Fantasy Safari: Creature Collection (BECMI), Part 5

The fifth part of the Creature Collection with more Monsters and Undead.

Hivebrood
Hivebrood

The Hivebrood is a swarm of insects that reproduces by putting larvas into humanoid bodies which then grow to turn the person into one of them. They are all controlled by a hivemother. Maybe back in the early 80s that concept was still original. But probably not. The most interesting ability they have is that the broodmother is able to turn larvas into a more powerful form than normal drones to become hiveminds. Hiveminds have the interesting ability that they can gain any ability from any creature they eat, which includes any spells memorized by spellcasters they consumed. When in danger, a hivemind can release a chemical cloud that spreads through the hive and shares a single ability with all the regular drones for three rounds, after which it is lost. If that ability is something like casting fireball, the result can be utterly devastating for the PCs.

The Ice Wolf is simply a different name for the well known winter wolf and has exactly the same abilities. (Demon Dogs +1)

Kopru
Kopru

The Kopru is a classic monsters from X1 The Isle of Dread. It’s fame is mostly tied to that classic adventure. They have three tails which they use to grab enemies and have a special power to control the mind of any creature and have full accees to it. I did some snooping around if the kopru predates aboleths that are surprisingly similar, and it turns out they both appeared in the same year. And in addition, The Isle of Dread and Dwellers of the Forbidden City were both written by Zeb Cook. So yeah, they are basically the same idea slightly modified for B/X and AD&D. This is the same Cook that did the “Cook Expert” set of the “Moldvay/Cook” edition and also the Kara-Tur and Planescape settings. Why isn’t he more famous? He’s probably the second most influential person to make D&D into what we know now. Aboleths are a lot cooler than kopru, though.

Nagpa
Nagpa

The Nagpa is from the adventure X4 Master of the Desert Nomads, which is one of my favorite ones. And also made by Zeb Cook. Not as cool as the Bhut but better than the Juggernaut from the same adventure. They are humanoids with vulture heads and various magical powers like making objects within 20 meters to burst into flames or decay, paralyse all lawful characters within 3 meters, and cast darkness and illusions. It took about 30 years until designers realized that just four or five spell abilities are enough for an interesting encounter and you don’t need a spellcasting monster to have as many spells as a high level wizard. Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: Creature Collection (BECMI), Part 5”

Fantasy Safari: Creature Catalogue (BECMI), Part 4

Continuing the exploration of the Creature Catalogue with the chapter on “Monsters”.

Aranea
Aranea

The Aranea is a large intelligent spider with humanlike arms to the sides of it’s head. It’s a original creature from the Known World and though it had made it into the 3rd edition Monster Manual it didn’t see a lot of use outside of the setting to my knowledge. The arenea presented here is quite different from the one in the Monster Manual. It is highly intelligent and can cast spells like a 3rd level magic user, but it does not have any ability to shapechange into either a human or hybrid form. It also does look a lot more like a full spider and has no other humanlike feature except its arms. Interestingly its alignment is also Chaotic, which makes it basically evil in the 3rd edition alignment system.

Baldandar
Baldandar

A Baldandar is a creature similar to doppelgangers. However, they are not shapechangers but masters of illusion instead. They can create almost any illusion imaginable in a radius of 80 meters and their illusions will remain for 10 minutes after they stop directly controlling them. Their illusions are not simply deceptions of the senses but are partly real. A baldandar can even cast illusions of other spells, but creatures targeted by them can make a saving throw at a -4 penalty to recognize that they are fake and be unaffected. It also can make itself invisible and fly around at will, which makes them very difficult to catch or corner.

Bargda
Bargda

The Bargda is a creature related to ogres and trolls and usually found as the leader of a group of these monsters. In addition to their great strength and toughness, they are so horribly hedious that anyone who sees them must make a saving throw or suffer a penalty to attacks and damage. In addition to attacking with a huge club, a bargda can also bite, which transmits a disease that reduces the victims dexterity. Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: Creature Catalogue (BECMI), Part 4”

Fantasy Safari: Creature Catalogue (BECMI), Part 3

Phanaton
Phanaton

The Phanaton is described as a creature that looks like a cross between a racoon and a monkey and also a flying squirrel. They are about as big as halflings and only slightly less intelligent than most humanoids. They build their villages in the branches of large trees and as lawful creatures are usually friendly to most adventurers. They are also friends of elves, treants, and dryads. A normal phanaton is pretty weak and have only 3 hit points on average, but a village is usually led by a king with 8 HD and 50 hp who also has a bodyguard of warriors with 6 HD and 30 hp, which can easily be much tougher and stronger than players would expect.

