Friday, October 30, 2009

Pictures That Make Monsters Stop Sucking

I drew this thing. Then I realized it's kind like a roper, only not stupid. Now, ropers are still on my list of monsters too dumb to use, but I have to admit, nothing makes me re-evaluate my "do-not-use" list like a good picture.

I'd never use goblins if I thought they looked like these hapless mooks:

So now when there's a goblin I show my players this:

And I feel fine about it.

Here are some other pictures I've found around the internet that rehabilitate lame monsters:

Is that a troglodyte? A draconian? Either way, it's not stupid anymore. Thanks Keith Parkinson!

No matter how hard they try, TSR and WOTC treants all look like log-bumpkin hybrids about to yell "Get off my lawn!". Ian Miller, on the other hand, knows that trees don't care about you at all.

It takes a seriously awesome picture to make a snob like me want to stat up a demon rooster.

Blindheim, anyone?

This kind doesn't shoot eyerays at you. You just look at it and it's so fucked you go blind.

Continuing on the fiend folio theme...when I saw this able but uninspiring image of the kenku...

...I thought--"Does this game really need budgie men? Does any game need budgie men? Do humans, as a species, even need the concept of budgie men running around in our collective consciousness? What are we, as a society, coming to?"

When then I saw this:

I had no idea it was supposed to be the same monster. I also, for some reason, assumed they were like 8 inches tall and roamed Lankhmar stealing shiny objects from unconscious drunks. So I made some up and that's what they do.

However, if the full-size kenku do come around, I'll have them look like this.

Unicorns aren't so bad, I guess, but now I really want to use one--if David Lynch ever makes a movie about a little girl with a unicorn, this is what the poster'll look like.

This is a Bakezori--a kind of Japanese spirit that posesses an ordinary household item--which is a fine idea for a monsters, but who would've thought you could've pulled it off with a sandal? Well, Shigeru Mizuki, for one. He was right, too. Now you are scared of a sandal.

Now it's tough to beat that, but prepare for the ultimate feat of artistic reinvention. Brace yourself...

Behold: a cool bard.


  1. The blindness inducing toad made me think of my favorite show

    I think that a good literary representation beats a crappy visual representation, in fact, no representation still beats crappy visual representation

  2. The sandal statue is wonderfully terrifying! I imagine it switching itself for one of my mundane sandals and I unknowingly stick it on my foot and head out the door... until, suddenly, goddamn it... my sandal is eating my foot! It runs away, laughing, leaving me with a bleeding stump where my foot once was... How about a hat that eats your brain? Or a kleenex that eats your nose?

    That said, although I love your roper, I hate the hyper realistic Keith Parkinson stuff --- and I prefer the 'budgie man' Kenku to the more polished version. And the old DAT goblin rocks --- because no one is ever afraid of ONE goblin... so no one ever encounters just one... they come in droves... for every one you kill, two more pop up to take his place.

    Maybe its the style of the presentation --- or dare I use the dreaded 'taste' word? --- the illustrations I like have a little more ooompf --- the Parkinson looks like a photo and while I admire his level of technique, I like that the Trampier Goblin looks like a Trampier goblin. Maybe I just like artists whose style is a little more expressionistic.

  3. Ian Miller! Now there's a man who can give anything (human, rat, tree, etc.) the Innsmouth look.
    Bosch-meets-Durer in a dark place.

    He and John Blanche defined the 'dark fantasy' look for me.

  4. felipe--
    yeah, i hated mind flayers (too cartoony in the old pictures) for years before i realized they were supposed to be Cthuloid--OH, NOW I GET IT...

    I don't like the more realistic dnd stuff across the board, and i think parkinson;s actually realy bad when drawing people (usually very stiff), but a few of his monster pictures--they look like nothing else--they look like what monsters would be like if they really were walking around on earth, rather than in some expressionistic underworld. i think his attention tot he backgrounds is the key.


  5. Another possible alternative for the Kenku would be substituting something more like the Skeksis from the Dark Crystal.

  6. By the way, the fourth picture is a cover from one of David Eddings' books(Elenium series, don't remember which one). It's supposed to be a "demon" of some sort(the Elenium mythology is different from standard D&D)

  7. Hey Zak, I noticed some of your posts, like this one, are missing their pictures and are replaced by gray warning signs.
    Or is it just me?

    Thanks for your posts and your work, I love it!

    1. yeah they're old so blogger loses the pictures maybe i should re-upload some