Busy, busy, busy — now with pics

With the holidays winding down and no yard work or major home repairs to do, I’ve been making time to paint again! Here’s some stuff. I’m still using my phone for photos because although the image quality isn’t as good, it’s a lot faster and doesn’t require file transfers. <Update — turns out you can’t just copy pictures from your Google Photos — they will only be visible to people you already shared them with.> Click to embiggen them.

First up, some seasonal minis — two Reaper leprechauns. (Sadly the third from this pack is MIA. I gave it to my daughter a few years ago and she lost it. 😦

I think the flash really doesn’t do the paint job any favors, but it is a bit messier than usual even for me. I really rushed these guys to keep ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.

Speaking of sloppy painting, here’s a Reaper Bones marilith. Bones minis are usually pretty crisp but this one’s face has very poor detail and I really couldn’t distinguish her eyes. In the end I painted them like lidless snake eyes. Again, too much flash.

Next up, yet another Reaper mini — an earth elemental. My only gripe with this figure is the tombstone integral to his base. It’s kind of out of place, in my opinion. But it was nicely sculpted. I still need to flock the base.

Lastly a passle of “razor wings” from the Descent board game (Fantasy Flight Games).

In hindsight I should have done something about the heads — varying the angles of tilt. It would be a simple fix to cut them off and rotate them a bit before pinning them back on. Maybe later.

Next time, a whole lotta pirates and adventurers.

 

Published in: on March 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (8)  
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Are you ready yeti?

The first large box of D&D minis I remember seeing was the “Monsters” assortment. Those Grenadier boxes were a little bit like boxes of chocolates because you never really knew for certain what would be inside — almost every box seemed to have a miniature broken or missing, and/or a miniature not shown on the insert, and/or a duplicate of some miniature. It never occurred to me back in the day to complain to the company or ask for a replacement; I have no idea if they would have. The “Tomb of Spells” was perhaps the worst offender: I didn’t get the lamia or night hag at all, which were on the insert, though I did get alternative sculpts of the djinn and efreet (not the ones on the older insert though; the ones in the blister).

Anyway in the case of the Monsters box, I got the set as shown on the insert except that my Yeti was the later version. (For some reason I always remembered having both versions in my collection, but I can’t think of way to account for having two yeti, so maybe I never had the original.) Anyway a recent trade yielded not only the cone-head yeti but a sort of missing link between the two sculpts: the ogre from the Wizzards & Warriors range. (I also got the earlier, smaller ogre with a similar face but he’s not hairy enough to pass for a yeti so I haven’t painted him yet.  So here are the three yetis side by side.

3yetis

The original design is closest to the Monster Manual version — especially if that is not just a tuft of hair but a misshapen cone-head.

Image result for yeti monster manual

Yeti from the Monster Manual, via Wikipedia. By David Sutherland.

yeti-cone

His replacement has a more rounded head. Mine has had his nose squashed a bit from falling on his face, and looks more upturned than it would be fresh out of the mold.

yeti-final

So the interesting thing to me is that the older Ogre design was clearly the source of the new face. (In this picture you can see a really severe mold line on his outstretched arm. I filed away as much as I dared but the dry-brushing really betrays all the imperfections.)

yeti-ogre

If you look at the three of them, what’s interesting is that the final yeti design incorporates the older yeti’s pose but many elements are clearly from the ogre. The loincloth is different on all three, but look closely at their backs and feet.

yeti-backs

yeti-bigfeet

 

Published in: on February 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm  Comments (3)  
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Creature compendium by Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr.

Old School Adventures™ Accessory CC1: Creature Compendium

Oh god, not another monster book, right? OGL/OSR monster books are, all too often, crapulous retreads of existing D&D monsters, with maybe a few variations: these orcs are blue! here’s a 2e monster statted out for B/X! purple, cerulean, and amber dragons! another kind of elf, this one lives in the desert! Less than inspired, you might say. You’ve probably got one two on your shelf or hard drive, and it gives you pretty much all the standard monsters, tweaked for a specific flavor of D&D. Ho-hum.

Creature compendium is having none of that. The monsters are mostly things that are not in any other monsters manual. They are not slight variations or reskins of existing monsters. Well, a few feel a bit like reskins, but they also suggest something different. Even the most derivative monsters in the book are kind of cool. I will give you two examples: Dunters and Cyclorcs.

