Now that Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane is off to the printer, I can start to share some of the details from the book. Today I’m going to start off with several of my sources for inspiration. Over 50 monsters are in the book altogether and we drew inspiration from many difference places.
Wonderful Wizard of Oz
This isn’t the old movie. This is the series of books written by L. Frank Baum. The books were a lot darker than the movie ever was. For example the tin man chopped his whole body off one piece at a time. While reading the book, I was amazed at how closely the book was to the tone I wanted to strike with Shadowsfall. Because of this, I made sure our version of the winged monkey made it to the cover. We also have a tree creature that evoked a similar feeling as the dark forest in the book. Mind you, the creature itself is rather different, but we wanted a tree that would feel right at home in that forest.
“If they take the ship, they’ll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing – and if we’re very very lucky, they’ll do it in that order.” -Zoey, Firefly
Early on, I said I wanted a creature that characters were afraid of as Mal was of Reavers. I really think we accomplished that with the Dermestide Kyton. This creature rips the skin off a living creature for sport. Mind you, they don’t rape (mostly because that is not something the system compatibility license will allow), but I hope Joss is happy with my homage to this deadly creation.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Gentlemen are another of my all-time favorites. When I saw the artwork, I knew I this book would have its own version of these creatures. Darklings as they are called here are fey with a constant zone of silence. After damaging a creature, they can lick the blood off their feystone battleaxes to gain fast healing for a few rounds. And like The Gentlemen, they are accompanied by
their minions. In this case: dull mites.
Dresden Files/Order of the Stick/Princess Bride
In my opinion, giants and poetry go together like giants and violence. So why not a giant that is known for being either “jovially violent or malevolently violent” as Harry Dresden described one of the monsters in his books. From there it was just a matter of crossing Thog with Fezzik and making it outcome undead. I hope you enjoy the outcome as much as we do here.
Early in the planning for the book, someone pointed me to Old World Bestiary, describing it as the best monster book they have ever seen. It didn’t take long to see why. It was downright awesome. Each monster had various quotes from academics and common folk. They displayed the world’s view of the monsters. I wanted to capture as much of that as possible. So with few exceptions (space reasons), the monsters within have quotes from research books, poetry, retired adventurers, the last thing an adventurer said, religious texts, and much more. Each of these reveals the inworld attitude towards each of these monsters. Some of these quotes are obvious references (like to Buffy, Ghostbusters, and Dune). A few are inside jokes bade by some of my previous characters or characters of my gaming group. Others are more academic in nature. We really feel this will help bring a new life to these monsters few monster books today possess.
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