Take the 2-minute tour ×
Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I know that a Mindflayer is an Illithid and visa versa. And, I know in some of the D&D fiction, like Forgotten Realms and the like, that Mindflayers refer to themselves or their race as Illithids, but where does this distinction originate from?! Why are there two names for one species/monster?

share|improve this question
    

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Just before the AD&D transition from 1e to 2e, several articles appeared in Dragon magazine detailing the "Ecology Of..." various monsters. These reflected the transition of the game itself, moving beyond the simplistic hack-'n'-slash style toward more logical and comprehensive settings, both outdoor and indoor. Published adventuress kept pace, also evolving into more complex and (pardon the term) 'realistic' treatments.

As part of this transition, various monsters initially named for functionality -- such as mind-flayers and carrion crawlers -- were given additional names as being their 'real' or 'racial' titles, sometimes attributed to the races themselves.

Several real-world parallels exist. The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (aka Myanmar) was called Burma for many years until the local name became widely known and used. Various birds are commonly called Wrens, even though their 'true' name (genus) is Troglodytes.

All of these newer and/or alternate names for monsters should be viewed in similar context.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 For both a real-world example and the use of D&D history! –  GPierce May 24 '11 at 13:31

Mindflayer is a colloquial name. In other words, most people probably haven't dealt with illithids enough to know what they call themselves. In any case, it might be interesting to know the first time the use of illithid was in print. Mind flayers first appeared in the official newsletter of TSR Games, The Strategic Review #1, Spring 1975, according to Wikipedia, but I didn't see anything there about the i-word.

share|improve this answer

Originally they were Mind Flayers, when an article came around describing a world ravaged by them, the author I guess decided to give them an actual name. Wikipedia reference here

As an aside, my distinction was always that Mind Flayers were the Wizard variant, and Illithids were the Psionicist variant. I don't think that was really supported explicitly, and I just went from the MM entry that had Mind Flayers as the main block (alternating between calling them Illithid and Mind Flayer), and a sub block referring to Psionic Illithids.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.