D&D General Every core monster ever in D&D

JEB

Legend
Spinning out of this thread: https://www.enworld.org/threads/the-core-monster-lineup-across-all-editions.702634/

Years ago, I assembled some lists of every monster that had been in a core monster source for each edition of D&D. The sources in question being:
0e: The original boxed set
Basic: The 1977 Basic Set (Holmes), the 1981 Basic Set (Moldvay), the 1983 Basic Rules (Mentzer), and the Rules Cyclopedia
1e: Monster Manual
2e: Monstrous Compendium Vols. 1 and 2, Monstrous Manual
3e: Monster Manual (3.0 and 3.5)
4e: Monster Manual, Monster Vault
5e: Monster Manual

In the other thread, I used the lists to determine which monsters had been present in every edition of the game, and asked why those persisted. (A discussion I'd like to see continue!) But some folks wanted to see variations on that list with different cutoffs (such as excluding Basic, or starting from 1e or 2e). So I went back to my original lists, and created a Google Sheet with the info. (Gave me the chance to recheck my data, too.)

Here is that sheet: link

A few notes:
  • I tried to sort related creatures together in the list, taking organization cues from the various monster books.
  • That said, NPCs were a bit of a hassle, since many are "human" variants in some editions, and others are their own distinct entries (i.e. "acolyte"). So they're under "human" if the former was ever true, and spread out into the rest of the list if otherwise.
  • I didn't list every single variant of a given monster as its own entry (for example, "orc eye of Gruumsh"), only those that seemed fairly distinct from the base creature. (I probably still included too many variants.)
  • If a monster had different names in different editions ("empyrean" vs. "titan"), I still treated them as one creature (and listed the different names in [brackets]). On the other hand, if two creatures had the same name but had significant differences (beyond just reimagining for a given edition's themes), I listed them separately. I tried to be careful not to combine things that were actually different.
  • I counted any time they said "to represent Monster X, use statblock Y" as an instance of that monster. However, super-generic statblocks meant to cover a lot of different things (such as "mammal, giant") were listed separately.
EDIT: This was updated slightly after the discovery of core 0e monsters for "naval adventures", as detailed in this post.

EDIT 2: Links to each block, for convenience:
 
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JEB

Legend
The spreadsheet has been updated! Taking a cue from @overgeeked, I went ahead and added in appearances for each monster outside of the core monster books, in any edition where they weren't core. I had the data, so I figured, why not share it too. (I also took the opportunity to fix a few errors and adjust the organization.)

Big shout-out to @Echohawk for his monster databases, without which I would never have been able to find most of these references!

Some notes about the updated version:
  • In the interest of readability, I only added one source per edition, generally the most iconic or informative source. (EDIT: Note these are often not the first appearance in a given edition.)
  • I did not include instances where a creature became a hazard, disease, or PC option; only monster rules.
  • I did not include versions of monsters that appeared in non-D&D settings such as Magic: The Gathering. (The exception was the Wizards-published Wildemount books, since they did include a few updates of official monsters - and at the time, they seemed functionally canon.)
  • I did include 3e Dragonlance and Ravenloft products, since they had Wizards' official seal of approval (and they've since shown up on DM Guild, which seems to reinforce that). However, they were lower priority than first-party official sources.
  • I originally was not going to include stats from the D&D Miniatures line, but changed my mind after I noticed some 4e monsters made early appearances there during the 3e era.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
The spreadsheet has been updated! Taking a cue from @overgeeked, I went ahead and added in appearances for each monster outside of the core monster books, in any edition where they weren't core. I had the data, so I figured, why not share it too. (I also took the opportunity to fix a few errors and adjust the organization.)

Big shout-out to @Echohawk for his monster databases, without which I would never have been able to find most of these references!

Some notes about the updated version:
  • In the interest of readability, I only added one source per edition, generally the most iconic or informative source.
  • I did not include instances where a creature became a hazard, disease, or PC option; only monster rules.
  • I did not include versions of monsters that appeared in non-D&D settings such as Magic: The Gathering. (The exception was the Wizards-published Wildemount books, since they did include a few updates of official monsters - and at the time, they seemed functionally canon.)
  • I did include 3e Dragonlance and Ravenloft products, since they had Wizards' official seal of approval (and they've since shown up on DM Guild, which seems to reinforce that). However, they were lower priority than first-party official sources.
  • I originally was not going to include stats from the D&D Miniatures line, but changed my mind after I noticed some 4e monsters made early appearances there during the 3e era.
That’s fantastic. Thanks for all that work. Now I have to rebuild my countif and if statements. Mwahaha!
 

