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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    It's been bothering me for a while, but the backlash about the twinkly vampires made me mention it, namely the traditional monsters that have been translated somewhat weirdly and become a "sacred cow" in their own right.

    Specifically I'm thinking of Vampires and Basilisks, but I know there are more.

    Vampires have the somewhat dubious tendency to spontaneously combust when exposed to daylight (how are you supposed to stake them in their coffins if they combust once you open the lid?) which is something that's so worked into modern tradition that it's normally ignored, but even worse is their way of reproducing; slapping a target until it dies?

    And then there's the basilisk. The medieval version, the most familiar to me, has been robbed of most of its power and turned into the cocktrice, which at least looks the right size and power. But the generic "basilisk", originally a tiny venomous snake that could kill both horse and rider in a single bite becomes... a giant, fat, 6-legged lizard. The fact that Warcraft has copied the idea almost strait out of the monster manuals makes me wonder whether there is an actual monster this is copying that I missed somewhere.

    In my opinion, the defining features of the vampire and the basilisk are their blood drinking and high power to size ratio respectively. Sure, the vampire can drink blood, but it seems more akin to Mr. Slap happy, the basilisk is as big as a man and the cocktrice doesn't even have a gaze attack.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Vampires from previous editions--at least the ones in Baldur's Gate II---LEVEL DRAINED you when they bit you.

    I can respect the idea of vampires being strong enough to have hard-hitting fists/kicks/headbutts, but I don't know where the energy drain came from.

    However, taking a look again at the vampire's Create Spawn ability:
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Create Spawn (Su)
    A humanoid or monstrous humanoid slain by a vampire’s energy drain rises as a vampire spawn 1d4 days after burial.

    If the vampire instead drains the victim’s Constitution to 0 or lower, the victim returns as a spawn if it had 4 or less HD and as a vampire if it had 5 or more HD. In either case, the new vampire or spawn is under the command of the vampire that created it and remains enslaved until its master’s destruction. At any given time a vampire may have enslaved spawn totaling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit are created as free-willed vampires or vampire spawn. A vampire that is enslaved may create and enslave spawn of its own, so a master vampire can control a number of lesser vampires in this fashion. A vampire may voluntarily free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again.
    If you get your life force drained by the vampire's natural weapons, you end up coming back as a vampire-spawn--essentially a super zombie. The undead in the opening of this video come to mind. Too intact and too fast to be zombies, but not quite vampires.

    However, if you actually want to TURN the victim into a real vampire, he/she has to be bitten and blood-drained.

    As for the basilisk, I've been seeing the large, many-legged basilisk since the early days of Magic: The Gathering. The first edition came out in 1993, if I'm not mistaken, and the Thicket Basilisk already looked like that. That predates the 3rd ed D&D Basilisk by almost a decade.



    EDIT: I know wikipedia isn't a good resource, but I don't have any medieval mythology books on me. It seems the depiction of the basilisk as a many-legged creature is not new:

    ca. 1642.

    You're right about the size, though, but the article also mentions that the basilisk has a deadly (not petrifying) gaze.
    Last edited by AslanCross; 2009-12-03 at 03:29 AM.


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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by AslanCross View Post
    The undead in the opening of this video come to mind. Too intact and too fast to be zombies, but not quite vampires.
    That video confused the heck out of me, I still can't decide who the "good guys" were for definite.

    But when it comes to ancient creatures getting nerfed and turned into a very specific creature, how about harpies? In Greek mythology there were I think 3 harpies defending a banquet on an island with a philosopher that had his eyes plucked out. These nasties were vicious enough that whatever hero this story was focusing on didn't fight them, if I can remember correctly, but rather just ran in, grabbed an apple, and ran out.
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    Shademan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    nono. jason had a net made and thrown over them. then they made cages for the harpies so the blind guy could torment them.

    what? I would have done the same. alignment? CN, offcourse! haha hehe ho.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by ghashxx View Post
    That video confused the heck out of me, I still can't decide who the "good guys" were for definite.
    The only true "good guys" there were the guy with the big hat and sword and ironically, the vampire he was trying to kill. For the most part, you don't really know whom the good guys really are. The title of the movie is Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.


    Oh, how could we forget the Gorgon? How did it ever become differentiated from the Medusa, and why is it a giant stone bull?


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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by Rainbownaga View Post
    Vampires have the somewhat dubious tendency to spontaneously combust when exposed to daylight (how are you supposed to stake them in their coffins if they combust once you open the lid?)
    What vampire places his coffin in such a way that it bathes in bright daylight during the day? They've got castles and crypts for that.

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Well, Basilisks are, even in the legends, rather diverse...
    Case in point, the city of Basel has the basilisk as it's heraldic animal, and here, it looks more like the cockatrice than in other pictures:

    Spoiler
    Show






    I have, though, also seen pictures with basilisks as snakes, with or without wings and, I think once or twice, even as lizards.

    Funny story: The city of basel sentenced a black **** to death in 1474, because it layed an egg, which was, of course, since it was male, a crime against nature. The egg was smashed to prevent the hatching of a basilisk.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2009-12-03 at 05:12 AM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Well, Basilisks are, even in the legends, rather diverse...
    Case in point, the city of Basel has the basilisk as it's heraldic animal, and here, it looks more like the cockatrice than in other pictures:

    Spoiler
    Show






    I have, though, also seen pictures with basilisks as snakes, with or without wings and, I think once or twice, even as lizards.

    Funny story: The city of basel sentenced a black **** to death in 1474, because it layed an egg, which was, of course, since it was male, a crime against nature. The egg was smashed to prevent the hatching of a basilisk.
    Yeah, as I researched, it seems the legends regarding the cockatrice and the basilisk weren't really mutually exclusive. Some sources referred to them as one and the same thing.

