Tuesday 30 August 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Jaculi and Jermlaine

The original Jaculi could not attack from the ground, and did not have venom. I have altered that to make the creature more than just a living trap.

The Jermlaine are one of the tricky creatures in the Fiend Folio which are too strong individually as written, but can be rewritten to make them both scale with normal folk in Dungeon Crawl Classics, yet effective against a group of adventurers. There are certain themes that recur in the various monsters of the Fiend Folio, and minuscule humanoid terrors are one of them. From a fantasy world-building lens, and from a cool adventure-building lens, these were great. However, dealing with these creatures in-game is one of the things where modern game design (and particularly the idea of swarms) allows for a better in-game experience.

If you use either of these conversions – or, for that matter, any of them in this series – I would love to hear how things go.



Jaculi: Init +3; Atk Bite -2 melee (1d3 plus venom) or launch +4 melee (1d6); AC 14; HD 1d4; MV 20’ or climb 20’; Act 1d20; SP Venom (1d4 damage plus Fort DC 12 or 2d6 additional damage), launch, camouflage; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

These large venomous serpents are often found together, so that it is not surprising to discover as many as twenty in the same location. The jaculi (singular and plural) are agile serpents with chameleon-like camouflage abilities that grant them a +10 bonus to hiding in arboreal regions, or even pillared halls. Although not naturally vicious, jaculi are territorial and excitable, having a 1 in 4 chance of launching at attack against anything more than a transient intrusion into their territory.

The serpent has a long muscular body and a broad, flat head with a ridge of razor-edged bone projecting at either side. It can project itself from any high point with the force and accuracy of a javelin, but once it has attacked in this manner it can only attempt to bite at ground level. To launch itself again, it must crawl away up another tree or pillar.

A successful Handle Poison check can milk 1d5 doses of venom from a jaculi, if a suitable receptacle is available.




Jermlaine: Init +5; Atk Tiny weapon +2 melee or ranged (1); AC 13; HD 1 hp; MV 20’; Act 1d16; SP Infravision 60’, stealth +10, trap building; SV Fort -6, Ref +7, Will +0; AL C.

Jermlaine Swarm: Init +5; Atk Swarming weapons +2 melee (1d4); AC 15; HD 5d8; MV 20’; Act Special; SP Infravision 60’, stealth +5, swarm, nets; SV Fort -2, Ref +5, Will +2; AL C.

Jermlaine Elder: Init +4; Atk Tiny weapon +1 melee or ranged (1); AC 12; HD 1d4; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP Infravision 60’, stealth +10, trap building, nullify magic; SV Fort -4, Ref +7, Will +4; AL C.

Jermlaine are sometimes known as jinxkins or bane-midges. They dwell in elaborate tunnel and den warrens beneath the ground, often very deep beneath the surface. They mix freely with rats of all sorts, even the giant variety, and often share an integrated system of burrows, tunnels and holes with them. Jermlain can both understand and be understood by rats, which is a source of their other nicknames: ratmen and ratkins.

Individual jermlaine are only a foot tall. Their grey-brown warty hides blend in with earth and stone, and they always dress in scraps and rags of the same hue. Jermlaine move with a scuttling gait. They are very quiet and are masters of remaining unseen. On occasion, however, if a party or individual suddenly becomes still and listens carefully, their movement or twittering, squeaking speech can be heard.

These evil runts are cowardly and attack only when it seems probable that they can overwhelm victims without serious opposition. Jermlaine swarms thus waylay weakened and wounded parties or single individuals who are unwary, asleep, etc. In little-used passages, these nasty creatures laboriously prepare pits covered by camouflaged trapdoors, or string overhead nets entwined with silk from the webs of giant spiders, and lay in wait for passing prey. In more travelled ways, jermlaine will stretch thin but strong cords (often woven of human hair) to trip the unwary, which may then be attacked by a jermlaine swarm. The use of flaming oil, acid, and worse is not unheard of.

As swarms, jermlaine make a single attack roll against all creatures in a 20’ x 20’ area, and take only half damage from non area-effect attacks. Their weapons of choice are miniscule darts, pikes, and nets. Individual jermlaine never fight unless forced to, and then seek only to escape.

When jermlaine swarms use nets, victims which are successfully attacked take no damage, but must succeed in a Reflex save (DC equal to attack roll) or become entangled. A new save is allowed each round a trapped victim spends an Action Die to get free, but every save after the initial one is reduced by a cumulative -1d on the dice chain, until escape without outside help becomes impossible. Once one or more victims are trapped in this way, the jermlaine swarm immediately makes escape with their victims its top priority.

Jermlain tunnels are twisting mazes of small passages, and it is impossible for any creature larger than a halfling to worm their way through on their own. Even a halfling has to creep and crawl within such tunnels, exposing themselves to relentless attack. Once a victim has been pulled into the jermlaine tunnels, they are seldom seen again, although their screams may be heard for a very long time.

Some victims are eventually devoured by the jermlaine (or their rat-friends), but with a successful Luck check, a captured human is merely stripped naked, shaved and left trussed and helpless in the passageway so the jermlaine can watch the “fun” of seeing some passing monster come and devour the bound victims while the jermlaine remain safely hidden.

