Tuesday, March 26, 2013

AD&D Monster Manual Part 43


Salamanders were first rumoured to exist in OD&D Vol. 2, and made their first actual appearance in Supplement I: Greyhawk.  They were originally described as a type of 'free-willed fire elemental', and here it is confirmed that they originate from the Elemental Plane of Fire.  Their offensive capabilities are much the same, but they have gained a bunch of new defenses: they are now immune to all but magical weapons, and cannot be affected by sleep, charm or hold spells. Cold-based attacks do a little more damage to them now.  But basically they are the same monster with some minor cosmetic changes.

Stat Changes:

Hit Dice: Old - 7+3; New - 7+7
Tail Damage: Old - 2-16; New - 2-12


For such a classic mythological creature, satyrs have been mentioned little in D&D before this.  They show up in the Wilderness Encounter tables in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry, and a more powerful version of them appears in Supplement IV: Gods, Demigods and Heroes.  The info in Supplement IV is sparse, and bears little resemblance to what's shown here, so I'm not going to try and connect the two (or perhaps I can keep that version as a mythological demi-god, or extra-planar satyr).  Satyrs appear as dudes with goat-legs, and they spend all of their time frolicking or 'chasing wood-nymphs'.  They don't like being disturbed, but they can be bribed with superior wine.  If they do get hostile, one of them will usually play its magic pipes, which can charm, cause sleep, or instill fear.  Unsurprisingly, if their are comely females in the group, the satyrs try to charm them.  The fey-folk are pretty much all creepy rapists.


Giant scorpions first appeared in the random dungeon encounter tables in OD&D Vol. 3, then they showed up in Supplement I: Greyhawk on the Monster Attack Damage table, and then again in the Wilderness Encounter tables in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry.  But this is the first time they get complete stats.  They're exactly what you expect: big bastards, pincers, poisonous tail.  Although this is interesting: "Note that the scorpion's poison kills it if it accidentally stings itself".  At first I wondered if this has ever happened in the entire history of D&D, but then I remembered how often in the old days people used to graft critical hit and fumble tables to the game.  Yeah, it's happened.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

AD&D Monster Manual Part 42


Rust monsters first appeared in Supplement I: Greyhawk.  Their essence remains unchanged, but a lot of detail has been added.  They are now said to dwell only in subterranean places, and have an acute sense of smell when it comes to ferrous metals.  They have also been nerfed a little bit: magical weapons now get a saving throw to avoid the rust effect.  The rust monster is also significantly faster than it used to be, making it even less likely that an armoured fighter can outrun it, but some guidelines have been added for dropping metallic items to distract them.

Also, both mithral and adamantite are said to be steel alloys.  This takes a little of their mystique away, to my mind, but there it is in the book.  I just report it as I see it.

Stat Changes:

Movement: Old - 12"; New - 18"


Sahuagin first appeared in a mammoth entry in Supplement II: Blackmoor, and much to my chagrin the Monster Manual is equally wordy on the subject.  They remain the same sadistic, predatory fish-men of the sea, but Gary has availed himself of the chance to change a lot of things about them.

Though we already knew they lived in the sea, it is revealed here that they prefer warmer waters, and that they generally stick between 100' and 1500' sea depth.  That they hate ixitchachitl (the rad manta ray vampire philosophers) is also new.  The social structure of the sahuagin is retained, with nine princes all ruled over by a king, but here we discover that this is supposed to mirror the planes of Hell, as sahuagin are devil-worshippers.

The organisation of sahuagin lairs has also been re-jigged, but the general make-up is the same.  The more sahuagin there are, the more tough fighters and clerics they have.  The only real difference is that there are no longer any sahuagin magic-users.  The clerics are all female (shades of the drow, though sahuagin predate them).  We also learn that sahuagin villages are domed, but that's par for the course for underwater villages.  Their numbers have also dropped quite a bit.  Their capital now has 5,000 residents, instead of nearly 100,000.

Previously sahuagin were mostly armed with tridents and barbed nets.  They now add spears, javelins, daggers and special underwater crossbows to their arsenal.

Their physical appearance has changed quite a bit.  A lot less detail is given in the Monster Manual than we got previously, but the main thing to note is that they no longer have tails, and they have clawed hands instead of pincers.  I can see why Gary got rid of the tail, given that it inflicted 2d6 damage (a pretty hefty amount for that stage of OD&D).  And it's probably hard to wield nets and tridents with pincer hands.

In Supplement II, sahuagin were said to have been created by evil gods when the world was flooded.  Gary has retained that idea as a possibility, adding that the gods made them out of a nation of evil humans.  It's also said that the tritons believe sahuagin are related to sea elves, and claim that the drow spawned them.  (It's another early drow sighting, before they have officially appeared anywhere).

Stat Changes:

No. Appearing: Old - 10-60; New - 20-80
Armor Class: Old - 4; New - 5
Movement: Old - 18"/30"; New - 12"/24"
Hit Dice: Old - 2; New - 2+2

So the situation we have is that sahuagin have become less numerous, slightly slower, slightly tougher, and have lost their tails and pincer-hands.  The loss of the tail helps explain the lower speed, but opens a more difficult problem, as the physical changes require a greater explanation.  I keep coming back to the idea that they were created by evil gods; after all, if that's the case there's no reason they can't be recreated.  I can even tie it into the lower population levels: after a series of disastrous wars against tritons and ixitxachitl, the sahuagin turned to their devil masters and were changed into stronger forms.  Their magic-users were offered as sacrifice, and that explains why they're all gone as well.  Voila, problems solved!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

AD&D Monster Manual Part 41

I'm back with another post, just to assure everyone that I'm not taking another year-long hiatus.  I've also changed up the format slightly, to make the statistical changes less awkward to write about.  (I may even figure out how to format it properly by the next post.)  Let's have at it!


Rocs first appeared in OD&D Vol. 2.  Superficially they are still the same monster (a Bloody Big Bird), but there are some changes that alter it in significant ways.  Probably the biggest is a change in demeanor.  The original Rocs were more likely to attack Chaotic creatures and be friendly towards Lawful types.  Now Rocs are Neutral in alignment and have an animal intelligence.  They really are just big birds now, and further away from the Tolkienesque eagles they resembled before.

OD&D also has notes about the likelihood that young Rocs will be found in a nest, but here that has been dispensed with in favour of a terse note about their nests containing the treasure of former victims.  Young Rocs were previously able to be trained, but that's also been omitted. Instead we learn that Rocs are tamed and used by giants.  Perhaps the giant thing is a recent development?  It could serve to explain the change in their nature: as the giants prey on them and train them, so they become more hostile and animalistic.

It also fits with the stat changes noted below.  The steep drop in Number Appearing indicates that they've been hunted extensively by giants.  The Hit Dice totals listed below are deceptive.  In OD&D, a 6 Hit Dice Roc was standard, but the possibility for larger types with double or triple Hit Dice was given.  In the Monster Manual, only the full 18 Hit Dice variety is listed.  Again, it indicates to me that the giants have hunted out the smaller varieties.

Stat changes:         Old:        New:
Number Appearing: 1-20        1-2
Move:                     6/48         3/30
Hit Dice:                 6              18
Damage:                 4-16/4-24 3-18/4-24


Ropers first appeared in The Strategic Review #2, and like most of the monsters Gary created for the magazines he hasn't revised it much at all.  It's still the same weird creature, with strength-draining tentacles, immunity to lightning, resistance to cold, and a weakness against fire.  And an 80% magic resistance, to top things off.  It still has a gizzard that contains treasure, but the gem count has been dropped from 20-50 to 5-20, and they've picked up a taste for platinum.  (Treasure-gizzards are awesome.)  In OD&D, characters hit by the Roper got a save vs. poison to avoid the strength drain.  In the Monster Manual, it seems that is no longer the case.  They've also lost their immunity to Charm spells.  And their alignment has changed from Chaotic to Chaotic Evil (as per Strategic Review #6).

Stat changes: None


It's the dreaded rot grub, making its first ever appearance in D&D!  They're normal-sized grubs that live in offal and dung, and are appropriately weak.  But if any character touches one, it will burrow into their flesh and kill them in 1-3 turns, unless fire or a cure disease spell are applied to the victim immediately.  Presumably this was Gary's home-grown deterrent for PCs who spend their time searching every nook and cranny of the dungeon.  Hey, you want to stick your hand in a pile of shit looking for treasure?  Good luck with that.