Monsters & Treasure
“MONSTER REFERENCE TABLE, HOSTILE & BENIGN CREATURES:”Pages 3 and 4 offer up the comprehensive original D&D Monster Table. One of the things I’ve always liked about this original edition of D&D is the raw statistical presentation of the Monsters. There are but seven columns on this reference table, and one is of course the Monster Type (name). In regard to the columns, I really only make use of three of the six columns for each type of Monster; Armor Class, Move in Inches, and Hit Dice. I give very little consideration to Number Appearing, % in Lair and Type or Amount of Treasure, and I doubt I’m in the minority there as I pick and choose encounters and treasure for the most part. Those times I do use random tables for stocking dungeons, I rely on a version of the Volume 3 guidelines, but more on that in an upcoming post in this series.
The grouping of the Monsters is telling, as it is not alphabetical, nor by power, but by loose categories. Of interest to me is the placement of Men at the top. Men, being one of the two Monsters in D&D that might be Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic are somewhat unique, while the rest of the Bad Guys below them are primarily Chaotic, per Volume 1, p. 9. I’ll classify them with the Bad Guys for now, keeping in mind that many of them are not always Chaotic.
The Monster Categories:
Bad Guys: Men, Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins, Gnolls, Ogres, Trolls, Giants.
Dead Guys: Skeletons, Zombies, Ghouls, Wights, Wraiths, Mummies, Spectres, Vampires.
Save or Stoned Guys: Cockatrices, Basilisks, Medusae, Gorgons.
Monsters of Myth: Manticoras, Hydras, Chimeras, Wyverns, Dragons, Gargoyles, Lycanthropes, Purple Worms, Sea Monsters, Minotaurs.
Fairy Tale Miscellany: Centaurs, Unicorns, Nixies, Pixies, Dryads, Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves, Treants, Pegasi, Hippogriffs, Rocs, Griffons.
The Otherworldly: Invisible Stalkers, Elementals, Djinn, Efreet.
Icky-Stuff: Ochre Jelly, Black Pudding, Green Slime, Gray Ooze, Yellow Mold.
Monsters Mundane: Horses, Mules, Small Insects and Animals, Large Insects and Animals.
The Save or Stoned Guys are technically Monsters of Myth, but are in a subcategory based on their special power. I’m not sure whether Purple Worms are truly Monsters of Myth, but with Minotaurs as one of that category’s bookends, I’ll make that assumption.
Clearly, Treants are a Tolkienism, but again they are book ended by various Fairy Tale Miscellany entries, some of which are Monsters of Myth as well, but are differentiated from that category by a certain Lawfulness.
My point? None to be made, other than that there is a method to the seemingly hodge-podge feel of the table. The MONSTER REFERENCE TABLE is presented in the order you see above; all I have done is insert the categories.
Special Ability: “…it is generally true that any monster or man can see in total darkness as far as the dungeons are concerned except for player characters.”A fine example of the wargamer mentality of early D&D. Realism is not the intent here. Placing obstacles and challenges before the players is the ultimate goal.
Attack/Defense: “…simply a matter of allowing one roll as a man-type for every hit die…a Troll would attack six times…”Just to point out the obvious, the above only applies to those using the CHAINMAIL combat rules. As noted previously, I use the Alternative Combat System from Men & Magic, so this passage does not apply to my games.
I'll move on to Monster Descriptions next.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee