2021/11/15

Microfiction + Film Notes: Dune 2021

 

Take It To The Top

 "I'm sorry!" he squealed, holding his hands in the air. "It's not my fault!"

"What to you mean?" I said, doing my best to seem grim and resolved. In truth, my murderous rage had been replaced with a mixture of regret and pity. 

"I... well, there's no easy way to say this," he said, "but I automated my job a few years ago. The quarterly reviews are written by a program that takes your metrics and assigns them sentences from a lookup table. I know I shouldn't have done it, but it was..."

"Motherfucker!" I exclaimed, and he dove for the floor. When he cautiously stuck his head back up, I was already sitting, gun in my lap, giggling away. "You lazy bastard, I knew it! I thought you just copy-pasted old reviews."

"I did at first," he said, apologetically, "but this was quicker. You were a good worker, for what it's worth. Never had any complaints."

"That's because I automated my job years ago," I chuckled.

"That makes sense. Anyway, I wasn't the one who fired you. Not really. I got an email from the Department Manager saying we needed to cut staff, and I picked your name at random. Downsizing, the email said. I guess it's contagious because they fired me next. Look," he said, gesturing around the office. For the first time, I noticed the lack of decorations and the tragically overstuffed banker box in one corner. "It's my last day."

"Well let's go talk to the DM," I said. 

[Three Days Later]

"And it turns out nobody is responsible! Even the people who write the programs don't fully understand the programs. And what I want to know is," I said, waving an admonishing finger, "what you're doing about it! Is this the plan for your creation?"

God leaned forward, stroking His beard with one hand. "You aren't going to like this," He said, "but..."

Silicone Dreams

Silicone! Glass made flesh! A magical substance that bonds metal to glass, glass to plastic, plastic to cloth, cloth to wood, wood to metal. The alchemists dreamed of a universal solvent; instead, we created a universal glue. Secreted into every joint of a modern home, the connective tissue of whatever architecture is calling itself these days. Imagine a world where things had to fit together instead of nestling in a squamous bed of all-engulfing silicone. Cracks sealed, gaps filled, the home becomes a perfect capsule.

Lignin, that miracle polymer, made plants into titans. A few ambitious and temperamental bacteria eat lignin. Termites and cows don't; they're just sacs full of bacteria. That's how we got coal; the lag between lignin and anything that could eat lignin. We talk of rot as if it were some inevitable law, but rot is far more unnatural than rust. 

A tree can remain a tree only so long as it lives, pumped full of antifungal chemicals and healing sap. When defenses fail, rot sets in, and fungi have their day. But silicone will never rot, never be devoured by ambitious bacteria, at least not in the forseeable human future. Give it a few million years. Plastics and resins can burn and have some tasty-looking bonds; they'll be the first to go, but little pellets of silicone will roll around the world long after we are gone.

Or maybe, filled with regret, we will give bacteria a head start via directed evolution and turn them loose on the world. Silicone erodes easily but doesn't rot. Imagine a silicone beach bubbling between your toes. Squishy sand, immortal, vulnerable to light and time but not life. Silicone, reeking of acetone like a dying monk or casting off clouds of acetic acid, stimulating the appetite while remaining implacably inedible. All hail the glass made flesh!


Notes on Dune (2021)

Dune (2021) features concrete, the distant future, genetic memories, Navigators, and musings on human evolution. It had a 165 million USD budget and is 2.5 hours long. Dune is full of noise. Incredible, visceral sounds. Jumps from darkness to blinding light. It's not quite a hostile filmgoing experience, but I did feel like a pea in a tin can by the end of it. At least I could understand most of the dialogue. Cinematography by Greig Fraser (of Rogue One fame), using a lot of the same visual textures (for good or for ill). 

The Last and First Men (2020) features concrete, the distant future, genetic memories, Navigators, and musings on human evolution. It had a budget of [not much] and is 1 hour long.

The Last and First Men consists of a thrumming score, narration, an oscilloscope, and long black-and-white shots of the monuments of Yugoslavia. These monuments are famous on the internet. They're usually presented without context, mislabeled, or given entirely fictitious histories.

Is their use in The Last and First Men appropriate? I think so. The film is about deep time. Using decaying monuments whose meaning is largely forgotten, makes sense. It's hard to argue that they're being exploited for profit; the film grossed less than $10k at the box office.

The Last and First is a quiet, contemplative, hypnotic, arty film. As science fiction, it's as dated as its source material, but so is Dune

It's been a long time since I read the books and I don't have access to a local copy of the film, so these notes might be less coherent than usual.

Et tu, Brutalism?

Are the ships in Dune brutalist, or do they merely appear to be? Can a structure be brutalist without the context of the brutalist movement? Brutalism, as Kate Wagner says, is as much a "big mood" as a formal style linked to a particular period and to specific architects.

I don't know. It's not my area of expertise.


It's interesting that a concrete starship with crazing and pour layers and lumps of aggregate feels right - even intriguing - in 2021, but would have been completely ridiculous in the '70s. "You can't just film a retaining wall and pretend it's a space ship. Space ships are sleek and colourful, or if they're not, they're at least clearly technological."

Dune also has a peculiar blend of high and low technologies. Some ships hover as if by magic. Some require balloons. Some require wings. Some feel like they're steered by holographic controls or mind-links. Some have buttons and toggle switches like a '60s helicopter. It's all a bit odd. Why use flappy ornithropters or hot air balloons when the spice harvester scout pods hover like many indie developers without any visible means of support? The divide is not consistent; the high-resource Sardaukar use balloon-ships. What are the rules of this setting?

Low Gravitas Warning Signal

The film can't decide if it's using formal language or not. Some conversations are stylized, some are full of contractions and generic Hollywood filler dialogue. All the actors are competent, but there's a tiny nagging sense that they're winking at the camera and saying "we're in a film, isn't this all a bit silly".

This is odd because Dune is an immensely serious film. There's no comic relief. I don't mean Whedon-esque quips and banter, I mean anything that relieves tension and allows the film to build momentum again. The closest it comes is landscape shots. If you're going to go full serious, commit! Put the Opera back in Space Opera. Write dialogue that uses the English language to its full extent, and get some classically trained actors to deliver it. They're used to saying very silly things with gravitas.

Containment and Contentment

It would be interesting to see a film that contains its own sequels, in the form of flash-forwards and prophecies. We know how Dune plays out. Revenge. Blood. Triumph. Etc. We might not know the details (and some of those details are fucking weird, but the basic plot is clearly and unambiguously given to us in the first film. We don't need to see the love story; we've seen it. We don't need to see the revenge-murders; we can imagine them them. It's a retelling of the same story. We know how it ends.

It would be amazing (and impossible) for Dune Parts 2 and 3 and Maybe More to take a different direction. Dune (2021) isn't telling a story. It's portraying historical events. Any deviation feels like alt-history. Sure, scenes get cut and details get changed, but it's still Dune, in the same way that the Christmas Carol is the Christmas Carol. But they could do it. They could introduce a twist or two that nobody who's read the books or seen the other films expects. Give the Spacing Guild a subtle plot of their own. Introduce another Great House. Change Paul's attitude towards the Golden Path. Bring back Thinking Machines. They won't (the cowards), but they could.

It's also interesting that this version of the story cuts the CHOAM corporation, or any corporate aspects, out of the script. It's an entirely feudal affair, not capitalism-as-feudalism. There's still talk of profit and loss, but no directorships or all-consuming commercial power. Imperialism is fine as long as it's the right kind of imperialism. Resource extraction is fine as long as it's done by nice people.
 

Ambivalent Schemes

The Atreides are nice to the Fremen because they want to use them. Their strategy is subtler than the Harkonnen burn-and-oppress tactics, but they're not winning hearts and minds for their own sake. They want an army for ambitious political reasons; the Fremen could be manipulated to be that army. The film vaguely presents this as a good thing. Rebellion against the system is only intolerable until the system can utilize the rebellion.

"The Holy war is spreading across the universe like an unquenchable fire. A warrior religion that waves the Atreides banner in my father’s name. Fanatical legions worshiping at the shine of my father’s skull."

It's not their cause. It's just another move in the game of the great houses. Will the sequels address this in any meaningful way? Probably not. Critique the savior-narrative, but still go along with it, because it's fine as long as you feel guilty.

2021/11/08

Sci-Fi: Assorted Gear and Upgrades

Equipment lists are the core of many sci-fi RPGs. For some types of game, a gun is a gun and it does gun things. For others, the mechanical difference between a snub-nosed autopistol and flechette pistol can create interesting optimization problems. If a game is about gear, the gear should be interesting.

In a standard game, you're exchanging one resource for another. Money, time (in the form of rarity or difficulty of acquisition), weight, stealth. Bonuses to accuracy, penalties to damage. Flexibility or specialization. Optimization lies in finding areas where the exchange, or a series of exchanges, creates a favourable outcome at a lower than expected cost. 

Optimization is sometimes pointless; the problems a character is optimized to solve may not be the problems a group encounters.

Most games with gear lists have the basic/obvious tools covered. In long-running game lines (like Traveller or Fantasy Flight Games' Rogue Trader), the same tools might be published multiple times. I think Rogue Trader has three or four different "temporarily fake your own death" drugs; it's a problem-solving tool authors clearly thought players needed.

The tools below are systemless and should fit in any generic sci-fi setting. They're tools I think a group would find useful, or that I'd be pleased to see on a list, but that I haven't seen in a published book. This doesn't mean they're unique (I can't possibly have read every gear list), but at least they're interesting. If I was sensible and had the time, I'd turn this into a 'zine or something.

