Tangler Beetle (left), Fire Beetle (right) and Rot Scarab Swarm (along the bottom). Copyright 2008 Wizards of the Coast

This article is part of a series! Go here to see the other entries.

Monstrous beetles are some of the most traditional opposition for low-level adventurers, so it’s no surprise they show up here. I was sure they’d have an entry in the Monster Vault, but it turns out they’re MM-only. We get three monstrous beetles in this entry, all of them Unaligned and possessed of Int 1, the minimum possible value.

Fire Beetles are the most traditional beetles of all. In my experience their name often made people think they had some sort of fire attack in previous editions, but it actually referred to the fact that they glow. Well, here they finally get their fire attack!

4e Fire Beetles are Small Natural Beasts and Level 1 Brutes with 32 HP. They bite and can use a Fire Spray (recharge 5-6) that does fire damage in a Close Blast 3. Defensively, they have Resist 10 Fire. And yes, you can still extract the glowing glands from a dead fire beetle and use them as torches.

Tangler Beetles are one of the many beasts often tamed by humanoids and used as guard animals. They’re Large Natural Beasts and Level 5 Controllers with 62 HP. They have a bite basic attack, and a ranged Entangling Spittle attack that does no damage but immobilizes the target.

Rot Scarab Swarms are the first swarm monster we’ve run into in this book, and are a good showcase of the swarm rules. Individually, they’re normal-beetle-sized and native to areas tainted by the Shadowfell (making them shadow beasts).

The scarab swarm counts as a single Medium creature, a Level 8 Soldier. It has a Swarm Attack aura 1 that allows it to make free basic attacks against anyone who begins their turn caught in it. That basic attack is a necrotic “Swarm of Bites” that also does ongoing necrotic damage, and they get to attack normally in their action as well. They take half damage from melee and ranged attacks, and 10 extra damage from close (burst/blast) and area attacks.

The sample encounter is level 1, a trio of kobolds and their two pet fire beetles.

Final Impressions

I like that Fire Beetles finally get a fire attack. I seem to remember them having one in Neverwinter Nights, but I’m not sure if they had one in actual 3.x D&D. I’m fairly sure they didn’t have it earlier than that.

Rot Scarabs are a nicely creepy addition to a crypt-themed dungeon. They’re undead-adjacent but not undead themselves, so I guess encountering them can be somewhat surprising for PCs. Including them in a fight against undead is a good way to make sure the cleric can’t shut the whole opposing force down with a single turning attempt.