Category Archives: Beasts

CAERKARA – DESIGN OF THINGS TO COME

In keeping with what I said over the weekend about beginning to once again post my own Works (as per this Post) here is my entry for Design of Things to Come, though it is one day early due to later work week scheduling conflicts.

Also I have now corrected all my former entries in The Other World so that they now properly show in that category, as they should. Later I will begin reposting my Essays on Gaming and Game Design.

So here you go, the Introduction to The Caerkara, or The Expeditionary Force

 

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Introduction to The Caerkara

When the Eldeven folk began to realize that monsters were being accidentally created through the use of Elturgy (Arcane Magic) they began to track down and capture many of these monsters and isolate them in various places where they could be studied and hopefully cured. However the alterations caused by exposure to (especially) high level Elturgy seemed irreversible.

Eventually the Eldevens also realized that Elturgy itself seemed to be “mutating” some of their own kind, as well as other creatures, into monsters, or the Caladeem. Many at the Court of Samarkand came to understand that some of these monsters were completely rogue and out of control and could not be held or captured, that once transformed certain monsters would have to be killed due to their new and vicious nature. The Eldevens in Samarkand formed secret teams of “monster hunters” that traveled throughout the Known World (and sometimes to places in their world beyond their explored knowledge) to capture or kill monsters. At the same time the Samareül began a project that lasted for many decades that attempted to “repair” elturgy so that it no longer created monsters. But the deterioration only seemed to increase and worsen and no means was discovered to return Elturgy to a reliably benign state of operation.

Some monster hunter teams soon discovered that monsters were disappearing right before capture. The reason was a mystery until it was discovered that these monsters were fleeing to another world, through means unknown. The Samareül put his best Sages and Elturgists upon the problem and eventually the Drüidect was discovered, which allowed travel between their world and Terra, though the means by which “the Weirding Road” operates is still a mystery.

The Samareül formed a secret and elite team of Monster Hunters to go to Terra and either recover or kill the monsters that had escaped to that world. While there agents of this team met human beings and discovered human ideas about religion as well as information about Miracles (Thaumaturgy). When this team returned home and reported on their findings the Samareül decided that these events were not coincidental at all but fated, and that Thaumaturgy, God, and religion might just be the long sought answer to either repairing or replacing the troubled nature of Elturgy.

Since then the Samareül has been carefully studying humans, their society, religion, thaumaturgy, God, and other related matters. He has sent his elite Expeditionary Team into Terra on numerous occasions. Ostensibly it is the job of this team to hunt down and capture or kill the escaped monsters from their world, but secretly this team also studies humans, religion, thaumaturgy, etc. and gather intelligence to return to the Samareül for further study and research. This secret team or Expeditionary Force is called the Caerkara. Over the course of their expeditions to Terra they have spent much time in the Byzantine Empire (where many of the odd events affecting both worlds, as well as the escaped monsters, seem to tend to congregate) and humans have become aware of their existence, though not their true nature and point of origin. They have also become uneasy allies on occasion with the Basilegate, and as a result of this interaction a relationship has developed between the Court at Constantinople and the Court at Samarkand.

A WORK OF GREAT SCIENCE FICTION?

Is GRR Martin’s ASOIF not every bit as much a work of Great Science Fiction as it is a work of High Fantasy?

(Though, perhaps given the numerous bloody, torturous, criminal, immoral, and amoral events of the story and books, perhaps Epic Fantasy is a far better term than High Fantasy. I should also say that I have read quite a bit of Martin’s science fiction so I do not make this observation in a vacuum.)

In any case look at the background, the events, and the milieu of the world itself. Even the very planet is apparently out of sync, ecologically and biologically. You have a world whose very orbit and rotation seems seasonally misaligned.

You have a past superculture (Valyria), apparently with a fairly highly developed technology, who were abruptly and almost instantly annihilated in what appears to be a self-induced immolation or act of self-destruction.

You have incredible acts of architecture, engineering, and materials control, such as with the Wall.

You have what is essentially a wholly alien race of creatures (the White Walkers) who can disappear into hibernation for untold aeons only to reappear in a mutated and far more dangerous form. You have other species of peculiar natures and seemingly bizarre backgrounds, such as the giants and the Children.

You have a very dangerous long-term degenerating disease which looks very much like some form of designed biological agent. Or yet another mutating agent.

You have a boy who cannot only “warg” himself backwards in time to gain critical information or historical events, he can actually influence people in the past. In other words you have visionary time travel with a built in ability to influence previous timelines.

And I could list many other such elements, including the dragons themselves, and their obviously native and possibly enhanced, not animalistic intelligence.

