It is weird how children’s media and horror so often run up in close proximity. This morning my younger son and I were playing with an alphabet puzzle where one picture is, I think, supposed to be a bear standing up and holding an X-ray, but actually looks like a bear pulling open its belly to display its bones.

The idea of a skeletal grizzly bear stalking about in an ill-fitting sack of its own pelt is one of the more horrific ideas that has graced my brain lately.

Originally published on Google Plus

Uplift in heroic fantasy RPGs

I reread Startide Rising and The Uplift War recently, and it occurred to me that that interspecies dynamic would be an interesting way of handling the profusion of intelligent races in an “everything in the books”-style D&D campaign.  Sure, maybe bugbears and ogres are basically the same thing, but that’s just because the illithids thought the aboleth had too good a thing going with ogres to let the idea go unswiped.  If you have a problem with that, I’m sure the beholders will be happy to field your complaints about their client race.  Or their patrons, if you can find the right Outer Plane.

Originally published on Google Plus

Ghulhunds, and other dungeoneering breeds

Today, as I was unsuccessfully trying to get my dog Finn’s attention to get him out from underfoot, my wife tried to observe that Finn “was interested only in leash”, but it came out “was interested only in lich.” It made me wonder what sort of specialized monster-hunting dog breeds exist in heroic fantasy worlds.

Does the city watch descend into the sewers with a pack of ghulhunds, bred to root out undead in close spaces? Are there wyvern-tolling retrievers? Are dungeoneers perilously close to a TPK ever unexpectedly rescued by a St. Bernard/blink dog hybrid with a cask of healing potion around its neck? Do some parties bring along specialized trap-sniffing dogs?  (If for no other reason than to be able to say “What do you mean we didn’t say we check for traps?  The f&$(%ing dog always checks for &#)(%ing traps, it’s literally the meaning of its existence!”)

Inquiring minds want to know.

Originally published on Google Plus

The Bestiary of Stupid: The Clich

Last night I was on register, and my coworker was putting away a special order which was something like “The History and Origins of Cliches”. However, the left edge was partially covered by a note, and so my geek-soaked brain parsed it as “The History and Origins of Liches”. It made me think, however, that fantasy gaming needs yet another undead monster: the clich.

Whenever an evil wizard of great power dies at the hands of a young hero whose father and/or village he killed, or by falling from a great height into fire, or by otherwise getting his long-due comeuppance, a clich may be created. The new clich will rapidly set about its nefarious plot of world domination and/or sweet vengeance, cackling madly at every opportunity, killing henchmen who dare to question its harebrained schemes, and capturing heroes in order to reveal its secrets to them. A clich can only be killed permanently if a hero succumbs to temptation and accepts the clich’s offer of vast power in exchange for his submission: the cognitive dissonance will cause the clich to explode.

Originally published on LiveJournal