Balrog?

Nathan P. Mahney

First Post
I've alway wondered (because it's about the only artifact of the original D&D era that seems to have not made the transition in some form) but what does it say about the Balrog in the original D&D booklets? Stats, abilities? I'm oddly curious about how it was interpreted by Double-G.
 

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Henry

Autoexreginated
That's pretty much it: The Balor (Type VI demon) is what the balrog became to avoid copyright infringement. :)
 

thedungeondelver

Adventurer
Nathan P. Mahney said:
I've alway wondered (because it's about the only artifact of the original D&D era that seems to have not made the transition in some form) but what does it say about the Balrog in the original D&D booklets? Stats, abilities? I'm oddly curious about how it was interpreted by Double-G.


Ask and you shall recieve.

(note that the first time they were statted up, they had been forced to call them Type IV by the Tolkien estate, but this is essentially it):

Type IV: These demons loom a full 12' tall, and they are highly intelligent. They spread darkness in a 10' radius at will. These demons cannot be harmed by normal weaponry and (as previously detailed) are 75% resistant to magic. Their other singular abilities are: Cause fear (as a fear wand), detect magic, read magic, read languages, detect invisible objects, cause pryotechnics, dispel magic, suggestion, telekinese 6,000 gold pieces weight, use a symbol of fear, discord, sleep, or stunning, and they also have a 70% chance of successfully gating in a demon of Type III (80%) or Type IV (20%). Each of these terrible abilities can be employed as often as desired but only one may be used at any given time.

Number Appearing : If in lair there will be from 1-6 of the same type of demon on a roll of under 76%, from 1-6 mixed demons on a 76%-00% (die 1-6 for type, no succubi, Orcus, or Demogorgon); if not in lair then the number appearing is 1-3.

Armor Class: 2
Move in inches: 6/15 (number after slash is flying speed)
Hit dice: 8d10
% In Lair: 20%
Type or Amount of Treasure: F

Psionic attack strength : 180
Attack Modes: A,B,C,E
Defense Modes: F,G,H

...

So while no great shakes by your latter day D&D, these things were quite the terror for a mid/high level campaign in the mid to late 70's!
 


thedungeondelver

Adventurer
Nathan P. Mahney said:
Ah, so no stats until Eldritch Wizardry then?


I couldn't find any in pre-ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS publications (either THE STRATEGIC REVIEW or THE DRAGON) so unless it was in THE WHITE DWARF, then I think the SUPPLEMENT III ELDRITCH WIZARDRY stats are the first recorded ones, yes.
 

T. Foster

First Post
Balrogs are statted out in the first 5 printings of OD&D (I'd quote it, but I don't have that version at hand, sorry). In the 6th ("OCE") printing the balrog entry was deleted (replaced by a Tom Wham illustration) and replaced by the similar-but-not-identical Type VI Demon (Balor) entry in Eldritch Wizardry, which was carried through to AD&D.
 

T. Foster

First Post
Aha! Found it! OD&D balrog stats (from an old Dragonsfoot post):
Here is the original write-up for balrogs:

ALIGNMENT: chaos
NUMBER APPEARING: 1-6
ARMOR CLASS: 2
MOVE IN INCHES: 6/15 (ground/flying speed)
HIT DICE: 10
% IN LAIR: 25%
TYPE OF TREASURE: Type F

BALROGS: Balrogs are highly-intelligent monsters with a magical nature. There is a high probability that spells will not work against them. To determine success of spells use a base of 75% resistance at the 11th level and adjust upwards or downwards in 5% increments, i. e. a 12th level Magic-User would have a 70% chance of resistance. Balrogs cannot be subdued, but they can be enlisted in the service of a strong chaotic character. There is, of course, always the possibility that the Balrog will attempt to assume command himself, for Chaotic creatures will generally obey a Balrog before a human (except for an Evil High Priest who is slightly more influential). Balrogs have those characteristics indicated in CHAINMAIL, but when fighting fantastic opponents they attack in two ways each turn: The normal attack is with a magical sword of +1 value, and if the Balrog immolates (any score of 7 or better on two six-sided dice, check each turn of melee) it also attacks with its whip. If the whip hits the Balrog drags the opponent against its flaming body, doing two, three or four dice of damage (depending on size)! In this manner a Balrog can fight one or two opponents at the same time.

Here is what Chainmail said about balrogs:

BALROGS: A Balrog is a truly terrible opponent. Balrogs cannot be killed by normal missile fire or in normal combat. It inflicts casualties in combat as if it were two Heavy Horse. In addition, the Balrog can immolate any normal figure it touches during its move or melee. They operate equally well in darkness or in light. They can fly 15" per turn, and remain airborne for three turns.

Morale Rating: 50
Point Value: 75
 



thedungeondelver

Adventurer
T. Foster said:
Aha! Found it! OD&D balrog stats (from an old Dragonsfoot post):


The MONSTER MANUAL entry appears, then, to be an amalgam of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and SUPPLEMENT III: ELDRITCH WIZARDRY entries.

(I didn't know about the prior entry in D&D, thanks for pointing that out TF.)
 





mythusmage

Banned
Banned
Keep in mind that the balrog as presented in LotR was unique to that work. Thus it was protected under copyright laws of the time. Much as were hobbits and ents. Since Tolkien used older sources for his work it's possible that "balrog" comes from such a source. Gary's mistake was using the Tolkein balrog instead of adapting an earlier version.
 

Nathan P. Mahney

First Post
Don't think I'd call it a mistake. I'm sure one of Gary's goals at that point was to attract sales from Tolkien fans, and it wouldn't have helped to have a Balrog that little resembled what people were expecting. The legal troubles were unfortunately inevitable, but in retrospect didn't seem to harm sales none.
 


mythusmage

Banned
Banned
Nathan P. Mahney said:
Don't think I'd call it a mistake. I'm sure one of Gary's goals at that point was to attract sales from Tolkien fans, and it wouldn't have helped to have a Balrog that little resembled what people were expecting. The legal troubles were unfortunately inevitable, but in retrospect didn't seem to harm sales none.

Not so. He included some elements from Tolkien because his players asked for them. To be quite honest, he was doing D&D for a circle of friends, and their friends. Thing is, friends kept multiplying. In conversation he has said that he was quite surprise it took off the way it did. Had the success been planned for it would be a very different game.
 


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