Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Least Favorite Monsters

Mike Curtis of the Society of Torch, Pole and Rope is an old school blogger whom I admire a great deal. He's got an agile, creative mind and I'm not ashamed to admit that he frequently inspires me as I work on my Dwimmermount campaign. Consequently, when he took my post on My Favorite Monsters and turned it on its ear, I took notice of it. Impolitic though it is to say, we're often better defined by our dislikes than our likes, or at least our dislikes throw our likes into sharper relief, thus making them -- and us -- easier to understand.

(I had to delve into the Fiend Folio to find 10 monsters I actually disliked, since the Monster Manual is remarkably good by my lights. Yes, I know: finding sucky monsters in the Fiend Folio is like shooting fish in a barrel.)
  1. Adherer: Fear my sticky secretions!
  2. Ear Seekers: I should probably turn in my grognard membership card for saying this, but ear seekers are silly. They're silly because, unlike many other old school monsters dispensed with over the years, they smack of childish "escalation" in the battle of wits between referee and player. Ticked off that his players -- Gasp! -- actually listen at doors in order to gather information before entering a room, the referee decides to teach 'em a lesson with these little bugs. Successfully listening at doors is hard enough as it is without making players think twice about attempting it, so I say no to ear seekers.
  3. Enveloper: Oh no! It's the Pillsbury Doughboy's evil older brother!
  4. Eye of the Deep: I dislike this monster for one reason alone: it encouraged people to proliferate the number of beholder sub-species, which I think robbed the original creature of its uniqueness. Plus -- no offense to Jean Wells -- it just looks silly.
  5. Flumph: All joking aside, what purpose does this creature serve? I'm not bugged by the fact that it's Lawful Good, as I think good monsters are an important facet of Gygaxian naturalism. Problem is the description of the flumph gives no clue as to its role in the world, making it effectively useless. Or maybe I just lack creativity ...
  6. Morkoth: What the hell? Seriously, has anyone ever used one of these?
  7. Magnesium Spirit: I like creatures that have the power of possession a great deal, but what's up with these guys? Is there some mystical significance to magnesium I missed?
  8. Tirapheg: Um ... okay.
  9. Trilloch: I think someone watched the Star Trek episode "Day of the Dove" one too many times. Sorry, but it's just not the same without Michael Ansara
  10. Triton: Because, you know, mermen just aren't enough.


  1. Maybe because I never owned the Fiend Folio, I don't think I have 10 monsters I dislike enough to bother listing.

  2. Okay, now I'm going to have to find a way to include a morkoth in the Castle of the Mad Archmage. A flumph might be a toughie, though...

  3. Don't forget Flinds. Same page as the Flumph.

    Typical crappy Fiend Folio monster (and another humanoid for that crowded humanoid ecology!). At least they weren't as poorly designed as the Giant Troll, which was actually weaker than the standard troll.

  4. I think the Morkoth suffers from the fact he looks like a squid-chicken at the disco. (reports vary) Poor guy. His description isn't all that bad.

    I'll submit Flail Snail.

  5. Yeah, there are lots of monsters I won't use, but very few I have enough animosity towards that I could actually state that I hate them.

    Thanks for starting and perpetuating the meme. ;)

    - Brian

  6. On the triton, I can really see how you'd want a bunch of different undersea races, if only for variety if you were doing an underwater campaign (or extended adventure).

    After all, is it so bad to have sea elves, tritons, koalinths, sahuagin, and mermen underwater when you've got elves, gnomes, half-orcs (not to mention all the various humanoid races), dwarves, and halflings on dry land? Heck, the underwater races are deficient in variety by comparison to those on land.

    And while the tritons and mermen aren't particularly distinctive compared to one another, the same could be said of gnomes and dwarves (or elves and gnomes, depending on how one looks at 'em).

  7. Eye of the Deep: I dislike this monster for one reason alone: it encouraged people to proliferate the number of beholder sub-species, which I think robbed the original creature of its uniqueness.

    This problem occurs quite often in the xD&D family: one is never enough. If we have Elves, we must have Elves for all environments. Same with Dwarves, undersea humanoids, &c. Toward the end of my D&D days, I took the various critter books, and just chose a couple score from all that would populate my world.

  8. Jimmy:

    I think the Morkoth suffers from the fact he looks like a squid-chicken at the disco.


    I'll submit Flail Snail.

    That's on my list of truly dumb critters, too.

  9. There is a whole morkoth empire in Steven Schend's "Sea of fallen Stars" and he gave em some depth actually.

    My vote would go for the GAMBADO... skull with spring underndeath... sorry?

  10. I tried to use those in an AD&D game once ... epic fail.

  11. I got some great use out of a flumph once. It was a campaign full of evil and chaotic PCs. The half-drow cavalier ended up with a brainpan full of acid. Good times.

  12. Thank you for the kind words, James. They are echoed on my end towards you.

    I limited myself to the original Monster Manual on my list because, as you said, the Fiend Folio might be a bit too easy of a target. Therfore my own list might be a little forced at times, but the experience was quite cathartic for me. Monster bashing therapy, so to speak.

    Ear-seekers barely missed being included on my own list and I'm glad I'm not alone when it comes to the Eye of the Deep.

  13. Wow. A couple days ago I was flipping idly through the Monster Manual for things to put in *my* megadungeon, and I found the Morkoth.

    I'm gonna stick it in the lake level, just because.

    But, you know, like the Su-Monster, it's one of the very few things in MM that you don't see as a standard.

  14. If you have older copies of Dragon Magazine, Ed Greenwood takes a pretty critical eye at the FF. He had mentioned things like the CIFAL, which was a military acronym (why would a Fantasy world use that terminology), etc. They had a response from the original editor with apologies and arguments.

    Flumph--well, Gary enjoyed the stupid criter so much he created the Flunhk for LA, with some extra stuff--(A chaos beast who's tentacles would either bestow blessings or curses at random). I think he loved the way the little buggers looked.

  15. Sorry, colour-coded oozes and gelatinous cubes get my vote - the latter for apparently having been designed specifically to point up the absurdity of the standard 10' corridor. And that helmet-of-beheading thing, which you can either introduce completely out of context in order to annoy and alienate your players with an arbitrary, non-fun death, or telegraph by placing it next to a headless body, in which case the PCs will step gingerly around it and hurry on their way.

  16. Yes, executioner hoods and ear seekers are indeed terrible monsters, they are completely unfair.

  17. The Flumph is the single greatest monster ever designed for the D&D system, regardless of edition (though I refuse to admit that 4E is in fact D&D).

    I used them in a 2E campaign as extra-dimensional beings. There was only one 'pod' of Flumphs in all of the multiverse. They slipped from one universe to the other as easily as you walk across a room. I had planned on them aiding the PCs when they needed to do some plane jumping. Sadly the campaign never got to that point.

    But Flumphs rock, for all eternity.

  18. Flumphs are cool. I liked the Ecology of the Flumph article in Dragon Magazine. Piazo has done some owrk with them as well. Flumphs "rawk my wurld", James.