Now none of these things negate the obviously fantastical elements of the story (whichever you take as the source material for the real story and the truer events, the books or the Game of Thrones show) but they do point out that the frontier between fantasy and science fiction in this case is an extremely thin line of division.

Then again the exact same thing could be said of Tolkien’s work.

The frontier between science fiction and fantasy in the works of both men is an uncertain one indeed. At least when it comes to certain obvious elements.

 

 

 

 

THE TOMBS OF THE WHISPERING WORMS – LOST LIBRARY

THE TOMBS OF THE WHISPERING WORMS

Not my work but I fund the idea to be very interesting… see title link for .pdf download

 

THE WORM OUROBOROS

I have been re-reading the Worm Ouroboros by ER Eddison lately and have found it to be immensely entertaining, stimulating to my imagination, and very useful for my own writings.

SOME OF THE BEST

36 of the Best Roleplaying Games

“I love video games, but you can’t beat the magic in the personal interaction around a table.” — Filamena Young


Just as there really is no such thing as a best book or movie, there is no best roleplaying game, or even best in a particular category. But if you’re looking for something new to try, this selection of games will help. The games were selected to cover a wide spectrum of game mechanics, settings, and play styles. Some are well known, others relatively obscure. Some are licensed from video games, movies, TV shows, or books. Some are free for download, and several provide free quickstart PDFs.

Select an image to read a full page writeup about that game, including overview information, three of the things that make the game stand out out, purchasing information, and links to reviews and community sites.


13th Age
All Flesh Must Be Eaten
Apocalypse World
Atlantis: The Second Age

Basic Roleplaying
Burning Wheel
Doctor Who
Dragon Age

Dread
Dungeon Crawl Classics
Dungeon World
Dungeons and Dragons

Eclipse Phase
Fate Core
Fiasco
Firefly

Godlike
GURPS
Lady Blackbird
Microscope

Mindjammer
Mini Six
Misspent Youth
Mutants and Masterminds

Night's Black Agents
Numenera
Pathfinder
Pendragon

RuneQuest
Savage Worlds
Shadowrun
A Song of Ice and Fire

Star Wars
Swords & Wizardry
Traveller
Valiant Universe

THE BE(A)STIARY

TRACE BACK

ON MONSTERS

THE MONSTERS AND THE MAN

To me the monster is that Man
Whose spirit we cannot
Unwrap from evil in the womb
That ferments as it rots

To me the monster is that Beast
Whose tearing maw will bleed
With uncanny ichors hot
To digest what it breeds

To me the monster angelic
Who fell to Daemon’s pit
Broods on murderous revenge
With septic, cold intent

To me the monster prodigal
Like a Titan strides
To grind upon the red shorelines
Where terror does abide

Yet in me Monster curls and sleeps
Hibernating long
Dreaming when he will awake
To sing his monstrous song

So knowing this, and monsters well
I keep him drugged and bled
So he will never wake in me
To do what I most dread…

__________________________

To me there are four types of monsters in this world: The Evil, Unrepentant Man, the Naturally Savage Beast, the Supernatural Daemon, and the Unrelenting Prodigy/Prodigal.

And then there is me…

TOTALLY BAAAHHH-D!

Lol!

Never heard of this before. But any game in which you can be a Microwave can’t be all bad, right?

 

Goat Simulator is going to be a free MMO

Cult hit Goat Simulator will receive a free expansion later this month that will transform the release into a massively multiplayer online game, developer Coffee Stain Studios revealed today.

The new expansion promises to offer faction warfare between goats and sheep, along with numerous quests. Players can additionally choose to play one of five available classes, including Warrior, Rouge, Magician, Hunter and Microwave, with a level cap of 101. A gameplay trailer is available below.

The MMO-styled release launches on Nov. 20 as free downloadable content through Steam for those who already own the original title on Windows PC. Goat MMO Simulator will also be playable on Mac and Linux with full controller support.

THE MASTER’S ART

This artwork is absolutely fantastic! I’m really looking forward to getting my copy of this book.

 

THE MASTER’S ART

 

In today’s preview, we continue our look at one of the best parts of being the Dungeon Master—the distribution of treasure!

It’s good to be the dungeon master! Not only do you get to tell fantastic stories about heroes, villains, monsters, and magic, but you also get to create the world in which these stories live. Whether you’re running a D&D game already or you think it’s something you want to try, the Dungeon Master’s Guide is the book for you.

In our last excerpt, we looked at one of the sample treasure hoard tables. Today, we look at art from the treasure section itself. Here are the potion descriptions we provided the artist (Cyril Van Der Haegen) — who then added quite a few more! Can you find them all in the illustration? Click to enlarge (and look for further notes on dndwizards.tumblr.com).

