Monday, April 11, 2011

Mythic Monday: The Meenlock

Can you see them, Sally ... hiding in the shadows. They're alive, Sally. They want you to be one of them when the lights go out.

So check it out - I was recently listening to one of the Dragonsfoot D&D podcasts (Roll for Initiative) , and they were talking about the Meenlock from the Fiend Folio and puzzling over where the creature came from… and it struck me, don't they remember the old 70's movie, "Don't be Afraid of the Dark"?  I loved B-horror and that one scared the heck out of me as a 5-6 year old(?) on a Saturday afternoon.  Many years later I remember coming across the Meenlock in the Fiend Folio and making the inspirational connection.

The typical Mythic Monday monster has involved going back to the roots of folklore to get ideas on changing up or improving D&D monsters; the Meenlock doesn't quite have a centuries old pedigree, but I love the creature and the roots of the story, so here goes.  Besides, Guillermo Del Toro has a huge man-crush on the movie, and is doing a remake this summer.

In the movie, a woman and her husband inherit her father's house; he's away on business and she discovers a sealed fireplace in the dad's study while exploring.  She ends up bringing in a workman to unseal it, and discovers a network of tunnels (too small for people) underneath the hearth.  From that point on, she's terrorized by these little guys - they constantly douse the lights and set up little ambushes, and whisper in a way only she can hear; they kill her decorator by tripping her down the stairs.  No one believes her about the creatures, and the original ends on a stormy night where the woman is locked in the house all alone with the creatures; when friends finally arrive to rescue her, she's completely missing.  But then we hear her voice amongst the voices of the creatures… she's been dragged into the hole and turned into one of them!

Anyway, the write up for the original Meenlock is in the Fiend Folio and is totally over-the-top as a "stalk the party, claim a victim" type of monster for terrorizing adventurers; it tracks the movie monster almost identically, right down to the sealed lair, the telepathic messages that only the victim can hear, and then making the victim one of the monsters.  Here are the salient points from the Fiend Folio.  Their appearance causes fear; they live in a sealed vertical shaft and only become active against adventurers when someone opens the shaft and breaks the seal - the victim brings it on themself.  They pick a single victim to terrorize and send telepathic messages only to the victim, degrading their combat abilities and hopefully sowing some paranoia.  They have a paralytic touch, and their ultimate goal is to drag the victim back to the shaft and turn them into another Meenlock.

These guys are awesome!

One of us, One of us.
The Meenlock (flavored for Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 3-5
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 2 claws + paralyzation
Damage: 1d4 / 1d4
Save: M4
Morale: 11
Hoard Class:
XP: 300

Cause Fear:
Anyone less than 4HD seeing a Meenlock will fall to the ground in fear for 5-8 rounds (save vs paralysis to halve the effect).

Dimension Door:
Meenlocks teleport 6' every other round, giving them a -4 to AC on those rounds.  They typically use this power to extinguish light sources.

Telepathic Terror:
Range 300'.  The Meenlocks will stay at range and harass the victim, causing him or her to lose 1 point of Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Wisdom per hour, cumulative, in addition to a -1 on to hit rolls.  The effects end when the Meenlocks can no longer follow (like if the party moves into bright daylight).

Meenlocks surprise on a 1-5 out of 6.

It takes 3 Meenlocks to carry a victim; if they claim their target, the victim will be dragged back to the Meenlock lair and transformed into a Meenlock.

Edit:  Hey, someone else featured Don't Be Afraid in the Dark in a post - check out an alternate take over at Aldeboran.  I like the Jermlaine as these types of creatures as well, and could fill a similar role in an adventure.

Note:  Kind of an OGL questions - are we allowed to use a term like Meenlock on a blog, or is that IP protected because it's in the Fiend Folio?  Just curious how that aspect of the OGL works...


  1. Cool post. I'd never heard of that movie.

  2. Daddy Grognard told me about your post --- I wrote about Jermlaine on my own blog... what a great monster the Meenlock is!

  3. I loved that movie when I was high school and, you're right, the Meenlocks are a good fit for the critters under the house. (I've also thought they represented the Morlocks from the 1960 version of "The Time Machine.")

  4. Could be very easily developed into a Lovecraftian monstrosity, ala Rats in the Walls...

  5. I don't have my Fiend Folio with me but I see to remember that they favored stalking paladins for some reason. I like the group picture in one of the newer monster manuals because it shows that the Meenlocks are all differently hideous little deformed monsters- each one is unique. Cool post.

  6. Pierce - yeah, I remember the Fiend Folio did say something about tormenting good characters, and a paladin would automatically go right to the top of the list.

    If you remember which edition had the Meenlock group pose, let me know!

  7. They sound much cooler and scarier than I remember from reading the folio. And the movie sounds chilling. Be interesting to see the remake.

  8. Hmmmm... there is only 2 of them but they look pretty creepy....

    I think it was the Fiend Folio, you can find the pic just by searching Meenlock on google.

  9. Roger clued me in to the connection back around October. I'm embarassed to say I never thought of it despite being familiar with the film.

    Del Toro has produced a remake slated for release this fall I believe.