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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 the 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 existing categories. I’ve already discussed demons, devils, and giants in prior posts. Today, it’s dragons. And how could it not be? The game is Dungeons and Dragons, right? They were originally called oriental dragons, then lung dragons, and while they aren’t in 5e as far as I know, they’re generally called eastern dragons now as far as I can tell.
Whereas the chromatic dragons were all evil, and the metallic dragons were all good, the eastern dragons are neutral along the moral axis. That is, they were chaotic neutral, true neutral, or lawful neutral. (Do you notice what I did there? Probably not.) The Yu Lung live a larva-like existence, morphing into one of the other types after reaching the “old” age (101 years). The others fly despite all but the Li Lung being wingless. Only two of the six have breath weapons. In short, these aren’t your Monster Manual‘s dragons, which gives you new material when providing a familiar context. I could have stood for an eastern equivalent to Tiamat or Bahamut for them, but if that has no basis in the legends, then its absence is understandable.
Wizards of the Coast has a lot on their hands. To my knowledge, they haven’t recreated these dragons for 5e, but if they get the chance, they should. These dragons, among other creatures, could provide a cultural backdrop in which the many, good, non-western stories could be told, and it’d be a shame if the current generation of gamers weren’t able to have some fun with them.
Whatever their reasons.
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