•Oil of Etherealness: The exterior of any container of this cloudy gray oil is always damp with droplets of the oil that evaporate away before pooling.
•Potion of Climbing: This potion is separated into brown, silver, and gray layers resembling bands of stone.
•Potion of Diminution: This potion cycles between clear and dark red. One moment the whole liquid seems red, and then the redness is drawn to the center, replaced by clear liquid. When the last drop of red vanishes, all the liquid becomes red and the process begins again. Shaking the bottle doesn’t mix the liquids.
•Potion of Flying: This clear liquid has cloudy white impurities drifting in it and floats at the top of the bottle in defiance of gravity.
•Potion of Healing: This liquid is a bright red that glimmers with light as it is swirled.
•Potion of Heroism: This bright blue potion bubbles and steams as if boiling even when stoppered.
•Potion of Invisibility: A bottle with this potion in it looks empty but still feels as though it carries liquid.
•Potion of Longevity: This bottle of amber liquid also contains a scorpion’s tail, an adder’s fang, a dead spider, and the heart of some tiny creature that against all reason is still beating.
•Potion of Mind Reading: This opaque purple liquid has an ovoid cloud of pink that floats about at random within it.
•Potion of Speed: This yellow fluid is streaked with black. The liquid races around the interior of any vessel with enough room for it to run.
•Potion of Water Breathing: This cloudy green fluid has a tiny glowing jellyfish swimming through it and smells of the sea.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide

The Dungeon Master’s Guide provides the inspiration and the guidance you need to spark your imagination and create worlds of adventure for your players to explore and enjoy. Inside you’ll find world-building tools, tips and tricks for creating memorable dungeons and adventures, optional game rules, hundreds of classic D&D magic items, and much more!

This art preview is from the upcoming Dungeon Master’s Guide. It’s one of our favorite pieces, not just because it looks so cool but because of it’s backstory. Art Director, Kate Irwin explains: “The art on page 215 has a funny story. It was supposed to be just a few potions on an alchemist’s shelf but the artist (Cyril Van Der Haegen) made this magical full page image with EVERYTHING included. The description was simple: “Alchemist’s shelf with line-up of iconic magical potions. We’d like each potion to look distinct. Here’s a list of how they are described in the DMG. Pick some that seem fun.” The description went on to list 12 potions he could choose from, each with a short description. Obviously Cyril added to those 12 potions with tons of items, giving us one of those images that you can pour over and still find something new each time you open to the page. This was originally a half page illustration, but once we saw the amount of work he had put into it and knew we would want to show it as a full page. Finally, there were no sketches or concept art for this piece. Cyril turned it in basically completed.” Below are the dozen potions we gave him. Can you find them all in the illustration? Oil of Etherealness: The exterior of any container of this cloudy gray oil is always damp with droplets of the oil that evaporate away before pooling. Potion of Climbing: This potion is separated into brown, silver, and gray layers resembling bands of stone. Potion of Diminution: This potion cycles between clear and dark red. One moment the whole liquid seems red, and then the redness is drawn to the center, replaced by clear liquid. When the last drop of red vanishes, all the liquid becomes red and the process begins again. Shaking the bottle doesn’t mix the liquids. Potion of Flying: This clear liquid has cloudy white impurities drifting in it and floats at the top of the bottle in defiance of gravity. Potion of Healing: This liquid is a bright red that glimmers with light as it is swirled. Potion of Heroism: This bright blue potion bubbles and steams as if boiling even when stoppered. Potion of Invisibility: A bottle with this potion in it looks empty but still feels as though it carries liquid. Potion of Longevity: This bottle of amber liquid also contains a scorpion’s tail, an adder’s fang, a dead spider, and the heart of some tiny creature that against all reason is still beating. Potion of Mind Reading: This opaque purple liquid has an ovoid cloud of pink that floats about at random within it. Potion of Poison: This potion appears to be another sort of potion, and it tastes and smells just like that potion. Potion of Speed: This yellow fluid is streaked with black. The liquid races around the interior of any vessel with enough room for it to run. Potion of Water Breathing: This cloudy green fluid has a tiny glowing jellyfish swimming through it and smells of the sea.”

This art preview is from the upcoming Dungeon Master’s Guide. It’s one of our favorite pieces, not just because it looks so cool but because of it’s backstory.