Vadim Sverdlov

Ranged Weapon Upgrades

Janus-Pattern Rail Barrel

Replaces the barrel of any standard chemical propellant weapon (or equivalent) with a stacked-core railgun, and the weapon’s magazine and/or stock with a high-density power cell. Sabots must be muzzle-loaded, but a single railgun shot when a target is expecting a low-velocity slug can provide an edge in high-staked engagements. Barrels are guaranteed for 3 shots (in atmosphere) or 12 (in vacuum).

Timeshift Scope

Uses proprietary Chrono-Shift ™ Technology to provide a visible superposition of all possible futures, weighted by probability. See where your enemy will be a half second before they move.

Note: prolonged use of Chrono-Shift ™ Technology may result in paranoia, degraded reaction times, headaches, nausea, sixth-finger syndrome, and glaucoma. Chrono-Shift ™ Technology is illegal in the New Netherlands. Speak to your local arms dealer to find out of Chrono-Shift ™ Technology is right for you.


Ammunition

Hammerton-Smythe Non-Lethal Agony Rounds

A mixture of red gelatin, calcite crystals, mild but highly soluble neurotoxin, and foaming agents. Hammerton-Smythe prides itself on realistic fatal wounds with consistently non-fatal effects. Our motto: “Experience Mortality”. Available to fit most shotgun-style chemical propellant weapons, or in a handy 3-shot disposable pistol.

Hexbound Bullets

Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Demon Lord Buxogspan Mulcifent, the soul of any mortal slain with a Hexbound Bullet will be sent to the Hell of Unlimited Scorpions* for a time period not less than one eternity.

*Unless otherwise engaged. Some restrictions may apply. 

Neon Tracer Epoxy

Everyone knows the adage, “Tracers work both ways.” If you’re going to be visible, why not be fashionable? Send a streak of neon goodness. Leave your mark on the battlefield.

Currently Available: Arc, Blood, Obsidian, Prismatone.
Discontinued: Blacklight, Faefire, Glitter, Spiral.

Fellaporter

Suitable for high-calibre chemical weapons or grenade launchers, the Fellaporter is a premium payload for the discerning bounty hunter. On impact, the round opens a 2m spherical wormgate to the paired receiver. Range is 1km in ideal conditions.

For best results, do not use a Fellaporter within 10km of any other active Fellaporter (or other wormgate device). Ensure receiving antenna has a clear line of sight to the target. Do not store Fellaporter rounds near bismuth. Do not look directly at the Fellaporter impact site. Ensure everything you intend to teleport is within 2m of the impact site. 

Kryo-Lok Kapsules

A three-part highly endothermic chemical mixture in a convenient delivery package. Freeze up to a litre of room-temperature water in an instant. Damage against conventional or armoured targets is minimal (compared to standard rounds), but unconventional targets are in for a nasty surprise. WARNING: do not damage a Kryo-Lok Kapsule. Remove the protective casing before firing. The manufacturers are not responsible for catastrophic cascades that may occur if Kapsules are loaded improperly, damaged, heated, or exposed to ultrasonic vibrations.

William Bennett

Ranged Weapons

Tuneable Ray Gun

Now with 7 settings!

1. Radio. Send an aggressive morse code message, track a target’s speed or distance, or temporarily jam a comm-link.
2. Microwave. Gently warm something polar. Scramble badly built electronics.
3. Infrared. Gently heat something.
4. Visible Light. A handy flashlight.
5. Ultraviolet. Illuminate suspicious stains,
6. X-Ray. Extensive exposure may cause mild burns, sterility, or cancer.
7. Cosmic Ray. Completely undetectable by most equipment, and equally harmless to most terrestrial life.

Melding Beam - Quantum Foam Shotgun

Take a failed prototype for a jump-capable torpedo, flip it around, add a trigger, and give it a coat of paint. The Melding Gun opens a wormhole foam between a focal point 1m from the barrel and a point 50m distant. Anything along the line is mixed in sub-mm pockets. The effect is hampered by metal, but is catastrophic to most other materials. Misfires in high-energy environments are tragically commonplace.

Melee Weapons

Posthuman Combat Brick

These handy little devices turned up in a shipment of kapok, and we're selling them at a discount because, quite frankly, they creep us the fuck out. The shipping label says they came from a warehouse that doesn't exist, and that our head receiver was the one who requested them, but our head receiver died in a tragic fusion core accident six months ago and we haven't appointed a replacement. 

ANYWAY! This fist-sized brick of inert metamaterial seems to transform the violent intent of the wielder into direct action. Even the most advanced armour offers no protection. If you can hit someone with this brick, they'll feel it. Available while supplies last, which could be a while as the crate seems to refill itself.

Moebius

Gear

Omniversal Hydroid Headhunting Rig

So simple a feral ghoul-bot could manage it. Simply remove the sealant sticker, apply the base plate to the neck stump, attach the fluid clamps, and flick the green switch. Get answers from beyond the veil. (Answers not guaranteed). Interrogate meat for up to a minute! Works on any reasonably cranial stack from a Core or Core Adjacent species.

Plasticizing Injector

One tube per 100kg of target flesh. For best results, ensure target is completely immobile and all circulation has ceased. Patch any large holes with adhesive plasters (sold separately). Adjust pose. Inject tube(s) near the centre of mass, then stand clear. Remove polymer chrysalis and metabolic debris. Display your new trophy in a tasteful and legally acceptable manner.

Delbond Instant Flashtape

When you want to go from accessorized to weaponized in the blink of an eye, use Delbond Instant Flashtape. At your electronic command, the tape disintegrates into carbon weave and nitrogen gas. Shed an outfit on the red carpet, surprise a partner, or sabotage a drogue chute. 

Facial Recognition Serum

The human mind contains specialized pathways for recognizing faces. A single dose of FRS permanently enhances these pathways. Users will never forget a face. Camouflage loses some effectiveness. Assassins can no longer rely on shadows and mirrors. Use of FRS as a paranoia-inducing toxin is not recommended by the manufacturer.

Neutralizing Powder

Two tubes of dried and pulverized hallowed and unhallowed earth and an automatically adjusted silver mixing bowl and spreader. Each package creates up to 1m3 of ground that is, theologically, neutral territory. 

Rest-Frame Gyro Pack

Prevent, or at least diminish, unwanted acceleration. The faster you move, the faster the gyros spin, converting velocity into heat and noise. While the gyros can't stop you from falling (at 1g, at least), it can reduce impact speed to a manageable level. Extended use may melt the gyros. Temperature warning lights will activate as core temperature rises. Ensure the pack is switched to "inactive" before boarding a vehicle, or set the activation velocity to a suitably high value.


2021/10/06

Film Notes: Old Dark Houses

Magical Murder Mansion is today's (2021/10/07) DriveThruRPG Deal of the Day. I don't usually do sales but it is October, the month of creaking mansions, secret passages, and elaborate deathtraps. (If it's not 2021/10/07, then it's not on sale).

While writing Magical Murder Mansion, I decided to watch as many Old Dark House films as I could find. You know the type:

  • There's a House.
  • It is Old and Dark
  • Some Guests arrive.
  • There is a Murder.

Optional extras include but are not limited to:

The Reading of the Will, the Secret Passage, Disguises, The Creature in the Attic, the Storm, Spy-Holes, the Escaped Lunatic and/or Convict, The Lights Going Out, A Blood-Curdling Scream, etc, etc.

ODH films were (and presumably still are) cheap to make. You need a handful of sets, generic props, a small cast, and minimal special effects (an exterior model and some rain). With a cell phone camera and a couple of lights, you could probably bang out a ODH picture in a couple of weeks. I'm not sure why you would, but it's a thought.

I also prefer black and white ODH films, so Clue (1985) and the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) are out. The houses don't feel as dark when the film is in colour, and the flaws in set design (and scriptwriting, acting, directing, etc.) are more obvious. ODH films aren't haunted house films. There's no ghost (though fake ghosts might appear) and no explicitly supernatural setup. There's just a house, a storm, and some pressing reason for a few characters to come to sudden inexplicable ends. 

Here are some films that might be worth watching, ordered by release year. Most of them are in the public domain. I've tried to link to the highest quality videos I can find. This isn't an exhaustive list (there are a lot of ODH films).

The Old Dark House (1932)

 Full film (though may not be a public domain upload).

A bit of horror, a bit of mystery, a bit of comedy, and a bit of romance (or at least melodrama). Classic '30s snappy dialogue, wandering accents, pre-code nightdresses, and the origin of a dozen cliches. Not as bloodthirsty as later films, but plenty of tension.

The characters are surprisingly complex. Mr. Pendrel is excellent. His mild sarcastic nihilism has aged well.

Mr. Femm: "Mr. Penderel, I will give you a toast that you will not appreciate, being young. I give you illusion."
Mr. Penderel: "Illusion? Ha, I am precisely the right age for that toast, Mr. Femm."
Mr Femm: "Oh, I presume you are one of the gentlemen slightly, shall we say, battered by the war?"
Mr. Penderel: "Correct, Mr. Femm. War generation slightly soiled, a study in the bittersweet, the man with the twisted smile. And this, Mr. Femm, is exceedingly good gin."

The Thirteenth Guest (1932)

 Full film

Standard period-appropriate detective/cop noir-lite humour and the usual snappy dialogue. Pre-code, but nothing too scandalous. The villain wears a disguise even in their secret switch-throwing/victim observation room, which is a nice touch. Can't properly electrocute people unless you're dressed in a set of old silk drapes.

