Displacer Beast

From 1d4chan
Displacer beast MM 4e.jpg

The Displacer Beast is a long-running monster from the Dungeons & Dragons game. A rip-off of a monster from a 1939 short science fiction story (A.E. van Vogt's "Black Destroyer") called the Coeurl, this monster resembles an oversized panther with six legs (whether the extra pair are forelimbs or hindlimbs depends on the art), and squid-like tentacles sprouting from its shoulders. Its name stems from an innate affinity for illusion magic; displacer beasts can "displace" their image, producing an illusory duplicate of themselves that mirrors everything they do, but which is positioned several feet away from where it actually is. Thus, melee attackers are tricked into aiming at the wrong spot whilst coming within reach of its wickedly hooked tentacles.

The displacer beast has been in literally every single D&D edition that's ever existed; first appearing in the Greyhawk supplement in 1975, it appeared in both Advanced D&D (Monster Manual for 1e, Monstrous Compendium Volume 1 and Monstrous Manual for 2e) and in Basic/Expert (Basic Set, Expert Set, D&D Game Set, Rules Cyclopedia, Adventure Game Set). From 3rd edition through to 5th, it appeared in the first Monster Manual for each edition. Meanwhile White Dwarf #18 up and put the Coeurl right back in the game, only to be cockblocked by the rest of the hobby.

They had an "Ecology of the Displacer Beast" article for AD&D 1e in Dragon Magazine #109.

For AD&D up to 3e displacer beasts were evil, savage monsters; sapient as any humanoid, but with a perverse love of killing and inflicting suffering especially to blink dogs. In the Expert set, they were just lolcats. 4e allowed they were still dangerous, but not outright evil - the 4e version is actually a fey creature, a magical big cat originating from the Feywild. In other editions, it's a magical beast and just happens to be running around in your campaign setting.

The first edition Fiend Folio includes the Kamadan, a relative of the disaplacer beast that looks like a leopard with venomous snakes growing from its neck and fires a cone of sleep as a breath weapon. Lords of Madness introduced a monster called the hound of the gloom which may also be a relative of the displacer beast, which looks like a monstrous dog with a mane of tentacles, two of which have claws, and two more tentacles in place of a tail. Although the hound of the gloom is an aberration instead of a magical beast.