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My review and discussions of 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (“1e“) has me visiting an old friend, the Fiend Folio (“FF“). My impression, which is anecdotal and thus suspect, is that the FF wasn’t very popular. Oddly enough, it was the only compendium of monsters I owned as a kid other than the small collection in the AD&D Blue Box and the monsters contained in the mods I ran. Plus, none of my friends owned it, so I had something on them. Needless to say, it holds a special place in my heart. I’m not making even more “dumbest monsters of D&D” posts. We’ve all had enough of those. These are about things I like.
I mentioned in My Favorites post how I love categories of monsters. That was true in 1977 and holds true today. The FF gave us new creatures within the main categories. I’ve already discussed demons and devils in that prior post. I’m moving on to another.
Serious question: Does anyone not like giants (p. 42)? Besides the fact the Norse pantheon was my favorite pantheon of ancient religions, they’re just cool concepts. The test screenings for the first Blade movie illustrate an already-proven point: People prefer anthropomorphic enemies, but with some sort of twist. A towering human with an axe or sword larger than you are is certainly some sort of twist. Combined with the fact that some people are exceptionally tall due to a medical condition, and perhaps even that ancient cultures discovered dinosaur bones that looked human enough, giants are pretty popular in folklore.
Fog Giants (Level VIII)
The FF gave us two new giants. I’ve mentioned that cloud giants were my favorite giants. Why? It’s a combination of their relative power (in the Monster Manual, 2nd only to the storm giants) and their lairs. A castle on a magical cloud would be a cool place to visit, both exotic and regal. The FF gave us more primal cousins to the cloud giants, the fog giants (level VIII, 2% chance of encounter). What if cloud giants never took to the sky? Even if they were acrophobic, their inherent nature would still draw them to “tiny liquid water droplets that hang in the air.” Thus, if you wanted a cloud giant but with a slightly more primal feel to it, the less sophisticated fog giant could work for you. (Side note: I recall liking their treatment in 3e.)
Mountain Giants (Level VII)
Mountain giants (level VII, 1% chance of encounter) are closely related to hill giants. In fact, they’re too closely related. I don’t see why they exist. To give us a sense of consistency, giants in every edition have a ton of similarity. The differences are in culture/theme, weaponry, the elements they control, their specific use of magic, alignment, and their servants. The last two are the only differences between hill and mountain giants, and they’re still pretty close. Chaotic evil v. chaotic neutral? Meh. Hill giants sometimes were accompanied by dire wolves, lizards, and ogres, whereas mountain giants were accompanied by ogres, trolls, or hill giants. That’s not thematically distinct. They’re also both level VII monsters. I just never saw what mountain giants added to the mix. If you want mountain giants to stand out, you have some work to do.
Giants have a chance of appearing in temperate and subtropical climates, which is based on the predominant terrain (1% or 2%, but 10% for mountains). In such an encounter, the chances of it being a fog giant are 2% for plains, scrub, rough, hills, or mountains; but 9% for forest, and 35% for marshes. They also have a 4% chance of appearing in tropical or near tropical environments on the shore or a small island. For mountain giants, there’s a 2% chance of appearing in temperate or subtropical plains, scrub, forest or rough terrain, but 3% in similar hills, and 11% in similar mountains.
Giants >> amorphous blobs of blood.
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