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

ezo

Hero
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.
I find this interesting. We have PCs buying mules, horses, etc. all the time despite playing a lot of both "dungeon crawls" and exploration/ overland travel adventures. Having hirelings/ retainers along is also fairly common (they often watch the "camp" while the PCs are in the adventure location).
 

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JEB

Legend
Continuing with the 1e Monster Manual... some notes on monsters that became core for the first time in 1e, and their status today.

Core in every edition since 1e: beholder, bugbear, bulette, carrion crawler, displacer beast, doppelganger, ettin, gelatinous cube, flesh and stone golems, imp, lich, lizardfolk, mind flayer, otyugh, owlbear, pseudodragon, rakshasa, roper, giant poisonous snake ("deathrattle viper" in 4e), stirge, troglodyte, umber hulk, wererat, wolf, dire wolf.

Core in every edition since, except 2e: hezrou and vrock demons, ice devil (gelugon), night hag, succubus. All were presumably too "satanic" for the 2e core rules, but - like many other 1e demons and devils - did appear in 2e's planar monster books.

Core in every edition since, except 3e: Nothing!

Core in every edition since, except 4e:
  • A lot of normal and giant animals: 4e seemed to favor magical versions of animals over normal ones, although this had softened a little by the time of Essentials. FWIW, Monster Manual 2 brought back giant centipedes and tigers, and Adventurer's Vault brought back camels and elephants. (Dogs, surprisingly, only returned in an issue of Dragon.)
  • Metallic dragons: The only time after 1e these weren't core, held back for Monster Manual 2 and their dedicated Draconomicon book. (It's been suggested the designers were averse to good monsters in 4e, at least early on; this does add evidence to that.)
  • Mimic: This didn't return to 4e until Monster Manual 3, alongside 1e's ghast, quasit, and shadow. And unlike some other late 4e additions, it didn't make it to the Monster Vault. Considering how common this monster is in fantasy video games, you'd think it would have been front and center. (It was beaten to print by the less iconic ankheg, couatl, phase spider, remorhaz, will o'wisp, winter wolf, and xorn, all in MM2.)
  • Lamia: There was a 4e lamia, but it was radically different from the one in other editions, clearly a new creature. While interesting in its own right, that only makes me wonder why they didn't give it a new name.
  • Clay golem: These and iron golems were left out of the 4e MM and appeared in MM2, but iron golems later made it into the Monster Vault. Considering clay golems are the closest to their legendary origins, it was odd to make them non-core twice.
  • Ghost, storm giant, harpy, hell hound, homunculus ("clay scout"), guardian naga, nightmare, oni (ogre mage), sahuagin, salamander, satyr, shambling mound, (andro)sphinx, worg: These were core only in the 4e Monster Manual, but didn't make the cut for the Monster Vault.
  • Rust monster: These weren't core in the 4e Monster Manual, but (like the iron golem) rejoined the core in the Monster Vault.
  • Blink dog, dragon turtle, sea hag, spirit naga, violet fungus: Didn't appear in 4e at all.

Core in 1e and 5e, but no editions between:
  • Axe beak, allosaurus, giant goat: For whatever reason these three became non-core obscurities after 1e, but made a core comeback in 5e. Monstrous Compendium Annual 2 (2e) had all three, however (along with other 1e monsters that had fallen by the wayside, like the rhino).
  • Manes: The weakest of demons was relegated to non-core books in 2e, like many other 1e demons... but while most other demons became core again starting in 3e, the manes remained non-core until 5e. (The lemure, by contrast, did get to be core in 3e.)

Non-core in 5e:
  • Archdevils and Demon Lords: Excepting 4e (where Orcus was in the MM), these had been pretty solidly relegated to non-core books after 1e, so not a surprise 5e treated them similar. (Though one wonders if we would have gotten the classic Archdevils at all, if not for James Ohlen's DM Guild products.)
  • Volo's Guide to Monsters brought back the catoblepas, leucrotta, morkoth, rot grubs, slithering tracker, trapper, some dinosaurs, and a few other animals from 1e. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes only reprinted the Demon Lords and one Archdevil from 1e (and the former were reprints). Clearly the former was aiming more at old-school representation...
  • Larva: Buried in the DMG.
  • Ixitxachitl: Reasonably prominent until 2e, these became less so after. They didn't even get ported from Out of the Abyss into MTOF, like other monsters from the book.
  • Dragonne (liondrake): These had been core in 1e, 2e, and 3e, but disappeared in 4e and had stayed gone in 5e... until Fizban's.
  • Spotted lion, giant lynx, giant ram, giant tick, titanothere: Glory of the Giants seemingly made a point of bringing back these forgotten 1e-2e giant animals.
  • A handful of other lesser-known 1e core monsters were only updated in adventures: the ice toad (Tyranny of Dragons); the su-monster (Tomb of Annihilation); the giant crayfish, lacedon, and sea lion (Tales from the Yawning Portal); the amphisbaena, giant (sea) eel, koalinth, and locathah (Ghosts of Saltmarsh); and the neo-otyugh (Infernal Machine Rebuild).

