log in or register to remove this ad

 

Meet the Daughter of Hideous Laughter

The upcoming Tasha's Cauldron of Everything supplement for Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons promises to reveal many secrets, but perhaps the most tantalizing is a picture of her sitting in front of Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut. Their relationship firmly establishes Slavic mythology's prominence in the D&D cosmoverse.

tashascauldronofeverything.jpg

Who is Tasha?

Tasha's name is most associated with her trademark spell, Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter. Gygax explained on EN World how the name came about:

All of those spells I made up, usually to honor a PC in my campaign, or for the person who suggested the basis (Tasha was a little girl who sent me letters in crayon, Nystul an actual stage magician I met through Len Lakofka.)

Tasha's background expanded in Dragon Magazine #83, mentioning a "Tasha the Dark" in Roger Moore's classic AD&D adventure, The Dancing Hut:

Natasha the Dark is an adopted human "daughter" of Baba Yaga who was influenced by the witch to take up her sorcery and use it for dark purposes. A beautiful woman with smoky black hair and alabaster skin, Natasha enjoys manipulating demons,and uses them frequently as servants and guardians. She is jealous of her "sister" Elena (see area 17), and despises her goodness, but will never cause Elena harm.

In 2007, Tasha was identified as actually Iggwilv in the adventure Expedition of the Ruins of Greyhawk. Iggwilv was best known as creating the Demonimicon, a book that went on to influence the video game Doom when the player who used it to create Armageddon by summoning a demon. Dragon Magazine #359 explains her influence:

As Tasha, she infiltrated the Company of Seven, posing as a wizard of much less power than she actually possessed--that she was able even to deceive Zagig points not only to the Mad Archmage's distracted personality, but to her own considerable skills. As a member of the Company, Iggwilv/Tasha was able to draw and build upon the secrets of six of the world's greatest wizards. It remains unclear what event forced her to abandon her Tasha alias and take on the mantle for which she would become well known.Which begs the question--is Tasha Iggwilv's real name?

Elena, another foster daughter of Baba Yag, is known as Elena the Fair in The Dancing Hut and lawful good in nature. Like Elena, Moore didn't create Natasha out of whole cloth. She's part of Slavic folklore.

Natasha the Light

In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga can be a villain or an obstacle; she is never one to be crossed lightly. The story of Natasha is typical of tales that feature Baba Yaga, with kindness repaid threefold. When Natasha's father remarries, her stepmother schemes to get rid of the girl. Her stepmother is the sister of Baba Yaga, and sends Natasha to certain doom by asking her stepdaughter to fetch needle and thread from the witch, knowing full well that Babay Yaga will eat her.

Natasha travels to visit Baba Yaga's hut and, along the way shows great kindness by oiling a squeaky fence, wiping the tears of Baba Yaga's servant, feeding a guard dog, and feeding a cat. It's the cat who helps Natasha plan her escape. He advises her to steal a magic comb and towel. When she flees, Natasha's new friends cover her tracks: the cat takes up Natasha's chores to buy her time; the servant, dog, and fence never sound the alarm.

Baba Yaga pursues Natasha and the girl throws the towel behind her. It turns into a river, blocking Baba Yaga's path temporarily. When Baba Yaga catches up to her again, Natasha throws the comb, which turns into a forest. Finally shaking Baba Yaga, Natasha returns home to tell her father of her stepmother's duplicity. He throws the stepmother out and they live happily ever after.

Tasha Now

D&D Lead Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford explains that Tasha isn't necessarily "the Dark" or even Iggwilv anymore:

While Tasha’s personality comes through in these notes, she offers an unfiltered lens on all kinds of things featured, evil or heroic. “I would say Tasha is a wonderful example of a character where if we were going to assign an alignment to her, Tasha is whatever alignment suits her for the day,” Crawford joked. “So I guess in that sense she is true neutral. She is very much her own person, and that comes through in her comments in the book.”

Given that the original Natasha escaped the clutches of Baba Yaga and lived happily ever after, perhaps that's fitting.
 
Last edited:
Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca



Hexmage-EN

Adventurer
Are they trying to rehab Iggwilv's image? For what? She is a great villain. I don't understand how the woman who gave birth to Iuz the Evil and wrote the Demonomicon could not be a villain. Graz'zt is the father of her children... like come on.

Graz'zt is even on the alternative cover, right?

