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September 14, 2007 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Head Injury Theater presents: Dungeons and Dragons: Celebrating 30 Years of Very Stupid Monsters.
posted by Pope Guilty (69 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always though the picture for the Invisible Stalker was funny. It was just an empty frame.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:26 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some of those weren't that uncool -- the idea of being killed by something absurd can be amazingly creepy.

OTOH, in most of those cases he does have a point. I had a friend in school who would get pissed off every time I scoffed at gelatinous cubes.
posted by Foosnark at 7:38 AM on September 14, 2007


The gelatinous cube was such an obvious product of game mechanics- it's 10'x10'x10', which is exactly the classic size for a single unit of dungeon.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:40 AM on September 14, 2007


My blade has +3 against giant beavers

Once again, Head Injury for the win.
posted by phaedon at 7:48 AM on September 14, 2007


MONKEY BEES MONKEY BEES MONKEY BEES!!!
posted by arcticwoman at 7:50 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stupidity is in the eye of The Beholder.
posted by sourwookie at 7:51 AM on September 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


/me equips +5 Helm of Defense Against D&D nerds
posted by DU at 7:55 AM on September 14, 2007


Stupidity is in the eye of The Beholder.

No way! Eye of the Beholder was awesome!
posted by uncleozzy at 7:55 AM on September 14, 2007


The furry gay pride mascot is clearly the best.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:57 AM on September 14, 2007


This guy needs a copy of the original Fiend Folio. I'd say about 2/3 of the monsters in there were completely absurd.. I don't remember the names of any of them, but there was an armadillo thing with a ruby on its head, and a Pillsbury dough boy looking guy. Man, I need to dig up my copy now.

btw, i think the panty monsters are actually pretty cool.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:01 AM on September 14, 2007


Just stop for a minute and try to imagine the Darwinian pressures that would force some of these to evolve.
posted by sourwookie at 8:02 AM on September 14, 2007 [9 favorites]


This article could have been cool, but it's not. D&D players will have already done all the obvious piss-taking in the article, and, like he says, why should anyone else care? Book of Ratings had this first and funnier here, here and here. Also character classes, and magical artefacts. Sure most of you have seen these, but there they are for anyone that hasn't.
posted by howfar at 8:04 AM on September 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


What, no Shriekers?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:07 AM on September 14, 2007


Those are excellent, howfar, and as a bonus the pages actually load before the next edition of D&D comes out.
posted by exogenous at 8:14 AM on September 14, 2007


Yes the FF sure was retarded. When I played this, we were very liberal in looking at these monsters strictly as guidelines - there are many of them that I never saw fit to deploy, because they insulted my taste, decency, and fairness. I mean, owlbears? The funny thing about owlbears is that World of Warcraft has ported the owlbear concept over. They are not scary there either; I figured they were sort of a nerdy in-joke which I unfortunately got.
posted by Mister_A at 8:16 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


*mails howfar his check*
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:19 AM on September 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


Stupidity is in the eye of The Beholder.

I always hated Beholders because it really seemed to me that the game designers had made them up, thought they were stupendously cool, and then went to great lengths to make sure that their really cool creation was the most outrageously badass threat in the land. Beholders were the Poochie of the beastiary.
posted by COBRA! at 8:20 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


From howfar's first link, this Gelatinous Cube comment is great:

Plus it conveniently fails to either digest or excrete metal, giving an adventurers a reason to kill it and scoop coins from its corpse. It's like some sort of living, deadly, mall fountain.
posted by NationalKato at 8:30 AM on September 14, 2007


I always liked Beholders. I always liked Owlbears. you make me sad.

But I readily admit I preferred campaigns to stick to the bog standard Tolkien-esque range of creatures, with the odd fir-bolg or something thrown in.

We tended to argue a lot over this sort of shit back in 1984, killing the game dead for the rest of the afternoon when it happened. That was a big weakness with these monsters. That's when I switched from classic D&D to Warhammer tabletop battles. Then not long after, I discovered pussy, and to this day my 100-strong battalion of Dwarves are still only half painted.

I still have some classic era citadel figs stashed away somewhere - including an original issue Balrog - maybe I can sell 'em on Ebay
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:34 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: what could be more frightening than a giant hamster?
posted by wfrgms at 8:36 AM on September 14, 2007


When I saw this, first thing that came to mind was this (Youtube video)
posted by champthom at 8:40 AM on September 14, 2007


I tried to play DnD when I was a kid, and I really wanted to like it. But i didn't understand how the game was supposed to be played, nor did I feel like reading the Code of Federal RegulationsDungeon Masters Guide. So I have a question: how is anything that happens in an adventure supposed to be permanent. If a Rust Monster melts my sword, was I supposed to erase it from my paper items list? Really? How would anyone know or keep track of that?

