Monday 30 January 2023

Should We Convert: Deities & Demigods

Okay, bear with me. The conversion of the Fiend Folio was well received. The Deities & Demigods cyclopedia contains some interesting creatures which might be useful to Dungeon Crawl Classics judges. If I just did the monsters, ignoring gods, heroes, and beings of that nature, there are still quite a few creatures that could be converted. 

In some cases, especially with the Cthulhu Mythos and Nehwon Mythos, all that would be required is letting the judge know where to find official conversions (or, in some cases, unofficial ones). In other cases, though, significant research might apply, and the result might differ wildly from the presentation in the original work.

The real question is: Would this be worth doing?

The Divinities & Cults series, by OSRDAN Games, will at least get you started if you are interested in using most of the pantheons described in Deities & Demigods. A fuller conversion would include canticles and unique spells, which is a lot more work than I currently feel like doing, Some of these gods would also definitely be patrons, and deserve full patron write-ups for campaign play. If I undertook this project, it would be just the monsters!

By my reckoning that would mean:

Indigenous American Mythos

  • Thunder Bird

Babylonian Mythos

  • Dahak

Celtic Mythos

  • The Wild Hunt
    • The Master of the Hunt
    • The Pack of the Wild Hunt

Chinese Mythos

  • Ma Yuan
  • Spirits of the Air

Cthulhu Mythos

  • Byakhee
  • Cthuga's Flame Creature
  • Deep Ones
  • Great Race
  • Mi-Go
  • Primordial One
  • Shoggoth

Egyptian Mythos

  • Apep
  • Flame Snake
  • Phoenix
  • Minions of Set

Finnish Mythos

  • Air Maiden

Greek Mythos

  • The White Eagle of Zeus
  • Antaeus
  • Atlas
  • Cerberus
  • Coeus
  • Crius
  • Cyclops, Greater
  • Cyclops, Lesser
  • Enceladus
  • Epimetheus
  • Furies
  • Hecatoncheire
  • Kronos
  • Oceanus
  • Prometheus

Indian Mythos

  • Indra's Elephant
  • Peacock of Karttikeya
  • Marut
  • Garuda
  • Yama's Water Buffalo

Melnibonéan Mythos

  • Assassinator of the Gods
  • Clakar
  • Dharzi Hunting Dog
  • Dragons of Melnibone
  • Elenoin
  • Grahluk
  • Kelmain
  • Mist Giant
  • Mordagz
  • Myyrrhn
  • Nihrain Horse
  • Oonai
  • Quaolnargn
  • Vampire Trees
  • Vulture Lion

Nehwon Mythos

  • Astral Wolf
  • Behemoth
  • Bird of Tyaa
  • Cold Woman
  • Devourer
  • Ghoul, Nehwon
  • Leviathan
  • Snow Serpent
  • Spider, Salt
  • Water Cobra

Norse Mythos

  • Hugin and Munin
  • Sleipner
  • Freke and Gere
  • Fenris Wolf
  • Fossergrim
  • Blodug-Hofi
  • Gullin-Bursti
  • Garm
  • Jormungandr
  • Norns
  • Tanngrisner and Tanngjost
  • Valkyries

All in all, this could probably be completed in around 20 posts, although each of those posts would require considerably more work than the Fiend Folio ones.

When you look at that list, above, is there anything on it that you would actually use in your campaign? Or, I should say, anything that hasn't already been converted? Most, if not all, of the Cthulhu creatures can be found in the Goodman Games yearbook for 2017, and multiple alternate write-ups exist, most notably in Weird Frontiers. The creatures given statistics in DCC Lankhmar are extremely comprehensive. I am sure that there would be some demand for the Melnibonéan creatures at least, but (as with the Nehwon creatures I converted for Goodman Games and the Cthulhu creatures I converted for Stiff Whiskers), I would want to go back to the original source material to ensure that I did a good conversion.

Alternatively, I can lay off conversions for a while. 

What do you think?

Sunday 29 January 2023

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Yellow Musk Creeper and Yellow Musk Zombie

The last two entries in the Fiend Folio are the Yellow Musk Creeper and the Yellow Musk Zombie, which means that we are ending these conversions on a high note. These creatures were used to great effect in Dwellers of the Forbidden City, also published in 1981, and credited with first introducing these monsters. Dwellers is a superlative adventure, and it introduced several other creatures which were later included in the Monster Manual II, including the Aboleth. The city map almost demands expansion, and while later lore gave it a name and some lore, the original was wide-open for the aspiring Game Master to shape to their own ends. I really don’t know why I haven’t converted these monsters to Dungeon Crawl Classics before now. In fact, the entire module is worthy of conversion.

Now, I could be completely wrong, but I think that these entries are a combination between Clark Ashton’s Smith’s The Seed from the Sepulchre and The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis. I have paid homage to the first story twice: Once in May Flowers, and once in Dread Orchid (in the expanded DCC conversion of Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride).

I am not 100% sure that the Yellow Musk Creeper didn’t deserve a full monster write-up, but if I was including it in an adventure, I would be more likely to choose the hazard route that I do here. These plants are not ambulatory, and they are not really making attack rolls. I tend to think we should minimize tediousness in our designs, and having to chop down an orchid with your sword seems rather tedious to me. Better by far to describe the hazards associated with the thing, and the time it takes to uproot and kill it while facing those hazards.

The Yellow Musk Zombie, on the other hand, is going to engage in combat. The trick here is that the Yellow Musk Zombie you are facing may well be your friend, and you might prefer saving them to slaying them. Yellow Musk Zombies are very much like “templates” in 3rd Edition, in that they modify an existing creature rather than being new creatures themselves. For that reason, I have included both generic Yellow Musk Zombie stats and a method of quickly transforming a PC into one.