Not in 5e:
  • Like the Rules Cyclopedia, a lot of 1e monsters have yet to make a return for 5e (even as some recent products have tried to fix that). Also like with the RC, I'm going to be picky with the below highlights.
  • Eye of the deep: One of the first beholder-kin, yet it hasn't returned since 3e. Not really sure why, since we've gotten other variant beholders in 5e (even the obscure astereater, as Spelljammer 5e's "eye monger").
  • Nymph: Discussed a bit in the other thread, these were core until 3e and made a non-core appearance in 4e (MM3). The only nymphs we have in 5e are the Theros versions, very different from the D&D flavor. (The hippocampus is another that only exists in Theros form.)
  • Triton: A staple through 3e, which disappeared in 4e. In 5e, of course, it only exists as a PC option.
  • Lernaean hydra: This hydra's unique shtick was regeneration... but after the 3.0 Monster Manual it disappeared, with hydrae regenerating by default after. (Notable exception: the default hydra in the 4e Monster Manual.)
  • Pyrohydra: This was in every edition except 5e (even 4e, as the "flamekiss" hydra). Not sure why the current designers would object...
  • Criosphinx and hieracosphinx: Like the dragonne/liondrake, these were staples until 3e, then disappeared. I suppose by 4e the designers figured we just needed the two sphinxes? (The heroic lammasu and shedu followed the same trajectory, core until 3e then gone.)
  • Aerial servant: Part of the elemental "air kin" in the 2e Monstrous Manual. Unlike its teammate, the sylph, it disappeared entirely after 2e. (Redundant with the invisible stalker?)
  • Leprechaun: Hasn't appeared since 2e. Not really sure why, since they're still a thing in pop culture. EDIT: Actually, they apparently returned in 4e! But still not in 5e. Updated the spreadsheet, anyway.
  • Brain mole, thought eater: These psionic monsters were already being excluded as soon as 2e, where they were cut from the original MC Vol. 1 and 2. However, they were restored for the Monstrous Manual. In 3e they were strictly in psionic books. In 4e the thought eater returned one last time (as a "fell taint") in MM2, while the brain mole was relegated to joke status in Fool's Grove.
  • Floating eye, masher, wind walker: These oddballs were already non-core by 2e, and absent ever since (excepting the masher's single appearance in 3e Dungeon).
  • Giant beetles: Including the fire beetle, these were staples until 2e. 3e cut them back to just bombardier, fire, and stag. From 4e onward it's just been fire.
  • Hazards and diseases: A number of monsters stopped being monsters in later editions. This included the cerebral parasite (3e/4e disease), ear seeker (4e disease) and brown mold (3e/5e hazard).
  • Lots of dinosaurs: I'm not actually that surprised that later editions didn't carry forward the legion of dinosaurs in the 1e Monster Manual. Even 2e had already relegated a lot of them to non-core MCs.
EDIT: Forgot to note 4e monsters that were only core in one of the two books.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Not in 5e:
  • 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.)

I know they aren't 5e core, but I though the gemstone dragons were re-introduced in Fizban's?
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Core in every edition since, except 4e:
  • A lot of normal and giant animals: 4e seemed to favor magical versions of animals over normal ones, although this had softened a little by the time of Essentials. FWIW, Monster Manual 2 brought back giant centipedes and tigers, and Adventurer's Vault brought back camels and elephants. (Dogs, surprisingly, only returned in an issue of Dragon.)
  • Metallic dragons: The only time after 1e these weren't core, held back for Monster Manual 2 and their dedicated Draconomicon book. (It's been suggested the designers were averse to good monsters in 4e, at least early on; this does add evidence to that.)
He wasn't talking about 4E, but in relation to Gold Dragons and other metallics, Dan from Wandering DMs opined in a recent episode that the proliferation of good dragons in AD&D didn't really make sense. You always need more antagonists, but you only infrequently need a good/quest-giver dragon.