Perhaps my inability to understand this game stems from my thinking for decades that the term for it was roll-playing game as in "roll the dice to do anything", instead of "role" playing, as in you play the role of the guy.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:49 AM on September 14, 2007


What are these wandering monsters doing anyway? "Wandering" sounds a bit like homeless to me. Basically theseD&D adventures are killing of the dispossed, vulnerable and most likely mentally ill creatures of fantasy land.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on September 14, 2007 [8 favorites]


Players of Neverwinter Nights get to see these silly creations in action - and some aint so silly when they be eating you.

There is a great cutscene in Hordes of the Underdark where this palpitating Gelatinous Cube sneaks up and absorbs a drow, leaving behind a skeleton. Personally I was cheering, because I actually got to see a GC for the first time.

I couldnt find a good link to that scene, but here's a short segment filmed at some preview show in South Korea. Poor visuals but you get the idea.
posted by elendil71 at 9:00 AM on September 14, 2007


But I readily admit I preferred campaigns to stick to the bog standard Tolkien-esque range of creatures, with the odd fir-bolg or something thrown in.

Pah. Tolkiens a bit of a johnny-come-lately on the fantasy scene, who rendered everything rather boring in the 50s with limited monster set. Before that were people like Clark Ashton Smith, who were all about your mad wizards creating things like Owlbears and such. The cool stuff in D&D owes much more to him (and imitators such as Jack Vance) than stuffy old Tolkien.
posted by Artw at 9:08 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


These are the kinds of creatures that scare you to death when, after eating too much bacon, you fall asleep and have weird nightmares where they are attacking you with their owl beaks and bear claws. In the light of day, though, when you are trying to explain your terrifying dream to your friends, you realize just how absurd it all sounds:

"And I was running as fast as I could but I couldn't escape the HUGE platypus, it just kept coming and coming at me, waving its flippers and quacking..."
posted by misha at 9:29 AM on September 14, 2007 [4 favorites]


Before that were people like Clark Ashton Smith

...and Art wins the thread.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:35 AM on September 14, 2007


Metafilter: what could be more frightening than a giant hamster?

Giant hampsters, that's what. Hordes of them, dancing demonically.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:35 AM on September 14, 2007


Pastabagel: I'm not sure I understand the question, but here goes.

D&D is played with one sort of referee/narrator person, cloyingly called the Dungeon Master, along with somewhere around four other people, each of whom plays a character.

If your character's sword gets rusted away, you erase it from your character sheet (or cross it off, or just say "Okay, I don't have a sword right now, but I'm going to buy one when we get back into town, so I'm not going to erase it.")

The other players, including the Dungeon Master, know because they just played the battle with the rust monster with you. They'll keep track of it in the sense that if you meet another monster and say "I hit it with my sword," someone will say "Dude, you lost your sword, remember?"

There are actually a lot more fiddly bits to keep track of than your sword, including stuff like your hit points, your ability scores, how many spells you've cast (if you're a spellcaster), how many arrows you've shot (if you're an arrower), and suchforth. My friends and I sometimes refer to it as "Double-Entry Dwarfkeeping."

In most cases you could probably cheat and "forget" to knock off a hit point here and there, and the thing that prevents that is the same thing that presumably keeps you from stealing money from the bank in Monopoly: you're a bunch of friends playing a game and it's not that big a deal.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:35 AM on September 14, 2007 [6 favorites]


I tried to play DnD when I was a kid, and I really wanted to like it. But i didn't understand how the game was supposed to be played, nor did I feel like reading the Dungeon Masters Guide. So I have a question: how is anything that happens in an adventure supposed to be permanent. If a Rust Monster melts my sword, was I supposed to erase it from my paper items list? Really? How would anyone know or keep track of that?

Yes, you erase it, and you track it on your character sheet. Half the joy of the game is digging up old character sheets that have been buried in various boxes or tucked into old books and remembering the adventures that the character had.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:37 AM on September 14, 2007


MeFite posts! Server tanks!
posted by sidereal at 9:59 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seeing a :emote: comment in an otherwise funny article is like opening up your hymnal to find a giant pop-up wang.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:01 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


you say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by aramaic at 10:08 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stupid Unitarians.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:09 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd really like to see a Biclops fight an Owlbear. That's 4d6 pounds of sexy right there.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:09 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I think think the Raggamoffyn is pretty gear, actually.
posted by poweredbybeard at 10:23 AM on September 14, 2007


Before that were people like Clark Ashton Smith
... and creepy-crawlies like this.
posted by kurumi at 10:24 AM on September 14, 2007


Heh... He's got a point about a lot of them. But I kind of rolled my eyes at this:

The worst part about these is that they're not original at all. If you've ever read Stephen King's The Shining, you now the idea of man-eating topiary bushes has been around for more than 30 years. That doesn't make them any less hilarious, though.

