Hidden within the monster-strewn pages of the 5th Edition Monster Manual are myriad references to the editions that have come before. Here are a few of our favorite first edition Easter Eggs.
You’re never a tourist in your own city–but sometimes, all it takes is someone new to come along and point out something that’s been there all along that you’ve just never noticed. All it took was a simple “huh, that’s interesting, I didn’t know they had goblin words” to open up a rabbit hole of easter eggs and secret inside-jokes woven throughout the pages of the Monster Manual. So come join me, and then go back to your books with fresh eyes!
Goblin For “We Surrender”
Bree-Yark is definitely not goblin for “We Surrender!” Folks who played the classic module B-2, Keep on the Borderlands will recognize this as the goblin rallying cry of “Hey Rube!” Which instead summons any nearby goblins to come wail on whatever sucker has wandered in to their encampment.
The Village of Hommlet
Describing a trip cut short to the Temple of Elemental Evil, a young adventurer also mentions a return to the Village of Hommlet, overseen by Rufus and Burne, the two erstwhile rulers of the village (beset, though it is, by raiders under the auspices of Lord Robilar). This is of course a reference to both the Village of Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil, two classic modules (the one expanded into the other) that would go down in history as one of the best dungeons out there.
Poor Beek. Set on fire and burned after being raised as a zombie–but who hasn’t done that to a friend from time to time. Beek Gwenders, of Croodle, of course–Beek and Fonkin Hoddypeak were joined in their expedition against the giants by Gleep Wurp, Cloyer Bulse, Roarky Swerked, Frush O’Suggill, Redmond Dumple, Faffle Dwe’o-mercraft, and Flerd Trantle. All of these are the actual character names from the Tournament Module G1 – Against the Giants. You can read all about the ignominious death of Beek right here.
Who’s Who of Sigil
Shemeshka the Marauder is more than just an Arcanoloth in Sigil, she’s one of the movers and shakers of the plane–she runs the Wheel of Fortune, a famous inn, and is a fox-headed wheeler, dealer, schemer, and dreamer. One of the more important NPCs (or at least potent NPCs) in the Planescape setting, there isn’t much she doesn’t know, and is willing to sell you it for a price.
Pit Fiends Have Names Too
I was surprised by this one. But, Pit Fiends, powerful beings that they are, will have their own names (and feelings) too. Herobaal is taken straight out of an old Dragon Magazine article which gives you the names of myriad fiends, and who they’re in service of, AND what their retinue is like.
What a cool resource and Link to the Past. Makes me wonder what else I’m missing hidden in the core rulebooks. There’s no end to fun things you’ll find hidden in the flavor text and annotations to these books. As a final parting gift, here’s the beginning of a set of rules hidden throughout the Monster Manual: Rules of Dungeon Survival by X the Mystic.
Always trust a Flumph.
Time to go revisit them with fresh eyes, but if you’ve spotted more Easter Eggs in these books, feel free to link them in the comments below.