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Let's Read of the Fiend Folio (2003)

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
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Yes, the century worm. We'll get to that one in a while. It's ... a monster that exists.
When we get to that, I'm going to have to share some fantasy art I found on Tumblr that I've never posted here before, because it might be "Too hot for rpg.net."
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
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For illustrating the thread, you can find the illustrayion in good resolution in the ruins of the old WotC site. They are in a bit of disorder (the abrian is on the "part two" and pretty much placed at random), and some might be missing (the abyssal ghoul is in the art gallery for City of the Spider Queen, indeed), but they are here just for that.
Thanks! I've found all of the illustrations I've looked for so far - I might jazz up some entries with extra art, especially if the monster comes from a real-world source, too, but I think it's important to have the Fiend Folio pictures here as I will be commenting on the art.
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
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So, how many of these should I do a day? I'm thinking two a day, or so, but no more than that.

Today, though, I may only get through everyone's favourite chaotic evil otter with a hand on its butt, the

Ahuizotl



Look at that thing. The ahuizotl cross off three boxes for making a D&D monster awesome:

1. Bizarre, improbable biology that gives it a memorable look.
2. A distinct and meaningful ecology that lets me know where to use it while leaving things open for creativity.
3. Ties into real-world mythology.

This nails each of those to the frickin' wall. For those who don't know, it's a beastie from Aztec mythology, and the depiction here is really quite similar to others.




It's actually missing the spikes, which are referenced in the translation of the thing's name, but I'm okay with that because in a setting where you make an animal "dire" by sticking bone spikes on it, the last thing we need are more protrusions on our monsters.

The fluff is two mere paragraphs, but combined with the terrain (any warm freshwater), it gives you a clear picture of a solitary creature that waylays small groups of people in order to kill them and eat their eyes, teeth and fingernails. Yeah, even its diet is creepy. It's our third unusually intelligent monster, but that is part of the legend so I'm okay with that, especially because that lets me be a bit more tactical with these beasties. It has a cool ability, too - voice mimicry. One of my favourite monster abilities, honestly, as it lets you play merry hell with your player's minds as they try to sort out whether or not they're going to help out a lost innocent or wandering into a trap.

The rest of the abilities though ... meh. First, it has a improved grab, which means grappling, which is negative, but then they double down and give it a drowning special attack which is basically just the DMG rules for drowning written up as a stat block. Why this wasn't handled quickly in the improved grab box as a quick reference to the DMG rules I don't know. Its third ability is a blinding attack - if it scores a critical hit, the target is permanently blinded, meaning that you'll need something like regeneration to heal it. And it's a CR 6 monster. So, a 1 in 10 chance of having your character effectively crippled until you can get enough cash together for the spell, because the ahuizotl is a CR 6 creature. It's not even a save or suck effect, it's just a suck effect, a crippling at the hands of the DM's roll with no chance to prevent it. I'm sure you all can think of some ways to fix this attack, and i look forward to hearing them.

Apart from those mechanical issues, though, this is a really cool beast, the best we're going to see for several pages.

Rating: 8/10. I'm taking 1 point off for improved grab, and another point off for the weird blinding strike and some write-up issues, but otherwise this is a really solid entry and exactly what I wanted more of in this book.
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
Actually, I've got time for the

Aoa



Wait, uh ... *shuffles folders* Ah ...



Yeah, it's a floating reflective water droplet formed in the places where the Negative Energy Plane meets the Positive, and they're basically low-power disenchanters. Which is disappointing, because their fluff makes them sounds like these really cool, almost animalistic drops of quicksilver that dash around the multiverse absorbing magic and growing stronger off of it. Instead, they have a dispel magic special attack, can reflect spells back at casters and are highly resistant to elemental damage. They also have no actual abilities based their purported ability to eat magic, which is just weird.

They come in two flavours - a CR 3 droplet, and a CR 15 sphere which, well, that escalated quickly. The sphere has a special attack that wreck a party's day because it can utterly destroy magic items. Slight problem, though - it's described as a "reflective pulse," but it doesn't say where the pulse radiates from, how far it radiates or who it attacks.

So, here we have a reasonably interesting creature in the fluff, with mechanics that don't back up its description and actually contradict it. Things don't get better for a bit.

Rating: 3/10. The droplets are just not all that interesting in combat, and the sphere's major attack is too purely described to actually be useable without DM interpretation. I'd honestly give them a 0, but they get points for having an interesting write-up.
 
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NobodyImportant

Registered User
Validated User
Ahuizotl: Whenever I see these, I always wish they’d stick around and join the staple cast of monsters. Every culture in the world should have at least a few of their iconic creatures featured so prominently. If rakshasa and oni can be Monster Manual mainstays, why not the naagloshi and wendigo, or grootslangs and kongamato, or bunyips and yara-ma-yha-whos?

Aoa: How the hell do you pronounce this?

More seriously, does anyone else think these are inspired by the flying rods? You know, those cryptids when footage is slowed down that are actually just insects moving really quickly? I kinda like the idea of those as a monster, and these fit the image... although obviously I’d make their disenchantment attack temporary.
 

Dweller in Darkness

Excelsior
Validated User
Ahuizotl: Whenever I see these, I always wish they’d stick around and join the staple cast of monsters. Every culture in the world should have at least a few of their iconic creatures featured so prominently. If rakshasa and oni can be Monster Manual mainstays, why not the naagloshi and wendigo, or grootslangs and kongamato, or bunyips and yara-ma-yha-whos?

Aoa: How the hell do you pronounce this?

More seriously, does anyone else think these are inspired by the flying rods? You know, those cryptids when footage is slowed down that are actually just insects moving really quickly? I kinda like the idea of those as a monster, and these fit the image... although obviously I’d make their disenchantment attack temporary.
This is the first appearance of the ahuizotl in D&D, remarkably, although I believe they made an appearance in Pathfinder. They really are pretty darned cool.

I have no idea how to pronounce them. I have some notes prepared on that for the section on demons. I like your thought about what they might be based off of. They're a pretty neat idea, just very clumsily executed.
 

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
Validated User
Yeah, Ahzuhitol made it into pathfinder in bestiary 3 (Which is widely considered by fans to be the best one).

And quite frankly we need more MesoAmerican representation in the DnD monster line up. Because its basically just the Coutal and that's it. There are so few meo American monsters that when they wrote Hidden shrine of Tamochan, which is explicitly a MesoAmerican Themed dungeon, they had a freaking Ogre Mage hanging out in there. Now here is the million dollar question: What is a Japanese Oni doing in an Aztec shrine? Is that his summer home or something?

Meanwhile, There are monsters from Aztec Myth like the Centzon Totchtin, or 400 rabbits, which is a group of Rabbit like Demigods who represented various stages of drunkenness and intoxication and loved to party down.

Yeah, the Aztec had a Satyr equivalent who were basically rabbit people, and never seen a hair of them in any Monster book (or a Hare of them. HA RABBIT JOKE).

Someone needs to get off their duff, look up a ton of mesoAmericna monsters, and just start statting them up for DnD.
 
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