While strong groups or alert adventurers will not be physically attacked, the jermlaine will certainly seek to cause them harm and otherwise injure them out of sheer maliciousness. The spiteful things will steal forth and cut belts and straps, packs and seams – typically one such act of vandalism per jermlaine – before they retreat with haste in order to escape unnoticed and unharmed. Their vandalism is usually only noticed 1d12 turns later, when a weakened strap parts, a seam opens fully, and so on. If packs and other goods are placed out where jermlaine can reach them, perhaps when a party makes camp, these creatures will pollute water, sour wine into vinegar, spoil food, desecrate holy water, steal small items, wedge daggers or swords so that they are difficult to draw out quickly, cut bow strings, blunt arrows, puncture oil flasks, and so on.

Perhaps one out ever 30 or 40 jermlaine lives long enough to become very old and exceptionally evil. Jermlain elders gain a very wicked power – they can nullify the magic out of almost any object they can handle for 1d4 rounds. Powerful artifacts or relics may resist this power, if the judge so determines.

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Ice Lizard, Imorph, and Iron Cobra

The Iron Cobra is one of my favorite creatures from the Fiend Folio, perhaps because I can see it so clearly in my mind’s eye. The one herein is mostly true to the source material, and I only halved the gp value of the creature because I wanted a party to really consider whether they should destroy it or hope to profit by mastering it.

In Dungeon Crawl Classics, every dragon is unique, so what are we to do with a lizard that polymorphs into a specific type of dragon? In this case, the enlarge spell was my friend. Because spells are not automatic in DCC, I upped the number of chances it had slightly, Also, in keeping with the other creatures in this post, I supplied a reason why you might want to harvest from the Ice Lizard as well as kill it.

The Imorph was easy to convert, but the original order of information in the Fiend Folio made the creature perhaps a bit harder to understand than it had to be. I am hoping that my edit makes the creature simpler to use.


Ice Lizard

Ice Lizard: Init +3; Atk Bite +0 melee (1d4) or breath weapon or spell; AC 19; HD 3d8+3; MV 20’ or fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP Breath weapon, spell casting, limited magic resistance (+8 except mind-affecting); SV Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +0; AL N.

This creature is a dull silver, 3-foot-long winged lizard with a highly magical nature. Although it is of low intelligence compared to the average human, it can cast the following spells up to three times a day with a +4 bonus to the spell check: Enlarge (upon itself only), scare, and sleep. It suffers no consequences for a failed spell check, even if the check is a natural “1”.

An ice lizard can breathe a cone of frost 30’ long with a 10’ base, causing 2d12 damage (Reflex DC 12 for half).

Finally, ice lizards are resistant to magic, gaining a +8 bonus to saves against any spell or spell-like effect, except mind-affecting spells, such as charm person. If a spell does not normally allow a save, the ice lizard gains a save equal to the spell check result (the judge determines what type of save, and whether it halves or negates effects based on the spell).

These creatures live in cold regions, often lairing in caves, ice caves, or underground ruins. Because of their magical nature, an ice lizard’s brain can be used as a component for any cold-based spells, as well as dispel magic, enlarge, and sleep. This adds a +4 to the spell check if the brain is fresh, and consumes the organ. A preserved brain adds only a +2 bonus to the spell check, but likewise consumes the organ.




Imorph: Init +0; Atk Tentacle +2 melee (1d4); AC 15; HD 5d8; MV 20’; Act 2d20; SP Imorphism; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +2; AL N.

The natural form of an imorph is a constantly changing mass of rubbery, dough-like grey-green flesh which forms a lumpy cylinder about 4 feet high and 2 feet in diameter. A short single leg trails behind the main body, which has a “suction cup” similar to the foot of a snail. Other similar structures under the main body grant a jerky mode of locomotion, while two 5-foot- long tentacles emerge from the top of the body allow for defense. An imorph has no apparent eyes, ears or other features, existing through the slow absorption of moss, lichen, carrion, and other dungeon detritus.

An imporph will not normally attack unless threatened, but if engaged it exhibits its startling power of irnorphisrn. At the beginning of each melee round (except the first) it changes its attack modifier, save modifiers, and AC by 1 point each towards the values of its opponent, at the same time gradually changing its shape to resemble its opponent's shape. When these values are the same as its opponent’s, it’s appearance is also, and the creature alters its attack and movement to fit the subject.

Note that the imorph’s Action Dice and damage do not change, Although one tentacle may look like an arm wielding a sword and the other an arm holding a shield, for example, the creature still gets two actions, which do only 1d4 damage.

When an opponent drops out of combat (for whatever reason), or it is reduced to 8 hp or fewer, the imorph starts to change back again towards its original form at the same rate of change. If faced by multiple attackers, the imorph selects one at random to attack and to emulate. If the original “model” dies, and there are opponents remaining, the imorph will immediately start to alter in order to emulate another opponent from its current appearance, without reverting to its original form.

Although the creature is harmless if left alone, within its body is a small organ, corresponding to the human liver, made of a rubbery green substance. This organ contains 1d3 doses of an emerald liquid which, when mixed with water in equal quantity, serves as a polymorph potion.



Iron Cobra

Iron Cobra: Init +5; Atk Bite +3 melee (1d3 plus poison); AC 20; HD 1d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Construct, poison, stealth +6, cannot be impeded, tracking, half damage from non-magical weapons; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +0; AL N.

An iron cobra is a construct, and is thus immune to mind-affecting spells and abilities, as well as those which target wholly biological processes (such as poisons, diseases, and the like). They appear to be 3-foot-long serpents made from some unknown metal, segmented for motion, and possessing wicked-looking fangs. They are stealthy even when moving, at the most emitting a faint rustling sound, and their motion cannot be impeded – webs, paralysis, and similar impediments do not block them at all. Even normal doors do not seal tightly enough to keep an iron cobra out.