Art Director, Kate Irwin explains:
“The art on page 215 has a funny story. It was supposed to be just a few potions on an alchemist’s shelf but the artist (Cyril Van Der Haegen) made this magical full page image with EVERYTHING included. The description was simple:

“Alchemist’s shelf with line-up of iconic magical potions. We’d like each potion to look distinct. Here’s a list of how they are described in the DMG. Pick some that seem fun.”

The description went on to list 12 potions he could choose from, each with a short description. Obviously Cyril added to those 12 potions with tons of items, giving us one of those images that you can pour over and still find something new each time you open to the page.

This was originally a half page illustration, but once we saw the amount of work he had put into it and knew we would want to show it as a full page.

Finally, there were no sketches or concept art for this piece. Cyril turned it in basically completed.”
Below are the dozen potions we gave him. Can you find them all in the illustration?
•Oil of Etherealness: The exterior of any container of this cloudy gray oil is always damp with droplets of the oil that evaporate away before pooling.
•Potion of Climbing: This potion is separated into brown, silver, and gray layers resembling bands of stone.
•Potion of Diminution: This potion cycles between clear and dark red. One moment the whole liquid seems red, and then the redness is drawn to the center, replaced by clear liquid. When the last drop of red vanishes, all the liquid becomes red and the process begins again. Shaking the bottle doesn’t mix the liquids.
•Potion of Flying: This clear liquid has cloudy white impurities drifting in it and floats at the top of the bottle in defiance of gravity.
•Potion of Healing: This liquid is a bright red that glimmers with light as it is swirled.
•Potion of Heroism: This bright blue potion bubbles and steams as if boiling even when stoppered.
•Potion of Invisibility: A bottle with this potion in it looks empty but still feels as though it carries liquid.
•Potion of Longevity: This bottle of amber liquid also contains a scorpion’s tail, an adder’s fang, a dead spider, and the heart of some tiny creature that against all reason is still beating.
•Potion of Mind Reading: This opaque purple liquid has an ovoid cloud of pink that floats about at random within it.
•Potion of Poison: This potion appears to be another sort of potion, and it tastes and smells just like that potion.
•Potion of Speed: This yellow fluid is streaked with black. The liquid races around the interior of any vessel with enough room for it to run.
•Potion of Water Breathing: This cloudy green fluid has a tiny glowing jellyfish swimming through it and smells of the sea.”

THE FAERY TAILS…

Excellent Work!

Russian Photographer Captures Fairy-Tale Scenes With REAL Animals

When Moscow-based photographer Darya Kondratyeva isn’t snapping family, maternity or baby photos, she creates enchanting photos that seem like re-interpretations of old fairytales or legends. The models in her photos seem like they could be witches, princesses or forest spirits.

Aside from her models, trained animals feature heavily in Kondratyeva’s fantasy photography as well. Each one seems like it might open its mouth and whisper a wise secret into the model’s ear.

Kondratyeva’s work is similar to that of Katerina Plotnikova and Margarita Kareva, two other Russian photographers we’ve written about who also have sharp eyes for capturing folkloric images and settings.

More info: dasha-kond.com | Vkontakte

THE REAL MONSTER OF ALL POSSIBILTIES

I cultivate garden spiders (usually of the genus/species Argiope Aurantia and more recently of the genus/species Araneus Saevus). I very much enjoy watching their web-building and trapping techniques, studying their individual behaviors, and even watching how each new generation is a variation upon the preceding generation.

However I would love to encounter a spider like this and to study its behavior, hunting techniques, and defense mechanisms. That is the naturalist and scientist in me.

The fictional writer and the gamer in me sees enormous opportunities in creatures like this.

From modifying the size, the appearance, the drives, the “intelligence,” the defense mechanisms, the hunting techniques, and the prey. I can even imagine such things, natural or artificial, as spies (remote or organic), agents, or even a sort or familiar. The possibilities are limited only by one’s own imagination.

The Real World is always the very best source of fiction. The Real World is the Real Monster of All Possibilities.

Goliath Encounter: Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in Rainforest

 

by Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | October 17, 2014 07:42pm ET

goliath birdeater spider

The South American Goliath birdeater (Theraphosa blondi) is the world’s largest spider, according to Guinness World Records. Its legs can reach up to one foot (30 centimeters) and it can weight up to 6 oz. (170 grams).
Credit: Piotr Naskrecki
View full size image

Piotr Naskrecki was taking a nighttime walk in a rainforest in Guyana, when he heard rustling as if something were creeping underfoot. When he turned on his flashlight, he expected to see a small mammal, such as a possum or a rat.

“When I turned on the light, I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing,” said Naskrecki, an entomologist and photographer at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

A moment later, he realized he was looking not at a brown, furry mammal, but an enormous, puppy-size spider.