I started this project on Saturday, 9 July 2022. Here we are 76 conversion posts, 176 entries, 203 statblocks, 9 entries without statblocks, and 3 invoke patron write-ups later. And this is it. The Fiend Folio is fully converted for your gaming pleasure. To those of you who have joined me along the way, thank you. To those of you who have commented, on the blog or elsewhere, an even bigger THANK YOU. It helps to know that I am not just chucking this stuff into the Void!

I hope you get a chance to use some of these creatures in your own games, and I hope that they can stand as examples for how to do conversion work (at least from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons). Maybe at some point I will tackle some of the unconverted creatures from the Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and Deities & Demigods, but not immediately!

If there is something that you would like to see converted, please let me know. If you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.


Yellow Musk Creeper

The yellow musk creeper is a large light green climbing plant with round leaves like ivy, dark green buds, and flowers like those of a bright yellow orchid with splashes of purple. Typically, the plant is found in deep tropical forests or richly soiled areas on the liminal edge of underground areas. The plant grows in areas of up to 20 square feet, and can climb up trees and rock faces with equal facility. It is sometimes planted deliberately in locations where it will guard against intruders.

When a creature approaches the plant within 20 feet, it puffs musky pollen into the victim’s face (Reflex DC 15 avoids). The victim must then succeed in a DC 20 Will save or be entranced and walk into immobile the mass of the plant. Such a victim violently resists any attempt at restraint.

Once an unresisting creature enters the main mass of the plant, aerial roots attach to its skull and begin devouring the victim’s brain. The victim takes 1d4 Intelligence damage each round, and there are too many aerial rootlets involved to prevent this Intelligence damage without also killing the plant. If the victim’s Intelligence is reduced to 0, it becomes a yellow musk zombie (see below). Otherwise, this Intelligence damage heals normally.

A growth of yellow musk creeper has a bulbous root, buried 1d3 feet below the earth. It requires 1 round per foot to reach it with proper tools (shovel, pick, etc.), but 1d3 rounds per foot with makeshift or less suitable tools. Once it is exposed, stabbing the root destroys the plant in 1d5 rounds. Of course, anyone digging up the root is subject to the hazards of the yellow musk creeper each round. This includes dealing with any yellow musk zombies that may be protecting the plant.

Certain herbalists, apothecaries, and other unsavory sorts make a powerful narcotic from the flowers and buds of the yellow musk creeper. Harvesting these is considerably dangerous while the plant is alive – only one bud or flower can be harvested each round, and the harvester must make a successful Handle Poison check (with a -4 penalty when collecting flowers) or they automatically have pollen blown into their face. A yellow musk creeper typically has 2d6 flowers and 1d4 buds. Once its flowers are gone, a creeper cannot blow pollen until it has grown new ones.

Depending upon varying quality, herbalists will pay 1d30 gp per flower and 1d20 gp per bud. Rumors persist of certain cultists, devotees of the King in Yellow, who will pay even greater fees. In addition, various personal belongings of previous victims may be found in or near a yellow musk creeper outgrowth. The creeper sometimes has yellow musk zombies move or bury these items, however.



Yellow Musk Zombie

Yellow Musk Zombie: Init -2; Atk By weapon -2 melee (by weapon); AC 8; HD 2d4; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP Immune to mind-affecting; SV Fort +4, Ref -2, Will +0; AL N.

Yellow musk zombies are creatures that have been reduced to 0 Intelligence by a yellow musk creeper. Yellow musk zombies defend their controlling plant, seek (or create) carrion to fertilize the plant, and occasionally remove and/or bury items to conceal the nature of the yellow musk creeper’s threat. The example yellow musk zombie is from a normal human, but other creatures can be affected, and they do not need to be humanoid.

Yellow musk zombies serve their parent plant for 1d4 months before wandering off to drop lifeless in some quiet corner, unless they are killed beforehand. In either case, implanted seedling sprouts from the decaying corpse, growing quickly into a new yellow musk creeper. Although it only takes 1d4+2 turns for the new growth to become obvious, it takes a matter of 3d7 days before it grows flowers. If the parent plant is killed while a yellow musk zombie is serving it, the zombie becomes inert, taking no actions and dying in 2d6 hours unless cured first.

Yellow musk zombies are not un-dead, and until they finish serving their parent plant (or are killed while doing so) there is some slight chance that a yellow musk zombie can be cured of its affliction. First, its master plant must be destroyed. Second, either a neutralize poison or disease spell or a successful laying on of hands to neutralize poison must be administered to the creature. Finally, the creature must receive a clerical laying on hands with a spell check of 20+. Even then, although the victim will thus be restored to their former self in time, they will need to recover their lost Intelligence, regaining 1 point for each full day of bed rest. A creature can choose to forgo complete recovery by bed rest, but if they do so any unrestored points of Intelligence are permanently lost.

Transformation to a Yellow Musk Zombie

If you wish to transform a PC or another living creature into a yellow musk zombie, employ the following steps:

  • The creature takes a -2 penalty to Initiative, attack rolls, Armor Class, and Reflex saves.
  • The creature takes a -10’ penalty to its move speed (this may render some yellow musk zombies immobile).
  • The creature gains +1 Hit Die.
  • The creature becomes immune to all mind-affecting spells and effects, and gains a +5 bonus to Fortitude saves.
  • The creature is no longer intelligent enough to use spells or special abilities requiring thought.
  • The creature’s alignment becomes Neutral.

