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"Stalwart hamsters! Hamsters fierce!
The belch that quells! The teeth that pierce!
From whiskered snout to stumpy tail,
Your gallantry and grace we hail!"
— In Praise of Giant Space Hamsters, Dragon #175

The giant space hamster is a cute and exceptionally large species of hamster, a small furry rodent originally native to the material plane. The giant hamster is differentiated from its smaller ancestors by its size, comparable to that of a brown bear and growing up to nine feet in length.

The giant space hamster was originally bred by gnomish researchers seeking a practical way to power spelljamming ships. They soon became popular for their succulent meat, known as spaham, and are kept in many gnomish colonies as livestock. The space hamster breeding program has since developed numerous variants, including the popular miniature giant space hamster, which is the same size as a regular hamster.

Appearance and personality[]

Giant space hamsters most commonly possess golden brown fur, with white underbellies, bands and spots. They have also been selectively bred for a great variety of other colors, patterns, and variants, including mottled, spotted, ochre, chartreuse, and albino. A wooly form of the giant space hamster also exists.[1]

Giant space hamsters are well muscled, though they appear fat. They are skittish, and avoid fighting if possible. They are cute, and occasionally kept as pets.[1]

The personality of these creatures is generally described as loving, friendly, and reliable, although not all breeds share these traits.[2]

As large animals, giant space hamsters are true neutral in alignment.

In AD&D, animals were considered true neutral in alignment. In D&D 4th and 5th edition, the giant space hamster would likely be considered unaligned.

Abilities and traits[]

Giant space hamsters fight by biting their opponents. They may store small creatures like gnomes in their cheek pouches, who will remain there until the creature spots food, at which point they will be spat out covered in hamster spit. However, domesticated space hamsters are naturally timid and skittish, and rarely attack, except for females protecting their young. Wild hamsters are somewhat more courageous.[1]

The giant space hamster has the ability to burrow through dirt. Wild space hamsters use this ability to dig burrows in hillsides.[1]

The giant space hamster is immune to all known parasites and disease.[1]

Ecology[]

Environment[]

Space hamsters are found on worlds inhabited by gnomes of Krynn.[1] On the world of Krynn, wild giant hamsters are known to inhabit The Plains of Tothen.[3] They also inhabit the moon Kiri-Jolith, where an eccentric wizard named Gray Mark keeps them as servants.[4]

Since their creation, giant space hamsters have spread to other worlds. A group of tinker gnomes imported them from Krynn to an unknown location in Faerûn on Spelljammer ships, and began claiming themselves to be "hamster masters".[5] A group of gnomes established a giant hamster range on the Spectre in Greyspace, but it was destroyed when the hamsters escaped and stampeded.[6]

Wild giant space hamsters dig burrows in hillsides, about six feet wide and 120 to 180 feet long. They tend to be nocturnal.

Domesticated giant space hamsters are commonly kept in huge hamster ranches, where they are kept by gnomish colonists as livestock. They live in huge artificially constructed burrows, large hamster hutches, and colorful pipe systems.[1]

Giant hamsters are also kept as pets. A store named Jingleburr's Worldwide Maps and Hamster Emporium advertises itself as the home of the largest selection of giant hamster pet supplies in the west.[7]

Life cycle[]

Giant space hamsters have high breeding rates, and can have several litters in a year. A litter of giant space hamsters is around 1-4. They grow to adulthood in two years, and live up to 18 years. They remain fertile throughout their adult life. Multiple attempts by gnomish researchers to reduce the breeding rate have been unsuccessful, other than simply separating males from females; this solution was devised only after 22 years of research and five gnome fatalities.[1]

Packs of giant space hamsters are typically encountered with between 1 and 4 adults, usually include slightly more females than males. Each female may also have between 1 and 4 young (around 3 feet long) and another 1-4 juveniles (6 feet long).

In cold weather, giant space hamsters hibernate for as long as six months. An exception is the abominable giant space hamster, which is adapted to arctic weather.

In the wild, giant space hamsters fill a similar ecological niche as other large browsing animals, such as the elephant or rhino. However, they often die out due to predation by large and medium predators; despite their relatively high breeding rate, they lack an effective way to protect themselves against such creatures.[1] In space, they are often the prey of firebirds and spirit warriors.[8]

Gnomish breeders sometimes introduced magical substances during the hamster's breeding process, resulting the creation of breeds with new and unpredictable traits. These are rarely useful to the breeders, and often highly dangerous.

