Geryon, son of Chrysaor and Callirhoe, was a fearsome titan who dwelt on the island Erytheia of the Hesperides in the far west of the Mediterranean. Geryon had three heads and three bodies with a total of six arms the three bodies were joined to one pair of legs. Apart from these weird features, his appearance was that of a warrior. He owned a two-headed hound named Orthrus, which was the brother of Cerberus, and a herd of magnificent red cattle that were guarded by Orthrus, and a herder Eurytion, son of Erytheia
The Tenth Labour of Heracles
Heracles was required to travel to Erytheia, in order to obtain the Cattle of Geryon as his tenth labour. On the way there, he crossed the Libyan desert and became so frustrated at the heat that he shot an arrow at Helios, the Sun. Helios “in admiration of his courage” gave Heracles the golden cup he used to sail across the sea from west to east each night. Heracles used it to reach Erytheia.
When Heracles reached Erytheia, no sooner had he landed than he was confronted by the two-headed dog, Orthrus. With one huge blow from his olive-wood club, Heracles killed the watchdog. Eurytion the herdsman came to assist Orthrus, but Heracles dealt with him the same way.
On hearing the commotion, Geryon sprang into action, carrying three shields, three spears, and wearing three helmets. He pursued Heracles at the River Anthemus but fell a victim to an arrow that had been dipped in the venomous blood of the Lernaean Hydra, shot so forcefully by Heracles that it pierced Geryon’s forehead, with a shrill, despairing groan, Geryon swayed, then fell, nevermore to rise.
Heracles then had to herd the cattle back to Eurystheus. Cacus stole some of the cattle as Heracles slept, making the cattle walk backwards so that they left no trail, a repetition of the trick of the young Hermes. Heracles drove his remaining cattle past a cave, where Cacus had hidden the stolen animals, and they began calling out to each other. In others, Caca, Cacus’ sister, told Heracles where he was. Heracles then killed Cacus founded an altar where the Forum Boarium, the cattle market, was later held.
To annoy Heracles, Hera sent a gadfly to bite the cattle, irritate them and scatter them. The hero was within a year able to retrieve them. Hera then sent a flood which raised the level of a river so much, Heracles could not cross with the cattle. He piled stones into the river to make the water shallower. Heracles then had to kill a monster that was half-woman and half-serpent. When he finally reached the court of Eurystheus, the cattle were sacrificed to Hera.
D&D 5E Epic Monsters: Geryon and Orthos
As is typical in this column the subject changes drastically depending on the source material. Sometimes Geryon has three bodies and heads, or three bodies and one head, or in Dante’s Inferno he’s a manticore-wyvern monstrosity, then in a work called the Geryoneis the poet Stesichoros wrote he was six-handed, six-footed, and winged. In this instance we’re going with the classic three-headed version with the two-headed canine Orthos (also known as Orthrus). Geryon is related to the pegasus, Titans, and medusa though this isn’t what most people know him for—that would be his excellent cattle, the very same cows that Heracles/Hercules is made to acquire from the giant’s western Mediterranean island home (Erytheia) as the tenth labor.
Large giant, neutral
Armor Class 16 (breastplate, shield)
Hit Points 210 (20d10+100)
Speed 35 ft.
|21 (+5)||10 (+0)||20 (+5)||10 (+0)||15 (+2)||13 (+1)|
Saving Throws Dex +3, Cha +4; Proficiency +3
Skills Animal Handling +5, Investigation +3, Perception +8, Persuasion +4, Religion +3
Senses passive Perception 23
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
Power Attack (1/Turn). When Geryon makes his first melee weapon attack in a turn, he can choose to take a –5 penalty to his melee weapon attack rolls in exchange for a +10 bonus to melee weapon damage. In addition, Geryon can use a bonus action to make one melee weapon attack after he uses a melee weapon to reduce a creature to 0 hit points or scores a critical hit with it. Geryon can only use this trait on his turn.
Three Heads. Geryon gains double his proficiency bonus to and has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks (included above). In addition, he has advantage on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, or knocked unconscious.