An iron cobra has a reservoir in its head which can hold up to 3 doses of poison. Various poisons can be administered in this way. The judge may choose a poison from Appendix P of the core rulebook (p. 446), or from 50 Fantastic Functions For The D50 (D50 Potent Poisons on pages 57-61, or D50 Venomous Creatures on pages 102-103). Alternatively, the judge may roll 1d5 and consult the table below.

Few iron cobras exist, the invention of some potent wizard or minor deity, or even of some brilliant scientist before the Great Disaster. Each is activated and deactivated by key words set by its creator, and when activated, they obey simple verbal commands given by the one who activated them. If deactivated, and the control words are known, an iron cobra may be sold for as much as 1,000 gp, as a guardian for a treasure, a bodyguard, or as an assassin. In the later case, an iron cobra can be ordered to track down and destroy anyone whose name is known, providing that person is within one mile, with the iron cobra homing in on its target’s psychic vibrations.


Fort Save

Damage on Successful Save

Damage on Failed Save





Paralysis 1d3 hours




1d4 hp

3d8 hp




Grogginess causing -1d penalty on the dice chain to all rolls for 2d3 rounds

Sleep for 1d12 hours.




1d4 temporary Stamina damage

1d7 temporary Stamina damage + 1 point permanent Stamina damage

Normal for temporary damage



3d8 hp


Normal with successful save


Monday 29 August 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Giant Hornet, Hound of Ill Omen, and Huecuva

The Giant Hornet and the Huecuva are pretty solid monsters. The Hound of Ill Omen is not properly a monster at all, but an event which might happen during game play. The Hound of Ill Omen is particularly punishing, so judges are advised both to be sparing in its use, and to flavor its appearance to match the deity or patron it is being associated with.

For instance, I could easily see the Hound sent by the King of Elfland as either a cù-sìth or a black dog, and I can easily see the patron threatening to unleash the Hound upon a recalcitrant client wizard or elf. Malotoch’s “Hound” of Ill Omen might well be an enormous raven instead. Use your imagination! There are no “right” or “wrong” answers here!


Hornet, Giant

Giant Hornet: Init +0; Atk Sting +2 melee (1d4 plus venom); AC 18; HD 5d8; MV 10’ or fly 60’; Act 1d20; SP Venom (1d6 damage, plus DC 15 Fort save or additional 2d6 damage and paralyzed for 3d6 rounds), easier to hit when grounded, smoke and fire vulnerability; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0; AL N.

Giant hornets are very aggressive insects, about five feet long with a 10-foot wingspan. They normally live in coniferous and boreal forests, but are sometimes found underground. Their loud buzzing warns most creatures when these creatures are about; underground it can be heard at least 150 feet away, although intervening walls and doors may significantly shorten this distance.

Giant hornets attack with a dagger-like venomous sting. Sufficient smoke and flame (as determined by the judge) reduces the effectiveness of the hornet's attack, causing it to strike at a -1d penalty on the dice chain (or even greater). If struck by a successful fire-based attack, a giant hornet must succeed in a DC 10 Reflex save or lose the ability to fly until healed. A grounded giant hornet is easier to hit, whether because it has lost the ability to fly or because it has otherwise landed (+4 to attack rolls against it).

Judges are encouraged to use the rules on pp. 150-152 of the DCC Annual Volume 1 to make unique varieties of giant hornets.



Hound of Ill Omen

One of the legendary beasts whose appearance portends death, this creature only appears to one who has seriously offended their deity or a powerful patron. It appears only to its chosen victim; others present see and hear nothing, save for a faint echoing baying, far off like the ghost of a hunt. To the chosen victim, the hound appears as a dark, shadowy wolfhound, almost as tall at the shoulder as a full-grown man. It appears instantaneously and remains in view only for a few seconds, emitting a booming howl only its chosen victim can hear, and then vanishes.

The hound of ill omen cannot be harmed in any way. Some believe that only one of these creatures exists, while others believe that the hound is nothing more than a manifestation of potent supernatural will.

The chosen victim immediately loses half of their current Luck (which is replenished at a rate of 1 point per day, even if the victim is of a class that normally does not regain Luck). Worse, the next 1d10 successful attacks against the chosen victim have their crit range increased by 1, and do double damage if a critical hit is not achieved. Finally, until the chosen victim’s Luck is restored, no magical healing (such as from potions or a cleric’s Lay on Hands) has any affect on them.




Huecuva: Init +0; Atk Touch +1 melee (1d6 plus disease); AC 17; HD 2d12; MV 20’; Act 2d20; SP Un-dead, disease, alter form, immunity to non-magical weapons, silver vulnerability; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +12; AL C.

The dread huecuva is a semi-corporeal un-dead spirit. It appears to be a robed skeleton, but it can alter its form, allowing it to appear as a living being in order to entice still-breathing victims into its grasp. To touch or be touched by a huecuva has the same outcome – 1d6 damage and, unless a DC 12 Fort save succeeds, a cardiovascular disease causing 1d3 points of temporary Stamina each hour for 1d8 hours. A victim who survives this disease heals the lost Stamina damage normally.

Because the huecuva is only semi-corporeal, most weapons pass through it without harm to the un-dead being. Magic weapons do damage normally however, and silver weapons do double damage.


Sunday 28 August 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Hellcat, Hoar Fox, and Hook Horror

Jumping into the letter “H” we have the Hellcat, the Hoar Fox, and the Hook Horror.

