Friday, August 23, 2013


My generous employer, upon discovering that I was a gamer, gifted me a very special gift:

These bygone babies.
From left to right, we have:

  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (1977) by Gary Gygax, the first hardcover roleplaying book in existence.
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual II (1983) by Gary Gygax
  • Fiend Folio: Tome of Creatures Malevolent & Benign (1981)
  • Dark Sun: Dragon Kings by Timothy B. Brown (1991)

My eleven-year-old eyes first fell upon a D&D manual in the Mall of America Barnes & Noble. While the hobby floated nebulously somewhere in the my awareness (I have distinct memories of asking my clueless mother what game Jason & Marcus were playing one Sunday), but first contact was officially established when I exhumed this volume from the shelves in the year of our Lord 2000.

Subsequently, I've very little practical experience with the earlier iterations of this hobby that's become so constitutional to my storytelling and social life. The missus and I briefly playing a bewildering session of D&D Basic, whose rules, I'm lead to believe, were uncovered primarily from pot shards and building foundations unearthed by modern archaeologists. Even without the practical experience, to simply leaf through the texts, all bestiaries with one exception, and see the game's first clumsy and wholly original iterations of monsters and mythologies now ingrained indelibly in my own mind, is incredibly invigorating.

The Dark Sun book I find especially bracing, as Athas is a world I hope to lead player characters to one day.

I'm currently casually leafing through the original MM, every page containing iconic monsters – ettin, gelatinous cube, gnoll, lich – plus some utterly bizarre and forgotten beasties – ear seeker, eye of the deep, intellect devourer, morkoth, peryton – and that same feeling of awe and mystery that I felt as a teenager perusing the 3.0 Monster Manual, imagining encountering, or more likely, pitting these creatures against my PCs.

I was given stern instructions, upon receiving this gift, to one day continue the tradition and pass the books onto a gamer younger than myself. I can only hope that, be it discovery or nostalgia, it inspires some excitement in whatever new mind next inhales these ideas.

Mooncrash PCs, be warned. Brain moles, huecuva and meenlocks may well be headed your way.

1 comment:

  1. Damn but I love meenlocks. Just so you know, there are 3rd Ed. stats for everything you listed except the ear seeker. meenlocks, intellect devourers, meenlocks, and morkoths are either MM2 or Fiend Folio; perytons are Monsters of Faerun, & eyes of the deep are in Lords of Madness.