Stupid Monsters of D&D

I never played D&D. This is probably due to the fact that I grew up in Poland where D&D and AD&D manuals were not easily available. Besides, we had a home grown clone called Kryształy Czasu (Crystals of Time) had an unique (and by unique I mean stupid) fantasy setting and overly complex mechanics (and by overly complex I mean stupid). It is only notable because it is probably the first domestic full fledged RPG ever published. We did not play it because the game was widely considered to be “fucking stupid”. AD&D was sort of in the same ballpark and my gaming group never bothered acquiring the expensive rulebooks which were not printed in our native tongue.

Guess what was the most popular foreign fantasy RPG franchise when I lived in Poland? You will never guess. No, it was not the time crystal thing. It was not D&D or anything even remotely related. The most popular fantasy RPG on the Polish market at the time was Warhammer Fantasy RPG. Yeah, a game derived from that tactical miniature tabletop game. Someone got a bright idea to translate and publish it and it killed. I swear, everyone played it.

Me and my friend once decided to start like a little local RPG gaming club – we put out an add, secured a locale where we could meet and everything. Few people showed up, and we asked what games they played before. It was a wild scatter shot – everyone played widely different systems… There was only a single common system amongst all of us. We were all were familiar with Warhammer FRPG. So guess what game we played? Ok, we played Cyberpunk 2020 that day (with a beautiful TPK) but it was pretty much Warhammer from there on out.

It’s strange but the game was not bad. The rules were sort of crappy of course but they were simple. It was pretty much roll d100 under the attribute. If you don’t have the right skill, GM may force a negative penalty. Combat was pretty much lifted straight from the miniature game and was serviceable, if a bit simplistic. The system of professions and buying increases for your attributes for the XP was a total mess but we managed.

The game was very well supported and there were dozens of supplements and campaigns available for it. In addition the Warhammer Fantasy Battles game was well established and had lots of background fluff floating around in various Army books and publications – and porting them into the RPG game was fairly painless.

Besides Warhammer I played Star Wars D6, Mutant Chronicles, Dzikie Pola, Vampire: The Masquerade, the already mentioned Cyberpunk 2020 and Spacemaster (but using GURPS not Rolemaster ruleset – I don’t know why, ask my former GM – but likely cause Rolemaster was a clusterfaq of confusion).

All of these games had fairly specific settings. D&D is on the other hand this incredibly huge… Thing with many planes of existence and various crazy campaign settings such as Spelljammer (BTW, what the fuck in hell were they smoking when they made Spelljammer?). So it is almost like several games in one. If you thumb through the Monster Manual without realizing that the critters depicted there come from a wide array of planes, that do not all reside in the same setting you may think that the D&D is just plain fucking nuts.

I’m probably late to the party pointing out the Stupid Monsters of D&D article that has been making rounds on the interwebs lately. This fun article plucks out the silliest monsters from few dozen D&D related books and some of them are just plain hilarious. I think my favorite ones are Monkeybees and Duckbunny. And no, I’m totally not shitting you. Check out the page and see what I mean. Silly!


There is another series of posts in a very similar vein which starts here. In this one the author pretty much goes alphabetically through the 3rd edition Monster Manual. So it’s not just selective cherry-picking of some inane acid induced creations from 70’s which since vanished from the books. These are recent – and some of them are really goofy. Too bad the blog seems to have fizzled out and there have been no new posts from months now.

After looking through these articles I started thinking that perhaps I didn’t miss much by never playing D&D. This whole “let’s make as many monsters as we possibly can” philosophy can’t be healthy. I’m sure that a lot here depends on the GM and the setting you pick. I also know that D&D pretty much started this whole RPG thing we all know and love. It is also the only RPG game that “normal” people know about.

For example if I told someone I play Role Playing Games they would probably give me that “I really don’t want to hear about your sexual perversions look”. When I say “I play D&D” they instantly know what I mean, and simply give me “OMG, you are such a nerd” look instead.

Did I miss out by not playing this game? To me it doesn’t seem so – especially since I’m more into the Role Playing aspect of the game rather than into “Roll Playing”. I don’t mind rolling dice, but once you break out a grid with figurines and ask me how many squares I want to move, I’m fucking leaving.

Anyone here ever played D&D? What are your experiences with it? What other RPG games have you played? I’m writing all of this stuff because I want to see if any of my regulars (you know who you are guys!) has any clue what I’m talking about. I’m aware that this will probably be one of those posts with like a single comment that said “I know nothing of this stuff, but that article you liked to was pretty funny”. But hey, I figured that I’ll try.

If you ever played RPG’s (not on your computer) please sound off. Let’s see how many people we have here and what systems you played.