Unless they're saying Iggwilv somehow separated "Tasha" from herself as an aspect I don't get what they're going for here. Maybe Tasha is a persona Iggwilv uses for good PR? I'm not an Iggwilv expert, but I do seem to recall there was a rogue clone of her with her own personality at some point.

It's weird how 5E keeps making these kinds of lore changes that not even 4E made. I imagine a lot of people assumed 5E would go back to the 3.5 era's take on official lore, but that's clearly not the case.
 

Rhineglade

Explorer
Sounds like you all might be putting the chicken before the egg. Iggwilv's backstory included her earliest persona as "Tasha," one of the adopted daughters of Baba Yaga. Her motives, methods and reason for the ultimate name change are known by her alone. But she did begin as "Natasha" and then shortened it to "Tasha" when she joined Mordenkainen's group of adventurers in the earliest stages of her career.
 


dave2008

Legend
It's weird how 5E keeps making these kinds of lore changes that not even 4E made. I imagine a lot of people assumed 5E would go back to the 3.5 era's take on official lore, but that's clearly not the case.
I am not particularly fond of some of the 2e-3e D&D lore, so I am glad 5e is taking more grab-bag / neutral approach to the lore. That being said, Iggy does help the PCs in the Savage Tides AP. She is someone who you can sit down and have a conversation with. Plus, the best characters are multi-faceted.
 
Last edited:


There's also the similar story of Vasilisa the Beautiful and Baba Yaga (gorgeously illustrated in Time-Life Books' Wizards and Witches volume), about a girl sent to Baba Yaga by a cruel stepmother. That one has a glowing skull lantern that should totally be in D&D.

In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga can be a villain or an obstacle; she is never one to be crossed lightly. The story of Natasha is typical of tales that feature Baba Yaga, with kindness repaid threefold. When Natasha's father remarries, her stepmother schemes to get rid of the girl. Her stepmother is the sister of Baba Yaga, and sends Natasha to certain doom by asking her stepdaughter to fetch needle and thread from the witch, knowing full well that Babay Yaga will eat her.

As for Tasha no longer being evil, I can't say I'm all that bothered. It's not like Tasha = Iggwilv (which, when I was a kid, I pronounced "Igglewiv" and only relatively recently caught that that wasn't how it was actually spelled!) is rooted deep in D&D history. As far as I'm aware, that only goes back as far as 2007. At this point, it's retconning a retcon.

But heck, you can still be an antagonist and not be evil. And you can still be a villain and have a book named after you (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, for example).
 






billd91

Hobbit on Quest
As for Tasha no longer being evil, I can't say I'm all that bothered. It's not like Tasha = Iggwilv (which, when I was a kid, I pronounced "Igglewiv" and only relatively recently caught that that wasn't how it was actually spelled!) is rooted deep in D&D history. As far as I'm aware, that only goes back as far as 2007. At this point, it's retconning a retcon.

Slavic folklore aside, I think it's worth pointing out that the spell named for her is Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter (emphasis mine). The "uncontrollable" bit may have gotten dropped from the spell's name after 2e and the slightly extended weakness from the laughter nerfed away, but what kind of laughter is hideous laughter? It doesn't really sound all cute kittens and puppies to me. This could be construed as Joker laughing gas material (though of a non-fatal variety). And as such, it certainly wouldn't rule out an evil dispostion for the caster that invented the spell.
 



Gammadoodler

Explorer
Slavic folklore aside, I think it's worth pointing out that the spell named for her is Tasha's Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter (emphasis mine). The "uncontrollable" bit may have gotten dropped from the spell's name after 2e and the slightly extended weakness from the laughter nerfed away, but what kind of laughter is hideous laughter? It doesn't really sound all cute kittens and puppies to me. This could be construed as Joker laughing gas material (though of a non-fatal variety). And as such, it certainly wouldn't rule out an evil dispostion for the caster that invented the spell.
I mean... If we're going by named spells as an indication of alignment, Melf is a real monster.
 

Iry

Hero
Might be from an undetermined time in Iggwilv's history, instead of pinpointing a time or being post supervillain.
 

TerraDave

5ever
It was just a 1 magazine article that merged the characters decades after the fact, and without the input of their creator.

As for the 12 fingered demon, he was always known to get around, from his earliest lore.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement1

Latest threads

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top