From: Dungeons & Dragons (1977)
Classification: An otherworldly beast that floats through dungeons looking for prey.
The Grell is a creature that does not abide by the laws of Earthly physics or reason. A transplanted monstrously from another plane and dimension, the Grell floats with a unearthly propulsion. With a visage that looks like a large floating brain, the “man-sized” Grell haunts the subterranean world hunting for prey. It has ten boneless and muscle laden tentacles that can be used to constrict its prey, while also having barbed spikes that are filled with a paralyzing poison. While its future supper is physically incapacitated (but still conscience), the Grell will use its sharp raptor like beak to tear into its meal. Oh, and did I mention that the Grell has no eyes? But that’s okay since it navigates and hunts with a form of bio-electric sonar.
First appearing in a feature in White Dwarf magazine in 1979 called Fiend Factory, the Grell was originally submitted by Ian Livingstone. (Livingstone by the way was the co-founder of Games Workshop along with John Peake and Steve Jackson, and for a time Games Workshop had an exclusive deal with TSR to sell Dungeons and Dragons in Europe.) In 1981 the Grell became Dungeons and Dragons “canon” with its publication in the Fiend Folio book.
Back in those days they didn’t need to make a well structured physiology as to how or why the Grell functioned, all we needed to know was that it was creepy as hell. Recently though it seems that a lot of thought has gone into the how’s and why’s of the Grell because more savvy and hipster-ish gamers have called out the Grell for being dumb and not a real threat. Fools!
The Grell quickly climbed the ranks of the monster elite and in 1983 became a toy in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons toy line by LJN. For some reason they thought it was necessary to give this killer critter two big bulbous eye. I guess LJN wanted to make it kid friendly so every boy and girl would want Santa to put one under the tree. They also went with a more spider like look opposed to a floating brain octopus thing.
Over the years the design of the Grell hasn’t changed much but like I stated above they went way overboard with the exposition of it. I for one don’t need any extra facts or biology. A Lovecraften type creature from another dimension is all I need to know to be on board.
Heck they even had them in Spelljammer as a hive type creature….awesome.
Here are some other pictures of the Grell that were included in the different Monster Manuals that have come out over the years. Like I said, hasn’t changed much other than the tentacles being more barby in later versions.
At the end of the day I’m happy to see a monster from the wild and wacky ’70s still kicking around the dungeons of D&D.
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