Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mightiest Monsters: Holmes Basic

One of my favorite posts from OD&D blogger Delta is this great analysis of the baddest mofos in the original game, looking at hit dice as the primary indicator of raw power. I've decided to look at other D&D books with a similar eye, just to see what monsters rule the roost in various editions. I'll be starting today with the Holmes version of Basic D&D, the so-called 'Blue Book'. So here are the toughest monsters in my copy of that venerable tome:

Hydra (variable, see below)
Yellow Mold (variable, see below)
Purple Worm (15 HD)
Giants (8-15 HD)
Dragons (5-11 HD)
Black Pudding (10 HD)
Chimera (9 HD)
Vampire (7-9 HD)
Djinni (7+1 HD)
Griffon (7 HD)
Hellhound (3-7 HD)
Troll (6+3 HD)

Under Dr. Holmes's rules Hydra's possess one hit die per head, like most other versions of D&D. However, no range for the number of heads is given. A one-headed hydra is a legit encounter under these rules, as would be a hundred-headed hydra. Now that I think about, that would be awesome. Maybe that bigass hydra doesn't really have a hundred heads, but it has so freakin' many that people call it the Hundred Headed Hydra. It would be the Tarrasque of a Holmesian campaign world. Similarly, Yellow Mold gets 2 hit dice for every 10 square feet of contiguous growth, with no upper limit. By my math if the Humungous Fungus were a yellow mold it would have over 18 million hit dice!

Even setting these weird special cases aside, for a book designed for levels 1 to 3 the upper end of the competition is pretty dang steep. My gut tells me that run as-is a group of Holmes players would spend a lot of time running away from the monsters listed above.