The Fiend Factory was a regular feature in White Dwarf magazine back in the late 70s and into the 80s before the British publication became a house organ for Games Workshop products. Readers would send in descriptions of their homebrewed D&D monsters and Don Turnbull would decide who made the cut. Crazy-cool artists like Russ Nicholson would then bring 'em to life visually. Man, why doesn't the OSR do this? *hint-hint* *nudge-nudge*
Some of these monsters "graduated" to Turnbull's Fiend Folio. The Folio got (and sometimes still gets) a lot of flack for being sub-par compared to the likes of Monster Manuals I and II. Even Ed Greenwood has gone on the record to say (and I paraphrase here) that the book was weak sauce. I can't say that I agree. Sure, there's some whacked-out creeps in there -- gorbels and flumphs and CIFALs, oh my -- but there's just sooo much win -- slaad! kenku! githyanki! -- that any perceived inadequacies are really just an odd aftertaste to this sumptuous Creature Cake. And, to be honest, I wouldn't want to live in a world without flumphs. I like to imagine that all those bizarre, almost Carroll-esque beasts are lurking in my campaigns. And the more I ponder it, the more I want to include them in the menagerie of monstrosities my PCs will encounter.
Tonight I was poring over early issues of White Dwarf looking at monsters who didn't meet the (obviously stringent) requirements to be part of the Folio. I found two that I want to talk about now, but more forgotten fiends will be forthcoming.
The Squonk, created by Christopher Kinnear, appeared in WD #7 (June/July 1978). Basically, he's a feeble little rat-beast with serious skin problems (dungeon-funk?) who cries a lot and happens to be 100% resistant to magic. 100% RESISTANT. Don Turnbull makes some silly comment about how female players are more likely to respond to the squonk and have pity on it. To hells with that, I say! If something has that kind of natural magic-off about it, then I would be rounding these babies up and breeding them in captivity. I'd then find myself some sort of monster anatomy specialist who could figure out just what squonk-organ is the source of its magical antipathy. Then it's harvesting time! If there's anything my friend Cyclopeatron taught me, it's that good stuff can be found in entrails! Note the squonk's 2D8+1 Hit Dice. That tells me that these babies are big, possibly twice the girth of your average giant rat. "It will shy away from contact and will hide and move fast." So there will definitely be some strategy involved. I would suggest laying down some high-grade (bug)bear traps.
The Stair Stalker, created by Roger Musson, is just plain fucking creepy. It appeared in WD #9 (Oct/Nov 1978). "This is, of course, a wildly 'silly' creature," says Don. I'm not so sure. A shaggy green creature with animal intelligence that could be carrying a sizable amount of gold that compulsively haunts stairwells? I mean look at that drawing. It's like Dr. Seuss's hastily sketched nightmare. My mind is filled with questions. Where is this thing getting its gold? Do adventurers leave it tips? And how does it reproduce? Does a she-stalker have different habits? What is it eating if it's so indifferent to adventurers? Don says it's probably immune to Charm Monster and any other magic that would lead it away from its stairwell. Creepy. I picture the stair stalker roaming some poorly lit, spiraling stairwell, tenaciously gripping its bag of gold with its green claws and not making a sound. Talk about a candidate for Philotemy's Mythic Underworld...
That there is the dakon as it originally appeared in issue #9. Quite a far cry from the intelligent gorilla you see in the Folio. This drawing is much more to my taste. It totally changes my perception of this monster, and I can't help but imagine him puttering around the dungeon and having territorial disputes with kobolds.