Dunters are goblin red-cap berserkers. Basically tougher goblins, who go berserk like Berserkers, so that seems like a shitty reskin on the face of it. But they also have the traits of folkloric the Red Cap, a specific goblin who haunts an old ruined castle and dips his hat in human blood to keep it red. Except of course this is a whole race, so they lair in ruins and believe they must keep their caps wet with blood. I’ve certainly seen goblins before, and berserkers, and even Red Caps, but this combination of the three is not terrible.

Cyclorcs are one-eyed, overgrown orcs who are distinguished by their slightly better melee skill and worse missile skill; they also speak a dialect most orcs can’t understand. They do not accept leaders of other races, making them more independent than regular orcs. This is, in a way, the worst monster in the book. The only saving grace is that I happen to have a handful of figures that are would be pretty perfect for cyclorcs, so I for one might use this monster too.

And again: these are worst the book has to offer. The rest of the creatures are stuff from folklore or pulp comics that I’ve never seen adapted to D&D, totally new monsters of the sort you might find in the Fiend Folio, or jokey monsters that actually manage to be kind of cool. The introduction explicitly states that this book is meant to fun both to use and to peruse, so: mission accomplished.

There are Carriage worms, which are creepy giant worms covered in smaller parasitic worms. The parasitic worms have a paralyzing bite, and the big worm doesn’t have a real bit attack but can swallow you whole once you’re paralyzed. That is nice and creepy. And it spits a slippery but harmless slime on you. You’re not going to forget this encounter.

A number of monsters appear to be Japanese yokai, like the Whipwhirl, which is a flock of strips of paper that will tangle you up and try to suffocate you. Then there are Revolving beasts, which polymorph continuously into other monsters. These are all solid, and potentially deadly.

The jokey monsters include Ligers (“Ligers are a lion and tiger mixed, bred for their skills in magic”), Rotmouths (the monsters from the movie Critters), and the Mothman.You’ll also find a few monsters from movies (Ymir from the Ray Haaryhausen design, water devils that look like something from Princess Mononoke). But even these derivative monsters are usable. The in-jokes are sometimes subtle (no doubt I’m missing some; but the “Bestial beast” I think must be named in parody of the unlikely names of Fiend Folio monsters) and not all of them are all that funny (Skunkbears). Still, it’s far cry from the full-on stupid of something like The field guide of encounters.

The art is not always great. But as far as I can tell, the author also drew all the monsters, and by the way every damn monster has an illustration. None of those monsters-without-pictures that you skip over in other manuals.

All the monsters are statted out in both AD&D and B/X terms. Those are my two favorite iterations of D&D so I’m happy with that. I’m not sure it’s necessary to give both, since you can kind of derive the briefer B/X stats from the AD&D, but that’s fine. Another thing I like is the index and treasure tables. The index doesn’t just list page numbers, but also gives XP values across several game systems, covering most of the OSR bases.

My main complaint about this book is that the stat blocks are not entirely explained. For one thing, a lot of monsters have a dagger symbol following their name in the B/X stat block and this is never explained (I broke down and sent Mr. LeBlanc an email asking about this, and he said that it just means the monster has spells or psionics or other things not in B/X). There are a few bits of text that either unclear or possibly typos, but nothing as egregious as pretty much anything published for Castles & Crusades. Lastly there is no bibliography or list of sources — a problem pretty much all monster manuals share, so I shouldn’t single out this one. I just wanted to go on record saying it’s something that really ought to be included in every monster book.

I didn’t actually pay anything for my copy — I won a copy in New Big Dragon’s 12 days of OSR Christmas. I’d mention that as a disclaimer, but Mr. LeBlanc did not even ask for a review.  If you want a copy, it’s ridiculously cheap anyway: $2 for the pdf at RPGNow, and print copies are cheap at Lulu (especially if you use a coupon code, right this minute it’s JANEND20 for 20% off; while you’re there look for Paolo Greco’s Kefitzat Haderech and/or Burgs and Bailiffs), or if you’re in the US you can also go straight to the New Big Dragon site.

Published in: on January 26, 2016 at 9:16 pm  Comments (3)  
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Behold the elephant harpy!