Rakasta
Rakasta

Rakasta: All I have to say it Khajiit has wares, if you have coin.

Shark-kin
Shark-kin

Shark-kin seem very similar to sahuagin but with a few unusual differences. In their normal form, shark-kin are unable to walk or survive outside of water and their alignment is neutral. However, any time the king of a tribe dies the legs of the shark-kin grow stronger and they become able to breath air and they come to land for a ritual to select a new leader. During those times they are extremely hostile and agressive, seemingly behaving just the same way as sahuagin do.

Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: Creature Catalogue (BECMI), Part 3”

Fantasy Safari: Creature Catalogue (BECMI), Part 2

Gator Man
Gator Man

A Gator Man is basically just a beefed up lizard man with the head of an aligator instead of a lzard. In actual combat, they are a lot meaner, though. Gator men stand well over 2 meters tall and at 7 Hit Dice really have a lot of hit points and good chances to hit which are well beyond what you usually get from humanoid monsters. They also swim 50% faster than human characters run, which can make them very mean ambushers. They attack with normal weapons, but these completely pale compared to their bite, which deals a massive 3d6 damage. Groups of them are usually lead by a chief, who is even bigger and meaner and has a bite that deals 4d6 damage. When encountered by low level characters, they probably simply bite their head off!

Haphaeston
Haphaeston

A Hephaeston is a giant for high level adventures. It’s 8 meters tall and has intimidating 25 Hit Dice, which should be well over 100 hit points. The skin of a hephaeston is like iron and gives him a very high armor class and can only be injured by magical weapons. It is completely immune to mind affecting magic, all spells of 1st and 2nd level, and fire. Though I think by the time a group of player characters has any chance to fight this guy, they probably wouldn’t attempt to hurt him with nonmagical weapons and low-level spells anyway. The amount of damage it can dish out is staggering. When attacking with a weapon, it deals 4d10 points of damage and it also has the option to attack with a free hand as well, which also deals impressive 3d10 points of damage. If that bitch slap from hell hits with an 18 or higher, the hephaeston grabs the character and smashes him into the ground for another 5d6 damage. This is so funny I wonder if anyone would ever make make a hephaeston fight with a shield. In addition, it also has the ability to levitate iron objects (to throw on people, I assume), make an iron object get red hot, or magically create a wall of solid iron. Fighting one of these guys really doesn’t sound fun. Or very fun, depending on how you look at it. Fortunately, hephaestons live alone.

Hutaakans
Hutaakans

The Hutaakans are probably one of the most iconic creatures of the Known World. Which means that most of you have probably never heard of them. Hutaakans are humanoids with jackal-like heads but are otherwise very similar to humans or elves. In the ancient past, they ruled over a small empire but have almost disappeard by now, with only a few groups remaining in remote mountain cities. They are not particulary strong and have no real special abilities other than being able to see in the dark and being quite sneaky. They are highly civilized and ruled by a caste of priests. Overall, they are really very similar to stereotypical elves with dog heads and priests instead of wizards. It’s mostly their place in the Known World setting that makes them popular, but as generic monster for games in other worlds there really isn’t anything remarkable about them. Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: Creature Catalogue (BECMI), Part 2”

Fantasy Safari: Creature Collection (BECMI), Part 1

The Creature Catalogue seems a rather strange monster book for Dungeons & Dragons at the first look. When I first saw it, it seemed even weirder than the Fiend Folio. During the 80s, there were to similar but also different games being published; one being called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the other just Dungeons & Dragons. The smaller, and less known line had no Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual, but instead came in five Box Sets named Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, and Immortal, and is now most usually called BECMI for that reason. (There is also an earlier edition called B/X, because it only had the Basic and Expert rules.) AD&D became much more popular and famous, because who would want to play a light version of a game if you can also have the hardcore rules version? Also, AD&D got Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and later Planescape, Dark Sun, and Ravenloft. The design teams for both product lines were almost completely separated and worked independent from each other, and their games developed in quite different directions. And the split happened very early back in 1978, only four years after the very first, and very bare bones edition of D&D had been released. When D&D 3rd edition came around (which really was the 8th edition of a game called D&D and we’re now at the 12th), it was based pretty much entirely on AD&D and went on where the 2nd Edition had left off.

