How Is D&D Like a Prescription Drug? Try This Test

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D&D monster or prescription drug? Sometimes it's hard to tell. (Image: Ethan Gilsdorf)
D&D monster or prescription drug? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. (Image: Ethan Gilsdorf)

Can Dungeons & Dragons be good for your health? Perhaps. But more importantly, consider in what ways the nomenclature of the game is similar to verbiage in the medical field. Prescription drug or D&D monster? It can be confusing.

Say you’re suffering from high cholesterol. To cure what ails you, do you pop a mevacor or morkoth?

Better pick mevacor, which has been proven to reduce the amount of cholesterol and other fatty substances in your blood. The morkoth, on the other hand, resembles a fish with an octopus’s beak. According to the Monster Manual, “of all the creatures that inhabit the deep, only the kraken exceeds the morkoth in malice and cruelty.” It probably doesn’t care about your good or evil cholesterol. Only that you have dead cholesterol.

Or this: Venturing deep into some imaginary dungeon, you enter a dank chamber, only to be ambushed by a slithering and snarling remorhaz. Or, wait a second, maybe that’s a rhinocort aqua about to impale you with its stinger or crush you with its jaws of death. Or perhaps you need to pop a few of both before you do battle. A little shot of courage, right?

The names of the most fearsome monsters from classic Dungeons & Dragons can sound an awful lot like prescription drugs used to treat foot fungus or gastroesophageal reflux disease. I’m not talking standard fantasy creatures like orcs, goblins, nymphs, gnomes and trolls. I mean the more outlandish and esoteric ones. Consider the words “peryton” and “prometrium.” One is a creature combining the body of a giant eagle and the head of a stag; the others is used as hormone replacement therapy in women who have passed menopause. (The answer is below.)

According to the Monster Manual, is this is a "peryton" or a"prometrium"?
According to the Monster Manual, is this is a “peryton” or a”prometrium”?

Or think of the Efreet (an unpredictable, supernatural creature with a fiery form) taking a daily dose of 500 milligrams of Eskalith (a kind of lithium used to treat and prevent episodes of mania) to increase its its dexterity and intelligence and focus and make it a more fearsome and chemically balanced foe.

The similarities of nomenclature kinda makes you wonder if the folks at TSR (the company that made D&D) back in the 1970s and 1980s were secretly moonlighting as drug reps for the major pharmaceutical companies. Certainly, once they exhausted names from western and eastern folklore and mythology, and borrowed heavily from Middle-earth, monster-makers began casting about for combinations of word parts that sounded cool ‘n’ nasty. Kinda like when a drug company (or automobile company) has to come up with name for its new products.

So let’s take a quiz, shall we? Your job is to decide which of the below is some savage and evil foe, and which is an instrument of pharmacological good (at least according to the FDA). When you’re done, check your answers at the bottom, and rate yourself on the D&D Nerd — Beholden to the Pharmaceutical Industry continuum.

Now for the test. Which of these is a drug and which is a D&D monster? (Answers below.)

1. Buspar

2. Juiblex

3. Celebrex

4. Leucrotta

5. Asmodeus

6. Levothroid

7. Remorhaz

8. Septra

9. Lamia

10. Rhinocort Aqua

11. Aciphex

12. Neotyugh

13. Valtrex

14. Peryton

15. Prometrium



[Don’t scroll any further until you’ve taken the test!]

(Image: Ethan Gilsdorf)
(Image: Ethan Gilsdorf)


OK, ready for the answers? Here you go.

Rhinocort Aqua is an anti-inflammatory nasal spray.
Rhinocort Aqua is an anti-inflammatory nasal spray.

1. Buspar is a drug is used to treat symptoms of anxiety, such as fear, tension, irritability and dizziness. This might be useful for your next dungeon crawl.


2. Juiblex may sound like a happy antidepressant, but it’s a nasty dude, also known as “the faceless lord,” demon lord of Slimes and Oozes.


3. Celebrex is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat pain or inflammation.


4. The leucrotta is an ugly mix of a stag, lion and badger, about seven feet tall and nine feet long, with cloven hooves, a leonine tail, and bony ridges for teeth. Its temperament is as ugly as its appearance. Sometimes leucrottas are enslaved by chaotic evil mages to act as guardians. It also has an overpowering stench.


5. Asmodeus is the arch fiend, king of demons, overlord of all the dukes of hell.


6. Levothroid treats hypothyroidism, an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) and thyroid cancer.

The remorhaz.
The remorhaz.


7. The Remorhaz is a monster: a polar worm who inhabits the “chill wastes.” Protruding from its back are big, red, jewel-like lumps which radiate extreme heat.


8. Septra is used to treat urinary tract infections and ear infections.


9. A lamia is a creature with the lower body of a lion, and the upper torso, arms, and head of a human female.


10. Rhinocort Aqua is not an aqua-colored dragon or dinosaur. It’s an anti-inflammatory delivered via nasal spray. Which could come in handy fighting fire-breathing dragons.


11. Aciphex is used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other conditions involving excessive stomach acid.


12. A neotyugh is a larger and more intelligent member of the otyugh family. It typically has three legs, several tentacles, and is always found underground, a scavenger whose diet consists of dung, offal, and carrion. It might also suffer from high blood pressure.


13. Valtrex is used to treat infections caused by herpes viruses.


14. Peryton is a fictional animal combining the physical features of a stag and a bird.


15. And yes, promethium contains one of the main female sex hormones, progesterone. It helps prevent changes in the uterus in women who are taking estrogen after menopause. It also treats amenorrhea, the stoppage of menstrual periods, in women who are still menstruating. But don’t discount it in battle.


Now for your score: Where are you on the D&D Nerd — Beholden to the Pharmaceutical Industry continuum?

1-6 correct: Go back to the dungeon. Or go back to pharmacy school. Do not pass “go” and do not collect 200 gold pieces.

7-12 correct: Make a saving throw against nerdiness. You almost know enough to be a gamer, but you almost know enough to become a doctor. Or a drug abuser.

13-15 correct: You played too much D&D before you became a drug lord. Lay off the free samples from drug reps and keep on rolling natural 20s.

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4 thoughts on “How Is D&D Like a Prescription Drug? Try This Test

  1. Nice article. Reminds me of the discussion I had last weekend with my cousin about the similarity between the name of the “celebrity” family the Kardashians, and the Star Trek race of Cardassians (primarily from Deep Space 9).

  2. Rory, here. 13 correct. 10 years of D&D + 4 years of nursing school = super nerdy med expert. Thanks for the post, it was fun.

    1. Now you are ready for D&D – only then will you truly graduate! 😉 Check out your local gaming store on Wednesdays for the D&D Encounters Program! Most stores running the program are kid-friendly, too!

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