Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Finding the Gems: Fiend Folio Monstrous Compendium Appendix

I'm a sucker for bad monsters. The original AD&D Fiend Folio introduced over 200 of the best and worst monsters to be seen in the game. Even the bad ones became classics. You got the Githyanki and Githezerai along with the Gambado.  Sure, you had Drow, but you also got the three-eyed Gorbel. And of course, the Flumph.

I remember, however, feeling disappointed back in 1992, when the Fiend Folio Monstrous Compendium Appendix was first published. Upon closer inspection, I remember why. Sure, most of the monsters were bad in a "good" way, but they were also leftovers.  The best monsters were picked clean and put in other compendiums. No Githyanki or Githezerai. The Drow got moved to the first Monstrous Compendium. Not even the Flumph made it into the new Fiend Folio. 

In fact, there's only 60 monsters in this collection, some of which weren't even in the original Fiend Folio.

Not even the Kamadan, the tiger with snakes displayed on the front cover, made it. I presume the brute to its left is a Fog Giant, and the four-armed creature on the right is a Xill. Both are in this particular compendium, but the Kamadan is not.

So what is going on? 

Its simple. The Role-Playing Game Association Network got involved in the creation of this Fiend Folio. The monsters "were updated by Network authors and edited by another Network member." Just take a closer look at the image on the right for further proof. 

Not even the original creators of the monsters were given credit (as they were in the 1e Fiend Folio), just those who participated updated them for 2e. 

Furthermore, I think I've discovered a pattern from trying to find the gems in 2e: material published from the RPGA is going to be sub par and disappointing. 
No doubt, many readers probably already knew this back in the day. I, however, was only 12 or 13 and oblivious. I'm not sure if this applies to material that came before or after 2e. But this is my working hypothesis, but it seems to hold water, as you'll see with my upcoming review on WG11: Puppets. 

Finding the Gems
Despite all of these negatives, the Fiend Folio Monstrous Compendium does offer us some gems--namely the Gem Dragons: Amethyst, Crystal, Emerald, Sapphire, and Topaz. (ba-dum-tss!) All right, if you need different varieties of dragons each with its own unique breath weapon--gem dragons are nice alternatives to the regular metallic and chromatic dragons. (The Amethyst Dragon spits a gem-bomb, what's not to like about that?

Yet aside from the Gem Dragons (which didn't appear in the original Fiend Folio), you do have a number old favorites. The Coffer Corpse and the Dark Creeper make a come back. As does the three-eyed Gorbel, nand the blind cannibalistic Grimlock.  Mephits return as well.

Need a flying vampiric head with trailing guts? 
The Penanggalan returns! (oh wait, they've replaced the guts with a slimy black tail...)

But like I said, I'm a sucker for bad monsters. Even the Spanner, a bridge that attacks people, has a certain amount of charm.

Oh no! Ah! 

And my favorite: The Gambado!

Surprise! I wasn't a skull on the ground after all!

Get this product if: You want to complete your AD&D 2e Monstrous Compendium collection or You're searching for some OPP monsters. Artwork by Jeff Easley graces many of the dividers.

Don't get this product if: Well, there's a lot of reasons not to get this product. Many of these monsters ended up in other sources. The Mephits ended up in Planescape. The Gem Dragons went into the Monstrous Manual. So, the 2e Fiend Folio is just a bunch of leftovers, unfortunately.

Part of the reason I'm doing "Finding the Gems" is to caution people of what's out there. I have no idea if WotC might try to repackage this product and sell it as a PDF. But if they do, you'll now know what to expect.


  1. If you ever need a monster illustration for one of your games just let me know. I'll sketch one up and email it just for fun. D&D monsters are the best kind of monsters.

    1. Thanks.

      And I'll have to post that picture of Fallor you drew for me all of those years ago.


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