Thursday, April 15, 2010

the flumph beat this? part 3

Here's the final installment of monsters from White Dwarf that almost made it into the Fiend Folio.

Several people noted that they really liked the crashed spacecraft cover from yesterday's post. Me? I'm a sucker for shapely futuristic ladies in skintight jumpsuits.  Anyway, the intro to this article notes that most of these critters were omitted from the final draft of the FF due to intellectual property concerns.  Take for instance, this awesome Russ-drawn Martian "Greenman":

That dude is sweet! Maybe there's be a little more sword-and-planet action in D&D today if some Burroughs-inspired monsters were in the official rulebooks.

Another Burrough critter, the infamous White Ape of Mars.  That combines two of my favorite monster types: albino ape plus dude-with-four-arms.

The Spikehead is a beast with a spike on its head.  It can also administer a bearhug.

The Wirrn is a giant maggot that will rape your PC.  I'm not kidding about that at all.  There are plenty of monsters that implant victims with eggs that hatch fatally at some point in the future.  This is the first such monster I've seen that knocks you prone and straddles you to do it.  There's a line I draw in my games and the Wirrn is way over on the wrong side of it.

The Cold Beast is a white lion with eyes made of gems that shoot cones of cold.  It can also smother you for cold damage.  Unlike every other monster with special properties in a specific body location, the eyes of the Cold Beast retain their powers after you pluck them out.

Anybody know the source of the Spikehead, Wirrn or Cold Beast?


  1. The Wirrn come from a Doctor Who story, sort of. There's a story from 1975 called "The Ark in Space", which is essentially Alien, four years early, and the Wirrn are the featured monster. They're only worm-like in their larval stage, before growing into a more insectoid form, but I'd be very surprised if they're not the origin of the White Dwarf monster.

  2. Thanks, kelvingreen! I knew the name sounded familiar but I only remembered the Dr. Who guys as insect-men.

  3. You're welcome. I can't help with the others, but the Spikehead reminds me a little of the Mugato from Star Trek; I can't think of too many other horned apes.

    If it is a Mugato, then I'd guess the Cold Beast would also be from some sci-fi setting, but I can't place it.

  4. I swear I've seen the head it's traced from on an Andre Norton paperback.

  5. No idea what it was inspired by, but the Cold Beast illo makes me laugh every time I look at it. Look at its feet, fer chrissakes!

  6. #27 was the first issue of White Dwarf that I picked up. Like Jeff, I am a sucker for ladies in skintight jumpsuits.

  7. The cold beast sounds like an awesome and exceptionally cruel monster to toss at your PCs.

    I could see using them to guard a pass and judge the virtuous like the big lion-women statues in The Neverending Story. Much like in the movie, I'd be sure to show someone getting blasted by the cold beasts before the PCs got to the pass just so they knew this was serious business.

  8. Love that green-man illustration.
    And you'll get no complaints from me about the cover.

  9. IMO the Wirrn is most likely from a bad movie called Galaxy of Terror that has a rather infamous worm raping scene.

    Sigh, went to see this back in 81. I still want my money back.

  10. Anonymous12:44 PM

    You have to add two arms every time the edition number goes up. In 5E they'll probably keep the eight arms and just bump the legs up to four.

  11. Damn. The spike head. Great monster.
    : )

  12. I think Gleichman is right. The Wirrn seems to be a Galaxy of Terror rip off!

  13. This issue of WD is from late 1981, but Galaxy of Terror didn't hit Europe until 1982, so it's possible that the film was the inspiration if the creator of the monster had seen the film in the US. However, since the Doctor Who monsters are called "Wirrn", and they also have a wormy-parasite-Ridley-Scott-owes-us-royalties life cycle, I'd say it's far more likely that they're the source.

  14. When it comes to multi-armed ape critters, nothing beats the Octorilla from Arudin.

    Thanks again for this great tour down the best of the 70s/early 80s.

  15. I think Galaxy of Terror made enough of a splash, that people knew about that scene even before it reached the UK.

    So I don't think it's as clear as all that. After all, the only thing it has in common with Doctor Who is a rather clear corruption of the world 'worm'.

    But one who have to talk to the author to be certain.

  16. After all, the only thing it has in common with Doctor Who is a rather clear corruption of the world 'worm'.
    The name is spelled in exactly the same way. I've never seen the word "Wirrn" anywhere else; indeed the only place I'd seen it at all was Doctor Who until I read this post. That's rather specific.

    Also, the Who Wirrn have a "implant victims with eggs that hatch fatally" life cycle, so yes, in fact they do have more in common than the name.

    Now, the Who monsters don't do the straddling bit, so that aspect may very well be drawn from the film (although I'd be interested to know when and how the author saw it), but it's certainly not a clear borrowing. If anything, the White Dwarf monster is a blend of both, the name and life cycle from one, the attack method from the other.

  17. @kelvingreen: The spikehead also sounds like the sacred orangopoid of Mongo fought by Flash Gordon (Buster Crabbe) back in the 1936 Republic serial.

    @gleichmann: Evidence suggests otherwise. White Dwarf 27 and Galaxy of Terror were both released in October 1981.

    The wirrn was an entry for inclusion in the first Fiend Folio (published August 1981 due to legal wrangles between TSR and Games Workshop). Entries rejected for inclusion start appearing in White Dwarf 16 (December 1979).

    Dr. Who: The Ark in Space was released in 1975 and published in 1976.

    It's more probable that the creator took the name from it and then borrowed the worm image from another source, possibly pinworms?