The Ankheg, More Evidence that Old School is Better

Why can’t they leave my beloved monsters alone? The DM showed me a picture of the Ankheg we encountered yesterday, and I was taken aback. It was nothing like the monster of my memory. Here’s how they have changed…

ankheg0 3548886166_f31c2c68ae_oThis was Erol Otus’s first version back from the Dragon magazine #5, simple but elegant. Erol created the creature for the Dragon Bestiary.






Ankheg1For the first Monster Manual, Dave Trampier stayed true to the idea, making it a bit more elegant in design but much like Erol’s.






ankheg2MM35_PG15The 3.5 Ankheg is a big grosser, a bit meaner, but still works. This is probably the most realistic Ankheg, but I still like Tramp’s better.






And this is Pathfinder’s Ankheg. Art fail. Not terrifying, inelegant, unworthy. And this is the one I ran into last night. More proof that gaming was better in the old days!

Other monsters whom time has changed include…



owl bear, 1st ed. AD&D


The Owlbear. He was poorly drawn but more terrifying in the old days,

Owl_Bear_by_BenWootten v2




but much cooler as the art got better, at least as long as his body looked more bear than owl.

owlbear MM v3


More owl than bear didn’t work as well.

bugbear1975 v1





Bugbears, were initially very stupid looking (a bear with a jack-o-lantern on its head).bugbear 2 jack-o-bear












Only Runequest was brave enough to run with that critter, which became the Jack-o-Bear.









Bugbear D&D 3


D&D changed them in 1st edition so they were just pretty stupid looking.

Bugbears 4







As always, Trampier spruced them up

bugbear 5 otus







and then Otus put the final polish on them when he came back and painted them again for Hackmaster.

Bugbear 6





The later D&D versions are too much like generic Ogres

bugbear PZO1107-Bugbear 7






and the Pathfinder Bugbears are pasty nothings. Yuck! By the way, for some great ideas on Bugbears, go to Hack & Slash blog.





bugbear 10

I’ve got to say that the one I like the best is by SuperGroverFanClub over on Deviantart. In my world, I describe one as, “A shadowy furry form, reminiscent of a bear two weeks dead. Its fur is black, matted, and greasy and the face is difficult to perceive except for a drooling mouthful of fangs and two yellow slits that might be its eyes.” I use them as traditional foes of the Shadowlords, another creature of Faerie.



The Slaad. No one ever did them very well, but the old ones were creepier. The new ones look more like Deep Ones. My favorite, by the way, is not a commercial picture. Check out this Death Slaad.

Dragonsnail 1




Oh and one more side note. While Runequest did steal the Bugbear, D&D stole the Dragonsnail

flail snail 2





and turned it into the Flail snail.

About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
This entry was posted in Art, Dungeons and Dragons, Greyhawk, Monsters, Pathfinder, Runequest, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Ankheg, More Evidence that Old School is Better

  1. Joshua Ramsey says:

    That is an Ankheg larva

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