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Xill and Xvart

The Fiend Folio loves creatures which can lay their eggs in you, and here is yet another. The Xill really does seem like a Sword & Sorcery creature, though, and its ability to snatch a victim and escape makes it extremely dangerous. The original entry doesn’t talk about what the creatures eat, so I made them a sort of perpetual motion machine. They are, after all, Lawful Evil in the original text, and this means that they fight the forces of entropy while doing harm to those they encounter.

I know. I know. I know. Even back in the day we knew that the illustration for the Xvart was (shall we say) problematic, and it hasn’t become any less so. Honestly, I feel that the Make Monsters Mysterious tables for Variety in Humanoids would have fully covered the Xvart in any case. This is another example of how, in early gaming, each slightly different version of a monster required its own individual write-up. Nonetheless, there are some good adventures which use Xvarts, so this modest conversion may help the harried judge in converting them. 

We can talk about whether or not this hobby is inherently racist. I know that this claim has been made, but I don't believe it is true. Just, Crom on his mountain, that picture! Product of its time or not, I think I am just going to omit it in this case. Like I said, we knew it was problematic when it came out.

And this is so close to the end I can taste it. One post (Yellow Musk Creeper and Yellow Musk Zombie) remains, and the Fiend Folio is done. I really hope you find some way to use this material in your home campaign, and if you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.



Xill: Init +6; Atk By weapon +3 melee (by weapon) or claw +1 melee (1d4 non-lethal plus grab) or or bite +0 melee (1 plus paralysis) or by weapon +5 ranged (by weapon); AC 20; HD 5d6; MV 40’; Act 4d20; SP Aetherial travel, grab, paralysis, inject eggs; SV Fort +4, Ref +8, Will +5; AL L.

These strange creatures hail from the near Aether, close to the Lands We Know. Xill are four-armed humanoids, with short, powerful flame-red bodies, and the extraordinary dexterity to wield four weapons at once. Although humanoid, xill do not form societies. They seem to exist only to reproduce, and all xill are able to produce eggs asexually. Unfortunately, these eggs are only viable if deposited in the abdomen of a living humanoid host, so that xill seek to capture potential hosts alive. No adult Xill has ever been seen consuming food, and some sages speculate that consuming their host upon hatching is the only sustenance the creatures ever partake in. It can bite, and its jaws carry a paralyzing toxin (Fort DC 12 or paralyzed 1d5 turns).

A xill can transfer from the near-Aether (where they are effectively invisible and intangible) to the Lands We Know at will, using only one of their Action Dice. When hunting in this way, those able to see invisible creatures can do half damage with magical weapons or spells only. When a xill appears, it is most often with surprise (+10 vs. opposed Luck). It seeks to use two claws to grab a victim, and may make an additional attack to cover its escape. Grabbed victims may break free with an opposed Strength check vs. +2 per claw holding them (thus up to +8 if the xill uses all four claws for this purpose).

Returning to the near-Aether, with or without a victim, takes the creature 1d3 rounds, during which it can take no other action. If it succeeds in bringing a victim into the Aether, it disappears completely, even from those who can see the invisible, taking the victim to its extra-planar lair to inject eggs.

Injecting eggs requires a full turn, so a xill will attempt to paralyze or subdue its victim before doing so. Once the eggs are injected, victims are paralyzed until the young emerge or the eggs are neutralize. The eggs hatch in 1d4 days, and the larvae inflict 2d10 damage each day for 2d4 days thereafter as they grow. Once this period ends, 2d8 young emerge, killing the victim instantly. Within 1d4 hours, these young become full-sized adults, and seek hosts for their own eggs. While the eggs or larvae are gestating, they may be removed as a disease, either by a cleric laying on hands or by a neutralize poison or disease spell.



Xvart: Init +0; Atk By weapon -1 melee (by weapon -1); AC 13; HD 1d4; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will -4; AL C.

These small humanoids are roughly the size of a halfling, with bright blue skin and orange eyes. They usually wear loose cloth doublets. They make use of whatever weapons they can get, delighting in nets so that they can capture victims to torture. Xvarts fear humans, and only attack them if the humans are outnumbered by at least 3 to 1.

About 1% of xvarts are leaders, with an extra Hit Die. 5% are tribal shamans, who are able to cast spells as a level 1d3-1 (minimum 1) wizard or cleric. They get along well with giant rats, and frequently use them as guardians and hunting beasts.


Saturday 28 January 2023

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Whipweed, Witherstench, and Witherweed

Here are the three creatures that the Fiend Folio offers for the letter “W”. Although these creatures have not seen much use in TSR-era modules (or beyond) – I am not actually aware of any adventure they appear in off the top of my head – all three fit easily into any flavor of Dungeon Crawl Classics. Classic fantasy? Check. Sword & Sorcery? Check. Post-Apocalyptic? Check. Sword & Planet? Sci-Fi? Weird western? Check, check, and check.

These are all pretty simple monsters. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons had a number of creatures where the actual anatomy of the beast was an important consideration when tackling it – different parts might have different ACs, separate hit point pools, and/or unique effects when they were hit. The Whipweed follows this model, and that is something I have preserved in my conversion. Making them actually hate sunlight, though, might limit their use to a hanging judge running a Weird Frontiers game, so I modified that somewhat.

The Witherstench is a fairly solid creature whose best use is simply the gross-out factor of their appearance and stench. And while, yes, you can use them anywhere – I certainly have back in the day! – it is hard not to imagine the difficulty in moving cattle when a group of Witherstenches considers them a meal. Once again, my mind wanders into Weird Frontiers territory!

