An early adventure I ran was called Snake Island. It was a very simple premise. An abandoned small temple on a rocky island that is full of snakes. Snake Island was inspired by the Giant Constrictor Snake Monster Card.
A pair of luminous green Giant Constrictor Snakes guarded the temple entrance. Inexplicably hanging from the cold stone lintel above the door.
It was not a well thought out adventure. Basically a “Snake Hotel” that defied ecological logic. What it did do, was instill in my players a healthy fear of snakes. That fear and the gaming that followed was all due to this monster card.
If you really look at the card, you can see why it was so evocative. The snake, with art by Erol Otus, glimmers. I have always been quite taken by Otus’ art. The skin on his creations always looks tightly pulled, giving everything an otherworldly and threatening appearance. The fact that he could do that with a snake, shows just how strong his skills were.
Otus was an early contributor to Dungeons & Dragons who continues to work today. His art graced many of the games early works. Perhaps most iconic work is the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set or his cover for Deities & Demigods. Those are just guesses since his work is scattered and common in the early days of the game.
This is one tough snake. Six hit dice and a constriction power that can be a death sentence to a solo party member, should be a red flag to both Dungeon Masters and players alike. Sure it is just a snake, but it can be devastating, so use and approach the Giant Constrictor Snake with caution
It was an interesting creature to include in the Monster Cards series since in both the 1st and 2nd Edition of the Monster Manual, they are not illustrated. Stats and description are pretty much the same, although in the 2nd Edition MM, they do talk about the very scary variation, the Snow Serpent. While they might not include an illustration of the Giant Constrictor Snake, 1st Edition MM has a great illustration of a Sea Serpent, while 2nd Edition features a Cobra.
This Monster Card has some attributes that make it stand out. It is the first horizontal card of the series, the first one by Otus and is also strangely alphabetized. For some reason they filed it under C for Constrictor instead of S for Snake like they do in the Monster Manual.
In addition to its odd alphabetical designation, this card brings much love to a “monster” that gets rather short shrift in other sources. For me, this card launched an adventure that I would run multiple times over the years. It is these cards ability to fire up the imagination that makes them so wonderful and why I am so happy to share them here.