The Lizard Man has been around a long time in Dungeons & Dragons. It first appeared in the games Greyhawk Supplement in 1975 and has been a constant feature of the game and the company that created it ever since. In fact, the artwork for the Lizard Man by Greg Bell, that appeared in that supplement was used as part of the TSR logo from 1975 to 1978.
This version of the Lizard Man became an icon of the early days of the game. So I guess I am not surprised that the Jim Roslof version, that appears on the Monster Card, has a lot in common.
Both are muscular hulking creatures that looks like savage warrior. Their tensed muscles look ready for battle. Their bodies are humanoid, but elements of their lizardness dominate. I wouldn’t want to meet with of them in a dark swamp.
Noble Night sold the original painting of the Lizard Man by Roslof in 2005. I am not sure what it sold for, but in the photo of the painting you can see the scale at which Roslof painted the card. A lot of detail for such a small painting.
Stats for the Lizard Man in the 1st Edition Monster Manual are exactly the same as the Monster Card, but the description in the card is longer. Although the content in the description is basically the same. I am actually surprised that the description is so short. This is a very well-establish monster, I would think its mythology would have been more defined by now and worthy of a second paragraph.
The art in the 1st edition Monster Manual is by David A. Trampier. So no surprise, it is Amazing. His Lizard Man is kneeling with sword and shield. It almost appears slightly more civilized than the other two versions and call me crazy, but it might be smiling.
While the description of the Lizard Man might not be all that deep, they do include some bonus art of a Lizard Man in action. Which is nice.
In the underappreciated The Rogues Gallery from 1981, Jeff Dee did a great heroic shot of a Lizard Man. The illustration is actually of the character Phoebus, originally played by Jeff R. Leason, who has been reincarnated from a human fighter into a Lizard Man. Also included here are Lassiviren the Dark, originally played by Al Hammack, and Luther, originally played by Helen Cook.
A variation of the Lizard Man, the Lizard King would make an appearance in the Fiend Folio (1981). The Lizard King is a nastier version of the Lizard Man that is evil to its core. This book would have some great illustrations of the Lizard King and I believe some Lizard Men. The Lizard King art is by Russ Nicholson. It shows the Lizard King wielding its trident and a Lizard King fighting the wonderfully ludicrous Lava Children. The Lizard Men art shows a warrior wielding a two-handed sword facing some Lizard atop a decaying shrine. I believe, based on the signature, that piece was done by Tony Ackland. Weirdly he is not credited with art in the book, but his signature is quite peculiar, so I am pretty sire this is his work.
The Lizard Man in the Monstrous Manual by Tony DiTerlizzi is a more elegant creature. Not as bulky as other interpretations, this version is less human and gives the impression of intelligence or at least cunning. It actually kind of reminds me more of a dinosaur than a lizard.
Being a staple of the Dungeons & Dragons, Lizard Men have made numerous appearance in other various publications. These include:
- A passing reference in Dungeon #109 in the article Fighters for a price by James A. Yates.
- In a great piece by Karen S. Boomgarden called Bork! Bork! where she discusses her first experience with roleplaying.
- In 2005 Dragon #335 finally did an Ecology of the Lizardfolk. It was written by Amber E. Scott. I am shocked it took them that long to cover the Lizard Man, but its an interesting piece to read.
- In Dragon #268, Michael Kuciak wrote a great article called The Lizard Folk. This article features six new variations on the Lizard Man. They are Agrutha (gator), Crocodilians (crocodile), Geckonids/Tokay (geckos), Varanids (komodo), and Iquanids (iguana).
While the Lizard Man would make many appearance in various modules. They would be front and center in Mark Acre’s Tomb of the Lizard King (I2) from 1982. This multi-part wilderness trek is particularly engaging and is worth checking out. It offers an early deep dive into the world of the Lizard Man and fleshes out the Lizard King entry in the Fiend Folio. It also has some wonderful art by Jim Holloway and Jeff Easley.
In the Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon episode, The Lost Children, we get some nice shots of Lizard Men in action. The scales an patterns are simplified on the cartoon, but they make some nice style choices. These Lizard Men are pretty dim as far as guard go, but visually they are eye-catching.
The Lizard Man is an old school monster that continues to be reinterpreted in each version of Dungeons & Dragons. To many players, they are the creature you tangle with when you are near a swamp and your DM is tired of using orcs. While they appear savage, their neutral alignment leave their behavior up to interpretation by the DM. This is something to consider before you draw your sword the next time you encounter a Lizard Man.
Lizard Man Random Encounter
A traveling carnival has setup on the side of the road near the village of Ram Bag. The star of the carnival is the terrifying Lizard Man. Villagers pay a copper a person to catch a glimpse of the fearsome creature.
If the players visit, they will see a pathetic creature that has been kept in a cage for 5 years and can hardly move. If they get any time alone with the sad creature, they will discover that it speaks common and it will plead with them to set it free. If they free the creature (the owner of the carnival will accept nothing short of 75gp) the Lizard Man will thank them profusely and attempt to make it to its home swamp 100 kilometers away.
This will force the damaged creature to pass through goblin territory where it will most certainly be killed. If the players decide to escort the Lizard Man, they will need to fight through a goblin village, a swamp full of snakes, crocodiles and an aggressive panther.
Bringing the Lizard Man back to his village will earn them an honorary place in the village hierarchy and a necklace of river pearls worth 350gp