The Ninth Guest (1934)

Full film

The Ninth Guest predates Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and has a bit more social bite. There's a party (in a swank apartment, not a decrepit old mansion, but we'll let it slide). The guests (redolent with motives) are invited by a mysterious telegram. An elaborate deathtrap snaps shut. If you liked this film, check out The Exterminating Angel (1962), available through Criterion.

There seems to be some sort of ODH guest-based decay curve. We start with a Thirteenth Guest in 1932,  but by 1934, we're down to the Ninth Guest. Which one is the Missing Guest (1938)? By 1943 there's just The Ghost and the Guest left (presumably, an Unknown Guest). Who can solve this Mystery of the Thirteenth Guest? Wait just a few more years for in 1947, a Guest Is Coming; an Unexpected Guest. Can they solve it? No. Nobody can.

Look, I told you there were a lot of Old Dark House pictures!

The Rogues' Tavern (1936)

Full film

Post-code, not particularly threatening, and churned out at a pace that makes a fun counterpoint to Barton Fink. The director (Robert F. Hill) made 16 films in 1936 (!) and two of them were ODH pictures. No soundtrack or ambient noise to fill the yawning gulfs in the pacing. It's not a good film, but it's useful as a benchmark (and a cautionary tale). 

And Then There Were None (1945)

 Full film

The best-known film version of one of the most popular mysteries of all time deserves a place on this list, for the sake of completeness if nothing else. A rival studio rushed out Fog Island, if you want a low-budget version of the same story with the serial numbers filed off.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Full film

The first film where the characters (at least a few of them) are genre aware. It's an Old Dark House theme party. Several elaborate plots, some highly questionable relationship dynamics, and an exterior set that doesn't match the interior at all. Also, a vat of acid.

The Bat (1959)

Full film

Not a standard ODH picture (in that there's other locations involved and nobody's trapped), but well worth watching anyway. Cornelia Van Gorder isn't a hapless protagonist who faints at a death threat or three. When the film tosses her the idiot ball, she punctures it with a knitting needle and gets down to business. Everyone else panics (and/or dies); she plans. The 1930 version is good too, and has some very impressive camera work for the time.

Dark and Stormy Night (2009)

The final film on the list is a loving parody of the genre. Everyone clearly had fun making it, let alone writing the truly ridiculous dialogue. Skip the trailer and go straight to the film. With this film, the less you know the better.


Have I missed any black and white Old Dark House pictures that are worth watching? Don't bother listing them if you haven't seen them (there are other websites for that), but if you have, post a link in the comments.

2021/09/27

Minigame: "In 1973, President Nixon..."

I've invented a party game called "In 1973, President Nixon...". Feel free to nick it, adapt it, test it, and improve upon it. Letters of complaint should be sent to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, CA 92886.

Premise

In every piece of conspiracy-based media, there's That Scene. Our viewpoint character is inducted into the into the Mysterious Secret Agency (MSA), introduced to the Senior Agency Manipulator (SAM) and given a badge, sunglasses, and an Arsenal of Surprising Malevolence (ASM).

The part where the real history of the world is revealed. Where D. B. Cooper went, who's behind triangular UFOs, why Southwyck House in Brixton is that shape, who killed the electric car (and why!), and all the other mysteries of life. You were helpless, powerless, befuddled, directionless. Now you have a higher purpose, knowledge of the true nature of reality, power without conventional restraints, and intriguing colleagues. Social-focused lizard-brain releases all the good chemicals.

Everything after That Scene is a bit of a letdown. For a few glorious moments, an entire universe of possibilities dangles in the air, before instantly collapsing into tropes, lazy writing, grappling rules, limited special effects budgets, price lists, and other soul-draining minutiae.

But what if there was a game that was only reveals?

Jacob Samuel, New Yorker

The Rules

This is a game in the same way that hoop-stick is a game, or "who can make the best bird noise" is a game.

You will need:

  • some players
  • a stack of notecards or scrap paper for each player
  • a pen for each player
  • a pair of sunglasses (optional)
  • a clip-on tie (optional)

Select a random player (or the person who suggested this foolish enterprise in the first place). That player is the first Agency Manifestation Supervisor (AMS). 

The AMS:

1. Stands up, facing the other players, in a somber posture.

1a. Dons the sunglasses (optional).

1b. Dons the clip-on tie (optional).

2. Clears their throat to signal silence, then says: "In 1973, President Nixon..."

3. Improvises one or two sentences about this Mysterious Secret Agency (MSA), as if they were addressing a crowd of new recruits. This must include a Mission Assessment Statement (MAS). 

E.g. "In 1973, President Nixon authorized the creation of a secret organization. Its mission: to protect the United States from the perfidious influence of Martian Skinwalkers."

4. The non-recruit players write a letter on a card, then hold the cards up. They can do this at any point during the initial speech. Ideally, the letters spell out a 3-letter acronym. This is the Mysterious Secret Agency (MSA)'s Purported Name. 

4a. This works really well if there are 4 players total, and less well if there are fewer or more players. With 3 players, you could go for the Ministry of [A] [B], and 4-letter acronyms can work.

5. The AMS must then explain the purported acronym, to the best of their ability. "We are the X...Q...J...: the Exotic Quest... Jentlemen..."

6. The AMS must begin to explain the agency's Arsenal of Surprising Malevolence (ASM). "To combat this threat, you will be issued with..."

7. The AMS then reaches out and selects a card at random from a player. The card has an object on it, both named and (ideally), drawn (comically badly).

7a. In a cluttered environment, and with a suitably disorganized group, the players can hand the AMS a physical object instead. It helps with gesticulation. Or fill a grocery bag with objects and have the AMS reach in and pick one. 

7b. To save time, players may wish to fill out a whole stack of cards (letter on one side, object on the other) before the game starts, but frantically filling out cards does look like studious note-taking, and gives players a chance to tailor their sabotage for the peculiar foibles of the current AMS.

 8. The AMS explains how this object aids the agency in their mission. "...a small concrete sculpture of a pelican. It is well known that Martian Skinwalkers cannot abide the sight of a pelican. Treasure it. Guard it well. In an emergency, the concrete pelican can be used as an anti-flotation device."

9. The AMS then asks "Any questions?", and selects one player. That player must ask a question, and the AMS must provide an answer. Since this is the end of the round, maintaining composure is less critical, but this is a great chance for the AMS to show off (or collapse in a fit of giggles when asked, "Sir, are the Martian Skinwalkers affiliated with International Communism?"). 

10. After answering at least 1 question, the AMS sits down to polite applause. They become a player, and the next player becomes the ASM, restarting the process.

Oh right!

Rule 0. If, at any point, the AMS breaks composure, they must immediately give up their tie and sunglasses and sit down. 

Rule 0a. If you play this game with properly trained actors, you may need to introduce chemicals / brain damage / extra challenges to get them to break composure. "In 1973, President Nixon..." isn't a drinking game, but it could easily become one.

Victory Conditions

Euro Rules: each successfully completed AMS round earns the player 1 Victory Point. First to, oh, I don't know, 3 Victory Points wins. 1 Victory Point can be exchanged for 3 Wood Tokens.

American Rules: each successfully completed AMS round gives the player 6 Battle Dice (tm). Battle Dice are proprietary d6s with the 6 replaced by a 8 and the 2 replaced with a 1.75, which are rolled at the end of the game. Highest total wins. 

Scandinavian Rules: at the end of the game, players rank all other players from most to least entertaining. The ballots are then tabulated by a third party and probably ignored, because let's face it, this game doesn't have a victory condition. It's barely even a game.

Optional Rules

I: While President Nixon can be blamed for all manner of secret organizations, it might be more fun to have each player introduce a new historical figure and date, plausible or implausible, local or international. "In 802, the Emperor Charlemagne...". Feel free to adjust the time period of the briefing as well.

I'd make a convenient d100 table of Important Figures and Plausible Dates, but no table could possibly work for all groups. Example. See what I mean? It's better if the AMS picks the figure and supplies (or guesses) at the date.

II: If all non-AMS players break composure while the AMS maintains composure, the AMS can declare, "There is one final test you must pass," and declare some trivial but immediately possible action, such as, "Drop and give me 20! Now now now!" or "You! Recite poetry! Now now now!". Players who fail are "dis-quahlifiahed!" and must leave the room (and immediately return).

Derek Jones

Final Notes

This game isn't really designed for pick-up play. While the 10 Stupid Yet Robust Games for Video Calls are tested and sensible, this game... isn't. It's designed (and I use the word "designed" with trepidation) for groups of relatively close-knit friends who can - and will - call out someone who crosses a line. Ideally, the results of "In 1973, President Nixon..." should fall closer to "speaking truth to power, but in a post-ironic way" or "grappling with existential dread" or "pure absurdity" than than whatever the group considers scathing political satire. Listing an actual existent and influential conspiracy theory is not a good plan. The boundary between "improv exercise" and "group therapy" is dangerously thin. The more outlandish the mission of the MSA, the better.

Oglaf (NSFW)

Unrelated Side Note: Paranormal Investigative Sprawl

Most settings with paranormal investigative characters (e.g. Delta Green, Esoteric Enterprises, the SCP wiki, Scooby Doo if every episode ended before the villain was unmasked) tend to fit in all the paranormal stuff.  Everyone is invited to the masquerade. If the setting posits that one group can secretly exist alongside the real world, then there's no reason more groups can't secretly exist. It seems like you can't just have Vampires. You must have Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, Angels, Devils, Ghouls, the Fair Folk, etc, etc. You can't just have the Deep Ones. You must have Shoggoths, the Great Race of Yith, etc, etc. While you're add it, add in the Jersey Devil, Sewer Crocodiles, and Yetis.

