The Fiend Folio is probably the most famous and most highly regarded monster book there is. Even I, who never had huge praise for AD&D and consider lots of old D&D monsters to be just rediculous and dumb to a degree that it isn’t even funny, have to admit that this book is really quite amazing. I am a huge fan of monster books of any game and any edition, and I have to kind of admit that in the last 32 years, there hasn’t really been any book that has surpassed this classic in the amount of brilliant new creatures it contains.
Fiend Folio for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition by TSR, 1981; 89 pages of monsters.
The Apparition is a ghost in almost all respects, but unlike most undead, it doesn’t actually have to ability to cause any form of bodily harm to other creatures. However, its frightening appearance and telepathic abilities can make its victim think that they are strangled and about to suffocate. This will usually cause the affected creature to flee in panic, but those weak of heart might actually die from the sheer terror.
Astral Searchers are psychic shadows or imprints of strong humanoid emotions experienced on the Astral Plane. Usually the creation of an astral searcher is unnoticed by anyone nearby. After some time, they take a nebulous and somewhat humanoid shape and while they are not really sentient they start searching for a body to take over. They will wander the astral plane until they either come upon a visiting humanoid traveler, which is very unlikely, or find natural connection to another plane through which they can pass. Once there, it will attempt to possess the first available host creature and if it is victorious it will permanently replace its personalty and gain true sentience. It’s a kind of interesting idea that could make for good setups to a mystery adventure, but since the process is irreversible and the astral searcher has no recollection of how it came to be in this particular body, I am not sure what I would do with it.
The Berbalang is a winged humanoid similar to a gaunt gargoyle, and unless I am mistaken based on a creature from Indonesian myth, so it is kind of a classic creature of fantasy. Berbalangs spend most of their existence in hybernation, sending their spirit to other worlds through an astral projection. During the full moon, however, its spirit will roam the countryside near its hidden lair to feed on human flesh. The spirit is identical to the actual creature in virtually every way. But if the spirit body is destroyed, the real creature could die as well, so it will flee when injured and attempt to return to its body. This is the opportunity to follow it back to its lair and kill its real body.
On the first glance, the Blindheim looks like one of those classic stupid monsters of old D&D. It’s a large, semi-humanoid frog that can project itense beams of light from its eyes. While the appearance is rediculous, the creatures stats are actually quite interesting. It’s a subterranean creature that lives in an environment where creatures need very effective eyesight to see anything at all and surface creature will have their eyes adjusted to darkness. By being able to generate very bright light, all creatures but those who are sightless will be blinded and unable to fight effectively. It’s a creature with a natural flashbang ability, which I think is pretty cool and an interesting example of fantasy evolution.
Blood Hawks are a good example of a very basic creature that still can make for very unusual and interesting encounters. They are basically large hawks or small eagles with no special abilities, but unlike regular birds of prey they hunt in swarms. And have a taste for human flesh. A single one can cause quite nasty injuries to humans, but a dozen of them don’t have much trouble to actually kill them. Since they look rather unassuming, I think they could make great enemies for a whole short adventure, in which the PCs have to watch the skies all the time and might even end up besieged in abandoned cottages by a whole swarm of them. I am starting a new campaign in two weeks, and I think I’ll be using them on my players. Might be fun to have them show up once every three or four sessions, sometimes attacking, sometimes not.
Bloodworms are not really that interesting. They are large brown and green worms that hide at the bottom of underground lakes and rivers and stay hidden until they can sneak up on prey. But instead of attacking normally, a hit by a blood worm means that it bites its jaws firmly into its victim and then deals damage automatically each round until they are removed. Trying to get those things off an ally while he is basically eaten alive from the inside, all while fighting waist deep in water could make for very intense and memorable encounters, even if mechanically there isn’t anything extraordinary going on.
The Booka are helpful house spirits that make their homes in the chimneys of houses and only come out when nobody is watching to perform some simple chores like sweeping the stairs. If they are ever observed, they will leave the house and never return. Not a very interesting creature, but they are one of the very few fantasy creatures that seems to be based directly on a German fairy tale, so I want to mention them here. More interesting, and completely unrelated to the source story, is the fact that they hate evil humanoids and tend to cause mischief around them rather than being helpful. This might make them actually useful to include in a game as a kind of invisible ally to the PCs.
