Monster Abilities Part 3 – Constitution

Continuing the Monster Abilities series, today I want to take a closer look at Constitution. Constitution is funny to me, because it’s rarely a stat you see players use as a dump stat. After all, its primary function is offering bonus hit points.

Furthermore, easily 33-50% of saving throws in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition revolve around Constitution saves.

But what does it mean for monsters?

In this article I cover:

  • What does each point of Constitution mean?
  • Where do all the Monster Manual monsters stand in terms of Constitution?
  • Observations on 5e monster Constitution.
  • Constitution scores by challenge rating analysis.

What does each point in Constitution mean?

According to the Player’s Handbook, Constitution is a measure of health, stamina, and vital force. In other words, it’s your “don’t die” stat.

A 10-11 in Constitution is supposed to be plain ol’ human. As we’ve learned from the other ability observations, higher than 15 is usually beyond normal human capability, and beyond 16-17 is beyond anything in the real world. Finally, only truly epic beings can have Constitution scores north of 20.

Constitution: Skills & Checks

Constitution holds the distinction of being the only ability score that doesn’t have a skill directly tied to it.  As a passive ability, Constitution keeps your character together, and helps your character do stuff like:

  • Hold their breath
  • March or labor for hours without rest
  • Go without sleep
  • Survive without food or water
  • Chug a beer (seriously)

Constitution: Hit Points

Of course, Constitution’s true claim to fame is in its bonus hit points. For each +1 bonus of Constitution a creature has in D&D 5e, that’s one more point of hit point per hit die they get.

Constitution: Barbarians

If there was one class that lived for Constitution (get it?), it’d have to be the Barbarian. Barbarians are, well… tanks. And the more Constitution they have, the better they tank. Not only because it gives them hit point bonuses, but they can also add their Constitution modifier to their Armor Class.

Constitution: Saving Throws

Finally, Constitution is part of the “big three” of Dexterity and Wisdom. A whole lot of saving throws in Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition involve Constitution. It’s what helps you survive cold attacks, poison, and even disintegration.

 

D&D 5e Monsters by Constitution

Now that we understand the basics of Constitution and what it can do for players, let’s take a look at how it relates to monsters. Knowing which monsters have which Constitution will help us improve our monster designs.

The monsters in bold are those that currently exist in the real world.

Constitution 3 (-4)
Monsters: gas spore

Constitution 8 (-1)
Monsters: bat, frog, hawk, owl, pixie, raven, sea horse, spider, swarm of ravens, weasel

Constitution 9 (-1)
Monsters: kobold, quipper, swarm of quippers, swarm of rats, winged kobold

Constitution 10 (+0)
Monsters: aarakocra, banshee, blood hawk, cat, crab, dust mephit, eagle, flumph, giant badger, giant wasp, giant weasel, ghast, ghoul, ghost, ice mephit, kenku, quasit, rug of smothering, demilich, drow, drow mage, goat, goblin, goblin boss, lizard, myconid sprout, panther, pteranodon, shrieker, slaad tadpole, specter, sprite, steam mephit, swarm of bats, swarm of insects, violet fungus, will-o-wisp

Constitution 11 (+0)
Monsters: ankylosaurus, awakened shrub, crawling claw, deer, dryad, fire snake, flying snake, flying sword, giant bat, giant crab, giant frog, giant rat, giant sea horse, gnoll, grick, homonculus, jackal, jackalwere, kuo-toa, lemure, poisonous snake, satyr, scarecrow, stirge, swarm of poisonous snakes, twig blight, yuan-ti pureblood

Constitution 12 (+0)
Monsters: axe beak, badger, blink dog, boar, chasme, cloaker, cockatrice, constrictor snake, draft horse, dretch, drow priest of Lolth, duodrone, elk, giant centipede, giant constrictor snake, giant fire beetle, giant goat, giant owl, giant spider, githyanki warrior, githzerai monk, grimlock, harpy, hyena, hobgoblin, magma mephit, magmin, mastiff, merfolk, mind flayer, monodrone, mud mephit, myconid adult, phase spider, pentadrone, quadrone, riding horse, sahuagin, sahuagin priestess, shadow demon, smoke mephit, spined devil, wererat, wolf

Constitution 13 (+1)
Monsters: animated armor, ankheg, black dragon wyrmling, brass dragon wyrmling, bugbear, bullywug, copper dragon wyrmling, crocodile, darkmantle, death tyrant, ettercap, faerie dragon, giant eagle, giant lizard, giant octopus, giant poisonous snake, giant scorpion, giant toad, giant wolf spider, gnoll pack lord, green dragon wyrmling, grell, hippogriff, imp, intellect devourer, killer whale, lion, lizardfolk, lizardfolk shaman, mane, mule, needle blight, peryton, pony, pseudodragon, reef shark, rust monster, shadow, succubus/incubus, thri-kreen, tridrone, vulture, warhorse, water weird, worg, yuan-ti malison

