D&D Basic Monsters: Giant Goat

The Giant Goat might have a relatively anonymous place in the history of D&D, but it actually featured in the original Monster Manual from 1977, smack between the Gnome and the Goblin.

Unlike most other giant animals, the Giant Goat doesn't really have any real-life, giant sized, prehistoric counterpart, being a relatively recent species.

Goats were probably one of the earliest types of animals domesticated by humans, and goat-like features, such as hooves, the goatee beard and horns, are common aspects of many mythical creatures, such as the satyrs and many depictions of devils, or even Satan himself. 

Other mythical goats include Tanngrisir and Tanngnjostr, the two giant goats that pulled the chariot of the Norse god Thor across the skies.

Finally, the largest goat of the Three Billy Goats Gruff could probably be said to be a Giant Goat, though purely game stat wise, despite its size, the Giant Goat would probably not stand much of a chance against a Troll in combat

D&D Basic - NPC Gallery: Knight

Knights are warriors, usually belonging to the lower class of nobility, often defined by their prowess in mounted combat and superior equipment.

Medieval tales of chivalry, like those of ElCid, Roland and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table have greatly influenced modern fantasy writing, and naturally also fantasy role playing games, like D&D.

D&D Basic Monsters: Swarm of Insects

Ants, earwigs, centipedes, millipedes, bedbugs, carpet beetles, spider beetles, pillbugs, silverfish and cockroaches are just some of the critters you might find in one of these, and they're sure to gross quite a few players out.

Swarms weren't really a thing in D&D before 3rd edition, however, since then they've been a constant danger to player characters everywhere, specially those without large area effects or spells.

D&D Basic Monsters: Ogre

An all time favourite D&D monster,the ogre fits the bill perfectly as boss monster for low lever adventurers, and rank and file heavies for higher level heroes. They also have a prominent position in myths and fairy tales, where they're usually described as abnormally large and strong, with voracious appetites, usually for human flesh - preferably babies.

It's no surprise that the Ogre has been with the game since the earliest days of D&D, where it has largely been portrayed as some kind of oversized primitive cave-man, using simple weapons and wearing little in the way of armour. It even has the privilege of having given name to one of the game's most iconic magic items - the gauntlets of ogre power.

D&D Basic - NPC Gallery: Acolyte

Junior members of the clergy, these characters might be minor healers or spellcasting nuisances threatening the players - all depending on their faith. They might be zealots of some greater good or some unspeakable evil - or just religious fanatics in the service of ambivalent, indifferent neutrality.

Their spell selection can vary  depending on faith and circumstance. The standard array is largely dedicated to healing and protection, but an acolyte of a more sinister deity might swap some of their more benevolent spells with offensive spells like Command and Inflict Wounds.

D&D Basic Monsters: Giant Vulture (and Vulture)

Unlike most other monsters in the 5th edition Basic Rules, the Giant Vulture does not really have a long and proud history in the previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons.  While it is true that a giant version of the common vulture did appear in the Monster Manual II, this creature did not possess the "advanced intelligence" nor the "malevolent bent" of the modern version.

Not surprisingly, a prehistoric, real life counterpart did exist. This bird, called Argentavis magnificens was a relative to modern day "new-world vultures" (or condors), was among one of the largest flying birds ever known to exist, with a wingspan of between 5 and 6 meters (16 to 20 feet), and a height of somewhere between 1.5 and 2 meters (5 to 7 feet).

Less frightening, but still ominous, is the common vulture. These scavengers are usually harbingers of death and doom.

D&D Basic - NPC Gallery: Dwarf Guard

The standard guard, dwarf edition. With the Hill Dwarf's hit point boost and wisdom bonus, this variety makes for an even more stalwart and vigilant guard than the standard edition.

D&D Basic Monsters: Wolf

A small step back today, to the common, or grey wolf. Maybe not the most exotic of beasts, but never the less a creature that has sparked more than its share of myths, tales and folklore. Interestingly this cousin and forefather of "man's best friend", the dog, is usually seen as an enemy of man, and children are just as likely to be scared by tales of "the Big Bad Wolf" as those of ghosts, trolls or the bogeyman.

In medieval times and earlier, wolves were common in Europe, but constant friction between men and wolves lead to intense hunting leading to extinction of the species in many countries. For instance, in Britain the last wolf in England was hunted to extinction as early as the sixteenth century, during the reign of king Henry VIII, though the species persevered in Scotland until 1684, when the last one was killed.

Not surprisingly, the wolf has been with D&D pretty much since the start, though they've usually had to take second row to other, more fantastic wolf-like creatures, such as the Worg, the Dire Wolf , the Winter Wolf or the Werewolf.