As I often mention here, my day job is as a librarian, and I get to see a fair amount of interesting stuff because my library is a large public research library (i.e. we get specialist academic stuff and popular stuff).  So recently The world’s best loved art treasures  (ISBN 9780867198089, have your friendly local book store order it for you) crossed my desk and let me say it is a hoot. The artist (Click Mort, link goes to his web site) basically does what modeling & miniatures enthusiasts would call “conversions,” but instead of working with scale models, he “recapitates” ceramic figurines.  These examples probably explain what is going better than I can.

Elephant harpy : http://clickmort.com/available/elephant.html Image (c) Click Mort, used with permission.

Centaur as Envisioned by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass : http://clickmort.com/available/rankin.html ; image (c) Click Mort, used with permission.

 

 

There are more at his site, and the book has even more. It kind of makes me want to stop in more junk stores hunting for cheap ceramic figurines to create my own chimeras.

Anyway you’ll obviously need to use these in your next D&D game.

Elephant Harpy

HD 5 ; AC as Mail ; Mv. walk 12″/fly 24″ ; Attacks: 3 or 1 ; Dmg. d4/d4/d6 + special or d12

The elephant harpy is every bit as filthy and harridine* as a regular harpy, but with their vast shared memories they also hold eternal grudges. In fact, anyone who harms an elephant harpy will henceforth be the target of vengeance from all other elephant harpies. They attack by dropping objects on their victims for d12 damage (rocks if you’re lucky) or in close combat will rake with their two claws and grapple with the trunk. Anyone grappled will be carried aloft and dropped from some height. Elephant harpies will not go near rodents, for fear that rodents will climb into their trunks.

Rankin-Bass Centaurs

HD 2 ; AC as leather ; Mv. 18″ ; Attacks 1 ; dmg. d6

Said to be the result of the unnatural coupling of deer and hill giants, Rankin-Bass centaurs are the size of deer, but have humanoid heads that would better fit on a giant’s shoulders. Despite their apparent awkwardness, they are quite fleet and agile, and can leap great distances like an ordinary deer as well as move with stealth similar to a deer (surprise on a 1-4). They avoid combat when possible but can kick for d6. They can speak the local human languages as well as several woodland tongues (centaur, brownie, and dryad). They naturally attract normal deer and often herd with them. Rankin-Bass centaurs crave nothing so much as acceptance from humans and humanoids, but their disturbing visages, and horrid stench, make most civilized folk shun them. Some Rankin-Bass centaurs are accomplished druids and can cast with 7th level proficiency; these can be distinguished by their caps. A Rankin-Bass centaur may offer to accompany a party of adventurers in woodland adventures, but usually wear out their welcome by making annoying efforts to solicit compliments and praise. A scorned Rankin-Bass centaur may follow and harass adventurers with their spells (if a druid) or by simply alerting other woodland creatures and monsters to the party’s presence.

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*Bonus neologism: harridine = being harridan-like.

Published in: on June 4, 2015 at 3:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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The book of creatures

This post is just a shout out to a project I recently noticed on someone else’s blog roll: The book of creatures. The posts are all like encyclopedia entries, with an excellent color illustration, a map showing the creature’s habitat/origin, and a silhouette showing the relative size of the creature next to a human (much like the silhouettes in the books published by Chaosium, Inc.). The description gives a bibliography too, which is nice. The creatures are all from folklore so far, and not your run-of-the-mill collection of stuff everyone knows about. Looking at the old posts, I have only heard of three of the featured creatures, plus  maybe a couple more that similar to more familiar creatures. The unfamiliar ones are pretty amazing. The eventual goal is to create a comprehensive catalog, or nearly so.

The site has a (broken) link to a Patreon account, so you might support the project by pledging there.

Published in: on May 18, 2015 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Monsters Manuals appendix N

I was kind of excited to see that there is a reading list in both the 5th edition Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide. So, suppose you wanted to compile a reading list for a monsters manual.  Inspirational reading for new monsters, stories with cool or interesting uses of monsters, and maybe sources for some of the established D&D monsters*. What should go in? Here’s a start. Suggestions welcome. The following books are all pretty good, and worth checking out.

Arrowsmith, Nancy, and George Moorse. The field guide to little people. An encyclopedia style guide, with somewhat creepy illustrations.

Barber, Ruchard. A companion to world mythology. A dictionary of mythology, with short entries and a ton of small illustrations. The illustrations generally try to mimic the style of the culture each entry is from, so that the Greek gods are illustrated in a Grecian style, and so on.

Barlowe, Wanye Douglas. Barlowe’s guide to extraterrestials and Barlowe’s guide to fantasy. Great color illustrations of characters and creatures from science fiction and fantasy novels, with a short summary that usually does not give away any spoilers. Each has a fold-out chart of all the subjects for size comparison, which is pretty cool.

Borges, J. The book of imaginary beings. Borges describes creatures from literature and fable, intermixed with some he’s made up, and others he re-imagined. If you liked Zak Smith’s re-imagining of the Fiend Folio and Monster Manuals**, you’ll also like this, I think. There is a really great illustrated edition, which I’d go with over the all-text edition.

Briggs, Katharine. The encyclopedia of fairies. Arranged like an encyclopedia with entries on topics and places, but this actually includes a lot of excerpts from folklore and entire stories, often in the local dialect or archaic English, this is probably more for scholars than general readers, despite the cover and marketing. But it’s worth perusing.

Cohen, Daniel. The encyclopedia of monsters. I read a lot of Cohen’s books as a kid, and this encyclopedia is a great introduction to his credulous style of writing about all manner of fantastic and cryptozoological creatures. Does he really believe in this stuff? Maybe. But he is careful to stick to his sources and makes no effort to hide some of the goofier aspects of these legends. This is one of the only books in this list I don’t actually own, but I am on the lookout for it when I go to library book sales.

Davidson, Avram. Adventures in unhistory. This a collection of essays looking at possible historical bases of various legends. Davidson’s incredible erudition and sharp humor make it a great read. He doesn’t talk a lot about monsters, but there are so many ideas here you will certainly find something useful. (I’m still on the hunt for a copy of this too, as the copy I read was a library loan).

D’Aularies, Ingrid and Edgar P. D’Aularies’ book of Trolls. The D’Aulaires really got me hooked on mythology as a kid and the book of trolls collects some Norwegian troll stories while also giving a sort of treatise on the habits and types of trolls.

Douglas, Adam. The beast within. A book on werewolves and lycanthropy, this one also includes some great material on the “Plinian races” and other near-humans from legend.

Lang, Andrew (ed.). The blue fairy book. (And The yellow fairy book, etc. — all of his Fairy books). Collected folklore and fairytales from all over the world, pretty much every page is a delight.

Petersen, Sandy. S. Petersen’s field guide to the creatures of the dreamlands. I tried to keep gaming books out of the list, and this is on the border but does not actually have any stats and has some great artwork. Bonus: you don’t have to plow through HPL’s often ponderous efforts to mimic Dunsany to find out about the incredible creatures he invented for the Dreamlands cycle.

Rossi, Matthew. Things that never were. One part research, one part wild speculation, this is kind of like the popular “Hite Report” that used to appear in the Pyramid Magazine, but for general readers rather than DMs. A lot of fun.

Sedgwick, Paulita. Mythological creatures. Another dictionary-style children’s book, notable for cool illustrations and engaging writing.

 

As far as recommending fiction, that’s another post, or series of posts, or honestly a project that really screams for crowdsourcing. But I’d add one book that probably isn’t shelved with the sci-fi and fantasy in your bookstore or library:

Eco, Umberto. Baudolino! A hiliarious riff on medieval travelogues and legends, the sections detailing the Plinian races and other wonders of the East is pure gold.

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*A pretty good effort at this last topic was made by Aardy R. DeVarque here.  Looking at the sources there for various monsters reminded me that striges in D&D probably were inspired by the Strix of Greek mythology, and perhaps their cave-dwelling (and indirectly their bat-like wings) come from Thomas Burnett Swann’s The day of the minotaur. Wouldn’t it be cool to produce an “annotated” AD&D Monster Manual with sources made explicit? And yeah for “cool” most people will read “intolerably nerdy,” but that’s how I think. Actually once I finish up some other projects already in the hopper, maybe a grand compilation of sources for AD&D monsters, spells, and magic items would be fun.