Constitution 14 (+2)
Monsters: air elemental, ape, arcanaloth, baboon, black bear, bugbear chief, camel, centaur, death dog, deep gnome, doppelganger, drow elite warrior, duergar, flameskull, giant elk, giant hyena, half-ogre, half-red dragon veteran, hell hound, hobgoblin captain, invisible stalker, kuo-toa whip, myconid sovereign, ochre jelly, spirit naga, tiger, trogolodyte, werewolf, white dragon wyrmling, winter wolf

Constitution 15 (+2)
Monsters: aboleth, awakened tree, azer, basilisk, bearded devil, blue dragon wyrmling, dire wolf,  giant vulture, gnoll fang of Yeenoghu, githyanki knight, githzerai zerth, grick alpha, hook horror, hunter shark, lamia, lizard king/queen, merrow, mimic, minotaur skeleton, rhinoceros, saber-toothed tiger, salamander, skeleton, unicorn, warhorse skeleton, wereboar

Constitution 16 (+3)
Monsters: barlgura, beholder zombie, black pudding, brown bear, cambion, carrion crawler, chuul, displacer beast, fire elemental, plesiosaurus, gargoyle, giant boar, gibbering mouther, gray ooze, green hag, gray slaad, green slaad, griffon, guardian naga, gynosphinx, helmed horror, hobgoblin warlord, kuo-toa archpriest, lich, medusa, mezzoloth, minotaur, nightmare, nothic, ogre, orc, orc eye of gruumsh, oni, pegasus, piercer, polar bear, quaggoth, quaggoth spore servant, red slaad, night hag, sahuagin baron, sea hag, shambling mound, umber hulk, vampire spawn, weretiger, wight, wraith, wyvern, yeti, zombie

Constitution 17 (+3)
Monsters: allosaurus, bronze dragon wyrmling, couatl, elephant, ettin, giant crocodile, gold dragon wyrmling, manticore, mummy lord, owlbear, red dragon wyrmling, roper, silver dragon wyrmling, triceratops, werebear, young brass dragon, young copper dragon, young green dragon, young remorhaz, yuan-ti abomination

Constitution 18 (+4)
Monsters: barbed devil, behir, beholder, bone devil, chain devil, clay golem, deva, drider, erinyes, flesh golem, giant ape, gorgon, ice devil, ogre zombie, orc war chief, orog, rakshasa, revenant, shield guardian, blue slaad, ultroloth, vampire, vrock, water elemental, yochlol, young black dragon, young white dragon

Constitution 19 (+4)
Monsters: chimera, death slaad, hill giant, nycaloth, otyugh, tyrannosaurus rex, young blue dragon, young bronze dragon

Constitution 20 (+5)
Monsters: androsphinx, cyclops, death knight, dragon turtle, earth elemental, fomorian, galeb duhr, hezrou, hydra, marilith, roc, stone giant, stone golem, troll

Constitution 21 (+5)
Monsters: adult black dragon, adult brass dragon, adult copper dragon, adult green dragon, bulette, frost giant, gelatinous cube, giant shark, glabrezu, horned devil, mammoth, remorhaz, treant, young gold dragon, young red dragon, young red shadow dragon, young silver dragon

Constitution 22 (+6)
Monsters: abominable yeti, adult white dragon, balor, cloud giant, djinni, nalfeshnee, purple worm, xorn

Constitution 23 (+6)
Monsters: adult blue dracolich, adult blue dragon, adult bronze dragon, fire giant

Constitution 24 (+7)
Monsters: dao, efreeti, pit fiend, planetar

Constitution 25 (+7)
Monsters: adult gold dragon, adult red dragon, adult silver dragon, ancient black dragon, ancient brass dragon, ancient copper dragon, ancient green dragon, goristro, kraken

Constitution 26 (+8)
Monsters: ancient white dragon, marid, solar

Constitution 27 (+8)
Monsters: ancient blue dragon, ancient bronze dragon

Constitution 29 (+9)
Monsters: ancient gold dragon, ancient red dragon, ancient silver dragon

Constitution 30 (+10)
Monsters: empyrean, tarrasque

Observations on 5e Monster Constitution

Constitution scores are quite different than any other ability score in D&D 5e simply because they don’t correlate with real world powers.

