4th Edition's Monster Manual 3 releases next month, introducing a wealth of new creatures into the game (e.g., catastrophic dragons, apocalypse spells, new types of slaad, umber hulks, beholders)… but this is D&D Alumni, and we're much more concerned with those monsters of past editions finally making their return to the game!
Last time, we gave you our Top 10 monsters returning from the 1st Edition Monster Manual. This time we continue our look back by presenting the Top 10 monsters returning from the 1st Edition Monster Manual 2 and Fiend Folio.
The 1st Edition Monster Manual 2 might have more creatures reappearing (at least in this list), but the Fiend Folio garners the top two spots. You'll see why.
#10. Cloaker (Monster Manual 2)
How did these creatures possibly evolve, we wonder -- inhabiting caverns beneath the earth, they somehow gained the appearance of mundane cloaks . . . until someone donned one. "A cloaker resembles a large semicircular cloak or blanket with two claw-like appendages at the tips and a long, mace-like tail. Black eye spots cover its back like buttons on a cloak, and when the tail is hidden it is almost impossible to distinguish a cloaker from a real cloak."
First off, the cloaker is clearly a gotcha monster, but after players fall for its trick once, they'll start checking every cloak for hidden claws and tails. So unlike other gotcha monsters (the lurker above, the trapper, and so on), the cloaker boasted further powers . . . odd powers, to be sure (hence it comes in at #10). For instance, they emitted a series of subsonic moans, inducing everything from nervousness and unease, up to hold person, depending on their intensity.
The cloaker might come across as a one-shot ambusher with the powers from some other monster bolted onto it (it would have made more sense for a howler to emit these moans . . . or perhaps a su monster as a kind of psionic howler monkey). And yet, it still retains its eerie moans in the Monster Manual 3 -- and of course, its natural "cloaking device" so to speak:
"A popular tale at the Black Dragon Inn recounts the death of Sticky Fingers Malone, a notorious rogue and thief. A veteran spelunker and tomb robber, Sticky Fingers had a reputation for letting his companions do battle while he skulked about scooping up valuables. Of course, eventually Sticky Fingers paid for his selfish behavior.
"While delving in the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, old Fingers spotted a rich leather cloak hanging from a peg. While his allies fought off fire bats, Sticky Fingers plucked the cloak from the hook and threw it over his shoulders. To his shock, the cloak came alive and enveloped him, killing Sticky Fingers before any allies could help."
#9. Cave Fisher (Monster Manual 2)
Although cloakers don't make a whole lot of sense, evolutionarily speaking, cave fishers come straight from an episode of Nature (an episode discussing creepy cave dwelling predators). "To trap its prey, a cave fisher employs a super-strong, highly adhesive filament which extends from its proboscis. This filament is 60-feet long, and tipped with a powerful adhesive sucker . . . It will then "reel in" its prey at a rate of 15 feet per round, using a complex organic winch housed in an armored protuberance behind its head."
In R.A. Salvatore's Homeland, this very ambush captured an unseasoned, unprepared Drizzt. Although Drizzt's companion panther saved him, adventurers have relied on either cutting the fisher's line or dissolving its liquid adhesive with ". . . a high alcohol content or a cave fisher's blood, which also contains a lot of alcohol." No word yet on whether cave fisher blood has been served at the Yawning Portal.
Half-Life 2 featured barnacles: creatures that dangled similar adhesive filaments, looking to draw in prey. Barnacles would draw in anything their filaments grabbed (even decoys or objects that harmed them) -- the same might be tried against a cave fisher if their filament can be spotted in time . . . though this might prove difficult. Nowadays, if a cave fisher is already hidden and misses with its ranged attack, it remains safely hidden.
#8. Son of Kyuss (Fiend Folio)
What could be more of a horror movie monster than animated, putrid corpses? How about ". . . animated putrid corpses with fat green worms crawling in and out of all their skull orifices. . . "? The Fiend Folio delivered up some truly disturbing additions to the undead: strangling coffer corpses; troublesome, lying crypt things; huecuvas, which infected victims with acute cardiovascular-renal disease (really) -- and the sons of Kyuss. "Kyun was an evil high priest, creating the first of these creatures under instruction from an evil deity. Since then the 'sons' have increased considerably in numbers."
