Monday, February 06, 2012

AD&D Monster Manual Part 37

Pegasus: The pegasus first appeared in OD&D Vol. 2.  Its Number Appearing range has decreased from 1-12 to 1-10.  Its Hit Dice has increased from 2+2 to 4.  In addition to the two hoof attacks that it previously had, it now gets a bite attack as well (seems a little undignified for such a noble beast).  Their alignment has made the shift from Lawful to Chaotic Good.  There’s little information that is new, but Gary doesn’t disappoint me: he has once again provided the monetary value for their young and eggs.  And yes, I am very weirded out by the knowledge that pegasi lay eggs.  Owlbears sort of made sense, being half bird, but I don’t know where this is coming from for the pegasus. 

Peryton: This is the first appearance of perytons in the game, a personal favourite of mine.  They look like a giant bird with a stag’s head, and don’t really have any special abilities to speak of.  They get a +2 to hit on every attack, which I suppose is a way to make them deadlier without increasing their hit points.  And they can only be hit by magical weapons.  But most of all they just look awesome, and that’s a major factor in the popularity of D&D monsters.  They also have some of the best fluff.  They’re said to probably be the result of the same experimentation that created the owlbear, but that’s not the best part.  They tear out the hearts of their victims, and somehow use them to reproduce, but even that’s not the best part.  The best part is that their shadows look inexplicably like a human’s shadow.  I was surprised to see that this isn’t in the description.  It’s just there in the illustration, and now I’m wondering if it was even intentional.  The shadow sort of matches the peryton in the picture, and it also happens to look like a dude.  I think I prefer the idea that it was a happy accident that later designers incorporated to make the peryton more intriguing.

Piercer: Piercers first appeared in The Strategic Review #3.  They have changed very little from the monster as presented there, with the only statistical difference being an increase in Number Appearing from 2-12 to 3-18.  They also now have a 95% chance to gain surprise, whereas before it was left up to the DM.  Call me old-fashioned, but I love piercers.  They’re the sort of thing that could only have originated from D&D.

Giant Pike: As far as I can tell, the only mention of pike is in the entry for nixies in D&D Vol. 2.  (Yes, pikes are mentioned a shitload in Chainmail, but those are polearms.  Not fish.)  And sure enough, they’re presented here as a crazy big fish often tamed by nixies.  There’s not a lot else to say here, except that they gain surprise quite easily.  That seems to be a common ability applied AD&D monsters.  I'm not really sure how that affects them in play, because I have never used the AD&D surprise rules.

Pixie: Pixies first appeared in D&D Vol. 2.  Their Number Appearing has greatly reduced, from 10-100 to 5-20.  Armor Class has been improved from 6 to 5.  They’re now slower, with a Movement reduced from 9/18 to 6/12.  Their Hit Dice have also reduced, from 1 to ½.  Not only have they received a hefty statistical overhaul, but they’ve gained a lot of special abilities as well.  Their bows can now put the target to sleep, or cause memory loss that can only be restored with an exorcism spell.  They can also polymorph, create illusions, know alignment, dispel magic, cast dancing lights, use ESP, and cause permanent confusion with a touch.  1-in-10 of them can also cast Otto’s irresistible dance.  It’s a big step up for a monster whose sole previous ability was permanent invisibility.  (Don’t worry, they still get that as well.)  The OD&D pixies were probably youngsters, more physically potent but less capable magically.


Anonymous said...

Perytons are (maybe) mythological creatures... from a book of mythological creatures that Gygax got a lot of monsters from called The Book of Imaginary Beings (Manual De Zoologia Fantastica). In Borges' book he describes it as having the shadow of a man.

They used to have an online version, but it's gone now.

Nathan P. Mahney said...

Aha, thanks for that. I really do need to track down a copy of that book.