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D&D General Monster ENCyclopedia: Almiraj

Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
This is a series of articles about specific monsters from D&D’s history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions. This entry covers one of the creatures associated with the Trickster Gods of Omu in Tomb of Annihilation: the almiraj. It originally appeared along with a number of other creatures in a combined Tomb of Annihilation article.


Origins
The al-mi’raj or almiraj comes to us from the pages of Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing (عجائب المخلوقات وغرائب الموجودات), a treatise written by Zakariya Ibn Muhammad Al-Qazwini during the 13th century AD.

According to the legend, the residents of Jazirah al-Tennyn (“the Dragon’s Island”), a seemingly fictional location in the Indian Ocean, were plagued by a fire-breathing dragon, who was demanding two oxen each day as tribute. When Alexander the Great visited the island, he dispatched the dragon by feeding it ox-skins stuffed with toxic substances. One of the gifts he was given by the grateful islanders was a yellow rabbit with a single black horn on its forehead. Although small, this creature was apparently so aggressive that wild animals would flee at the sight of it.​

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Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing (1280)​

The creature was called the “mi’raj”. “Al-mi’raj” is literally “The mi’raj”, so the D&D name of “al-mi’raj” is not technically correct, and “mi’raj” would make more sense. Nevertheless, the D&D creature is known as the “al-mi’raj”, at least until 5th Edition, when it became simply the “almiraj”. This article uses the most recent, punctuation-free version in the title and general sections, but uses the older spelling in the sections covering earlier editions.


1st Edition
The al-mi’raj first appeared in the AD&D Fiend Folio, and is credited to Roger Musson. In this incarnation it is a yellow hare with a unicorn horn, found roaming pastures, woodlands and occasionally in dungeons. It has animal intelligence and neutral alignment. When discovered in the wild, an al-mi’raj is unpredictable and fearless, sometimes attacking for no apparent reason. If captured while young, an al-mi’raj can be trained and makes a useful companion.​

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Fiend Folio (1981)​

Mechanically, the al-mi’raj has one hit die, and is nimble enough to do 1-4 points of damage with its 1½-2 feet long horn. It has excellent vision and an acute sense of smell. Although small (3’ tall), it moves quickly enough (18”) to avoid most foes, which it needs to do because it has a poor armor class (6). The al-mi’raj is a very rare creature, but when it is encountered it is in groups of 2-20. Only 5% of the time is the al-mi’raj encountered in its lair, which is a small cave just below ground.

Dragon #93 provides a pronunciation of “əl-mi-RAJ”. Ed Greenwood wasn’t a fan of the al-mi’raj, describing it in a review of the Fiend Folio in Dragon #55 as something with a “strange appearance” but “no depth”. Other game designers also don’t seem to have had much use for the creature as it appeared only rarely in 1st Edition adventures.​

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Fiend Folio (1981)​

There is a group of six living in the Whitelake Area in the adventure Whitelake Mine in Dungeon #18. The al-mi’raj also makes an appearance in UK5: Eye of the Serpent, which has a meadow full of them. There we learn that the plural of al-mi’raj is also al-mi’raj, and we get a possible explanation for the occasional unpredictable hostility mentioned in the Fiend Folio. This is simply that males of the species are inclined to hurl themselves into battle just to impress females. In the encounter, the colony of al-mi’raj is encountered grazing on the river-side meadow. One of them spots the group and sits up, revealing its horn and then another sees them and sits up… and then another… and another...

The colony has six males, and eight females, and all of the males will happily throw themselves into battle if the adventurers trespass on their field. They will not cross the river, and retreat if they are attacked at range. The females are not aggressive and will flee if threatened. The colony uses an ancient burial mound as their lair. Based on the description of the lair, al-mi’raj are capable of digging tunnels, but these are too small for humanoids to use, being only a foot wide. The logistics of a rabbit with a two-foot long horn digging a tunnel are left as an exercise for the reader.

UK5: Eye of the Serpent also includes carved wooden statuettes of al-mi’raj (and other creatures) made by a lizardman wood-worker. These are two feet high — nearly life-sized in the case of the al-mi’raj — and worth 5gp each.


2nd Edition
The picture in MC14: Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix gives the al-mi’raj a slightly more ominous appearance, and the need to fill a whole page means that it gains a more detailed description, a back story and some (optional) psionic powers.​

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MC14: Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix (1992)​

The 2nd Edition al-mi’raj remains very rare but is still encountered in herds of 2-20 in temperate forests, hills and grasslands. Is it described as a large rabbit with long, soft fur that is usually yellow, but can occasionally be white, pink or even light green. The single jet black horn is 1-2 feet long and spiraled like a unicorn horn. In spring, males joust with their horns to win the attention of females, leading to a litter of 2-12 babies born two months after mating. These mature to adults over the course of the next year.

