Tuesday, April 13, 2010

the flumph beat this? part 1

I sometimes wonder if the original Fiend Folio could be used as a litmus test for gamers, because pretty much everyone with a passing familiarity with this tome seems to have an opinion about it.  People either love it or hate it.  Well, maybe hate is too strong a term.  Is there a German word for dismissing something out of hand due to 'obvious' lameness?  Gsundgnugenfreude or something like that.  Anyway, I will readily admit that the FF is chock full of crazy non-sensical monsters.  The difference between me and the gsundgnugenfreuders is that I like it when parts of my D&D game make no sense.

Still, I can see where such folk are coming from.  I don't doubt that most hardcore Folio fans have at least one creature in the book they dislike.  For me its the denzelian.  A super-slow non-hostile slime monster whose only function is carving tunnels around metal deposits.  Sure, I could write some sort of scenario involving competing mining interests and a stolen denzelian egg, but I'm not sure I really want to.

The usual poster boy for the Fiend Folio's arch-goofiness is the flumph (pictured right).  The flumph's been used for a couple good gags over at Order of the Stick.  I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for this creature, ever since that one time in my Bandit Kingdoms campaign.  Ray was playing a Unearthed Arcana-powered half-drow cavalier who wrecked my monsters on a continuing basis.  I scored a solid hit with a flumph death-from-above ambush, using those little spiky things on the underside to deliver flumph-acid right through the cavalier's helmet and directly into his brainpan.  Good times.

Anyway, the Fiend Folio was a product of the UK division of TSR and a bunch of the critters in the book came from White Dwarf's Fiend Factory column.  This was back in the mystical time when White Dwarf was a D&D/rpg periodical, before it switched formats to all Space Marines all the time.  Three issues of those prehistorical White Dwarf featured monsters that didn't quite make the cut for inclusion in the Fiend Folio.   Today we're going to look at some of those beasties.

In issue 16 of White Dwarf Don Turnbull presented five of the monsters that failed to make it into the FF.

I think this Plantman was swiped from Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom books.

I've seen Man-Scorpion type monsters statted up in other places.  What I like best about this version is that they alway come with a magical sword, shield and armor that are cursed in the hands of PCs.  Also, SCORPION STINGER HORNS, HOLY CRAP!

Yet Another Psycho Girlfriend Monster: The ogress disguises itself as a beautiful woman to lure men to their doom.

Can you cast Floating Disc, Animate Object, Haste and Permanency?  Then you can make your own Tenser Beast.  For no particular reason casting Haste on one of these attack frisbees makes them explode into a shower of shrapnel.

Wow!  It's a friggin' crime against awesome that this Russ-drawn picture of the Wrecker never made it into the FF.  Imagine an official AD&D mini of this guy!  This guy is basically an iron golem/robot type that guards treasure.  They're immune to all spells and can totally bust through walls to get at you.

More weirdoes that got cut to make room for the norker tomorrow.


  1. Cool cool cool

    I like it when people comb through old RPG products so I don;t have to, and I like it even better when the result is awesome.

  2. That is actually the first issue of White Dwarf I bought. I got it for the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant monsters, but I remember that article. I wouldn't own the FF for years but did use the ogress...

  3. Don't feel bad for the Flumph, he was able to cash in on his Fiend Folio arch-goofiness and get a new job as everyones favorite deity, the Flying Spagetti Monster:


  4. "and can totally bust through walls to get at you."

    I wholeheartedly support this monster concept and am going to have to get my hands on a copy of that White Dwarf.

  5. From a book I'm working on with illustrator Max Brooks:


    Flumph = Metroid.

  6. "Can you cast Floating Disc, Animate Object, Haste and Permanency? Then you can make your own Tenser Beast."

    I like the name in particular, I can see them used in a variety of locales and even as the bodyguard of socially inept magic users.

    Mmm, how smart were animated objects again? Need to check.

    Thanks for the ideas, I liked them with exception of the man-scorpion thing (which I've seen too many times already to be surprised by)

  7. Flumph - living, dead and even undead featured prominently in our game last week. Not in a silly way either. :)

  8. Jeff,

    Any chance you could write a bit more about your Bandit Kingdoms campaign? I've long been contemplating doing a campaign there in Greyhawk, and would love to hear more about what you were using, how it went, etc. If you just have any old posts discussing it, that'd work, too.

  9. I had to write a longer response about the Flumph... They're Not Bad Monsters... :)

  10. Before I'd ever played D&D, a friend gave me his copies of the Monster Manual and Fiend Folio. Since I wasn't playing the game, I ignored the statistics and read them for the fluff text and the art. The Folio was the clear favourite. You just can't argue with that stable of artists, and that slightly more gonzo approach to the game.

  11. The disk vaguely reminds me of a device called the Warlock's Wheel that showed up in a Larry Niven story, The Magic Goes Away. In short, it is a copper disk set to spin and hoover out all the local magic, then explode when the magic is depleted and no longer holds the disk together. It also showed up in Magic: the Gathering as Nevinyrral's Disk.

  12. I think the word you are looking for is unbegeistermachlich... Germanlish for "that which makes one unenthused"... except, of course, for the Mezzo and Nycadaemons...

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I remember getting the Fiend Folio when I was 15 or 16, and being simultaneously enthralled and confused. I have a real soft spot for what I have termed the "Dude! Awesome!" era of D&D monster design. And anyone who thinks the FF is the pinnacle of either bizarre or lame should pick up any copies they can find of All The World's Monsters, Volumes 1-3.

  14. The British monsters always hit the right spot for me. They had a creativity that I often didn't find in the American monsters, something drawn from being steeped in the folklore, maybe.

  15. Y'know, I'm pretty sure that the flumph, the adherer, and the lava children weren't part of any actual folklore. I'm just sayin'.

  16. Does Doctor Who count as folklore? :)

  17. Settembrini2:26 PM

    Maybe "Geringschätzung" fits the bill. It definitely has the 'obvious' in quotation marks.

  18. Anonymous2:36 PM

    So I came here looking for crabmen and wound up with an obviously Mayan statue monster that will bust right through your hovel wall to deliver its calendrical reckoning. Beautiful. I collected WD ca 25 to 150 or so, and somehow I let it all go. Now I want my Sahuagin's Heel back, along with my Houri and all the rest (except maybe The Travellers). But I'm still looking for crabmen stats. Any pointers?