There was a time when all I needed was the Basic and Expert Dungeons and Dragons sets and now I'm going to pull from those again today.
Some days I get really overwhelmed with amount of product coming out of the OSR marketplace. The amount of clones, mini clones, and whatnot can be incredibly bewildering. So I head back to Basic & Expert to dip my wick in the source material.
Right now I'm in the middle of setting up more of my pulpy Warlord of the Outer Worlds campaign. For me that means going back to one of the best science fiction and science fantasy sources for monsters. Yeah, that's right the Basic and Expert sets of Dungeons and Dragons; for me these sets were a second tier awakening for Dungeons and Dragons. They came at a time when I needed them and they had some strange monsters in them as we will see.
Here are a few of my favorite monsters with OSR blog commentary that you might find useful. I sure did.
- Caelilia are an old favorite and Beyond the Black Gate blog did a really nice conversion of these 30' long, slimy, gray worms which are voracious predators, often lurking just behind dungeon walls, floors, or ceilings (or spongy wilderness earth) just the thing to have PC's encounter on some lost world or forgotten colony out around Jupiter. I also can't tell you the number of times I had PC's in a Lamentations of the Flame Princes game lost an arm or leg to these bastards.
- Hydras forget the dragons for a moment in Basic and Expert Hydras were bad news and they were mean and killed many PC's over the years. They make excellent iconic sword and sorcery monsters so much so that the Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea uses them in place of dragons and it works.
- Another favorite to use that never gets a nod or mention is the
giant Rhagodessa is a nocturnal carnivorous arachnid that closely resembles a spider, but has immense crushing mandibles. These things are perfect for a quick wrist loss or right hand take off. They work so well as pulpy alien predators with a spidery bent.
- Trolls the infection that just won't go away; these bastards are another perfect monster to add a pulpy sword and planet vibe with a fantasy twist. Classic and the DM can make them as alien as he or she likes. They come in an endless variety of vibrant and weird colours as well.
- Troglodytes are my go too degenerate lizardoid species and they're mean as hell in Basic and Expert. They can easily fulfill a Lovecraftian niche for a sword and planet alien species because that's exactly what they are. They also make great survivor servitor and slave races for the serpent men on Carcosa.
- Thouls are the best parts of hobgoblin, troll, ghoul and they make excellent sword and planet mercenary and bounty hunters for Hobgoblin tribes out around Jupiter in my campaigns or as degenerate remains of ancient experiments.
- Medusa have been making a come back lately because of the OSR but they also make excellent free agents moving around campaigns freely to spread evil as mid tier agents of greater power. These are a highly under utilized species in my humble estimation.
- Living Statues Rock are some of the best monsters to place in alien dungeons; they're chaotic, reek of alienness and they can take on a variety of weird life forms or shapes depending upon the DM whim. They also shoot lava from their appendages usually fingers. The species Living Statue come in three varieties Crystal, Iron, and Rock. Dreams in the Lich House has a great break down.
- Gargoyles are my go to all around replacement for lower level demonic replacements for Lovecraftian demons. They fill the niche nicely when you want to get the lost and forgotten evil vibe across in the ruins or dungeon and want to watch the players go huh? And then make for weapons before getting slaughtered.
- The Sea Dragon is no not the dragon turtle of AD&D fame, the sea dragon was one of my favorite dragons from Basic to use. Highly intelligent, very dangerous, a perfect species to use as the head of coast line pirate guilds and a fifth of these bastards had spells making them incredibly dangerous. They can sink a ship easily and they're plain nasty if angered. They also make excellent guardians of wrecked space craft underwater or ships.
Special mentions also include the Salamanders from Expert another old favorite that can totally wreck a party's day especially the Chaotic ice variety and Dopplegangers who make excellent alien spies and infiltrators. All of the monsters above make excellent additions to Gothic or horror themed games as well especially for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, many players seem to become jaded and forget that these things can quite easily be very dangerous to their PC's.