In which our intrepid hero dusts off a few old friends.

All the cool kids are doing it, so I thought I might give it a go—I’m going to list my 10 favourite monsters from D&D. Except, of course, being me, there’s 11 of them:

  • Ettercap

    The original ettercap illustration, from the AD&D 1st-ed Fiend Folio, bore a striking resemblance to my best friend from school, with its hunched posture and rotund belly. Robert the ettercap butler occasionally pops up as an NPC in my games.

    In the editions since, however, the ettercap—a web-spinning humanoid—has become creepier and creepier. Where once, it looked like a bugbear with spinnerets, it now has a spider’s head, three digits on each hand and foot, and an affinity for arachnids. It doesn’t look so much like my friend anymore, but I still find it pretty cool.

  • Black Dragon

    Red dragons tend to overshadow their other cousins, but I’ve always liked black dragons better—and not just because they’re black. They’re sneakier as a rule, cruel as all hell and have acidic breath.

  • Jermalaine

    Yes, jermalaines. They’ve been around forever—since the days of Descent into the Depths of the Earth—but most GMs seem to forget them. They’re tiny, xenophobic humanoids from the Underdark, only a few inches high, lilliputian masters of what would one day be known as the Zerg Rush.

  • White Dragon

    I love the ice and snow, particularly as a setting for adventures; perhaps it has something to do with its relative rarity here in the Antipodes. White dragons are the iconic winter foe, and they have the added bonus of being weak enough to throw at low-level PCs.

    And need I say it, killing your first dragon rocks!

  • Bugbear

    A lot of people like goblins (Pathfinder‘s interpretation is particularly cool) and hobgoblins—when they see use—make great militaristic badarse adversaries. On the other hand, bugbears are just big, dumb, hairy goblins with a mean streak. They’re a bit like Ogre Lite, really. Which is why players underestimate them all the time…

  • Dohwar

    From AD&D2‘s Spelljammer campaign. They’re humanoid penguins, would throw their grandmothers into a deal (they’re cheaper than steak knives), and their elite cavalry rides winged pigs. What’s not to love?

  • Tasloi

    Tasloi, originally from Dwellers of the Forbidden City, are another one of these obscure but ancient beasties. When people think of them at all, they dismiss them as mere arboreal goblins.

    However, tasloi evolved through the editions to become masters of the jungle, perfectly adapted to their environment. Whilst outside the trees, they’re at a distinct disadvantage, but in their home territory, they’re guerrilla warriors par excellence.

  • Derro

    I’ll admit it: I never really liked drow. Duergar had promise, but never really did it for me. Svirfneblin are pathetic, and don’t even start me on pech.

    But derro are awesome. Crazy, psychic, nasty and short. Derro, again, are often overlooked, but they’re one of the coolest things in the Underdark.

  • Neogi

    Another product of Spelljammer, neogi are also proof that some pretty serious drugs were being handed around TSR in the latter days of AD&D2. Despite the absurdity of half-wolf spider, half-moray eel slavers, they managed to somehow capture an awesome concept for a race of bad guys.

  • Sahuagin

    Bizarre, shark-loving, devil-worshipping deep ones, a la D&D. Shit, yeah.

  • Yak-Folk

    I was originally going to include the yak-folk—or yikharia—as a runner-up, but, shucks, I’m in love. I’ve never used them directly, but they’re giant-sized humanoid yaks. Come on. Anything half-yak is cool.