Mushroom Dragons

Ma chérie a attiré mon attention sur ces oeuvres mi-dragon mi-champignons, de l’artiste Coliandre. Je ne connais pas le contexte derrière « smaugust » (dragon Smaug + mois d’août), mais je suis impressionné! En voici quelques unes:

A note on dinosaurs (in D&D)

I gotta say, all this nonsense of Lost World-style D&D I’ve been doing for a year now has rekindled my childhood’s interest. Not too surprisingly, the D&D Monster Manual (where fungi creatures are classified as plants!) isn’t very accurate when it comes to dinosaurs, at the very least the section should have been called « prehistoric creatures ».

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  • Pterosaur, plesiosaur and dimetrodon are not dinosaurs at all, they belong in other clades. The latter in particular became extinct 40 millions years before the first dinosaurs and is, in fact, closer to the mammals in the evolution tree.
  • Crocodiles (crocodilians) are contemporary of the dinosaurs. Some, as the deinosuchus, a 36′ long crocodilian, easily justify the use of a giant crocodile template without any stretch of imagination.
  • Many dinosaurs lived in big herds and as such, would have lived in vast plains with big meat-eaters trailing them.
  • There’s a paleontology bias for recovering bigger fossils as big bones are more likely to be preserved than smaller ones. In all likelihood, dinosaurs occupied every possible ecological niches and diminutive (gliding, tree-climbing, insect-eating, etc.) dinosaurs were abundant.
  • Birds are feathered, flying non-extinct dinosaurs.

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Dinosaurs in a fantasy world

It’s all about what we accept as tropes of the genre. Dinosaurs in a vanilla fantasy setting will readily seem awkward. Dinosaurs in a Lost World-themed setting à la Isle of Dread or Chult, now, that’s far more easy to swallow. In such a place, dinosaurs should be seen as nothing more than exotic animals (or just plain animals for the locals).

I would go further, if there is dinosaurs, lets give them (most of) the place. I mean, would there be still jaguars, elephants or whatever,  if packs of deinonychus roamed the jungles?

What about monsters? In fact, one option would be to monsterize dinosaurs from time to time, to spice things up. Here’s some basic reskinning:

  • spike-throwing stegosaur (manticore tail)
  • multi-headed plesiosaur (hydra)
  • gorgoceratop (gorgon-triceratop)
  • fire-breathing T-rex (a classic)
  • displacer raptor (deinonychus-displacer beast)

 

 

Monsters in the City

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Myconids

They’re street cleaners, removing offal, dejections, basically any organic waste. Sometimes they get a little less discriminatory about the unmoving quality of their sweepings.

That’s something I came up with while reading Jeff Vandermeer’s book:

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What I’m stealing for my setting is only the cruder idea of the Gray Caps of Vandermeer, who aren’t even mushroom creatures as such, but are fuzzily described as smaller humanoids with a weird civilization based on advanced fungi technology.

The total creepiness and sinister threat of the Gray Caps I leave out, only because it won’t do thematically for my setting, but it was a very good read!

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Dryads

Far from the primeval forest of its youth, amidst the housings and the bustling urban activity, lives a strange creature: a cosmopolitan dryad. The most surprising thing? It chose to be there…

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Of course, it could have had a better tree in the wild. But the crazyness of the crowd, the thousands of overheard tidbits of gossip, even the occasional surge of violence, this dryad loves it all!

Sometimes an unfolding event catch its fancy so much that it overcomes its usual shyness and asks a friendly-looking passerby about it. It rewards interesting information with some of its tree’s deliciously invigorating oranges.

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A steroid user.

Ogres

Ogres are anabolic steroids (ogrenabol) users, of course. Humanoids taking ( by ingestion) ogrenabol gain tremendous strength but it has a terrible side-effect: intense deformity.  Ogrenabol was synthetized by hobgoblin chemists almost a century ago. It’s not illegal but it’s costly.

Now, I like this concept… But I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m gonna do if a player wants to test ogrenabol for his PC… Oh well, let’s cross the bridge when we’ll come to it, I guess…

cockatrices

Cockatrice

Cockatrice pit fighting.

Now, let’s assume that the cockatrices are, somehow, evolved(1) creatures and as such, likely to fight each other if left to their own devices, shouldn’t they be resistant  (at least) to each other’s petrifying bite? Let’s say, to keep it simple, that they have advantage vs petrification (2).

Also:

  • their owners have thick leather gloves
  • their wings are clipped so they don’t fly away
  • champion cockatrices may have a little bonus to their attack or save or both

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Freshwater Dragon Turtle

The freshwater dragon turtle is a lot smaller than its oceanic cousin. Many of these beasts have found their way in the canals of the City where they seem satisfied to operate as living rafts, transporting both people and merchandises, for a fee. Being as intelligent (int: 10) as their gargantuan relatives, these dragon turtles accept partnerships with a « pilot » (that don’t have any piloting to do) who will negociate fees and seek clients, for everyone’s convenience.

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Approaching their nesting sites, at the bottom of the Sacred Lake, is a sure way to be attacked by these otherwise peaceful creatures.

The freshwater dragon turtle is of huge size, is CR 6 (compared to 17) and  steam breath is very rarely exhibited amongst them.

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Galeb Duhr

A Galeb Duhr typically come into existence, however briefly, in the aftermath of a brutal street fight that saw a lot of brick/pavement throwing. It’s supposed that the creature’s existence – formed from the very stuff that litters the street – is a defense mechanism set in motion by the ambient angst and the City’s magic.

Most of the time, the Galeb Dhur brutalize some of the nearby offenders and then simply resume its inert state. Sometimes though, it lingers and endangers until forcefully put to rest…