• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
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:

log in or register to remove this ad

Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

Cleon

Adventurer
This was some nonsense they added later. Tasha is not Iggwilv, so sayth the Gygax

That'd be good enough for me.

Although why can't Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut's Dark Tasha, the "Hideous Laughter" Tasha and Iggwilv "Tasha" be different ladies.

There must be quite a few people called Natasha in the multiverse!

Or in Greyhawk for that matter should you want Natasha to be Iggwilv's first name (assumed or actual).

This whole issue seems more than a bit silly. Not that it bothers me. It's not a piece of rule- or setting-altering lore so is easy enough to ignore it.

Oh, and I don't care much for the clichéd hat and robes in that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything picture. Methinks it looks more "Halloween trick-or-treating witch cosplay" than "epic female Slavic magician".
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Sorry for the multitude of quotes, but it easier to break down the points.

Although why can't Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut's Dark Tasha, the "Hideous Laughter" Tasha and Iggwilv "Tasha" be different ladies.
Unknown. My guess is they decided they wanted to incorporate Tasha, as they had every other caster with a named spell. Why they decided to make her Iggwilv, I guess to bring Iggwilv back to the forefront, since she had fallen by the wayside, and she IS a great villain. Of course, I also remember when Iggwilv was a man, so...

Or in Greyhawk for that matter should you want Natasha to be Iggwilv's first name (assumed or actual).
Point of interest, in Greyhawk mages tend to use single names. It is assumed that these are not their real names in order to prevent others from using Name Magic against them. Melf is not the actual name of the elven mage, who is secretly lesser royalty. I'm particularly fond of Kaladek in Saltmarsh, as he's referred to as the Unspoken, which technically gives him the byname of "the unspoken."

This whole issue seems more than a bit silly. Not that it bothers me. It's not a piece of rule- or setting-altering lore so is easy enough to ignore it.
Don't you realize that other people are having BADWRONGFUN and it must be put to a stop? :eek:

Oh, and I don't care much for the clichéd hat and robes in that Tasha's Cauldron of Everything picture. Methinks it looks more "Halloween trick-or-treating witch cosplay" than "epic female Slavic magician".
My thoughts on the Warlock in the PHB too.
 

Cleon

Adventurer
Unknown. My guess is they decided they wanted to incorporate Tasha, as they had every other caster with a named spell. Why they decided to make her Iggwilv, I guess to bring Iggwilv back to the forefront, since she had fallen by the wayside, and she IS a great villain. Of course, I also remember when Iggwilv was a man, so...

Yes, but why not make, say, "Laughing Tasha" her own new character AND bring Iggwilv back to the forefront? Then you have two female archmages as background characters.

Iggwilv might have been pretending to be Tasha the hideous laughter spell inventor. She's hardly the most trustworthy person in the cosmos.

Point of interest, in Greyhawk mages tend to use single names. It is assumed that these are not their real names in order to prevent others from using Name Magic against them. Melf is not the actual name of the elven mage, who is secretly lesser royalty. I'm particularly fond of Kaladek in Saltmarsh, as he's referred to as the Unspoken, which technically gives him the byname of "the unspoken."

Yes, I realized that.

Offhand I can think of a couple of Greyhawk archmages that are commonly referred to by firstname and surname - Zagig Yragerna and Eli Tomorast - but that might be because they were such egomaniacs they were daring people to use their names. Neither of those characters were particularly stable even by "mad wizard" standards.

Don't you realize that other people are having BADWRONGFUN and it must be put to a stop? :eek:

Yes, why can't they have GOODRIGHTMISERY like nature intended. :p

My thoughts on the Warlock in the PHB too.

The blank eyed woman on page 105? I find the artistic execution a bit rough but have no objection to her getup. At least she has a distinct personal style, and presumably the "accessorized with human ribs" couture is some homage to the warlock's patron. Well, the ragged clothing might mean she can't afford new clothes and sleeps in hedges, but that seems unlikely for an adventurer.
 

Hopefully the book itself gives a better idea of who 5E Tasha is. The fact that the alternate cover features Graz'zt is a bit confusing if Tasha has been retconned to no longer be Iggwilv.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Hopefully the book itself gives a better idea of who 5E Tasha is. The fact that the alternate cover features Graz'zt is a bit confusing if Tasha has been retconned to no longer be Iggwilv.
I don't believe that they are reconning it to be so, instead they're running with the understanding that she is one and the same person. How she is presented, however, remains questionable considering Crawford's assessment of her alignment.
 




Blue Orange

Adventurer
Changes in alignment and even sex are somewhat more credible for a wizard accomplished enough to have spells she invented commonly used--who's to say Iggwilv didn't decide to wear a Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity just to see what the other side was like, and then found another one to change back?

In at least one source Iggwilv was also supposed to be Louhi, from Finnish myth, so I'm guessing she's been around quite a few places. She may have had a thousand forms for all we know...

...wait a minute, she's written books of forbidden lore on creatures from other planes, births demigods and vampiresses, and has numerous aliases and appearances, including both Greyhawk and real-world mythology. Are we sure Iggwilv isn't Nyarlathotep?
 

Quartz

Hero
In one of the Greyhawk Castle adventures, Iggwilv was the evil counterpart of Tasha, just like Bilarro & Robilar. And Iggwilv killed her and took her place. So it's entirely possible for the original, good, Tasha to be resurrected.
 

Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top