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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.

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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

Comments

UnknownDyson

Explorer
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.
This position continues to not make sense. You're attempting to advance the argument that Tasha and Iggwilv aren't the same character even though the book is proceeding as if they are.

How many women did he father a would-be world-conquering cambion demi god with?
 

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dave2008

Legend
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.
Tasha = Iggwilv has been part of 3e, 4e, and now 5e. So it is more part of her lore (edition wise at least) than not.
 

Wrathamon

Explorer
25+ years they were not the same. 13 years they were. 1st appearance of Iggwilv was 82. 25 years later a 2007 dragon magazine article merged them.
It seems this book hints to it based on the alt cover and Crawford's quote, but that seems to leave it open
 

UnknownDyson

Explorer
25+ years they were not the same. 13 years they were. 1st appearance of Iggwilv was 82. 25 years later a 2007 dragon magazine article merged them.
It seems this book hints to it based on the alt cover and Crawford's quote, but that seems to leave it open
The Demonomicon is listed as an artifact crafted by 'Tasha' in the book. What is with this cognitive dissonance?
 

dave2008

Legend
25+ years they were not the same. 13 years they were. 1st appearance of Iggwilv was 82. 25 years later a 2007 dragon magazine article merged them.
It seems this book hints to it based on the alt cover and Crawford's quote, but that seems to leave it open
That was why I said editions and not years. Curious though, how many mentions did Tasha have (other than her spell) have in D&D lore in those 25 years? I know she has been mention at least 4 times as been synonymous with Iggy since. Personally, I didn't know anything about her until she was connected with Iggy.
 


TerraDave

5ever
This position continues to not make sense. You're attempting to advance the argument that Tasha and Iggwilv aren't the same character even though the book is proceeding as if they are.

How many women did he father a would-be world-conquering cambion demi god with?
Its just a retcon. Which are often retconned. I don't think we know that the book is proceeding that way.

As for the father part? You mean Grazzt as father? Iggwilv has a daughter--your PC can fight her! But that's not her daughter your describing.
 

Mirtek

Adventurer
Its just a retcon. Which are often retconned. I don't think we know that the book is proceeding that way.

As for the father part? You mean Grazzt as father? Iggwilv has a daughter--your PC can fight her! But that's not her daughter your describing.
Actually it's not a retcon because it does not change any etablished fact. It just gives an information where there was no information in any way before.

If old lore said that Tasha wore a red dress and then new lore suddenly says Tasha has always been known for here trademark blue dresses she always wears, that's a retcon. It changes information that has been presented in the past.

If new lore says that her last name is Smith, that would not be a retcon if her last name has never been stated before
 

Azuresun

Explorer
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.
I think it's just the Sephiroth Effect--people are much more likely to sympathise with or make excuses for a villain if they're charismatic, witty and / or good-looking.
 

Coroc

Hero
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.
Yes that is what i wanted to write. I love the OP but Mearls statement on her alignment?

Next she is not as schemer but a victim?


What purpose does this serve?

Does this make sense for any of you, then please explain, i might miss some modern "fun" with my hobby.
 

Coroc

Hero
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.
I prefer every bit of that old school pragmatic logic lore over today's hodgepodge "anything must go, no matter the implications".
 

dave2008

Legend
I prefer every bit of that old school pragmatic logic lore over today's hodgepodge "anything must go, no matter the implications".
What I mean is: I prefer loose or ambiguous connections / lore (which is what I feel 5e is doing) vs. strict and emphatic lore. Though I am not sure what you mean by "pragmatic logic lore."
 

der_kluge

Adventurer
Am I wrong in thinking that Tasha was an actual person who played said character, and inspired Gygax with that spell? I'm certain I remember reading that somewhere.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Am I wrong in thinking that Tasha was an actual person who played said character, and inspired Gygax with that spell? I'm certain I remember reading that somewhere.
Tasha was a young girl who wrote to Gary Gygax asking for a spell around laughter.
 

TheBoredGM

Beneath our modern banality, we're just savages.
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.
Yep. I don't want no "she's not so bad once you get to know her."
 
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TheBoredGM

Beneath our modern banality, we're just savages.
1e Tasha was not the evil Iggwilv .. separate entities. Was it 3e era they merged? i'm fine with wotc leaving it up to the DM/Players out there.
Let's leave it at this: perhaps Tasha impersonated Iggwilv. Either way, they're both evil. And not the same.
 



Winterthorn

Monster Manager
I don't know, given there is some confusion going on I wonder if it would make more sense to interpret Tasha as actually being Iggwilv's daughter? Perhaps neutral Tasha sometimes masquerades as her evil mother because she enjoys trickery more than doing evil? (Mother vs daughter tension?) Just throwing this idea out there - could help to smooth out the lore?
 

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