In fact, the scores would seem almost completely random.

However, I think Constitution scores are relative to the creature’s Challenge Rating and scale somewhat linearly from there. In other words, when CR goes up, Constitution goes up.

Long story short: Constitution scores are purely game mechanics and have no real world application beyond signifying what’s “tough” at certain challenge ratings.

Constitution Scores by Challenge Rating

I’ve gone a step further and broken out each of the Challenge Ratings and averaged out relative Constitution scores. This should give 5e game designers an idea of where their creatures’ Constitution scores should land.

Challenge Rating 0 (10 XP)
Average Constitution Score 9.94
Deadly Encounter Level none

Challenge Rating 1/8 (25 XP)
Average Constitution Score 11.39
Deadly Encounter Level none

Challenge Rating 1/4 (50 XP)
Average Constitution Score 11.53
Deadly Encounter Level none

Challenge Rating 1/2 (100 XP)
Average Constitution Score 12.30
Deadly Encounter Level none

Challenge Rating 1 (200 XP)
Average Constitution Score 12.71
Deadly Encounter Level none

Challenge Rating 2 (450 XP)
Average Constitution Score 14.33
Deadly Encounter Level 1st

Challenge Rating 3 (700 XP)
Average Constitution Score 14.69
Deadly Encounter Level 2nd

Challenge Rating 4 (1,100 XP)
Average Constitution Score 14.79
Deadly Encounter Level 2nd

Challenge Rating 5 (1,800 XP)
Average Constitution Score 17.22
Deadly Encounter Level 3rd

Challenge Rating 6 (2,300 XP)
Average Constitution Score 17.06
Deadly Encounter Level 4th

Challenge Rating 7 (2,900 XP)
Average Constitution Score 16.80
Deadly Encounter Level 4th – 5th

Challenge Rating 8 (3,900 XP)
Average Constitution Score 17.58
Deadly Encounter Level 5th

Challenge Rating 9 (5,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 20.00
Deadly Encounter Level 5th

Challenge Rating 10 (5,900 XP)
Average Constitution Score 18.50
Deadly Encounter Level 6th

Challenge Rating 11 (7,200 XP)
Average Constitution Score 21.33
Deadly Encounter Level 7th

Challenge Rating 12 (8,400 XP)
Average Constitution Score 16.00*
Deadly Encounter Level 8th

Challenge Rating 13 (10,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 19.78
Deadly Encounter Level 9th

Challenge Rating 14 (11,500 XP)
Average Constitution Score 18.50*
Deadly Encounter Level 10th

Challenge Rating 15 (13,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 20.75*
Deadly Encounter Level 10th – 11th

Challenge Rating 16 (15,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 22.40
Deadly Encounter Level 11th

Challenge Rating 17 (18,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 22.00
Deadly Encounter Level 12th

Challenge Rating 18 (20,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 20.00*
Deadly Encounter Level 13th

Challenge Rating 19 (22,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 22.00*
Deadly Encounter Level 14th

Challenge Rating 20 (25,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 25.00*
Deadly Encounter Level 15th

Challenge Rating 21 (33,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 22.00*
Deadly Encounter Level 16th-17th

Challenge Rating 22 (41,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 26.00
Deadly Encounter Level 18th-19th

Challenge Rating 23 (50,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 26.75
Deadly Encounter Level 20th

Challenge Rating 24 (62,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 29.00*
Deadly Encounter Level all

Challenge Rating 30 (155,000 XP)
Average Constitution Score 30.00*
Deadly Encounter Level all

*Denotes that the sample size is less than 5.

As you can see, Constitution is fairly linear in growth up until it hits CR 5, then plateaus. It stays flat until about CR 9 and gets another bump, pushing average Con scores into the 20s. But it more or less plateaus again until reaching CR 20. After CR 20, it’s a quick progression up to Constitution score 30.

Each challenge rating has an outlier of sorts such as the lich as a CR 21 creature that only has a Constitution score of 16. I think the idea is 1) they’re supposed to look somewhat frail compared to most other baddies at their level and 2) they balance their shitty health with crazy DPS.

What can we learn from this?

Basically, Constitution is just there to buffer hit points so there isn’t an absurd amount of dice getting rolled for the big bads. It also lends a hand to Constitution saves, but the big bads that have lousy Con relative to their challenge rating (such as liches or the androsphinx) make up for it in Con Save proficiencies.

Thanks for reading!

Hopefully, this information on Constitution is helpful for your 5e D&D monster creation. Constitution is a weird score, but as long you follow the averages per CR, you should be in a good shape.

Next up, we’re going to take a look at Intelligence.

See you then!

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