Multiattack. Geryon attacks four times.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8+5) bludgeoning damage.
Spear (3). Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10+5) piercing damage.
Extra Reaction. Geryon can take a second reaction each round.
Medium monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 30 (4d8+12)
Speed 40 ft.
|18 (+4)||15 (+2)||17 (+3)||4 (–3)||13 (+1)||10 (+0)|
Saving Throws Dex +4, Con +5; Proficiency +2
Skills Perception +5, Stealth +4, Survival +3
Senses passive Perception 20
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Two Heads. Orthos has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks and on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, or knocked unconscious.
Multiattack. Orthos attacks twice with its bite and once with its snake-tail.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) poison damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
Snake-Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4+4) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) poison damage.
Monster Encyclopaedia II: The Dark Bestiary
Author J. C. Alvarez
Series Monster Encyclopaedia
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2005
|Hit Dice||26d8+211 (328hp)|
|Speed||40 ft. (8 squares)|
|AC||22 (-2 size, -1 Dexterity, +15 natural), touch 7, flat-footed 22|
|Attack||Greatclub +32 melee (3d8+22)|
|Full Attack||3 Greatclubs +32/+27/+22/+17 melee (3d8+22)|
|Space/Reach||15 ft. /15 ft.|
|Special Attacks||Multiple bodies|
|Special Qualities||Low-Light Vision, multiple faces|
|Saves||Fort +25, Ref +7, Will +11|
|Abilities||Strength 41, Dexterity 8, Constitution 27, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 12, Charisma 14|
|Skills||Intimidate +16, Listen +25, Spot +25|
|Feats||Alertness, Cleave, Great Cleave, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Power Attack, Snatch, Toughness, Weapon Focus (Greatclub)|
|Environment||Warm plains and coastland|
|Alignment||Usually chaotic evil|
|Advancement||27-52 HD (Gargantuan), 53-78 HD (Colossal)|
This is a truly monstrous creature. It appears as a giant, but it has three bodies, three sets of arms and three pairs of legs, all attached to a single grotesque head. When it speaks, three voices seem to come out of its throat simultaneously.
Geryid giants are hateful, aberrant beings, rejected and feared even by other geryids; therefore these creatures usually live alone (which should not be that bad, considering they have three bodies). A geryid giant looks like a Huge, dark-skinned humanoid with coarse hair all over its body and three bodies attached to its only head. These three bodies stand facing outwards, back-to-back. The creature has six arms and six legs, which it can move independently.
Male geryids average 30 feet in height and their combined bodies give them an approximate weight of 31,000 pounds.
All of a geryid giant’s arms are capable of wielding weapons without any problem or limitation. Geryid giants dress sparsely, with crude short tunics and sandals. It goes without saying that these clothes have to be custom-made to fit the creature.
Geryids speak Common and Giant.
Geryids appear to fight chaotically, each of its bodies acting separately and independently while attached to each other. Only close observation (which usually entails deadly risks for the observer) reveals that there is some co-ordination in it all and, in fact, each of a geryid’s bodies is a skilful and fearsome opponent.
Multiple Bodies (Ex): A geryid is much more than a monster with six arms and six legs – each of the creature’s three bodies is able of independent action, which goes far beyond simply making more attacks per round. Basically, each round a geryid can take one full-round action for each of its bodies. This means a geryid might be making a full attack with one of its bodies while it throws rocks with the other, grapple three enemies at the same time and so on. For a geryid, an attack action might actually be three attacks (one with each of its bodies), for example. The only limitation is the geryid cannot take impossible or contradictory actions, such as moving in two directions at the same time.
A geryid giant may make a total of three attacks of opportunity each round, one with each of its bodies, even if they are all made against the same creature. A geryid is still limited to one such attack per opportunity. By spending a move action with one of its bodies, a geryid may position itself so two of its bodies are flanking a single Large or smaller creature. A geryid giant may freely use the aid another action to help itself, provided it has enough standard actions to do so.
Multiple Faces (Ex): A geryid giant cannot be flanked, though it can be taken flat-footed.