Saturday, August 27, 2011

D&D Day by Day - The Displacer Beast

Tonight I begin playing in a Pathfinder RPG game for the first time. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Pathfinder is more or less completely based off of Dungeons and Dragons 3.0/3.5 edition, but fixes what was broken with it (like grapple), and replaces it with different broken things. Most likely I will be playing a Dwarven rogue named Pizza MacGruff (or something equally ridiculous).

I've played a lot of D&D and the like over the years, and have had nothing but a great time with it. Sure, different rulesets change how the game works and makes you think you don't like it, but for the most part it has stayed true to itself over the years. Yet, almost a bajillion people have never played D&D (I counted) let alone know much about it aside from "its like Lord of the Rings, right?"

Answer - Wrong, it's fucking awesome. Games like Dragon Age have helped bring younger more impressionable kids into the fold of this chaotic awesome game, and have introduced a new generation to cheeto stained hands and Mountain Dew bellies, as well as a massive amount of radical monsters and atrocities that you get to fight with your own hands.

But what of the people who have never played? they've never heard of an Orc. They think Spock is an elf. What do these clean-shaven collar popped dudes and dudettes think these creatures might look like based on their name alone?

Thats what I hope to find out, starting with the displacer beast.

So, the task is simple - draw what you think the monster looks like based on its name alone. No description or characteristics are given about the monster in question, just draw what comes to mind.

This task was set forth to the Fruitless Pursuits and NWWBW communities, as well as my wife. My wife has played various fantasy based video games, and has seen my collection of books from over the years, but has never expressed any interest whatsoever in playing. The FP/NWWBW community, surprisingly was about a 50/50 mix of folks who have played and those who haven't. of those who haven't, some were familiar with some of the monsters based on previous video games and board games they've played over the years.

And so we begin. The 1978 Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual was selected for the first round of monsters, with the first monster to task being the Displacer Beast.  What is a Displacer Beast you ask? well, the text from this tome is as follows:

"A pack of these monsters always contains only full grown beast. The molecular vibrations of the displacer beast are such that it always appears to be 3' (left, right, ahead, or behind) its actual position. Thus, these monsters always cause opponents to subtract 2 from attack dice rolls and add 2 to their dice rolls for saving throws. These fierce creatures hate all life, but they particularly hate blink dogs. In combat the displacer beast lashes out with its two tentacles, inflicting horrible wounds with the rough horney edges of these appendages.

Description: This vaguely puma-like creature is bluish black, its tentacles are dead black, the horney edges of the tentacles are brownish yellow and its eyes glow a hellish green"

Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty fucking scary to me, and makes me want to invest in some blink dog body guards. Well, maybe not. They may want to constantly get in fights with them all the fucking time, and it'd be like fantasy West Side Story. I'm also assuming that a Displacer Beast is really great at math, since it can appear exactly 3' from where it really is at all times. I'm guessing this is where their hatred for all life stems from, as I watched a MathCount competition last night and those kids have a serious lack of social ques and a complete disregard for how to interact with humanity. Now take that, and apply it to everything. Yikes!

Ok, so enough with my monologue, you're here for some hot Displacer Beast action. But first, What has it looked like from over the years, edition to edition?

As you can see, its had some changes over the years, and has had some weight issues over the years (probably hated himself too)

So diving right in, lets see how folks did. First my wife:

I'm not really sure what it is that she is going for here, but it appears to be some sort of horse meets pig meets snork orgy baby. The disgust for humanity and all living creatures is so heavy on its brow, that disgust is too good for them. 

As you can see, J has gone for the segmented gravity defying dental nightmare pictured above. In an instant this thing could be twenty feet long and wrapped around you. Or something. I don't know.

Ive has decided to go with a demon-inspired (possibly?) interpretation of what he may look like, and has captured its disgust for all clearly with that winning smile. 

Now, it does happen from time to time when folks have seen the monster in question, but will not fully remember what its looks like but will try to draw it from memory. Which is what Suzanne and Luke have decided to do (which is ok too)

Suzanne seems to have drawn a very feline inspired version of the beast with a bit of devil in the blood too. Maybe some monkey as well?

Luke clearly has a bit of a better memory for the beast, though it looks like a bit of Ghostbusters may have entered the design as well. Not a bad thing at all (and I'm sure he'll correct me on it promptly)

And there you have it folks, round one is done. Up next, the Axe Beak. If you would like to try your hand, submit your drawings to with D&D Day by Day in the subject line.


  1. THIS IS AWESOME. I want to have this happening ALL THE TIME.

    I knew the displacer beast from D+D minis, but I'm relatively confident that they didn't make an axebeak so I am completely in the dark. this will be awesome.

  2. Wicked cool!
    The crazy thing is that Wizards of the Coast won't actually let Paizo use the Displacer Beast in their Pathfinder bestiary books! Which suckseroo!

    What's scarier than a panther? A PANTHER WITH TENTACLES! Madness :D

  3. Yeah, Displacer Beast is like one of four creatures that they claim they have IP rights to and will fight you to the grave for it. Which is strange, since of those 4, like only one of them is really worth the fight.