**No link, not sure how his site will be affected by the changes in Blogger, but you can Google it.

Published in: on February 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (7)  
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Morlocks and more

I already use some classic wight minis and some plastic “beastmen” from Descent as morlocks, but when I was in the Columbus convention center for something work-related, I noticed a small games & comics shop nestled among the shops near the food court.  Inside I found a box of clearanced HeroClix figures, and I couldn’t rest getting a few.  A couple (Ulik, and The Abomination) I’m leaving as they were, but the rest looked like they could be pressed in D&D duty. The first batch are small horde of morlocks made from the Marvel Comics “Morlock” and “Moloids“.  The moloids were a little more suited to conversion, so I added weapons to them in place of the stalagmites they were holding. Then I repainted them all. These guys all have very good detail for plastics, and washes and drybrushing really bring them out.

Morlocks (which could equally serve as ghouls, wights, or morlocks)

Morlocks (which could equally serve as ghouls, wights, or morlocks). I don’t think he represented a particular Marvel character, just a generic trooper for the “Morlocks” — underground-dwelling mutants occasionally featured in the X-Men comics back in the 80s.

 

Morlocks-1-molemen

Moloids repurposed as small morlocks. The bugged eyes are a little goofy (the minis have goggles or visors) but what the hell.

A molid would also stand in pretty well for Gollum.

Morlocks-comp

Side-by-side, the moloids are about goblin-sized and the morlocks slightly taller than the typical 28mm human.

One other item I painted about the same time is this Reaper Bones gravestone with a swarm of bats:

Reaper Nones bats

Reaper Bones bats

I was tempted to take them off the gravestone and just put them on a more generic base, suspended on a piece of wire. Still might.

Published in: on December 14, 2014 at 7:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Fiend Folio as implied setting

Some time ago, Jeff Rients posted something about running D&D with only the Fiend Folio as the monster manual.  I don’t remember exactly how detailed he got with that, and haven’t been able to find the exact post (this?  or this?) , but since I was looking over the Fiend Folio the other day, I started thinking about what the implied setting of the Fiend Folio might look like.

One thing that might stand out is that there are some knock-offs of standard monsters. Hoar foxes fill the niche of Winter wolves (though they are smaller, fewer HD, and not as evil), for example.

Another thing is that there are many references to standard races and monsters, so really you need to decide whether, say, Flinds require the reintroduction of Gnolls, Nilbogs require the presence of Goblins, the Norker entry allows in Hobgoblins, and so on. You could just ignore those references, or you could grandfather in the things that the FF listings assume. Either choice seems legitimate to me.

The first thought I had was how the options for PC races would look. There are no dwarves, no halflings, no elves other than the Drow, and no gnomes other than Svirfneblin. Drow elves do not seem appropriate for PCs due to their evil nature. Both dark elves and deep gnomes have so many inherent powers that you’d need to (ok: I’d want to…) introduce some kind of extra rules to ration them out as they gain levels, and that isn’t appealing to me either.  Lastly, those races are supposed to be enigmatic, barely-known races of the underdark, and having them as PCs would undermine (hah!) any attempt to keep the underworld mysterious, IMO. Githzerai and Githyanki may have become available as player races in 2e/Spelljammer, but they too seem so alien and mysterious they’d be better left as monsters.

If you wanted to allow some of the FF monsters to be player races, there are not a lot of good-aligned humanoids. I think alignment might matter because in AD&D as it stands, the allowed player races were all good-aligned in the Monster Manual — with the exception of half-orcs, who are not given a separate entry in the MM. Come to think of it, though, most of the human listings are neutral, so probably neutrals are ok too.

That leaves us with a few oddball humanoids, like the Aarakocra, which were ported in as player races in the 2e book of humanoids, and are also good-aligned, though their power of flight seems like a potential headache. The Quaggoth could be a neat mock-Mok, for a Thundar inspired campaign. The Qullan, which seem to be a source for the Talislantian Thralls (or at least share a common ancestor), would be ok as a colorful (hah hah!) option, perhaps replacing Half-orcs, and maybe Sulks could replace Halflings.

I’d be tempted to consider Grimlocks as a possible player race too, because although they are evil, there were several attempts to stat them up for players — both a semi-official Dragon article (#265) and a much older zine I no longer have (it was a small fanzine, I gave it away and don’t even recall the title). The idea of blind berserker is just too fun to leave out of your campaign.

