Saturday, February 16, 2013

I ♥ Monsters

Over at his blog, Martin writes about how monster books are his least favourite role-playing products. He then goes on to describe the kind of monsters that inhabit the campaign setting he's been using for fantasy games for a number of years, and presents a good argument for why monster books are of little use to him.

Unlike pretty much every other gaming blogger, I've never attempted to put together a fantasy setting, aside from when I ran a short Fighting Fantasy campaign, but in that case I was making it up as I went along so I don't think it counts. When I was younger, most of my gaming time was spent on Shadowrun and Call of Cthulhu, and in recent years I've only played in existing published settings, so it's never come up.

Even so, I love monster books. I have a stack of them here with me; most are for games I don't play while others -- like the beautiful Beasts and its sequel -- have nothing to do with gaming at all. As such, I don't get any practical use out of them, just as Martin doesn't, yet I love them nonetheless. There's something wonderful about a big thick book of exotic and impossible creatures; I have often spent an hour or two leafing through these volumes, reading the descriptions and -- above all -- admiring the illustrations. They are beautiful, despite their utility, or lack of; I doubt I'll ever make use of it in a game again but you wouldn't be able to prise Out of the Pit from my grasp as it's full of monsters drawn and painted by the likes of John Blanche and Russ Nicholson.

(That's Out of the Pit in the image above, with an Iain Mcaig shapechanger; also pictured is Tony DiTerlizzi's Medusa from the Monstrous Manual for AD&D2, and Frank Stockton's Yuki-Onna from Beasts! Book 2.)

I remember some rumblings a while ago about putting together some sort of community monster book, drawing upon the talents of the writers and artists who've sprung up to blog about games in the past few years. It hasn't happened yet, but if it will include things like The Guardian of the Palace of the Perfect Moon, it's nothing less than a great idea.

5 comments:

  1. Is that the original large format Out of the Pit? I didn't realise that there was a version with full colour pictures - I've only ever had the relatvely small-sized paperback.

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    1. It is indeed. I tried to replace my smaller sized one a few years back and ended up with the larger one instead; I too was unaware of its existence up until then. I also have Titan in the same format.

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  2. Thanks for the link! And count me in to a project like the one you're describing.

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  3. I'm currently working on a sequel to Out of the Pit for Arion Games' relaunched Advanced Fighting Fantasy range. It will have 250 new monsters from the later gamebooks and is very close to approaching completion. It's called Beyond the Pit and should hopefully be available soon! :-)

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    1. You heard it here (probably not) first!

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