The Hellcat is another of those monsters designed to tempt PCs into performing evil acts or making poor decisions. The fact that the Hellcat is likely to betray you when you need it the most is a particularly nice touch. Dungeon Crawl Classics doesn’t do the whole “Nine Hells vs. the Abyss” thing that was a staple of Planescape in particular (with
2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons), so in keeping with the Chaotic devils of DCC, I have made the Hellcat Chaotic.

A note on magic weapons: The Hellcat, like many Dungeons & Dragons creatures, was only hit by magical weapons. In the Hellcat’s particular case, the magical bonus (+2, etc) didn’t add to damage either. In Dungeon Crawl Classics, every magical weapon is a unique entity, but magic weapons are rarer, so I reduced this to half damage from non-magical weapons. This is a change which the astute will notice that I have made frequently with these conversions.

The Hoar Fox was overpowered in the Fiend Folio; although it has a breath weapon, it is still a fox. Having as many hit points as a 2nd level cleric, and doing as much damage as a short sword with its bite, is a bit over the top. I have toned the creature down, hopefully leaving you with a usable creature that fits better into the fantasy milieu.

Finally, we have the Hook Horror – one of the few D&D monsters to have been made into a toy back in the day. Later editions had the Horror using its hooks to scrape moss and lichen from cavern walls as its sustenance. You can go that route if you wish. I decided to leave the monster’s dungeon ecology as open in this case as the original author did.



Hellcat: Init +3; Atk Bite +3 melee (1d8+2) or claw +4 melee (1d4+2); AC 14; HD 7d8; MV 40’; Act 2d20; SP Infravision 60’, natural invisibility, ½ damage from non-magical weapons, immunity to mind-effecting, telepathy, bond; SV Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +9; AL C.

These beings are tiger-sized wildcats, native to the Hells, where they are the associates and familiars of various demons and devils. In any sort of lighting whatsoever they are naturally invisible (gaining a +4 to attack rolls, initiative, and AC), but in total darkness they can be seen as faintly glowing wraith-like outlines with blazing crimson eyes. These creatures can communicate telepathically, but only do so to communicate with their master (see below) or to offer their allegiance to a new master.

Hellcats are sent into the Lands We Know to serve and corrupt Chaotic masters. If not already in service to a Chaotic being, a hellcat selects the most powerful intelligent Chaotic being it encounters, and serves that being, favoring clerics over others, and then wizards, and then elves. Once it has selected a master, the hellcat is bonded for a year and a day, serving their master in the performance of evil deeds, defending them, and urging them into ever-greater acts of Chaos and evil.

Hellcats are Chaotic, and may give up their current master for a new, more powerful master if that being accepts the hellcat. Once a hellcat has switched allegiances, it has no compunctions about attacking its former master. It is therefore possible for a character to “steal” a hellcat from one monster only to have it “stolen” from them, in turn, by another. If the new potential master does not accept the treacherous hellcat’s service, the hellcat certainly doesn’t mention the attempted betrayal to its current master!

After dwelling in the Lands We Know for a year and a day, hellcats must return to their home in Hell for a like period of time. They may return again subsequently, but its bond with its former master is not automatically re-established.

The only demand the hellcat makes in return for its service is the payment of one living human victim per week as its meal. The master must supply the victim – if they fail to do so, they will fill that role personally.



Hoar Fox

Hoar Fox: Init +2; Atk Bite +0 melee (1) or cone of cold +5 ranged (2d12); AC 14; HD 1d3; MV 40’; Act 1d16; SP Cone of cold, immunity to cold, fire vulnerability (x2 damage); SV Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +1; AL N.

The silvery-grey fur of these long-legged northern foxes is valuable enough to fetch 20 gp if intact. They hunt in small packs, or family groups, of 1d6 members, and are usually only aggressive toward the rodents and ptarmigans that dwell in the boreal forests and tundra where hoar foxes are found.

Hoar foxes have the ability to breath a cone of cold 30’ long, but only wide enough to catch a single target (Reflex DC 15 for half damage). It takes time for this breath weapon to recharge, so there is only a 1 in 5 chance that a hoar fox can use it the round after it is discharged. The next round, there is a 1 in 4 chance, then a 1 in 3 chance, and then the breath weapon can automatically be used again.

The hoar fox is immune to cold, but takes double damage from fire (which also renders its pelt valueless). Swords, axes, and similar weapons also reduce the value of the pelt by 1d100%. Serious traders in hoar fox pelts prefer to use arrows, sling stones, or even cudgels if there is no ranged alternative.



Hook Horror

Hook Horror: Init +0; Atk Hook +3 melee (1d8); AC 17; HD 5d6; MV 25’; Act 2d20; SP Infravision 30’, poor vision, acute hearing; SV Fort +7, Ref +3, Will +2; AL N.

Hook horrors are large bipedal monsters with thick carapaces and vulture-like heads. Instead of hands, they have hooks made of bone and chitin. Hook horrors cannot speak, but communicate with others of their kind by making clacking noises with their exoskeletons – eerie sounds which can alarm the unwary as it echoes around dungeon corridors. They are usually found only deep underground.

Hook horrors have poor eyesight, but their hearing is extremely acute. It is thus far easier to hide from a hook horror (+1d shift on the attempt) but far harder to sneak up on one (-2d shift on the attempt).