Both these decisions in 4E, with good dragons and with animals, seem to me to make a lot of sense from the perspective of what material serves adventuring purposes. They were trying to focus strongly on gameable material, rather than pretending to be a physics/world emulator.
 

JEB

Legend
I know they aren't 5e core, but I though the gemstone dragons were re-introduced in Fizban's?
So Basic D&D had gemstone dragons, while AD&D had gem dragons. It's the latter that returned in 5e. (Which is what I was getting at; with two sets of gem-based dragons, realistically they were only going to keep one.) More on this when I get around to the 2e Monstrous Manual (the first and only time gem dragons were core).
 

JEB

Legend
Both these decisions in 4E, with good dragons and with animals, seem to me to make a lot of sense from the perspective of what material serves adventuring purposes. They were trying to focus strongly on gameable material, rather than pretending to be a physics/world emulator.
That certainly seemed to be the philosophy for 4e!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
So Basic D&D had gemstone dragons, while AD&D had gem dragons. It's the latter that returned in 5e. (Which is what I was getting at; with two sets of gem-based dragons, realistically they were only going to keep one.) More on this when I get around to the 2e Monstrous Manual (the first and only time gem dragons were core).
... that seems like more of a nomenclature tweak than a real difference... or were they really different? (or at least more different than dragons changed over the editions?)
 

JEB

Legend
... that seems like more of a nomenclature tweak than a real difference... or were they really different? (or at least more different than dragons changed over the editions?)
They were literally different - when the Basic D&D gemstone dragons were ported into 2e (Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix) they compared and contrasted them with the core AD&D gem dragons (which had been published in the Monstrous Manual by that time).
 

JEB

Legend
Moving on to 2e! Source breakdowns for the 2e Monstrous Compendium (Vol. 1 and 2)...

469 core monsters in the list.

284/469 from the 1e Monster Manual, of which:
  • 77 were from the original boxed set [every one that had also appeared in the 1e MM]
  • 38 were from Greyhawk
  • 33 were from Blackmoor
  • 4 were from Eldritch Wizardry
  • 4 were from Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes [every one from 1e MM]
  • 12 from The Strategic Review
  • 3 from 0e-era Dragon Magazine [every one from 1e MM]

30/469 from the 1e Fiend Folio
96/469 from 1e Monster Manual II
2/469 that had previously appeared in 1e-era Dragon Magazine [fox, killer whale]
2/469 that had previously appeared in the 1981 Basic Set [NPC party ("adventurer"), noble ("gentry")]
2/469 that had previously appeared in the 1981 Expert Set [magic-user ("wizard"), cleric ("priest")]
2/469 that had previously appeared in the Basic D&D Creature Catalogue [piranha, giant piranha; though the (normal) piranha had also appeared in 1e Dragon]
1/469 from The Mines of Bloodstone [steeder]
1/469 from Moonshae [leviathan]

49/469 newly core monsters

While 0e to 1e only cut a few generic monster templates, 1e to 2e actually dropped a number of specific creatures:
  • From Greyhawk, 3 cuts: Tyrannosaurus(!), giant tick, titan.
  • From Blackmoor, 8 cuts: Giant beaver, elasmosaurus, mosasaurus, plesiosaurus, aquatic elf, floating eye, masher, giant portuguese man-o-war.
  • From Eldritch Wizardry, 15 cuts: Brain mole, cerebral parasite, Demogorgon and Orcus, demons types I-VI, intellect devourer, shedu, su-monster, succubus, thought eater. In short, all the demons (because "satanic") and nearly all the psionic monsters.
  • From The Strategic Review, 1 cut: Wind walker.
  • From the 1e Monster Manual itself: A whopping 64 cuts, including the rest of the demons; all the devils; the rest of the dinosaurs, as well as other prehistoric animals; Tiamat and Bahamut; ear seekers; larvae; night hags; nightmares; perytons; sprites; and several normal and giant animals.

Many of these cuts were restored in later MC Appendices. For example, dinosaurs returned in MC Vol. 3, the first Forgotten Realms Appendix (which was kind of "semi-core"), while the fiends made a comeback in MC Vol. 8, the Outer Planes Appendix (another arguably "semi-core").

EDIT: Miscounted by 1 (469, not 470).
 
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