Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Product Identity? In MY Monsters?

It's more likely than you think.

Notorious bird Prismatic Wasteland is up to his antics again trying to get decent, law-abiding folks to weasel their way around legal trouble, and I'm here to help.

I put together a similar list a while back and I figure it's worth sharing.

First, More Names for the Monsters He Covered

Mind-Flayer: Bathalian (Reaper Minis), Cephalid (Dark Sword Minis), Mind Lasher (Old School Essentials), Octopoid/Gastropoid (The Black Hack), Philosophers (Zak S), Brain Fiend (Fantasy Craft), and, arguably, Genestealers (Warhammer 40K).

Beholder: Eye Tyrant (the alternate, generic name they already have in D&D), Eye Beast (Reaper Minis), Eye of Terror (Old School Essentials), Gazer (Dragon's Crown), Watcher in the Dark (Fantasy Craft).

Personally, the name I'm using is an Oculus.


...Just... just get rid of the Orientalism, they'll be fine. Really.

I offer to you: Nagendra (Reaper Minis), Librarians (Zak S), and... that's all I could find. Really disappointed to see how many companies just go with "snake men" or "snake folk" for these guys.

Now, For Some Other Monsters

Bullywugs: Gullygugs (Old School Essentials), Boggards (Pathfinder), Squogs (Reaper Minis), Boglings (Greg Gillespie's adventures), and one of my own, Croaks.

Kuo-Toa: Deep Ones (Lovecraft, and seemingly the "default" name instead of "fish-folk" or something terrible), Dagonites (Otherworld Minis), Dagathonan (Dark Sword Minis), Pelagic (Darkest Dungeon).

Myconid (which isn't actually protected, but people like coming up with alternate names): Shrooman (Dungeon Crawl Classics), Funginids (Veins of the Earth), Fungoids (Reaper Minis), Sporling (Fantasy Craft), Mycelian (Old School Essentials).

Personally, what I really need is a good-sounding generic word for "bug-person." Can't (and don't want to) use "Thri-Kreen" or "Formian" from D&D, and everything else I've heard was way too setting-specific or bug-specific. What do y'all got?


Monday, December 26, 2022

Not All Balance is the Same

Artist Credit: Wayne Reynolds
This is a spiritual sequel to a previous post about crunch. Everyone uses the word "balance" in reference to something in RPGs but they frequently use it to refer to different things. Sometimes completely unrelated things. And yet it's become intensely emotionally-charged despite being, essentially, a non-word.

So while you very likely have strong opinions about this word, it might be useful to take a closer look. In this article, I'm going to examine six ways that the word "balance" commonly comes up when discussing RPGs, and why it's important to recognize that they are indeed distinct.

As usual, I will mostly be making reference to ol' D&D as my primary example, but don't mistake that for meaning that this only carries relevance to D&D alone. All kinds of gaming philosophies might benefit from a little bit of thought about these six different meanings for the word "balance," even if there are some that you can safely dismiss. So yeah, balance matters to other crunchy games like GURPS and Lancer and Genesys-system stuff of course, but it can also come up in your rules-lite games, story games, FKR games, lyric games, and so on. If you want to design a Star Wars game and you aren't sure about how to handle the Force, or if you're going to be running a Call and/or Trail of Cthulhu and are crafting a mystery for your investigators, or you're making a random mutation table for a Mothership adventure you're writing, then there's likely something in this post that you should be thinking about. It just might never have occurred to you before because you're only ever thinking of one possible definition out of many.