While the concept is very simple, I couldn’t really go through this book without mentioning the Bullywugs. Like kobolds, they seem to have become hugely popular because of their underdog status and dorkiness. Bullywugs are small humanoid frogs who live in small tribes in the swamps and jungles. Since they are pathetically weak, they only pose a threat to adventurers in large groups. Which is how they are usually encountered.
Bunyips are based on stories from Australien natives about a large predator that haunts the rivers near the coasts and has a terrifying howl that can be heard for many miles. The creature in this book is a very large and ferocious seal with shaggy fur. It will flip over boats and use its roar to scatter any nearby creatures and then attack the smallest of them by biting of a limb and then disappearing again.
The Carbuncle is just all out weird, but complex enough to have a multitude of uses in adventure. It appears like a small armadillo with a strikingly colored carapace and a large ruby growing on its forhead. When the carbuncle is killed or the ruby forcefully removed, it will crumble to worthless dust, but the carbuncle can chose to give up the gem voluntarily and it will grow back over the following months. They also seem to have a kind of lack of a sense of self preservation and will simply die when captured, making it impossible to force them to give up the ruby. Carbuncles are quite intelligent and can communicate with humanoids, and it can offer its ruby as payment in return for favors. In addition carbuncles also have the ability to communicate through telepathy, read emotions, and predict the future. However, they are also kind of evil and delight in using their powers to cause strife and violent conflict, that can often lead to deaths.
The Cifal is a form of “colonial insect-formed artificial life”. Yeah, this one pretty certainly is one of the submissions to White Dwarf magazine. It’s a swarm of insects that has combined into a single humanoid form. When damaged, the creature will burst apart and transform into a swarm of flying insects which do not attack, but reassemble into a new form after a short time. By hitting it quickly it can immediately be dispersed again, but with every round it regenerates 2 hit points. Repeating that process long enough will eventually kill it, as it can’t regenerate indefinitly, but it seems a much better idea to try to kill the swarm with fireballs or something like that.
The Coffer Corpse looks like a zombie and is always found in some kind of coffin. If the coffin is opened, it will immediately wake up and try to strange the person who opened the lid and will not let go until destroyed. If it takes 6 points of damage in a single round, it collapses as if dead, but will get back up on its feet the next round (which I believe is 1 minute in this game), which causes anyone nearby to make a saving throw or flee in terror. The coffer corpse does not actually regenerate any damage, though.
Crab People, Crab people! Tastes like crab, talk like people!
A Crypt Thing looks like a skeleton dressed in a dark robe with a hood. When someone disturbes it (or, as I assume, it’s lair), it casts a spell on the intruders that teleports everyone who doesn’t make a saving throw to a random point 1,000 miles away. If questioned, it will claim it has disintegrated the vanished people. Other than that, the only thing it can do is to attack with its claws, which don’t do a lot of damage. Who made this creature and for what purpose? It doesn’t do anything except splitting the party and sending half of them on a journey of a thousand miles back home while the others wait for them. Why would a GM do that?!
Then we get the Dakon. It’s a big intelligent ape that can talk and is pretty much universally peaceful. Let’s continue the tradition from the Conan Bestiary and mention every generic smart ape, ghoul, and evil wolf I come across.
The Dark Creeper and Dark Stalker are probably my favorite creatures from this book, and among my favorite fantasy creatures in general. They are two humanoid races who live deep beneath the earth and usually live together even though they appear to be different but somehow related creatures. The majority of the population are the dark creepers, who resemble gnomes or dwarves wrapped in dark cloaks and rags with an uncanny ability to be sneaky. They appear to be led by the dark stalkers, who resemble humans or elves in stature and are more powerful. Both creatures have the ability to extinguish all light sources within an area and surpress any attempts to light flames while it is active. Then they sneak up on you in the dark to steal your shit. When killed, they spontaneously start to burn to ash.
