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guymc 02-21-2019 05:45 AM

Bestiary of Cidri
 
Greetings!

My long-time writing partner Greg Poehlein (with my assistance) is working on an official Bestiary of Cidri - a cataloguing of the creatures of Cidri that is inclusive of (but not exclusive to) all the creatures that appear in In the Labyrinth.

Greg, being a life scientist by trade and training, is approaching this from a scientific and scholarly bent, trying to produce a book that looks like it could have been created by Cidrian scholars while still being of maximal use to GMs in preparing campaigns and to players in researching. (I also want to make it great fun to read, which is my primary role in the enterprise!)

I want to solicit your comments on what the scope of the book should be. We want it to be useful to you, and don't want to leave out things that you need, but we also don't want the book to be blob-like and unorganized, just trying to include everything.

There are several possible schools of thought on the approach:

NO SENTIENT CREATURES
One take is to have this be a "beasts only" book, eliminating anything of human or human-like intelligence. This would mean no entries for anything of human-like IQ level. It eliminates the usual human/elf/dwarf/halfling group, as well as giants, mermen, neanderthals, orcs and the like (semi-humans), and totally non-human intelligent beings like reptile men, octopi, basilisks and dragons. The dividing line would be intellect only. This implies a separate book at some point on the intelligent races of Cidri.

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL
Under this philosophy, every creature on Cidri, including player character races, would have entries which treated them from a biological and physical standpoint. Races wouldn't be covered in terms of their societies, but would get entries that specified their habitats, biology, traits, and of course game stats for average specimens. This wouldn't prevent doing a separate book on the societies of Cidri later -- but it would end up being a LOT bigger book.

Consider these the extreme ends of the spectrum. Another possible approach would be:

HUMANOID-CENTRIC
This approach would consider the basically human-shaped races (humans, elves, dwarves, halflings) together as variations of the same core biology, dealing with them biologically in a short section at the beginning of the book, with everything else getting full entries, sentient or not. (Orcs are a fringe case here. ITL specifies them as being a separate species, but they are interfertile with humans so... where do YOU want them?) This is basically a compromise to let us put in the dragons, reptile men, etc. that we think of as "foes" even though they are basically fellow sentients with the overwhelmingly humanoid types normally found as player characters.

Which of these would you favor, or do you have other ideas?

hcobb 02-21-2019 08:04 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
Eco-systems. We know that Am-bushes get along with Stone Beetles, but what associates with blood trees?

Shadekeep 02-21-2019 08:06 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
I think that a thematic approach is probably preferable to a big-bucket kind of book. So one that narrows down on "just beasts" or "just intelligent races" is more manageable than one which tries to do everything.

With my proposed Book of Uncommon Beings (which I sent you a preview of a while back), the theme is unusual beings which are not regularly encountered, but rather which can form the basis of a unique encounter. I'm a biologist myself, so it's broken down into the following categories:
  • Variants of Intelligent Races (Reptile Men, Gargoyles, Octopi)
  • Titan Slimes
  • Animals
  • Plants & Fungi
  • Otherworldly Beings

There are five entries in each category, which keeps the book to a reasonable size. If you focus on just one category (intelligent races, animals, or plants), then you can be much more expansive within that category. So my vote is for a focused book rather than a catch-all one.

Shadekeep 02-21-2019 08:31 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
And I realise upon re-reading my post that I keep advocating for a focused book while my own sounds like a kitchen-sink approach, but again there is a unifying element ("uncommonness") which ties the book together. If I were writing a general purpose guide with these same categories, the book would be huge.

larsdangly 02-21-2019 08:44 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
The book itself should contain the largest, broadest range of creatures you can stomach creating. It sounds like you have some interesting concepts in mind re. organization and presentation, but it is also important to remember that a game book is only as good as its at-table usefulness. People want monster manuals because they use them as a resource to prepare settings and run adventures. Basically, don't talk yourself out of making a good monster manual in order to satisfy an aesthetic idea about how it should look or how the fluff text should come across.

My pet theory is that D+D was, and remains, so successful because during the period when it took shape the designers expended a lot of energy on pumping up the volume of raw materials used in play: monsters, spells and items, as well as putting out a steady stream of basically setting agnostic, minimal-plot adventure materials. The rules were frankly a hot mess - ca. 1978-79 there were three or four officially supported versions of the same game in wide circulation, all of which contained lots of material that no one liked (some of which conflicted with each other and/or was not play tested). But all the better designed rules sets struggled to take control of the market place because D+D provided overwhelming value when it came to the 'meat' of materials you draw on to create and play adventures. They are still milking that: 5E is a successful game and is basically as well designed as any modern system, but most of its substance is just a direct translation of the monsters, spells, items and adventures from the late 70's and early 80's. So, the message is, 'make stuff like that!'

Mallen the dark 02-21-2019 10:37 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
I have always thought beastiaries were the under iq 7 creatures. I think other intellegent races should be handled as race books, 6+ races in a book.

TippetsTX 02-21-2019 10:46 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by larsdangly (Post 2244522)
The book itself should contain the largest, broadest range of creatures you can stomach creating. It sounds like you have some interesting concepts in mind re. organization and presentation, but it is also important to remember that a game book is only as good as its at-table usefulness. People want monster manuals because they use them as a resource to prepare settings and run adventures. Basically, don't talk yourself out of making a good monster manual in order to satisfy an aesthetic idea about how it should look or how the fluff text should come across.

I second this! Please don't draw the line at non-sentient creatures. There are too many great options for intelligent monsters and TBH, there's a great need for more of them in order to properly challenge more experienced characters. Plus, I think any bestiary effort needs to include monster-focused talents to provide GMs with adaptive options (and such talents would only be applicable for IQ 8+ creatures).

I'd also like to see entries include brief tactical encounter details like those hcobb has suggested elsewhere.

hcobb 02-21-2019 10:49 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
A scholar encounters a bunch of different critters in close proximity. Her theories as to how these critters interact will then be useful for GMs to adapt that one encounter to better suit their needs.

Why was the green slime near the goblins' arrow trap? How did the goblins manage the slimes? And so on.

TippetsTX 02-21-2019 10:54 AM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mallen the dark (Post 2244543)
I have always thought beastiaries were the under iq 7 creatures. I think other intellegent races should be handled as race books, 6+ races in a book.

I would be OK if new and existing playable races were addressed seperately in something like a Cidri worldbook or player's guide (assuming there is appetite for such a tome), but that is the only category I can see carving out from a bestiary book.

Shadekeep 02-21-2019 12:36 PM

Re: Bestiary of Cidri
 
Apology for sidetracking in talking about my own projects. For this book, I concur with the votes in favour of intelligent races being separate from the general bestiary. In the intelligent races book it would be good to have things like cultures, jobs, and abilities related to the races. The bestiary book can focus more on things like lifecycles, habitats, and whether certain beasts can be domesticated. If it includes plants, then it could also incorporate materials about medicinal uses and such.


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