One of the most enduring and iconic images from the history of D&D is Trampier's cover for the 1ed AD&D Player's Handbook. You know the one: orange demon idol with the thieves prying out the gigantic eye gems, while the other party members stand amid the bodies of dead lizard men.

cover of the original AD&D players handbook

I realize that at the time, it was supposed to be a fairly generic moment. My question is: Have the elements from that illustration ever been officially developed in a D&D product? Were they used in a sanctioned module or tournament? The setting of a novel that takes place in one of the D&D campaigns?

If not that, I am willing to accept answers based on unofficial usage (even a sufficiently developed home brewed solution). I'd like to have my players run through that room, and if it has any TSR/WotC history, I'd like to pay homage to it.

I am not tagging this with any single edition of D&D, despite its origin in AD&D 1e.

It wasn't ever used in anything official I know of, or even named, but there's a really nice entry to the 2013 One Page Dungeon contest by Jobe Bittman that does a treatment of it - Into the Demon Idol.

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The idol represents the demon Moloch, though this is apparently a retroactive decision, and made canon in 5th edition.

In the D&D Podcast, "Dragon+: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, 2/6/18" Designer Mike Mearls confirms that the demon is in fact Moloch, an identity which was earlier based on speculation, but now made explicit.

He explains that the demon was used twice in official material beyond its original appearance on the cover of the AD&D 1e Players Handbook.

There was a creature called an eidolon in 4th edition that was described as an animated statue, which used the idol design as the basis for its illustration.

Mearls goes on to relate a possibly apocryphal story based on Chris Perkins' research. Supposedly, the artist, Dave Trampier, nicknamed it "Molly". Later on, in Monster Manual II, the demon Moloch was illustrated to resemble the cover idol, so the inference was made that the idol was an image of Moloch.

Moloch is slated to appear in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes as a fully statted and described demon, and its appearance will be based on that idol.

  • Not a fan of saying a later new official statement can time-travel to retroactively determine what the cover, when painted, depicted. It might be more accurate to begin with "The demon Moloch may have been retroactively created to match the idol, though this was not declared canon until 5th edition." – SevenSidedDie Feb 12 at 18:26
  • (This is the second time I've been made aware of Mearls using his position to rewrite AD&D, and it is kinda offensive.) – SevenSidedDie Feb 12 at 18:32
  • I thought I had made it clear that it was a retroactive designation based on a possibly apocryphal story. Do you think your wording is clearer? If so, feel free to edit. – keithcurtis Feb 12 at 18:49
  • @SevenSidedDie How's that? – keithcurtis Feb 12 at 19:19

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