Here's how they increased -- these disgusting corpses would spit their equivalent of a rot grub at you:
"One worm per melee round will jump from a son's head to an adjacent character in melee with a son. It needs the normal 'to hit' roll to land on the victim and will then burrow into him, taking one melee round to penetrate the skin, during which time it may be destroyed by the touch of cold steel, holy water or a blessed object. If it is not destroyed, the worm heads for the victim's brain, taking 1-4 melee rounds to reach it. . . . If the worm reaches the brain, the victim becomes a son of Kyuss, the process of putrefaction setting in without further delay."
We never heard more from Kyun (though he seems like a villain ripe for development), but his evil deity certainly flourished. Kyuss the Wormgod featured in the appropriately named Age of Worms Adventure Path. Now his sons are back -- and with them, so are their burrowing worms:
Attack: Close burst 1 (one living enemy in burst); +16 vs. Fortitude Hit: The target takes ongoing 10 necrotic damage (save ends). In addition, the target is exposed to touch of Kyuss.
First Failed Saving Throw: The ongoing damage increases to 15.
Second Failed Saving Throw: The target is stunned, and the ongoing damage increases to 20 (save ends both).
Special: The corpse of any humanoid killed by this attack becomes a wretch of Kyuss at the start of the son of Kyuss's next turn. The wretch must be destroyed before the creature can be raised.
#7. Babau Demon (Monster Manual 2)
What type of creature exudes a red slime to protect itself from weapons? Not the hippo (once thought to sweat blood); it secretes a red-hued natural sunscreen. Not the scabmettlers (characters in China Mieville's The Scar); they cut themselves to harden their blood into a kind of armor. No, we were thinking of the babau, also known as the one-horned death, or ebony death.
A minor demon with a slew of miscellaneous powers (darkness, heat metal, an enfeebling gaze), the babau might have been most remembered for its equally miscellaneous appearance: as a skeleton in form-fitting black leather, with hands and feet the size of a hill giant's, and a single horn curving forward from the back of its skull (note: tearing off this horn does not weaken a babau as it did with Dagoth).
Babaus were hated by vrock, hezrou, and glabrezu. Type IV demons (nalfeshnee, also returning to the Monster Manual 3) particularly feared them, since babau apparently detested Type IV demons except as food. In Monster Manual 3, whatever their current feuds, their demonic backstory has been rather greatly expanded on:
"Babaus' unusual cunning is linked to their origin: When Graz'zt's invasion into the Abyss was stalled, the archdevil surrendered to the plane's corruption. Glasya, Asmodeus's daughter, descended to the Plain of Yawning Pits to punish Graz'zt and complete his mission. When Glasya and Graz'zt met, their armies clashed in yet another battle of the Blood War. Glasya plunged her sword through the new demon prince, but it didn't kill him. Where Graz'zt's blood splattered on the ground, babaus arose, each filled with the subtlety of a devil and the bloodlust of a demon. Their sudden appearance helped rout Glasya and secured Graz'zt's place as one of the preeminent demon lords of the Abyss."
#6. Kraken (Monster Manual 2)
What is the difference between a giant squid (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-style), and a kraken (Dead Man's Chest-style)? Giant squid reach enormous size and hunt whales (and megasharks). Kraken do as well, of course -- but they can also hunt ships, and they have a malevolent intelligence.
In the D&D universe, kraken once ". . . had human worshippers who served them and brought them sacrifices. Some upheaval in nature -- and possibly a battle with Good forces -- caused the surviving monsters to retreat to the depths. There, although their number dwindled to a mere handful, the survivors grew huge and powerful. They now seek to kill any good creatures and to devour all small life."
The 1st Edition Monster Manual 2 provided mechanics for breaching hulls and dragging ships down to a watery grave. Their fiendish plots (and plot hooks) went further, since it was ". . . rumored that some kraken maintain complexes of caverns wherein they keep and breed human slaves to serve and feed them."
The Monster Manual 3 has summoned both the sea and astral kraken (which of course plague the Astral Sea) to the game -- creatures terrible enough to not just threaten your crew, but eat your entire ship as well.