You can get away with Aliens alone if they're a particularly subtle and creepy, and the characters are part of some underfunded resistance movement, but there's a strong pressure to add more factions or form diversity in ongoing media. People sometimes get away with just Vampires or just Ghosts, but the desire to sprawl is always around the corner. There's more than one kind of Ghost. The Zombies have mutated.

It's possible that "maybe this exists" nessesarily raises the question "why doesn't this other thing exist?" If the evidence/folkloric history/thematic weight of both ideas is about the same, not including it can feel weird. People who believe in the Loch Ness Monster are unlikely to dismiss the existence of the Sasquatch. This is also the age of media soup. It seems natural for every property/franchise/concept to slowly bleed into every other property/franchise/concept.

On the other hand, paranormal investigations aren't simple whodunits. They're also, often, whatdoneits? In a police procedural, the answer is usually "a person". In an esoteric game, the "what" could be a shapeshifting spider, an escaped military drone, a time traveling monk, a set of sentient gumboots, Actual Dracula, or, sometimes, a person. Speculation is part of the fun. If there's only one supernatural element in a game, extraordinary elements quickly become ordinary or predictable.

Multiple layers of supernatural cruft also preserves a sense of mystery. There's always a deeper layer. What do the Chainsaw Blood Cultists know about the Sly Venusians? Why was this obscure text about Atlantis in the library of the Evil Vicar?

Anyway, I'm not sure what the best approach is. Should a supernatural investigation setting include everything the creator can think of (exposed as needed, or with a twist or two), or should the creator focus on a single element and elaborate one that theme?

2021/09/21

OSR: Baboons, Goblins, and Bicameral Kobolds

 Baboons are special creatures.

On the one hand there's the view of someone like Robert Ardrey that primate social competition is all about, who's got the biggest canines, the most muscle, and the biggest balls. This view is straight-ahead and deterministic. Later, a much more p.c. version came along that held that competition is all about social intelligence, forming coalitions, and being nice in your game theory. But what really happens is that you'll get some baboon that's absolutely physically adept and by Ardrey's logic should be doing just fine. He also knows how to use social intelligence to form coalitions, and so by Howard Gardner's reckoning he should also be doing fine. However, at a critical moment he just can't stop himself from doing something stupid, impulsive, and disinhibited. Amid the physical prowess and the social intelligence, you look at the baboons that are most successful, and not coincidentally pass on more copies of their genes, and they simply have more impulsivity control.

Here’s an example: When baboons hunt together they'd love to get as much meat as possible, but they're not very good at it. The baboon is a much more successful hunter when he hunts by himself than when he hunts in a group because they screw up every time they're in a group. Say three of them are running as fast as possible after a gazelle, and they're gaining on it, and they're deadly. But something goes on in one of their minds—I'm anthropomorphizing here—and he says to himself, "What am I doing here? I have no idea whatsoever, but I'm running as fast as possible, and this guy is running as fast as possible right behind me, and we had one hell of a fight about three months ago. I don't quite know why we're running so fast right now, but I'd better just stop and slash him in the face before he gets me." The baboon suddenly stops and turns around, and they go rolling over each other like Keystone cops and the gazelle is long gone because the baboons just became disinhibited. They get crazed around each other at every juncture. 

A typical male baboon is too impulsive and can't possibly do the disciplined thing. Baboons are far less disciplined than chimps and when you map their brain anatomy you notice that they don't have a whole lot of frontal cortical function. Even though there are tremendous individual differences among the baboons, they're still at this neurological disadvantage, compared to the apes, and thus they typically blow it at just the right time. They could be scheming these incredible coalitions, but at the last moment, one decides to slash his partner in the ass instead of the guy they're going after, just because he can get away with it for three seconds. The whole world is three seconds long—they're very pointillist in their emotions. 

Baboons know what they're doing; they can play chess in their social landscape almost as well as chimps in terms of moving the right pieces around, but at the critical moment they simply can't stop themselves from doing the impulsive thing. I once watched a Frans de Waal film, Chimpanzee Politics, at a primate conference, and I was sitting next to another baboonologist. There is a scene where some chimp had just pulled off a brilliant Machiavellian maneuver, and the guy next to me turned and said, "Christ, that is what a baboon would be like if it had a shred of discipline or gratification-postponement." You're watching a species where most of their social complexity and social misery is built around the fact that at every logical juncture there's a pretty good chance that they're not going to have enough frontal neurons to do the prudent thing, and instead they blow it. It's amazing to study.

-Robert Sapolsky, interview at Edge.org

Parents may recognize baboon-like behavior in their children.


First-person narratives can't easily handle this kind of impulsivity. "And then I decided to steer into oncoming traffic" doesn't really capture the process. The "I" doing the deciding (if deciding is even the correct word) and the "I" telling the story aren't on speaking terms. Allie Brosh comes close in some of her stories.

But RPGs can. Players, at a distance from the hidden inner world of of their characters, provide plenty of impulsivity. The Reaction Roll or Morale Roll can, if suitably adjudicated, remind the GM that not all creatures are rational actors. The goblins charge. The GM rolls, winces, and describes one goblin happily throwing a bomb backwards instead of forwards.

One goblin is a terrible threat, like a greasy racoon with a shiv. Two or more goblins are a disaster waiting to happen.

This may also explain the Law of Conservation of Ninjutsu. The minions aren't fighting as competently in a group because they're also keeping an eye on all the other minions and trying to work out who, in this world of full-contact office politics, is likely to come out on top, and who is likely to shove them towards the lone minion-blending protagonist. 

Really interesting fights tend to have three or more sides. In the absence of any other options, one side suitably disinhibited monsters can easily become two sides.

Matias Cabezas Montoya


Kobolds and Dragons

Most humans have an inner narrator. There's a voice inside your head that is, probably, you, or at least the end result of some high-level process that loops your thoughts back through your head for a second look. Kobolds don't have that.

The voice inside a Kobold's head is their Dragon's voice.

In some cases, this is literally true. Some dragons are telepathic and will casually broadcast orders. But most of the time, a Kobold's thoughts are conceptualized as a running speech from a higher, more rational, and more powerful being. The voice saying, "Be careful, that looks sharp" or "We attack at dawn" isn't the Kobold's voice, it's the Dragon's. They live in constant, natural communion with the divine. This leads to all sorts of interesting neuroses.

Issues arise if an actual Dragon's commands start to conflict with the Dragon-in-the-mind. Kobolds can rationalize a lot, and their internal narrators will shift to match outside reality, but an un-Dragonic Dragon might not be a Dragon at all.

Kobolds with second thoughts (i.e. an inner narration that can argue with the Dragon) tend to become leaders, seers, or heretics.


Dwarves

Dwarves do not have inner narrators. They have no visual imagination. In the mines, it's very important to distinguish between real and imagined sights and sounds. Hallucinations get Dwarves killed. Asking a Dwarf to imagine an apple is like asking the average human to visualize an eight-dimensional hypercube. Dwarves rarely dream. When they do dream, the results are inspected for hints and prophecies, ignored, or medicated.

If a Dwarf does visualize something, they almost compulsively try to create it, as if to prove it wasn't a hallucination. 

Dwarves tend to process incoming telepathy as "speech-but-close-to-the-ear", and audibly respond (though in a whisper). Dwarven telepaths tend to move their lips a lot. The beard helps.

2021/09/10

OSR: Book Entrances and Exits

It might be useful to consider a book as a physical space through which the reader's attention wanders.

Entrance: where the reader starts reading.

Exit: where the reader stops reading.

It's not the only tool for designing an RPG book, and it can easily be extended to ridiculousness, but it might be a useful approach when planning or laying out a book.

Non-RPG Texts

Novels
Fiction generally has one entrance and one exit. A reader starts the book at the beginning, reads linearly, and arrives at the end. Chapter markers (optional) serve as waypoints when reading is not continuous, but they are not navigational; no one opens a book for the first time, finds the table of contents, and skips to Chapter VI: Sleary’s Horsemanship without reading the preceding chapters.

Novel layout tries to make the continuous reading process as smooth as possible.

Books of Poetry
Most poetry compresses easily, but each poem needs space to breathe. Poetry is contemplative. Moving on to the next poem is not necessarily encouraged by layout choices. Poems are sometimes linked or grouped editors or by poets, but there's rarely a correct or incorrect reading order. Poetry layout gives space for the mind to linger.

Random page from Teen Vogue.
Magazines

The layout of a magazine is designed to appeal to a casual browser. Reading a magazine linearly, cover to cover, in order, with each article linking into the next, is not common. Readers skip ahead, flip through, see what grabs their attention, and read that. Bits that don't appeal are ignored.

Callouts grab the reader's eye. A large quote, black bar, a bit of boxed text; they yank a browser from drifting-thought mode into reader-mode. Advertisements mix with content. Stories mix with other stories. Magazines are mostly designed to fill time.

Every page needs to be an entrance, but magazine design includes few exits. It's like a casino. Articles lead into other articles. Images grab the eye. Magazines aren't designed to be reread or referenced, so there's a basic table of contents, but no effort at landmarking or condensing content.

Nonfiction

Textbooks / General Nonfiction
A typical nonfiction work in any field has several entrances and exits.

  • Linear (to gain a full understanding of the subject).
  • By chapter (to brush up, check a reference, learn about a specific topic, etc.)
  • By term.
  • Internal cross-references.

