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D&D Monster Origins

Monsters (R–S)

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Illustration of rakshasa, apparently drawn on time-worn parchment.

Clip from "Kolchack: The Night Stalker" showing the rakshasa about to devour a victim.

Shri Sadashiva said:
I am speaking of Dhyana of the Vastu-Rakshasa, by constant and devoted repetition of which all dangers are destroyed. O Maheshani! do thou listen.
The Deva Vastu-pati should be meditated upon as four-armed, of great body, his head covered with matted hair, three eyed, of ferocious aspect, decked with garlands and earrings, with big belly and long ears and hairy body, wearing yellow garments, holding in his hand the mace, the trident, the axe, and the Khatvanga. Let him be pictured as (red) like the rising Sun and like the God of Death to one’s enemies, seated in the padmasana posture on the back of a tortoise, surrounded by Kapilasya and other powerful followers, carrying swords and shields.

Mahanirvana Tantra, tr. Arthur Avalon (1913). Thirteenth Joyful Message.

O king, just after the dreadful hour of midnight when all nature is asleep, when man-eating Rakshasas of terrible deeds begin to wander, the ascetics and the cowherds and other rangers of the forest used to shun the woods of Kamyaka and fly to a distance from fear of cannibals. And, O Bharata, as the Pandavas were at this hour entering those woods a fearful Rakshasa of flaming eyes appeared before them with a lighted brand, obstructing their path. And with outstretched arms and terrible face, he stood obstructing the way on which those perpetuators of the Kuru race were proceeding. With eight teeth standing out, with eyes of coppery hue, and with the hair of his head blazing and standing erect, the fiend looked like a mass of clouds reflecting the rays of the sun or mingled with lightning flashes and graced with flocks of cranes underneath on their wings. And uttering frightful yells and roaring like a mass of clouds charged with rain, the fiend began to spread the illusion proper to his species. Hearing that terrible roar, birds along with other creatures that live on land or in water, began to drop down in all directions, uttering cries of fear.

Mahanirvana Tantra, tr. Arthur Avalon (1913). Kirmirabadha Parva.

I was a fan of Kolchack, the Night Stalker, when it first aired, and sure enough they had a rakshasa as a monstrous evil on that show. I liked the idea of the demon being destroyed by a blessed wooden crossbow bolt, that being akin to the stake through a vampire's heart, so I went with that in the MM.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), July 9, 2005, EN World Q&A IX

A rakshasa is an evil spirit who can possess a man's mind and which delights in the consumption of human flesh.


A crossbow is the method prescribed in legend by which one may destroy a rakshasa: with arrows blessed by the divine Brahma himself.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Horror in the Heights, December 20, 1974


The remorhaz was created by Erol Otus (uncredited) in The Dragon #2, Creature Feature, pp. 21–26.


Sometimes spelled rukh, this is an enormous bird from Arabian and Egyptian mythology, popularized by the Arabian Nights stories.

We sailed from city to city and from island to island and from sea to sea viewing the cities and countries by which we passed, and selling and buying in not a few, till one day we came to a great uninhabited island, deserted and desolate, whereon was a white dome of biggest bulk half buried in the sands. The merchants landed to examine this dome, leaving me in the ship, and when they drew near, behold, it was a huge roc's egg. They fell a-beating it with stones, knowing not what it was, and presently broke it open, whereupon much water ran out of it and the young roc appeared within. So they pulled it forth of the shell and cut its throat and took of it great store of meat. Now I was in the ship and knew not what they did, but presently one of the passengers came up to me and said, "O my lord, come and look at the egg that we thought to be a dome." So I looked, and seeing the merchants beating it with stones, called out to them: "Stop, stop! Do not meddle with that egg, or the bird roc will come out and break our ship and destroy us." But they paid no heed to me and gave not over smiting upon the egg, when behold, the day grew dark and dun and the sun was hidden from us, as if some great cloud had passed over the firmament. So we raised our eyes and saw that what we took for a cloud was the roc poised between us and the sun, and it was his wings that darkened the day. When he came and saw his egg broken, he cried a loud cry, whereupon his mate came flying up and they both began circling about the ship, crying out at us with voices louder than thunder. I called to the rais and crew, "Put out to sea and seek safety in flight, before we be all destroyed!" So the merchants came on board and we cast off and made haste from the island to gain the open sea.

When the rocs saw this, they flew off, and we crowded all sail on the ship, thinking to get out of their country, but presently the two reappeared and flew after us and stood over us, each carrying in its claws a huge boulder which it had brought from the mountains. As soon as the he-roc came up with us, he let fall upon us the rock he held in his pounces, but the master put about ship, so that the rock missed her by some small matter and plunged into the waves with such violence that the ship pitched high and then sank into the trough of the sea, and the bottom the ocean appeared to us. Then the she-roc let fall her rock, which was bigger than that of her mate, and as Destiny had decreed, it fell on the poop of the ship and crushed it, the rudder flying into twenty pieces. Whereupon the vessel foundered and all and everything on board were cast into the main. As for me, I struggled for sweet life till Almighty Allah threw in my way one of the planks of the ship, to which I clung and bestriding it, fell a-paddling with my feet.

The Arabian Nights, tr. Richard Burton (1850). The Fifth Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman.


The Roper I dreamed up out of whole cloth, like the umber hulk, so WotC could well claim it is unique.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), March 10, 2003, EN World Q&A II

Rust Monster

The bulette and rust monster were originally plastic toys owned by Gary Gygax, but he credits Tim Kask for giving them names and abilities.

[The] name and stats were created by Tim Kask, then editor of Dragon Magazine.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), February 12, 2005, EN World Q&A VII


Well, the fact that I was running a fever when I came up with the Slaadi is probably not going to surprise anyone—think of 'em as my independent exploration of Lovecraftiana. (I didn't discover H. P. Lovecraft until a couple of years later.)

Charles Stross, mid-late 2000, Legacy of Zerthimon interview

The Slaadi were going to be basically representatives of, and devotees of, total chaos—with an added warped sense of humour.

Charles Stross, mid-late 2000, Legacy of Zerthimon interview


The stirge I made up frm whole cloth, vaguely inspired by the myth of Strygea.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), February 12, 2005, EN World Q&A IX

The sixth labour [Eurystheus] enjoined on [Herakles] was to chase away the Stymphalian birds. Now at the city of Stymphalus in Arcadia was the lake called Stymphalian, embosomed in a deep wood. To it countless birds had flocked for refuge, fearing to be preyed upon by the wolves. So when Herakles was at a loss how to drive the birds from the wood, Athena gave him brazen castanets, which she had received from Hephaestus. By clashing these on a certain mountain that overhung the lake, he scared the birds. They could not abide the sound, but fluttered up in a fright, and in that way Herakles shot them.

Apollodorus, Library and Epitome (1st cent.?), tr./ed. James George Frazer. Book 2.