The True, Nerd-O-Riffic Origins of ottoneu (Otyugh)

If you’re reading this, you have undoubtedly heard about the cool new version of fantasy called ottoneu. According to ottoneu’s creator, Niv Shah, “[t]he name ‘ottoneu’ is derived from Otto Neu, a shortstop who played in one game in 1917 for the St. Louis Browns. In this game against the Yankees, he did not have a fielding chance or an at-bat.” Sounds reasonable, right? Catchy and obscurely baseball-ey? A likely story… too likely. But I was curious, so I dug deeper.

Does THIS look familiar, Mr. Shah?

I’m sure it does. But let me share what you already know for the sake of our few readers who aren’t familiar. That is an illustration of an Otyugh taken from the first edition Monster Manual (1977), a guide to, well, “monsters” for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons written by Gary Gygax. Now, obviously I linked to Wikipedia because I’m far too cool to have ever played a game like AD&D, I mean Dungeons and Dragons, but I did discover this through investigative reporting. There’s no need to hide it, Mr. Shah, admit your nerd-dom. Admit that you wanted to name your creation after a dangerous, dungeon-crawling carrion eater liable to give an adventurer a disease even if said adventurer manages to avoid being eaten.

Then, and only then, can you feel free to name the linear-weights variety of the game after the otyugh’s more intelligent (and more dangerous) cousin (perhaps what you had in mind all along): the neo-otyugh, pictured in action below (click to enlarge).

I can’t wait to hear Mr. Shah’s explanation for this one. I’m sure he’ll say that is a grainy photo of Babe Ruth during a night on the town with Bob Meusel and Mark Koenig or something like that. And hey, it’s believable… but we know the truth, don’t we?

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

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baseball nerd-dom is taken to new heights (or lows?) with this post. well done, matt. well done.