Thursday, January 26, 2012

Researching Dungeons & Dragons, need your help...

UPDATE #2: Last night when I filled up the car, the total was $26.66...which I took as a good sign that this will be an intriguing and enjoyable project.

UPDATE #1: Look down below for adjustments...people have given me lots of help!

I'm looking at you Mordicai and Richard of the Dystopian Pokeverse but I suspect the matter at hand is so large that I will need a lot of assistance from a lot of people.

I did play some Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but never much and this was way back between 1979 and maybe 1981 or 1982. I still have very fond memories of my first character, a human fighter named Ferrus the Mighty. Hey, I was ten years old, give me a break! One of the reasons I never played much is because the people I played with made fun of me endlessly for that name. Ferrus the Mighty. It's not that bad! Ferrus! Like "iron," you know?

Anyway, even though I never played the game much, I did have all the hardcover books and THOSE were what I really loved. I spent thousands of hours reading every single entry in my Monster Manual, my Fiend Folio and my first edition copy of Deities & Demigods. I absolutely loved those books.

Well, this Sunday January 29th markes the one year anniversary of my completion of the final page of my 552 illustration Moby-Dick project and it's been a hell of a year. I am badly in need of a catharsis (more on this catharsis in a post this coming Sunday) and I have decided it's time for me to once again pursue an art project for pure fun alone.
I don't want to say too much more yet until I get started but there are enough clues in this post to give you an idea. And yes, obviously, a big part of this project was inspired by what Scrap Princess of New Zealand is doing on her excellent Monster Manual Sewn From Pants blog.

So here is the help I need. If anyone out there can assist me with the following, I'd be deeply grateful...

1) Good readable scans or xeroxed copies of the pages on Devils from the first edition (or reprint of the first edition) Monster Manual.
(Got this taken care of.)

2) Good readable scan or xeroxed copy of the Styx Devil from the Fiend Folio.. (I've found a decently affordable hard copy which is not on its way to me.)

3) Good readable scans or xeroxed copies of the pages on Devils from the first edition (or reprint of the first edition) Monster Manual II. I'm pretty sure such a thing exists, and contains Abishai and other stuff, right?

4) An explanation of just what the hell Baatezu means. This was way way after my time. (This has been explained to me, in all its lameness.)

5) Most importantly, some kind of simple and comprehensive list of the names of the levels of the Nine Hells, the Arch-Devils in command of each, and all of the inhabitants of the Nine Hells (Dukes of Hell, Greater Devils, Lesser Devils, Least Devils, etc.) There is a TON of stuff that happened after I stopped paying attention and tracking it all down myself through the myriad modules, Dragon magazine articles, Planescape adventures, and so on would be impossible - financial and timewise - for me. Links or pointing me toward resources is totally fine. I'm interested in canonical stuff, officially part of the D & D universe, nothing else. As Mordicai commented, this does indeed seem to be a moving target and a near impossible goal, so I'm pretty content with what I've been able to learn so far and with relying on what was around when I was a kid and looked at these books.

When I played the game and read the books, the Devils were always my favorite. Well, actually, the Slaadi and the Modrons were my favorite, but this project wouldn't fare so well with a bunch of chaotic neutral bipedal frog monsters or living geometric shapes, so Devils it is.

If you can help, I would really appreciate. You can leave comments or email me or whatever, and I'll see if I can find some way to make this worth your while. This little project is going to be a BLAST.


  1. I don't know so much about old scans of the artwork-- I'm sure it is out there, though-- but I can answer some of your questions!

    "Baatezu" is a word made up so that Planescape could have devils without having Concerned Christian Mothers freak out about Satanism. Baatezu means Devil, Tanar'ri means Demon-- they are just new "in-game" terms for the same old monsters. Subsequently, it has been retconned into being a TYPE of Devil or Demon, but the ultimate truth is as above.

    More to come.

  2. Hitting a canonical list of Dukes of Hell is hard, because it is a moving target, getting shoved around from edition to edition.

    This might help to start with:

    & then from there, in shorthand:

    Avernus: Bel is the ruler, for the last few editions.
    Dis: Dispater is the Duke, stable over editions.
    Minauros: Mammon, fairly stabld.
    Phlegethos: Belial & sometimes his loverdaughter Fierna, too.
    Stygia: Levistus, but used to be Geryon.
    Malbolge: Not stable, Glasiya now, used to be Malagard, before her Moloch.
    Maladomini: Baalzebul, stable.
    Cania: Mephistopheles, stable.
    Nessus: Asmodeus, stable, though it used to be said that it was Lucifer, in way early Dragon magazines, if I'm not mistaken. Still, definitely Asmodeus-- he's even a god, in the 4th edition.

