Sunday, February 27, 2011

Also-Ran Monsters: Exhibit A

I've been thinking about monsters from various sources that never made it into the "official" AD&D 1E material, and I figured that two monsters featured in Dragon 63 (here's a good retrospective of the issue as a whole) would make a good starting point. While the issue featured the debut of the devas, which made it into the official canon, it also featured the chagmat spider-people (I'm not being politically correct, I just don't want Stan Lee to sue) from the eponymous mini-module by Larry DiTillio, and the shoosuva, an undead servitor of the demon prince Yeenoghu.

While the chagmat, with their two-caste society (2 hit dice fighters and 1 hit die clerics, with the proviso that higher level individuals of both castes could be encountered- with no level caps given) never made it into an "official" first edition publication, they seem to have had the "serial numbers" filed off and were passed off as the chitines of 2nd Edition AD&D, complete with a non-interbreeding priestly class. In a stunning combination of 2E and Realmsian "drow overload" and "A wizard did it" excess, these spider-folk were presented as the creations of the dark elves, rather than the independent evil entities originally conceived by Signor DiTillio.

The shoosuva, a 6 hit dice undead hyenadon/ghoul mash-up, was a brilliant concept- a demonic servant which bridged the gap between ghasts and demons in the retinue of the Demon Prince of Gnolls (and patron of ghouls). The shoosuva was presented as a bound servant summoned by powerful shamans or witch doctors, and featured a powerful bite and a "creeping" paralysis special attack. How this critter failed to make the cut for an official sourcebook is hard to figure.

The two "non-official" monsters of Dragon 63 are, in my view, both more interesting that the "official" monsters presented therein. Similarly, a "non-official" Bandit class in the magazine was a more workable, better-executed class than the Barbarian class which appeared in the same magazine and received the official seal of approval.

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