While a novel may or may not include a table of contents and descriptive chapter headings, a nonfiction work of any length must (to support by-chapter entrances), and should also include an index (to support by-term entrances). Academically dissected fiction can use nonfiction tools.

Nonfiction works often include illustrations, charts, or pictures, which can serve as landmarks but are not intentionally placed for that purpose. Some textbooks use colour coding or other visual clues as a navigational aids. 

Instructions
Instructions are purely linear: one entrance at step 1 and one exit at the final result. They need to support very discontinuous reading (as the reader hops between the instructions and the object), but actively discourage nonlinear reading. Short instructions serve as their own index and table of contents.

Good instructions break a processes into discrete sub-processes (assembling one section of a chair first, measuring and mixing your dry ingredients, etc.) and mark out typical failure points. How many times have you read "taking care not to..." in a recipe? Little exclamation marks or boxes mark out difficult or easily confused points, or points where instructions branch into multiple paths.

Instructions are not a tutorial. They tell you what to do, but not why, and rarely explain the relevance of each step.

Manuals
Manuals typically incorporate sets of instructions attached to an introduction and some appendices.

  • Linearly reading a manual might be a best practice, but nobody actually does it.
  • By section. (Installation, Part #s, Warranty Info).
  • By problem. (How do I replace this part? Why is it making this noise? Can I use this type of soap?)

How a manual addresses by-problem entrances is a key measure of its utility. Manuals, more than instructions, include warnings.

Summary

Novels are like a long hallway with a painted mural.

Collected poetry is like a circular gallery with statues in it. 

Magazines are like an open-air market. There might be lanes or clusters of stalls, but you can browse in any direction, and every stall is vying for your attention.

Textbooks / General Nonfiction are like a connected line of rooms, each one with a door to the outside world, or a museum, or an art gallery, or a shopping mall.

Instructions are like a line of rooms, or a long hallway with a series of linked pictures, each only making sense in the context of the previous image.

Manuals are a series of long galleries radiating from a lumpy central mass.

RPG Books

Relatively few nonfiction books have to handle the challenges RPG books typically cover. A cookbook can safely assume the reader will sart cooking one recipe and end with the same recipe. Instructions for repairing a car do not need to instruct the reader what a car is, how to drive, the purpose of a garage, or the history of the Interstate Highway System.  

For some multipurpose RPG books, the closest structural equivalent is a holy text, with all the associated baggage. 

Here are a few tentative examples of RPG entrances and exits.

Entrances for a typical player-facing class-based splatbook, like the 5th Edition PHB

  • Linear (but skimming) to see what options are available. Art and summary blurbs help a lot.
  • Class-specific entry, to reference during character creation or leveling up.
  • Ability-specific entry, to reference as needed or when there's a confusing rules situation.

Since most of the entrances focus on a specific class, it makes a lot of sense to clearly landmark each class with a heading and eye-catching art. If abilities are shared by two or more classes, but not by all of them, it makes sense to duplicate the information instead of having the reader flip to a different section. Readers dip in and dip out.

Entrances for a typical dungeon:

  • Linear, to get a sense of the dungeon or decide if it's worth running.
  • By room, during a session, as needed.
  • By NPC/faction name. Essentially, checking who these people are, why they're here, and what they want.
  • For a dungeon-specific tool, like a random encounter table.

For most dungeons, a good table of contents works much better than an index. Clear choices when it comes to room order, including intuitive/flowing numbering systems and breaking a dungeon into sections, help with navigation.

Entrances for a typical bestiary:

  • Linearly, to browse for ideas, or just for reading pleasure.
  • By creature name, as directed by a random encounter table or reference in an adventure.
  • By problem, but only if the reader already knows the bestiary contains tools/appendices to solve that particular problem.

Indexing takes a different form. Instead of presenting the same information as the table of contents (a list of creature names in the printed order), it might include.

  • An alphabetical list (if the printed order is not alphabetical).
  • By terrain type, then by name to the creature.
  • By creature level / HD / difficulty, then by name to the creature.

Since every bestiary entry needs to be its own entrance (in theory), repeated formats and visual landmarks help with navigation. Bestiaries designed to be read instead of referenced can employ layout tricks to hinder exits and encourage further reading. Entries flow into each other; hints in one entry are resolved in another, etc.

Entrances for a typical GM Guide:

  • Linearly, to fully understand the system (as written). Ideally, like a textbook, concepts explained in early chapters are built upon in later chapters.
  • By problem. How do I handle wilderness travel? How much does a chicken cost? What are the core assumptions of this system. What do I do? Heeeelp!

GM guides (whether presented separately or as part of a single book), tend to act as a catch-all for any problems the author anticipates a GM might encounter. Organizing and indexing them is a difficult challenge. It's useful to know every time daggers show up in Macbeth; it's less useful to know every time they show up in the GM Guide. The index entry for "dagger" should point to the rules for daggers and (unless it's actually useful) nowhere else.

As a manual includes warnings, a GM guide can include sections that focus on potential errors or misunderstandings, or differences between this system and what the author considers "conventional" play.

Setting books that focus on at-table utility tend to support or even encourage non-linear reading; setting books that are designed, intentionally or not, for the reader (or the shelf) tend to follow a novel-like linear flow. There's no right answer. Some books are designed to load concepts into a GM's head before a game. Some are designed to be referenced during a game. And some aren't designed at all, but created by publisher mandate or perceived customer demand.

Second image via McMansionHell

Whitespace and Design

There's a difference between minimalism and the acres of beige carpet surrounding the bed of an overscaled American McMansion. Whitespace is not nessesarily wasted space, but it's very easy for a RPG book to feel bloated or empty. The reader wanders through vast oddly shaped rooms with a few bits of information spread on unloved side tables or stuck in high cupboards.

The clunky shots and long pauses in The Rogue's Tavern [1936] aren't pillow shots or moments of stillness. They're just the result of working on a budget, in a hurry, in a relatively new medium, and not quite managing to hit competence. Robert F. Hill directed 16 films in 1936. Quantity over quality, I suppose.

Back on topic. Low information density (or too much whitespace) feels most egregious when it leads to:

  • Tool mediocrity (i.e. all the entries on this table are the same, just with different primary colours in the text).
  • Tool disconnect (i.e. the explanation/detail/term I want is on a different page or in a different section and there's no good reason for it).
  • Tool absence (i.e. I expected/wanted a tool to be here and instead there's a blank space).

It's very easy for information density to cross a line into impenetrability. Density does not nessesarily help with entrances and exits. It can trap, mislead, or bore a reader. Page after page of identical tables and two-column text is not ideal.

Side Note: tool absence is not an issue if the text, context, or format makes it clear that the tool will not be provided. It's only an issue when the reader expects to find something and doesn't.

McMansionHell
Look at all this density.

Fear of excessive whitespace can also encourage an author/designer to insert filler: badly designed tools, repetitive or sluggish text, long meandering descriptions of things that don't matter to anyone and fail to help with the book's stated goals. The density of information has gone up, but the density of relevant information has dropped.

Finally, if the primary goal is to convey a tone or a theme, especially with a limited pagecount format like a 'zine, use every trick at your disposal. I still remember the "Number Appearing" text from "Broken System #000" even if it took me an hour to track down the author and the original format.

Final Notes

If you're searching for a design vocabulary, architecture might be a good place to start. Architects tend to write interesting articles and worry about unusual problems.

2021/08/18

OSR: The Alphabetical Index of All Monsters

The Monster Overhaul will have several useful indices. There's a basic table of contents, of course, and the HD(NA) section has already been posted, but since the book is designed to cover a lot of possible monsters, an Index of All Monsters is mandatory.

It can't contain all monsters, of course, but the goal is to include every monster a reader is likely to look up in an index. The name is a bit of a joke.

Chaos Frogs by Naf

Not Wanted On The Voyage

Lake Monsters
Every lake has a mysterious serpent-like beast that allegedly sinks small boats but is otherwise harmless. It'd be easier to list the lakes that don't have a legendary inhabitant. Between the dinosaur craze of the late 1800s and the cryptid fads of the '60s and '70s, depictions became homogenized and suitable for town logos and tourism marketing.

Ape Monsters
It's a similar story for ape-like humanoids. I've included the best-known ones, but monster lists are full of "evidence" for a worldwide secret clan of hairy humans. 

Side Note: the other potential issue is that some hairy human tales are just racism/xenophobia that the folklorist didn't pick up on. "Those weird semi-human primitive hill creatures that we hate" sometimes turn out to be actual people.

Clearly Fictional Monsters of Allegory
Bicorn and Chichevache are perfect examples. Creatures that were originally allegorical but gained new associations over the years are fine; creatures that are nothing but allegory are not.

Creatures That Don't Do Anything
If a creature doesn't do anything more supernatural than a cow producing milk or a pepper plant producing pepper, and if it isn't actively dangerous to people, it's probably not worth including. A venemous snake with two heads is interesting, but it doesn't need stats.

Singular Creatures
If a creature only appears in one source, and hasn't been widely reinterpreted or discussed, it's probably not worth indexing. Anyone who knows of the creature should also have a good idea what sort of stats it needs. Famous named dragons, for example, probably don't need to be listed by name.

Nebulous Creatures and Gods
If a creature created a mountain range, regularly devours the sun, or exists everywhere, it's probably not something stats can adequately cover. I've included the Demigod entry just in case. If a creature's motivation, form, and abilities change with every tale, it's probably too difficult to incorporate into an index. 