JEB

Legend
Some source breakdowns for the Basic D&D monster books.

Basic Set (1977): 75 core monsters in the list.
56/75 monsters from the original boxed set
17/75 monsters from Greyhawk
1/75 monsters from The Strategic Review [shrieker]
1/75 newly core monsters [giant ant]

Basic Set (1981): 103 core monsters in the list.
42/103 monsters from the Basic Set (1977), of which:
  • 29 were from the original boxed set
  • 11 were from Greyhawk
  • 1 was from the The Strategic Review [shrieker again]
  • 1 was original to the 1977 set [giant ant again, renamed driver ant]
24/103 monsters from the 1e Monster Manual
  • 6 of which were also in the original boxed set, but not '77 Basic [blue, green, and gold dragon; ghoul; minotaur; neanderthal (caveman)]
  • 4 of which were also in Greyhawk, but not '77 Basic [bugbear; giant lizard; wolf; dire wolf]
  • 14 of which were newly core with 1e
37/103 newly core monsters

Basic Rules (1983): 97 core monsters in the list.
96/97 from the Basic Set (1981)
1 newly core monster [giant racer snake]

Rules Cyclopedia: 291 core monsters in the list.
97/291 from the Basic Rules (1983) [every single one made it!]
194 newly core [though nearly all had been in the Expert (1983), Companion, or Master Rules, I don't have that data handy]
 
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JEB

Legend
Adding to the previous, the 33 monsters that didn't make the cut between 1977 and 1981 Basic were:
Basilisk, Blink dog, Chimera, Cockatrice, Displacer beast, Brass dragon, Djinn, Cloud giant, Fire giant, Frost giant, Hill giant, Stone giant, Storm giant, Griffon, Hell hound, Hippogriff, Draft horse, Heavy horse, Light horse, Medium horse, Hydra, Manticore, Mummy, Nixie, Pegasus, Black pudding, Purple worm, Specter, Giant tick, Troll, Unicorn, Vampire, and Wraith.

Surprisingly, the horse stats never returned to any version of the Basic rules, but were included in later expansions (and compiled into the Rules Cyclopedia). I would have thought horses would be pretty fundamental...
 

JEB

Legend
Reversing direction, some notable core monsters that were introduced in Basic D&D, and their status as of 5e...

Newly core in the Basic Set (1977)...
  • Giant ant (driver ant): These appeared in every other edition besides 5e (and were only non-core in 4e). Odd that in over a decade of 5e products, there haven't been any official giant ant stats.

Newly core in the Basic Set (1981)...

Appearing in 5e:
  • Acolyte, noble, veteran: Core in 5e, presumably as a nod to the 1981 rules. While variations of a noble statblock had appeared on and off in other editions, a (human) veteran had only appeared one other time (a 4e issue of Dungeon), and this was the first generic acolyte statblock since 1981.
  • Living statues: Crystal and iron living statues returned in 5e's Ghosts of Saltmarsh. (Rock living statues only appeared once outside Basic, in 2e's Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix.)

Not in 5e:
  • White ape, rock baboon, cave locust (a.k.a. giant locust), giant ferret, robber fly, giant shrew: These became staples of Basic D&D, but haven't returned since. (Really, no one wants a giant ferret mount?)
  • Giant bee: Similar to the giant ant, these had been a core staple until disappearing in 4e. You'd think 4e or 5e would have had giant bees at some point...
  • Oil and tiger beetle: Oil beetles only appeared one time outside Basic (a 3e issue of Dungeon), tiger beetles zero times.
  • Medium: The wizardly counterpart to the acolyte and veteran, this hasn't appeared since 1981. But it's probably been subsumed into the mage statblock (or the apprentice wizard in Volo's).
  • Thoul: Seems to be kind of a cult favorite, but remains missing from 5e; its last appearance was in a 4e issue of Dragon. The only other official update had been back in 2e's Mystara Appendix. (However, there was an unofficial update in the third-party product Dave Arneson's Blackmoor.)

Newly core in the Basic Rules (1983)...
  • Giant racer snake: The only new core monster in this version, but it didn't make it out of Basic.

Newly core in the Rules Cyclopedia...

