Since the Leviathan is far more voracious than your run-of-the-mill water elemental, it should come as no surprise that the acid of the Leviathan is extra potent.
Simply touching its aqueous body can burn you, and being engulfed in it would likely be similar to being engulfed by a gelatinous cube.
The acid of its body would slowly dissolve your character’s flesh.
The acidic nature of the Leviathan’s physical body is the only clue you can use for finding one in deep waters.
Its extremely large body will dissolve any and all marine life around it, so if you see a large body of water that has no fish, crabs, clams, or even aquatic plants, a leviathan likely slumbers there.
Here is a good video about DND Leviathans:
Leviathan Types in DND
In DND, there are several different types of leviathans:
- Deep Kraken
- Coral Strider
- Sea Serpent
- Angler Fish
These types of leviathans come in the form of a giant squid with an unblinking eye and a piercing gaze.
They are the smartest among the Leviathans.
And they are also able to conjure magic with symbols on their bones. All in all, pretty dang freaky.
Coral striders are leviathans who carry entire ecosystems on their backs.
They walk slowly on the ocean floor and have a unique persuasive personality. I experienced one in a DND game years ago and our player group never forgot it.
These kinds of leviathans are the most common. Because of their giant fangs and monstrous roars, they are natural hunters.
Angler Fish Leviathans are the best ambush predators and masters of distraction.
They are an expert at misdirecting enemies and creating traps that they surely won’t get away from.
If you put your player characters up against a leviathan, they will be faced with the following attacks and legendary actions:
The leviathan can make two different types of standard attacks: a slam attack and a tail attack.
- For the slam attack, the leviathan tries to hit its target with its big fist. It does 15 damage plus 5 acid damage. Or you can roll 1d10 + add 10 as a bonus. It can only strike one target.
- For the tail attack, the leviathan tries to hit its target with its long tail. It does 16 damage plus 6 acid damage. Or you can roll 1d10.
A leviathan can also perform a multi-attack, combining both a slam and tail strike.
Finally, a leviathan can create a wall of water while it is underwater. The wall can reach a maximum length of 250 feet long, a maximum height of 250 feet high, and a maximum density of 50 feet thick.
Everything within the path of the wall must roll a DC 24 Strength saving throw or get swept away by the wave
A leviathan possesses three legendary actions but can use one legendary action at a time.
They can choose one legendary action after their enemy takes a turn in DND. A leviathan gets all three fresh legendary actions at the beginning of every one of its turns.
- Slam Legendary Action. A leviathan can choose to make a slam attack against an enemy, costing it 2 actions during the turn.
- Move Legendary Action. During its turn, a leviathan can move as far as 120 feet in the water.
D&D Leviathan Abilities
A leviathan has several special abilities:
Legendary Resistance. Three times per day, a leviathan can choose to automatically pass a failed saving throw.
Siege Monster. A leviathan plows into structures or objects, causing twice the normal damage.
Water Form. As a liquid being, a leviathan is able to enter, pass through, or stop in enemy space. Although gargantuan in size, the monster can easily slip through extremely narrow spaces (1-inch wide).
Partial Freeze. One disadvantage of a leviathan is the threat of cold damage and freezing. Once it suffers at least 50 points of cold damage within a single turn, the leviathan becomes partially frozen. When this happens, the creature slows down and can only move 20 feet. All attack rolls get a disadvantage.
Despite its incredible size and power, the leviathan does have one major weakness: the cold.
Like all water elementals, it can freeze.
Any magic or item that can conjure snow, ice, or lower the temperature could partially freeze the leviathan making it lethargic and weak.
However, freezing it completely in order to capture it is impossible.
Any ice magic that could freeze something as large as the leviathan would likely destroy the surrounding areas as well.
How To Use Leviathans in Your D&D Campaign
Here are a few ways you could use a leviathan in your D&D campaign:
- As a monster that the players must defeat. A leviathan could be guarding treasure, or perhaps it has been terrorizing an island village and the players are tasked with putting an end to its reign of terror.
- As a means of transportation. If the players need to cross an ocean, a leviathan could offer them passage in exchange for a favor.
- As a guardian of a magical artifact or treasure. A leviathan can be guarding something of great value, making it difficult for adventurers to retrieve it.
- As a source of information. If the players are looking for information on a lost city or ancient civilization, a leviathan could know something about it due to its long life span.
- As a mount for a powerful creature. A leviathan can be ridden by a dragon or other powerful being, making them even more fearsome.
- As part of an epic battle. A leviathan can be used as a boss monster in an enormous battle, pitting the might of the adventurers against its awesome power.
- A looming source of background tension. The player group may need to travel through open waters known as a leviathan hunting ground.
For clever wizards and adventurers, it could be kept in a cold acid proof space and used as a source of magical energy but that role could be filled by summoning any elemental spirit.
The best use for the leviathan is in the use of making potions and magic items.
Its essence can be used to make boots of water walking, potions of acid breath and acid resistance, or a potion of water breathing.
However, if you find yourself besieging an immense castle or fortress, the leviathan could take care of it in one fell swoop with its tidal wave–easily breaching the walls and washing away all defenders that are not protected.
Obviously, there are many more possibilities, but these are just a few ideas to get you started.
Leviathans are a group of different species of sea monsters that roam the deep oceans of the world.
Most of the Leviathan species stay confined in deep waters, but a few of them have gained the ability to change into a humanoid form through magic.
These kinds of Leviathans are referred to by other species of their race as The Emerged.
The process of learning how to change from their titanic form into a humanoid one is often painful, overwhelming, and confusing.
Most of them have only ever known life inside the water.
The world outside is completely foreign to them. Only those who are most dedicated to embracing this new environment would be able to crawl out of the darkness.
A Leviathan Miniature is a small, sculpted model of a Leviathan used in DND.
They are available in individual sculptures or as a complete set.
A base accompanies each model sculpted which may be printed in a gray-ish and damage-resistant resin. They are usually printed on a standard 32mm scale.
You can use these miniatures as standings for your character during a game.
They are especially helpful when using 3D maps.
Where to Find a Leviathan Token
A Leviathan token is a 2D coin-shaped piece of hard plastic engraved with the likeness of the monster.
Most tokens can be found and bought on Amazon or Etsy.
Tokens are used much like miniatures to serve as a visual marker in time and space.
Leviathans, like all other elementals, are not evil by nature.
And like any other being in DND, they can change alignment (or, at least, act outside of their alignment).
They tend to stay within the water and will likely only move if forced to or if the currents change dramatically. But when they do, they are a force to be reckoned with.
- DND Guard: Ultimate Guide for Beginners
- DND Cockatrice: Stats, Mechanics, and Ultimate Guide
- DND Pit Fiend: Stats, Mechanics, and Ultimate Guide