Sunday, November 5, 2017

FF Monsters and SWCL Part 2

Back when I first started looking into the FF seriously, I made the observation that the number of monster entries per page was significantly lower than the MMI. I chalked it up to the growing complexity of D&D and its inevitable crawl towards the rules-heavy editions to come. I also admitted that, despite being my favorite of all the early monster collections, there were a number of monsters I’d never used specifically because of the verbose entires and all the little fiddly bits associated with these creatures.

Now that I am actually converting a selection of FF creatures to SWCL, I find myself struggling to keep the texts describing several of these monsters short. Of course, by “short” I mean the one sentence descriptions that characterize so many of the creatures in SWCL. For example:
AC: 8[11] HD: 2 Attacks: +2, slam (1d6) Move: 6 Special: Undead
Shambling corpses who crave the blood and brains of the living.
Compare that to a similar HD undead creature that I’ve endeavored to convert from the FF:
AC: 2[17] HD: 2
Attacks: +2, claw (1d4) Move: 6
Special: Undead; Immune to Normal Weapons; Disease; Spellcasting; Vulnerable to Silver
Robed, worm-eaten walking corpses can cast Illusion on themselves three times a day to appear to be normal. When hit, victims must make a Save or get a diseased that prevents all magical healing until the victim receives a Cure Condition spell. Huecuva take +1 damage from silver weapons.
Note that I have seriously trimmed this down from its original and even from its simplified version in the S&W edition of Tome of Horrors Complete.

To put this more concretely, SWCL averages 6 monster entries per page. When I put together Swords & Shapeshifters, I managed to get 7 monster entries per page. I am guesstimating that I’ll be around 4 entires per page when I am done typesetting my FF version of SWCL.

It's fascinating that, despite my efforts at finding the simplest way to present these monsters, I am finding myself following in the footsteps of Don Turnbull and company. I am writing verbose monster descriptions and I am beginning to understand why.

The monsters that inhabit both SWCL and MMI are largely creatures that pervade our cultural consciousness. Even if someone who doesn’t play D&D or has never read Tolkien will still have an idea of what an orc is. Certainly the word “zombie” needs little to no description at all.

In contrast, the FF is full of creatures that the average person may have never heard of before. Huecuva certainly falls into this category. Whereas I can assume most people will be able to fill in the blanks when it comes to goblins, orcs and zombies, I can’t when it comes to creatures like the huecuva, volt and even the somewhat familiar flind.

In retrospect, this may be what has so powerfully drawn me towards the FF: there are very little cultural preconceptions about the creatures found in its pages. Therefore, I am more free to expect more of what I want from them than I ever could from an orc.

1 comment:

  1. These monsters have more special abilities. This makes them more interesting, but also their descriptions get longer.