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12 Responses to Stupid Monsters of D&D

  1. freelancer SWEDEN Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Well, I don’t really know anything about this RPG stuff (played D&D once like 10 years ago), but that article you linked to was pretty funny :P

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  2. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    Interesting to see that in France too, Warhammer RPG was very popular. The fact that the set up was neatly translated in French and had beautiful hard cover books as well as a coherent universe was probably helping. It is not to say that D&D was unpopular, but it was seen as already out of fashion. In 1988 and 1989 (when I began playing RPG’s), the main games in France were Call of Chthulhu, Warhammer, Cyberpunk and locally developed Mega. Mega was actually made in 1987, by the journalists of French RPG magazine Casus Belli. I think it precedes by one year the first fully French independent RPG: Légendes Celtiques (Celtic Legends), which later evolved in Legends of the Thousand and One Nights, First Legends, etc.

    Anyway, I am still playing Warhammer RPG, as well as various other “table” RPGs (Das Schwarze Auge, Star Trek), with my Dutch group of players. We mainly play more recent games though: Legends of the Five Rings, Deadlands, Shadowrun and so on.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Wow, interesting. I guess it is fair to say that most of Europe was playing WFRP then. I believe it was big in Germany too (or so I’ve heard) and England of course (where it was created).

    Interestingly enough in US it was never anything more than a tiny blip on the radar. D&D seems to still be dominant and it never seemed to “go out of style”. Go figure.

    Chthulhu and Shadowrun were also huge in Poland. So was most of the World of Darkness line – especially Warewolf for some reason.

    Earthdawn was becoming popular around the time I was leaving the country – possibly because of the huge marketing push and hype that preceded it’s Polish release.

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  4. freelancer SWEDEN Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Interesting sidenote; D&D translated to Swedish is actually Dragons&Demons, because Dungeons doesn’t start with a D in Swedish.

    Also, Luke, has your site gotten faster? Used to take about a minute or two to load, now it takes ten seconds.

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Heh, in Polish neither Dungeons (Lochy) nor Dragons (Smoki) start with a D so I believe the original name was kept in in the Polish D&D related releases. :P

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  6. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Also, I have no clue about the speed increase. My guess is that Dreamhost rebooted the server and the load didn’t skyrocket yet or something.

    Or maybe they did something to improve their infrastructure/load balancing. The front page still loads pretty slow, but individual post pages seem a tiny bit faster. Go figure.

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  7. freelancer SWEDEN Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I disagree about the front page. While it is still a bit slow, it’s nowhere near as slow as it used to be. It used to take at least a minute to load, now it takes 12 seconds (I timed it :P)

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  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Great to hear that. The site does seem speedier, but I don’t think this is anything that I did. Perhaps Dreamhost finally got their shit together.

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  9. Well, I don’t… OK, I do. I started with AD&D 2nd ed.(English) back in 92 or 93 or something. I’ve been through a lot of systems since then, but the highlights are the real Star Wars (D6 system), GURPS and Ars Magica (By Atlas Games) – since around 95 or so.

    I’m still playing Ars Magica – 5th ed. now. It is great for role-playing, stories and continuity. We’re mostly playing in the same group, using Skype and a wiki, sharing the role of Storyteller.

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  10. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    I keep hearing praise being heaped on Ars Magica. I will need to try it at some point. :)

    I’m amazed the online thing works for you. I’ve been in a few groups that broke up due to logistics (people moved, spawned offspring or simply could not commit to a weekly or bi-weekly sessions). Every time we tried to move the game online, in some sort of play by mail/forum format and each time we have failed miserably.

    Do you actually use the voice chat feature of Skype and play it “live”?

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  11. Yep, we’re 6 people in 5 different Norwegian cities- We’re playing live over Skype (almost) every Wednesday evening, as long as at least four of us can “get there”.

    Ars Magica revolves around a troupe of characters, each player controlling one Mage – and possibly a companion (Hero) and/or a group of “normal” people.

    Not every character is in every story; those who are not in the action is updated between play sessions. Mages study, others train, work or otherwise occupies themselves. This also yield experience.

    I’ll try and elaborate in a blog post :)

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  12. Andeye Me Myself POLAND Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Would you believe I actually use RPGs to practice conversational English over here? (I see that I get a cute flag so you all know where here is.) RPG language class is pretty labour intensive for me the native – like a normal lesson plan built on a theme but with characterizations and some armchair theatre. People get into it and participate so I do not have to worry about no shows, besides billing is in advance! The preparation allows for lots of flexibility at game level but there is alot of preparation. Because it is practicing language, the game is not: “ok, you see the orc. How many squares do you want to move?”

    I started with the original in Canada: AD&D 1st ed. I have played a few but I am more of a Cyberpunk2020 fan than anything else. I use both depending on the language group.

    But, I am tired of being a “GM for language practice preparations” and I was thinking I might look for some other native speakers in this city who would be up for a game. And I found you.

    BTW, I can pronounce your name. And my computer already has a cookie from you.

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