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D&D General D&D monsters that have been changed the most over time

Black Dougal

Footpad
D&D has a long history and over those years monsters have come and gone. Some monsters have been reskinned, from minor makeovers to being completely reworked. I figured maybe we could all pitch in on "what monsters have changed the most over the years". Change = game rules mechanics (crunch) or just flavor (fluff). I'm totally curious really and figured it might be a nice rabbit hole to visit.

For example, the Gnoll. Originally in the White Box D&D Rules (1974), the Gnoll was described as a "gnome meets a troll". I've only been obsessed with this game for 30 years and never figured out Gnoll = (Gn)ome + Tr(oll). The Gnoll didn't become the demon-worshipping hyena humanoid until AD&D Monster Manual (1977). To me, Gnolls are iconic D&D and I had no idea originally they were totally different. I think I like the change, although now I feel inspired to create some sort of gnometroll as well, I figure "why not both?".
 

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Water weirds started out as watery, snakelike elementals bound to pools of water. They eventually got an association with nereids in 2E, which apparently inspired the 3E take on the water weird itself being a nereid-like figure with counterparts among the other three primary elements (I seem to recall some source that presented the classic, serpentine water weird as the immature version, but I can't recall where that would have been off the top of my head). They didn't appear in 4E, but returned in 5E in snake form.

waterkin.gif
aeweirds.jpg
Waterweird.jpg
 


pming

Hero
Hiya!

Off the top of my head...

Virtually any "irredeemably evil" creature. Demons, Devils, Daemons, Undead, Dao, Azer, most Giants, Quicklings, etc. Creatures that have been out right EVIL incarnate since they were first thought up by superstitious folks hundreds or thousands of years ago. Over the decades we've seen a sharp decline in the "Yup...it's undead...kill it" to "Yup...it's undead... but lets talk to it. It might be friendly...". There WERE exceptions, but they were not 'evil' to begin with (ex: Fiend Folio's "Crypt Thing"; they are Neutral). But now? "Oh, he's a Lich... but he's not evil", or "She's a Vampire... but she's a good vampire", etc.

But, if we are talking "changes of looks and general stuff over the years/decades"... I think Bugbears are up there. Originally they were tall hairy, thin creatures with Jack-o-Lantern heads! Then, just big, dark-hair critters with big yellow eyes. Then, big dark-hair critters with big eyes who were good at hiding in shadows. Now... multi-coloured semi-hairy critters with beady eyes and huge muscles. ... o_O ...

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 



Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
The susurrus, though obscure, is a good one. In the 1e Fiend Folio it's a creature with an exoskeleton that's honeycombed with hole. The 2e version looks like it's made of bamboo. In 3e it is composed of crystal. I don't think it has appeared since then.
wasnt there also a spider Sussurus at some point, the plant form made sense to me, the crystaline form is weird.

and yeah I prefer the rat-dog kobold and the pig nosed Orc
 


Black Dougal

Footpad
The susurrus, though obscure, is a good one. In the 1e Fiend Folio it's a creature with an exoskeleton that's honeycombed with hole. The 2e version looks like it's made of bamboo. In 3e it is composed of crystal. I don't think it has appeared since then.
I recall them from FF. I'll have to refresh my memory on later versions.
 





Yora

Hero
It's the one from the Fiend Folio or Monster Manual 3, though. (Forgot which one.)

One of the first monsters I noticed having changed significantly was the Morkoth.

In first edition, it was a... I don't know.
In second edition, it turned into... something else?
And in third edition, it turned into... a fish-thing?
morkoth.jpg

morkoth2.jpg

morkoth3.jpg
 



King Babar

Adventurer
For example, the Gnoll. Originally in the White Box D&D Rules (1974), the Gnoll was described as a "gnome meets a troll". I've only been obsessed with this game for 30 years and never figured out Gnoll = (Gn)ome + Tr(oll). The Gnoll didn't become the demon-worshipping hyena humanoid until AD&D Monster Manual (1977). To me, Gnolls are iconic D&D and I had no idea originally they were totally different. I think I like the change, although now I feel inspired to create some sort of gnometroll as well, I figure "why not both?".
I honestly had no idea that was the origin of the name, holy cow.

Speaking of cows (nailed that transition), less of a monster and more of a changing character option, but the evolution of the Firbolg has been interesting.

We went from big and hairy barbarian types
Firbolg2e.gif


To (still big) fey-like nature lovers
Firbolg-5e.jpg


And now most recently from Critical Role we have... cowpeople?
firbolgs.png
 


I honestly had no idea that was the origin of the name, holy cow.

Speaking of cows (nailed that transition), less of a monster and more of a changing character option, but the evolution of the Firbolg has been interesting.

We went from big and hairy barbarian types
View attachment 139644

To (still big) fey-like nature lovers
View attachment 139645

And now most recently from Critical Role we have... cowpeople?
View attachment 139646
so giant fae minotaurs?
The flying frisbee flumph went from something stupid and useless to, well, the same now.. One monster we never encountered.
View attachment 139647View attachment 139648
flumphs are too cool to die or change.
 

Stupid kobolds becoming draconic.
When did it actually happen? When I started D&D, kobolds were like, goblins, if goblins were too hardcore/dangerous for you.

The first time I really came across the idea that they were really associated with dragons was Dragon Mountain, in 1993, but it seemed like it wasn't an entirely new concept then. And the Monstrous Manual from the same year (both this and Dragon Mountain illustrated in part by the incredible DiTerlizzi, offering us both flat-faced and ratlike visions of kobolds) doesn't mention dragons.

Yet by 3E, kobolds are solidly little dragon-people.
 

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