D&D Basic Monsters: Riding Horse

 

Hardly a monstrosity, but the trusted companion to many a hero. The horse was domesticated by humans over 5000 years ago, and during the medieval era they were one of the most important animals to humans, used for warfare, labor, leisure and warfare - a task it continued to uphold until the 19th century.

Both history, literature and myth are filled with famous horses, like Bucephalus, Alexander the Great's horse, or Rocinante - the trusty steed of Don Quixote.

It it of course no wonder the horse has been a part of D&D since the beginning - though more frequently as part of "equipment and gear" lists, than as monsters faced by adventurers.





D&D Basic Monsters: Awakened Tree

 

While Treants have been with the game from the beginning, the Awakened Tree as a distinct monster is fairly new. There have also been several opportunities for spell casters to animate trees (for instance Druids with the Liveoak-spell) these also used the stat block of the Treant.

The Ent have of course been made famous by Tolkien, but even long before that walking trees have been a part of myth and history. A famous example is of course Birnam Forest from Shakespeare's MacBeth.

In any case, visual inspiration for this specific Awakened Tree came from the "evil" tree in Walt Disney's Silly Symphony "Flowers and Trees".




D&D Basic - NPC Gallery: Elf Acolyte

 

Just like dwarves, elves were initially barred from becoming Clerics in the first edition of AD&D, where the class was originally only available to NPC elves. This changed with the Unearthed Arcana supplement, that allowed them limited advancement in the class.

 





 

D&D Basic - NPC Gallery: Dwarf Berserker


Dwarves make excellent fighters, and while a berserker might be seen as a bit primitive among other races, for dwarves they are the epitome of bravery and fighting prowess. Sometimes called battle ragers or troll slayers, this type of reckless dwarf fighter has been a staple of many a fantasy game, not just D&D.



D&D Basic - NPC Gallery: Dwarf Priest


Back in the first edition AD&D player's handbook, only NPC dwarves were allowed to be clerics. The rules were relaxed later, making it one of the few spellcasting classes available to dwarves. As NPC they can come in every guise, ranging from benevolent healers to nefarious cultists, calling upon their deity for blessings and miracles, or to cause mayhem and destruction.



Inktober Monstrosities: Z for Zorbo

At long last we reach the letter Z, and in the search for forgotten and overlooked creatures we find the
zorbo - a strange koala-like creature that can absorb protective properties from its surroundings, as well as draining protective magical items.

The zorbo first appeared in the Monster Manual II for first edition AD&D, then later in the Monstrous Compendium Annual volume two...

... and that was it I thought, only to find out that it actually appeared in the Tomb of Annihilation adventure for fifth edition, which strictly speaking means it's disqualified for this list (the locathah appeared in Secrets of Saltmarsh AFTER it appeared here), so maybe it'll be replaced later... we'll have to see.





Inktober Monstrosities: Y for Yugoloth, Guardian

Guardian Daemons or Yugoloth are extra planar beings summoned to protect (or guard if you will) items or places. They come in three different sizes, tall, venti and grande... eh...that is... least, lesser and greater, sharing many traits, though unlike the greater, which always appears as a large, horned and winged bear, with eagle talons for feet and claws, the two lesser variants are not as defined in shape or size.

A bit of a cheat this one, since these monstrosities were originally called Guardian Daemons when they first appeared in the  Fiend Folio for first edition AD&D and the Monstrous compendium volume two, for second edition. Only when reappearing in the second edition Monstrous Manual., were they defined as yugoloth, but with so few good monsters on y I'll grasp at any straw.




The DC for the save against the breath weapon should of course be 15, NOT 115(!).


Inktober Monstrosities: X for Xill

The xill are a race of cruel and strange, four armed, flame red alien creatures, native to the Ethereal Plane, that travel to the Material Plane to hunt for potential hosts for their eggs, usually in the form of adventurers. Sometimes they also hire out their expertise as mercenaries and men-at-arms, probably requiring double pay due to their extra set of arms.

In D&D the xill first appeared in the Fiend Folio for first edition AD&D and then in the Monstrous compendium, Fiend Folio appendix, for second edition. In third edition they got prime billing, appearing in the original Monster Manual.