Baboons: Believe it or not, baboons originally showed up in the updated Wilderness Encounter tables from Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry. Their stats are given here for the first time, but they are more likely to flee than fight.
Despite a general lack of use in most games, I am completely in favour of regular animals getting stats in the Monster Manual. Fantastic monsters are all well and good, but real world animals give us something to compare them to, and also provide a baseline of normalcy for the campaign world that I think is really important. If everything is fantastic and extraordinary, then nothing is fantastic and extraordinary. Not to mention that the pulp fantasy and mythology that D&D draws on is full of instances of heroes battling regular animals. Hercules wrestled a lion. Conan bit off a vulture’s head. The game needs this stuff, and I was massively disappointed that it was taken out in 3e. Luckily for me there’s a ton of it in the AD&D Monster Manual. Much of it, like the baboon, won’t come up in play very often. But it’s important nonetheless.
Badgers: Speaking of which, badgers are actually pretty hard, with a low AC and multiple attacks. You do not want to engage one with a 1st level PC. I’m not sure if they have appeared in a previous OD&D book, but it doesn’t look like it. There’s also a giant variety that has 3 hit dice and deals more damage. A D&D staple rears its head, as you can sell their pelts for 10-30 gp.
Baluchitherium: It’s another new monster drawn from prehistory. These guys are prehistoric rhinos, with a tendency to trample anything nearby. They also have a metric shit-ton of hit points and deal a lot of damage. And they carry no treasure, so I’d advise just getting out of their way.
The name presents a problem, in that it really doesn’t ring true for the flavour of D&D. A lot of the Latin-based names just don’t sound right. In previous posts I have posited the existence of an ancient language in my campaign world that was used to classify various types of monsters – it’s where the term Draco Conflagratio for the red dragon comes from. So I guess they did the same for the dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts that still exist in various remote pockets. The Latin is not their literal tongue, but simply a representation of it. Even with this explanation, I feel like I should come up with a more authentic-sounding name for these guys. Nothing springs to mind just now, though.
Barracuda: Wow, I never realised how much of this book is real-world animals. This looks like another new monster to me. They’re aggressive saltwater fish that attack the injured, the helpless, and the very small (i.e. hobbits). And look out, because that bite is as effective as a longsword.
Basilisk: This monster, which first appeared in OD&D, is basically the same: a lizard with a gaze that turns its victim to stone. A lot of cosmetic details are filled out here – it has eight legs, moves slowly due to a slow metabolism, have dull brown skin with yellowish underbellies, and glowing green eyes. There is one major change, in that it no longer turns people to stone with its touch. But it does still have the awesome ability to see into the astral and ethereal planes, and turn people in the latter plane into ethereal stone. So rad. Oh, and the number encountered has dropped from 1-6 to 1-4.
Bear: Cave bears first appeared in the OD&D Wilderness Encounter tables, and regular bears were in the updated charts from Supplement II. There are three types of bears given stats here: black, brown and cave bears. Black bears are non-aggressive herbivores, while the other two types are highly aggressive. All three types can hug for extra damage if their attack roll is high enough. Brown and cave bears keep fighting for a few rounds even after their hit points go below 0.
Beaver, Giant: This monster comes to you courtesy of Supplement II. The Preface has already stated that Gary edited the hell out of the monsters from that book, so I’m interested to see how different this one is. To start with, their AC has worsened from 5 to 6. A swimming speed of 12” has been added. % in Lair has dropped from 85% to 80%. Treasure Type has changed from D to C. They now attack with 1 bite, instead of 2 claws and 1 bite. That bite damage has lessened from 4-24 to 4-16.
The intelligence of the giant beaver is listed as Low to Average, which makes them about as smart as a person. This jibes well with their previously established tendency to build dams in exchange for gold and exotic bark.
We’d been told previously that beaver fur was valuable, and that their young could be sold at market. Ever the entrepreneur, Gary provides price ranges.
Beetle, Giant: Six varieties are detailed here: bombardier, boring, fire, rhinoceros, stag, and water. The first five had been detailed in Supplement II, while the Water Beetle seems to be new. The Number Appearing for the Boring Beetle has changed from 2-12 to 3-18. The Fire Beetle now moves at 12” instead of 9”. The Bombardier Beetle has 2+2 hit dice instead of 1. The Fire Beetle has 1+2 hit dice instead of 1-1. The Stag Beetle has 7 hit dice instead of 6. The Boring Beetle now has a % in Lair of 40% instead of 50%, and its Treasure Type has changed from A to C, R, S, and T. All of the beetles have had their damage range tweaked slightly. The only major change comes from the Fire Beetle, who has dropped from a massive 3-24 down to a reasonable 2-8.
Bombardier Beetles now have a concrete range and area of effect for their vapour cloud. It causes damage now, which it didn’t before, and it has a better chance to stun opponents, but it can’t be used as often as it could previously.
Boring Beetles still cultivate molds, slimes and fungi as food, but it seems now that these are just the regular varieties. In Supplement II they were specifically said to do so with things like Yellow Mold and the various monstrous slimes and jellies. It made for a more interesting monster in my opinion, and it’s not exactly ruled out here. So I’m going to leave it in, because it’s cool.
It is now specifically stated that the glowing spots on Fire Beetles can be cut out, and will continue to glow for 1-6 days with a 10’ radius. Previously there had been no mention of this, and presumably adventurers were expected to herd these things like mobile light sources. That seemed like more trouble than it’s worth, so I approve of this clarification.
Water beetles are voracious, and attack just about anything nearby. There’s not much else to them, besides the aquatic aspect.