One last thing on the player side of world-building is deities and religion. If you stick to the deities presented in the Fiend Folio, you get a very dark fantasy indeed! Lolth, the Elemental Princes of Evil, and two Slaad demigods. Oh, you also get the Aleax, which the gods send to punish you for varying from your stated alignment.  The Death dog, being descended from Cerberus, sort of implies that there could be Greco-Roman gods in the setting (and the Aleax, which also looks fairly Classical era, would be typical of the Greek gods’ screwing over mortals). Because Retrievers were designed by Demogorgon, I guess we have him too. The Sons of Kyuss mention an unnamed evil deity. The Eyes of Fear and Flame were created either by chaotic evil gods to destroy the lawful, or by neutral/lawful gods to test the lawful. The upshot, then, is that you better not look to the gods for hope or help in the Fiend Folio world.  If they notice you at all, it will probably mean they send an Aleax after you, who will fight you and either take half your XP and all your stuff, or if you are lucky, take you out of the campaign for a year and a day. Fortunately, most of the things that look like undead in the book are either not turnable or not really undead, so you won’t miss having a cleric (unless you encounter 4-40 Nilbogs, which can only be hurt by healing spells!).

So I’m getting the sense that this Fiend Folio world is really dark.

Anyway let’s look at the monsters that look like they might be undead.

Crypt thing

Obviously NOT undead

Turnable undead: Apparition, Coffer corpse, Huecuva, Penanggalan (flying head form), Poltergeist, Sheet ghoul, Sheet phantom, Son of Kyuss

Non-turnable undead: Death knight, Penanggalan (human form), Revenant, Skeleton warrior

Not actually undead & non-turnable: Adherer, Crypt thing, Eye of fear and flame, Gambado, Githyanki*, Necropidius, Vision, Yellow musk zombie

*Like the Meazel, the Githyanki are obviously based on the Iron Maiden mascot “Eddy”.

githyanki

Iron Maiden alum art from “Somewhere in a dungeon”

githyanki

Githyanki

Only a minority are turnable, and most are turned as wights, wraiths, or specters, so your cleric has little chance.

All those non-turnable undead and psuedo-undead also remind me that the FF is sometimes criticized as consisting of a lot of screw-the-player gimmick monsters.  While there are a good number of gimmicks, you have to admit the Monster Manual has plenty of those too (Ear seekers, Shriekers, Gas spores, Rot grubs, Rust monsters, Yellow mold, Brown mold, and so on and on!).

I guess we should also look at the giants and dragons, as those are staples of fantasy, and I admit they are a little underwhelming. The giants are not bad — at 12 and 14 HD, they are as tough as anything in the Monster Manual, and the Mountain giant certainly looks like a classic storybook giant.  The Fog giant, with his surprise ability, looks deadly, though they should probably have the ability to generate fog too. The dragons, on the other hand, are maybe the weakest thing about the Fiend Folio world.  Instead of being the benevolent spiritual beings of Chinese folklore, or the destructive forces of nature of Western folklore, they seem to be inscrutable spirits of nature — not necessarily hostile, but capricious and dangerous.  Some demand tribute, some accept bribes, but none have much in the way of clear or useful motivation.  They are all shades of neutral, and that makes them seem more like animals than dragons, despite their generally high intelligence. The trolls of the Fiend Folio are all pretty good though — in fact I like them more than standard D&D trolls.  They are certainly more like Norse trolls, and the Ice trolls and Spirit trolls suggest they are more supernatural than standard D&D trolls.

So if I were to describe the world of the Fiend Folio, I think it suggests that monsters tend to be otherworldly — ethereal, elemental, or undead, or else they are beings from the underworld of dungeons and caverns. The animal-type monsters are mostly botched magical experiments like Gorrila-bears, or gigantic vermin like Giant Bats and Giant Hornets, or else super-predators like Babblers.

Babbler

Babbler

The humanoids are often alien (Kuo-toa, Firenewts) though some resemble the primitive or militaristic subhumans we find in the Monster Manual. So, it is certainly recognizable as D&D. It is just a little darker, a little wackier, and maybe a little more dangerous, since there are almost no “standard” low-level monsters that you can just fight (exceptions being things like Xvarts and Norkers, though the Norker’s high armor class makes them a real danger to first level PCs). For example, Quaggoths (HD 1+2) go berserk and fight to negative hp; Qullans (HD 2) have super-sharp swords that score bonuses to hit and damage (but of course the blades quickly lose this property when looted!)

