Saturday, March 9, 2013


Yochlol by Tony DiTerlizzi

I was admiring Tony DiTerlizzi's beautiful illustrations in the Planescape monster books the other day and had the realization that Planescape is a setting where you don't need elves, dwarves, and orcs. There are numerous other races that are weirder and more interesting. And for that matter, the humans in this setting are pretty interesting, too. I don't see how you could live in and/or visit Sigil and be anything but interesting.

As I was reading the books, I came across a number of things that could be readily ported over to Everway and Otherway - particularly the latter, as there is more room for monstrous races the further you get from the human-centric realms close to Everway. But still, no need for elves, dwarves, and orcs among the non-humans.

Which got me thinking about the numerous monsters showcased over at Hereticwerks. Not an elf or a dwarf in sight, which is not surprising, since Hereticwerks takes far more inspiration from the 19th Century fantastic and horrific than from Tolkien.

While searching for images of the Hlyss, I came upon this post over at Old School Heretic (another blog by the creator of Hereticwerks). It's an essay written over three years ago that has some interesting things to say about the originality, or rather the lack thereof, in the fantasy mainstream in gaming. The phrase "fantasy mainstream in gaming" is not a term used in the original post. I am using it here because my feeling is that a lack of originality in fantasy creation is not exclusively a problem for the OSR. It is really a problem for the entire field of fantasy gaming, with a few exceptions, which are noted in the essay.

And check out the illustration that accompanies the Old School Heretic post. It's a creature I want to know more about. We need more of creatures like it.


  1. In role playing, everyone is a storyteller. Is it at all surprising if most of us are not all that creative, and tend to draw on the same archetypes?

    While I agree with you that creativity is good, I don't think it's a horrible thing if most RPG adventures are quite derivative. I'd rather have broader participation than to hold everything to the same level of creativity as we expect from published novels, or even Hollywood. If published authors were not more creative than the rest of us, they would not be published.

    1. That's a really good point, Tom. What helps people get into the hobby and create things? Do existing products, or even the informal gaming culture and expectations created by different tendencies within gaming (indie-storyteller, OSR, etc.) facilitate the entry of new GMs, or make it more difficult to get in there with a group of players and do something fun? The need for openness in the hobby has to be balanced against any notion of pure creativity. The perfect is the enemy of the good.


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