Finally, the Witherweed is more of a hazard than a creature, so I have decided to omit the traditional statblock and simply describe the effects of a Witherweed infestation. This is, again, an adventure element that can be used almost anywhere.

There are now only two more posts to go before the Fiend Folio is fully converted. I have mentioned possibly doing some Fiend Factory conversions as well, and asked if there were any monsters people particularly wanted to see, but there hasn’t been any response. That’s okay; this conversion work has been a long road, and I may wish to do something else for a bit before I jump back into it.

If you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.



Whipweed: Init +2; Atk Whipping stalk +2 melee (1d6); AC 14 or 16; HD 2d6 plus 1d8; MV 10’; Act 2d20; SP Plant, base separate from stalks, frenzy; SV Fort +4, Ref -4, Will +0; AL N.

The whipweed is a plant which has mutated a form of primitive brain in its base, and which can use its roots to pull itself slowly from place to place. It has two thin, whip-like stalks up to 15 feet long (1d6+9 feet), and a spheroid base, which is often partially submerged in soil when the plant is at rest. Its stalks are leafy, and it can gain some sustenance from photosynthesis, but it supplements its diet with nutrients from carrion, which it absorbs through its roots.

Both as a means to defend itself from herbivores, and as a means to supply carrion, the plant aggressively attacks any creature coming within range of its stalks. Each stalk is AC 14, and has 2d6 hit points, while the base is AC 16 with 1d8 hit points. Destroying a stalk does no harm to the base, but destroying the base will cause the stalks to attack in a frenzy (one additional attack each, +2 to attack rolls and damage) for 1d10 rounds before the plant expires. If one or both stalks are destroyed, but the base remains, the plant uses any Action Dice that cannot be used for attacks to attempt to escape.

Some sages claim that whipweeds avoid sunlight, and there are certainly specimens which have been found underground or deep in the heart of a gloomy forest. These plants can apparently survive in rocky regions with virtually no soil, and a small crevice in a rock appears to be quite sufficient to sustain a whipweed for months. Still, if one is crossing a sun-swept prairie and comes across a plant which looks suspiciously like a whipweed, it is best to take caution as your watchword.



Witherstench: Init +1; Atk Claw +1 melee (1d6); AC 13; HD 2d6+2; MV 20’; Act 2d20; SP Stench; SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +2; AL N.

This creature is sometimes called a “skunk beast”, and it is indeed an almost man-sized relative of the skunk, whose scant fur sprawls in dirty patches over its blotchy yellow skin. Although primarily a carrion-feeder, witherstenches are large enough to attack livestock, including chickens, sheep, and goats. Even large pigs and cattle may be predated on if the creatures work together, which they sometimes do.

Witherstenches are named for their nauseating odor, which forces all within 30 feet to succeed in a DC 12 Fort save or become nauseated, retching uncontrollably, and being unable to take any action apart from moving at half speed in a random direction. This effect wears off 1d3 rounds after the victim or the skunk beast moves out of the 30-foot range, but a new save must be made each time the creature and victim are again within 30 feet of each other. It should go without saying that the stink of a witherstench is detectable from a very great distance, and lingers in the areas they frequent.

Clever players will come up with many stratagems to reduce the effects of the witherstench’s terrible odor. The judge should consider their potential efficacy, and then give the characters using these methods bonus on the dice chain to their saving throws if the judge deems them reasonable. At the same time, plans which make matters worse – the gongfarmer shoving night soil up their nostrils – may force a penalty to the save!



Patches of witherweed can sometimes be found amongst ruined masonry, growing across doors, or smothering a long-forgotten treasure chest in the underworld. The weed is dry and is easily burned, but this produces an extremely toxic smoke – and anyone inhaling this must succeed in a DC 15 Fort save each round they are in the smoke cloud or die. The smoke spreads at a rate of 30 feet per round, filling an area up to 90 square feet per 10 feet of growth. Without a strong wind to dissipate it sooner, the smoke cloud takes 1d3+3 hours to clear enough to breathe. Obviously, this may also damage items caught in the burning area.

Anyone coming into contact with the weed takes 1d4 points of Agility damage from its strong poison (Fort DC 12 for half), and if a victim takes 4 points of Agility damage from a single contact, 1 point is permanent. Otherwise, half of the Agility damage can be recovered naturally, but the other half can only be recovered after the poison is removed from the victim’s system (by a cleric’s lay on hands, a neutralize poison or disease spell, or the passage of an additional 1d3 days per point of Agility damage taken). Once the toxin is negated, non-permanent Agility loss can be regained normally.

Should a victim coming into contact with witherweed roll a “1” on their Fort save, they suffer a nervous seizure – collapsing for 1d3 rounds (and unable to take any action), followed by 1d10 rounds at which they have a -1d penalty on the dice chain to all die rolls and take a -10’ reduction in move speed.

Witherweed patches can be quite small – enough to make entering a doorway challenging, or to cover a chest – but patches of up to 20 square feet or more have been reported.

Judges should be advised, when placing this hazard, that players may take the opportunity of lighting the weed and running. While this is dangerous unless spells, fire arrows, or the like are used, the resultant smoke cloud may clear out a large area of a dungeon. Be sure that intelligent creatures will know about the potential danger to themselves, whereas creatures immune to poison will simply not care. Defeating large and perilous monsters by using the hazards of the adventure against them, though, is certainly fair play, and, to some extent at least, should be encouraged!

