RogerBW's Blog

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic, Peter dell'Orto 05 November 2016

This third Dungeon Fantasy Monsters book deal with monsters of known mythic origins, and expands on the popular "magical mistakes" category of monster.

Dungeon Fantasy is about having things to kill, and that's what these beasties are for. You can read Greek myth all day, but Medusa (or, deliberately following the error introduced I believe in AD&D, "a" medusa) is still basically a woman with snakes for hair that you have to fight without looking at her. Even a basically "good" creature like the dryad is here as a nuisance: she'll attempt to charm a tough adventurer into staying on as her guardian, and this is a problem to be solved rather than a potential moment of character development.

On the myth side, this book has game stats for basilisk, cockatrice, doppelganger, dryad, harpy, manticore, medusa and phoenix; on the magic side, giant ant, lava lizard, living pit, octopus blossom, phase serpent, rock troll, rot worm and shadow warriors. Where myth would conflict with the D&D or video game tradition, the latter is what wins. The basic stats list the usual attacks and defences; the interesting material (like preferred combat tactics, how they might show up in adventures, and variants) is in boxes.

For the most part the creatures just need to be bashed, though some boxed text hints are more interesting possibility: for example, slaying the basilisk with fresh weasel urine ("This usually requires a well-hydrated weasel, which often dies in the process").

The book ends with a little more rules support (the "Meld" enhancement, and some new meta-traits and monster prefix words), but fundamentally its job is to bring enemies to the Dungeon Fantasy table, and it does this effectively in a small page count. Most of these monsters won't be useful outside a Dungeon Fantasy, or at least dungeon fantasy, game.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic is available from Warehouse 23.

  1. Posted by Peter Dell'Orto at 03:59pm on 05 November 2016

    Thanks for taking a look at my book.

    And yes, "a medusa" is deliberate. It even brought up a question during editorial review, but "that's how it's done in games" was the deciding factor. I'd have been fine with gorgons, but heck, medusa as a monster type is the done thing. ;)

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 04:04pm on 05 November 2016

    Welcome to the blog, Peter!

    Yeah, I think most fantasy gamers (as opposed to readers of mythology) will expect medusa rather than gorgon, which is clearly a reason for continuing to do it that way… it just seems a shame to perpetuate the error.

    I'd love to see a "monsters from mythology" book that delves into the original legends and the obscure details (lots more material like that bit with the weasel, less about damage and armour), but Dungeon Fantasy probably isn't the place to do it.

  3. Posted by Peter Dell'Orto at 01:22am on 06 November 2016

    My marching orders were clear - where "myth" clashed with "stuff for DF delvers to fight," myth lost. It had too - GURPS went that route with the earlier Fantasy Bestiary, and while that's nice, the mythical beings wouldn't hold up to armor dungeon delvers.

  4. Posted by Owen Smith at 02:26pm on 07 November 2016

    Seriously? People can't cope with calling things a gorgon? Sigh.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 02:44pm on 07 November 2016

    They've never read Greek myth. They've probably never even read the original Monster Manual. They've read derivatives of derivatives of derivatives, and what they "know" about Greek mythology comes from Hollywood and video games. And anything that differs from that will be "wrong".

  6. Posted by Andrew at 11:00pm on 07 November 2016

    Troy Barnes: Well, I'm a sexy Dracula. Abed Nadir: You mean vampire. Troy Barnes: I don't need to know which Dracula to know I'm a Dracula. Nerd

  7. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:14pm on 08 November 2016

    The only Greek myth I've read is the Odyssey, and based on that I won't be reading more. It's hard to read!

    More likely my Greek myth education came from Ray Harryhousen stop motion films, and RPG campaigns using Iron Crown supplements. I thought that was a pretty standar unremarkable background as a role player. I lament my lack of a proper classical education.

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