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Tzunk's Beast
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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:56 pm    Post subject: Tzunk's Beast Reply with quote

The much quoted excerpt by Tzunk regarding the Codex of the Infinite Planes mentions a Beast, which apparently was bearing the Codex upon its back. But it appears to be more than a simple beast of burden. For one thing, the Beast is given as a proper name, and after Tzunk casts down the Brazen Portals "... the Beast passed into the City of Brass." Probably not just from relief at having the Codex off its back. ALQ4 - Secrets of the Lamp tells us that Tzunk was overwhelmed by the efreet once he passed into the city, and brought before the Sultan in chains, but it doesn't mention the Beast or what happened to it.

So who or what might be the Beast? Ideas?

I looked at the possible powers of the Codex based on the charts in the 1e DMG and two powers jumped out at me. One is a power like the cacodemon spell. The other is monster summoning viii. Cacodemon can summons a type iv, v, or vi demon, but none of them are really beast-like, or otherwise in a form that would probably bear the codex on its back. Monster summoning viii is interesting because there doesn't seem to be a monster summoning viii. Monster summoning vii is the 9th lvl version of that spell, and the charts for that range of spells in the DMG also only cover up to monster summoning vii. It could of course just be a typo, but maybe not. Maybe monster summoning viii summons any of a number of unique, very powerful monsters, and the Beast was one of them.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Book of Artifacts says that "two strong men can barely lift the volume." Eldritch Wizardry included a relatively extensive excerpt from Tzoonk's writings, including the line "With me in addition were the dyoph servants necessary to transport the Code, for I would not leave it behind on even so perilous a journey as this..." The 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide says "and the two strong slaves lifted it from the back of the Beast."

There are, therefore, two mysteries: what is the Beast, and what are the dyoph slaves/servants who carried it when the Codex wasn't on the Beast? My own thought is that the dyophs were an alien race discovered on some far-off world or plane accessible using the Codex, used as slave-armies by the Isles of Woe. Another option would be to assume they were duodrones or dergholoths.

As for the Beast, I'd nominate either a goristro or the Tarrasque.
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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got to get Eldritch Wizardry someday.

Dyoph could be from dyophysite, greek for "two natures". I'm in line with your thinking about them being alien creatures. For some reason it puts me in mind of the dabus from Planescape. Not really sure why other than that it kind of fits that an enigmatic race would be toting around and enigmatic artifact. Probably something else altogether. So the quote says they're "necessary" to transporting the Codex? Do you think that might be meant literally?

My first thought for the Beast was the Tarrasque, but then I thought, "Those would have to be some big freakin' slaves to lift the Codex off its back." But that is the order I was talking about in regards to monster summoning viii.
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Free_City_Assassin
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, if he's going to take it literally everywhere he would need slaves that were extreamly strong, have great endurance, and some capacity to either defend it or escape with it if they were attacked. But loyalty would have to be ensured somehow (not really a problem for a powerful spellcaster I admit, but it would need to be addressed).

I'm thinking demon or devil (properly bound or contracted). Big, dangerous, effective guardians, and built in teleport for quick escapes. Not all that original I know but also take into account the list would be limited (possibly) by the creatures avalible when the quote was written way back in the day.
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aurdraco
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will posit, probably quite wrongly, that The Beast could be a reference to a Christian-like Devil and that Tzunk had somehow bound a powerful uber-devil (not an archdevil, but rather a unique, nearly mindless but very powerful LE diabolic being) to his service. Perhaps in this case the Beast could be the remnants of a being which had previously been a primordial Duke of Hell who had been defeated/cast from Hell by Asmodeus. No canon to back it up, just some thoughts.
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GVDammerung
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
The Book of Artifacts says that "two strong men can barely lift the volume." Eldritch Wizardry included a relatively extensive excerpt from Tzoonk's writings, including the line "With me in addition were the dyoph servants necessary to transport the Code, for I would not leave it behind on even so perilous a journey as this..." The 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide says "and the two strong slaves lifted it from the back of the Beast."

There are, therefore, two mysteries: what is the Beast, and what are the dyoph slaves/servants who carried it when the Codex wasn't on the Beast? My own thought is that the dyophs were an alien race discovered on some far-off world or plane accessible using the Codex, used as slave-armies by the Isles of Woe. Another option would be to assume they were duodrones or dergholoths.

