Friday, May 9, 2014

Why the Fiend Folio is awesome

I originally intended to post something else today, but let's stay on the theme with monsters.

So there is this Google+ thread (partly) slamming the AD&D Fiend Folio.


I had to weigh in.

I love that book to death.

It was either the 1st or 2nd AD&D book I owned, either right before or right after the DMG. I paid $12 for it ($15 for the DMG) at Jamesway in north-west NJ. That was a fortune back then.

Why?

It goes back to the guys who taught me how to run D&D. They had both books, and all I got to see of them was the pictures. And that cover picture with the Githyanki seared itself into my brain. I remember the older brother of the pair who taught me had a paper route, and we had to go around and collect between him running me through B2 and then him starting a new adventure. I sat in the car, thinking the whole time of that blue cover with that cool monster on the cover.

THAT is why I plunked down money on the FF before I bought the Monster Manual. I even had to ask my uncle to show me what a Mind Flayer was so I could understand the Githyanki's background. Damn, they were cool. That Emmanuel cover, and those Russ Nicholson inside pictures.

It's full of cool monsters, lame monsters, and middle-grade monsters. I didn't know it at the time, but it's mostly a collection of monsters from White Dwarf either as-is or reworked for the Fiend Folio. White Dwarf was, like Judges Guild stuff, a white elephant in early 80s NJ game shops.

I've used a lot of monsters from the Fiend Folio in my games. Just at a quick glance, I've used 76 different monsters (or monster sub-types) in play out of the 174 monsters (by my count). That's not bad. A half-dozen or more have already appear in my current game, too.

That book isn't full of must-use monsters - it has some real oddballs, and really special case monsters, and ones I'd never use - but I used as many as I could and I love the ones I used. It's got some real personality. It turned me to reading Charles Stross and even George R. R. Martin, too. It inspired a lot of play, a lot of fun, and a lot of daydreams that led to play and led to fun.

It's one of my favorite books. Partly nostalgia, partly continuing use. It's a book that made a real impact on my life, and which still influences my play. I, to this day, try to impart some of the wondrous impact that blue, black, and yellow-brown cover had on me as a gamer.


Editing later: I said on that thread I linked to that I colored some pictures in. So here are some of the pictures I "improved" as a kid.

Crabmen:

 photo FiendFolioColoring1s_zps9f35bd2b.jpg

Lizard guys (very faint green, if you look closely):

 photo FiendFolioColoring3s_zpsb4d4517b.jpg

Flames on the glowing swords of the Githyanki:
 photo FiendFolioColoring2s_zps16cda470.jpg

And click here if you want to see my battered original. I peeled off the "United States" sticker from the bottom right-hand corner. I can't recall now why I stuck one there.

11 comments:

  1. Some years ago I had a series of posts showing for specific monsters why the FF is better, and exploring why some of the monsters seem to disappoint: http://rolesrules.blogspot.com/search/label/fiend%20folio

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  2. I like how the only color you really see with the lizard guys is the blood splash. ;>)

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  3. I love the Fiend Folio, and I have never apologized for it.
    Haters gon' hate, bro. Haters gon' hate.

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  4. Last year I ran a S&W campaign featuring monsters from the Fiend Folio instead of the Monster Manual. It has a totally different "feel"--Definitely more swords & sorcery rather than Tolkienesque.

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  5. I liked the death knights and retrievers. They were cool servants for my favorite demon prince, Demogorgon.

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  6. A great book. The 2nd edition version was such a delusion in comparison...

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  7. I'm very fond of it, as well. In part, it's because it runs wild and crazy, where the other two Monster Manuals tend somewhat toward the conservative. I mean, Flumphs - those are amazingly weird. Like, "what were you smoking, and can I have some?" weird. Someday, I'm going to adapt them as aliens for an SF setting, I think (along with Grell, plus Ropers and Neo-Otyugh from MM and Neogi plus Umber Hulks from Spelljammer). If I use Starships & Spacemen 2E or Stars Without Number I won't even have to do much conversion, but I'm just as likely to work them up for GURPS Space. Perhaps they'd mix well with Traveller's Hivers, GURPS's Memer/Saret and Pachekki, Star Fleet Universe's Hydrans (and, if I'm feeling weird, Loriyill), and Lovecraft's Mi-go.

    What was I saying? Oh, yeah. The Fiend Folio is pretty cool.

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  8. Yup, loved the Fiend Folio. Still do. I gave all my AD&D stuff away to a friend a few years ago--except for the FF. It's one of those books I'll keep forever.

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  9. I'm delighted to see another colored-in monster book out there! I've always known I wasn't the only kid to do that, but this is I think the first time I've seen photos.

    The crab-men in particular is so vivid. Your younger self had good sense in not just going with brown for their shells.

    May I copy and post these to my monster books photo blog, http://infravisions.tumblr.com/?

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    Replies
    1. Go right ahead - just leave on the copyright notice and if possible point it back to here as the source.

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