D&D General The core monster lineup across all editions

Looking again at the 32 (the 15 that have been in every edition, plus the 17 added if Basic D&D doesn't count)...
  • Why were green and blue dragons considered too "advanced" for Holmes Basic? Was five just considered too many dragons, but three just right?
  • What's made dryads a staple of the AD&D lineage? And not, say, nymphs (which were in most editions but have yet to appear in 5e).
  • Why is the efreet the most essential genie, and not the more obvious djinn?
  • Why do fire and hill giants stand above the other three classic giants? Hill giants seem like your standard mythical giant, so that's easy, but why fire? (Also, aren't they redundant with efreet?
  • Do minotaurs fill a humanoid niche not filled in the original 15?
  • Ghouls, mummies, and vampires have a horror-fiction lineage that explains their presence, but why wraiths?
I'd say that the answer to the last question, like so many, is very likely Tolkien.
 

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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I'd say that the answer to the last question, like so many, is very likely Tolkien.
The original published edition of Chainmail lists WRAITHS (Nazgûl, etc.), OD&D removes the Nazgul reference and instead makes them high level Wights (with energy drain), ever since Wraiths been increasingly moved to being shadowy, negative energy, flying lifedrainers instead of Ringwraiths.

Classical Minotaurs arent intended as humanoids, they are brute monsters whose natural habitat is labyrinthine Dungeons (which they can navigate better than the PCs can)

Dryads I suspect are just easier to play as fey than the more capricious nymphs.

Good point about Efreets and Fire Giants (maybe they just wanted the elemental balance)

Dunno why the dragons
 
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JEB

Legend
Dryads are more common in D&D simply because they were easier to turn into monsters that did something other than be sexualized.
Well, I doubt it was strictly a choice between dryads and nymphs, as far as iconic fey. I was just throwing that out there as an example. Pixies, for example, also aren't in the 32 (though they come close; only 4e had them as non-core).

(Also, 4e at least made an attempt at non-sexualized nymphs. Maybe it was deemed a failure, though.)

EDIT: Realized sprites were a bad example, as they weren't in 0e. Sorry I didn't catch that before you responded, @Incenjucar.
 
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Incenjucar

Legend
Well, I doubt it was strictly a choice between dryads and nymphs, as far as iconic fey. I was just throwing that out there as an example. Pixies and sprites also aren't in the 32 (though they did make it to 5e core, just not to all the intermediate editions).

(Also, 4e at least made an attempt at non-sexualized nymphs. Maybe it was deemed a failure, though.)
In TSR-era D&D they were very... chainmail bikini about things. Nymphs even had magical gamer girl bathwater. In contrast, 4E dryads were basically curvy ents.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
The original published edition of Chainmail lists WRAITHS (Nazgûl, etc.), OD&D removes the Nazgul reference and instead makes them high level Wights (with energy drain), ever since Wraiths been increasingly moved to being shadowy, negative energy, flying lifedrainers instead of Ringwraiths.
Wights are also Tolkien, though: he reinvented the word, even!
 

Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
[*]What's made dryads a staple of the AD&D lineage? And not, say, nymphs (which were in most editions but have yet to appear in 5e).
Does Mythic Odysseys of Theros not count (because it’s MTG)? That book lists 4 Nymphs: Alseid, Lampad, Naiad, and Oread.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Looking again at the 32 (the 15 that have been in every edition, plus the 17 added if Basic D&D doesn't count)...
  • Why were green and blue dragons considered too "advanced" for Holmes Basic? Was five just considered too many dragons, but three just right?
I suspect they were trying to be space efficient (Holmes is short!) but still give a little variety.

  • What's made dryads a staple of the AD&D lineage? And not, say, nymphs (which were in most editions but have yet to appear in 5e).
I agree that Dryads don't have the same inherent sexual overtone.

  • Why is the efreet the most essential genie, and not the more obvious djinn?
My recollection of the source mythology is the Efreets are inherently villainous, but Djinn are not. So Efreet make more natural foes.

  • Why do fire and hill giants stand above the other three classic giants? Hill giants seem like your standard mythical giant, so that's easy, but why fire? (Also, aren't they redundant with efreet?
I think this is another space limitation thing. They gave us a "baseline" giant and a tougher one. I agree that Frost seems like an equally good candidate, but rather than seeing Fire Giants as redundant with Efreet, perhaps consider that they (along with Red Dragons) support having a higher-level themed dungeon of fire/based in a volcano, perhaps?

  • Do minotaurs fill a humanoid niche not filled in the original 15?
Yes, they're a tougher solo monster or small pack monster which naturally inhabits labyrinths, which the DM is likely to sometimes use, based on the instructions in the early editions.

  • Ghouls, mummies, and vampires have a horror-fiction lineage that explains their presence, but why wraiths?
I agree with the others that it's Tolkien. Ringwraiths. Same with (Barrow) Wights.
 

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