Please write in comments if you have ever had to use the Monster Manual stats listed here for a camel. I'm not saying you haven't, I just want to hear the story.
I was never big on the carrion crawler, but then I saw this thing from Reaper, marketed under the name "Charnel Grub":
And I love it. I guess it's the same reason I like sickly-yellow ooze better than black pudding--I just prefer things to be disgusting.
Jesus, if Pliny the Elder wrote about his leaking faucet, Gary would've gone and statted it up.
If you came to my house and forced me to use a catoblepas (that sounds so filthy) then I'd make it a unique and elusive creature that looked like a bantha. But you didn't so I didn't and I'm happy.
Gygaxian naturalism in action. Trampling causes d4 per trampling cow, so that makes the herds of livestock that presumably dot any properly simulatory medieval D&D landscape another probably-under-utilized animal weapon. A little math and googling reveals that that means the average British Columbia dairy farm has enough cattle to kill the Tarrasque in one round.
By rights I should like centaurs since I like pretty much any Greek monster, but where the fuck do you put them? They're goofy in dungeons, awkward in creepy forests, out-of-place in frozen wastes. Centaurs imply big open grassy plains. Big open grassy plains imply me yawning.
The giant centipede is only a foot long. Somehow that's so much creepier than it being ten feet long.
Also: this is where I start realizing the hidden thread of "c" monsters--they are the monsters most likely to appear in a William Burroughs novel. Camels? Tentacled grubs? Men with the lower bodies of horses? See? And the rest of "C" is just illness, hallucination and local color.
"He tells me about an incident where a man was half eaten by a crocodile and they found parts of his body in the crocodile's stomach"
"He had headed north instead, into a land of sandstone formation, carved by wind and sand - a camel, a tortoise, Cambodian temples - and everywhere caves pocked into the red rock like bubbles in boiling oatmeal."
Oh, look at that--"evil is quite literally a virus parasite occupying a certain brain area"
-Place of Dead Roads
Anyway, these are invisible, undetectable things that go into your brain if you use psionics, eat your psionics points and won't leave unless you use cure disease. I can't figure out any possible way these could be fun. Ok, maybe shapechange into one and fuck with a mind flayer, but, really, haven't you got better things to do with your time?
The chimera is the only thing in the monster manual with goat parts*, which--while it was considerate of Gary to leave the Warhammer people something to work with--it's weird considering goats are way eviler than lions and the chimera's one of like 20 monsters in the manual that are mostly a pair of wings with a lion in the middle--the sphinx, lamassu, gryphon, manticore, etc.
In the Sphinx's case, the resemblance is probably because the Chimera is supposed to be the Sphinx's mother. Seeing as how "Chimerae speak a very limited form of red dragon language" (presumably that's the form of the red dragon language where you're constantly getting interrupted by a goat and a lion) and the Sphinx is all-wise and all-knowing and does riddles and stuff, I'm figuring this was one of those oldest-sister-leaves-town-and-gets-all-cosmopolitan-in-order-to-distance-self-from-hick-parents-type situations. "Cover yours--BAAA!--ROAR!--up, girl! Who'll buy the she-goat if they can get the milk for free?" And then, when you consider that Chimera's mother was Echidna...
...you have to figure the intergenerational confusion in that family was probably pretty thick.
"Chimera" is also a synonym for "delusion". I once read in art school a whole book by a feminist poststructuralist who made much of the fact that the Chimera was female--the implication being that in our patriarchal system fantastic delusions are considered inherently female.
Also Chimera is the name of a crappy band I saw open for Slayer once.
Although I'm very fond of the Chimera I'll admit it's a little confusing to imagine how it works in combat. I mean if you were it, wouldn't you just go dragon head/dragon head/dragon head and let you goat head just hang out? The normally fairly tactically-minded 3.5 monster manual offers no help on the subject saying only "the Chimera prefers to surprise prey" which is good because it's pretty hard to imagine it doing anything else. "What's that?""Oh, you know, a fire-breathing goatliondragon that talks" "Oh, that again".
Anyway, Chimera are the closest thing in D&D to true medieval monk, bad-ergot-trip prophetic-hallucination, so I'm all for it.
Mandy's stated preference is for the wingless version that has a lioness head and body with a snake-head tail and with the goat-head sticking out of the center of the spine.
Alexzander Neckam said the Cockatrice is born of an egg laid by a cock and incubated by a snake or toad, though modern scholars claim it was born from a translation error in 1397.