Diet[]

Giant space hamsters are omnivorous. They typically eat green vegetables, fruit, nuts, and grain, and drink water. They will also eat cooked or raw meat, and particularly enjoy large insects.

A giant space hamster can consume 30 pounds of food and 10 gallons of water in one day. They can store up to 200 pounds of food in their cheek pouches.[1]

Uses[]

The most common use of giant space hamsters is as livestock, where they are raised on gnomish hamster ranches as livestock. Their meat, known as spaham, is tasty and popular with gnomes.[1] Although famliar to spacefaring races including githyanki, spaham is not well known on Toril.[9]

A design of gnomish Spelljammer ship called the Gnomish Sidewheeler is powered by giant space hamsters running in hamster wheels, which wind a giant rubber band.[10] The hamsters can run dilligently inside hamster wheels for several hours at a time, and have been widely adopted by spacefaring gnomes. Prior to the invention of the giant space hamster, the wheels were manned by teams of gnomes.[1]

The speed possible by a hamster-driven spelljamming helm is limited compared to a magical helm, and these machines can only operate for between 2 and 8 hours continuously before requiring repairs. The primary advantage is that they can operate in areas of antimagic. Gnomish helms are usually powered only partially by hamster wheels.[2]

Hamster dung is also burned for fuel, with advanced prototypes of spelljamming ships capable of running on this fuel. Giant space hamsters leave dung in large green pellets which smell like mothballs, and smell unpleasant when burned.[2]

Variants and related species[]

"We completely fail to see why everyone is so upset..."
— The gnomish creators of the fire-breathing phase doppelganger giant space hamster

Gnomish communities who breed giant space hamsters often engage in contests to develop new and often bizarre varieties of the creature. Documented variants include:[1]

  • Abominable giant space hamster: An albino creature better adapted to cold weather and terrain. It is virtually immune to cold. Its primary food source is conifers.
  • Albino giant space hamster: An albino variant having white fur and red eyes.
  • Armor plated giant space hamster: An aggressive and brave species covered in rhino-like hide instead of fur.
  • Carnivorous flying giant space hamster: A menacing, bat-winged breed. It possesses a menacing bite, and consumes only meat. It is considerably braver than its skittish counterparts. Its creators apologised, blaming its invention on a "regrettable if understandable line of inquiry."
  • Cave-dwelling giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, but bred to live in caves rather than temperate grassy plains and hills.
  • Chartreuse giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, aside from its yellow-green coloring.
  • Ethereal giant space hamster: A frightening species with translucent flesh, so that its skeleton is visible. Its appearance scares those who see it, but it is otherwise identical to the standard breed. Despite the name, it is not ethereal.
  • Fire-breathing phase doppelganger giant space hamster: A dangerous and intelligent breed which breathes fire, resists fire, can phase in and out like a phase spider, and can change shape into any other mammal of similar size.
  • Flightless giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, but noted for its inability to fly. This is in contrast to the original giant space hamster, which also cannot fly.
  • Giant space hamster of ill omen: Only a single member of this enormous species exists, and even then many believe it to be a gnomish myth. Wooly Rupert, he is known, is said to be highly intelligent, hates gnomes, can cast spells, and can travel through space.
  • Great horned giant space hamster: Has a giant rhino-like horn, which it uses to charge enemies.
  • Greater giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed.
  • Greater lesser giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed.
  • Invisible giant space hamster: A breed with the ability to turn invisible for a short period of time each day, and remain invisible even when it attacks.
  • Lesser giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed.
  • Lesser greater giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed.
  • Miniature giant space hamster: A breed of giant space hamster which is exactly the same size as a normal hamster. It is popularly kept as a pet.
  • Mottled giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, aside from its mottled coloring.
  • Occidental giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed.
  • Ochre giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, aside from its coloring.
  • Oriental giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed.
  • Plaid giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, but plaid.
  • Rather wild giant space hamster: An extremely brave breed, it is almost fearless against non-hamster enemies. Hamster ranchers value it as a breeding stud.[11]
  • Sabre-toothed giant space hamster: A breed with massive, sharp, deadly fangs.
  • Spotted giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, aside from its color pattern. Similar variants include the not-quite-so-spotted and only-a-little-spotted giant space hamster.
  • Subterranean giant space hamster: A breed with sharp claws, better suited to digging through earth and even softer forms of rock.
  • Sylvan giant space hamster: Also called the jungle giant space hamster, it is better adapted to climb trees and other vertical surfaces.
  • Three-toed giant space hamster: Similar to the original breed, aside from its number of toes. The benefit of this is minimal.
  • Two-headed lernaean bombardier giant space hamster: A two-headed breed capable of belching loud enough to stun anyone within thirty feet. It can regenerate wounds. Its creators apologised, saying "Well, we're certainly not likely to make this mistake again or at least not more than once again anyway."
  • Tyrannohamsterus Rex: An enormous giant space hamster, weighing 75 tons and standing 25 feet at the shoulder. It is extremely skittish, even for a giant space hamster, and panics easily when startled by loud noises, fire, bright light, or magic. It is resistant to magic, but has no means of attack, though it may crush someone underfoot while fleeing. It was bred by a gnome space colony, now defunct, for the purpose of "because it was there".
  • Wooly giant space hamster: Largely similar to the original breed, aside from its wooly fur.
  • Yellow musk giant space hamster: Similar to the yellow musk creeper, this is a yellow-furred breed which emits a terrible stench. It emits a cloud of noxious gas which can cause nausea, blindness, and physical weakness.

Notable giant space hamsters[]

For a full list of all giant space hamsters, miniature giant space hamsters, and regular hamsters, see Category:Hamsters.

  • Boo, an alleged miniature giant space hamster owned by the ranger Minsc
  • Fluff, a pet giant space hamster owned by the gnome Oswuggle
  • Wooly Rupert, an enormous, highly intelligent giant space hamster of ill omen

History[]

Origins[]

Giant space hamsters were first created by an animal breeder's guild of tinker gnomes, a gnomish sub-race native to the world of Krynn.[12] The initial goal of the research committee was to create a docile creature capable of powering the giant wheels which wind the rubber band that powers advanced gnomish spacecraft, but they were soon discovered to be an excellent source of meat.[1]

Subsequent developments by the guild included the sabre-toothed giant space hamster, the carnivorous giant space hamster, and the miniature giant space hamster. These developments have been described as "a good example of the Tinker Gnome tendency of not knowing when to stop".[12]

Recent history[]

Spelljamming tinker gnomes have imported the giant space hamster to Faerûn.[5]

Several years ago, gnomes established a base on the edge of the north face of the Spectre, a flat world in Greyspace, the solar system of Oerth. This base featured a giant hamster ranch and a floating shipyard supported by. Unfortunately, the base was mostly destroyed in a hamster stampede. One of the escaped hamsters fell off the edge and floated into space; one drowned in the flat world's ocean; two were killed by human traders; and another escaped across the world and was never seen again.[6]

Miniature giant space hamsters have been sold as an exotic rarity in the planar city of Sigil, where they are imported from worlds of the material plane. They have relatively little meat, but are commonly kept as pets.[13]

Publication history[]

AD&D 2nd edition[]

Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space, Concordance of Arcane Space (1989), p.33, describes a whimsical clockwork spaceship called the Gnomish Sidewheeler, whose list price of 40,000 gp is not inclusive of "the giant hamsters that power the side wheels and wind the giant rubber band".

A complete two-page writeup for the giant space hamster and 16 bizarre variants, including the miniature giant space hamster, appeared in MC7 Monstrous Compendium: Spelljammer Appendix (1990). This was the first use of the name giant space hamster for the creature. A larger version of the artwork used on the second page of in its monster entry appeared in Dragon #175 (Nov 1991), p.6, which dedicated three pages to the creature.

The Rather Wild Giant Space Hamster appeared in the 1992 TSR Trading Cards set as card #716. In the 1993 TSR Trading Cards set, the psionic gnome Oswuggle (card #323) is described as having a pet giant space hamster named Fluff (not pictured).

The origins of the giant space hamster were described in PHBR9 The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (1993), p.28.

Space hamsters are mentioned in two Spelljammer adventures by Steve Kurtz, appearing in Dungeon Magazine: The Sea of Sorrow, Dungeon #36 (Jul/Aug 1992), p.40-68 and An Artist's Errand, Dungeon #45 (Jan/Feb 1994), p.8-31. Brief mentions of the creatures are made in the author bio of Kurtz' Flowfire (Dungeon #39) and Roger Moore's The Door from Everywhere (Dungeon #88).

D&D 3rd edition[]

The article Campaign Classics, Dragon #315 (Jan 2004), p.13, referenced the giant space hamster, suggesting that D&D 3rd edition statistics for the creature could be created by adapting the statblock for a dire wolf, giving it a speed of 30 feet and a burrow speed of 20 feet.

This Dragon article also recommended Dungeon #92 (May/Jun 2002) for the first ever D&D 3rd edition Spelljammer content. This content appeared in Polyhedron #151, included as part of that Dungeon issue as Polyhedron was no longer an independent magazine at this point and had merged with Dungeon. Giant space hamsters, however, received only a brief mention.

D&D 4th edition[]

The only reference to the giant space hamster in D&D 4th edition D&D Encounters adventure Murder in Baldur's Gate, featuring. a statue of Minsc with his pet hamster Boo. According to legend, Minsc believed his hamster was a giant pygmy space hamster. This is a reference to the 1998 video game Baldur's Gate, in which Minsc claims that his pet hamster is a miniature giant space hamster.

D&D 5th edition[]

A shipment of giant space hamster meat appears in Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (2018), p.217. A miniature giant space hamster also appears on page 251.

In Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus (2019), p.184, the statue of Minsc and his alleged miniature giant space hamster Boo in Baldur's Gate is revealed to have been the real petrified Minsc and Boo. When the two were freed, the people of the city missed the statue enough that a replacement statue of Minsc and Boo was commissioned. Minsc and Boo are also depicted in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (2018), p.18.

Creative origins[]

The giant space hamster was the invention of Dragon magazine editor Roger Moore, who contributed it to the MC7 Monstrous Compendium: Spelljammer Appendix (1990). In the letters page of Dragon #171, he describes his inspiration as his love of hamsters and guinea pigs, but credits Jeff Grubb with the original idea.

A possible early inspiration for the original giant space hamster appeared in the adventure The Circus of Gandolfo, I13 Adventure Pack I (1987), p.14, by Warren Spector, which was set in a fantastic fairground featuring ferris wheels powered by magically-enlarged hamsters. Roger Moore subsequently joked about the existence of a "giant cave hamster" in his editorial, "Errers", in Dragon #132 (Apr 1988), p.3.

Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space, Concordance of Arcane Space (1989), p.33, describes a whimsical clockwork spaceship called the Gnomish Sidewheeler, whose list price of 40,000 gp is not inclusive of "the giant hamsters that power the side wheels and wind the giant rubber band".

Although almost certainly a joke entry, these large furry creatures led to the inclusion of a full writeup for the "Hamster, Giant Space" in the MC7 Monstrous Compendium: Spelljammer Appendix (1990). This writeup introduced sixteen bizarre and comical variants, including the miniature giant space hamster.

Reception and influence[]

The giant space hamster is one of the most controversial monsters in D&D history.

Controversial reception[]

The inclusion of such a blatantly parodic creature in an otherwise non-comical game was controversial. Opposition to parody content was high following the previous year's WG7 Castle Greyhawk (1988), an adventure module named for D&D creator Gary Gygax's sought-after unpublished personal D&D dungeon, but which was instead a parody adventure. Many fans saw this as a personal insult to Gygax, who left the company in 1985, and such parody content was perceived as a decline in standards of quality at TSR in Gygax's absence.[14][15]

In Dragon #171's letters page, giant space hamster creator and Dragon editor Roger Moore claimed he had a hard time finding anyone other than Jeff Grubb who liked giant space hamsters as much as he did, and that some people claimed to have hated the creature so much that they removed the page from their binder.

In the editorial of Polyhedron #150 (March 2002), editor Erik Mona announced that the next issue would include the first Spelljammer content for D&D 3e, and boasted that, "best of all", this would not include giant space hamsters. In the subsequent issue, Mona explained that while both he and writer Andy Collins enjoyed the original Spelljammer, they were turned off by quirky features like "giant space hamsters named Wooly Rupert". This was controversial with some readers, with Mona explaining, "You see, without giant rodents, Spelljammer just isn't Spelljammer to some people."

Giant space hamster appreciation[]

The article Monstrous Compendium?, Dragon #156 (Apr 1990), p.11, referred to the giant hamster as a weird monster, and claimed (correctly) that they can store a 100-lb stack of Harz Mountain Hamster Nummies in each cheek. Other monsters presented in that article are the blink wooly mammoth, carnivorous death sheep, gello monster, killer spruce, man-drake, paper dragon, pigeontoad, bubble-blowing pink dragon, tickler, tin golem, unicow, and werelagomorph.

In 1991, Dragon Magazine issue 171 asked readers to submit reasons why they love giant space hamsters. The contest received over 120 entries, and included numerous suggestions for new variants of giant space hamster, printed in Dragon #175. Among the submissions was one Rich Burlew, credited with sending the longest species name—probably the Subtropical Amphibious Crimson Displacer Shrieking Transparent Fomorian Groaning Aboriginal Lamia Heavy War Gelatinous elder Dun Berserker Blood Sea Heucuva Huecuva Guardian One-Eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People-Eating Astral Ixitxachitl Shambling Vampiric Beholder Rust Poisonous Slithering Volcanic Storm Tri-Flower Flumph Thessal Spitting Cockatrice Paisley Super-Genius Abjurer Blink Faerie Throat Leech Rotting Teenage Mutant Ninja Ju-Ju Republican Charioteering Interposing Glaive-Guisarme All-Beef Patty Special Sauce Lettuce Cheese Pickles Onion on a Sesame-Seed Bun Goblinoid Fire-Retardant Anchovy Death Great Wyrm Myopic Megalo Giant Space Hamster of Fear and Flame.[16][17]

In Dragon #174, p. 28, the writer's guidelines ended with a warning that while the magazine was interested in new Ecology articles, it was not accepting submissions for Ecology of the Giant Space Hamster—the editor was saving that for a possible gag article in April 1992. However, this article was never written.

In Dragon #175, Roger Moore asserted that giant space hamsters were "the greatest and most versatile monsters aver devised for the AD&D® game".

The song Gnomish Space Marines, a parody of The Beatles' Yellow Submarine printed in Dragon #192 (Apr 1993), p.20, referenced the giant space hamster. A colossal space hamster appeared in the random tables in Dragon #228's parody article The DM's Quick Campaign Random Generator.

The article Leprechauns & Giant Eagles—Oh My!, Polyhedron #116 (Feb 1996), suggested that giant space hamsters in particular may be unsuitable as player characters. The author of this article was also Roger Moore.

In The Great Goblet, Dragon #271 (May 2000), p.91, Ed Greenwood signed off by saying:

"Ed Greenwood created the Forgotten Realms® setting, the wizard Elminster, and bearded Faerûnian dwarven women—but he wants it to be known that it was Roger Moore who created the Giant Space Hamster."

Other appearances[]

The most famous space hamster in D&D lore is undoubtably Boo, the miniature giant space hamster in Bioware's 1998 PC game Baldur's Gate. However, it has never been canonically proven whether Boo is in fact a space hamster, or just a regular hamster.

Other Bioware games to reference this include Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, which depict a creature called a "space hamster".

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 MC7 Monstrous Compendium: Spelljammer Appendix (1990).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Sea of Sorrow, Dungeon #36 (Jul/Aug 1992), p.40-68.
  3. The History of Dragonlance (1995), p.153-154.
  4. SJR7 Krynnspace (2e) (1993), p.55.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Demihumans of the Realms (1999), p.47.
  6. 6.0 6.1 SJR6 Greyspace (2e) (1992), p.67-69.
  7. The History of Dragonlance (1995), p.141.
  8. MC9 Monstrous Compendium: Spelljammer Appendix II (1991).
  9. Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (2018), p.217.
  10. Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space, Concordance of Arcane Space (1989), p.33.
  11. 1992 TSR Trading Cards, #716
  12. 12.0 12.1 PHBR9 The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings (1993), p.28.
  13. In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil (1995), p.126.
  14. EX1-2. Dungeonland and the Land beyond the Magic Mirror. John D. Rateliff, Wizards of the Coast website, 2002.
  15. Why did Giant Space Hamsters cause community outrage? Role-playing Games Stack Exchange, 2012.
  16. Dragon #175 (Nov 1991), p.6-7,100.
  17. Assuming that Rich Burlew who made this submission was the same Rich Burlew of Order of the Stick fame, he would have been a teenager when he made this submission. Among the D&D monsters likely referenced—mostly appearing in Monster Manual (1e) (1977) and Monster Manual II (1e) (1983)—are the crimson death, displacer beast, shrieker, fomorian, groaning spirit, lamia, heavy warhorse, gelatinous cube, huecuva, guardian naga, one-horned horror, purple worm, astral dreadnought, ixitxachitl, shambling mound, vampire, beholder, rust monster, slithering tracker, poisonous giant snake, storm giant, tri-flower frond, flumph, thessalhydra, spitting giant snake, cockatrice, blink dog, throat leech, ju-ju zombie, the goblinoid category, the great wyrm true dragon age category, megalo-centipede, and the eye of fear and flame. Other references include the glaive-guisarme, the abjurer mage subclass, Bigby's interposing hand, the 1970s McDonalds Big Mac jingle, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
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