If left to themselves, al-mi’raj are peaceful herbivores. They spend their days roaming pastures and woodlands eating all kinds of plants. At night they lair in above-ground nests made of twigs, grass and fur. Al-mi’raj do not accumulate any treasure. In areas where they have no natural predators, they can become a problem, because they breed very quickly, and large numbers can decimate crops and create impassable areas filled with large nests. Described as “rather nervous creatures”, they tend to become aggressive and vicious when threatened, leaping at intruders and using their horns to stab. Perhaps because of this behaviour their alignment has been changed from neutral to chaotic neutral.

The size, and basic combat statistics (AC, HD, horn damage and movement) of the al-mi-raj are unchanged from 1st Edition, but it has gained immunity to poison, 25% magic resistance and fanatic morale. The Monstrous Compendium entry also reveals that the creatures can teleport short distances, giving them the nickname “blink bunnies”. This seems to be a fairly random ability, not entirely under the creature’s control, and is used to both avoid and make attacks.

If they are one of the 10% of al-mi’raj born with psionic abilities, then their nickname is instead “bunnies of the Abyss”. Psionic al-mi’raj have the following abilities: control light, control wind, levitation, molecular agitation, telekinesis, control flames and detonate. They use these abilities to darken the sky, whip up winds and ignite and burn equipment, while floating around with glowing red eyes. Abyss bunnies indeed! A tip for adventurers trying to tell them apart is that unlike all others of their kind, psionic al-mi’raj do not sit up when threatened, instead remaining perfectly still while the weather begins to change around them.

Ordinary al-mi’raj retain their 1st Edition aptitude for training if captured while young. Their fearlessness makes them useful companions. Training is not recommended for the psionic variety, unless the trainer has detonation-proof possessions.

Al-mi’raj are given a possible origin story as a failed science experiment of Krynnish gnomes, with “al-mi’raj” apparently being “experiment seventy-two” in an ancient gnomish dialect. Further evidence of this is that they are reportedly popular pets for gnomes.


3rd Edition
The al-mi’raj was absent from official 3rd Edition D&D products, but there is a faithful adaptation of the 2nd Edition version in Necromancer’s The Tome of Horrors, if needed. This was based on the version in ENWorld’s Creature Catalog.


4th Edition
The unicorn bunny almost skipped 4th Edition too, but sneaks in with a mention in the adventure Fool’s Grove, released on April Fool’s day 2009 as a fake article for Dungeon #165. Despite its humorous slant, the article contains some new lore on the possible origins of the al-mi’raj. It is suggested that the fomorians are responsible for a variety of unusual creatures, created as magical experiments long before the current age of the world. Those that ended up being judged inadequate as guardians and soldiers were placed in mystical prisons near the surface of the world. These prisons are confusingly chaotic and ecologically irrational locations. One of them, the eponymous Fool’s Grove, is the setting for this adventure.

The plural of al-mi’raj is now apparently al-mi’rajes, as the four living in Fool’s Grove are listed as “garden-variety al-mi’rajes”. They live with a brain mole, a flail snail and a stench kow. In terms of game mechanics, the 4th Edition al-mi’raj is similar to the 1st Edition version, but with a typical 4th Edition escalation in hit points and damage. It is a level 1 skirmisher, with 26 hit points and a horn attack that does 2d6 damage. If it misses with this attack, it can burrow away to safety. Al-mi’rajes are loyal to each other, getting a bonus charge when an ally falls. They are categorised as unaligned, small fey beasts, and have a walking and burrowing speed of 5, which is slightly slower than a typical human moves.


5th Edition
Tomb of Annihilation updates the almiraj to 5th Edition as well as switching to the simplified spelling and providing a new authoritative pronunciation (AWL-meer-ahj). The plural is also back to almiraj, in case you were wondering. This version is clearly based on the simple 1st Edition creature, as it doesn’t teleport or use psionics. It is described as a large, timid rabbit. The spiral horn is slightly shorter, just one foot long now. They live in earthen burrows, and although apparently skilled at evading predators, they can be easily captured and domesticated. With the DM’s permission one can be summoned using find familiar.​

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Tomb of Annihilation (2017)​

The 5th Edition version has just 3 hit points, and a low armor class (13). It is fast (50 ft. speed) and has keen senses and darkvision (30 ft.). Its horn attack does just 5 points of piercing damage. They appear to be less aggressive than earlier versions, as they flee from anyone approaching within 30 feet, and if trapped, can be calmed using a successful animal handling check.​

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The 123s of D&D (2018)​

The 123s of D&D is a D&D-themed counting book for children. It includes almiraj in its bestiary with the somewhat inaccurate description “the almiraj are tiny but their little hearts are brave”. The book not only has a picture of a pair of almiraj, but a picture that includes babies.​

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Almiraj Ring Toss, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight (2021)​

In The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, one of the carnival games is Almiraj Ring Toss, in which the punter attempts to toss rings over a teleporting wooden statuette of an almiraj.


