Balor Origin

Yes, this is yet another thread on the origins of names in D&D. Specifically, the Balor.

Now, for a long time I'd accepted the general opinion that the name Balor was just a slight change from Balrog from LotR. But I've been reading a lot on Celtic myth lately, and have found that the leader of a large group of evil creatures in the myths happens to be called Balor.

I'd never seen this mentioned before in the many threads on name origins that have come up, so I decided to mention it. Any idea if this is just coincidence? Is Balor just a change from Balrog(though Tolkien may very well have named them Balrogs BECAUSE of Balor, but that's just more confusing)?
 

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diaglo

Adventurer
somewhere in the books and in my shotty memory are the actual names for all of the Type demons...

i just can't remember where.


the Balrog, the hobbit, and the Ent were creatures of OD&D.

Balor is the " true name" of just one of the Type Demons.
 

reanjr

First Post
Ankh-Morpork Guard said:
Yes, this is yet another thread on the origins of names in D&D. Specifically, the Balor.

Now, for a long time I'd accepted the general opinion that the name Balor was just a slight change from Balrog from LotR. But I've been reading a lot on Celtic myth lately, and have found that the leader of a large group of evil creatures in the myths happens to be called Balor.

I'd never seen this mentioned before in the many threads on name origins that have come up, so I decided to mention it. Any idea if this is just coincidence? Is Balor just a change from Balrog(though Tolkien may very well have named them Balrogs BECAUSE of Balor, but that's just more confusing)?

I have a strong feeling that someone at TSR looked at one of Tolkien's etymology books only to find that the etymology of the Balrog is Balor and used that. I could be wrong, though. Gygax and Co. had a wide array of mythological knowledge and very well may have found the term Balor in Celtic myth. I highly doubt it was coincidence, though. There are extraordinarily few creatures from AD&D 1st ed. and earlier that aren't based on a mythology of some kind.
 

Gez

First Post
The D&D Balor is indeed much closer to Tolkien's Balrog than to the god-king of the Fomorian, Balor of the Evil-Eye (in D&D, he could be likened, actually, to... Gruumsh, one-eyed god of the orcs, whose weapon of choice is the spear -- Balor was supposed to have a magical spear, IIRC).

PS: By the way, this parallel between Gruumsh and Balor was maybe intended to legitimize the parallels between elves and the Tuatha de Danan. And I'm not saying it's a good thing. :p
 
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Gez said:
The D&D Balor is indeed much closer to Tolkien's Balrog than to the god-king of the Fomorian, Balor of the Evil-Eye (in D&D, he could be likened, actually, to... Gruumsh, one-eyed god of the orcs, whose weapon of choice is the spear -- Balor was supposed to have a magical spear, IIRC).
Good point.

I was pretty much sure that the concept of the D&D Balor was closer to the Balrog(especially since, as Diaglo said, Balors were once called Balrogs). I was more curious on the name itself, as I'd not seen that reference anywhere before. Gygax and Co. did borrow a lot from mythology, so I'm starting to assume its a mix of that and taking from Tolkien's Balrog.
 

BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
diaglo said:
somewhere in the books and in my shotty memory are the actual names for all of the Type demons...

i remember going through the index at the back of the MM2 and writing all of these down some time ago...

i'm sure i still have that list. somewhere... :(
 

diaglo

Adventurer
Ankh-Morpork Guard said:
Balors were once called Balrogs).


Balor... singular... there was only 1.

Balrog.... singular ... again there was only 1.

edit: Balor is its name... like Jan Michael Vincent
 
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BOZ

Creature Cataloguer
I know I’ll never find those notes anytime soon, but that does remind me of this thread: http://enworld.cyberstreet.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=30990

The document I posted therein allowed me to rather quickly come up with this list:
Aishapra (Type V Demon)
Alzoll (Type VI Demon)
Balor (Type VI)
Bilwhr (Type IV)
Errtu (Type VI)
Glabrezu (Type III)
Hezrou (Type II)
Johud (Type IV)
Kevokulli (Type V)
Marilith (Type V)
Nalfeshnee (Type IV)
Ndulu (Type VI)
Rehnaremme (Type V)
Ter-soth (Type VI)
Vrock (Type I)
Wendonai (Type VI)

(of course, little did I realize, I had already made a similar list in the linked-to thread)

Obviously, some of those names stuck and became the “generic” name for the type when the “Type I,” “Type II,” “Type III,” etc, concept was dropped, and the rest were (all but) forgotten.
 

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