The monsters that were created for BECMI went almost entirely ignored when there was once again only a single line of D&D books. The aranea made a few appearances, but never got a really big presence. While the nightwalker got a really cool picture in the 3rd ed. Monster Manual, it was just so incredibly powerful that I imagine it saw only very limited use. The atach and belker were put into the MM but to my knowledge never again, and the korpu made it into the MM2 with similar popularity. When you read the Fiend Folio, there are lots of weird monsters, but also a lot of well known and familiar monsters. The Creature Catalogue is a collection of most BECMI monsters that appeared in adventure modules and other supplements up to that date and I think none of them would be recognized by anyone who never played this particular line of D&D.

Dungeons & Dragons - Creature Catalogue
Dungeons & Dragons – Creature Catalogue

Creature Catalogue for Dungeons & Dragons (BECMI) by TSR, 1986; 63 pages of monsters.

Remember the Juggernaut from the 3rd ed. MM2? Some kind of massive tank/siege-tower golem on wheels? That one is in this book too. However, old fans of the game have told me that it really only appeared in a single adventure and was never used or mentioned anywhere else. Not sure what is the greater mystery: Why they put it into the CC in the first place, or why they later thought it was one of the best things in the book that needs to go into the MM2?

Magen
Magen

The Magen (majen?) looks like an ordinary human, but is indeed a magical and alchemical creation. As magical constructs they need no sleep, food, water, or even air to survive and they do not age either. While not great thinkers, they are amazingly intelligent for constructs and can function among humans without supervision by their master without any problems. Though they are not particularly powerful creatures, at least compared to golems, this makes them extremely useful and valuable. There are four different types of magen, which each have their own unique powers. The hypnos is using a permanent charm effect which should make them absolutely perfect for spying or kidnapping. All they have to do is ask and most guards and officials will be perfectly fine with doing anything asked of them. The demos is made for combat and can use use all weapons and armor. It usually is encountered in groups up to a dozen. A caldron can stretch its limbs to lengths of 6 meters and uses them to hold victims and kill them with acid that comes from their skin. The galvan is the strongest type and can use weapons and shot three lightning bolts per day. Magen are very expensive and difficult to make, so they are quite rare. When they are killed, the magic that animates them ends and they crumble into ash with a flash of flame, which might be the first indication that the PCs are not dealing with ordinary humans at all. The first idea I got was to use them as guards in some wizards castle that the PCs are supposed to quietly sneak into and then see how far they will have made it into the catacombs before they realize that none of the guards and servants they’ve sneaked past are humans but something entirely else and unnatural. I am sure there’s a lot of other cool things that could be done with them.

Also, remember the Belker? It’s in the 3rd ed. Monster Manual. That evil cloud of smole that attacks with two clawed hands. Another really lame thing that also comes from the Creature Catalogue. Should have stayed there. Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: Creature Collection (BECMI), Part 1”

Fantasy Safari: The Theragraphica (Atlantis), Part 2

Chapter 3: Atlantis

The Apata Ori appear like the heads of giant stone statues but are in fact some kind of spirits. Usually they slumber in places near natural concentrations of magical energy but awaken when someone disturbes these magical fields. Then they fly into the air with the glow of lava coming from their angry eyes and screaming mouths. They shout in voices that sound like grating stones, but their speech is usually intelligible to almost anyone. When an Apata Ori attacks, it surrounds itself with a spinning cloud of sharp shards of bronze, which it can throw at targets up to 50 meters away and shred anything that gets too close to it. They also cast spells like a sorcerer.

A Diomekses is an atlantean horse of the finest breeding and stature, but has been corrupted by the evil god Ba’al. It often stands near roads for wanderers to come by and approach to capture it. Then ir reveals it’s maw full of sharp teeth and attempts to swallow the person in one pice. Which is obviously way too big for an ordinary horse to swallow so there has some massive jaw stretching to go on that defies ordinary physics.

The Loving Dead is one of the weirdest ideas for an undead I’ve come across. And not necessarily in a good way. It’s the corpse of a dead person that rises from its grave to seek company among the living. When it finds a target it hypnotizes it with its gaze, takes the person back to its resting place, and then suffocates it with its embrace over several hours.