They both look really cool and their abilities are quite interesting, but unfortunately the book doesn’t really tell us what to do with them. They are not evil and other than hating light don’t really seem to have any motivation to interact with player characters at all. They have made more appearances in the 3rd edition Fiend Folio and the Pathfinder Bestiaries, but neither of those really had any idea what to do with them either. Which is a shame, because they are still really pretty cool.
The Death Dog is an evil dog. With two heads! Its bites also transmit a disease, which is an actual special ability.
The Death Knight probably predates this book by a good deal of time, but here it is again. In this version, there is only a total of 12 death knights, who are created from fallen paladins as a creature described similar to a lich, presumedly by the archdemon Demogorgon. Though their armor seems quite light, it provides extremely high protection and they have an incredible Strength score. They can control other undead like clerics, have 75% magic resistance, and an 11% chance to reflect spells cast at them back at the caster. They are also usually riding a nightmare, which is D&Ds horse from hell. And to make things worse they also know a couple of magic spells themselves, including a 20d6 damage fireball. Which in this game is absolutely devastating, as even high level mages have only 40 or so hit points. Which is significantly less than the 60 damage this spell does on average. But it isn’t called the Pain Knight or the Minor Inconvenience Knight.
And the Devil Dog: An evil dog that can cause fear with its barking. It also can bite people in the neck, which makes them fall unconscious and requires a healing spell, or the target dies in 2d4 rounds.
The Dire Corby is weird. As in, why is such a completely bland thing in this book of really weird monsters? They are humanoids with the heads and feet of birds and live underground. Well, they have one special ability, which is that they never panic. So Zerg Rush, kekeke?
Now the Disenchanter is the kind of weird we’re expecting from this book. It’s a blue camel with an elephants trunk that feeds on magic. They can sense all magic items and their power and will attack adventurers by grasping at the most powerful magic item within easy reach with its long trunk. If it hits, the disenchanter drains all the magic from the items. I would assume that players who never encountered these creatures before or read of them won’t have any idea what they are dealing with. If they don’t try to kill the disenchanter on sight, it might simply walk up to them, destroy their magic armor and weapons, and walk away with nobody being the wiser until the GM tells them much later their stuff no longer works. It might be a pretty fun creature to fight if the players know in advance what it does. Then I imagine things getting quite funny as they try to hit it with the necessary enchanted weapons while trying anything they can to not get them drained.
The Dune Stalker is a cousin of the Invisible Stalker. It’s a humanoid creature that can be summoned by evil mages to hunt people, but only good ones, and it will always find its target. It attacks unusually by causing powerful sonic vibratins directed at a single target which cause 2d6 points of damage. If it gets close enough to touch a creatures body with its mouth, the attack will be instantly lethal unless a saving throw is made. This creature could be either quite spooky, or very goofy.
The Enveloper is some kind of gooey creature that has the ability to absorb people it killed and gain its abilities and knowledge. Which each new victim it simply adds its abilities to those it already has and gets tougher and stronger. It may look like the Michelin Man, but otherwise has more similarities with The Thing. It doesn’t seem to be able to change its appearance to that of a person it absorbed, though.
Ettercaps are primitive humanoids with a poisonous bite and the ability to create webs like spiders. They use the substance as building material for all kinds of traps. Their nature also makes them go along well with spiders. Ettercaps did show up in all following editions of D&D, as far as I am aware, later on becoming quite spider-like themselves, but there isn’t anything of that in this original version. The bug eyes started in AD&D 2nd edition and this aspect was build up increasingly ever since.
The Eye of Fear and Flame is another skeleton wrapped in a robe and stalks the underworld to do evil deeds to lawful characters. No real reason why, but it just does. In it’s natural state, the face is hidden inside the hood by supernatural darkness, but if anyone tries to resist its commands, it will remove its hood, revealing its bare skull with two gems as eyes. One red and one black. The red eye can cast a fireball spell every three rounds. And the black eye, you guessed it, casts a fear spell. Trying to cast spells to blind it at the creature will simply reflect them at the person who cast them. It can’t really fight in other ways and when it’s starting to lose it will try to escape to the ethereal plane, though that takes it two rounds to do so, which can be quite plenty of time to destroy it. At 12 hit dice and armor class 2, it’s pretty tough, though. This is another creature that sounds like it was really cool when it was originally used by the person who created it, but without knowing that story, it seems a bit random. And I guess the name is pretty cool, too.
