Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It only took 35 years
(New BX Monster: The Intelligent Wooly Rhino)

34 years ago, I purchased my first every RPG product... what has since come to be known as "Cook Blue," though I prefer call it "Cook/Marsh Blue." This was the product that started it all for me (apart from the friend who introduced me to the concept while waiting for a Mardi Gras parade to pass earlier that year). This past year, there were a couple of key highlights during my time at the North Texas RPG Con. One of them was meeting Steve Marsh, the guy who wrote the majority of that very same book. The time he took to sit with me at the con and share his kind words about my Three Castles award-winning Valley of the Five Fires is among my fondest gaming-related memories.

Partly spurred on by that encounter, and partly spurred on my long-intended want of a BX psionics system, I started the quest to do the latter in earnest a few months back. My mystic class, and the inclusion of a "Planar Primer" and "Planar Travel Guide" in my Basic Psionics Handbook, are built on a vision for a plane-traveling mystic class originally penned by Mr. Marsh, but merged with Gary Gygax's devine class by Tim Kask.

"Psionics were added to D&D as the result of two character classes, the mystic and the devine, that were in process. Mystics were finished, Devines (who used the psionic attack and defense modes) were not. Tim Kask cut the material up and put it into Eldritch Wizardry."

Steve Marsh, November 28, 2005, indie-rpgs.com

During the process of writing the Basic Psionics Handbook, I've occasionally emailed Mr. Marsh to get some clarification or deeper information on statements he's made in previous interviews. So when it came time to write up the monsters for the Basic Psionics Handbook, I just had to do something in response to the following...

"Erol Otus mocked my idea of having the Wooly Rhinos be intelligent, so that got canned (I liked the idea of a potentially psionic group of Rhinos in the far north, coordinating the defense of the herd against predators)."

Steve Marsh speaking about writing the Expert Rulebook,
April 11, 2005, Dragonsfoot.org

So I started writing up an intelligent, psionic-using, wooly rhino... and I passed the drafts by Mr. Marsh, who provided great insight regarding his intentions, and specifically mentioned having them use enfilade and defilade tactics in battle. So I re-wrote the listing a couple of times, sent him the final draft a couple of days ago, and received an email yesterday morning which said simply, "Really well done." (At which point I clenched my fist with a "YES!")

Well, it only took 34 years for this vision to come to life (assuming the idea came about the year before the Expert book was published), but without further ado, I present the Steve Marsh-inspired (and Erol Otus-mocked) intelligent, psionic-using wooly rhino for the BX rules. (BTW, the "rho'tha" name was an invention of mine, but the Xhosa-inspired clicking sound in the middle was Steve's idea).


  1. Love it. Will happily add to my B/X materials!

  2. Awesome! But how much damage is the Trample normally (damage listed is for butt)?

    1. Oops. Must've happened in the editing iterations. Now fixed in the stat block image above. Thanks for noting that.

  3. The Basic Psionics Handbook is a must-have! Please print this book soon....