07 March 2011

Why does Frank Mentzer hate the catoblepas?

Straightening some books, I randomly pulled the Master's Level Dungeon Masters' Book of the shelf, seemingly at random.  I started flipping through the pages, came upon the monsters section, and then saw the "Nekrozon" (page 35, if you're keeping track).  I skimmed the entry, noting that the nekrozon "resembles a huge buffalo with a long neck and a boar's head."  It also has a death ray gaze attack.  I thought "this sounds like a catoblepas"!  Then I saw this sentence:

"Ancient lore calls this creature a 'catoblepas,' though this term is not in current use."

I found this very interesting, so I pulled out my AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual, where this thing sits on page 13:



The Masters' Set was published in 1985, whereas my Monster Manual was published in 1978.

I am not nearly as knowledgeable about the history of our hobby as many of you, but does anyone know why this monster was renamed for BXCM D&D?  I suppose it could have been to further differentiate D&D from AD&D, repackaging the same  monsters with different names.

For the record, I don't think I ever used or fought one of these things under any name in any D&D game.  The instant death ray gaze just seemed too, well, mean.

8 comments:

  1. The catoblepas is a legendary and well known creature which for centuries has managed to elude the best efforts of IP lawyers to capture and control it. Whether or not the same can be said of its more modern cousin, the nekrozon, is doubtful.

    If you acquire my drift.

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  2. I do indeed. Maybe I should take down that pic. . .

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  3. I think it's fair use to illustrate your post with a directly related picture out of two long oop books, with additional info on your source.

    And you added a white frame. So it's not exactly the same picture anymore, anyway... ;)

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  4. I once asked Frank about the gem dragons in the Masters set. They're cool, but why create them when he could have just made versions of the metallic dragons?

    His answer? TSR company orders to keep the two lines as distinct as possible.

    Don't ask why Frank hates the catoblepas, ask why the Bloom Brothers (I assume) hated it.

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  5. @rorschach -- Thanks! Legal advice is always welcome ;)

    @Gwydion -- I thought it was something like that -- distinguishing the product lines as much as possible. And no disrespect was intended to Mentzer. I love the BXCM series!

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  6. Nekrozon was the name of his favorite metal band and he wanted to give it a shout-out in print.

    Not really. ;)

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  7. It bums me out that Wizzo never made a catobeplas mini before they tanked the minis line. I'm going to fight them by the bike rack after school to get a little payback!

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