Yesterday I wrote a post about the low number of monsters in the 5th Edition of Dungeon & Dragons that first appeared in 3rd and 4th edition rather than the original 1974 game and AD&D 1st and 2nd edition. And oh boy, was I off with my claim of there being only four. There are a lot more than those.
- Chuul (3rd Ed., Monster Manual; 2000)
- Girallon (3rd Ed., Monster Manual; 2000)
- Gray Render (3rd Ed., Monster Manual; 2000)
- Grick (3rd Ed., Monster Manual; 2000)
- Eidolon (3rd Ed., Monster Manual 2; 2002)
- Twig Blight (3rd d., Monster Manual 2; 2002)
- Steel Predator (3rd Ed., Fiend Folio; 2003)
- Vine Blight (3rd Ed., Fiend Folio; 2003)
- Kruthik (3rd Ed. Miniatures Handbook; 2003)
- Nothic (3rd Ed. Miniatures Handbook; 2003)
- Mindwitness (3rd Ed., Underdark; 2003)
- Boneclaw (3rd Ed., Monster Manual 3; 2004)
- Wood Woad (3rd Ed., Monster Manual 3; 2004)
- Balhannoth (3rd Ed., Monster Manual 4; 2006)
- Sibirex (3rd Ed., Fiendish Codex 1; 2006)
- Merregon (3rd Ed., Fiendish Codex 2; 2006)
- Orthon (3rd Ed., Fiendish Codex 2; 2006)
- Skull Lord (3rd Ed., Monster Manual 5; 2007)
- Elemental Myrmidon (4th Ed., Monster Manual; 2008)
- Star Spawn (4th Ed., Monster Manual 2; 2009)
- Banderhobb (4th Ed., Monster Manual 3; 2010)
This brings my count to 21. And I have to say, most of these are not exactly contenders for the most memorable monsters of D&D. Chuul, nothic, mindwitness, sibirex, and star spawn stand out from the crowd, but I wouldn’t call them new iconic D&D monsters either.
One thing to point out here is that all of this excludes the various fantastic creatures native to the Eberron setting. A small number of them made it into the 3rd Edition Monster Manual 3, but since they remained confined to Eberron books in 4th and 5th edition, I am not counting them here as “D&D” monsters.
I got the idea for putting together this list when thinking about monsters from secondary monsters books after the first Monster Manual for 3rd and 4th edition, which managed to get any kind of recognition. And couldn’t really think of any. Of the 21 monsters listed here, 5 were from the primary Monster Manual, so the ones that come from secondary monster books is actually only 16. And the Fiendish Codices and Underdark were not full monster books, but splatbooks with a short monster chapter. For 7 books, that’s a very low turnout. That’s an average of 2 monsters per book that went on to be asked to make repeat appearances. All the other monsters in 5th edition other than these 21 go back to the first game and AD&D. And I wonder why that is? Why have WotCs monsters had so little success in sticking around? Of course, part of this is certainly that the field was already very crowded when 3rd edition came along, and the established critters had already been around the block several times. Making a splash in that environment certainly would have been considerably harder. And as I said before, I wouldn’t quite say the eidolon and wood woad made any kind of splash, even though they are still around.