    So does anyone have an idea as to why the Gorgon became a stone bull?


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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    @ Eldan- The basilisk in that coat of arms is the medieval basilisk, which is basically a cocktrice.

    @ Aslan- Thanks for that, it's good to know that vampires still need to bite to spread their curse.

    Also, I can't believe I didn't check wiki before posting. That said, the 6 legged version appears far more prevalent in gaming culture than it seems to be in mythology books. And I know from baldurs gate that Ad&d basilisks were of the over-sized 6 legged variety. Maybe even OD&D but i'm AFB at the moment and I'm not entirely sure it's either in there or discriptive enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Theodoric View Post
    What vampire places his coffin in such a way that it bathes in bright daylight during the day? They've got castles and crypts for that.
    Yes, I realised that as I wrote it, but this was more an explanation of the folklore vampire than the d&d one. Not every vampire can afford a mausoleum, and when you start stashing spare coffins in the basement of your castle, they very quickly become less "funeral cask" and more "makeshift phylacteries" for the next time some careless vampire hunter resorts to hp damage (another thing that bothered me about the old rules).

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Well, DnD's Gorgon seems to be a Catoblepas, but I have no idea how they got switched.


    And regarding the medieval basilisk/cockatrice thing: as far as I know, and a wiki/google search seems to support this, the cockatrice does not show up in swiss/german folklore. There, it's just the basilisk, with no differentiation between more avian and serpentine forms.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2009-12-03 at 05:57 AM.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by AslanCross View Post

    So does anyone have an idea as to why the Gorgon became a stone bull?
    My turn to get something from wiki

    * Gorgon (Dungeons & Dragons), a role-playing-game monster based on the Khalkotauroi

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by Shademan View Post
    nono. jason had a net made and thrown over them. then they made cages for the harpies so the blind guy could torment them.

    what? I would have done the same. alignment? CN, offcourse! haha hehe ho.
    It's been way too long since I've given Jason or any other Greek a real look, so I don't feel too embarrassed. But heck, now we've got two Jason references on this one thread!
    Nosce te ipsum

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    The catoblepas seems much more like the d&d gorgon than the one that wiki thinks, but there's another d&d monster called the catoblepas, which just makes things even more confusing. Maybe the cato is sometimes refered to as the african gorgon? I remember reading something like that, but that was about 20 years ago when i was particularly little so i wouldn't put much faith in it.

    As for the duration of the "giant lizard" belief, I have a 1991 edition of the original (pre-A) d&d here refering to the 'lisk as "ten-foot-long, non-intelligent, magical lizard" and the same book has the metal plated gorgon and the small cockatrice.

    The only major difference over the editions appears to be the slight nerfing of the cockatrice and the removal of the use of mirrors against a basilisk.

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Fighting fantasy has basilisks as lizardlike- though not multilegged.

    Did it come out before D&D, or a bit after it?
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    The Gorgon as a bull is actually straight out of some medieval bestiaries where the writer confused it with the Catelopas. It was apparantly a common confused even back then.

    Gygax had a tendency to use obscure references when building the original versions of the D&D monsters, so a lot of the stuff that seems weird he actually got from other sources.

    The Beholder is actually a indo-chinese demon of some sort.
    The Gorgon was out of a period bestiary where the original writer was getting confused.
    The Basilisk... I'm not sure where the basilisk got the multi-legged lizard bit from, to be honest. Likely the same bestiary the Gorgon sprang from, as that description kinda vaguely fits the Cockatrice if you squint hard.
    The D&D Troll is out of Three Hearts and Three Lions, a novel from Poul Anderson. Not sure where *he* got it from.

    etc. etc.
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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Just for reference....

    Quote Originally Posted by D&D 3E Monster Manual II p.41
    Catoblepas
    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by D&D 3.5 Monster Manual p.137
    Gorgon
    Spoiler
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    They don't look that similar to me, but we can blame it on the artists' interpretations I guess.
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by Rainbownaga View Post
    The catoblepas seems much more like the d&d gorgon than the one that wiki thinks, but there's another d&d monster called the catoblepas, which just makes things even more confusing. Maybe the cato is sometimes refered to as the african gorgon? I remember reading something like that, but that was about 20 years ago when i was particularly little so i wouldn't put much faith in it.
    I siding with the Khalkotauroi. I mean, it's practically a perfect fit. Looks like a metal bull, breathes fire. No idea how it got conflated with the Gorgons though

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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Found it. "The Historie of Foure-footed Beastes" published in 1607 by a fellow by the name of Edward Topsell. It specifically calls the creature 'Gorgon' and says it's the same thing as the Greek Catobloponta. The description is an mix of the two D&D creatures as well as the cockatrice. A bull-like creature, scaled all over like a dragon, but with long hair covering the face. It either breathes poisonous fumes, or the hair stands straight up when it wishes to gaze someone to death.

    The bestiary is written as if the author believes the creature to be real. The name 'Gorgon' is because he believes this 'real' creature to be named after the snake-haired Gorgon from Greek myth.
    Last edited by Fhaolan; 2009-12-03 at 12:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Bodyslamming Vampires and Giant Basilisks

    Quote Originally Posted by AslanCross View Post
    Vampires from previous editions--at least the ones in Baldur's Gate II---LEVEL DRAINED you when they bit you.

    I can respect the idea of vampires being strong enough to have hard-hitting fists/kicks/headbutts, but I don't know where the energy drain came from.
    No, they don't bite you. Watch the animation: they clearly B slap you and you gain a negative level.
    This is why fighting Vamps in BG 2 was so bad: they don't need a weapon just their slapping ability.

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