The Firedrake is a small dragon with a 2d8 damage fire breath. It’s blood is also on fire and damages every weapon that injures it. They might attack at the slightest disturbance. Trogdor!!! Trogdor!!! Burnininating the countryside, burninating the peasants. Burninating all the people, in their thatched-roof cottages!!!
Firenewts are a race of lizardmen who are at home in the desert and like to live near volcanoes, as they have a high resistance to heat and fire. They are cruel marauders who like to kill prisoners by roasting them alive before eating them. A third of all encountered warriors are riding on large bipedal lizards, which are also attacking by themselves. These really sound like they could be very interesting and terrifying enemies. Being hunted by firenewt riders out in the desert really doesn’t sound pleasant at all. But seriously, what’s with the art? The don’t have just one picture in this book, every one as ridiculous as the others. Also, newts are amphibians and not reptiles, which makes them only slightly more capable to survive in hot and dry environments than fish.
Same problem with the Firetoad. An amphibian that absolutely hates and can’t stand water. As the early stages of the life cycle of toads is fully aquatic, I see some kind of problem here. Firetoads are huge red toads about the size of a very fat sheep and attack by spitting balls of fire. As it gets injured, the amount of damage the fireballs deal goes down the same way. Early D&D had a strange thing with frogs, they are all over the place.
And here we are again at the reason why the Fiend Folio has a reputation as being an unbelievably dumb monster book by people who only gave it a first look. The Flail Snail. A huge snail with multiple tentacles on its head that end in morningstars. And it probably only exist for the sole reason that its name rhymes.
Behold! Kneel in reverence before the divine weirdness that is the Flumph! The poster boy …thing … whatever for the weird shit insanity that is monsters in early D&D. It’s basically an intelligent, floating jellyfish that happens to be Lawful Good. Their first attempt to defend themselves is to shot a stinking liquid at attackers like a skunk. Haha! If they keep attacking, it fights back but is very weak. And that’s really all there is to the flumph.
The Frost Man is pretty cool. (Ha!) They look pretty much like humans dressed in furs and wandering alone through the wild. While it doesn’t actually say that, it seems to be implied that they are encountered in snowy mountains and hills, where presumably they have their lairs and hidden villages. They radiate an unnatural cold and wear an eyepatch, which they can lift to shot a ray of magic ice from their eye.
I love Gibberlings, though mostly from Baldur’s Gate, where they are pretty different from the creature described here. They are little humanoids and very weak on their own, but tend to attack in huge numbers and are absolutely fearless. They are somewhat intelligent but don’t seem to have any language or any kind of leader. They just try to bury anyone under a huge mass of bodies, slashing with their swords. Which presumably they found somewhere.
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.
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?
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.
Grimlocks are pretty standard humanoids, but I was quite surprised that these are not actually generic fantasy creatures with a long tradition, but really appeared for the first time in this book. They are savage humans who live underground and are completely blind, and of course heavily inspired by the morlocs from The Time Machine. They are really not that interesting, but I really like what some artists in the 3rd edition of D&D did and instead of showing them as neanderthals who are blind, painted them as humanoids that have literally no eyes. Their foreheads are completely blank, and their faces consisting only of a nose and mouth. That makes them a lot more alien.
Next is a Hoar Fox. Which is exactly like a winter wolf, but smaller. Super creative.
The Hound of Ill Omen might seem like just another demon dog, but this one actually has a lot more to offer. In this incarnation, it’s not really a creature. Pretty much every line in the stat block simply say “no”. It’s a huge dog that is only visible to a single person before it disappears. The person who sees the hound also hears it howl, which causes the person to fall under a curse. The next ten points of damage against the cursed character are multiplied by four. There’s no real way around it and casting the remove curse spell only shortens the duration to the next five points of damage. The hound is said to be send by gods who are angry at the character. Basically, it’s the GM saying “screw you, you are hit by lightning”.
