Monster Manual Week:
Today’s 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Sketch is the extremely irritating rust monster.
What’s great about the rust monster is that it can’t actually hurt you – and yet it’s one of the most feared monsters in the dungeon. This is because the rust monster eats metal and is particularly fond of “ferrous based metals such as iron, steel, and steel alloys (such as mithral and adamantite arms and armor).”
In other words, it wants your armour and weapons – and one touch of its long antennae causes anything metal to rust and corrode, immediately falling to pieces “which are easily eaten and digested by the creature.” Fighting back is not a good idea, because “weapons striking a rust monster are affected just as if the creature’s antennae had touched them.”
Small wonder that a band of tough adventurers will often run at the first sight of a rust monster; unfortunately, most quickly learn that the rust monster moves much faster than they do. The most effective way of dealing with one is to throw a handful of iron spikes (or other easily replaced metal items) in its path and hope it will stop long enough to eat them that you’ll be able to get away with that precious +4 sword.
I’ve never understood quite what’s going on with the rust monster’s tail. In theoriginal illustration by David C Sutherland III, it looks for all the world like a propeller. Later versions tried to turn it into something impressive and insectoid, but if you ask me, Sutherland’s version is the best, because it gives the rust monster a ridiculous – almost nerdy – look. Ol’ Rusty never hurts anyone; he’s the harmless annoying doofus everyone wants to avoid.
Legend has it the rust monster was designed when Gary Gygax found a bag of cheap plastic monster toys in a dime store, including a “figurine that looked rather like a lobster with a propeller on its tail…. [N]othing very fearsome came to mind…. Then inspiration struck me. It was a ‘rust monster.’” I’m sure his gaming group was delighted when Rusty first turned up and started munching on their stuff.
BTW, one day I might buy one of these t-shirts.
(Note: this was a commissioned Monster Manual sketch. I’m still taking requests (for a limited time) here).