A fantasy creature that isn't wholly original? You're kidding me!
posted by the other side at 10:24 AM on September 14, 2007


I always thought gelatinous cubes were pretty cool.

(Wasn't there a YA SF book with somewhat similar giant gelatinous blobs that would slowly digest people? Maybe something by John Christopher?)
posted by hattifattener at 10:25 AM on September 14, 2007


Maybe a gelatinous cube is actually just a gelatinous blob, but since it spends all its time in 10 x 10 corridors it is molded into a cubic shape. Ya ever think about that, smart guy? Huh, HUH!?!
posted by moonbiter at 10:27 AM on September 14, 2007


Tolkiens a bit of a johnny-come-lately on the fantasy scene

Quite true, but then he wasnt trying to emulate the pulp-style fiction of fantasy authors that came before.

However, in the back of the old Dungeon Master Guide is a long list of the creators inspirations for the game (yes I dusted off my old copy), and Tolkien is only one of like thirty (including specific novels, stories and series). Folks like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Howard, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny had a far greater impact than Tolkien to Gygax and Co. Clark Ashton Smith isnt actually on the list btw, but he certainly wrote in the same genre.
posted by elendil71 at 10:29 AM on September 14, 2007



Maybe a gelatinous cube is actually just a gelatinous blob, but since it spends all its time in 10 x 10 corridors it is molded into a cubic shape. Ya ever think about that, smart guy?


The really clever giants would have giant gelatinous molds. Sometimes they would make cubes, sometimes they would make fish, and sometimes they would adds bits of pineapple and cherry's and then shape it like a cake.
posted by drezdn at 10:36 AM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


cherrys damnit!
posted by drezdn at 10:37 AM on September 14, 2007


It's cherries, but thanks for coming out.
posted by blacklite at 10:48 AM on September 14, 2007


D&D players will have already done all the obvious piss-taking in the article, and, like he says, why should anyone else care?

There are those of us who played D&D casually, enough to know most of these ridiculous monsters but not hardcore enough to go all META on them. I only played for a few years so some of these (Senmurvs!) are new to me.

I haven't thought of Stun Jelly in 25 years. Hilarious.

... or even cherries. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:48 AM on September 14, 2007


When I read Jack Vances Tales Of The Dying Earth a while back I was very suprised to see more or less the exact system of magic that D and D uses, which Gygax aparently nicked. I would have thought it was a total product of game mechanics, because TBH the idea that you'd forget spells as soon as you used them always seemd dumb to me, but actually it;s straight from a book.
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on September 14, 2007


Embarrasing admission: I was digging through a box in my basement the other day and came across my Monster Manual, I actually sat down and thumbed through it and had a little memory moment from my innocent childhood days. It was kinda nice.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:46 AM on September 14, 2007


Oh christ, white text on black background: My eyes feel like they're bleeding after a paragraph.

Nice story though. If you want to see some really silly monsters, check out the monster manuals (Hacklopedia of Beasts vol. 1-8 or something) for Kenzerco's Hackmaster.
The game is AD&D based (they got a license from WotC in a legal settlement) and brings back all the epic fun of the original game with plenty of silly monsters. The Cantankerous Babbler comes to mind -- essentially a crazy old man that follows you around a dungeon, criticizing how you fight and trying to give you guidance. He never leaves you alone, and the longer he's with you, the more honor your party loses (HM has an honor tracking system). The kicker? If you kill him, you're cursed. Our party got lucky and just knocked him out :)
posted by p3on at 11:48 AM on September 14, 2007


L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg writes "In most cases you could probably cheat and 'forget' to knock off a hit point here and there, and the thing that prevents that is the same thing that presumably keeps you from stealing money from the bank in Monopoly: you're a bunch of friends playing a game and it's not that big a deal."

When I DMed (pastabagel: that means "dungeon mastered"), I just got a copy of everyone's character sheets at the start of the game. It wasn't that I didn't trust them, it was just easier for me to have it all there in front of my eyes. So, yeah, people couldn't just "forget" that they lost a sword.

Plus, I mean: it's a sword. It's a pretty big deal. It's your base source of income and self-defense. Forgetting in a combat-based game that someone lost their sword is like forgetting in a tear-jerker that the main character's wife is dead.
posted by Bugbread at 11:53 AM on September 14, 2007


I don't have any of the books in front of me but I recall reading an explanation for the Gelatinous Cube that's fairly sensible: Mad evil sorcerors created them to keep their dungeon corridors clear of litter, vermin, and the corpses of intruders and minions. They were specifically designed to fit the corridors of the dungeon they inhabited, and failed to digest metal and magical items specifically so the wizard that owned the joint could recover the valuables later.