As for the Beast, I'd nominate either a goristro or the Tarrasque.


As I read it, looking to the Greek, "dyoph" is not a name; it is an adjective intended to mean "two." There were dyoph servants ie there were two servants. This reading squares with the Book of Artifacts (1e DMG) noting that two strong men (or two slaves) could barely lift the Codex. The question still remains as to the sort or nature of the servants but they were not something called "dyoph"s. IMV.
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GVDammerung
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for the Beast, I'd vote for a Tarrasque.

That suggests those servators must have been HUGE.

Then again, the Codex itself (or its "servant") could be the Beast, as the Codex is sentient after a fashion. There was a Dragon article that discussed this but I don't have access to my issues to see if the dexcriptions might allow for such a reading, so the foregoing may be more or less likely/(in)accurate.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GVDammerung wrote:
As for the Beast, I'd vote for a Tarrasque.

That suggests those servators must have been HUGE.


Or the Tarrasque was fitted with a ladder.
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Rockhaven
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is all assuming the Codex remained the same size.

Who's to say the Codex didn't reduce in size to allow easier access or was even magically altered to allow easier travelling
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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I realized I have the Eldritch Wizardry text in my copy of Encylopedia Magica Vol. 2. That's very interesting. I had assumed the quote was just an expanded version of the City of Brass one, not a totally different story concerning the Fiend Prince Nql-. I guess maybe Tzunk got around but always liked to mention the two servants.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

smillan_31 wrote:
I realized I have the Eldritch Wizardry text in my copy of Encylopedia Magica Vol. 2. That's very interesting. I had assumed the quote was just an expanded version of the City of Brass one, not a totally different story concerning the Fiend Prince Nql-. I guess maybe Tzunk got around but always liked to mention the two servants.


Demon Prince, in the original text. Otherwise the Encyclopedia Magica excerpt is the same as the Eldritch Wizardry one.

I actually think the DMG quotes can be coherently read as taking place immediately after the Eldritch Wizardry ones, although early references to the City of the Gods and Nql- are obviously separate events, not related to the assault on the City of Brass. I assume there's an extremely long break in the writing, so that the story of his attempt to enslave the horde of Nql- is left unfinished (it probably failed, because he entered the City of Brass with just the Beast and two servants, although he might well have gotten the Beast from Nql-).

Incidentally, I assume that the Nql- mentioned in Eldritch Wizardry is the same as the "Uncle" said to be the patron of House Maure.
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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dang. This thing just keeps sucking me in deeper and deeper. Thanks, Rasgon. The Nql-Uncle thing does make sense especially when you think how Gygax and some of the early D&D folks thought. I was doubting Glenn's explanation of the dyoph thing too, until I made that realization. So much of the Gygax's writing is full of wordplay like that.
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mortellan
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This has been a great, fresh topic! Well done, smillan. Keep up the discussion everyone!

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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No one can top your contribution to the discussion, Mort.

Another example of the above Gygaxian wordplay is in the DMG 1 entry for the Sword of Kas, where the item is described as a "... a long and thin flatchet of dull grey metal." Through googling, the only definition I found was in another Gygax written work where he describes it as a type of machete. That doesn't mean it's not a real word from some dictionary of anachronistic terminology, but still... Gygax, you know? Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The OED defines "flatchet" simply as a sword. The word derives from Middle High German flatsche (broadsword); two 16th century references are provided. A representative case of EGG dredging up an archaic word from the deeps of time.
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably also related to the French word "fléchette". Evil little things.

Also, welcome to the forums Chevalier. Happy
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mort, that cartoon is awesome.
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mortellan
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Rasgon and smillan. That pic of the Tarrasque is from the cover of a FR product of all things. What caught my eye was it's oddly smaller than modern day renditions. I can see this pint-size Tarrasque being a good bearer for the Codex at any rate. In either version it wouldn't make a good pack animal for various reasons including the spiky backside and the fact it apparently likes to rear up on two feet alot.

Ah yes flechette. Flechette guns were nasty in Shadowrun.