Friday 26 August 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Guardian Daemon and Guardian Familiar

If you want a sense of how cruel a DM I could be in my younger years, imagine that your party learns of a cavern where a white dragon guards a precious hoard. So, the group prepares to withstand cold, and to attack with fire. But, behold! It is not a white dragon; it just looks like one! It is, in fact, a Guardian Daemon from the Fiend Folio, which breathes fire on a party prepared to resist the cold! Truly a nasty encounter with what was, and is, truly a nasty monster!

I hope that my version here does justice to the one my teenaged self used so gleefully!


Guardian Daemon

Daemons are Neutral spirits, equivalent in some ways to the demons of Chaos and the angels of Law. There are many types of daemons, but regardless of type, all share the following traits: Immunity to non-magical weapons; immunity to mind-affecting spells and effects; immunity to any spell or effect that would forcibly change the daemon’s shape, form, or substance (including petrifaction); and the ability to speak and understand all languages.

Guardian Daemon: Init +0; Atk Bite +4 melee (1d8) or claw +2 melee (1d12) or breath weapon; AC 20; HD 8d12; MV 30’; Act 3d20; SP Daemon traits, breath weapon, unique invulnerability; SV Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +7; AL N.

Guardian daemons vary in size and form, able to appear as anything from a large bear or demonic figure to as small as a wild cat. However, once summoned, their form does not change, and they are constrained never to pass more than 200 feet from the treasure they guard. The bite and claw damage of a guardian daemon does not depend upon its form; it may seem incongruously small or unusually punishing as a result. The summoner also determines one specific type of attack (a specific spell, or a specific weapon type, for example) to which the daemon is immune.

 Each guardian daemon also has a breath weapon, which it can use 3 times each day. Roll 1d5 to determine what type of breath weapon a particular guardian daemon has: (1) Fire in a 30’ long cone with a 10’ base (5d6 damage, Reflex DC 10 for half), (2) frost in a 20’ long cone with a 20’ base (4d8 damage, Fort DC 10 for half), (3) cloud of sleeping gas 20’ in diameter (Will DC 10 or sleep for 4d6 minutes; can be awakened through vigorous shaking), (4) cloud of poisonous gas 15’ in diameter (2d5 damage plus Fort DC 10 or 2d5 temporary Strength damage), or (5) bolt of electricity in a 60’ line (3d6 damage, Fort DC 10 for half, -1d shift on the dice chain to save if wearing metal armor).

A guardian daemon can take any form the judge desires. To randomly determine the form of a guardian daemon, roll 1d14 and consult the following table. Alternately, roll one time each for head, body, limbs, and tail. Roll 1d14: (1) Demon, (2) bear, (3) wild cat, (4) crackling formless energy, (5) goat, (6) scorpion, (7) humanoid, (8) hawk, (9) vulture, (10) bull, (11) chicken, (12) dragon, (13) serpent, or (14) wolf.

Special immunities are often based on the caster, or the location of the treasure. For example, a summoner concerned about a rival known for the use of a certain spell will choose that spell, or a guardian daemon whose treasure is outdoors may be immune to longbows. To determine special immunities randomly, roll 1d16: (1) Random 1st level wizard spell, (2) random 2nd level wizard spell, (3) random 3rd level wizard spell, (4) random 1st level cleric spell, (5) random 2nd level cleric spell, (6) random 3rd level cleric spell, (7) turn the unholy, (8) longswords, (9) short swords, (10) battle axes, (11) daggers, (12) longbows, (13) short bows, (14) crossbows, (15) slings, or (16) polearms.

Guardian daemons have no treasure of their own in the Lands We Know, although may well keep treasures in their natural home, but are always found guarding the treasure of their summoner. The ritual to summon a guardian daemon is known to few, but can be performed by both clerics and wizards alike. At the end of the ritual, the guardian daemon is hatched in its adult form from an egg.



Guardian Familiar

Guardian Familiar: Init +2; Atk Bite +0 melee (1d3); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Infravision 60’, nine lives, immune to mind-affecting; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +5; AL Varies.

A little-known variation of the find familiar spell can be used to summon a guardian familiar. This creature takes the form of a small black cat, and must be set to guard a treasure. A guardian familiar is always of the same alignment as its master. It is possible for a wizard or elf to have both a guardian familiar and a normal familiar, but summoning a guardian familiar binds a portion of the caster’s soul to the creature, so that for as long as a wizard maintains a guardian familiar, they lose access to a random spell of the highest level they know; if the guardian familiar is destroyed in their service, this loss is permanent. A guardian familiar trapped in service by its master’s death remains guarding the chest or treasure it was set to watch over, potentially forever.

A guardian familiar never leaves its position on top of the treasure or chest it is guarding, nor does it attack, unless it is itself attacked or an attempt is made to get at its protected treasure. Likewise, it will not pursue those who flee from it, although it is smart enough to try to counter “hit and run” tactics.

The guardian familiar has nine lives, and must be slain nine times before it is finally destroyed. Prior to this, each time it is reduced to 0 hp, or otherwise slain, it is instantaneously reborn, stronger than before. At each rebirth, it gains 1 HD, its damage is increased by +1d on the dice chain, and it gains a +1 bonus to initiative, Armor Class, attack rolls, and all saves. Thus, in its final life, a guardian familiar has a +9 bonus to hit, doing 1d14 damage, with a +11 initiative and an AC of 21.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Grell, Grimlock, and Gryph

Here we have three of the Fiend Folio classics, all of which I have used to great effect. When I was working on my own game system, the Grell was one of several monsters which inspired the tentacled brain. The Grell inspired the feral adult tentacled brain.  Not as smart as the standard adult tentacled brain, but absolutely necessary for their life cycle.  Feral adults paralyze humanoid creatures and implant tentacled brain eggs in their heads.  Tentacled brains that do not go feral eventually have smaller tentacles but more potent eyestalks, from which their psionic powers emanate. When the eggs sprout, the creature is at first a "zombie" controlled by the tentacled brain.  Sooner or later, though, a beak and tentacles force their way from the creature's mouth, and one or more eyestalks protrude from the body's empty eye sockets.  Because these adults are psionic, and band together for mutual aid and protection, juvenile tentacled brains are very much feared by adventurers.  The psionic blast of the juvenile tentacled brain is especially feared....giving rise to their better known nickname:  Brain Lashers! Thus I conflated two non-SRD monsters into a single creature.

