Monday, 1 August 2022

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Dragonfish and Dune Stalker

Finishing up the letter “D”, we have the Dragonfish and the Dune Stalker.

The Dragonfish is sort of a strange monster. It’s a big flatfish with venomous spines that you can step on. So far so good. In the original write-up, its bite was also equivalent to a short sword. In my conversion, I tried to make the creature resemble a natural animal more. I also gave some specifics to its venom, with the knowledge that PCs are going to want to obtain some. I also tried to give people (PCs or not) some reason to go looking for it – not only might the venom be useful, but it tastes good. Hopefully, this elevates it from a “gotcha” monster to one which fits naturally into its environment.

The Dune Stalker is one of the coolest creatures in the Fiend Folio, which, sadly, has not seen much use (to my knowledge, anyway). Here, the job was to keep the creature mostly as-is, taking into account Dungeon Crawl Classics mechanics and lore.

I think these two creatures – one a natural animal, and one a supernatural monster which would be great in a horror movie – converted well. I’ve rarely used either in real play back in my AD&D days, because one seemed sort of unfair and the other…well, my games in those days seldom went to desert lands. 

After converting them, I find myself wanting to use them right now!





Dragonfish: Init +0; Atk Bite +1 melee (1d3-2, minimum 0); AC 16; HD 1d3; MV swim 20’; Act 1d16; SP Venomous spines, camouflage +5; SV Fort +1; Ref +1; Will -4; AL N.

These 2-foot long flatfish live in shallow freshwater pools or slow-moving rivers and streams. Their mottled coloration and tendency to bury themselves in surface mud makes them difficult to spot. Dragonfish have a fringe of horny spines tipped with highly toxic venom. These cause 1d3 points of Agility damage, which heals normally, as they snap off in any victim who steps on them or puts a hand on them. The spines are strong enough to penetrate leather boots. Characters walking where undetected dragonfish lurk must make a Luck check to avoid stepping on one.

The venom on these spines is highly toxic, causing an immediate 1d3 points of Strength and 1d3 points of Stamina damage. The victim must succeed in a DC 20 Fort save or take an additional 1d3 points to both Strength and Stamina for 1d5 rounds. The victim dies if either score reaches 0; otherwise, the damage heals normally.

A Handle Poison check can be made to extract 3d3 doses of venom from a dragonfish, which must enter the bloodstream to be effective. Properly prepared, and with its poison sacs removed, dragonfish is delicious.

Please note: While a dragonfish bite can cause damage – and even kill some unlucky fisherman – the use of 1d16 for its Action Die precludes critical hits. The danger in these creatures is almost entirely from stepping upon them unawares.



Dune Stalker

Dune Stalker: Init +5; Atk Sonic vibrations +4 ranged (2d6, 60’ range) or kiss of death +2 melee (special); AC 17; HD 3d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Kiss of death, tireless, faultless tracker, immune to non-magical weapons; SV Fort +5; Ref +5; Will +10; AL C.

Appearing as vile naked humans, with bony and with long sharp fingers and clawed toes, dune stalkers are found only is desert areas, and then only in response to summons from Chaotic magicians. Regardless of their orders, they only attack Lawful creatures, and will not turn on a Chaotic creature even to avoid destruction. Some sages speculate that the ability to summon and control such creatures is a gift from Azi Dahaka to those who have claimed his patronage, and who have risen in his favor.

Dune stalkers are faultless trackers, and they do not need to eat, sleep, or rest. For this reason, they may be sent to track Lawful intruders or to assassinate Lawful targets which have disturbed their summoner. Even if given such a mission, dune stalkers will often turn aside to destroy Lawful beings, resuming their task once this has been completed. Otherwise, only escaping the desert lands breaks the bond between stalker and target, for dune stalkers will not leave the arid lands.

The typical attack made by a dune stalker is a sonic vibration, which can target a single creature up to 60 feet away. If a dune stalker comes within melee range, though, it can attempt to lay its lips upon the skin of a target, setting up vibrations which cause instant death unless a Fort save (DC 12) succeeds. 

Magical healing will not aid the victim of such a death, although it is still possible to recover the body and have the victim survive by luck.

Dune stalkers can only be harmed by magical weapons, but a Mighty Deed with a mundane weapon could still cause a secondary effect, such as knocking the creature prone, so long as it doesn’t involve damaging the dune stalker in any way. Pushing a dune stalker off a cliff, for instance, may delay it, but it will not harm it.

Variations of the monster which inhabit other remote places – moor stalkers, tundra stalkers, and the like – have been reported to exist. These may be linked to other supernatural patrons, but, if so, little is known.

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