Sunday, December 24, 2006

Displacer This, Displacer That

The original 1st Edition Displacer Beast was a six-legged puma with shredding tentacles, but in 2nd Edition it lost its middle two legs. Third Edition brought the legs back again. Ral Partha's license for the official TSR AD&D line covered the Monstrous Compendium period, and so their figure has but four legs.

As I've told you, if I don't have the mini, I don't run the monster. If I have the mini but the creature doesn't exist in TSR/WOTC materials, I have to create the entry. This on again, off again leg issue has created some special problems. Here is my solution.

I also can't find the image I took of my mini, so I'm using this one from Dark Sword Miniatures. I really love this sculpt, and it makes me sad to know that Dennis Mize, the sculptor, passed away last March.

The four-legged, beefier Displacer Beast, as sculpted by Dennis, will be known as a Displacer Cat in my world and will be exclusively a surface dwelling creature, residing in mountain caves. The 2E MC sheet doesn't mention any underground activity, so I can use the sheet almost as is to create the specialized "Displacer Cat" unique to my campaign world.

Adding to the difficulty is the efforts by rival miniature manufacturers to create miniatures which are close enough to the monsters used in the D&D game to be needed by players, but different enough to avoid trademark and copyright infringement. Hence, you end up with a lot of "evolutionary" variations. Reaper Miniatures has a version of the Displacer Beast that they call the "Phase Cat" which is very similar to the above Mize sculpt but with four tentacles instead of two. In my world, this is the female version of the Displacer Cat.

The WOTC miniature is the traditional...or neo-traditional...six-legged version. In my world, I will be adapting the 2E MC sheet to incorporate the information from the 3E MM specifically for this variety. The descriptions from that book are pretty thin, though, so I may add a little more of my own invention. I remember from Exile, by R.A. Salvatore, Drizz't fighting a displacer beast and it was described as having 6 legs. I'm going to rely on that to make the WOTC version of this monster exclusively a creature of the Underdark.

It is a pity that the Displacer Beast Pack Lord is a more common mini than the original Displacer Beast...too many pack lords and not enough beasts is a common saying in my basement, thanks to the user friendly folks at WOTC who make the decisions about rarity designations in these collectible figure lines. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they made rare creatures rare and common creatures common as a rule?

Seriously. A look on eBay today showed that a Harbinger Displacer Beast is running at nearly $50 for Buy It Now, without shipping. Displacer Beast Pack Lords are selling for a penny plus shipping. I can tell you for a fact, the Pack Lord I have has a pretty small pack, and it is likely to stay that way for a loooooong time.

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