Fully Fictional Creatures
Unless a creature appears in at least 2 RPG sources and another type of work (a video game, the original novel, etc.), it's probably not worth indexing. Some of the phonemic soup creatures from White Dwarf are definitely not worth revisiting. "You encounter [rolls] an Abrogalsid, which is different from an Agrobalsid in several very boring ways. Roll for initiative." 

I also want to steer clear of copyright issues (even though indexing, with the right caveats, is a perfectly fine use case). Wizards of the Coast Product Identity creatures are right out.

Other Indexing Concerns

Via wikipedia.

Fidelity
The Grootslang is just a "great snake"; one of many such snakes. Since the early 2000s, thanks to the internet and a misread reference, it's become an elephant-featured snake instead of an elephant-sized snake, and developed a host of new abilities largely unrelated to its original myth.

Which version should I index? The "correct" one, or the new (and more interesting, from an RPG point of view) one? 

Similarly, Gygax's Gorgon in the original Monster Manual is Topsell's error, perpetuated by Freund. Should I index Gorgon as "see Catoblepas" or "see Medusa" or both? Gorgon->Catoblepas is only a valid reference because of D&D, but the Monster Overhaul is a D&D-type book.

There's no correct answer. Every story about a creature, even if it's a real creature, is still a story. It's turtles all the way down.

It sounds trite, but mythology was not written for RPG purposes. Creatures were written, adapted, or changed for specific reasons, but until very recently those reasons did not include "What happens if some imaginary people in a collective story framework bolted to a random number generator encounter this monster?"

-What to Include in the Monster Overhaul?

All Wights Reversed
Not all two-word creature names have their reverse doubles in the index. Readers are unlikely to look up "Tortoise Tsar" by "Tsar, Tortoise" (if they look it up at all), but they are very likely to look up "Giant Spider" by "Spider, Giant".

A Shark By Any Other Name
If an index entry would reference the same creature, it's not included. If you look up "Shark, Great White", then the index entry for "Shark" will point you in the right direction. "Shark, Great White", "Shark, Hammerhead", "Shark, Tiger", etc. will just clog the index. I've also tried to avoid near synonyms. "Rat" and "Rodent" are fairly close and point to the same entry; including Rodent doesn't feel necessary.

I've tried to include the most common species names and their cross-references. It's possible that readers will look up "Megalodon" or "Gorgosaurus". 

Formatting
Instead of directing the reader to flip to a different index entry, I'm going to provide the page # of the final reference. This gives me a bit of flexibility in formatting and saves the reader time.

Where a creature corresponds more-or-less 1:1, or is explicitly included in, an existing entry, I use "see". Where a bit of extra guidance is needed, I've used "as". I may revise a few entries to give a bit more guidance, but in some cases, it feels unnecessary. Anyone looking up a creature by that name should also have a general idea of its form and abilities.

Sigbin by Ash

The Alphabetical Index of All Monsters

The first column covers entries in the book. The second column is cross-references. The formatting will be significantly adjusted to fit the book. Blogger does not like tables.

What have I missed? What interpretations do you disagree with? Cunningham's Law to the rescue!


Aboleth
Abyssal Fish

Achaierai - as Bear (pg. ###), but avian, darkly intelligent.

Adherer - as Sea Slug (pg. ###), but humanoid and sticky.

Adjule - see Hyena (pg. ###).
Adventurer

Aepyornis - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Aerial Servant - as Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).

Agropelter - as Baboon (pg. ###), but arboreal, tosses branches.

Ahool - as Flying Lizard (pg. ###), but a giant ape-like bat.

Ahuizotl - as Seal (pg. ###), but hound-like, grasping hand on tail.

Ajaju - as Tyrant Lizard (pg. ###), but a multi-tongued stilt-legged chameleon.

Akkorokamui - see Kraken (pg. ###).
Alicanto
Alien Invader
Alien Visitor

Alkonost - see Harpy (pg. ###).

Alligator - see Crocodile (pg. ###)

Allosaurus - see Tyrant Lizard (pg. ###).

Almas - see Ape (pg. ###).
Alpha Mind
Alpine Specter

Alseid - see Dryad (pg. ###).

Amikuk - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).

Ammonite, Giant - see Kraken (pg. ###).

Amoeba - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Anaconda - see Giant Snake (pg. ###).

Anatosaurus - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###).
Ancient Arthropod
Ancient Dragon

Android - see Robot Servant (pg. ###).

Androsphinx - see Sphinx (pg. ###) or Manticore (pg. ###).

Anfac - as Rotifer (pg. ###), but a fusion of beaver, lizard, and catfish.
Angel

Anggitay - see Centaur (pg. ###).

Angle Hound - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).

Anglerfish - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Animated Item

Ankheg - see Tunnel Hulk (pg. ###)

Ankylosaurus - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###).

Anomalocaris - see Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###).

Ant Lion - as Tunnel Hulk (pg. ###), but pit-dwelling.

Ant, Giant - see Hive Insect (pg. ###)

Apatosaurus - see Thunder Lizard (pg. ###).
Ape

Ape, Colossal - see Colossal Ape (pg. ###)

Apparition - see Ghost (pg. ###)

Apsara - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).

Arthropod, Ancient - see Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###).

Assassin Bug - see Skeeter (pg. ###).

Atomie - see Sprite (pg. ###).

Aurumvorax - as Rust Monster (pg. ###), but badger-shaped.

Axe Beak - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Babbler - as Troglodyte (pg. ###), but spouts gibberish.
Baboon

Badger, Giant -see Wolf (pg. ###).

Bake-kujira - as Legendary Whale (pg. ###), but ethereal.

Baku - as Mind Eater (pg. ###), but tapir-like and benevolent.

Baluchitherium - see Rhinoceros (pg. ###)

Banderlog - see Baboon (pg. ###).

Bandersnatch - see Swift Lizard (pg. ###).

Bandit - see Mercenary (pg. ###).
Banshee

Bar Juchne - see Beast of Creation (pg. ###).
Barbarian

Barbegazi - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).

Barghest - see Hell Hound (pg. ###).

Barkburr - see Predatory Plant (pg. ###).

Barmanou - see Ape (pg. ###).

Barracuda - see Shark (pg. ###).

Barreleye - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Basidirond - see Myconid (pg. ###).
Basilisk

Bat, Giant - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###)

Bat, Giant - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###)

Bat, Swarm - see Murderous Crows (pg. ###)

Bat, Vampire - see Skeeter (pg. ###)
Bear
Beast of Creation

Bee, Giant - see Hive Insect (pg. ###).

Beetle, Giant - see Tunnel Hulk (pg. ###).

Behir - see Drake (pg. ###).

Beluga - see Seal (pg. ###).

Berbalang - as Imp (pg. ###), but hungry for entrails.

Beroe - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Berserker - see Barbarian (pg. ###).

Bigfoot - see Ape (pg. ###).

Bird, Flightless - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###)
Biscuit Golem

Black Panther - see Panther (pg. ###).

Black Pudding - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Blindheim - as Strong Toad (pg. ###), but eyes instead cast light as a bonfire.

Blink Dog - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).

Blink Dog - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).
Blizzard Eel

Blob - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Boa Constrictor - see Giant Snake (pg. ###).
Boar

Bog Creeper - see Shambler (pg. ###).

Bogeyman - see Nightmare Beast (pg. ###) or Orc (pg. ###).

Boggart - as Brownie (pg. ###), but malevolent.

Bogle - see Brownie (pg. ###).

Bonnacon - as Catoblepas (pg. ###), but sprays caustic feces.

Bonobo - as Baboon (pg. ###), but peaceful.

Boobrie - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Booka - see Sprite (pg. ###).

Bookworm - see Marine Worm (pg. ###).

Brachiosaurus - see Thunder Lizard (pg. ###).

Brain Flayer - see Mind Eater (pg. ###).

Brigand - see Mercenary (pg. ###).

Bristle Worm - see Marine Worm (pg. ###).
Brownie

Broxa - see Skeeter (pg. ###).

Buccaneer - see Pirate (pg. ###).

Buckawn - see Brownie (pg. ###).

Bugbear - see Ogre (pg. ###).

Buggane - as Tunnel Hulk (pg. ###), but a humanoid mole.

Bukavac - as Froghemoth (pg. ###), but a six-legged horned lizard.

Bulette - as Shark (pg. ###), but burrow 2x normal.

Bunyip - as Seal (pg. ###), but river-dwelling, predatory.

Burach Bhadi - as Marine Worm (pg. ###), but a nine-eyed strangling leech.

Burrunjor - as Tyrant Lizard (pg. ###).

Capybara - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).

Carbuncle - see Alicanto (pg. ###).

Carcass Crawler - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).

Carp, Giant - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Caryatid Column - see Stone Golem (pg. ###).

Cassowary - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Caterpillar, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).
Catoblepas

Cave Cricket - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).
Cave Person

Ccoa - see Raijū (pg. ###).
Centaur

Centipede, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###) or Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###).

Chalicotherium - see Ground Sloth (pg. ###).

Chalkydri - see Ethereal Dragon (pg. ###).
Chaos Frog

Charybdis - see Rotifer (pg. ###).

Cheetah - as Panther (pg. ###), but move 3x normal.
Cherub
Chimera

Chimpanzee - as Baboon (pg. ###), but cunning.

Chimpanzee - see Ape (pg. ###).

Chimpekwe - as Elephant (pg. ###), but aquatic, one horn.

Chupacabra - see Sigbin (pg. ###).
Clay Golem

Cloaker - see Mimic (pg. ###).

Clubnek - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).
Cockatrice

Cockroach, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).
Colossal Ape
Colossal Insect
Couatl

Cougar - see Panther (pg. ###).

