Monday, April 4, 2016

Commentary On The Fiend Folio For 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons For Your Old School Campaigns

Good morning kids last night I took a bit of time off from blogging, writing and social media to read a bit of the Fiend Folio over the weekend and recharge the batteries. The Fiend Folio has a bit of a maligned reputation and such but I really love the book. You can read all about the troubled history of the of the Fiend Folio right over here.  

As for this writer I'm moving on with this commentary and getting into the heart of what makes the book tick and whistle for me. There is a certain flexibility and old school weirdness to the Fiend Folio as well as the fact that its distinctly British original White Dwarf magazine in style. There's just something damn appealing about that for me. The monsters have their place among the monster and dungeon ecology of campaign settings so much so that Necromancer games used them in their 3.0 and other books. According to Wiki; "Many of the creatures from the 1st edition Fiend Folio were updated to the d20 rules by Necromancer Games in their ENnie award winning[15] Tome of Horrors.[16]

That tells me volumes right there about the book, its not only still in use but its still got an audience and why not? The Fiend Folio is a damn flexible book you can use it for both science fantasy and post apocalyptic AD&D games as well with a few simple mathematical flip arounds. So in 2016 why is the Fiend Folio still getting table top use? Here are my ten reasons why the Fiend Folio is such a beloved book:
  1. The Fiend Folio is the forgotten Monster Manual and the monsters are easily discounted and overlooked. This makes perfect fodder for the DM to use them and reintroduce his or her players to the terrors of them. 
  2. There's a distinctly British sword & sorcery feel to the book making this a easy book to re purpose for the table top add them in as needed for games such as Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. 
  3. This book has some great undead in it and they are so great to add into post apocalyptic games such as Mutant Future and Gamma World as needed for alien planets and ruins. Yeah, there's a bit of science fantasy over flow with Fiend Folio and the gonzo factor is such an appeal here. 
  4. Even the goofy monsters will shred your PC folks. This is something to remember and its your dungeon, wilderness, or setting. Use the monsters that you want to. 
  5. Fantastic encounter tables in the back of the book make dungeon and wildness setting design and monster placement a snap. This keeps things moving at the table during play. 
  6. The over all mix of monsters works very well and for the dungeon master this means a Chinese restaurant menu approach to monster selection one from column A. and B. This approach works quite well for the Fiend Folio. 
  7. Ease of use with OSRIC and Advanced D&D retroclones, the fact that a book from 1981 is still useful with games in 2016 is some solid utility at the table top in my humble opinion. 
  8. There are little tid bits of information scattered throughout the monster entries that can be expanded into full blown adventure hooks for the DM. One of the complains I've heard over the years is the fact that the Fiend Folio doesn't include as much information as needed for adventure design. I think this is a strength, the DM gets to fill in his or her own details as needed to fit their campaign. This is pretty damn important when designing a campaign or setting. 
  9. There are a ton of monsters to choose from and they're open to how you want to use them. Change it up a bit and they can become a real pain in the dungeon or wilderness for PC's. One monster can become an entire adventure unto itself. A good example of this approach is  HM4 - Pop goes the Meazel 
  10. The Fiend Folio is a part of our gaming OSR heritage and has a ton to offer a DM if their willing to; A. Use the material and monsters as they want. B. Place and use the creatures as they are needed and use the material from the book sparingly while modifying the monsters as needed. Don't be afraid to make these horrors your own and use them as YOU need to. 

    The Fiend Folio has a ton of uses at the table top in my humble opinion and it has utility that spans decades. There are reasons for this and as always your mileage may vary a lot but there's some damn fine and gonzo monsters between its pages.

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