Monsters & Treasure
“MEN: There are several categories of men”Aside from Dragons, the description of Men here is the largest Monster Description. It includes Bandits, Berserkers, Brigands, Dervishes, Nomads, Buccaneers, Pirates, Cavemen and Mermen. Mermen? Yes…oddly enough Mermen are found here, and can apparently fight on land with but a -1 to hit penalty. Due to the nature of types of Men presented here I assume that Men do indeed fall into the ‘Bad Guys’ category on the MONSTER REFERENCE TABLE, and further are listed first because they are expected to be a fairly common opponent for the Player Characters. The fact is, there are many, many Men out there who stand in the way of the ultimate goal of wealth and power. Whether or not you use Men as the de facto opponents in your campaign is up to you, but in regard to establishing strongholds or claiming a piece of the wilderness as your own, Men might be your largest obstacle.
“GNOLLS: A cross between Gnomes and Trolls (…perhaps, Lord Sunsany did not really make it all that clear)”A typo (should read Dunsany) that was never fixed, or perhaps left in place to avoid the same issues that TSR had with the Tolkien references. Although I assume it was simply an oversight. In my own campaign, I have indeed made Gnolls a cross between Gnomes and Trolls, which led to Gnomes and Gnolls becoming something quite different than their AD&D 1e versions.
This is an example of one of the aspects of the original version of D&D which I have come to appreciate. The descriptions here are bare bones, and often nothing more than a collection of six statistics. The creative space for the referee here is tremendous, and I consider this a feature, not a flaw. Granted, once I get a hold of the Monsters here, I end up writing up paragraphs of Monster details, to the point that a reader might consider my game ‘not’ OD&D. The finished product in my games may not feel like the original version, but this is what makes it so entertaining for me. I take these raw numbers, and build from there, dreaming up versions of these Monsters unique to my world.
“TROLLS: Thin and rubbery”Trolls are an iconic Monster in AD&D 1e. One of the first examples of the possibilities of the original version of D&D which I encountered and helped me appreciate the creative opportunities I mentioned above was the excellent old school dungeon crawl made available by Jeff Rients titled Under Xylarthen’s Tower (Mr. Rients’ excellent Gameblog, along with Delta’s D&D Hotspot were the two web logs that inspired me to begin my own humble D&D blog here, back in February). If you have not read Under Xylarthen’s Tower, I encourage you to do so. Jeff home brews details for not only Trolls, but also Gnolls, Hobgoblins and Medusae within that adventure. While I cannot claim to have the creativity and economy of words that Jeff has, I do credit that module with influencing the way I read and consider the first three volumes of D&D, so Hat’s Off to Jeff.
“GIANTS: act as mobile light catapults with a 20’ range.”More wargame and CHAINMAIL carry-over here. I’m not sure whether there are examples of boulder tossing Giants in mythology or not, but it seems that this ‘accepted as the norm’ feature of Giants in all editions of D&D was there even in CHAINMAIL. I also like the passage at the end which details the types of guards Giants have in their castles; Hydras, Wolves and Bears.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee