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D&D Monster Origins

Monsters (V–Z)

This is a part of a collection of monster origins. See the main monster origins page for more.

Vampire

The vampire's level drain came from me. I decided upon it as a way of simulating that monster's capacity to weaken and make helpless its victims. Once established, the level-draining attack power made all undead so able into most fearsome opponents.

Of course magical and clerical means of restoring lost levels were provided—excellent ways for DMs to be rid of wishes and to drain treasure from PCs hoards and into clerical coffers.

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), February 10, 2004, EN World Q&A VI

His face was a strong—a very strong—aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth; these protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.
[…]

This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror! The whole room behind me was displayed; but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself. This was startling, and, coming on the top of so many strange things, was beginning to increase that vague feeling of uneasiness which I always have when the Count is near; but at the instant I saw that the cut had bled a little, and the blood was trickling over my chin. I laid down the razor, turning as I did so half round to look for some sticking plaster. When the Count saw my face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat. I drew away, and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.

Bram Stoker (1847–1912), Dracula (1897). Chapter 2.

Violet Fungus

The positive side of violet fungi is that it eats only flesh--including leather--but leaves vegetable and mineral matter untouched. Of course a small amount of the stuff might remain in the pile of "leftovers"...

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), September 30, 2006, EN World Q&A XII

Wight

[I] absolutely did have in mind that a wight was a physical being, a wraith mainly immaterial, and I thought that was clear from the get-go in original D&D. Certainly the movement rates for the two creatures reflected that, as I recall. (Heh, you can tell it's been a while since I have delved into the MM—over a year now, in fact.)

In fact, as I recall the MM illos of the two showed the wight as a clearly physical, corpse-like monster, while the wraith was shown as spectral, ghostly, no?

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), September 25, 2002, EN World Q&A I

Where are you? he cried again, both angry and afraid.

Here! said a voice, deep and cold, that seemed to come out of the ground. I am waiting for you!

No! said Frodo; but he did not run away. His knees gave, and he fell on the ground. Nothing happened, and there was no sound. Trembling he looked up, in time to see a tall dark figure like a shadow against the stars. It leaned over him. He thought there were two eyes, very cold though lit with a pale light that seemed to come from some remote distance. Then a grip stronger and colder than iron seized him. The icy touch froze his bones, and he remembered no more.

When he came to himself again, for a moment he could recall nothing except a sense of dread. Then suddenly he knew that he was imprisoned, caught hopelessly; he was in a barrow. A Barrow-wight had taken him, and he was probably already under the dreadful spells of the Barrow-wights about which whispered tales spoke. He dared not move, but lay as he found himself: flat on his back upon a cold stone with his hands on his breast.

J. R. R. Tolkien (1892–1973), The Lord of the Rings (1954). Book I, chapter 8.

wiht I. (u, y) fn. 'wight', person, creature, being : 'whit,' thing, something, anything.

Dr. John R. Clark Hall, A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (2nd edition, 1916), p. 353

Worg

But even the wild Wargs (for so the evil wolves over the Edge of the Wild were named) cannot climb trees[...] The Wargs and the goblins often helped one another in wicked deeds. Goblins do not usually venture very far from their mountains, unless they are driven out and are looking for new homes, or are marching to war (which I am glad to say has not happened for a long while). But in those days they sometimes used to go on raids, especially to get food or slaves to work for them. Then they often got the Wargs to help and shared the plunder with them. Sometimes they rode on wolves like men do on horses.

J. R. R. Tolkien (1892–1973), The Hobbit (1937), chapter 6.

Wraith

[I] absolutely did have in mind that a wight was a physical being, a wraith mainly immaterial, and I thought that was clear from the get-go in original D&D. Certainly the movement rates for the two creatures reflected that, as I recall. (Heh, you can tell it's been a while since I have delved into the MM—over a year now, in fact.)

In fact, as I recall the MM illos of the two showed the wight as a clearly physical, corpse-like monster, while the wraith was shown as spectral, ghostly, no?

Gary Gygax (1938–2008), September 25, 2002, EN World Q&A I

Xill

A regular blood-devil spewed out of some fantastic nightmare; ugly as sin[...]

The gash of his mouth in the center of his round, smooth head was split in a silent snarl of fury at the unutterable bad luck that was forcing this move upon him. His vision snapped full on; and now he could see blurrily through the hard metal of the ceiling.

A. E. Van Vogt (1912–2000), Discord in Scarlet (1939; part III of the Voyage of the Space Beagle)