Grimlocks are, obviously, at least partially inspired by the Morlocks of H.G. Wells’ masterpiece, The Time Machine. The novel itself was inspired by an encounter that the author had on the shores of Loch Ness in 1885. The Demon Serpent of Balmorphos, appearing in D.A.M.N. Spring/Summer 2018, included the Azith, which were reskinned Grimlocks granted sophistication, culture, and more than a little sadism.

The Gryph is yet another one of the “plant eggs in you” monsters, of which the Fiend Folio is very fond. My bet use of this creature was during my AD&D days. The PCs were exploring a ruined wizard’s tower. That the wizard had been fond of birds was obvious; there were taxidermied specimens everywhere. Or so it appeared. In fact, the specimens were in a form of temporal stasis, and eventually that stasis was broken. It was a chance to use the many avian and semi-avian monsters from various AD&D manuals, and it was a lot of fun. Some birds were more aggressive than others, and the gravid female Gryph was the most aggressive of all.

Needless to say, the PCs were in a room with the thing when the temporal stasis went away!



Grell: Init +0; Atk Tentacle +4 melee (1d4 plus constrict and paralysis) or beak +2 melee (1d6); AC 16; HD 5d8; MV fly 30’; Act 11d20; SP Blindsense 120’, constrict, paralysis (1d3 rounds, Fort DC 5), immune to electricity, tentacle vulnerability; SV Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +7; AL C.

The grell is a nightmare-inducing monstrosity – a floating brain 5 feet in diameter, with a squid-like beak and ten long tentacles. A successful hit with a tentacle allows the creature to hold its victim, automatically constricting for 1d4 damage each round, and requires the target to make a DC 5 Fort save or be paralyzed for 1d3 rounds. It can use all of its tentacles on the same target, and these effects stack. As long as a paralyzed creature is held, it requires a new save each round, or it may gain additional rounds of paralysis. A creature can break free with a Mighty Deed, an opposed Strength check vs. +2, or by severing the tentacles holding it. Each tentacle has 3 hp; these do not count against the creature’s normal hit points, and a severed tentacle regenerates in 1d3 days. Blunt weapons cannot be used to sever tentacles.

Grell do not have organs for sight or hearing; they are by some unknown means able to sense their surroundings regardless of this. These monsters are usually found underground, but will sometimes haunt ruins and abandoned buildings. Whenever circumstances permit, they seek to attack from surprise, dropping silently down from above their victims.

The venom sacs in a grell’s tentacles can yield 1d6 usable doses of mild paralytic poison with a successful Handle Poison check, and each tentacle (severed or not) can be milked of paralyzing agent. While this can be used through injection with the same effects as a grell achieves, it is too thin to coat a blade. Applied to the skin, it is a topical analgesic that effectively allows a creature to ignore 1d3 damage (or 1 point of Strength, Stamina, or Agility damage) for 1d6 hours. The damage is still there, and takes effect at the end of this period, which may be debilitating or even lethal. Some wizards have used grell analgesic to decrease the effects of spellburn, or to increase the amount of spellburn they are capable of. Such endeavors seldom end well.

Finally, alchemists and master poisoners can distill three doses of grell venom to a thick paste, capable of coating a weapon with a single dose of paralytic agent (Fort DC 15 or be paralyzed for 1d5 turns). This requires a DC 20 Handle Poison check and access to an alchemist’s laboratory.




Grimlock: Init +0; Atk By weapon +1 melee (by weapon+1) or bite +0 melee (1d3); AC 15; HD 2d6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Blindsight 30’, scent and sound vulnerability, camouflage (+10); SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +4; AL C.

These fierce subterranean humanoids are blind, but have such highly developed senses of hearing and smell that they are not impaired at close range. They dwell in deep caverns, and emerge to raid the Lands We Know late at night, searching for humans to butcher and devour. Although immune to spells and effects targeting sight, they can be affected by loud noises or strong scents, effectively reducing their sensory range to 10’ or less.

Grimlocks are powerfully built, with thick, scaly grey skin. They are usually clad in dark rags. Their hair is long, black and usually unkempt. Their teeth are white and particularly sharp. If encountered in rocky terrain, grimlocks are able to blend with their surroundings; so long as they remain motionless, they gain a +10 bonus to any stealth-related checks.




Gryph: Init +3; Atk beak +2 melee (1d4) or ovipositor +0 melee (inject eggs); AC 14; HD 2d5; MV 10’ or fly 60’; Act 1d20; SP Inject eggs; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0; AL N.

The gryph is an eagle-sized avian with black plumage and a razor-sharp beak. It usually has four legs in addition to its wings, but specimens with six or even eight legs have been seen. It normally lurks high up in the shadows of underground caverns, from which it plummets in a thunderbolt-like dive (treat as a charge; +2 to hit and -2 to AC until its next action).

