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!

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