31 favorite monsters: Thought Eater
The original Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual was practically my monster-design bible as a child, opening me up to just how surreal and preposterous a monster could be. A prime example would be the original Thought Eater here, an invisible creature that exists on the ethereal plane and parasitically drains mental energy. It's a terrifying concept, made highly original and fun by the fact that it actually resembled a small, hairless, emaciated platypus. The contrast between ridiculous, pitiful appearance and disturbing, dangerous feeding habits was a big inspiration to my developing imagination, and I still think this original illustration is a positively flawless design...I love the gaping, toothed beak and moronic stare. Does this remind us of anything else? Some other psychic duck-billed monster, maybe?
Sadly, Dungeons and Dragons has succumbed over the years to that widespread mental disease where anything really whimsical and bizarre is slowly retooled according to what the average person is expected to find "cool." The second time the Thought Eater was published in official game materials, it was given this slightly less amusing skeletal design. At least it's still a platypus though, right? SIGH...
Meet the most recent incarnation of the Thought Eater, completely robbed of everything that made the concept creative and cool. Where do people get the idea that every monster needs a fearsome, deadly appearance to be taken seriously? Where is the imagination and fun? They had pure gold and they neutered it. They had an ugly flying invisible platypus that ate thoughts and they replaced it with a spooky griffin. Wizards of the Coast, you have dumb taste and your game is dumb now forever. Dumb and ruined. RUINED FOREVER.