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.


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.


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

Flames on the glowing swords of the Githyanki:

And 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.


  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:

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

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

  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.

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

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

  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.

  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.

  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,

    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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