Jermlaine are creatures which I normally would most certainly ignore and not even give a second look, if I were not out looking specifically for odd creatures with unusual behaviors. They are little ugly men who live underground with rats. They are extremely weak, but also really quite fast and usually appear in numbers of several dozens. They are mean and evil creatures, and being very small and weak, they mostly attack targets who are badly injured and unable to fight. Then they come out of their holes with little clubs and keep beating people with them until they are knocked out. Then they are tied up, dragged into the dark, and left for some other dangerous creatures to come along and actually kill them. If someone makes camp near a jermlain lair, they will stealthy sneak up on them to damage ropes and belts and poison any food or water. These are some really mean little bastards. As regular monsters they are a joke. But against a group of characters who have been beaten up badly and retreated to a seemingly save spot to recover, a swarm of jermlains could be a really serious and also interesting challenge. Beaten up and tied up to be left in the dark with no supplies and damaged equipment is no fun at all, even for otherwise quite high level character. I probably wouldn’t asign them to any specific room in a dungeon to attack when the characters enter, but instead keep them in reserve to come out of little holes in the floor whenever there’s a good opportunity to unleash them on the party. These are actually really quite cool once you read the full description and consider how to implement them. Not all old D&D silliness is actually nonsense.
The Lizard King seems more like an NPC than a type of monster, but it’s quite cool nontheless. A lizard king is a really big, tough, and strong lizardmen with above average intelligence, and also utterly evil. He eats two humans per week and if his followers can’t supply them, he will just eat four of them instead. This guy really doesn’t fuck around. Lizardmen are native savages of the swamps and jungles who are not happy about intruders, but this guy is just one really mean bastard. He has a big trident as a weapon which can deal great amounts of damage. If his attack roll exceeds the required number for a hit by 5, he impales his target and deals a minimum of 15 damage. Against a group that expects to fight normal lizardmen, this guy can get really terrifying. And this is a book for AD&D, where even monsters like orcs and goblins where not usually expected to be stronger than the standard version and the regular shamans and chiefs. At 8 hit dice, the lizard king is well above that.
Meenlocks are some really scary little fuckers. They are only about half a meter tall but their faces are pure horror. Normal people and even low level adventurers will simply collapse on the spot because of supernatural fear for several minutes. I assume characters can make a saving throw to avoid it, but the description isn’t quite clear about it. Meenlocks have their lairs deep underground and come outside through small and long tunnels which are too deep and winding to discern their total depths from above. Also, the air coming of it smells like rotting corpses. These tunnels are wide enough for humans to climb down, though I image it’s going to be a very tight fit. Their claws do not deal a lot of damage, but cause paralysis. And alone at the bottom of a long shaft, that’s really not something you want to happen. Meenlocks hunt in the dark, but to make things worse, they can also teleport over small distances, which allows them to bypass almost all barriers. If any person attracts a meenlocks attention, it will follow the creature and keep hunting it. But not secretly, and instead will constantly send telepathic messages that it is coming for him, which makes the target highly distracted and unsettled and results in a penalty to most ability scores and attacks. At night, the meenlock will strike and silently sneak into the camp and drag the victim back to its lair, paralysing any guards if necessary. After a while in the meenlocks lair, the helpless target will be transformed into a meenlock as well. These are one of the scariest critters D&D has to offer. There was a really great adventure for 3rd edition called Escape from Meenlock Prison, in which the player characters get trapped in an old prision that has been mostly taken over be meenlocks, who can easily slip through or teleport between the cell bars and have already made most of the prisoners and guards their own.
The Necrophidus is often called a cleric troll monster, and for good reasons. It’s a large snake-like creature made from a human skull and spines, called a death worm, has all the immunities of undead, and attacks by paralyzing its target. But it’s not undead. Ha ha! It’s used either as an assassin or guardian of treasure.
The Phantom Stalker is a creature from the elemental plane of fire and similar to invisible stalkers and dune stalkers in many way. But I think a much more interesting creature. For one thing, they look pretty freakish and are also two and a half meters tall, and they can change their shape to some extend and fly. They are also commonly summoned not to serve as assassins but as bodyguards for a wizards. However, they despise this service and try to find ways to obey their orders while still causing their master grief and trouble. However, the spell that summons a phantom stalker also forces it to avenge the death of its summoner. When the summoner dies, the phantom stalker instantly vanishes. But a few hours later it begins to hunt the summoners killer through the ethereal plane. They are not actually particularly powerful or deal a lot of damage, but if they are about to lose a fight, they will destroy themselves by exploding as a 6d6 fireball.
