Sunday, January 9, 2022

Moldvay Basic: Monsters

The Moldvay Basic rulebook did not merely draw upon the Holmes Basic rulebook for its list of Monsters, but introduced several changes, adapted creatures from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, and introduced new monsters (underlined, below).*

*many of the new creatures had appeared in the newly updated, combined Monster & Treasure Assortment (1980), Sets One-Three: Levels One-Nine, for which a working draft of the new list of monsters may have been available


Acolyte - entry for NPC clerics "on a pilgrimage to or from a holy (or unholy) shrine", sometimes led by a higher level NPC cleric


Illustration by Erol Otus


Ape, White - substituted for Carnivorous Ape (from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual) in the updated M&T Assortment (1980), "sometimes kept as pets by Neanderthals."

Bandit - modified version of entry from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes, serving for NPC thieves (although states "may have an NPC leader of any class")

Bat (Normal, Giant) - statistics for Bats had only previously appeared in the article "Good Evening" by Lenard Lakofka, from The Dragon #30 (October, 1979)

Bear (Black, Grizzly, Polar, Cave) - statistics for Black and Cave Bears had previously appeared in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual.  Cave Bears were also listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Beetle, Giant (Fire, Oil, Tiger) - Fire Beetles are from Blackmoor/AD&D 1e Monster Manual/Holmes 2nd printing (Nov 1978).  Oil and Tiger Beetles (which "usually prey on robber flies") were substituted for other types of Giant Beetles in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Berserker - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Boar - similar to Wild Boars in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Bugbear - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Carrion Crawler - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Cat, Great (Mountain Lion, Panther, Lion, Tiger, Sabre-tooth Tiger) - Mountain Lions, Leopards, Lions, Tigers, and Sabre-tooth Tigers appeared in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual.  Sabre-tooth Tigers were also listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Cave Locust - "eat fungus such as yellow mold and shriekers".  Created by Steve Sullivan, as revealed in this thread on the Piazza

Centipede, Giant - from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual/Holmes 2nd printing (Nov, 1978).  Their bite is no longer possibly fatal, but rather "the victim must save vs. Poison or become violently ill for 10 days".

Doppleganger - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Dragon (White, Black, Green, Blue, Red, Gold) - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes.  See also OD&D Dragons: On the Origin of Species

Driver Ant - substituted for Giant Ants (from the AD&D 1e Monster Manual) in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Dwarf - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Elf - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Ferret, Giant - similar to Giant Weasels in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual.  "They hunt giant rats underground, and are sometimes trained for this purpose."

Gargoyle - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Gelatinous Cube - from OD&D vol. 2/Greyhawk/Holmes

Ghoul - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Gnoll - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes 2nd printing (Nov 1978)

Gnome - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Goblin - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Gray Ooze - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Green Slime - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Halfling - appeared in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Harpy - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Hobgoblin - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Insect Swarms - new to Moldvay

Killer Bee - new to Moldvay


Illustration by Erol Otus


Kobold - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Living Statue (Crystal, Iron, Rock) - although mentioned in OD&D vol. 2, these types of Living Statue are unique to Moldvay.  All three types were listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980).  See also "Marvel's Crystar and Moldvay's Living Statues: connection?"

Lizards, Giant (Gecko, Draco, Horned Chameleon, Tuatara) - Giant and Subterranean Lizards appeared in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, although Moldvay's types are different.  All four types were listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Lizard Man - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Lycanthropes (Wererat, Werewolf, Wereboar, Weretiger, Werebear) - from OD&D vol. 2/Greyhawk/Holmes

Medium - entry for NPC magic-users, sometimes accompanied by their master, a 3rd level magic-user

Medusa - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Minotaur - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Mule - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Neanderthal (Caveman) - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes manuscript.  Also appeared in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Noble - the lord of a castle, will always be accompanied by a squire (a 2nd level fighter)

Normal Human

NPC Party

Ochre Jelly - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Ogre - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Orc - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Owl Bear - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Pixie - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Rat (Normal, Giant) - statistics for Rats had only previously appeared in the article "Good Evening" by Lenard Lakofka, from The Dragon #30 (October, 1979).  The Giant Rat is from Greyhawk/AD&D 1e Monster Manual/Holmes 2nd printing (Nov 1978)

Robber Fly - new to Moldvay

Rock Baboon - new to Moldvay, although statistics for normal Baboons had appeared in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Rust Monster - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Shadow - From Greyhawk/Holmes

Shrew, Giant - new to Moldvay, were listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Shrieker - from The Strategic Review #3/Holmes

Skeleton - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Snake (Spitting Cobra, Pit Viper, Sea Snake, Giant Rattler, Rock Python) - similar to Giant Snakes (Constrictor, Poisonous, Sea, Spitting) in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual.  Giant Rattlesnakes and Pythons were also listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)


Illustration by Bill Willingham


Spider, Giant (Crab Spider, Black Widow, Tarantella) - Giant Spiders appeared in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, although Moldvay's types are different.  All three types were also listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980)

Sprite - appeared in the the AD&D 1e Monster Manual, although Moldvay's type "have a strange sense of humor.  Five sprites acting together can cause one curse spell." similar to imps as described in the original Known World campaign.

Stirge - from Greyhawk/Holmes

Thoul - originally appeared in the wandering monster tables on page 10 in OD&D vol. 3 "The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures" (5th printing).  Listed in the updated M&T Assortment (1980).  See also Origin of the Thoul?

Trader - similar to Merchants in the AD&D 1e Monster Manual


Illustration by Bill Willingham


Troglodyte- from AD&D 1e Monster Manual/Holmes 2nd printing (Nov 1978)

Veteran - entry for NPC fighters

Wight - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Wolf (Normal Wolf, Dire Wolf) - from Greyhawk/AD&D 1e Monster Manual

Yellow Mold - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes

Zombie - from OD&D vol. 2/Holmes


Moldvay states "The DM may wish to make these monsters stronger or weaker to suit the needs of the campaign." and "The DM may also create other monsters after becoming familiar with the monsters in this booklet, perhaps basing such monsters on creatures the DM has read about in works of fantasy or science fiction."*

*see "How to Create Monsters for D&D Basic and Expert Games" by Jean Wells, published in RPGA News (Polyhedron) #2 (Autumn, 1981).  Wells provides helpful advice as well as an example of a new monster, the "Hagertral"

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