Mar 3, 2010
Best and Worst of TSR: Fiend Folio
Fiend Folio was the first monster book I owned. I didn't get the Monster Manual until much later, so this was my Monster Manual. Until I got the Fiend Folio I recall being frustrated I didn't have the Treasure Type table that the monster appendices in the Dungeon Master's Guide referred to. I was so happy to get this book because it had that table - accompanied by one of the best illustrations in the book:
Unfortunately the Fiend Folio did deserve much of its criticism. There was some weird and goofy stuff in here! As much as I love Erol Otus, his illustration of the Khargra was just...lame:
Of all the illustrations in the Fiend Folio, the one that most inspired me was this one of a fighter, who looks very much like John Carter of Mars, battling Lizard Kings. This illustration inspired me so much that I wanted to draw like that artist (whose signature is indecipherable). Looking at it now I can see all the anatomy and other technical problems, but it is a good composition and my nostalgia still lets me see it like my younger, less art-educated, self.
The Fiend Folio is a real mixed bag. Mostly remembered for it's silliness, but it also had some of the best TSR had to offer in the way of cool and interesting monsters.