Sunday, February 24, 2019

Basic boring monsters as building blocks

I am playing on my computer Heroes of a Broken Land, a procedural grid based dungeon crawler and I noted that the monsters were all variations of basic boring creatures like bats, snakes, rats, slimes, zombies, etc… I wondered if it could be interesting to create a monster manual using a limited palettes of creatures as building blocks.

Why? I like low-fi basic stuff and I am intrigued by the thematic settings that may emerge out of these limited palettes. This is just a “lonely fun” experiment but it could be useful to generate local biomes. Well, I guess this link to my love of biomes too.

So for our basic palette I thought of six basic boring monsters types:
  1. Flying harrowers: bats, birds, flying bugs 
  2. Slow and slimy ambushers: frogs, slugs, snails, leeches 
  3. Poisonous predators: snakes, centipedes, spiders, scorpions 
  4. Smart scavengers: rats, crows, monkeys (ants?) 
  5. Stubborn turtlers: crabs, beetles, turtles 
  6. Formless dissolver: slime, ooze, jelly, moss (plants could be fun too)  
We could start with something very generic like:
  1. Bats 
  2. Frogs 
  3. Snakes 
  4. Rats 
  5. Crabs 
  6. Slimes 
Or we could go with something more whimsical like:
  1. Fireflies 
  2. Anemone 
  3. Centipede 
  4. Hyena (a bit too big for a basic monster but let's try it) 
  5. Trilobites 
  6. Jellies 
So then I created 10 types of flavors or types of creatures we find in the monster manual.
(I put exemples in broad order of HD in parenthesis)
  1. Humanoids (goblins, orcs, burbears, ogres, giants, titan) 
  2. Domesticated beasts (pets, messenger, hunting, burden, war, mount, cattle) 
  3. Ferocious packs, lone predators or territorial grazers (wild beasts, from small to gigantic) 
  4. Strange chimera (satyrs, harpies, centaurs, pegasus, griffons, manticores) 
  5. Artificial construx (animated statues, clockwork beings, golems) 
  6. Nature spirits (sprites, faes, blinking, nymph, unicorn, elemental, swampthing) 
  7. Watchful guardians (skeletons, gargoyles, medusa, minotaur, sphynx, naga, mummies, beholder) 
  8. Creatures of the night (zombies, ghouls, shadows, werebeasts, ghosts, vampires, demons) 
  9. Monstrous hoarders (hydra, abomination, dragon) 
  10. Mimics (doppelgangers, carnivorous traps, parasites, shapeshifters) 

Now the idea is to mix our palettes of monsters with these special flavors. I think that I would generate 6 creatures for each step of HD.

Generic palette

1HD
  1. Hunting Bats (trained to hunt giant bugs) 
  2. Tiny Faes riding on Frogs 
  3. Cameleon Snakes 
  4. Ratfolk Carpenters 
  5. Collector Crabs 
  6. Slimes Hounds 
2HD
  1. Clockwork Bats 
  2. Clawed Frogs 
  3. War Snakes (warbeasts) 
  4. Wolf-Rats 
  5. Mule-Crabs (beasts of burden) 
  6. Coins slimes 
3HD
  1. Bat maidens 
  2. Work Toads (beasts of burden) 
  3. Snakemen shapeshifters 
  4. Ghoul Rats 
  5. Mace Crabs 
  6. Ectoplasmic Slimes 
…9HD
  1. Blind giants with batlikes features, live deep underground. 
  2. Titan Toads (grumpy but gentle giants) 
  3. The Watcher of the Ivory Tower (100 eyes giant snake) 
  4. The Eater of the Deads (gigantic many headed humanoid rat queen) 
  5. Old Molten (gigantic steam breathing Crab) 
  6. War shamblers (gigantic slimes mind controlled for war) 


Whimsical palette

1HD
  1. Blood Fireflies (drain blood with their light) 
  2. Shoulder Anemone (pets) 
  3. Temple’s Centipede (ivory carapaces) 
  4. Laughing sticks (hyena made of tied sticks by witches) 
  5. Trilobites Tribe (humanoids) 
  6. Jellies Gloves (jellies that wrap around hands) 