The multiplicity of legs is a clue that gryphs are not native to our world, as is the requirement for three genders to be present in order for successful mating to occur. For every three birds encountered together, one will be female and there is a 1 in 3 chance that she will be ready to lay her eggs. A gravid female attacks with her ovipositor, and if she hits her target, injects her tiny eggs into the victim’s bloodstream. The eggs hatch in 1d3 days later, killing the victim immediately and releasing 1d4 baby gryphs (the other eggs not having survived to hatching).

Between the time the eggs are injected and the time of the hatching, victims feel slight discomfort and swelling of the abdomen, increasing to an agonising intensity just prior to the end. Any magic that could cure a disease – including a cleric’s ability to Lay on Hands, can kill the eggs if administered prior to their hatching.


Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Goldbug, Gorbel, and Gorilla Bear

There are a few monsters in the original Fiend Folio which are not graced with an illustration; the Goldbug is the first of these I am converting. As a monster, this creation leaves a lot to be desired. As a living trap, which has other potential uses, it works brilliantly. Discerning readers will note that I have tried to include some reference to The Gold Bug, by Edgar Allan Poe, which I believe was the original inspiration.

The Gorbel is an interesting creation. I seem to recall a similar creature in a cheesy science fiction movie – my mind wants to say The Ice Pirates, but that came out in 1984, and could not have provided an inspiration here. 1980’s Galaxina also comes to mind. (Two movies that were definitely of their time and would not have been made today). My Gorbel cleaves pretty closely to the Fiend Folio material; in my AD&D days I had them be related to certain other spherical monsters with multiple eyes on stalks.

The final monster in this post, the Gorilla Bear, is a gorilla crossed with a bear. I don’t believe that I have ever used this monster.



These insects are flattened, circular beetles related to scarabs. They have golden chitinous bodies which resemble gold coins both in size and shape, from which they get their name. The hard outer wings of these beetles appears to resemble a human skull, both heightening their resemblance to coins and differentiating them from the vast majority of gold currency.

Goldbugs subsist off of raw meat and carrion, but they can also feed off of the foison (or inherent metaphysical properties) of gold. Feeding in this way does devalue the gold they feed from, but it takes the lifetimes of many beetles to have an appreciable effect. This form of feeding also makes goldbugs sluggish, and gives them an odor which dwarves may mistake for gold.

A disturbed goldbug inflicts a venomous bite on bare skin (gloves and gauntlets negate this). The venom does 1d4 points of damage, and requires a DC 10 Fort save to avoid taking 2d4 points of temporary Stamina damage (which heals normally). Something about the venom offers a strange bonus to those who succeed in their saving throw – these fortunate souls gain a +1d3 bonus to Intelligence checks for the next 1d5 hours, and gain double this bonus if making a check to understand a language, understand a cipher, or perform any similar act of cryptography.

Goldbugs are too small to extract useful venom from, but they have been intentionally transferred (using carrion or gloves) to protect treasures. Some mages and thieves’ guilds keep goldbugs for the potential intellectual boost they can provide, although this practice can be perilous!



Gorbel: Init +5; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d4 plus cling); AC 17; HD 1 hp; MV 50’; Act 1d20; SP Infravision 60’, cling, immune to blunt weapons, explosion; SV Fort +0, Ref +7, Will +2; AL C.

This creature appears as a 3-foot diameter sphere of rubbery, deep red material. It has a tiny mouth, six eyes on short retractable stalks equally spaced around the upper hemisphere, and two clawed legs. With a successful attack, a gorbel clings to its victim’s back, doing an automatic 1d6 damage each round until dislodged with a successful Mighty Deed, its victim reaches 0 hp, or it is destroyed. A clinging gorbel cannot dodge effectively, so that there is a +5 bonus to attack rolls against the creature.

Blunt weapons do not harm gorbels, merely bouncing off their rubbery hides. Likewise, a gorbel can fall any distance and will simply bounce rather than be harmed, However, if hit with a sharp weapon – including any with a point or edge – the creature bursts asunder, killing it and doing 1d4 damage to anyone within 5’ (no save).

Gorbels are mischievous, fickle, and irritable creatures.


Gorilla Bear

Gorilla Bear: Init +1; Atk bite +4 melee (1d8) or claw +6 melee (1d6); AC 16; HD 4d8; MV 30’ or climb 20’; Act 2d20; SP Keen senses, bearhug; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +8; AL N.

These aggressive monsters have the head, body and legs of a gorilla with the sharp teeth and powerful arms of a bear. They have excellent hearing, smell, and eyesight, making them hard to sneak up on or surprise. If both claws hit a single target, the victim is pulled into a bearhug that does an additional 2d6 damage.

Once a victim is caught in a bearhug, the gorilla bear can use one Action Die to automatically do 2d6 damage while attempting to bite the same target at a +4 bonus to hit. A victim can escape with a successful Mighty Deed of 4+, or an opposed Strength check vs. +4.


Saturday 20 August 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Githyanki and Githzerai

When I started this project, I heard from many individuals that they couldn’t wait for me to get to the Githyanki and Githzerai. The fact is, I converted them in 2015, and what follows is a reproduction of the text from that post. So, if you were waiting for this one, you could have had it more than seven years ago! From my original text:

My githyanki hail from the 1st Edition AD&D Fiend Folio, created by Charles Stross. Just seeing the creatures on the cover made my heart race. Indeed, I found the Fiend Folio indispensable, and its wild exuberance informs my monster creation to this day. Not every creature was equally well realized, but the attempt to do something great often overshadowed an individual creature's failings.

