Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fiend Folio: Achaieri

All I can really say about the Achaieri is this: It's a bird. Why does it need four legs?

Okay, no, there are many more things I can say:

Why is it round? Why is the picture in the 3e MM even less menacing than the one in the Fiend Folio? I mean, it's kinda menacing. I could see how this thing could be scary. And then I think, "Round bird with four legs what?"

It gives off toxic black smoke when injured. That's actually kinda cool.

I've never used this thing in a game, and never had it inflicted on me in a game. It's in 3e D&D core, so obviously it's out there and around in people's headspace, but I suspect I'm not alone in looking at the picture and going "round bird four legs what?"

Which makes me think, hey, maybe I should use it in a game sometime. It's creepy and otheworldly and evil, it doesn't get much play, and the name is actually kind a cool.

This would all hinge on DM description, naturally. If I just went and introduced it with, "it's a large, round bird, with four legs each ending in wicked claws," well... basically I'd need some other way to describe it than "large, round bird." Even my players would laugh at me, and they're used to every monster description ending with "and it has great, terrible claws!"

Things to start with in describing the Achaierai besides "large, round bird":
  1. Its stilted, unearthly gate.
  2. Its four metallic, scaly legs, each ending in a wickedly sharp claw.
  3. Its long, hooked beak.
  4. Its terrible, clanging squawk, that seems to echo through the black depths of your very mind.
  5. Its blood-red, filthy, matted feathers.
  6. Its roving yellow eyes.
(And funny, I thought this was going to be my first FF post to revolve around some variation of "this is the most ridiculous monster I've ever heard of!" but apparently that fine distinction shall go to another critter. I really do think that this thing is kind of cool, in a deranged sort of way, now that I've given it some thought. And "deranged" is the best way to be cool, if you ask me.)


  1. I think we fought these once, ages ago but I am not longer sure . . .

    But, yes, they are weird, otherworldly and dangerous, if used well. Good luck.

  2. Environment would probably go a long way with a critter like this too. If you run into it in a bright, sunlit field, yeah, it's a round bird with four legs. Run into it in a blasted, overcast wasteland, or a smoke shrouded grove of unnaturally twisted trees, then it's something right out of Heironymus Bosch.

  3. Yeah, agree with BigFella here. I could have sworn I'd seen such a critter in a Bosch painting, but now I can't find it.

    And yea, the 1e pic is lightyears cooler and more scary than the mutant parakeet of 3e. Which is odd because usually 3e is much more consistent on being cool and/or scary.

  4. Lore Sjoberg used to do the occasional riff on ridiculous MM creatures (2nd ed) at Bad Gods. Last one was Leprechauns.

  5. The achaierai works for me, because I imagine it coming from the hell of Heironymous Bosch.

  6. seaofstarsrpg: Thanks!

    BigFella: Ah, an excellent point. Yeah, environment is something that I really need to do more with. There are a number of good effects you can get with it.

    trollsmyth: Usually. But not always, clearly. ;p

    I wonder if it's the color, at least in part. They're listed very specifically in the FF description, but the line art lends a much more ominous look to the thing.

    Antiquated Tory: Very weird. But that would be an interesting take on Leprechauns. Hmm...

    blizack: I think that's an entire campaign, right there.

  7. I have used Achaierai exactly once, way back in '91.

    Upon deployment of the black toxic smoke, one of the characters failed his saving throw - and the player cried "my character is ruined", tore up his character sheet, and started rolling up a new character before I could say anything.

    Looking at FF pg9 now, I'm tempted to give them a War Of The Worlds vibe...