D&D's Tomb of Annihilation New Monsters
The Tomb of Annihilation will not only introduce lots of strange monsters from D&D's past, but one new monster, which is now one of my favorites that Chris Perkins made himself.
Matt Sernett: There are some monsters that were a bit harder to deal with.
Chris Perkins: Like the Zorbo from the Monster Manual II which is this magic destroying koala bear.
Matt Sernett: Really angry koala.
Chris Perkins: Things like the Su-Monster, from the original Monster Manual, which is a psionic baboon basically that mind blasts you and then tears you to pieces with its claws.
Matt Sernett: There's the Al-mi'raj, I think it is, which is basically a unicorn bunny. They're very silly monsters.
Chris Perkins: The unicorn bunny, or the bunnycorn or whatever you want to call it is a monster called an Al-mi'raj, and they first appeared in the first edition Fiend Folio. And they are literally just bunnies with spiral horns coming out of their heads. In some later editions, like fourth edition, weird powers were given to them to make them more interesting. But I decided to take them back to their roots and just make them a bunny with a horn. And that way, you can have them as pets and familiars. Some of them are very weird, like they're just weird plants like the Tri-Flower Frond and the Mantrap from the Monster Manual II. The Tri-Flower Frond originally appeared in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, which is an unusual adventure.
Matt Sernett: Really, it was just these are things that Chris Perkins was like, "Hey, we could do this." I was like, "Yeah, we could do that." And he could just take it and run with it, and it was something that he could very easily incorporate with the way that he designed the adventure.
Chris Perkins: And then weird other fiend folio monsters like the kamadan, which is basically a leopard with snakes coming out of its shoulders. I did not create any of these. All I did was bring them forward.
Matt Sernett: One of the things about these creatures, the Zorbo and the Al-mi'raj and so on is that they were such goofy monsters for so long that people really didn't use them as anything other than just a sort of random goofy element. So there wouldn't necessarily be a lot of lore built upon the Al-mi'raj populations in the mountains of blah, blah, blah. That wasn't a big deal.
Chris Perkins: There are a lot of people who weren't born in 1978 when Tomb of Horrors came out, and there are a lot of D&D players who have never played that adventure. But now that Tomb of Annihilation's out, I think it's pretty clear that people can have conversations about A that are cross-generational. That's part of the reason why nostalgia is so heartwarming to me is because it does create stories and conversations among D&D players across different generations.
Chris Perkins: At the same time, there are a couple spooky or offbeat new monsters, like the Chwinga which I created. A Chwinga is a elemental spirit that lives in flowers or rivers or rocks or plants of other kinds, and they have a kind of a neat little look to them. They're benign, so they're not the type of monster you would go around and kill. And they've got some unusual abilities that no other monsters in the game has. And they're perfect for Chult. And they show up all over the place too. Yeah. And actually there was a discussion we had internally about, "Should they be Fey or should they be elementals?" And I decided that they should, I and Jeremy Crawford decided that they really should be elementals because of the nature of their powers and where they live and what they do. But they do look Fey like.
Todd Kenreck: Yeah.
Chris Perkins: Yeah. I think they ... I feel like, and I don't know this for sure. When you're designing monsters, you never know what sort of traction a monster's going to get. I've designed many, many monsters for many, many previous editions. And most of those monsters, nobody uses. Or they never caught on. For every Githyanki, there's the Simurgh or the Terlin or a bunch of other monsters that nobody's ever heard about. So-
Todd Kenreck: Githyanki did get to be on the Fiend Folio cover.
Chris Perkins: Well yes, yes. Maybe Slaadi is a better example. But in any event, whenever I design a new monster, it's with the goal or the hope that it will catch on and get play and survive for future editions, but you never know. I have a feeling that a lot of gamers are going to have Al-mi'raj companions by the end of the Tomb of Annihilation story, because you can actually domesticate them in the adventure, or you can buy them. They're caught and they're sold. So flying monkeys I think will also be very popular.