Looking at the dungeon monster tables in the back of the book, all the “weak” monsters are thieves or ambushers like the Jermalaine, Mite, and Snyad. Humanoids like Bullywugs can make three attacks, or have boosted AC like the Norkers.  And that is just the level I monsters.  As you go to higher level charts, it seems that the FF monsters tend to have boosted AC, HD, or other powers, compared to their Monster Manual peers.  However, I have to say that dungeons stocked according to the FF charts would be a lot less predictable than the standard DMG tables.

So — and this looks like my second or third attempt to wrap up, I always sucked at conclusions — so anyway, the Fiend Folio world looks like something it could be pretty fun to run. It would slightly crank up the weird and the deadly, and downplay clerics and demi-humans. The only thing I’d really miss are the original dragons and some of the staple, dare I say iconic monsters like orcs, beholders, and rust monsters.  Instead, we’d have norkers, slaad, and disenchanters. Which is to say, the kid gloves would be off and the difficulty cranked up to Ultraviolence. Sounds like a plan!

C’mon in! The ichor is fine!

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (12)  
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Flail snails again

Some time ago I made the flail snail on the right; more recently I made a second, more naturalistic flail snail.

flailsnails

Click to embiggen … at your peril!

 

The new one, on the left, has a real seashell for its shell (lightly washed with dark brown), and the body is made of polymer clay.  The flails were also polymer clay, formed around some florist wire so they’d be less likely to break, and to give them an easy way to attach.  The older one, on the right, has a shell from a cheap plastic animal, a body of epoxy putty, and the flails are wire with mace-heads from cheap plastic knight toys.

flailsnails-2

While I have no doubt that others have made their own flail snail minis (this lovely one came up early in a GIS), I do find it odd that no miniatures company ever made them.  They hardly require much skill, though I guess as one of the infamously “dumbest monsters of D&D” lists, and an example of what’s so terrible about the Fiend Folio,  the poor flail snail is subject to too much ridicule to get a fair break.

Published in: on September 27, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (6)  
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R.O.U.S.

So this is a Grenadier model, from the period when John Dennett was doing a lot of horrific stuff and Grenadier’s monsters took a really frightening turn.  It is a “Giant Bog Rat” from the Dragon Lords “Horrors of the marsh” set.

 

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

He doesn’t have the buck teeth you might expect on a rat, but I like the lipless snout with all the teeth showing, and the boils or tumors all over its back are suitably gross. It occurs to me that it would be kind of creepy if those boils hatch rats, like those freaky toads that hatch babies on their backs.

Giant Bog Rat. Mv: 12″ AC: 6 (14) HD: 6 Att: 1 bite (d10 + venom) SV: F6 Ml: 7. Special: surprise, d6 pups hatch from back every round, for six rounds, after the GBR first takes damage; treat the pups as Giant Rats.

Giant Bog Rats (GBR) are a subspecies of the common Rodent of Unusual Size (ROUS), and like them has the ability to hide, despite their large size, surprising prey on a 1-4 on a d6.  GBRs are usually encountered alone, but during mating season they may be encountered in groups of 2-6. GBRs are true hermaphrodites, and can reproduce without a mate, but more typically mate with multiple partners who place fertilized zygotes on each others backs.  The zygotes bond with the GBR’s bald back and develop into amniotic sacks which look like large boils.  When agitated, the sacks may burst, exuding fully formed GBR pups who, unlike many rodents, are born with fur and open eyes.  They emerge ravenously hungry and attack any nearby creature on sight. Adult GBRs are more cautious and will attempt to use surprise to catch prey. They prefer to feed on humans and demihumans above all else, but will eat anything. Its relatively weak but copious venom causes those hit by the bite to save versus poison at +2 or die in 2d6 rounds.

****

I just looked at the insert that came with the Horrors of the Marsh set, and the GBR was statted out as having armor equivalent to “reinforced leather,” speed comparable to a leopard, 20-60 hp, and two attacks: bite for d12 and claw for d6; its special attacks are a 10% chance of inflicting disease with a bite, and on a critical hit, it drags the foe down and crushes it beneath its bulk (400-900 pounds!) for 2d8 damage; no. appearing 1 or a “large pack”.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (1)  
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