Hey everybody! Skeeter Green from SGP Productions here to once again fill the giant space-bunny slippers of Jayson Gardner this week for Monster Monday! They didn’t get sick of me as I took you all to the gutters (literally), so this week I’m going to get weird and mental, so without further preamble, I bring you the su-monster!!!
The su-monster made its first appearance in original D&D, in Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry, by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume. Additional Special Thanks are given to perennial personal heroes of mine Steve Marsh, Dr. Dennis Sustare, Jim Ward, and my Icon, Tim Kask. Eldritch Wizardry is probably my fondest memory of the original books, not just for the nude on the cover (about as tame as you can get, too), but mostly because I have always been a sucker for “new magic” books and weird stuff. And this book is full of new rules, new magic, and new monsters that eventually would become pillars of more modern systems. Demons? Mind flayers (not trying to step on IP here, please don’t come for me Mr. Hasbro lawyer)? DEMOGORGON? Craziness! Plus, our friend, and reason fo this article, the su-monster.
Initially, the su-monster was described as “a wasp-waisted, great chested hound. Their heads appear much like gorillas'. All four feet are prehensile and armed with long and extremely sharp nails as well.” (Gygax & Blume) It gives alittle more information about familial makeup, and then gets into “Su-monsters have a latent psionic ability which enables them to deliver some form of psionic attack once (per day) if psionic activity is being used near (within 12" of them) … Psionic defense is not necessary as the Su-monster is not itself subject to psionic attack.” Now I have always liked psionics, but this is a little overpowering for my taste. Somebody can hit me with some cool new power, but I can’t use it back? WTF? Anyway, the su-monster got a bit of a makeover in 1E.
In the Monster Manual (Gygax) The su makes another appearance (as it will throughout several more iterations of the game) but has changed its look dramatically (probably for copyright reasons; pesky lawyers!) Now, they have lost their wasp-dog look, and seem like regular monkeys. They kept their powerful mental powers, but psionics was a little better defined in 1E (depending on who you ask), and as one of the few psionicly endowed creatures, they were in many campaigns that allowed supplemental psionic rules (along with mind flayers, intellect devourers, and titans. A real mix.)
Psionics themselves eventually dropped out of favor, first only appearing in 2nd edition in the Complete Psionics Handbook, missing 3.X almost completely, makes a brief emergence in 4th edition (I bet no one knows that), and then came back with a vengeance in 5E in the Tomb of Annihilation, deep in the jungles of Chult. In 5E, the creature’s psionic power is relegated to a single attack but can injure and/or stun its target. Not bad for a 40+ year old monster!
Anyway, thanks for reading, and I’m sure Jayson really wants his blog back!!! Come by and visit me on Twitter @SkeeterMFGreen, and the Goddammit, Zach! Youtube series, courtesy of Uncle Matt’s RPG Studio. See ya in the dungeons!