D&D General The core monster lineup across all editions

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
They still doesn't explain why and intelligent high levels like Medusa is in basic but less intelligent threats (Basilisk) are held back - unless that was the point, to create an intelligent threat that anyone who read their classics would know the weakness thereof
I think that was the reason. They wanted some iconic threats that players could view as a problem-solving challenge.
 

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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
If I exclude all of Basic D&D, that adds 17 more to the original list:
  • Basilisk
  • Green dragon
  • Blue dragon
  • Dryad
  • Efreet
  • Ghoul
  • Fire giant
  • Hill giant
  • Hydra
  • Manticore
  • Minotaur
  • Mummy
  • Purple worm
  • Treant
  • Troll
  • Vampire
  • Wraith

In other words, the same list we'd get if I included Expert '81 and Expert '83, plus seven more (green and blue dragons, dryads, efreeti, ghouls, minotaurs, and treants).
With the first lot, that's pretty much the list in my head of the core monsters, so definitely a great selection
 

JEB

Legend
I mean, that seems like a pretty solid list of "Core D&D" tropes.
With the first lot, that's pretty much the list in my head of the core monsters, so definitely a great selection

So, that's interesting. The initial list of 15 felt lacking to some of you, but the list of 32 (that ignores Basic D&D) seems more complete? Which monsters in the second list are the ones that tip the scales to being truly "core"? (I assume it's not just having all five chromatic dragon types.)

(For easy reference: the 15, the 32.)
 

So, that's interesting. The initial list of 15 felt lacking to some of you, but the list of 32 (that ignores Basic D&D) seems more complete? Which monsters in the second list are the ones that tip the scales to being truly "core"? (I assume it's not just having all five chromatic dragon types.)

(For easy reference: the 15, the 32.)
I think the Efreet, Giants, Troll, Vampire, and Wraith tip it for me.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
So, that's interesting. The initial list of 15 felt lacking to some of you, but the list of 32 (that ignores Basic D&D) seems more complete? Which monsters in the second list are the ones that tip the scales to being truly "core"? (I assume it's not just having all five chromatic dragon types.)

(For easy reference: the 15, the 32.)
Well, I'd day that I can imagine running an entire, multi-year long campaign limited only to those 32, without feeling any constraints or lack.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
So, that's interesting. The initial list of 15 felt lacking to some of you, but the list of 32 (that ignores Basic D&D) seems more complete? Which monsters in the second list are the ones that tip the scales to being truly "core"? (I assume it's not just having all five chromatic dragon types.)

(For easy reference: the 15, the 32.)

That's easy, pretty much the addition of Giants, 'Fey' and Classicall monsters (to keep Medusa company)

You essentially have
Humanoids
Dragons
Giants
Fey - Dryad, Efreet, Treant, Werewolf*
Undead - Ghoul Mummy, Wraith, vampire
Classical - Medusa, Hydra, Manticore, Basilisk
Weird/Pulp - Giant Worm, Ooze
 
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JEB

Legend
curious now when was the mind flayer and beholder added in?
Mind flayer: First appeared in The Strategic Review #1, then in Eldritch Wizardry, for 0e. Became a core monster with the 1e Monster Manual. Have been core ever since. (Except in Basic D&D, where they never appeared.)

Beholder: First appeared in Greyhawk for 0e. Became a core monster with the 1e Monster Manual, have been core ever since. (In Basic D&D, first appeared in the Companion Rules, then became a core monster in the Rules Cyclopedia.)
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Mind flayer: First appeared in The Strategic Review #1, then in Eldritch Wizardry, for 0e. Became a core monster with the 1e Monster Manual. Have been core ever since. (Except in Basic D&D, where they never appeared.)

Beholder: First appeared in Greyhawk for 0e. Became a core monster with the 1e Monster Manual, have been core ever since. (In Basic D&D, first appeared in the Companion Rules, then became a core monster in the Rules Cyclopedia.)
What would the list look like if you included the full OD&D line? So the 32 plus the rest of the OD&D books.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
A friend of mine postulated that most monsters are just 'chupacabras' - meaning that they are simply things that leap out at you and try to kill you, and have no more 'story' to them than would an angry wolf.

Like, most every demon just wants to tear you apart. They just have different powers. A bulette isn't going to have a complex narrative related to its motives. A chimera, or a golem, or a skeleton, or a purple worm, or a troll. They're all just physical threats.

Monsters only really get interesting, in my view, if they create a story that affects the characters. If you could swap the monster for a golem and the story would run the same, I'd prefer something else. I usually find people more compelling foes than chupacabras. Something you can talk to, someone that has motivations. Or monsters like mind flayers and medusas that create a unique type of tension, something elevated beyond, "Will it manage to rip me apart."

That said, even a chupacabra can be good when the monster has an interesting ecology, and you can notice its presence and maybe do something to avoid a conflict, that's at least a fun mental challenge, so long as it's not rote. The first time a player learns about what a troll is, and sees it refusing to die, that's exciting. But once you know, "Oh yeah, just burn them," it's not nearly as fun.

That's why you need trolls to only attack during thunderstorms.
That reminds me of the difference between a "fairy tale" about fairies versus a "folk belief" about fairies.

The fairy tale is fictional, following literary conventions.

The folk belief transmits reallife encounters with fairies. But the descriptions of the encounters themselves have less story. It is more like saying, so-and-so saw a UFO last night, or saying, that house is haunted − it felt weird or something weird happened while there. These encounters come with worldview implications in the attempt to explain it, but there isnt actually much story to the encounter.
 

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