Appearing in 5e:
  • Riding horse, war horse: Previously introduced in the 1981 Expert Set, these have replaced every 0e horse type in 5e, except for the draft horse. (And the pony, if that counts.)
  • Nightwalker: Probably the great success story of Basic D&D monsters, returning in 2e's Mystara Appendix and becoming core in 3e and 4e. They were demoted from core in 5e, but returned in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Their fellow nightshades - the nightcrawler and nightwing - were also core in 3e, but disappeared after.
  • Frost salamander: Appeared in MTOF, after a few appearances in 2e and 3e.
  • Manscorpion (tlincalli): Appeared in Volo's Guide to Monsters, after appearances in 2e and 3e. Notably, they were core in 2e's Monstrous Manual.
  • Werebat: Appeared in Dungeon of the Mad Mage, after non-core appearances in earlier editions (besides 4e).
  • Giant snail: Returned in Wild Beyond the Witchlight, after just one non-Basic appearance (in 4e Dungeon).

Not in 5e:
  • There are a bunch of potentially interesting monsters from the Rules Cyclopedia here that not only haven't returned for 5e, but haven't returned for the past few editions (after most were updated in 2e's Mystara Appendix). But I'm paring the list here down to the most noteworthy absences.
  • Athach: The other experiment (besides the nightshades) in making a Basic monster core in 3e. However, it's been completely absent from later editions.
  • Blackball: They were included in the 3e Epic Level Handbook as the "umbral blot" - which also puts them in the minority of non-core monsters that made it into the SRD. But nothing since. (They may be redundant with the sphere of annihilation, I suppose.)
  • Drolem: Rebranded as the "dragonflesh golem" in 3e. This seemed like an obvious choice to return after that, but it hasn't happened. (I had totally expected them to be in Fizban's.)
  • Mud golem, wood golem: These are other straightforward golem ideas dropped after reappearances in 3e.
  • Werefox: Seemed relatively prominent in 1e and 2e, but only appeared in a 3e Ravenloft product after. (I'd wonder if folks would rather have a kitsune, but we don't have that either in 5e...)
  • Wereshark: Similar to the werefox, this made a few appearances in 1e through 3e, but just vanished after that. Even though it seems like an obvious choice for an archetypal aquatic lycanthrope.
  • Malfera, nuckalavee, spectral hound: All three returned in 3e, but that's all. I feel like the nuckalavee should have appeared in something Feywild by now.
  • Bone (skeletal) golem: I strongly suspect this inspired 4e's skeletal tomb guardian, FWIW.
  • Snow ape, lava ooze: They didn't even make it into the 2e Mystara Appendix, but did still return in 3e. (The latter seems like it has potential.)
  • Dragon Rulers, gemstone dragons: These are not surprising omissions, since they compete with better-established options in the AD&D lineage. (It's more surprising they made an attempt at integrating the gemstone dragons in 2e.)
 

JEB

Legend
FYI, I made some minor updates to the spreadsheet - two corrections (missed lizardfolks' 0e appearance and giant centipede's 5e appearance) and also added in the three generic "variable" monsters from 0e for completeness (sea monster; insect or animal, large; insect or animal, small).
 

JEB

Legend
Source breakdowns for the 1e Monster Manual...

375 core monsters in the list.

85/375 from the original boxed set
41/375 from Greyhawk
36/375 from Blackmoor
19/375 from Eldritch Wizardry
4/375 from Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes
13/375 from The Strategic Review
3/375 from Dragon Magazine
174/375 newly core monsters [including giant ant, which first appeared the same year in Basic '77]

The only 0e core monsters that didn't make the cut were the three "variable" monsters from Book II (sea monster, large and small insect or animal) and the generic "giant fish" from Book III. Presumably because there were now plenty of specific animal stats (normal and giant), plus more specific sea monsters (though no proper sea serpent, oddly).

EDIT: This was updated after the discovery of core 0e monsters for "naval adventures", as detailed in this post.
 
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Stormonu

Legend
Surprisingly, the horse stats never returned to any version of the Basic rules, but were included in later expansions (and compiled into the Rules Cyclopedia). I would have thought horses would be pretty fundamental...
The disappearance of horses from gameplay is an odd one. There's a chapter in the 2E rulebook on them (along with a table of quirks), but by the time 3E rolled around somehow the game had gone the way that everyone was assumed to be walking on foot. I can't remember the last time I had a party member buy a pack mule, horse or other mount that wasn't an animal companion. I blame it on the "return to the dungeon" aspect of 3E, and moreso in part of what do you do with the darn things when most of the adventure they're tied up somewhere outside the adventure location and gods know how long before (or if!) you'll ever go back out that way to get back to them.

I'd kinda like to see the return of mounts and hirelings - that aren't poke-balled when not in use - return to the game.
 

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