Still renovating the Fiend Folio. Let's start on a high note: the Babbler.
Original babbler:One of the ubiquitous-in-the-folio 3rd level low-HD dinosaur-variants.
Good things about the Babbler:
1) It babbles: in a "quasi lingual" tongue which defies analysis.
2) It crawls up behind you on its loathsome belly and strikes its foes like a 4th-level thief.
3) The drawing has a crazy manic energy which makes it look like it goes "rawRRawRRAWR RARA!"
1) It's basically, statwise, a wimpy dinosaur.
2) The babbling, while charming, is basically just window-dressing and has nothing to do with fighting/dealing with the beast.
3) Because the description says the babbler looks just like a gorgosaurus, it is hard to tell whether the distortions in the Russ Nicholson drawing are supposed to represent how the thing actually looks or whether it's just sort of expressionistic artistic license.
I have attempted to clarify point 3 in my picture (and end up with kinda a Russ Nicholson homage), which should make it obvious that Babblers look all fucked and go RawRawrarrrRARA all the time. I feel there are many solutions to problems 1 and 2 and that they probably involve tying the two together.
(click to enlarge all these pictures.)
Not as exciting, but not at all a thing to sneeze at is the Bat, Giant. Kinda surprising it wasn't taken care of in the Monster Manual. I have no bitching to do about this perennial classic, aside from saying that adding a dizzying sonic attack might spice up the mechanics a bit. However, I drew it anyway on account of it's fun to draw bats...
The Berbalang is an uninspired take on a kind of Phillippino vampire, and the folio description of its habits and tactics lines up surprisingly well with the description given by whatever member of the pith helmet brigade wrote the moustachey explorer description of the berbalang that Wikipedia quotes in its berbalang article, right down to the astral travel. I have redrawn the berbalang, but since Mandy wants to use it in her Arabian Nights game I have left the stats up to her...
And now, the Blindheim. The original is a kinda funstupid bipedal frog-midget that shoots eyebeams. Mine is more just a regular frog that's so fucked-looking you go blind. Also it can sing like a little girl. They also come in elephant-size....and it is all downhil from here: B in the Fiend Folio is for boring. No, worse than boring, B is for Bottom of the Beast Barrel. Many of these are not simply dull but downright bad monsters.
So: Blood Hawk. Not a crappy Christian metal band or a Thundercats villain, but just a slightly-more-optimistic-about-what-constitutes-prey version of a hawk. Problem with hawks as villains is anything a hawk can do as a villain, a crow or a stirge can do better. The other problem here is "bloodhawk" is a stupid stupid name. I decided "Blood Hawk" is what goblins call it when they stuff a hawk full of black powder and disease and send it winging its way after some distant foe. The hawk then explodes and gets infected blood all over the enemy. Problems solved.More adventures in half-assery: Bloodworm, giant. In case you didn't have enough giant worms already.
My take is that the giant bloodworm is the smart one. It is like possessed of a supreme but inhuman intelligence like the martians in Stranger in a Strange Land. It drinks the blood of gods. The polar worm, purple worm (though not the purple wyrm), remorhaz, etc., these are the mutant slave races descended from the wise old worms.The bonesnapper is another level 3 low-HD dinosaur. Where do all these come from? I decided "babbler" and "bonesnapper" are just colloquial names some cult or alchemist or tribe has for the products of their experimental mini-dinosaur breeding program. My picture is based on a rejected first draft of the babbler. The bonesnapper is your classic ride-on-able mini T Rex.Next one: totally hopeless synonym-for-fairy called a Booka. Even the name is stupid. I am hereby replacing it with the "Mahone": an equally annoying but much more drunk brand of fey.Next up is Bullywugs, which likewise partake much in suck. A world with Slaads and Blindheims does not need a weaker and more generic kind of frog-guy. The only interesting thing about them is they have natural camoflage powers so I am replacing them with Chameleon Men, which is more fun to say than "Bullywug". Isn't Dwellers of the Forbidden City like 10 times more exotic and Petalthroney now? Yes it is. Chameleon men are slow and cryptic and know the secrets of the Yellow Star. They communicate only through coded patterns on their skin. They think Lizard Men are unspeakably vulgar.
The Bunyip is a fucked thing. Basically if you research the word it's an Australian folk monster from the swamps which looks like...well, none of the descriptions agree. Some say alligator, some dog, some say starfish--the Folio went with seal, which seems like a transcendent miracle of underachievement and bad taste.
I decided the point of the Bunyip is it is indescribable but looks like different things to different people and its true form is just all screwy and it sits there in the center of the swamp being immobile and bizarre and waiting for like John Constantine to show up and ask where the Key To The Eighth Gate of Migraines is or whatever. Also, that name has to go. "Bunyip" may sound good in the antipodes, but here in forwardsland people eat hamburgers not the other way around. So I dub it the Unminion.
Next time: What's a Clubneck and how could it possibly be cool? I don't know either but we'll find out...