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.
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.
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.
It would be a crime to write about the Fiend Folio without at least mentioning the Slaad. In the Planescape setting, there are not only angels and demons, but similar creatures for all nine alignments. The spot for pure chaos was given to the Slaad. These chaotic neutral creatures are not actually evil, but in practice they never really seemed any different to me from demons and devils. They are still pretty cool though, as they all take the form of big humanoid frogs. They are natives of the plane of Limbo, which is such a pure manifestation of chaos that there isn’t even any stable ground. And yet, of the infinite number of possible shapes beings of pure chaos could appear in, they all take the form of frogs. I think that’s pretty cool. They have their own language but normally communicate with other creatures by telepathy. In this version, all Slaad have a gem with a unique magic symbol on their forehead, and anyone who can get at such a gem can order the slaadi to perform three services for them. Each such gem is unique and can be recognized by all other slaad. There are several kinds of slaad, with the red ones being the weakest. They are pretty basic brawlers but still quite tough ones, and can attempt to teleport other slaad to their help when in danger (as it is common for most demons and devils in D&D). Above them are the greens, blues, and greys, which each get increasingly stronger with more and unusual special abilities. There are only four death slaad, which are a very big step up from the greys, and there are also two Slaad Lords presented in the book. Slaad are weird, a bit goofy, and from the description here I don’t really know what to make of them. With a good idea what to use them for, I think it should not be too difficult to make them interesting enemies.
Another classic monster that went on to a long career as a B-List creature. The Son of Kyuss. Kyuss was an evil priests who became a minor god of… I actually have no idea. But he has a huge thing for slimy green worms and a number of beasts he created with that theme. The Son of Kyuss is probably the most notable one, being a corpse infested by a swarm of big green worms. It regenerates two hit points per round and even grows back body parts that have been chopped off. Anything that comes within 10 meters of one have to make a saving throw or flee in panic, which seems a very appropriate ability. Being hit by its fists is obviously not healthy and can infect a creature with leprosy, which will be fatal within a couple of months unless magically healed. In addition, once per round one of the worms will try to bite the target of the sons attack and bury into its body. If not killed and removed within a round, the worm will make its path to the brain and within one to four rounds turn him into another son of kyuss as well.
The Symbiotic Jelly seems quite familiar. It has no picture, so I am adding of a brain slug instead. They are basically the same thing anyway. At 70 cm in diameter, it’s somewhat larger and the color is described as green, but by now who wouldn’t go with an apple sized green blob with a big eye instead? The jelly feeds by controlling a dangerous creature which it uses to kill other people or creature that come near its lair and as the prey is eaten, it gets some kind of energy from it. It’s clearly not symbiotic at all, but straight up parasitic, but maybe someone thought it sounds cooler this way. The jelly actually controls its slave from a distance and hides in the shadows on the ceiling of its lair, but where is the fun in that? Brain Slugs!
And finally, we got the Yellow Musk Creeper. It’s a kind of vine with yellow flowers which spray a special dust at any creature that gets too close to them. Victims affected by the dust simply walk into the vines to get entangled by them and slowly have its Intelligence drained. When the mind is almost entirely gone, the vines will plant spores into the creature which will cause a new plant to grow from its body, which then takes control over it to protect the original creeper. A usual creeper will have one to two dozen of such living zombies under its control. I really love these ones and have something like them in almost all the campaigns I run.
Fiend Folio Cliche Creature Counter:
- Evil Apes: 2
- Variant Ghouls: 2
- Demon Dogs: 4
- Skeletons with Robes: 5
One thought on “Fantasy Safari: Fiend Folio”
I enjoyed your Fantasy Safari on the Fiend Folio. I also enjoyed that book greatly, and even many of the reader-submitted monsters that were published in White Dwarf magazine that didn’t make an appearance in the folio.
I wanted to let you know, not to be critical, but rather to be helpful, that ‘rediculous’ (e.g. as it appears in the first paragraph of that page) is spelt ridiculous.
I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing.