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In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game, the gorgon is a magical beast that resembles a bull, covered in dusky metallic scales.

Even though they are named for the three humanoid Gorgons of Greek mythology, they much more closely resemble the Khalkotauroi of the same, and to some degree the Catoblepas of Ethiopia legend.[1][2]

Publication history[edit | edit source]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974–1976)[edit | edit source]

The gorgon was one of the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974), where they were described as bull-like monsters with a breath capable of turning creatures to stone.[3] They were also detailed in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement.[4][5]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977–1988)[edit | edit source]

The gorgon appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977),[6] where it is described as a bull-like creature covered in thick metal scales, that breathes a cloud of noxious vapors which turn any creature to stone.

The gorgon is further detailed in Dragon #97 (May 1985), in "The Ecology of the Gorgon," by Ed Greenwood.[7]

Dungeons & Dragons (1977–1999)[edit | edit source]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the gorgon, in the Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set (1981 & 1983),[8][9] and the Companion Rules (1984).[10] The gorgon was also later featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1991), the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991),[11] and the Classic Dungeons & Dragons Game set (1994).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989–1999)[edit | edit source]

The gorgon appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989),[12] and is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[13]

The Parthoris gorgon appears in Dragon #256 (February 1999).

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000–2002)[edit | edit source]

The gorgon appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[14]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003–2007)[edit | edit source]

The gorgon appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).

The guardian gorgon appears in Dungeonscape (2007).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008–2014)[edit | edit source]

The gorgon appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including the iron gorgon and the storm gorgon.[15]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014–Present)[edit | edit source]

The gorgon appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2014).[16]

Description[edit | edit source]

A gorgon can breathe out a cone of vapor that turns creatures to stone. They are very aggressive creatures that attack intruders on sight, attempting to trample, gore, or petrify them. There is no way to calm these furious creatures, and they are impossible to domesticate.

A gorgon is not very intelligent, and therefore always neutral in alignment. They usually live in temperate plains, in small packs of 3–4, or larger herds.

In the Eberron campaign setting, the gorgon is the heraldic beast of the dragonmarked House Cannith.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The history of four-footed beasts and serpents. by Topsell, Edward, 1572–1625?; Gessner, Conrad, 1516–1565; Moffett, Thomas, 1553–1604; Rowland, John, M.D; p. 206: "Among the mani old and divers sorts of Beasts which are bred in Africk, it is thought that the Gorgon is brought forth in that Countrey. It is a fearful and terrible beast to behold, it hath high and thick eye lids, eyes not very great, but much like an Oxes or Bugils, but all fiery-bloudy, which neither look directly forward, nor yet upwards,but continually down to the earth,and therefore are called in Greek, Catobleponta."
  2. Literary Sources of D&D
  3. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  4. Eldritch Wizardry, , p.. . (Temporary fix for {{cite journal}}, please update to use {{cite dragon}} and similar templates.)
  5. Review of Eldritch Wizardry
  6. Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  7. Greenwood, Ed. "Ecology of the Gorgon, The" Dragon #97 (TSR, 1985)
  8. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Dave Cook. Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set (TSR, 1981)
  9. Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 2: Expert Rules (TSR, 1983)
  10. Mentzer, Frank. Dungeons & Dragons Set 3: Companion Rules (TSR, 1984)
  11. Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  12. Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
  13. Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  14. Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  15. Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  16. Mearls, Mike, Jeremy Crawford, and Christopher Perkins. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2014)

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Ward, Kyla. "The Petit Tarrasque and Other Monsters." Dragon #329 (Paizo Publishing, 2005).
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