According to the Monster Manual, it turns flesh to stone and "the petrification aura of this monster extends into both the astral and ethereal planes and can thus affect creatures in these planes as well."
According to Wikipedia:
"Attempts to identify it with any particular biological species have proved generally futile."
Personally I think the Cockatrice is ok, but if you're going to go around petrifying PCs you'll probably start out with a basilisk or a medusa first since they're way cooler. So what you do is save the Basilisk for a bathetic effect very late in the campaign--like "Yeah you had a hundred and sixty hit points and +5 pants but you failed your saving throw and got killed by a magic chicken."
The thing is they keep telling you how good and smart the Couatl is but seriously it's a snake with wings. The black-eyed predator in the original Monster Manual doesn't really scream "kind-hearted genius with mastery of five psionic disciplines". I find it very hard to picture the Couatl doing anything nice--the 3.5 manual takes this cognitive dissonance to a surreal level with "If more than one Couatl is involved, they discuss their strategy before a battle." "I sssay old chap lets usssss fall upon that miscreant and harm him with blows!"
I don't know how faithful to pre-Columbian belief the Couatl is but 3.5's "It uses its detect thoughts ability on any creature that arouses it's suspicions" makes me really wonder about Mesoamerican child-rearing practices. "Always be good or a giant snake will read your mind fly out of the sky and kill you with poison" seems like a more effective means of social control than the possibility of getting coal in your stocking.
Crab, giant and Crayfish, giant
Both of these monsters have whole entries underneath them in the MM but all I see when I read them is "when we first invented this game, monster miniatures didn't exist so whenever anything in my daughter's terrarium died I statted it up, put it on the tabletop, and made some Chainmail knights fight it."
Interesting tidbit: The giant crab is apparently more surprising than than the giant crayfish--the crab surprises on a 1-4 and the crayfish on a 1-3. Which is weird because the giant crab was in that Sinbad movie so you'd think people'd be used to it.
I've always thought the eastern idea of the sacred crocodile was interesting, monsterwise--though Gary's having none of it:
"All crocodiles are stupid and voracious eaters."
The Fiend Folio has a surprising number of interesting "c" monsters...
The Carbuncle is one of those monsters that people love to make fun of. Mandy says "it sounds like something your great aunt would get on her foot." I actually like the Carbuncle but I'm not going to explain why here 'cause Mandy is helping me write this entry and I plan on using it very soon against her.
Excellent monster. A column carved to look like a person and it's alive and it tries to kill you. Mandy wants me to write here: "one of these killed my awesomely-statted dwarf."
Anyway my point is it's a classic monster and it's weird that this was left for the Fiend Folio when there was apparently enough room in the Monster Manual for the Catoblepas and the Giant Beaver.
Cifal is a hilarious sock puppet with a friend named Olly and is, apparently, also a formidable foe.
A year ago I would've told you that crabmen were bullshit but that was before I started reading about what noisms was doing with them in his Yoon-suin setting which gives me terrible nightmares about opium parlours with yaks. So Crabmen are just fine with me.
Crypt thing is a cool name and the picture is cool but the thing is, its attack is to teleport you to some random part of the dungeon. It's a neat trick and a cool monster but teleporting just doesn't seem very undead thing to do. According to the very first website I found with stats for it there's another version that just turns you invisible and paralyses you simultaneously. Which fits a little better but which also seems like one of the evilest things you could do to your players. Especially if they actually have a Fiend Folio and so they end up going all over creation looking for their "teleported away" friend. I might try it on my group if I ever decide being pummeled to death by angry porn stars would be a classy way to go.
The cyclops actually appears in Deities and Demigods but if you can't stat up a giant with one eye that owns some sheep you probably shouldn't be DMing.
At first I thought the cyclops ruined my William S. Burroughs thing but I googled this up:
Malcolm McNeill and William S. Burroughs began working together in London in 1970... Their first collaboration was a comic strip titled The Unspeakable Mr. Hart which appeared in the English magazine Cyclops.
So anyway, the big question is: When a giant and when a cyclops?
If you want it to have a crazy house with giant beer kegs and stuff than that's really more of a giant thing. Cyclops is more for the "oh my god everything on this side of the island is weird" vibe. Also, Cyclops' only hang out in warm weather because if they didn't then they'd be all vikingy and then they'd have beards and one eye with a beard is a really bad look. Also, the cyclops evokes pity in a way the giant does not. Do with this information what you will.
______*Yeah, yeah,there's the satyr and Orcus's butt--thank you, Comic Book Guy.