- Non-OGL monsters. One of the most iconic monsters of the FF (the Githyanki) and one of my favorite (and criminally under-utilized) monsters (the Slaad) are non-OGL and therefore have to be re-imagined in ways that feel familiar but, for legal reasons, are different.
- References to creature outside the FF. The best example of this is the Flind. These are a special type of Gnoll, which don’t exist within the confines of the FF. To a lesser extent, this is also an issue with the Githyanki because their lore so heavily relies upon the Mind-Flayer, which not only doesn’t exist within the confines of the FF, but are also non-OGL.
- There are about 160 monster entries in the FF. Due to the scope of SWCL, that number needs to be trimmed to about 30 and those 30 need to present something that resembles a cohesive science-fantasy world-view.
The first is actually probably the easiest of the three to solve because I have already treaded these waters before. I have a collection of monsters I used when I wrote The Caves of Cormikir, which was my version of B2:The Keep on the Borderlands that conceptually would have been part of the Basic D&D boxed set had the FF been the source of all the monsters. I also have my own version of the Githyanki that I have used for years in my Lost Colonies campaign.
Nonetheless, I still have to cut out the creature references from sources outside of the FF. There are two main ways I plan to do that:
In the case of the Flind, being described as hyena-men gives me leeway to create an entire class of monsters called “Beastmen” of which the Flind is a type. This then gives me the freedom to re-skin virtually all the of various humanoid monsters as some variation of the “beastman type.” Bullywugs become frogmen. Kuo-Toa become fishmen. Grimlocks become molemen, etc. This also allows me to re-skin Flinds, Ogrillons and Lizard Kings as exceptional types that exist within all variations of beastmen.
The second main strategy is to re-write the narrative behind the Githyanki (Sons of Cyn). Rather than their ancient conflict being with the Illithid, that conflict will be with the Slaad. Since the the number if demons and devils in the FF is rather sparse and since their really is no significant difference between Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil in my book, the Slaad will also be a nice stand-in for demons and devils (I’ll call them Fiends of Entropy as a little nod to the title of FF).
This conflict, rather than happening across various planes of Gygax’s cosmology, happens, for lack of a better phrase, in the Prime Material Plane. As a consequence, creation itself has begun to rebel. This is the origin of things like dragons, who are more personifications of elemental forces than a traditional D&D dragon. Since FF dragons are “Oriental” I’ll use the five-point Asian elemental system rather than the four-point European. This will give a framework from which to understand all of the creatures I choose: they have evolved out of this greater conflict between the Sons of Cyn and the Fiends of Entropy.
This, then, gives me a criteria to trim the fat, as it were. If I can’t see a way to include a creature in these two frameworks (beastmen and the conflict between the Sons of Cyn and the Fiends of Entropy), I just won’t include it.
Fascinating thought process. And I like your solution very much. Really making things simpler makes them elegant.
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