This page probably doesn’t make a lot of sense by itself, read this story from the beginning. May the blessings of Elves and Men and all Free Folk go with you.

Here’s what the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion (p. 132) has to say about Nymphs:

Nymphs are stunningly beautiful female fey creatures that closely resemble elven women. They live in a variety of temperate sylvan settings, far from civilization. They have the ability to dimension door 1 time per day. Their appearance is so striking that anyone who lays eyes on a nymph must save versus spells or become permanently blind. If the nymph is nude, a failed save means death. Nymphs have the spell-casting abilities of a 7th level druid. They have their own language and speak common.

That’s right. They have zero physical attacks, their only way to kill you is to strip naked, a full frontal assault. And this version of Nymphs lines up more or less exactly with how they appear in the 2nd edition of D&D, the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monstrous Manual. Whilst 3rd edition of D&D preserved this power to kill people just with their beauty, when 3.5e came out they nerfed it to a stun effect. Because of course they did! People say Dark Souls and Bloodbourne are hard, imagine a game in which the enemies can kill you just by you looking at them. Move over Weeping Angels from Doctor Who, eat your heart out Slenderman — at least he gives you a split-second to look away. If you put a Nymph in a box and ask the players to open the box, they are simultaneously dead and not dead until the box is opened.

5th edition has done away altogether with Nymphs and Succubi and other monsters who use their sexuality as a weapon, and quite right too. A whole race of monsters — let alone multiple races — who are monstrous precisely because of — PHWOAR — their rockin’ tits and whose only attack is literally the male gaze, this is self-evidently dehumanising to women. Literally dehumanising. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a female player at a table where the Nymph is deployed unironically and played straight.

But what I love about Labyrinth Lord is that it preserves all the jank of AD&D and First Edition but, with no official campaigns, modules or adventures to prescribe a context, it leaves it up to the players and the game master to decide a context, and a setting, and to decide how to deploy these elements. The first thing one of my players asked when I told her about Nymphs in Labyrinth Lord was whether there were male Nymphs. I told her of course there were. In the rules-as-written, there is no mention of male Nmyphs and they are explicitly stated to be women, but the rules are more what you’d call guidelines. It’s your game, you can have male, female, trans, non-binary Nymphs to your heart’s content. And even in the rules-as-written, it doesn’t say anything about the victims having to be male or straight, so the implication is that the Nymph is so charming that she makes everyone at least bicurious… and then blind, or dead. We have no choice but to stan.

I have used Nymphs in my Labyrinth Lord games. Of course I have, I enjoy the challenge! I have had them wandering through the woods, in the rain, wrapped in rags, their heads in their hands, weeping like the Witch from Left 4 Dead. I’ve had high-level monsters turn characters in the party (usually non-player henchmen) into Nymphs for an extra challenge — not only is the party down by a player, they now have to fight with their eyes closed. -4 to hit right there, hello death spiral. And I’ve had Nymphs appear as NPCs, diplomats from the fairy world. Someone standing off to the side in the ball room, wearing a porcelain mask, a hood and gloves — every inch of them covered in cloth to avoid hurting any of the other guests. The storytelling possibilities are endless.

So when deciding what fantasy race Amy would want to play as were she to play Labyrinth Lord… well, did I really have a choice in the matter? The one with absurd death-nudity power, of course. The one who brings a whole new meaning to “drop dead gorgeous”.

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