Classic Dungeons and Dragons and Old School Gaming

D&D etc.

"Heir to a crumbling summit: to a sea of nettles: to an empire of rust: to rituals' footprints ankle-deep in stone."

-Mervyn Peake

"...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped."

-Sir Bedevere in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dragons & Chimeras

Monsters Remixed continues!

I have made one more step toward this project's foolish completion.  Here is the problem I set out to solve:
The same old monsters can get boring.  And making new monsters is great, but what if your short on time?  (I have already spent more time on this "time saver" than really makes sense, so hopefully somebody besides me can use these)  The idea was to mix up some of the characteristics of the old monsters to make new ones, and to give to the players some of the sense of surprise and discovery that made these games great in the first place, but with creatures that are still based on classic monsters.
I did this remix of Slime Molds and Jellies and then I found this fantastic post at Sham's Grog and Blog.  I had thought that the order that the monsters were presented in Monsters and Treasure was just slapdash, but of course it was Gygaxian genius at work.  There is an order.  Then I started thinking that the ordering and Shams breakdown would be a great way to give this remix treatment to every single one of the monsters presented in that Original Little Brown Book.

The names that Sham came up with for the monster categories are great.  One that grabbed me was "Fairly Tale Miscellany."  So I did the Fey Beasts (Centaurs, Unicorns, Treants, Pegasi, Hippogriffs, Rocs and Griffons) and Fey Humanoids (Pixies, Nixies, Dryads, Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves) from that category.  With those two, I played more fast and loose with the creatures than I did with the slimes.  Gnomes and Dwarves might be offended that I just called them "ugly elves" but it seemed appropriate.  My goal was to evoke the fairy tale roots of those creatures and at the same time make them... you know, weird.

I started looking at the "Monsters of Myth" (Manticoras, Hydras, Chimeras, Wyverns, Dragons, Gargoyles, Lycanthropes, Purple Worms, Sea Monsters, Minotaurs)  There are some real heavy hitters here! ahem. DRAGONS.

Here is what I've come up with:

Dragons, Dragonesques & Chimera

Gargoyles I'm saving for later, and Lycanthropes will be their own thing.  Remixed here are Manticoras, Hydras, Chimeras, Wyverns, Dragons, Purple Worms, Sea Monsters,  and Minotaurs.  Actually I didn't really do anything with Sea Monsters, but neither did the original, so if you're rolling on this and your at sea then it's a sea monster.  I couldn't just throw dragons in the hopper with the rest, especially since it's already been done so well before.  Instead I went the other way and made Dragons less random and weird, more iconic.  The rest get mixed up into various Chimerae.

So this is what I have left:

Lycanthropes: I really want to remix the Werethings but no bright idea has hit me as of yet.  They need to be in there, because you can buy a silver dagger right there at the beginning of the game.
Bad Guys: Men, Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, Ogres, Trolls, Giants.
  These I will divide into two groups: Men, and the rest.  I am planning on really messing with the humanoids.
Dead Guys: Skeletons, Zombies, Ghouls, Wights, Wraiths, Mummies, Spectres, Vampires.
  Somewhere I have seen where somebody else did a random undead generator thing, which I remember thinking was pretty good, but now I can't find it.  If you know what I'm talking about please let me know who made it! 
Save or Stoned Guys: Cockatrices, Basilisks, Medusae, Gorgons.
  Gargoyles may be added back in here.
The Otherworldly: Invisible Stalkers, Elementals, Djinn, Efreet.
  These will be fun.
Monsters Mundane: Horses, Mules, Small Insects and Animals, Large Insects and Animals.
  These are so boring!  I have some ideas on how to make these interesting but if it doesn't coalesce I'll just skip em.

At the end of the monster descriptions there is this kooky and rambling listing for Other Monsters: 
Titans & Cyclops:  If I break out the Giants from the Humanoids these might get included.
Juggernauts & Living Statues: These might get a remix, especially if the Gargoyles don't fit with the Save or Stoned guys (and gals)
Salamanders: These are definitely going in with the Otherworldlies.
Gelatinous Cubes: represented in Slimes, Molds and Jellies!
Robots, Golems, Androids: Surely there is a random robot generator out there?  Golems would go great with the Living Statues.

I have no idea when I'll get to these.  I feel like I ought to be doing something more directly useful in a game, like developing one of the campaign worlds I have knocking around in my head.  We'll see!


  1. Thanks! That's my favorite kind of random generator too, grab one of each die type and drop all at once.