Almiraj parts
According to the Monstrous Compendium entry, most parts of an al-mi’raj are useful. They have soft warm fur and tasty meat. Al-mi’raj horn can be a useful ingredient in the manufacture of cures for poison. Some gnomish communities believe that their hind feet bring good luck, but the practice of carrying the feet around has given way to instead using them to decorate homes.


Dragonlance
Given the 2nd Edition theory that they are a failed science experiment of Krynnish gnomes, it seems strange that al-mi’raj aren’t more common in the Dragonlance setting. There appears to be a solitary specimen stuck in a cage in Sanction in DL15: Mists of Krynn, as part of Skeech’s Traveling Menagerie and Sideshow. This is clearly not a 2nd Edition al-mi’raj though, otherwise it would simply teleport out of the cage.


Forgotten Realms
According to Tomb of Annihilation, the people of Chult blame the Zakharan merchants of long ago for introducing almiraj to the peninsula, where they are found roaming the jungle or in ruins, including the gardens of Nangalore. The Tortle Package supplement indicates that almiraj are found on the Snout of Omgar, an island off the southeastern coast of Chult.​

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I’jin’s symbol, Tomb of Annihilation (2017)​

One of the nine trickster gods of Omu is I’jin, who takes the form of an almiraj. He is said to be fickle and unpredictable and is the enemy of Obo’laka the zorbo.


Greyhawk
There are, of course, al-mi’raj on the Plane of Silly and Unused Monsters in WG7: Castle Greyhawk.


Ravenloft
Al-mi’raj have made it at least as far as Ravenloft, specifically the domain of Falkovnia. Dungeon #38 has an adventure where one of the characters keeps a caged pair. They are described as vicious-tempered and ready to attack anyone who unlocks their cage. Unlike their Krynnish cousin, these al-mi’raj have teleportation baked right into their stat block, so they have no excuse for not escaping We can only conclude that this adventure (Horror’s Harvest) originally used 1st Edition al-mi’raj, and in the process of updating the stat block to be consistent with MC14: Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix, the editor failed to notice the implications of a caged beast capable of teleporting.


Miniatures
WizKids included an almiraj miniature in the Icons of the Realms: Fangs & Talons set.​

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Icons of the Realms: Fangs & Talons (2020)​


Computer games
The almiraj is one of the familiars available in the Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms game.​

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Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (2017), image from Idle Champions wiki


Comparative statistics



References
Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing (1280)
Fiend Folio, p11-12, 117, 120 (July 1981)
Dragon #55, p6, Fiend Folio Findings (November 1981)
UK5: Eye of the Serpent, p15, 19-20 (August 1984)
Dragon #93, p25, Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd (January 1985)
WG7: Castle Greyhawk, p78 (January 1988)
DL15: Mists of Krynn, p95 (June 1988)
Dungeon #18, p11, Whitelake Mine (July 1989)
MC14: Monstrous Compendium Fiend Folio Appendix (April 1992)
Dungeon #38, p60, Horror’s Harvest, (November 1992)
The Tome of Horrors, p6-7 (November 2002)
Fool’s Grove Delve, p6 (April 2009)
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (September 2017)
Tomb of Annihilation, p77, 92, 103-104, 110, 131, 194, 196, 211, 256 (September 2017)
The Tortle Package, p5 (September 2017)
The 123s of D&D (November 2018)
Icons of the Realms: Fangs & Talons, figure 4/45 (November 2020)
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, p45 (September 2021)​

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The 123s of D&D (2018)​


Other ENCyclopedia entries
Visit the Monster ENCyclopedia index for links to other entries in this series.​
 
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Echohawk

Shirokinukatsukami fan
You don't mention the appearance of the bunnycorn in Star Trek: Picard!
Heh. To be honest, I'd completely forgotten about that. I don't usually document monster references in pop culture in these articles, and now that I check, it seems that the bunnicorn was inspired by the horned Alpha 177 canine in the ToS episode The Enemy Within and, sadly, was not inspired by the almiraj. It's still a hilarious Easter egg though!
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Interesting that these are based on the story of VERY aggressive animals, and yet, almost none are. Love these posts, btw. Thanks,
 

guachi

Adventurer
As an Arabic linguist, that 5e pronunciation makes my brain hurt. mi'-RAHJ is more accurate. The apostrophe isn't a glottal stop but a sound that doesn't exist in English.
 

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