Monsters of Myth & Legend (1984)

Love a monster book. This is Monsters of Myth & Legend (1984) for Mayfair’s Role Aids line of D&D sourcebooks. As the title tells you, this is a collection of monsters drawn from mythology. Four groupings of them are tied to specific cultures: Norse, Irish, Greek, Chinese. Two other draw broadly from the myths of people living in large regions but which belong to many distinct cultures: native American and Aboriginal Australians.

The mix is pretty solid. I particularly appreciate the monsters from Australia, which are often overlooked in this sort of thing — and even here, I can think of a couple more I would have liked to have seen, like the Pangkarlangu (neolithic cannibals), though it is nice to get attributes for Malingee (shadow spirits with burning eyes) and Murgah Muggulu (a kind of dream spider). Weird that there are still some deep cuts from Greece — maenads, mares of Thrace, even Scylla — who don’t have D&D attributes. The China chapter is probably the most robust, providing a variety of spirits and monsters that have multiple potential applications in the game. China also has a giant with no head, which is maybe the most delightful monster in the whole book.

This is maybe one of my favorite Boris Vallejo paintings that were recycled for Role Aids covers. It downplays physique and features a rad monster, both of which seem unusual for Boris. Its more atmospheric, too, a bit more in line with Frazetta, honestly. The interiors are by Teanna Byerts and Robin Wood. I don’t dislike them, but they do seem diminished by tight deadlines, if I had to guess.

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