The fact that wandering adventurers could also recover this treasure by killing the Cube was an unintended side effect.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:56 AM on September 14, 2007


Oh you laugh now, but just wait till the duckbunny is munching on your entrails.

Then who will be laughing? Huh?

That's right, everyone.

Because you got killed by a fucking duckbunny.
posted by quin at 12:12 PM on September 14, 2007 [9 favorites]


Nice story though. If you want to see some really silly monsters, check out the monster manuals (Hacklopedia of Beasts vol. 1-8 or something) for Kenzerco's Hackmaster.
The game is AD&D based (they got a license from WotC in a legal settlement)


Legal settlement? They asked nicely for a license, and WotC said "Here, sign this."
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:14 PM on September 14, 2007


EQ ported a LOT of these over (no big surprise there). That stupid Owlbear in wherever got me all the time.

The strange thing is that I never played D&D; well, not that strange, girls generally didn't. But I knew nothing about it, and got into EQ having not one fucking clue what hit points were, why we had to roll on stuff, anything.

So, I hadn't seen this (or the Book of Ratings) and found them all pretty interesting, from a different if related point of view.

My point? Don't have one. Business as usual.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:42 PM on September 14, 2007


I am quite sad that in all my years of AD&D playing, I never got to encounter a sheep-in-wolf's-clothing or Monkey bees.
posted by tehloki at 1:37 PM on September 14, 2007


The lame thing about this was looking for every detail, losing time to check every piece of furniture. Everything could be a monster in D&D: I remember magic statues, chandeliers, killer vine, plus every sort of mushroom (eating mushrooms, shrieking mushrooms, moving mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, etc). If the Master was a dick or had a bad day (or both)..

Good thing most of the time I was the Master, however, and a good one: killing players is fun, but creating lame excuses for introducing new adventurers in the middle of the campaign is not.
posted by darkripper at 1:46 PM on September 14, 2007


Artw: Yes, they even refer to it as "vancian magic" when they discuss the mechanics. As in "In 4.0 edition D&D, we are all but doing away with vancian magic."
posted by absalom at 2:09 PM on September 14, 2007


And I don't remember many deaths in AD&D. Call of Cthulhu? That was a KILLFEST!
posted by darkripper at 2:10 PM on September 14, 2007


I am quite sad that in all my years of AD&D playing, I never got to encounter a sheep-in-wolf's-clothing

If memory serves me... there was one in that crashed-space-ship module, S3. Or something similar.
posted by GuyZero at 2:44 PM on September 14, 2007


ADVANCED D&D LARGE PRINT EDITION
BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MAKERS OF GERITOL
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2007


Me, grizzled old player (at 14 or so): My thief will listen at the door
Neophyte DM: You hear 'hooooo! hooooo!'
Me: Owlbear, let's leave it.
DM: What! That's not fair!

Of course I'd practically memorised the Monster Manual by that point. Happy days.

And BigLankyBastard I'm sure you were right.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:55 PM on September 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


If memory serves me... there was one in that crashed-space-ship module, S3. Or something similar.

You are correct GuyZero, that is the mod in question. Had some other great monsters too; the frogemoth, vegepygmies, and the dreaded fumerous gas-bats. Not to mention hot, psychopathic android babes. That mod had everything! With lasers!
posted by elendil71 at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2007


And where the hell are Piercers...? Even as a kid we though animated stalactites where a little bit silly.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2007


Umber Hulk PINCE! Pince, pince pince!
posted by steef at 5:03 PM on September 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


sourwookie writes "Just stop for a minute and try to imagine the Darwinian pressures that would force some of these to evolve."

That's what I did!
posted by orthogonality at 6:38 PM on September 14, 2007


A lot of the wachy creatures are the result of gods or magic users messing with nature, evolution had little to do with it.
posted by Mitheral at 10:25 PM on September 14, 2007


I wrote up rules, sometime in the late nineties, for pulling that sort of magical genetic engineering. I wish I hadn't lost them, I still think they were good.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:45 AM on September 15, 2007


evolution had little to do with it.

So Jack Chick was wrong... it was all anti-Darwin propaganda!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:05 AM on September 15, 2007


damn fine link, i had a great time reading the rest of the site too, particularly the marvel alphabet of shame.
posted by sleep_walker at 12:25 PM on September 15, 2007


Cube!
posted by ooga_booga at 4:49 PM on September 15, 2007


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