Monster Manual

by John Holbo on March 2, 2016

I enjoyed Maria’s D&D thread. So here’s a trivia question for you. Before there was the AD&D Monster Manual, what single popular work of imaginative fantasy contained all the following fabulous creatures: hydras, furies, nighthawks, giants, goblins, ghouls, titans, magi, monks, grand turks, dragons, wizards, cyclops – not to mention kludds and kligrapps, all lurking in Dens, found spread through a number of fantastic Realms and Provinces within a single Empire that is, as it were, a reimagined, multi-leveled parallel version of our own world? Answer under the fold.

Link. It’s no wonder Trump gets a bit confused. These things get complicated. Speaking of which, we should have a Super Tuesday open thread. Discuss your favorite D&D monsters; or American politics; or both.



MisterMr 03.02.16 at 12:10 pm

“what single popular work of imaginative fantasy contained all the following fabulous creatures:”

I tought the good old “four boxes” D&D edition…


John Holbo 03.02.16 at 12:17 pm

I’m waiting for Trump to rebrand the GOP as the Chaotic Neutral Party.


John Holbo 03.02.16 at 12:20 pm

Excuse me: the party will simply be called Trump. Duh. But the hat will say: Making American Chaotic Neutral Again.


Niall McAuley 03.02.16 at 12:53 pm

Trump Donald!

That is all™


Niall McAuley 03.02.16 at 12:54 pm


oldster 03.02.16 at 1:01 pm

I assume that the Klan modeled its hierarchy and wacky nomenclature on Freemasonry, right?

Who in turn were imitating church hierarchies, plus perhaps the demonologies/angelologies of Pseudo-Dionysius and his ilk?

Thrones, dominions, principalities, powers.


JoB 03.02.16 at 1:25 pm

Only 425 Google results for “Trump and Trumper”, probably because he didn’t pick a VP yet.


Z 03.02.16 at 1:44 pm

hydras, furies, nighthawks, giants, goblins, ghouls, titans, magi, monks, grand turks, dragons, wizards, cyclops – not to mention kludds and kligrapps

All that for a bunch of self-imbued racists in hoods… People are crazier than you believe, even when you take into account the fact that people are crazier than you believe.


JoB 03.02.16 at 1:52 pm

Imagine that the “grand turk” would show up to support a Pegida demonstration in – say – Dresden, wearing a kind of white burka and all.


oldster 03.02.16 at 1:59 pm

Right, but think about the burlesque episode in Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme when the Sultan of Turkey shows up with his retinue. Fancy dress orientalism is one of the ways that we (sic) show that we’re white.


jake the antisoshul soshulist 03.02.16 at 3:13 pm

“people are crazier than you believe”. Should we call that Haldane’s Law?


Lawrence 03.02.16 at 3:23 pm

D&D is obviously inspired by Tolkien, and a desire to enter the worlds he imagined. And their’s quite a bit of material there. They fleshed it out with Greek mythology, and Norse, and Dante, and the Arthurian legends, and what they could find from the near and far East, and whatever else they could get their hands on. And just larger versions of things, like giant ants. And obviously acid trips. I’m looking at you, gelatinous cube.


Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 3:28 pm

“D&D is obviously inspired by Tolkien”

It’s an obvious influence, but there are other major influences that are more than “whatever else they could get their hands on” but aren’t as well known as Tolkien. For instance the D&D magic system is heavily influenced by Jack Vance.


Charles 03.02.16 at 3:56 pm

I can’t remember where, but I’m pretty sure Gary Gygax claimed that Fritz Lieber was a much bigger influence on D&D than Tolkien.


Z 03.02.16 at 4:21 pm

I am with Rich and Charles: Tolkien is an influence, but Howard, Leiber, Vance and the countless fantasy pulps of the time were arguably a significantly larger one. In fact, in many crucial aspects, Tolkien’s world and D&D do not mesh well at all.


Gary Othic 03.02.16 at 5:41 pm

Whereas if you take your influence from Michael Moorcock, you get Warhammer


Gary Othic 03.02.16 at 5:45 pm

@John Holbo (2)

That’s actually a fun idea; re-brand all parties according to where they fit on the alignment system. For the UK I’d have Labour as Chaotic Good, Conservatives as Lawful Evil and the Liberal Democrats as Chaotic Disappointment


Anderson 03.02.16 at 5:46 pm

14: in the reading list in the back of the 1E Dungeon Master’s Guide, & I’m pretty sure in a “From the Sorcerer’s Scroll” column in Dragon mag.

D&D is typically about going after treasure & killing what gets in the way, hence much more Leiber or Howard than LOTR. (The Hobbit fits D&D better.)


Kresling 03.02.16 at 5:58 pm

Puts the Apparatus of Kwalish in a new light.


pnee 03.02.16 at 6:20 pm

IIRC, Gygax also pointed to Poul Anderson’s Novels The Broken Sword and Three Hearts and Three Lions as significant influences also.


Rich Puchalsky 03.02.16 at 6:29 pm

“Whereas if you take your influence from Michael Moorcock, you get Warhammer”

I vaguely remember a Michael Moorcock setting RPG, one in which you were supposed to play one of the random soldiers who goes along with Elric and gets slaughtered. It had the worst jacket copy ever. Paraphrased “Will Elric beat the bad guy? Watch in terror and find out!” It could have been good if it had rules like Paranoia> or Call of Cthulhu but I doubt that it did.


js. 03.02.16 at 7:27 pm

Genuine question: If Leicester win the premier league *and* Trump wins the presidency, which’ll be the more incredible thing to have happened in 2016?


Phil Koop 03.02.16 at 7:57 pm

That’s actually a fun idea; re-brand all parties according to where they fit on the alignment system.

Sure. And then we could use the appropriate hamburger alignment iconography to represent them on the ballot: The Chaotic Neutral hamburger does have a cocked hat vaguely reminiscent of Trump’s hairpiece.


Anderson 03.02.16 at 8:48 pm

20: yeah, paladins & trolls hail from Three Hearts and Three Lions.


Gabriel 03.02.16 at 11:49 pm


Gary Othic 03.03.16 at 12:23 am

@Rich & Gabriel

I did not know that there was an Elric based role-playing game. Concept behind it sounds interesting but… probably not that fun to play.

@Phil Koop

The Chaotic Evil burger was actually quite scary


Rich Puchalsky 03.03.16 at 1:22 am

Gabriel, you’re probably right. Although I’d guess that there has been more than one Elric-based RPG, a little bit of Googling found this box copy:

“But this? What can you do against an Elemental Lord like Grome (pictured at right), who can toss huge ships, even magical ships, about like bath toys? What about Elric, the one who hired you? He’s a brooding sort, and no mean sorcerer either. He’d have your head before you could turn to face him. And his sword, Stormbringer, is supposed to hold the fate of the Young Kingdoms within its eldritch blade. Maybe they can do something about this Grome. . .”

I think this is either what I dimly remembered or something enough like it to make no real difference. What’s great about it — OK, what’s sort of memorable about it — is the element of futility. Maybe the NPC can do something about this Grome! And (given that it happens 100% of the time in the books) maybe you somehow won’t get killed in the process. Not by any of your actions, since there’s basically nothing you can do, but by blind luck maybe you won’t be crushed like a bug but will instead manage to hide and survive until the end when everyone human is destroyed by Chaos anyways.

You probably see why I thought a rule set that goes with and plays up this element might actually be a way to handle the material. But that’s been done.


John Holbo 03.03.16 at 2:43 am

Trump looks a bit like an owlbear, now that I think about it.


Snarki, child of Loki 03.03.16 at 3:00 am

Ah, “Paranoia”.

(From the wikipedia summary, to give people a hint about how it works:

The player characters frequently receive mission instructions from the Computer that are incomprehensible, self-contradictory, or obviously fatal if adhered to, and side-missions (such as Mandatory Bonus Duties) that conflict with the main mission. They are issued equipment that is uniformly dangerous, faulty or “experimental” (i.e., almost certainly dangerous and faulty). Additionally, each player character is generally an unregistered mutant and a secret society member, and has a hidden agenda separate from the group’s goals, often involving stealing from or killing teammates. Thus, missions often turn into a comedy of errors, as everyone on the team seeks to double-cross everyone else while keeping their own secrets. The game’s manual encourages suspicion between players, offering several tips on how to make the gameplay as paranoid as possible.

GOP Presidential nomination 2016 = Paranoia LARP.


nick s 03.03.16 at 4:38 am

One thing I miss about dsquared not blogging any more — Medium finance-blogging doesn’t quite count here — is his occasional series on American secret societies around 1900 or thereabouts, especially the more exotic ones.


faustusnotes 03.03.16 at 7:21 am

Debates about influences on D&D are solved by reference to Appendix N (?) which lists them all. I don’t know if the Ku Klux Klan was one of them … but Lovecraft was a big fan, wasn’t he?


Peter Erwin 03.03.16 at 7:44 pm

Appendix N of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide.


Anderson 03.03.16 at 8:44 pm

The list reminds me that The Face in the Frost is just a damn fine book, with a couple of the creepiest scenes I’ve ever read, plus much Bellairs charm.

Several centuries (or so) ago, in a country whose name doesn’t matter, there was a tall, skinny, straggly-bearded old wizard named Prospero, and not the one you are thinking of, either.


Sancho 03.04.16 at 7:36 am

If Trump isn’t a flail snail, no one is.

Sticking with the Fiend Folio, Chris Christie is clearly the forlarren:

“As soon as it has killed one character the ambivalent nature of the forlarren is revealed. It will show great remorse and will offer any survivors its services and powers. After a time the dominant evil part of the forlarren resumes control and it will leave the party it is aiding. From that time on, the forlarren will again attack on sight…”


John Holbo 03.04.16 at 7:48 am

Flail snail!


Hell-Mikey 03.04.16 at 10:01 pm

If you’re interested in a great book about the origins of D&D and other role playing games, I can’t recommend Jon Peterson’s _Playing at the World_ enough. Will settle all debates on the early influences on Arneson and Gygax


Bill Murray 03.05.16 at 4:08 am

Snarki @ 3 AM — I speak without fear of contradiction, Chrisite is clearly an IntSec drone

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