Welcome to the forum Chevalier! Good comment!
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Chevalier
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the welcome!

Some more OED tidbits: flechette seems to come from fleche (arrow), which also spawned the English words fletch/fletcher. Flechette guns also pop in Dan Simmons' Hyperion novels - nasty there too.

On the original topic - I always pictured Tzunk's Beast as looking something like a brontotherium, a prehistoric version of the rhinoceros, which itself looks a little like the "great beasts" in the film version of The Return of the King (in the book they are not described, though from the context of the passage they're probably just oliphaunts/mumakil). I agree the Beast would need to be pretty impressive - I like the idea of a beast bound to / summoned by the Codex, similar to Kerzit and the Tome of the Black Heart.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given that early Gygax writings tended toward what we now think of as "low power", and given that there may be some following this thread who prefer a low-powered, low-fantasy campaign that avoids such creatures as the tarrasque, I submit the following possibilities:

The "dyophs" could be ettins, and the Beast could be any sort of large, powerful, beast of burden - I'm thinking one of the several bug-beasts from the Dark Sun setting, perhaps with an unusually evil nature.

Also, since I'm one of the few people who seems to like the "Ether Threat" series of LG mods, it appeals to me to have both the dyophs and the beasts be in some way related to the creatures that ruined Tenh.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something I thought I had suggested earlier but apparently didn't: the Beast could be an astral dreadnought. If you're not familiar with those creatures by name, the critter on the cover of the Manual of the Planes is one:



Now imagine that the guy running away from it on the cover is Tzunk, before he managed to bind it.

Other possibilities:

- Tzunk was forcing the demon prince Baphomet to schlep the Codex around.
- The Codex was being carried by Arendagrost.

As for the dyophs, I think that Tzunk may have bound (no doubt unwillingly) to his service two monadic devas. Besides being the second most-powerful (and also second least-powerful) form of deva, monadic devas are servants dispatched by the gods for missions to the Elemental Planes, so a pair of them would be both an appropriate choice for a mission to the City of Brass and handy because they can fly up to the back of the Beast and down again. The word "monad" means one, which means that two of them would make two: a dyoph.
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smillan_31
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
As for the dyophs, I think that Tzunk may have bound (no doubt unwillingly) to his service two monadic devas. Besides being the second most-powerful (and also second least-powerful) form of deva, monadic devas are servants dispatched by the gods for missions to the Elemental Planes, so a pair of them would be both an appropriate choice for a mission to the City of Brass and handy because they can fly up to the back of the Beast and down again. The word "monad" means one, which means that two of them would make two: a dyoph.


I like this a lot! Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What an excellent thread. Thanks again, Smillian, for directing me to this. Rasgon, I also like your monadic deva theory and GVD's explanation of the word dyoph was really helpful.

Continuing the speculation of Tzunk's beast, the tarrasque is a good choice. Necromancer Games' City of Brass (which contains several 'unofficial' GH suggestions) hints at a tarrasque roaming the Plane of Molten Skies, perhaps it made its home there once Tzunk was defeated. However, CoB also describes a seven-headed beast called a thessel-titan (a new monster) that is chained to the Codex. Tzunk's beast could have been this or maybe a hekatonchieres. Regardless, for him to challenge the City of Brass it would have to be something very powerful in his service.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing that occurs to me is that Dragon Magazine #203 introduced the idea of "slaves of the Codex," mortal sages who were influenced by the Codex of the Infinite Planes to explore the planes of existence in their dreams and write down their experiences, which magically appeared on the Codex's infinite pages, allowing it to continually expand. You can read a description of this process on Maldin's website.

Anyway, my thought is this: what if people who have been "used up" by the Codex, whose minds have explored the cosmos until they've become broken vegetables, can be summoned and used to carry the Codex around? And these are the "two strong slaves" mentioned in the DMG.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
...Anyway, my thought is this: what if people who have been "used up" by the Codex, whose minds have explored the cosmos until they've become broken vegetables, can be summoned and used to carry the Codex around? And these are the "two strong slaves" mentioned in the DMG.


-Wouldn't that be "two scrawny, used up slaves?" Laughing

It would have to be physically strong; mentally or psychologically strong would fit.

Maybe they get polymorphed?
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