All the monsters, one letter at a time...
K monsters demand both patience and sympathy from the DM.
Perhaps more than this DM has.
"The coat of the ki-rin is luminous gold, much as a sunrise on a clear day."
Mandy says it sounds like a My Little Pony.
Much like the gold dragon--and unlike the My Little Pony--the ki-rin always appears locked into a tight mesh of stylized and vortexlike clouds. Unlike the gold dragon, the ki-rin seems to lack any motive for getting in the players way in any interesting sense.
If the characters are bad the D&D version of a ki-rin--with its 18 wizard-levels and "4 major and 6 minor psionic disciplines"--will just come around and kick their asses. With good characters--or at least characters whose actions might conceivably contribute to whatever ethereal and Eastern version of the greater good the ki-rin represents--the thing seems to lack the awe-inspiring inscrutability that makes paying a visit to the magnanimous gilded throne room of a gold dragon or a couatl compelling. It's hard for me to really picture a ki-rin doing anything but descending from the sky, impressing everybody, and then going home.
I imagine I work on Ellis Island. Here's comes this little bastard, dragging his suitcase, wearing a hobnailed collander for a hat, filling out his immigration forms: Place of Origin: "BlaCk foreSt, BaVarria", Name? "K. O. B. O. L. D."
So I take him into my office and sit him down.
"Listen, buddy, 'Kobold' is another one of those words that means something terribly specific to people who play D&D and means nothing at all to anybody else. (Except for maybe very old and very superstitious Germans.) The trouble with you people is the web of associations is very very small: I say 'kobold' and your average player thinks, at best, 'one of those usually very poorly drawn dogdragongoblinmidget things in D&D' or, at worst, (if you're new to the game) nothing at all.
"And yes, I remember how TSR's excruciating Dragon Mountain adventure seemed to think it was very clever for making you seem like formidable foes--but that's thinking very small--a dangerous kobold is only a surprise if all you ever think about is canonical D&D. Dangerous bunnies, dangerous blades of grass, dangerous woodchips--this is surprising. Maybe.
"Ok, little guy, don't cry--see, this is even more of a drag because a little dogdragonmidgetgoblin isn't such a bad monster and--for the girls-the obvious association with the little spiky-helmeted bastards in Labyrinth is bound to be compelling. So, yes, I do have a job for you, little pike-wielding muppetmonster, though here at DnDWP Isle we're changing this fancy German name, got it?--from now on you're a Thorn Goblin or Scaled Goblin or Bastard Goblin. Welcome to America."
Going against old school type, I think crow men are way better than the Fiend Folio's original budgie men.
I recognize two species: the human-size Boschian crow people like on the cover of Stephen King's The Stand, and little ones about a foot-and-a-half tall that run around stealing shit, usually when the party has decided it needs eight hours of rest to get its spells back.
My only problem with the kenku is that crows themselves make such good monsters--as both Odin and Edgar Allan Poe would point out.
I think the H.P Lovecraft's Deep Ones are the least interesting of all his inventions, and I think that the mogwai-looking, diapered kuo-toa are the least interesting descendant of the deep ones, and I think that the official D&D minis of them are the least interesting version of the Kuo-toa, but whenever I'm sifting through the box trying to find something to represent a dire wolf or a demon dog and one of the girls catches sight of the kuo-toa mini one of them always grabs one of the goofy gesticulating frogmen and talks about how cute it is.
For this and similar reasons, I both anticipate and dread the day when one of my players decides to DM. I do hope I can get it on tape.
I was going to write something about the kraken but it made me think of the old Clash of the Titans movie which then made me think of the new Clash of the Titans movie and that made me think about CG movies and then I got so depressed that I decided to stop writing and go outside.
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