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Volt and Vortex

I have never been a big fan of the Vortex, but the Volt is one of my favorite creatures from the Fiend Folio. Maybe it is just the cool illustrations. Maybe it was that I could picture them haunting deserted subway lines in a post-Apocalyptic landscape. I honestly don’ know, but I do know that I love the ornery little critters.

Either Volt or Vortex would work quite well in Umerica or Mutant Crawl Classics – although the Vortex might be rewritten as a robot originally designed to entertain children.

There are now only three more posts to go before the Fiend Folio is fully converted. If you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.



Volt: Init +0; Atk Bite +0 melee (1d4 plus attach, blood drain, and shock); AC 17; HD 2d4; MV fly 20’; Act 1d20; SP Attach, blood drain, shock; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will -2; AL N.

This bad-tempered creature is a near-spherical bundle of bristly grey hair with two bulbous eyes, two small curved horns, and a three-foot-long tail. The creatures are able to fly naturally, as if by levitation, and can use their tails to move though the air with a swimming motion. The horns have no offensive or defensive purpose, and are used purely for mating displays.

When encountered, volts almost always attack. If a volt succeeds with its bite attack, it remains attached to its victim, until either volt or victim perish. It can automatically drain blood for 1d4 hp each round, and can make an attack with its tail (+4 melee, delivering a powerful shock for 2d6 damage).

Volts have an organ which can be used as a power component when casting electricity-based spells, such as lightning bolt, allowing a +2 bonus to the spell check per organ used, to a maximum of +8. This usage consumes the organs. Removing the organ successfully requires a DC 10 Intelligence check and a DC 10 Agility check. The same character does not have to make both checks – two characters can split the task of identifying the proper organ to remove, and then removing it.




Vortex: Init +5; Atk Capture +1 melee (spin); AC 20; HD 2d6; MV fly 40; Act 1d20; SP Capture, spin; SV Fort +0, Ref +8, Will +1; AL C.

This elemental being is a small sphere, about six inches in diameter, whose motion creates a whirlwind up to 40 feet high, with a 10-foot base diameteAC 20; HD r and a 30-foot diameter at the top. A target which has been hit by the vortex is captured by it. Captured targets are pulled within the whirling cone of air. Each round after being captured, the spinning victim suffers 1d3 damage from the spinning and must succeed in a Luck check or the damage increases in the next (and subsequent) rounds by +1d on the dice chain.

Worse, those caught within the vortex may only make attacks with a -2d penalty on the dice chain to both attack roll and damage. Casting spells or performing skill checks is normally impossible (although an attempt may be made with a -4d penalty). Victims cannot normally extract themselves, as they have nothing to exert physical prowess against, but a successful Mighty Deed of 4+ may extract a victim, as might a thrown rope in conjunction with a DC 15 Strength check from both the victim and an ally holding the rope from outside the vortex.  

Normal vortexes are only large enough to accommodate one victim of human size, though it could contain two smaller creatures simultaneously, but larger creatures of this type are thought to exist. Although elemental creatures, vortexes can be harmed by mundane weapons.

Sunday 22 January 2023

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Vision and Vodyanoi

For my money, the Fiend Folio was the best of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons monster books, but not everything in it is a gem. This post contains a couple of monsters that I never found that inspirational, and doing the conversion work has not made me think differently about them.

There is a part of me that wants to do another “Let’s Parody the Fiend Folio post with statistics for the Vision from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead we get a monster that, in the original text, had 8 Hit Dice as well as an attack that required only that you saw the creature from within 30 feet. Instead of the tactical choice that a monster like a Gorgon/Medusa creates, there isn’t a lot your PCs can do to protect themselves. I have made them drastically weaker, so that there is at least some opportunity for an interesting encounter, rather than a slaughter.

The Vodyanoi in the Fiend Folio isn’t very similar to the one from Slavic folklore, which is misfortunate. The illustration, while brilliant, doesn’t lend to a more folkloric treatment, either, so I have done a more direct conversion. The original version could summon electric eels, but that seems more likely in a tropical or subtropical environment, which isn’t in keeping with the creature’s original background. As a result, I gave them piscine (fish) allies.

The Vodyanoi write-up in the Fiend Folio is also for the freshwater version, with a line about larger ones in salt water. I have statted those up for you as well, and left a cheeky note about their rumored subterranean land-locked cousins.

There are now only four more posts to go before the Fiend Folio is fully converted. I am looking forward to almost everything left, but the art for the Xvart is truly unfortunate.

If you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.



Vision: Init +4; Atk Non-corporeal touch +4 melee (aging); AC 20; HD 2d8; MV 50’; Act 1d20; SP Non-corporeal, aging, immune to non-magical weapons, silver vulnerability; SV Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +10; AL C.

These non-corporeal beings are illusions which have become semi-real. Their attack is a non-corporeal touch (which ignores physical armor and shields) that ages targets 2d10 years. When a vision is slain, the victim is allowed a DC 15 Will save – if this succeeds, the aging is illusory and falls away; if failed, the aging is real and permanent. You can find information on the effects of character aging here, published in the Sanctum Secorum Episode #36 Episode Companion: The Book of Three, or reproduced below.

Visions are immune to non-magical weapons in general, but silver weapons can cause them half damage. While they may appear to be humanoids, they can appear as any type of creature. Their appearance does not affect their statistics in any way.

Young/Adult:     No modifiers to stats as rolled

Mature:             –(1d3-1) Str/Agi/Sta, +(1d3-1) Int

Old:                   –(1d3-1) Str/Agi/Sta, +(1d4-2) Int*

Venerable:        –(1d3-1) Str/Agi/Sta, –(1d3-2) Int/Per**

Ancient:            –1d3 Str/Agi/Sta, –(1d3-1) Int, Per

* If a “1” is rolled on the 4-sided die, a -1 penalty occurs.

