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.

  • \$\begingroup\$ As a point of interest, the 3.5 edition Player's Handbook II cover features what appears to be a close up of the statue's head with only one thief prying out the statue's right eye. The book specifies a cover artist, but I did not see a description a la 5e books. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12, 2021 at 22:33

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ 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." \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2018 at 18:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ (This is the second time I've been made aware of Mearls using his position to rewrite AD&D, and it is kinda offensive.) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2018 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ 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. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2018 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie How's that? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 12, 2018 at 19:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Bunch of new information on the statue itself, which is depicted with its missing eye gem in the Sacred Statue statblock for Eidolon in MToF: dndbeyond.com/sources/mtof/bestiary#Eidolon \$\endgroup\$ May 9, 2019 at 20:01

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.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The latter link is broken. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tommi
    Apr 12, 2021 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tommi - it appears that the domain was not maintained, so it's not just broken, it seems to be deceased. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12, 2021 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. - From Review \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Apr 12, 2021 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ The essential parts are a picture in a pdf. You want to copy and paste it in, @Akixkisu? 21 people found it useful. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12, 2021 at 19:40

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