Known as the South American Goliath birdeater (Therapho

SHADOW OF MORDOR REVIEW

Yes, I would definitely play this…

ISOLATION

I’m very selective about the video games I play. I like video games but have very little time to ever play them. As a matter of fact I still have 6 or 7 video games in my library I’ve never finished. But I would buy and play this game. I love Survival Horror Games.

The Secret, of course, is, you don’t wanna panic…

 

​Watch People Panic And Die In Alien: Isolation

​Watch People Panic And Die In Alien: Isolation

Alien: Isolation isn’t exactly a “fun” game to play. It’s super stressful and really difficult. It’s definitely fun to watch other people play it, however.

Once this game is out, I sense there will be a lot of good times to be had watching people hide, flee, and panic as they attempt to survive. In the meantime, a few notable folks on YouTube who got early copies have shot some enjoyable videos of themselves playing.

If you’re curious how the game holds together, I reviewed it. (Short version: Very cool, extremely stressful, has some issues, not for everyone.) But if you’d like to see how the whole “Hide from an alien until it eventually kills you” thing plays out in action, these videos are a good start. Worth noting: these videos spoil some early parts of the game, so if you want it to be as scary and surprising as possible, you might want to skip them.

First up, Mr. Jim Sterling has a pretty enjoyable playthrough of the medical complex, which highlights just how many ways things can go wrong…

MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS

If this actually happens it would be extremely interesting. I’ve also long thought that At The Mountains of Madness would make a superb home-brew adventure or campaign for nearly any gaming genre (fantasy, sci-fi, horror, action-adventure, detective/mystery, super-hero, mixed, etc.)

Guillermo del Toro: His Version Of At The Mountains Of Madness Coming Soon!

By screenPhileson September 8th, 2014 at 5:47pm· 3k saw this· 3+ people are talking
image courtesy of Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos
image courtesy of Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos

Guillermo del Toro’s version of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness was a passion project for the director, and for awhile was moving full-steam ahead at Universal Studios. As if fan-favorite director del Toro at the helm wasn’t enough, it would have starred Tom Cruise and been produced by James Cameron, the director of films like The Terminator, Aliens, Avatar and Titanic.

Yet somehow it wasn’t because Universal pulled the plug on the project.

Ostensibly, the reason for doing so was the cost, as well as the rating. The horror movie was based upon a H.P. Lovecraft short story of the same name and budgeted at $150 million. Ratings-wise, del Toro was adamant that the film be R-rated, which I still think is a really good idea, despite that it contributed to the project falling apart (If you’ve never read Lovecraft, you can download a copy of At The Mountains Of Madness here and The Shunned House, here. Both are available in most popular ebook formats)…

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS GAME – WIZARDS BEWARE!

Playing D&D with the family this afternoon. All new adventure, all new 5th Edition characters, all new figurines.

Really looking forward to it and expect a great deal of fun.

Plus there will be pizza, ale, and “Plush Pippin!”

BAM!!!

Have a good day folks….

THE MONSTER MANUAL

A quick first review of the new 5th Edition Monster Manual

If you find this article useful, please share it with your friends!

Despite the ending of the summer and the lull after GENCON and PAX PRIME, the excitement at the release of the new 5th Edition Player’s Handbook last month is still going strong! And by all accounts, the new adventure arc Hoard of the Dragon Queen is doing quite well, with many D&D fans enjoying the new organized play activities presented each week in stores around the country.

But now, D&D enthusiasts have a new release coming up at the end of this month – the D&D Monster Manual goes on sale this Friday the 19th of September in select stores, and for general retail sales on the 30th! As the second core rulebook for the new 5th Edition of D&D, the Monster Manual is an absolute essential purchase for any Dungeon Master looking to create their own worlds and adventures.

Don’t Miss: Review of Hoard of the Dragon Queen | Review of the Player’s Handbook | Review of the D&D Starter Set

So how does this new D&D Monster Manual compare to its predecessors? Read on and find out!

D&D Monster Manual (5th Edition)

  • Lead Designers: Mike Mearls & Jeremy Crawford
  • Monster Manual Lead: Chris Perkins
  • Stat Block Development: Chris Sims, Rodney Thompson, Peter Lee
  • Story Development: Robert J. Schwalb, Matt Sernett, Steve Townsend, James Wyatt
  • Cover Art: Raymond Swanland
  • Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
  • Year: 2014
  • Media: Hardbound (352 pages)
  • Price: $49.99 (Available for pre-order on Amazon.com for $29.97)

SPEAKING OF MONSTERS

Monster Manual Gallery

 

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