The Strange Mystery of the D&D Monster Called a Thoul

A idea of mine led me to verify the dungeon encounter tables within the unique Dungeons & Dragons guidelines booklets. There, I noticed a monster that made me instantly cease chasing my idea and begin investigating a brand new thriller.

What’s a thoul?

The dungeon encounter tables in Underworld & Wilderness Adventures embody an inventory for Thouls, a D&D monster that I’ve by no means seen talked about in my a long time of taking part in the sport. What’s a thoul? Why do thouls lack an outline or statistics?

Principle 1: The “Thouls” entry ought to learn “Ghouls”, however was mistyped. However an entry for “Ghouls” seems instantly after “Thouls,” wrecking this idea. Not one of the dungeon monster tables embody duplicate entries.

Principle 2: Thouls come from the Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. D&D creator Gary Gygax cherished Burroughs’ Mars collection and stocked quantity 3’s desert wilderness tables with Barsoom creatures like tharks, thoats, and sith. Just like the thouls, all these creatures lack recreation descriptions. Nonetheless, a fast search reveals that thouls by no means seem in Barsoom or anyplace however D&D.

Principle 3: Gary Gygax invented thouls, however forgot to incorporate an outline. If the shortage of statistics got here from an oversight, nobody rushed to appropriate it. All of the D&D dietary supplements omit thouls, as does the Superior Dungeons & Dragons Monster Guide in 1977. The primary point out of a thoul seems in 1978 within the Monster & Treasure Assortment – Set 3. The entry reveals virtually nothing. “#AT: 2/1; AL: 8; AC: 6; ST/F 3; SA: Paralysis by contact.” The monster lastly good points an outline within the 1981 version of the D&D Primary Set from Tom Moldvay.

None of those descriptions come from Gary’s misplaced notes. Different D&D designers noticed the creature’s identify within the unique ebook, after which created the monster.

The 1981 description explains why thouls failed to realize a lot traction in D&D lore. They appear and play like hobgoblins with a gotcha, which hardly appears memorable.

The thriller has another clue: Thouls first seem within the fifth printing of the unique D&D field. The desk in earlier printings consists of “Toads” in the identical spot, proper earlier than the entry for ghouls. This makes thouls look like a typo.

Thoul from Mystara Monsterous Compendium Appendix

In 1975, typesetters entered a doc’s textual content at a keyboard to get printed strips of textual content. Then format artists would paste the columns onto boards representing the doc’s full pages. Printers duplicated these camera-ready, paste-up boards.

So a typesetter in 1975 began coming into the desk row for “Toads” when their gaze skipped one row right down to the road for “Ghouls.” They mistyped “Thouls” and made D&D historical past. Who can blame the typesetter? Half the manuscript certainly appeared like nonsense phrases. Who has ever heard of a sith?

However why would such a mistake seem within the fifth printing reasonably than the primary? As a result of TSR corrected rough-looking textual content within the first 4 printings by redoing the type for the fifth. Earlier than desktop publishing, that meant a typesetter wanted to retype the textual content. That particular person by accident contributed a monster to D&D.

In the meantime, I failed to search out help for my idea.

The unique Appeal Individual reads, “If this spell is profitable, it is going to trigger the charmed entity to come back fully underneath the affect of the Magic-Consumer till such time because the ‘allure’ is dispelled.” That appears sturdy. By my idea, unique Appeal Individual rated as much less highly effective than it appears as a result of the sport centered on locations that lacked any individuals to allure stronger than 1 hit die bandits or brigands. However the encounter tables embody loads of higher-level targets, listed by degree titles like superhero, sorcerer, and evil excessive priest. A fortunate first-level magic consumer may allure somebody fairly highly effective.

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