The Ubuze is a tiny insect that is believed to feed on magic minerals used by the Atlanteans in their magic creations. They produce a soft blue light similar to fireflies and also small amounts of heat. Ubuze are attracked to shiny surfaces like polished metal or gems and have some means to attract more of their kind when they find any such object. Sometimes miners breed swarms of these tiny animals and release them in the night to be lead to any valuable metal deposites in the area. In the wilderness, a swarm of ubuze can be seen from miles away and is usually the sign of some valuables being exposed to the air, which of course does attract a lot of attentions from other people in the area. A swarm of ubuze might get quite annoying when adventurers try to secretly carry treasures through the wilds and make the job a lot more difficult. There once was a sorcerer who created a magc crystal that could attract any ubuze within a vast area. The swarm it attracted was so massive that their combined heat burned down an entire city before the gem got stolen and safely stored away.

Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: The Theragraphica (Atlantis), Part 2”

B/XoL: Converting D&D creatures to Barbarians of Lemuria

The Legendary edition of Barbarians of Lemuria doesn’t come with a lot of creatures and most of them are pretty unique and unusual. Though my own goal with B/XoL is not to recreate Basic D&D but to take inspirations from it, Dungeons & Dragons is a great source when it comes to monsters. I think between BECMI and AD&D, there are way over a thousand of them.

Having looked at the creatures from the BoL Legendary Edition and the D&D Basic Set, I’ve come up with a couple of guidelines how to convert creatures from one game to the other:

Attributes: In the older editions of D&D, monsters don’t have any specified ability scores. However, starting with 3rd ed. they do, and the SRD is a good reference for them. Since the Lifeblood of monsters is not affected by their Strength score, we can simply ignore Constitution, and Wisdom always had almost no relevance to anyone but cleric, so we just need the Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Charisma scores and convert them to Strength, Agility, Mind, and Appeal.

BoL says that an attribute score of 0 is human average, 3 is the maximum for new characters, and 4 or higher would be truly legendary. This is very convenient for us, as in D&D 10 is the average for humans and 18 the absolute maximum that only very few characters have. So we can simply make the conversion of 8=-1, 10=0, 12=1, 14=2, 16=3, 18=4, and so on. (Most animals would have a Mind attribute of -4, insects of -5. A Mind score of -3 is the minimum to understand languages and talk, if the creature is able to.)

Lifeblood: Having used some reference creatures that are pretty similar in D&D and BoL, I think the most practical formula to calculate the Lifeblood of a creature is simply 1 HD=5 LB. This is not modified by the creatures Strength score, as it would be for NPCs.

Protection: For protection, the different classes of armor can be used as reference. No meaningful protection = 0; fur or light hide = 1 (d3-1), thick hide = 2 (d6-2), scales = 3 (d6-1), thick scales = 4 (d6), extraordinary armor = 5 (d6+5).

Defense: Here it’s starting to get a bit fuzzy. Based on the creatures in the Legendary Edition, there are two hrd rules that are always obeyed: Defense is never lower than Agility, and never lower than 0. Other than that, there seems no consistent rules. Some creatures have an additional increase of Defense of +1 or +2, but that increase seems mostly arbitrary, though I think it’s somewhat more common with very powerful creatures than with weaker ones.

Initiative: The new Mythic Editon of BoL removes the Brawl combat ability and replaces it with Initiative. As I don’t have this edition I am not certain how it affects creature stats, but I would assume that in most cases Initative is simply identical to Agility.

Attacks: Here I have not been able to find any kind of consistent rules. The bonuses to attack and the amount to damage really seems to be entirely at the discretion of the gamemaster. There is only a single creature in the Legendary Edition that has a bonus of +5, and most are between +1 and +3. However, powerful characters can easily reach a Defense score of 7 (3 agility, 3 Defense, 1 shield), which means any attack needs a +4 bonus to have any chance to hit them at all. (And even then the chance is just 3%). So if you’re playing a campaign where characters reach that high Defense scores, feel free to give the bigger monsters attack bonuses of +6 and higher.

Damage: Damage appears to be more closely tied to the overall size and strength of the creature. 2d6 is already pretty high and only a few giant sea monsters get more than that. Since the Lifeblood of characters doesn’t really increase in BoL, I think it’s generally best not to go beyond this. If you want to make the monster nastier, make it hit more often instead.

A final thought that is currently bouncing around in my head is that one could potentially increase the average amount of treasure a creature has based on it’s Lifeblood (which with these conversions would be based on Hit Dice), but I think that may start to get too much into developing a full XP system, which I don’t really want to. My main motivation to add treasure to the game is to encourage the players to face monsters and dangers without a lethal fight during adventures. The search for treasure should not be the main reason to go on the adventure in the first place. I think that should still be motivated by some kind of basic background story. When Conan goes thieving, it’s usually not to get some bags of coins, but because he is looking for item specifically. But when you’re already in the place, why not make a few little detours to grab some bags with gold too?

