Monday, October 27, 2014

Basilisk, Littler

Still fixing up my Monster Manual.

The spread on pages 24 and 25--with a competently done basilisk and a really quite nicely rendered behir about to petrify and electrocute each other, respectively--illustrates the problem with both of them.

They're both big lizardy things.  And since the game has dragons in it, big lizardy things risk eat into the terrifying and isolated psychological space that should belong to dragons alone.

I basically deal with this problem by making them really small.
A basilisk is just a sort of incredibly dangerous iguana--not so much a monster as a natural curiosity (thus Vornheim's basilisk fights, which take place in a closet). Also somebody--can't remember if it was wikipedia or Pliny the Elder--told me they're vulnerable to weasels and I believe them.

Otherwise the basilisk is an awesome monster with a cool name, plus I've already used like 3 of them in my campaign so I can't and don't want to change them much.

That crude sharpie drawing in the lower left is a sketch of some pre-lapsarian state of mythical equipoise where the medusa, cockatrice, catoblepas and basilisk stood mutually blocked from each others' gaze by the Egg of the World, which they all looked at, waiting to kill whatever emerged. How the clinamen that resolved this stalemate was introduced I haven't figured out yet.

(And yes, taxonomy pedants, we all know behirs--being salamandery--are amphibians).
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3 comments:

piles said...

Hi Zak, I like this series a lot. First because the changes will take (experienced) players out of their comfort zones. Then, on top of that, the changes themselves are very creative. And, third, this creatvitiy triggers all kind of associations and inspirations.
In case of the basilisk, your idea to make it a sort of iguana caused me the inspiration to change the basilisk from a monster to a state; any lizard can become a basilisk by gaining its gaze attack (the technical details of the how's and why's need to be developed). This makes any lizard potentially very dangerous: 'You see a stone with on top small lizard basking in the sun' - 'Oh, fuck! Maybe it is a basilisk!'. Paranoia is a thing I like to play with.
Another inspiration that struck me by your shrinking of the basilisk was that I would now play the basilisk as an actual lizard, ie. lying still and gazing without movement, rather than a monster stomping around. Players getting turned to stone out of nothing as perception rolls will be heavily penalized due to the stillness of lizards will cause paranoia for sure. Did I mention that I love to play with paranoia?

Zak S said...

"the inspiration to change the basilisk from a monster to a state; any lizard can become a basilisk by gaining its gaze attack (the technical details of the how's and why's need to be developed). This makes any lizard potentially very dangerous: 'You see a stone with on top small lizard basking in the sun' - 'Oh, fuck! Maybe it is a basilisk!'. Paranoia is a thing I like to play with."


That's a really good idea.

STOLEN.

piles said...

Glad that I could do something in return.
Maybe the lizards can gain other abilities as well, which could possibly lead to interesting lizard/basilisk fights in Vornheim, with Pokemon style tournaments.

Not sure how the lizards should gain the gaze attack or that nature 'just' works that way; some lizards have it and some don't.