D&D Basic Monsters: Giant Boar

Another gigantic version of a real animal, the Giant Boar has deep roots in mythology. For instance, one of the twelve labours of Hercules was to subdue and bring back the monstrous Erythmanian Boar, a massive beast living on Mount Erythmanthos, who allegedly killed Adonis.

Not surprisingly a prehistoric boar, the Daeodon once roamed North America between 29 and 19 million years ago. The Deadon's skull alone was about 3 feet long, and the creature was almost 6 feet tall at the shoulders and 10 feet from snout to tail, though it had remarkably small tusks for its size.

In fantasy games and films, giant boars have frequently been  used as mounts both for dwarfs and orcs. The boar it seems, has no qualms about serving either side.

In D&D terms, the giant boar has been with the game since the original Monster Manual, where they were referred to as Elothere, a common out-dated term for a family of large pig-like creatures that roamed the world between 32 and 16 million years ago (these days the term Entelodonts is more commonly used).

Since its debut, the Giant Boar been it's been known as either Giant Boar or Dire Boar depending on edition.

D&D Basic Monsters: Hippogriff

The hippogriff - possibly the lovechild of a griffon and a pegasus - is another of those hybrid monsters common in myth. The hippogriff has the head and front legs (and wings) of a bird (presumably and eagle) and the hind quarters from a horse.

In the Reneissance poems "Orlando Innamorato" and "Orlando Furioso" hippogriffs are used as mounts by the paladins Roland (Orlando) and Ruggiero, so their use as knightly mounts are firmly rooted in classical litterature.

In D&D terms, the hippogriff has been with the game from the start, where they were described as "fierce fighters, attacking with claws and beak", and not being overly fond of pegasi.

D&D Basic Monsters: Harpy

The harpy has, like many other creatures for D&D, its roots in Greek mythology,  and like so many beast from Greek mythology, they are a type of hybrid monster combining the traits of human and beast - in this case a female human head (arms, breasts and/or torso are optional depending on different sources) and the body of a bird (usually a vulture).

Though some rare sources describe them as having the faces of fair maidens, they're mostly reviled for their ugliness and foulness. Originally thought of as wind spirits, their name apparently means "snatchers" or "wind bearers".

The D&D version, with a full female upper body. has been with the game since the start. For some reason, the harpies of D&D have been gifte with the "Luring Song" ability - a trait never really associated with the mythological harpy. It seems there might have been a mix up at the point of conception, with the Sirens, also sometimes depicted as women-bird hybrids.

D&D Basic Monsters: Giant Spider

As already mentioned, gigantic spiders are a common staple in fantasy games, largely due to their prominence in the writings of Tolkien.

Only about half of all spiders build webs to catch their prey, the other half actively hunt  for food, like the (Giant) Wolf Spider.

DnD Basic Rules: Ghalan, elf cleric

Possessing great insight and wisdom,Ghalan is an elven cleric of the Goddess of the Woods.

Ghalans parents were set upon and killed by fierce wargs while travelling the Deepenwoods. Before the wargs were able to devour the infant they carried with the, priests of the Forest Mother came to the rescue, and chased the beasts away. The child was raised among the priests, and instructed in their ways. Now his training is complete, and he is ready to experience the world outside.

Personality traits: Deeply spiritual, Ghalan sees omens and portents in nearly everything.  While some might find this somewhat frustrating at times, it means he is acutely aware of his surroundings, and able to see subtle connections, invisible to others.

Ideals: The Forest mother teaches the cycles of the seasons and life and death. Stagnation brings nothing new, and ultimately decay. Ghalan applies these same principles to everything around him, seeking to shake up and change anything that risks becoming to rigid.

Bonds: Ghalan holds the priests that rescued and raised him in very high regard. While the teachings of the Forest  Mother decree that he go out and experience the world, he is feels a very strong bond to those who saved him as an infant, and would drop anything to come to their aid if needed.

Flaws: Having been brought up among pious and devout priests, Ghalan has been filled with high expectations of those around him. His disapointment is clearly visible should his companions fail to uphold the highest of standards. Still, for all his harsh judgement of others, that is nothing compared to the standards he holds for himself - he will beat himself up for event the tiniest mistake, and seek to atone for his faults, even for transgressions most people would not think twice about.

DnD Basic Rules: Golldir, Dwarf Fighter

Meet Golldir, dwarf axe-maid of the once proud Skörprun-clan.

Fierce and loyal, Golldir grew up the only female among nine younger brothers. Not content to be meek, or be bullied, she became every bit as tough as any of her brothers, and could match each one of them in any form of combat. Despite her superior skill and strength, Golldir still found that she was never considered the equal of her brothers among the tradition bound dwarves, and so in the end, she sought to make a name for herself adventuring.
Personality traits: No great intellectual, Golldir always prefers the simplest, most direct way of solving any problem, be that charging headlong, axe raised, into multitudes of enemies, or knocking through that door to get in. Roundabout solutions have no appeal to her, and she abhorrs subterfuge and deception.

Ideals: Though she left dwarven society because she didn't really fit in, she holds a great pride in anything dwarven, and will defend 'dwarfdom' for anyone and any thing. Those few individuals of other races she deems worthy to associate with, she thinks of as "honorary dwarves".

Bonds: She is slow to trust others, but once given she will defend her allies to the bitter end.

Flaws: Just like her bond to her allies and comrades are unflinching, so is her hatred to those she deems to be enemies - be that enemies of dwarves in general or to her and her fellow adventurers. This hatred can become so deep and unreasoning, that she might charge blindly to face them, regardless of the odds, unless someone can check her rage.

D&D Basic Monsters: Giant Toad

Another giant animal, the giant toad hail back to the original Monster Manual, however unlike the Giant Frog, the Giant Toad did not originally have the ability to swallow creatures whole.

While the main difference between giant toads and giant frogs in D&D is their size, and what size adventurers they can swallow, the real difference between frogs and toads lie in their preferred habitat (toads are adapted to living in dry environments, whereas frogs need to live in or by water), the smoothness of their skin and their ability to jump (toads aren't really that great at jumping). Both frogs and toads can secrete poison, and though most toads have poison glands behind their eyes, the poison dart frog is more poisonous than any toad.

In real life, the largest toads around in the infamous cane toad the can grow up to 25 cm in length, which incidentally is smaller than the largest frog, the goliath frog, that can reach up to 32 cm in length.

D&D Basic Monsters: Ghoul

The Ghoul is another staple D&D monster stemming back from the earliest days of the game. These undead creatures usually inhabit grave yards, feeding on corpses, and their most feared weapon is their paralysing touch, that will freeze any creature the ghoul touches, save for elves. Quite why their  touch doesn't affect elves is unclear, but the pointy eared ones have been immune to ghoulish paralysis right from the earliest versions of the game.

In mythology, the ghoul (or ghul) actually traces its roots back to arabic folklore, where they are described as demonic spirits, related to jinns, that dwell in burial grounds or uninhabited places. Alternatively, they are described as shape shifting demons, that lure people astray in the desert. The ghoul was introduced to the western world in the eighteenth century, when Antoine Galland translated The Thousand and One Nights.