** If a “1” is rolled on the 3-sided die, a +1 bonus is gained.  Congratulations!   You've aged well.

Note that each modifier is rolled separately.  For example, an old character rolls 1d3-1 for Strength, a separate 1d3-1 for Agility, and a third 1d3-1 for Stamina.



Fresh-Water Vodyanoi: Init +0; Atk Claw +5 melee (1d6+4) or bite +4 melee (1d12); AC 18; HD 6d8; MV 20’ or swim 40’; Act 3d20; SP Damage or overturn ships, piscine allies; SV Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +4; AL C.

Salt-Water Vodyanoi: Init -2; Atk Claw +8 melee (2d6+5) or bite +6 melee (2d12); AC 22; HD 12d8; MV 30’ or swim 60’; Act 3d20; SP Damage or overturn ships, piscine allies; SV Fort +14, Ref +0, Will +8; AL C.

These aquatic predators are most often encountered in deep bodies of fresh water, although larger and fiercer vodyanoi can be found in the ocean depths. Their skin is green and slimy and their powerful webbed claws are capable of rending the hull of any passing boat, while their strength and bulk allow them to overturn smaller vessels. Salt-water vodyanoi can capsize much larger vessels than fresh-water ones, and sailors avoid any area where such a creature is found.

Vodyanoi sometimes have piscine allies (50%), with whom they can communicate, and which aid the monsters in combat. Such allies can include giant fish of all types, sharks, electric eels, or whatever else the judge deems appropriate. Giant sturgeons, piranha swarms, quippers, and sharks are all possible.

There are persistent rumors of land-based vodyanoi, umber in hue, found in the deepest regions below the surface of the Lands We Know. Such creatures are said to have a second set of eyes, and the innate power to cause confusion in their foes.

Friday 20 January 2023

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: Umpleby and Urchins

You know, I have never used an Umpleby – perhaps I simply didn’t find the illustration that exciting when I was younger. Reading, re-ordering the information, and then converting it, I find that this is actually a rather fantastic creature. First off, the idea of a walking carpet storing static electricity is interesting. However, the Umpleby is better than that, because it is also a creature that offers the PCs at least three interesting choices: (1) Are the problems caused by the creature worth the benefits of its treasure sense?, (2) If not, how do we escape the thing while avoiding its massive shocks?, and (3) If so, how much treasure are we willing to reward it with to keep it around? More mercenary players might also wonder how to find and loot its lair.

Contrast Urchins. I have used these a lot, over the years, because they are nothing more than a way to directly link PC greed with a serious danger. If these things were not marine, they would be less dangerous, because their venom isn’t lethal, but if you use Cave Urchins in your game, the wandering monsters which come to feast while you are helpless are a considerable issue.

Another thing you might wish to consider: locals might use blowguns with urchin spines to easily capture prey, invaders, or PCs. This is yet another solid entry from the Fiend Folio.

And now we are truly reaching the end. There are only five posts to go before the Fiend Folio is fully converted:  Vision and Vodyanoi; Volt and Vortex; Whipweed, Witherstench, and Witherweed; Xill and Xvart; and finally the Yellow Musk Creeper and Yellow Musk Zombie.

If you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.


Umpleby: Init +0; Atk Claw +2 melee (1d4) or net +2 ranged (30’ range, entangle) or electric shock +2 melee (1d30); AC 16; HD 4d6; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP Entangle, electric shock, immune to electricity, treasure sense; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

These shaggy humanoids are 8 feet tall on average, and weigh about 400 pounds. They seem more curious than intelligent, and have been known to shamble along behind a party of adventurers, often getting in the way, simply to see what they are doing. Although they will fight to defend themselves, these beings will not usually attack otherwise, being content to observe. Their shambling gait is fairly loud, making it almost impossible for a party with a trailing umpleby to surprise foes.

Apart from its clawed hands, an umpleby has two means of defending itself. The first is using a net the creature makes of its own long, brown hair (which is stored wrapped around its waist). If this hits (ignoring armor), the opponent must succeed in a Reflex save equal to the umpleby’s attack roll or become entangled. An entangled creature can attempt a Strength check each round to break free, using an Action Die. The initial DC is 12, but this increases by +2 with each failure. On average, an umpleby will have 1d4-1 such nets available.

The second, and more dangerous, attack is with an electric shock. The creature can generate and store vast amounts of static electricity, and can deliver enormous shocks with a single touch. Not only does metal armor not aid the defender in this attack, but the umpleby gains an attack bonus for each +1 such armor would normally provide! The victim is allowed a Fort save (DC 15) for half damage, and damage cannot exceed 50 hp.

When an umpleby delivers the 50th hp of electrical damage, it goes to sleep as soon as it is possible and reasonably safe to do so. For each full hour the creatures sleeps undisturbed, it recharges 1d30 points of potential damage, to a maximum of 50.

The umpleby can speak the common tongue in a halting fashion but rarely does so as it is generally uncommunicative creature. However, it is incessantly hungry and thirsty, so that an offer of food and water may forge an instant loyalty to its benefactor – and this is valuable because an umpleby can sense precious metals and gems up to a range of 100’, even through solid rock. A loyal umpleby will advise and help its benefactor (although not fight for them) so long as the benefactor continues to reward the umpleby with food, water, and a reasonable proportion of any treasure discovered as a result of its advice. If not sufficiently rewarded, an umpleby simply leaves, and will refuse to co-operate in any way with any members of the party that offended it.

