Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd EditionCampaign Setting Logo

Frequency:UncommonVery rare
Activity Cycle:DayDay
Intelligence:Non- (0)Non- (0)
No. Appearing:5-502-20
Armor Class:87
Movement:Sw 9Sw 15
Hit Dice:½2+2
No. of Attacks:11
Special Attacks:SwarmSwarm
Special Defenses:NilNil
Magic Resistance:NilNil
Size:T (8-10” long)S (2-3' long)
Morale:Unsteady (6)Average (10)
XP Value:765

With the exception of the shark, there is no more feared fish than the piranha, the terror of tropical rivers. For sheer voraciousness, the piranha has no equals. There are many tales of cattle unfortunate enough to enter piranha-infested waters being stripped to the bone in a few minutes by these creatures. Piranha attack anything, including humans.

Piranhas are small fish, averaging between eight and ten inches long. The largest normal piranha recorded was measured at two feet. They are either silver or black in color, with a saw-edged belly and large, triangular-shaped teeth that close in a scissorbite.

Combat: Piranhas attack with their sharp teeth. A single bite, though painful, is not usually fatal. Piranhas travel in groups (known as shoals) of 5-50. There is a 75% chance that at least one of them will attack any creature that swims or wades near the shoal. If they attack and one of them draws blood with a hit, the entire shoal goes berserk and each piranha attacks twice per melee round (double their normal attack rate). Up to 20 piranhas can attack a single man-sized individual simultaneously.

Habitat/Society: Piranhas live in tropical environments. They are more abundant in large river systems. They are merciless predators and aggressive even out of water (though, like most fish, they suffocate in a matter of minutes without water). Like sharks, piranhas are attracted to the scent of blood, and blood in the water quickly drives them into a feeding frenzy.

Ecology: Piranhas are meat-eaters; their usual diet is fish, but they will eat any animal that enters their territory. They have no natural enemies. Their cutting teeth, like those of sharks, gull the flesh from their victim as they attack. They are capable of reproduction (which occurs year round) after only a few months of life, and their life span is about four years.

There are no common uses for piranhas, either as trade goods or magical components. Primitive tribes might use piranha teeth as a decoration. Piranhas are occasionally sought after by evil wizards and lords, who use them to populate their moats.


Quippers are fresh water piranhas that survive in colder, temperate waters. They are identical to normal piranhas in all other respects except for reproduction: Being native to a colder climate, they produce offspring only in the spring and summer months. Quippers are sometimes found in dungeon water traps.

Giant Piranha

Giant piranhas have the same coloration as normal piranhas but much longer bodies. They are capable of reaching great speeds in the water. There is a 95% chance that at least one of them attacks any creature that swims or wades near the shoal. If they attack and one of them draws blood with a hit, the entire shoal goes berserk and each piranha attacks twice per round. Up to eight giant piranhas can attack a single man-sized individual at the same time.

Giant piranhas are sometimes called sky-eaters: once per round they can charge at full speed and leap out of the water at heights of up to ten feet; they often use this attack on water fowl that fly low over the water, but they sometimes use it against humans.

Giant piranhas are silver in color with dark bands. Compared to normal piranhas, their reproduction rate is low, but their life span is proportionately longer (8-10 years).