Coyote - see Hyena (pg. ###) or Wolf (pg. ###).

Crane, Giant - as Flightless Bird (pg. ###), but fly normal.

Crawling Claw - as Skeleton (pg. ###), but just a hand.

Crayfish, Giant - see Giant Crab (pg. ###).

Criosphinx - see Griffon (pg. ###).
Crocodile

Crustacean, Giant - see Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###) or Giant Crab (pg. ###).

Crysmal - see Living Gem (pg. ###).

Cube, Gelatinous - see Ooze (pg. ###).
Cultist

Cù-sìth - see Hellhound (pg. ###).

Cyclops, Greater - see Giant (pg. ###).

Cyclops, Lesser - see Ogre (pg. ###).

Dao - see Jinnī (pg. ###).
Dark Fair

Death Knight - see Wight (pg. ###).

Deep One - as Troglodyte (pg. ###), but fishy, swim normal.
Demigod

Demilich - as Lich (pg. ###), except only a skull remains.

Desmostylus - see Seal (pg. ###).
Devil

Devil Dog - see Hell Hound (pg. ###).

Devil, Tasmanian - see Kamaitachi (pg. ###).

Diakka - see Leafling (pg. ###).

Dienonychus - see Swift Lizard (pg. ###).

Dimorphodon - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###).

Dingmaul - as Lion (pg. ###), but with a bulbous tail.

Dingo - see Hyena (pg. ###).

Dingonek - as Hippopotamus (pg. ###), but an aquatic leopard-like fanged armadillo.

Diplodocus - see Thunder Lizard (pg. ###).

Disenchanter - see Rust Monster (pg. ###).

Displaced Beast - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).

Displaced Cat - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).

Djinn - see Jinnī (pg. ###).

Dog - see Wolf (pg. ###).

Dolphin - see Seal (pg. ###).
Doppelganger

Dracolich - see Zombie Dragon (pg. ###).

Dracolisk - as a Young Dragon (pg.###), but with a Basilisk's (pg. ###) petrification ability.
Dracospawn

Dragon - see Young Dragon (pg. ###) or Ancient Dragon (pg. ###).

Dragon Horse - see Kirin (pg. ###).

Dragon Turtle - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).

Dragon, Ancient - see Ancient Dragon (pg. ###).

Dragon, Ethereal - see Ethereal Dragon (pg. ###).

Dragon, Young - see Young Dragon (pg. ###).

Dragon, Zombie - see Zombie Dragon (pg. ###).

Dragonborn - see Dracospawn (pg. ###).

Dragonfly, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).
Drake

Drider - as Centaur (pg. ###) or Lamia (pg. ###). Lower half spider.
Droggin

Drop Bear - as Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###), but a koala, attacks from above.
Druid
Dryad
Dullahan

Dust Devil - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).

Dustdigger - see Sea Star (pg. ###).
Dybuk

Eagle, Giant - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###).

Echeneis - see Remora (pg. ###).

Eel, Blizzard - see Blizzard Eel (pg. ###).

Eel, Giant - see Marine Worm (pg. ###).

Eel, Gulper - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Eel, Snipe - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Efreeti - see Jinnī (pg. ###).

Eisel - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).
Elemental
Elemental Spirit
Elemental Tyrant
Elephant
Elsewhere Creature

Empty One - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).

Emu - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Enfield - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Enveloper - see Mimic (pg. ###).

Erinys - see Harpy (pg. ###).
Ethereal Dragon

Ettercap - as Giant Spider (pg. ###), but four limbs, sapient.

Ettin, Greater - see Giant (pg. ###).

Ettin, Lesser - see Ogre (pg. ###).

Eurypterid - see Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###).
Eye Tyrant
Fairy

Fairy Dragon - see Pseudodragon (pg. ###).

Faun - see Satyr (pg. ###).

Fenghuang - see Firebird (pg. ###).

Fetch - see Doppelganger (pg. ###).
Firebat
Firebird

Fish, Abyssal - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###)

Flameskull - see Firebat (pg. ###).
Flesh Golem
Flightless Bird
Flower Nymph

Flumph - as Marine Worm (pg. ###), but jellyfish-like, dimly intelligent.

Fly, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).
Flying Lizard

Forge Fiend - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).

Formian - see Hive Insect (pg. ###).

Frankenstein - see Wizard (pg. ###).

Frankenstein's Monster - see Flesh Golem (pg. ###).

Frog, Giant - as Kappa (pg. ###), but not intelligent.
Froghemoth

Fuccubus - see Devil (pg. ###).

Fungus, Walking - see Myconid (pg. ###).

Fungus, Snow - see Snow Fungus (pg. ###).

Fury - as Harpy (pg. ###), but without singing.

Gajasimha - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Galtzagorriak - see Brownie (pg. ###).

Gar, Giant - see Crocodile (pg. ###)
Gargoyle

Garkain - as Ghoul (pg. ###), except fly normal on skin-flap wings.

Gashadokuro - as Colossal Ape (pg. ###), but skeletal.

Gastropod - see Predatory Snail (pg. ###) or Sea Slug (pg. ###).

Gazebo - see Mimic (pg. ###).

Gazeka - as Ground Sloth (pg. ###), but with a tapir-like trunk.

Gelatinous Cube - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Gello - see Night Hag (pg. ###).

Gem, Living - see Living Gem (pg. ###).

Genie - see Jinnī (pg. ###).

Ghast - see Ghoul (pg. ###).
Ghost
Ghoul
Giant
Giant Crab
Giant Snake
Giant Spider

Giant, Noble - see Noble Giant (pg. ###).

Gibbering Mouther - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Gibbon, Giant - see Ape (pg. ###).

Gnoll - as Hyena (pg. ###), but upright, sapient.

Gnome - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).

Goat, Telluric - see Telluric Goat (pg. ###).
Goblin

Goblin War Engine

Goldbug - see Rust Monster (pg. ###).
Golem 

Golem, Biscuit - see Biscuit Golem (pg. ###)

Golem, Clay - see Clay Golem (pg. ###)

Golem, Flesh - see Flesh Golem (pg. ###)

Golem, Iron - see Iron Golem (pg. ###)

Golem, Snow - see Snow Golem (pg. ###).

Golem, Stone - see Stone Golem (pg. ###)

Gomphothere - see Elephant (pg. ###).

Gorgon - see Medusa (pg. ###).

Gorgosaurus - see Tyrant Lizard (pg. ###).

Gorilla - see Ape (pg. ###).

Gremlin - see Imp (pg. ###) or Brownie (pg. ###).
Grey Horse
Griffon

Grig - see Sprite (pg. ###).

Grim - see Hell Hound (pg. ###).

Grindylow - see Kappa (pg. ###).

Groaning Spirit - see Banshee (pg. ###)

Grootslang - see Giant Snake (pg. ###).
Ground Sloth

Grouper - see Shark (pg. ####).
Grue

Gynosphinx - see Sphinx (pg. ###).

Hag, Ice - see Sea Hag (pg. ###).

Hag, Night - see Sea Hag (pg. ###).

Hag, Sea - see Sea Hag (pg. ###).

Hag, Tempest - see Sea Hag (pg. ###).

Hamadryad - see Dryad (pg. ###).
Harpy
Harvest Avatar

Hatchetfish - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Hatchling
Hateful Goose

Haunt - see Poltergeist (pg. ###).

Hawk, Giant - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###).

Hekatonkheire - as Giant (pg. ###), but with one hundred hands. Can attack up to hundred adjacent targets.

Helicoprion - see Shark (pg. ###).
Hell Hound
Herd Lizard

Heron, Giant - as Flightless Bird (pg. ###), but fly normal.

Hesperid - see Sun Dog (pg. ###).

Hidebehind - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).

Hieracosphinx - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Hippalectryon - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Hippocampus - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Hippogriff - see Griffon (pg. ###).
Hippopotamus
Hive Insect

Hob - see Brownie (pg. ###).

Hobgoblin - see Orc (pg. ###).

Hodag - see Drake (pg. ###).

Hollyphant - as Lamassu (pg. ###), but elephantine.
Homunculus

Hō-ō - see Firebird (pg. ###).

Hornet, Giant - see Hive Insect (pg. ###).

Hyad - see Raincloud (pg. ###).
Hydra
Hyena
Ice Hag

Ichthyocentaur - as Centaur (pg. ###), but back half of horse is a fish tail.

Ichthyosaur - see Shark (pg. ###).

Ifrit - see Jinnī (pg. ###).

Iguanodon - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###).
Imp

Impundulu - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).

Incubus - see Devil (pg. ###).

Inkanyamba - as Sea Serpent (pg. ###), but waterfall-dwelling.

Insect, Colossal - see Colossal Insect (pg. ###)

Invisible Stalker - see Elemental (pg. ###).
Iron Fulmination
Iron Golem

Item, Animated - see Animated Item (pg. ###)

Jabberwock - see Nightmare Beast (pg. ###).

Jackal - see Hyena (pg. ###).

Jaguar - see Panther (pg. ###).

Jelly - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Jengu - see Merfolk (pg. ###).
Jinnī 

Jishin Mushi - see Colossal Insect (pg. ###).

Jorōgumo - see Lamia (pg. ###).

Juggernaut - see Robot Titan (pg. ###).

Kallikantzaros - as Goblin (pg. ###), but incredibly dim.
Kamaitachi
Kappa

Kaqtukaq - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).

Kataw - see Merfolk (pg. ###).

Kelpie - as Lamia (pg. ###), but can transform into an aquatic horse.