Without further preamble, I present to you my version of the Githyanki and their adversarial brethren, the Githzerai.



Githyanki: Init +2; Atk two-handed sword +3 melee (1d10) or psychic blast +2 ranged (1d6); AC 14; HD 2d10; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP psychic blast, astral projection, possible special abilities, infravision 60’, +4 to saves vs. magic; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +10; AL C.

The githyanki were a race of evil humans, conquered millennia ago by squid-faced psionic flayers. Bound to service by their conquerors, they were used as slaves and occasional food, for the flayers ate the brains of humanoid creatures. After centuries of servitude, the humans arose against the psionic flayers under the leadership of Gith. Having developed their own psychic and physical powers, they succeeded in throwing off the horrid yoke of slavery to the brain-eating creatures. Taking their name from their leader, they became known as the githyanki.

The githyanki dwell in huge castles floating in the astral plane, but can project themselves to material worlds, where they seek to obtain slaves and riches of their own, or to defeat their former masters wherever they may find them. They are said to worship an immensely powerful lich-queen. In some cases, they have allied with powerful fire-breathing dragon for mutual benefit. Each castle is ruled by a Supreme Leader who automatically carries a silver sword (see below).

Let there be no doubt – the githyanki have a well-deserved reputation for violence. For each githyanki encountered, roll percentile dice and apply the following adjustments:


No change.


Tougher: Add +1d3 HD, and raise saves by 1 per 2 full HD increase.


Superior Psychic Blast: Does +1d6 damage.


Superior Psychic Shield: Gains a +4 bonus to Will saves.


Psychic Power: The githyanki possesses a special psionic power. See below.


Spellcasting: Can cast spells as a (1d3: 1-2 wizard or 3 cleric) of level 1d3. If rolled again, the githyanki may be able to cast spells as if it had two classes. Levels of the same class stack, up to a maximum of 6th level.


Illusion Generation: The githyanki can project mental illusions to a range of 60’. These cannot cause damage directly, but can mislead or otherwise cause targets to damage themselves. The githyanki must concentrate to maintain the illusion. Will DC 20 negates when the illusion is interacted with.


Arcane Blade: The two- handed sword used by the githyanki has a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage, and can strike creatures as though it were magical.


Knight: The githyanki gains 2d3 HD, and gains a +1 bonus to all saves per 2 full HD gained. The githyanki knight can cause damage or heal with a touch. Each instance uses the Hit Die type of the target. Each day, the knight can heal or cause damage in dice equal to the knight’s own Hit Dice. Each touch can use a part, or the whole, of this effect. For instance, a 4 HD knight could heal 1 HD to himself, and later cause 3 HD to another. There is a 5% chance per Hit Die that a knight will have a silver sword (see below).


Silver Sword: The githayanki possesses a silver sword. See below.


Roll again twice.



Githzerai: Init +4; Atk open-handed blow +4 melee (1d6+1) or two-handed sword +2 melee (1d10) or psychic blast +3 ranged (1d6); AC 15; HD 1d10; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SP psychic blast, astral projection, possible special abilities, infravision 60’, +8 to saves vs. magic; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +10; AL N.

Another offshoot of the same evil humans who spawned the githyanki, the githzerai dwell on Limbo, but may be found upon material worlds as well. Their war with the githyanki is vicious and eternal, as neither side can gain supremacy for long. The githzerai have an uneasy truce with the psychic flayers which enslaved their ancestors, which is constantly broken in isolated raids and skirmishes. They are said to be ruled by an undying wizard-king.

10% of githzerai have an additional 1d5 Hit Dice (and gain a +1 bonus to all attack rolls per 2 full HD added). 25% of githzerai have 1d3 psychic powers.


Silver Swords

The silver swords of the githyanki act as +3 weapons, but they are not magical. They have a critical range of 19-20. On a “20”, instead of rolling for effect, a silver sword severs the astral cord of an astral traveler unless it succeeds in a DC 20 Will save, or decapitates a material foe unless it succeeds in a DC 20 Fort save. If either save succeeds, the attack instead does double normal damage. If a silver sword falls into non-githyanki hands, they will go to any length to recover it.

Psychic Powers

If psychic powers are indicated, the judge is encouraged to consider the psionics systems presented in The Wizardarium of Calabraxis or Crawljammer #3, both of which are resources that any self-respecting judge should own in any event. Barring those resources, roll 1d7 and consult the following table:


Psychic Power




Can use an Action Die to move instantly 1d6 x 10 feet away in a direction chosen by the creature.



Can move up to HD x 10 pounds up to 30’ away, as if the object where in hand. Attacks require an Action Die.



Start a normal fire with an Action Die, or inflict 1d6 to a target within 30’; Reflex DC 10 or catch fire (1d6 damage each round until a DC 10 Agility check puts the fire out). Uses an Action Die



Can speak silently to all, or selected, targets within line of sight.


Telekinetic Blast

Can attack all targets in a cone 60’ long with a 30’ base, by hurling a myriad of small objects. All within need to make a DC 10 Reflex save or suffer 1d6+1 damage. Uses an Action Die.


Psychic Defence

Spend 1 Action Die to gain a +1d12 bonus to AC for one round.



Target within 30’ must make a DC 10 Will save or take a –1d penalty on the dice chain to all die rolls for 1d5 rounds. Multiple instances stack. This uses an Action Die.