Sunday, April 5, 2015

Monstrous Relations

If you know me, you know that my mind makes associations and connections in a frenetic and barely-controlled fashion. Leafing excitedly through the Monster Manual for the first time, my young brain almost immediately fixated upon the hobgoblin and ogre mage entries. Why? Because they were both depicted with an Asian/Oriental flavor. This made them stick out from the rest. I like exotic Eastern stuff. I'm like that.

I've never liked orcs. Too many piggy depictions of them in fantasy art, I suppose. Plus, they've always kind of bored me. After Lord of the Rings, I was done with orcs. But, hobgoblins...almost the same monster - but dressed like samurai! I could get behind that in a big way.

Then, to give me an even nastier creature dressed in fantasy-Asian garb? Bliss!

The ogre mage set me on the path to including an Asian-themed realm in my own campaign setting. Along the way, they became something like fallen genies to me. Well, because genies are also Asian. So - association. With that pedigree, suddenly the hobgoblin became something else. I decided to give them a relationship with ogre magi. Hobgoblins would be fallen ogre magi - who were fallen genies. Now I had an entire family of exotic monsters with a common flavor and origin.

Before, hobgoblins had simply been something like Mongol horsemen for my setting. They had the unique quirk of being able to become Barbarians of a lawful alignment. But, that's another entry.

Today, in my campaign setting, there are monasteries at the edge of the giant kingdoms that are run by ogre magi masters, with mostly hobgoblin students. Both races are lawful in alignment and Oriental in tone - so: Monks!

While David Sutherland has never been my favorite D&D illustrator, he certainly did a lot for my setting design with these particular entries. For that, he holds a special place in my heart. It doesn't take much to spark my imagination into something akin to a fireworks finale, but I do give credit where it is due.

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