Monster Spotlight: Dungeons and Dragons’ Most Terrifying Monster

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This week’s monster spotlight may be the most terrifying in all of Dungeons and Dragons Lore.

This week will test your courage, your fortitude, and your ability to endure prolonged* agony. Like many of the monsters we’ve covered here, this one has been around since the early days of D&D–its first appearance came about during those heady first edition days, where it looked wildly different from its more modern incarnations. The same year that the 2nd revision to the D&D Basic Set, making it the BECMI Edition, for those of you playing along at home, our monster first appeared. And unlike most of the monsters in those days, this one was in full color–a rarity indeed for any Dungeons and Dragons monster.


So join us this week, as we take a look at Dungeons and Dragons Movies throughout the ages. And yes, I know the first one is a cartoon, but it’s the first edition idea of what a Dungeons and Dragons movie would have been like. And if you don’t believe me, need I remind you that only a year before, saw the release of The Flight of Dragons, which was a Rankin and Bass cartoon that pit an entire world of fantasy and magic and James Earl Jones against a scientist/board game designer from Earth and guess which one won?

Spoiler alert, also I guess. That movie might be older than you, so, odds are good you haven’t seen it. At any rate, while the Flight of Dragons may have had some interesting ideas about the interaction of magic and science, and the pretense of a story and, um, acting on display in the clip above–the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon is noteworthy for, well:

Although it does hit upon the universal idea of a Dungeons and Dragons movie–a bunch of people from our world get transported, magically, to the world of Dungeons and/or Dragons.

But then as the years go by, and editions change, so too does the core concept of the monster. Dungeons and Dragons Movies disappear from the public eye until Third Edition.

The Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons movie has gotten the gritty overhaul that many other monsters got in between editions. Still bearing the vibrant colors that its predecessors bore, it had gotten a few upgrades in terms of magical abilities. And by and large, the attacks it was capable of dealing out had become much deadlier.

Definitely a much more deadly and capable combatant. Able to summon and control fearsome red dragons:

As well as expertly wield a melee weapon:

This Dungeons and Dragons monster is the epitome of third edition design ideals. It’s a threat on multiple fronts, and is more than capable of bringing even the hardiest party of adventurers to their knees over the course of a session.

After the release of Savage Species, there were a few changes made to the way this monster worked. The revised Dungeons and Dragons Movie was capable of using a warhammer and summoning a familiar.

But the Fourth Edition version of the Dungeons and Dragons Movie is incredibly representative of the design idea. Use solid mechanics to really bring out the sense of action and adventure for the others. The risks to characters are real, and the monster is capable of using multiple encounter powers, as well as a particularly deadly daily power, seen here.

Previously described as, “like Star Wars but with worse writing and special effects,” the 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons movie found a niche…and now, with this legacy secure, we can begin anticipating the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Movie. Recently teased, the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons movie should be appearing in a new supplement due out in 2021. Codenamed Hasbroverse, which introduces the idea of a shared Planar multiverse, allowing 5th Edition characters to interact with strange reconfiguring artificial creatures, and beasts of unending hunger.

With such storied conflicts, we can only wonder at what the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons movie will look like. For an answer, we turn to Tom Hanks, Celebrity playtester of the 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Movie. Mr. Hanks, if you please, what do you think of the new monster, given your experience with it so far?

At about the 0:50 mark, you can see the moment Tom Hanks realizes he’s just in fact filmed Mazes and Monsters.

*107 minutes, to be exact

  • Freakazoid!

    Sorry, the most terrifying monster in D&D always has been and always will be the Rust Monster.

    DM: Your +1 sword is now a normal sword again, one more hit and it will disappear in a puff of rust.
    Player: AAAAH! Run away, run away!

    • Muninwing

      second-scariest. humans are by far the worst… and the most numerous.

      they’ll steal your sword, or convince you to put it down only to stab you in the back, or convince you that you don’t need it anymore. or someone will outlaw swords, or someone will make swords obsolete by creating the next new magic. or the like.

    • Shortraptor

      A while ago my friend and I introduced my much younger step brother to D&D 3.5 and I played a dwarf warrior. He threw a rust monster at us, never fought one before and not sure why but I knew what they were. I ended up nude and weaponless, but I won, I bit it to death! That poor dwarf also developed a severe case of lockjaw, ah, good times.

  • Aurion Shidhe

    I think D&D movies have the same curse as Fantastic Four movies. It’s pretty much impossible to make a good one. With the Marvel movies proving time and time again that the world loves absolutely horrible/goofy movies it’s going to be impossible to get a serious D&D movie. They’ve probably already signed up a Wayans sibling for the upcoming movie.

    • adamharry

      I think the problem is basically “What is a D&D Movie?”
      What makes D&D special is that it’s interactive storytelling. Yeah, there are dice rolls and stats, but it’s about the people you’re playing with.

      How do you capture the interactive story elements of D&D – or RPGs in general, in a movie?
      How do you make the audience feel like they are as much a part of the story as the actors on the screen?

      If you’re looking for a high-fantasy/low-fantasy/adventure/RPG style movie, we have those already. (see: LoTR, The Hobbit, Conan, Dragon Slayer, etc.)

      Could D&D just be those movies with a D&D skin? I guess…but we got that already and it didn’t quite work out.
      I’m not saying it couldn’t work – it’s just finding the tone of the movie (campy vs serious, goofy vs realistic) is incredibly hard. Good luck to the film makers on the latest run…I hope they roll some dice before they roll the camera.

      • af

        I think what you’re essentially saying is that D&D movies are unneeded. D&D is a RPG which plays (and helped popularize) on tropes from other fantasy works. It’s derivative by design. What matters is that it’s an enjoyable game; but the stories it tells are uninteresting beyond the bounds of a game session.

        It’s essentially The Tabletop Game of the Movie/Book. It makes no sense to make The Movie of the Tabletop Game of the Movie/Book.

        Having said this, the D&D movie is genuinely terrible and a crime against humanity. You know which one.

      • Aurion Shidhe

        You make a good point. Really, what they would need to do is craft a movie in a D&D “official” setting, like Forgotten Realms. As Red Five says below this could result in a Drizzt movie at some point.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    The real problem with D&D movies is that they are often just new fantasy stories with some D&D icing. That doesn’t really capture what D&D is all about. It just comes off feeling very lame.

    Since the WB has the D&D license now, I am sure we will be seeing a Drizz’t movie soon enough. That will genuinely be a good movie (so long as Zack Snyder isn’t involved, lol).

  • bad mood

    There is only one way to make a good D&D movie – and that is OOTS the movie. Which by definition makes it a joke on itself that can only be understood by a very few in the first place and almost impossible to act out. So there is no possible way of making a good D&D movie. There are only cashgrabbing attempts. Talking about blatant unlogical cashgrabs, anyone seen episode 8 so far?