Fantasy Safari: The Theragraphica (Atlantis), Part 1

As the third book of the Fantasy Safari, my choice has been the Theragraphica for Atlantis: The Second Age. Having been released as pdf only last November, the printed book has just been shipped to backers of the kickstarter campaign. It’s simply an astonishing book and in my opinion even beats the Fiend Folio. It was actually the main reason I did pick up the Fantasy Safari series after such a long break, simply because I want more people to know how amazing this book is. (And the game it’s for is really great, too.)

Since this is a very new book by a small publisher, and they haven’t put the art for it online, I am not going to copy all the pictures here. But I think for this book this also won’t hurt much, as these creatures are really much more about their strange behaviors and weird abilities, and simply going by physical appearance might even create the false impression that they are rather mundane. But believe me, they are not. Or don’t believe and see for yourself what I am going to tell you about them. There are over 170 creatures in this book and I am only going to talk about my personal favorites in detail. Otherwise I’d never get through all of them.

Atlantis: The Second Age - Theragraphica
Atlantis: The Second Age – Theragraphica

Theragraphica for Atlantis: The Second Age by Khepera Publishing, 2014; 131 pages of monsters.

Atlantis is a relatively simple system, compared to D&D and d20 games, so the stat block for each creature is quite short. They have 14 stats plus two lines for damage and armor, and a short list of any special abilities and weaknesses. As a rules-medium game, the explanations for all special abilities are explained once in the back of the book and not elaborated on in each individual creature entry. Which at first was a bit confusing, because the creature descriptions often don’t really say what these abilities do either. But in truth, this works all really well and effectively. Aura of Fear always works the same for all creatures (with the specific strength depending on attribute scores) and is really pretty self-explanatory. The creature is scary. Those who see it close up get scared. Poison also always works the same way and a creature that attacks with its teeth obviously has poisonous bite, and one that attacks with a stinger obviously with a poisonous sting. This is information that does not need to be spelled out again every time and every GM can figure out how to describe it with a little bit of imagination. Because of that, the descriptions for each creature are really very short. Often just three or four sentences. But the free space that is left on each page is used well with a big picture of the creature, which are mostly very well done. All this combined, I feel like I am getting a lot more flavor from these monsters than from most other monsters books. My descriptions of each creature I’ll present will most likely be longer than the actual descriptions that are in the book, putting into words and talking about all the thoughts that come to my mind from these very dense entries.

I actually have not read the entire thing myself yet, but just having read a quarter of it in detail and seeing all the pictures has gotten my really exited about this. So, here we go:

Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: The Theragraphica (Atlantis), Part 1”

Fantasy Safari: Fiend Folio (D&D 1st Edition), Part 5

Did I say the enveloper is The Thing? That was apparently a mistake on my side. The Protein Polymorph is The Thing! (Even though the most famous adaptation with the best looking monster came out a year after this book.) It’s an extremely effective and versatile shapeshifter than can assume the form of pretty much everything. It can blend completely with its surroundings, but usually takes the form of creatures that might attract prey. Being of human-like intelligence, their disguises can be highly devious. It’s only limitation is that it’s very bad at creating facial expressions and can’t really mimic voices, so any kind of interaction with a polymorph in humanoid form quickly reveals that something isn’t right about it. When it imitates inanimate objects, touching it immediately reveals it being some kind of creature. They are pretty tough beasts and also extremely strong, dealing 6d6 damage with their normal attack.

Quaggoth
Quaggoth

The Quaggoth probably counts as another point on the evil ape counter, but it’s actually a kind of humanoid bear. They are an underground dwelling race that is very primitive and aggressive and attack pretty much anything on sight. Some use stone maces and hammers, while most simply attack with their claws. They are immune to all poisons, which is actually very useful for a race of the underworld. For some reason they have a burning hatred of elves and even willingly serve drow for opportunities to fight them. The creature here is not really that exciting, but I quite like how they got a bit more refined in later editions, so I am showing them here anyway. Some adventure even had crossbreeds of quaggoths and orcs, which I thought were really cool.