Umpleby’s have a great love of treasure, and if an umpleby’s lair is found, there is often a huge treasure trove therein. However, the creature never willingly gives up the location of its lair, even to those it has a bond of loyalty with. Torture and death are more preferable.



Black Urchin: Init +4; Atk Spine +1 ranged (1d6); AC 16; HD 1d6+1; MV 10’ or swim 20’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +6, Ref -2, Will +0; AL N.

Green Urchin: Init +5; Atk Spine +1 ranged (1d7); AC 17; HD 2d6+2; MV 10’ or swim 30’; Act 2d20; SP Camouflage; SV Fort +6, Ref -1, Will +0; AL N.

Red Urchin: Init +5; Atk Spine +2 ranged (1d5 plus venom); AC 18; HD 3d6+3; MV 10’ or swim 30’; Act 3d20; SP Venom; SV Fort +7, Ref +0, Will +0; AL N.

Silver Urchin: Init +5; Atk Spine +4 ranged (1d5 plus venom); AC 20; HD 4d6+4; MV 20’ or swim 50’; Act 5d20; SP Camouflage, venom; SV Fort +9, Ref +2, Will +0; AL N.

Yellow Urchin: Init +5; Atk Spine +3 ranged (1d5 plus venom); AC 19; HD 4d6+4; MV 15’ or swim 40’; Act 4d20; SP Venom; SV Fort +8, Ref +1, Will +0; AL N.

These urchins are marine creatures, similar to the mundane sea creatures of the same name, but three feet in diameter, of various colors, and able to shoot their thousands of three-inch long radiating spines at other creatures which come too close. The creature can fire one spine with each Action Die, to an effective range of 100 feet. Depending upon the type of urchin, some of these spines also carry venom.

This would cause most creatures to leave these urchins alone, but a dead urchin can be broken up quite easily, and inside each body is a gem which varies according to the type of urchin, as indicated below:

Black Urchin: Black gem valued at 2d10 gp.

Green Urchin: These pale green urchins are difficult to see in water, gaining a +10 bonus on opposed checks to remain hidden. They contain green gems worth 3d10 gp, with paler gems being more valuable.

Red Urchin: Dull red with black-tipped spines, this urchin’s venom requires causes 1d3 temporary Agility damage due to grogginess, and affected creatures must succeed in a DC 10 Fort save or fall asleep for 1d4 rounds, potentially drowning as a result. These effects are cumulative, so that failing three saves results in 3d3 temporary Agility damage and 2d4 rounds of sleep. This temporary Agility damage heals at a rate of 1 point per turn. The creature’s red gems are worth 4d10 gp each.

Silver Urchin: This, the rarest of the urchins, is dull silver with black-tipped spines. Its spines carry a venom which acts on the victim’s nervous system, causing 1d3 Personality damage, and requiring a DC 20 Fort save to avoid a catatonic trance lasting 1d3 days (and almost certainly resulting in drowning if rescue is not at hand. The gem contained within the creature is worth 8d10 gp.

Yellow Urchin: Like green urchins, these pale yellow creatures gain a +10 bonus to opposed checks with hiding in water. Their spines, which have light green tips, carry venom which will paralyses victim for 1d4 turns (Fort DC 15 negates). Its gem is worth 6d10 gp.

A Handle Poison check can extract 1d10 envenomed spines from a slain urchin (if it has venom), but the spine itself must be used to deliver the toxin, which remains effective for 1d4 + HD days. Blowguns can be used for this purpose.

Urchins have been encountered up to half a mile from salt water. Although rarer, cave urchins exist which have a move and climb speed equal to twice the equivalent urchin’s normal land move.

It is entirely possible that other colors of urchins exist, which have different types of venom.

Thursday 19 January 2023

Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: the Tween

There are now six more posts before the Fiend Folio conversions are complete.

We are close. We are very, very close.

So what can we say about the Tween? Its original power was so interesting that it could almost have become a game mechanic for some version of the Great Game. In my conversion, I made use of the dice chain instead of forcing two rolls.

If you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.


Tween: Init +4; Atk Non-corporeal weapon +3 melee (1d6); AC 10; HD 1d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Non-corporeal, symbiosis; SV Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +3; AL N.

These strange creatures exist in a non-corporeal state, and can only be harmed by magic weapons or spells as a result. To material beings, they appear as smoky outlines, most often taking a squat humanoid shape.

A tween can bond at will with a host in the Lands We Know, and gradually assumes the general shape and characteristics of that host, appearing as a smoky “shadow” of that being. A tween who has selected a host usually stays with them until either host or tween dies, although some magic (such as banish) may drive a tween away or make it select another host. Tweens prefer intelligent humanoid hosts, and once a tween has bonded symbiotically with a host, it has the following abilities and effects:

  • The tween and host can communicate telepathically.

  • The tween has the ability to see a few seconds into the future and manipulate the motion of material things. As a result, any character or creature with a tween symbiant always makes every roll with a +1d shift on the dice chain.

  • In contrast, while a tween has a beneficial effect on the actions of its host, it has the reverse effect on any other creature – friend or foe – within 50 feet of its host, who are forced to make every roll with a -1d shift. This power is not within the tween’s control, and no amount of threatening or cajoling by the symbiotic host has any effect. A character with a tween partner is therefore something of a mixed blessing to any companions.

    •  A tween effects its host’s Luck, allowing the host to regenerate 1 point of Luck each week to a maximum of its original (0-level starting) Luck.


