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Monsters!: Something Grippy This Way Comes

July 13th, 2007

Nothing says, “Hi, I’m a monster and I want to eat your face” than a good set of tentacles. They’re alien. They’re icky. And, unlike heads, the more you have, the better off you are. Fortunately, D&D has long been in love with tentacles.

The Mind Flayer has traditionally been one of the baddest asses of the dungeon set. Yet we never met one back in the day, because their main thing was a wide array of “psionic” powers, and we gave that peculiar, confusing section of the rulebook a wide berth. When I finally faced a mind flayer in our 3rd edition campaign about six years ago, it was as dead hard as its reputation suggested. And, as veteran RPG designer Monte Cook says, “you can’t go wrong with something that looks like Cthulhu.” True, Monte, true.
As a teen, I was especially fond of placing the Carrion Crawler in my dungeons. Aside from its numerous feelers, the thing I liked best about it was its paralysis ability. No tediously mucking about whittling down a character’s hit points, just paralyze him, and snickety-snack.
The Roper was one of those creatures that only made sense in a D&D world. (More of those to come in a later post.) Ropers idly sat in caverns, pretending to be stalagmites, until someone wandered by. Then it was all tentacles and teeth.

One of the oft-quoted exchanges in our aforementioned 3rd edition campaign involved a roper. I’m not sure that most ropers speak English, but this one did. And, given our party’s predilection toward talking to monsters, we found it to be quite chatty. The conversation went something like this:

Roper (as portrayed by Christine, our GM): Hello, humans.
Grom (played by her husband, Chris): Hello. Are you sitting on any treasure?
Roper: Wouldn’t you like to know?
Morgan (played by me): You’re awfully friendly. Do you have a name?
Roper (looks at me): What is your name?
Morgan (lying): Pete.
Roper: Then I shall be known as Pete-Eater.
Morgan: Alright, that’s it!

You may have noticed that, despite a stated desire to cover the good ol’ days of D&D, some of my more detailed anecdotes are from only a few years ago. While I remain fond of the dungeon crawling we did in the late ’70s, the truth is that we weren’t into telling interesting stories back then. And we were equally unlikely to inquire whether the monster we were about to fight had a proper name.

Next: It Came From The Copyright Office!

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