In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the tarrasque is a magical beast. Tarrasques are gigantic, terrible, monstrous engines of destruction which exist only to eat, kill and destroy. Only one tarrasque is said to exist in each gameworld.
Tarrasques have low intelligence and cannot speak. They are neutrally aligned, despite their violent and savage nature (they lack the mental capacity to choose between good or evil).
The tarrasque was introduced to the D&D game in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
The D&D creature appears to be based upon the French legend of the tarasque.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
The tarrasque first appears in the first edition Monster Manual II
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
The tarrasque appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989), and is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)
The tarrasque appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)
The tarrasque appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).
The tarrasque was detailed in Dragon #359 (September 2007), in the "Ecology of the Tarrasque". This article also included the advanced tarrasque.
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)
The tarrasque appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), under the abomination
They are very large, 50 feet tall and 70 feet long, and have a Tyrannosaurus rex
-like form (despite being much more muscular, broad, with a different shaped head, and with much larger and more useful front arms). It is brown in color, with scabs and warts and bits of encrusted dung all over it which are grey in color. Protecting its back and tail is a large, thick, glossy shell of caramel color. It has spikes coming from its chin, sides of the mouth, the underside of its neck, the elbows of its front arms, and its shell. It also has two horns coming forwards from the top of its head. The tarrasque's skin is very hard and thick, and provides excellent armor. The second edition of the game included rules for extracting treasure from the creature's carcass.
The Tarrasque is a most feared creature. However, it spends most of its time sleeping deep in an underground lair in dormancy. Its sleeping periods range between 2 - 4 months to 1 - 16 years. After these periods, however, the Tarrasque awakes. Erupting from its underground lair, the behemoth starts on a rampage, terrorizing the nearby area, smashing every structure, devouring both plant and meat alike, killing anyone who opposes it, and basically turning the land into a barren wasteland. Only once the Tarrasque has been killed (which is very hard to do and a rare occurrence) or once it returns to its lair to sleep is the land safe again. Very fortunately, the older a Tarrasque gets, the longer its periods of sleep seem to last, sometimes eventually lasting for thousands of years. Never, however, do Tarrasques get weaker or lose their lust for destruction. Even in Campaign settings where multiple Tarrasques exist, such as Faerûn
(in most settings the Tarrasque is a unique beast), Tarrasques are fully solitary; one of them is more than enough to exact the destruction the beasts are intended for.
The Tarrasque is a highly destructive creature. It needs to eat constantly and savors its desire to destroy in order to survive. As a result, it has many combat methods. It can attack with its tail, its claws, its spikes and horns, by stomping, by grabbing and by slamming its massive, 130 ton body into opponents. It does not have a breath weapon, but it can swallow victims whole. It can inspire terror in people by charging or rushing. Its armor, in addition to giving excellent melee protection, can also deflect all manner of offensive spells. To top it all off, the tarrasque has regeneration abilities. Despite all this, it is possible to defeat the tarrasque, albeit exceedingly difficult; the only method of actually killing it is by raising its nonlethal damage total to its full normal hit points +10 (or 868 hit points) and using a Wish
spell to keep it dead.
In the 4th edition version of the game, the Tarrasque cannot be killed; reducing it to 0 hit points causes it to burrow into the core of the earth to slumber for a time (instead of killing it). The only monsters that are more feared in combat are deities, the largest and oldest dragons, certain powerful outsiders (such as demon lords) and epic monsters.
Various explanations of the Tarrasque's origins exist: some claim it is a curse from the gods, while others say it was created by evil wizards. Neither TSR
nor Wizards of the Coast
has ever provided a definitive answer.
In the 4th edition version of the game, the Tarrasque is an Abomination - a living engine of death and destruction created by a primordial race for use as a weapon against the gods.
The deathclaws in Black Isle
CRPGs were based on a Tarrasque model from an unreleased fighting game set in the Forgotten Realms.
The Tarrasque was referenced by Blizzard Entertainment in their hit real-time strategy title StarCraft: the "hero" version of a very large, very powerful Zerg unit, (the Ultralisk), is named "Torrasque" [sic].
In the Spelljammer series, one adventure suggests a planet full of Tarrasques in a docile state, where they are silicavores (rock eaters); upon removal from their homeworld their temperament changes to the violent, rapacious one better known throughout Known Space.
- Cagle, Eric. "Worshipers of the Forbidden." Dragon #296 (Paizo Publishing, 2002).
- Ward, Kyla. "The Petit Tarrasque and Other Monsters." Dragon #329 (Paizo Publishing, 2005).
- The Tarrasque Creature Incarnations By Robert Wiese (Wizards of the Coast, D&D Fight Club column 11/09/2005).