    Tuesday 17 January 2023

    Let’s Convert the Fiend Folio: TROLLS! Giant Troll, Giant Two-Headed Troll, Ice Troll, and Spirit Troll

    Trolls in Dungeon Crawl Classics are very much cut from the mold of Poul Anderson’s Troll in Three Hearts and Three Lions. Trolls in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons were sort of a mixture of qualities: Anderson’s Troll smooshed together with the Trolls in The Roaring Trumpet (part of The Incompleat Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt). Michael Curtis introduced yet another take on Trolls – a more folkloric take somewhere between the DCC core rulebook Troll and the AD&D Trolls – in The Chained Coffin. And that is not all. Tales From the Smoking Wyrm introduces three playable Troll sub-classes in Issue #4, and these are taking straight from Scandinavian folklore!

    So what does that mean when converting these Trolls? Are Giant Trolls just core rulebook Trolls, but bigger? Or should they appear more like they did in the Fiend Folio? There isn’t any one answer that is going to please everyone. Nor should there be. Let Make Monsters Mysterious be your watchword, and adjust any and every creature you wish until it is exactly what you want it to be, and your players are confounded. 

    Ultimately, I went with the illustrations, and they show trolls with at least a glimmer of intelligence.

    The end is in sight. At this point, there should be seven more posts to do, and the Fiend Folio conversions will be complete.

    If you feel like tipping, here is a way to do so.


    Giant Troll: Init +6; Atk Enormous spiked club +10 melee (2d8+6) bite +8 melee (2d8+6) or claw +10 melee (2d6); AC 16; HD 10d8+8; MV 40’; Act 3d24; SP Infravision 90’, acute senses, regeneration (1d6/round), vulnerable to fire, crit as giant (20-24 crit range); SV Fort +12, Ref +4, Will +8; AL C.

    Giant trolls are similar to normal trolls, but which have crossbred with hill giants of questionable standards. They are more intelligent than normal trolls, certainly have better hygiene, and lack a normal troll’s hideous stench. Because they are not mindless, they are not immune to mind-affecting spells.

    Giant trolls have the rubbery flesh of their lesser kin, but have differentiated organs, and can be affected by critical hits. They regenerates only 1d6 points of damage at the end of each round, including the round it they are killed. Like normal trolls, only if their regeneration fails to bring them above 0 hp can they be truly killed. Severed limbs from giant trolls also continue to attack, and can crawl back and re-attach, but a severed head is beyond the creature’s ability to deal with. They do not regenerate fire damage.

    Giant trolls are as tall as hill giants, but heavier, being about 12 feet tall and weighing an average of 14,000 pounds. They can be found in nearly any clime, and are noted for their acute senses – and in particular, their acute sense of smell.

    Giant Two-Headed Troll: Init +4; Atk Bite +9 melee (2d8+6) or claw +11 melee (2d6); AC 16; HD 12d8+10; MV 40’; Act 4d24; SP Infravision 60’, regeneration (1d4/round), two saves vs. mind-affecting spells, never surprised, vulnerable to fire, crit as giant (20-24 crit range); SV Fort +14, Ref +4, Will +10; AL C.

    These ferocious creatures are similar to giant trolls, but somewhat larger, and they sport two heads. They regenerate only 1d4 hp each round, and cannot re-attach severed limbs. When faced with mid-affecting spells (or similar), they are allowed two saving throws – one for each head – and takes the better of the two results.

    These nocturnal creatures stand 14 feet tall and weigh 15,000 pounds on average. They prefer darkness, dwelling in underground caverns where possible. They wear moth-eaten and filthy animal skins, which is certainly an indication that they are smarter than normal trolls.

    Ice Troll: Init +3; Atk Claw +3 melee (1d6); AC 14; HD 2d8; MV 30’ or swim 30’; Act 2d20; SP Infravision 90’, keen senses, water-dependent regeneration (1d3/round), immunity to cold, half damage from non-magical weapons, vulnerable to fire (x2 damage); SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +5; AL C.

    Ice trolls are smarter, weaker relatives of trolls with extremely cold semi-transparent bodies. These creatures dwell in moist areas, usually near running water as they can only regenerate (or re-attach severed limbs) if the regenerating body parts can immerse themselves in water. A severed limb can move a distance of 1d5 rounds in search of water (at a rate of 10’ per round) and will always move towards water if there is some in range. After it stops crawling, the limb is dormant for 2d6 rounds, and then expires.

    Although they are immune to cold, and take only half damage from non-magical weapons, ice trolls take twice normal damage from fire, and cannot regenerate these attacks.


    Spirit Troll: Init +8; Atk bite +4 melee (1d6+2 plus heal) or claw +6 melee (1d4 plus strength drain); AC 18; HD 5d8+5; MV 40’; Act 3d20; SP Infravision 120’, invisibility, heal, strength drain, regeneration (1d4/round), immune to cold and non-magical weapons, 30% magic resistance, vulnerable to fire; SV Fort +4, Ref +9, Will +6; AL C.

    These odious creatures are said to be the product of some perverse breeding experiment whose details have been lost to antiquity. These beings are invisible and can only be hit by magical weapons or fire (which does only normal damage, but does not regenerate). Creatures who cannot see invisible beings suffer a 50% miss chance even on a successful hit. Spirit trolls can ignore spells and their effects 30% of the time, rolled before any applicable saving throw.

    When a spirit troll hits with its bite, it immediately heals the amount of damage inflicted on its opponent. When it strikes with a claw, its target must succeed in a DC 12 Fort save or take 1 point of Strength damage (which heals normally).