Monsters Manuals appendix N

I was kind of excited to see that there is a reading list in both the 5th edition Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide. So, suppose you wanted to compile a reading list for a monsters manual.  Inspirational reading for new monsters, stories with cool or interesting uses of monsters, and maybe sources for some of the established D&D monsters*. What should go in? Here’s a start. Suggestions welcome. The following books are all pretty good, and worth checking out.

Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse. The field guide to little people. An encyclopedia style guide, with somewhat creepy illustrations.

Barber, Ruchard. A companion to world mythology. A dictionary of mythology, with short entries and a ton of small illustrations. The illustrations generally try to mimic the style of the culture each entry is from, so that the Greek gods are illustrated in a Grecian style, and so on.

Barlowe, Wanye Douglas. Barlowe’s guide to extraterrestials and Barlowe’s guide to fantasy. Great color illustrations of characters and creatures from science fiction and fantasy novels, with a short summary that usually does not give away any spoilers. Each has a fold-out chart of all the subjects for size comparison, which is pretty cool.

Borges, J. The book of imaginary beings. Borges describes creatures from literature and fable, intermixed with some he’s made up, and others he re-imagined. If you liked Zak Smith’s re-imagining of the Fiend Folio and Monster Manuals**, you’ll also like this, I think. There is a really great illustrated edition, which I’d go with over the all-text edition.

Briggs, Katharine. The encyclopedia of fairies. Arranged like an encyclopedia with entries on topics and places, but this actually includes a lot of excerpts from folklore and entire stories, often in the local dialect or archaic English, this is probably more for scholars than general readers, despite the cover and marketing. But it’s worth perusing.

Cohen, Daniel. The encyclopedia of monsters. I read a lot of Cohen’s books as a kid, and this encyclopedia is a great introduction to his credulous style of writing about all manner of fantastic and cryptozoological creatures. Does he really believe in this stuff? Maybe. But he is careful to stick to his sources and makes no effort to hide some of the goofier aspects of these legends. This is one of the only books in this list I don’t actually own, but I am on the lookout for it when I go to library book sales.

Davidson, Avram. Adventures in unhistory. This a collection of essays looking at possible historical bases of various legends. Davidson’s incredible erudition and sharp humor make it a great read. He doesn’t talk a lot about monsters, but there are so many ideas here you will certainly find something useful. (I’m still on the hunt for a copy of this too, as the copy I read was a library loan).

D’Aularies, Ingrid and Edgar P. D’Aularies’ book of Trolls. The D’Aulaires really got me hooked on mythology as a kid and the book of trolls collects some Norwegian troll stories while also giving a sort of treatise on the habits and types of trolls.

Douglas, Adam. The beast within. A book on werewolves and lycanthropy, this one also includes some great material on the “Plinian races” and other near-humans from legend.

Lang, Andrew (ed.). The blue fairy book. (And The yellow fairy book, etc. — all of his Fairy books). Collected folklore and fairytales from all over the world, pretty much every page is a delight.

Petersen, Sandy. S. Petersen’s field guide to the creatures of the dreamlands. I tried to keep gaming books out of the list, and this is on the border but does not actually have any stats and has some great artwork. Bonus: you don’t have to plow through HPL’s often ponderous efforts to mimic Dunsany to find out about the incredible creatures he invented for the Dreamlands cycle.

Rossi, Matthew. Things that never were. One part research, one part wild speculation, this is kind of like the popular “Hite Report” that used to appear in the Pyramid Magazine, but for general readers rather than DMs. A lot of fun.

Sedgwick, Paulita. Mythological creatures. Another dictionary-style children’s book, notable for cool illustrations and engaging writing.

 

As far as recommending fiction, that’s another post, or series of posts, or honestly a project that really screams for crowdsourcing. But I’d add one book that probably isn’t shelved with the sci-fi and fantasy in your bookstore or library:

Eco, Umberto. Baudolino! A hiliarious riff on medieval travelogues and legends, the sections detailing the Plinian races and other wonders of the East is pure gold.

*****************

*A pretty good effort at this last topic was made by Aardy R. DeVarque here.  Looking at the sources there for various monsters reminded me that striges in D&D probably were inspired by the Strix of Greek mythology, and perhaps their cave-dwelling (and indirectly their bat-like wings) come from Thomas Burnett Swann’s The day of the minotaur. Wouldn’t it be cool to produce an “annotated” AD&D Monster Manual with sources made explicit? And yeah for “cool” most people will read “intolerably nerdy,” but that’s how I think. Actually once I finish up some other projects already in the hopper, maybe a grand compilation of sources for AD&D monsters, spells, and magic items would be fun.

**No link, not sure how his site will be affected by the changes in Blogger, but you can Google it.

Advertisements
Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (7)  
Tags:

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://mikemonaco.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/monsters-manuals-appendix-n/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. To your list, I might add Barbara Nynne-Byfield’s (sp?) “The Glass Harmonica” (also published as ‘The Book of Weird’). It’s got more than just monsters in it, but has a lot of nice ‘comparison’ drawings showing bipeds ranging in size from tiny pixies to giants and info about werewolves, vampires, etc., from folklore. It was published in the 1960s or 70s I think — I had a copy back when I first started playing D&D. Although written for a younger reader, it doesn’t equate ‘young reader’ with ‘stupid.’ I’ve had a copy for more than 30 years and I still like it.

    • Yes, that is a great one!

  2. Um,that is Katharine Briggs and her Abbey Lubers is a cheaper book

    • Thanks! Corrected! I got the Encyclopedia of Fairies in paperback, fairly inexpensively.

  3. I thought this post was really good so I added a link to it in my Best Reads of the Week series. You can check it out at this link below if you’d like.

    http://dyverscampaign.blogspot.com/2015/03/best-reads-of-week-february-22-28-2015.html

    • Thanks!

  4. OK, another example of interesting monsters in fiction:
    “The other Sinbad”, by Craig Shaw Gardner, includes:
    *A two-headed cyclops that captures people and demands that they tell him interesting stories (when he grows bored, he eats them)
    *Enchanted fig trees in an oasis, which can speak and plead with passersby to eat them. Those who give in to this temptation suffer horrible diarrhea, and eventually transform into excrement (providing compost for the fig trees)
    *and similarly garbled and slightly silly creatures from the Sinbad stories.

    “The dead lands,” by Benjamin Percy features hairless wolves, giant spiders, and other mutant animals, which are pretty standard fare, but it also has “goblins” which are mutant vampire bats ranging in size from that of a lap dog to a human, which are intelligent, communal, and blood-sucking. The live in caves or the basements of ruins and if they don’t drain their prey on the spot, will take them back to their lairs for later.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Fail Squad Games

Cigar Box Battle

An online resource blog for gamers and geeks focused on wargames miniatures and board games and role playing games

terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

POWER WORD KILL

Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

booksandopinions.com

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

hosercanadian

Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.

Cirsova

An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides

Fractalbat

A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

tenfootpole.org

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer

A collection of advice, essays, and rambling rants about tabletop gaming and other geekiness. Often updated Monday-ishly.

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

inthecitiesdotcom

Just another WordPress.com site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"

chieflyill

gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

Metropollywog

Role-Playing Games, Medieval History, Assorted Legends and Myths, and My Stupid Life.

%d bloggers like this: