Thursday, December 17, 2009

Remembering The Water Weird

I don't really do "retrospectives" (well, in some ways this whole blog is one big retrospective), but reading the ol' Frothy Friar got me remembering and thinking about the most irritating monsters of D&, irritating from a "challenge" point of view not from a "this illustration annoys me" perspective. And I got to thinking of the water weird.

I don't know if there is a historical, folkloric, or fictional basis for this creature, or if it was just another "F You" kind of monster Gygax dreamed up. All I know is that in all my years of playing and DM'ing D&D I've used this monster maybe twice. Maybe.

I remember the damn thing being the cause of at least one TPK or very nearly. Most players simply aren't carrying a purify water spell in their repertoire (well, maybe folks that have been struck by the 'weird in the past). But drowning an entire party? Talk about going out like a chump, stuffed in the bottom of a fountain maybe two-three feet deep.

Heh. I see from the master monster list in Mentzer's Master set that a BECMI version of the water weird was presented in the module B7: Rahasia, but that's one of those I've never seen, even on the shelf. I have NOT added the 'weird to the monster list in my Companion project (no rot grub either). For all my musings over my past as a "killer DM" this is one monster that, even as a young 'un, I felt was a little unfair to include in the dungeon. Still, I would like to see how the Hickman's adapted the killer liquid pipe snake to the old BECMI rules.

Ha! There was a water weird in one of those old "Endless Quest" books, if I remember right...though I don't remember which one. Man...I wonder if I could still pick some of those up from a used bookstore.
: )


  1. >>Most players simply aren't carrying a purify water spell in their repertoire

    I think encouraging spell diversification is a sign of good adventure writing.

    It's so easy to get caught in the default mode of dungeon construction, and when the clerics are loaded up on Cure Light Wounds and the magic-user has all Sleep or Magic Missile, it's a very good indication that your dungeon is one-dimensional and not encouraging especially imaginative play...

    I say this after my players went 4 or 5 sessions in a dungeon kicking in doors, killing things, and taking stuff. :) Their next challenge will be very different.

  2. The water weird appeared in Rose Estes' "Dungeon of Dread". If I remember correctly, you hadn't any possibility of defeat it... just distracting it to reach a key.

  3. Ah Rahasia, the first TSR module my DM ever introduced us to. We knew things were going to be bad when the gargoyle attacked at the entrance, and all we had was a +1 sling from a previous adventure to hurt it with (only after narrowly surviving did we bother to check the storage house) and after our fighter got turned to silver just from going through a doorway (no save) we were terrified.

    At the time Rahasia was our Tomb of Horrors. We tip toed into every room, poked and prodded at any odd feature (with 10' poles of course,) and ran from nearly every encounter. Those were the days.

  4. Ha! That is a silly drawing, isn't it?

    I was charmed by Daddy Grognard's use of the WW in his training dungeon. See URL below.

  5. Too long to post here, so I wrote about it there:

  6. No Rot Grub?!?

    That has to be one of the most horrifying monsters of all time. I don't know if there's anything freakier than a grub that burrows under your skin and crawls up a vein to reach your brain. I mean that IS CREEPY!

    I think that I've run across a water weird all of 30+ years of D&D. And yeah, what a nasty surprise that is. Just like the intellect devourer. What a pain.

  7. @ Raggi: Totally agree on all counts. But when your players INSIST on being one-dimensional...

    @ McNally: A "potion of purify water?!"

    @ David: Good work and nice anecdote.

    @ All: For some reason, blogspot has stopped notifying me of comments, which kind of sucks. I'm working on it.

  8. @JB & @Raggi - Just how diversified can a 1st - 3rd level (module's suggested PC level) magic-user be? At best, we are looking at two first level spells and one second level. At the other end of the spectrum, we are looking at a single first level spell.

  9. Many of the Endless Quest books were at my local used book shop. I should probably get them before some heartless Ebay-er...

  10. Thanks! I was looking for a Basic version of the Water Weird. Now I know where to look.