  3. I played D&D in the late 70s. When TSR came out with AD&D we were instantly divided into two blocs; aghast and overjoyed. The aghast people tended to be miniatures players and accomplished DMs. The overjoyed people tended to be younger players who wanted to be DMs but didn't have the experience to balance playability against 'lots of stuff'.

    I never bought an AD&D book, but my wife did. I'll see if I can find them.

    ps Today, I don't have any emotional angst regarding the various editions. I now realise that without expanding their audience via new editions, TSR would have gone out of business early, which would have been much worse for RPG people of all colours.

    I think it's very much a wonderful thing to think of AD&D as inspiration for art!

  4. Pretty much all DnD sourcebooks are available as torrents, which might yield you much faster results.

  5. Baatezu was tsr getting sick of people get huffy about the word devil, so demons became tanar'rim devils baatezu , daemons became yugoloths.. and I can't remember what demondands became.
    I like the changed names, it's more suggestive of that the fiends have their own agenda and history, and don't just exist to vex us mortals. In 4th edition they got the names changed back, (or maybe 3rd) and the cosmology is all orientated around the campaign world, rather than an elder independent thing to which you and everything you know is a mere tawdry bauble.
    Prefer it how it was, but I respected the re-visioning.
    The has most of needs, and the grand old dame wikipedia is pretty extensive as well.

    and there's an even better website but I can't remember what the name of it was, will get back to ya when I find it looking forward to seeing there results

  6. Mordicai, thanks for both the email and these comments, this is good stuff and gets me headed in the right direction. It's amazing how much of it is coming back to me, but also how much has changed about the games since I stopped paying attention around 25 years ago. I guess that is a long time.

    And that Baatezu / Tanar'ri thing, while it makes a pathetic kind of sense, is really lame.

  7. Buck, I remember seeing a few dudes playing with those miniatures back when I played. A whole bunch of them were from Ral Partha, right? That name really sticks in my head for some reason.

    As for taking the inspiration from D & D, I just wanted to do something art-wise that was purely for fun, no other grand statements implied. I always liked the Devils and it's been a while since I made art that was just for me and something I wanted to frame so hopefully this will take care of that.

  8. Ross, I thought about going that route and still may. I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable a reprint of the first edition Monster Manual and Fiend Folio are. As someone who is still nostalgically attached to physical objects, I just may spring for the real thing.

  9. Scrap Princess, thanks for the tip on the D & D wiki. I had been poking around Wikipedia a bit but since it is all user-generated I wasn't sure how reliable it would be. But most of what I read on Wiki is the same as what you and Mordicai have shared with me so I'm thinking it might be a good foundation. But do let me know what the name of the other web site is when you think of it.

    It's funny you liked the Baatezu and Tanar'ri thing better. I think maybe it's because I remember them as Demons and Devils first, so those later names seem kind of forced to me. I could warm up to them but it would take some time.

  10. Hello Zak, it's simultaneously exciting and terrifying to hear from you. You cast a very long shadow, you know.

  11. Ah I can't find the website I was thinking of. You got enough to go on anyhow I thinks

  12. Zak, I will never ever have the opportunity to play the game with porn stars though, so there is always that roadblock.

  13. Scrap Princess, you're right, no worries, I think I found a lot of what I needed anyway. Besides, this is just something I want to do for fun, and not something I want to consume my life the way the whole Moby-Dick thing did. So I think I'm pretty much ready.

  14. Ral Parth were big in the fantasy mini field. Grenadier were well known too. We had a big sand table we would play on when the WWII tank guys weren't using it :-)

    Inspiration doesn't have to be all-consuming. It most certainly can be the genesis of a lot of light-hearted fun. As the game itself is!

    Completely agree with Mordicai regarding the genesis of Baatezu. Some time in the 80s a wave of panic rippled through the US and people worried about the Satanic Influence a game would have on Impressionable Young People. Or some such silliness.

  15. I go away for the weekend and miss all the fun. Is there anything you still need?

    Do you know about dungeons and drawings?

  16. Ha! Welcome back, Richard, and thank you for the offer of assistance but friends far and wide have been amazing and supplied me with more reference material (digitally and hardcopy) as well as ideas, suggestions, and tips than I would have imagined possible. It's been incredible! Now it's time to get to work.

    Also, I had never seen Dungeons and Drawings but am enjoying it immensely. It's fascinating to see the different visual styles from each artist as well as their take on the creatures. I was also interested to see them call the Monster Manual 3.5 "everyone's favorite edition." I wonder why?


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