Thursday, November 30, 2017

I, Monster Maker!

As mentioned earlier, I've been listening to and enjoying James Hollway's podcast Monster Man, a simple idea of one roleplaying fan's reading of the 1977 Monster Manual beastie by beastie. Recetly James set his listeners a challenge I simply couldn't overlook: create an old school D&D monster.

Specifically, create a monster based on a bargain-shop miniature or knick-knack; the way the very first proprietary creatures were made by the likes of Gary Gygax and Tim Kaske from the dime store bags of 'dinosaurs' (loosely referred to as Chinasaurs, although they really originated in Hong Kong), repurposed to become the Carrion Crawler, Rust Monster, Owl Bear and Bullette. James' challenge was as much to do this as make the monster, then to draw up the relevant entry for the Manual.

So I took up the challenge - initially looking around the local Two Dollar shops for inspiration, but I found little outside of some insects and marine animals, made from pretty cheap and nasty-smelling rubbery plastic. Out of desperation I went underground - specifically, under the house to my Bitz Box, and found some loose plastic toys collected from recent school fairs. From that I found this guy:

I've no idea who or what he is. Looks modern, lacked a tail, so I carved up an old Allosaurus and courtesy of the donor dino, the result was near indistinguishable:

 The question then became what to convert my new beastie into? The current paintjob is okay - certainly fine for tabletop play, if a little airbrushed and quite 90s in colour scheme. Was it from a video game or something? Anyway, when I got it I thought it could be an evil tree spirit or something. Cut to the Monster Man contest and I wasn't as drawn to that interpretation. Still stumped, I undercoated it old school style with white acrylic...


...and inspiration struck! One turquoise wash later, with some blenched bone highlights and he's a mountain menace, a white wailer, an Eisengeist... ehh, I'll come up with something.

The next candidate was even simpler and more organic in his creation. take a grasshopper head and a triceratops body (it helps if they're not to scale, obviously) and you get this guy:


Sorta resembles a Rust Monster! But my version, the Flambeau or spit lizard, is a more natural creature in intent. The Flambeau lives deep in damp places where it eats subterranean fungi and rotten or petrified vegetation. Due to intestinal fermentation it has a unique defensive manoeuvre: it spits a noxious substance to deter its attackers. Now, in the natural world this means a tarry, foul-smelling substance to gum up would-be aggressors and maybe provide some random protein for our chimaeric critter here. However, as a trap for the unfortunately adventuring party, the Flambeau's spit also turns out to be highly flammable.


Yeah, he's a natural, walking napalm cannon to anyone sporting a flaming torch, opened lantern, or foolish enough to go in fists blazing with a fireball. Heh heh heh.

Stats to come, though  I missed the Monster Man deadline due to other engagements :/ Oh well.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Of Monsters and Men

Lately I've been indulging in touching up my podcast listening posts. Due to natural attrition and the capricious whims of fate, some once-beloved podcasts fell off the perch over the past year, and I've discovered new podcasts to fill their place as time goes on. One I'll cover here today, and it's a fun podcast because first of all, it does what it says on the tin, and second of all, it doesn't appear to threaten to outstay its welcome - both good things in my book!



And so to the book itself, the podcast, for the book itself of the 1977 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual, and the podcast Monster Man, one man (and occasionally also his wife) rambling through the tome, cover to cover, so far in alphabetical order. At ten to twelve minutes an episode it's a fun whistle through the fabled, the revered, the weird and the gonzo of Old School D&D's classic bestiary.

Um, that's about it. It's pretty much what I'd want from a shortform podcast like this - descriptions of a monster, taking in historical, cutural and biological angles, plus reference to the artwork in the MM (which even casual browsers will know to be varying in styles and quality.) Host James Holloway comes to his subject fresh, with a classical perspective, but not so scholarly to be exclusive or inaccessible. I'm checkcing it out on a regular basis, and will be listening with keen ears on some upcoming entries!