2HD
  1. Fireflies-Mentis (dog sized nasty hybrid) 
  2. Guarding Anemone (dog sized crawling anemone) 
  3. Rollers (centipede who roll on itselves and hunt in packs) 
  4. Thirsty Watchers (hyena with eyes on their fur, must be summoned) 
  5. Mermaid’s Masks (trilobite that sing like mermaids, their shell look like a woman face) 
  6. Butterflies-Jellies (shimmering flying faery jellies, dissolve hopes) 
3HD
  1. Ghost Fireflies (their ghostly light lure people like will-o-the-wisps) 
  2. Shadow-Anemone 
  3. Centipede-Gargoyles (take a lot of patience to sculpts the legs) 
  4. Trap Jaws (clockwork big jawed hyena who eat metal bits) 
  5. Crawling Masons (big land trilobites colonies who form stone structures) 
  6. Jellies Ruffs (graft around neck to control host) 
...9HD
  1. Balefirefly (demonic firefly that eat souls with it light) 
  2. Anemone-Naga (guardian giant anemone-headed snake with multiple women heads hidden inside the anemone) 
  3. The Horde (fire breathing giant centipede, named for it thousand legs) 
  4. The Laughing Mother (giant centaur hyena woman) 
  5. The Elder (Gigantic fossilized undead Trilobite) 
  6. Carmina Jellies (vampire jelly that can take a humanoid form) 

Maybe I could use this to generate the biome of the Potoo Island.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Shrinking Land

I tried to write a more personal post to present my point of view on the cycle of abuses that the author of Vornheim inflicted on a significant part of the OSR, DIY and RPG communities. But I still have a hard time processing everything and the words are difficult to come by.

What I can say is that when I discovered the old school gaming community, it felt like a vast and wonderful land full of friendly and creative people. When I discovered this land I was wounded from a failed attempt at transitioning, interacting with these people helped me to heal and to start drawing again.

But then Z.Sabbath conflictual and controlling attitude started to impact more and more the community, he started putting my friends on trial, labeling them and asking other people to block them and to stop interacting with them. This opened my eyes and I started to notice his gaslighting, controlling and grooming tactics. As the toxic behaviors repeated themselves (including those of others), the land grew poorer, creative people that inspired me a lot left and I had to avoid many community spaces and projects. Z Sabbath befriended many of my friends, including all of my trans women friends and the places where I felt safe were fewer and fewer, the land shrunk under my feet.

Eventually it became too difficult for me to manage my relations with other creators as many of them tolerated or supported him, when I saw that he was playing a leadership role in the G+ diaspora I understood that I could not follow them. And then there was the LotFP photo incident that spotlighted a very transphobic author and the transphobic reactions that followed, including the “I identify as a alien helicopter” post by Venger S that many humored. These things made me feel in a inhospitable place and I could not get closer to my allies as many of them supported the author of Vornheim. So I decided to leave the RPG community… I closed everything and I took refuge on my Patreon and eventually in Shel Khan’s tiny community of artists on Discord.

But the thing is that I really enjoy crafting and publishing roleplaying games material. In January I slowly started working back on some of my unfinished projects but working in exile was not the same, I felt cut away, things felt less meaningful and I had a hard time motivating myself. Now that things seem to change because of some courageous testimonies, I feel like that I can slowly reconnect with the RPG community and feel safe again interacting with other gamers and creators.

This was the story part, I could also discuss how Z.Sabbath toxic and controlling behavior made the old school community a creatively poorer space, especially for people who had different sensibilities. But right now I just want to have fun creating again and to move forward.

I want to move forward slowly and carefully. I am reopening this blog to use it as a archive and I will maybe open a new one to post gaming stuff, but I don’t know yet. I will put back my roleplaying zines on LuLu when I will find some time. I am also accepting some commissions for games related illustrations. Naturally, I still want to work on non gaming related projects, like coloring books, children books, comics and other artsy zines. (Right now I simply work on what seem fun and doable).