Retriever
Retriever

Retrievers are actually a kind of constructs like golems, but they have been created by the demon lord Demogorgon so they are often seen as demons as well. They are used by their demonic master to be send to other planes and kidnap or slay his enemies. A retriever appears like a huge spider with four legs for running and four arms to attack. Its head has six eyes of which only two are for sight and the other four actually to shot magic lasers. Not only do they deal a lot of damage with their four regular attack each round (3d6), the magic rays are outright terrifying. They can shot two of them in the same round, after which they need to recharge for six round. The damage of the fire, lightning, and cold ray is equal to the retrievers hit points, which is on average 45 when uninjured, but could be as high as 80. The fourth ray just turns people to stone instantly. Unsurprisingly, all characters of 5th level or lower have to make a saving throw or flee in panic at the sight of a retriever. I don’t quite now how XP in 1st edition are assigned, but 5,000 is a lot. Oh yeah, and sometimes demons use them to ride into battle. Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: Fiend Folio (D&D 1st Edition), Part 5”

Fantasy Safari: Fiend Folio (AD&D 1st Edition), Part 4

Githyanki
Githyanki
Githzerai
Githzerai

Let’s start this one with the best creatures in the whole book. The Githyanki and Githzerai. Like the Dark Creeper and Dark Stalker, they are really two variants of the same species, but instead of sharing a single culture, these two are mortal enemies. Gith have always been one of my favorite races in Dungeons & Dragons, though to be more precise, they really became the minor stars that they are in Planescape. One interesting piece of trivia about the Gith is that they were created by Charles Stross, who later got pretty famous as a writer of science-fiction. And he did it when he was 12. Lots of people have created countless of cool monsters when they were 12, but almost all of them are total garbage. This one isn’t just good, it’s actually great! Thousands of years ago, the Mind Flayers (probably the most iconic creature of D&D next to beholders) enslaved a race of humans and bred them to be perfect slaves and food. This not only changed their bodies but also their minds, and generations of living under telepathic control by the mind flayers caused them to develop a natural talent for psionc powers. Eventually a slave named Gith started a rebellion against the mind flayers and led her follwers to the astral plane, where they became known as the githyanki. To no surprise, githyanki absolutely hate mind flayers and will try to kill them at any possible opportunity. In the astral plane they live in huge castle cities floating in the void, which in the Planescape setting are build on and inside the gargantuan petrified bodies of dead gods. They are evil and warlike and lead by an extremely powerful lich queen. Any githyanki who get too powerful (around 11th level) get killed by the queen to ensure nobody will be able to compete and stand against her. To make things worse, the githyanki also made a pact with red dragons. When githyanki come to the material plane, they use red dragons as mounts that can carry whole war bands. Yeah, a huge red dragon comes into town and as it lands a gang of space pirates with psionic powers jump from it’s back. Have fun. The githzerai resemble the githyanki in many ways, but have made their home in Limbo, the plane of pure Chaos. The two races have been at war with each other for a very long time, but as presented here, no reason is given for their hatred. They are not fond of mind flayers, but do not have the same unlimited hatred for them as the githyanki. This was later changed in Planescape, where the one thing that can stop githyanki and githzerai from fighting is the appearance of mind flayers, which they will both attack instantly. And then go back to fighting each other if any survived. Even though they are chaotic neutral, the githzerai have monks instead of death knights, as the githyanki do. I just love these guys. They are very much out of place in more “generic” D&D settings, but in Planescape they are just wonderful. Congratulations, Little Charlie. You did very good.

Gorbel
Gorbel

Next up is the Gorbel, which is another case of classic D&D weirdness. It’s a globe of rubbery material with six eye stalks and two claws. The gorbel uses the claws to grab a persons back and then deals damage each round by digging them deeper in the body. A gorbel can only be removed by killing it, which causes it to explode, dealing 1d4 points of damage. Their armor is quite decent, but becomes extremely low once they got hold of someone. I mostly like the art of this one. The gorbel looks more freaked out than the guy he’s attacking.

Now we have the Gorilla Bear. Which is exactly like any other gorilla, but it has claws. Take a shot?

Grell
Grell

The Grell is another floating head with tentacles. Early D&D got a lot of these. The main body looks like a giant brain with no eyes but a beaked mouth like a squid, and it has several tentacles on its underside which it uses as arms. The tentacles do only very little damage but are poisonous and cause creatures to become paralyzed. They are just as smart as humans and like to hide in the shadows under the ceiling to attack from above. I recently learned that these are not in fact a truly original creature of D&D, but a blantant rippoff from a 1934 novel called Legions of Space. Later editions of D&D expanded on the background and behavior of the grell, giving them powerful wizards as leaders. Continue reading “Fantasy Safari: Fiend Folio (AD&D 1st Edition), Part 4”