Kilmoulis - see Brownie (pg. ###).
Kirin
Knight

Knocker - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).
Kobold

Kodama - see Dryad (pg. ###).

Konrul - see Firebird (pg. ###).
Kraken

Krill Swarm - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Lamia
Lammasu

Lampad - see Alpine Specter (pg. ###).

Lamprey, Giant - see Marine Worm (pg. ###).

Land Shrimp - see Hive Insect (pg. ###).

Lavellan -as Catoblepas (pg. ###), but rat-shaped.
Leafling
Leech of Paradise
Legendary Whale

Lembuswana - see Chimera (pg. ###).

Leopard - see Panther (pg. ###).

Leprechaun - see Brownie (pg. ###).

Leucrotta - see Hyena (pg. ###).
Lich

Lillend - see Couatl (pg. ###).

Lindworm - as Drake (pg. ###), but with only two limbs, moves like a snake.
Lion

Lion's Mane Jellyfish - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Living Armour - see Animated Item (pg. ###).
Living Gem



Lizard, Flying - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###)

Lizard, Herd - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###)

Lizard, Swift - see Swift Lizard (pg. ###)

Lizard, Thunder - see Thunder Lizard (pg. ###)

Lizard, Tyrant - see Tyrant Lizard (pg. ###)

Lomie - as Catoblepas (pg. ###), but a moose. Spits boiling water.

Longma - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Lou Carcolh - see Predatory Snail (pg. ###).

Lurefish - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).

Lurker Above - see Mimic (pg. ###).

Lusca - as Kraken (pg. ###). Shark head, squid body.

Lutin - see Fairy (pg. ###).

Lycanthrope - see Werewolf (pg. ###).

Lyegrabber - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).

Lynx, Giant - see Panther (pg. ###).

Mahwot - see Crocodile (pg. ###).

Mammoth - see Elephant (pg. ###).

Manananggal - see Vampire (pg. ###).

Manatee, Flesh-Eating - see Seal (pg. ###).
Mandrake

Mandrill - see Baboon (pg. ###).

Mandurugo - see Vampire (pg. ###).

Mannegishi - see Sprite (pg. ###).

Man-o-War - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Manticore
Mantis Shrimp

Mantis, Giant - as Mantis Shrimp (pg. ###), but terrestrial.

Mari Lwyd - see Grey Horse (pg. ###).

Marid - see Jinnī (pg. ###).
Marine Worm

Mastiff - see Wolf (pg. ###).

Mastodon - see Elephant (pg. ###).
Medusa

Megalodon - see Shark (pg. ###).

Megalosaurus- see Tyrant Lizard (pg. ###).

Megatherium - see Ground Sloth (pg. ###).

Melusine - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).

Mephit - see Spitling (pg. ###) or Sandwalker (pg. ###).
Mercenary
Merchant
Merfolk

Merlion - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Microbial Mat  - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Mimic
Mind Eater
Minotaur

Moa - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Moasaur - see Seal (pg. ###).

Moha-Moha - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).
Monstrous Vermin

Moon Jelly - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Morlock - see Troglodyte (pg. ###).

Mormo - see Night Hag (pg. ###).

Mosquito, Giant - see Skeeter (pg. ###).

Mothman - as Banshee (pg. ###), but a red-eyed giant moth. 

Mountain Lion - see Panther (pg. ###).

Mouse, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg.  ###).
Mummy
Murderous Crows
Mutant
Myconid
Naga

Naked Mole Rat - see Hive Insect (pg. ###).

Narwhal - see Seal (pg. ###).
Necromancer

Necrophidius - as Giant Snake (pg. ###), but made of bones.

Nereid - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).
Night Hag
Nightmare Beast

Ningyo - see Merfolk (pg. ###).

Nixie - see Sprite (pg. ###).
Noble Giant
Nuckelavee

Nue - see Chimera (pg. ###).

Nymph, Flower - see Flower Nymph (pg. ###).

Oarfish - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).

Octopus, Giant - see Kraken (pg. ###).
Ogre

Ogre, Quantum - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).

Oni - see Ogre (pg. ###).

Onocentaur - as Satyr (pg. ###), but front half human, back half donkey.

Oókempán - see Kappa (pg. ###).
Ooze

Opabinia - see Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###).

Opinicus - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Orangutan - see Ape (pg. ###).
Orc

Orca - see Toothed Whale (pg. ###).

Origorúso - as Ogre (pg. ###), but with enormous ears.

Ostrich - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Otyugh - as Blizzard Eel (pg. ###), but eats offal, cannot fly.

Oviraptor - see Swift Lizard (pg. ###).

Owl, Giant - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###).
Owlbear

Pachycephalosaurus - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###).

Pairío - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).

Palis - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).
Panther
Peasant

Penanggalan - see Vampire (pg. ###).
Perfect Predator
Peryton

Phantasm - see Elsewhere Creature (pg. ###).

Phantom - see Ghost (pg. ###).

Phoenix - see Firebird (pg. ###).

Physeter - as Rotifer (pg. ###), but whale-shaped, and can also create a whirlpool-sized column of water.

Piasa - see Manticore (pg. ###).

Piercer - see Mimic (pg. ###).

Pike, Giant - see Shark (pg. ###).
Pilgrim
Pirate

Pixie - see Sprite (pg. ###).

Pixiu - as Lamassu (pg. ###), but dragon-headed and lion-bodied. Loves gold, but fairly loyal. 

Plant, Predatory - see Predatory Plant (pg. ###).

Plesiosaur - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).
Polevik

Poltergeist

Porpita - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Predatory Plant
Predatory Snail

Prophet - see Visionary (pg. ###).
Pseudodragon

Pterodactyl - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###).

Púca - see Brownie (pg. ###).

Pudding, Deadly - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Pudding, Delicious - see Biscuit Golem (pg. ###).
Pyromancer

Qilin - see Kirin (pg. ###).

Quasit - see Imp (pg. ###).
Questing Beast

Radiodont - see Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###).

Ragsnatcher - see Rust Monster (pg. ###).
Raijū
Raincloud

Rakshasa - see Devil (pg. ###).

Ram, Shofar - see Shofar Ram (pg. ###).

Rat King - as Murderous Crows (pg. ###), but a fused tangle of rats. 

Rat, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).

Ray - see Shark (pg. ###).
Remora
Remorhaz

Revenant - see Wight (pg. ###).

Rhea - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).
Rhinoceros
Robot Hound
Robot Servant
Robot Titan

Roc - see Wyvern (pg. ###).

Rokurokubi - see Vampire (pg. ###).

Ropen - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###).

Roper - see Mimic (pg. ###).
Roperite
Rotifer
Rust Monster

Sabre-Toothed Cat - see Tiger (pg. ###) or Bear (pg. ###).

Sahuagin - see Merfolk (pg. ###).

Sailor - see Pirate (pg. ###).

Salamander - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).
Sandwalker

Sarangay - see Minotaur (pg. ###).

Sasquatch - see Ape (pg. ###).

Satori - as Baboon (pg. ###), but telepathic, babbles read thoughts.
Satyr

Sawfish - see Shark (pg. ###).
Scapegoat
Scarecrow
Sea Hag

Sea Lion - see Seal (pg. ###).

Sea Nettle - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Sea Serpent
Sea Slug
Sea Star
Seal

Selkie - see Werewolf (pg. ###).

Seraphim - see Angel (pg. ###).

Serpopard - see Griffon (pg. ###).

Shadow - see Ghost (pg. ###) or Grue (pg. ###).

Shadow Dragon - see Ethereal Dragon (pg. ###).

Shahmaran - see Naga (pg. ###).
Shambler
Shark

Shedu - see Lamassu (pg. ###).
Shivered Beast
Shofar Ram
Sigbin

Silverfish - see Rust Monster (pg. ###).

Simurgh - see Griffon (pg. ###) or Firebird (pg. ###).

Siphonophore - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Siren - as Harpy (pg. ###), but mostly human, aquatic.
Skeeter
Skeleton

Skin-walker - see Werewolf (pg. ###).

Slime - see Ooze (pg. ###).

Slug, Giant - see Sea Slug (pg. ###).

Snail, Predatory - see Predatory Snail (pg. ###).

Snailfish - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Snake, Giant - see Giant Snake (pg. ###).

Snallygaster - see Chimera (pg. ###).
Snow Fungus
Snow Golem

Snow Leopard - see Panther (pg. ###).

Snowman, Abominable - see Ape (pg. ###).

Snowman, Adorable - see Snow Golem (pg. ###).

Soldier - see Mercenary (pg. ###).

Songòmby - as Catoblepas (pg. ###), but carnivorous.

Specter - see Alpine Specter (pg. ###) or Ghost (pg. ###).
Sphinx

Spider, Giant - see Giant Spider (pg. ###).
Spitling

Spriggan - see Polevik (pg. ###) or Fairy (pg. ###).

Sprite

Squid, Giant - see Kraken (pg. ###).

Squid, Vampire - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Stareater - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).

Stegosaurus - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###).

Stirge - see Skeeter (pg. ###).

Stone Golem

Stone Golem (pg. ###)

Strigoi - see Vampire (pg. ###).
Strong Toad

Struthiomimus - see Swift Lizard (pg. ###).

Succubus - see Devil (pg. ###).

Su-monster - see Ape (pg. ###).
Sun Dog

Sundew, Giant - see Predatory Plant (pg. ###).

Swan Maiden - see Werewolf (pg. ###).

Swarm - see Murderous Crows (pg. ###).
Swift Lizard

Sylph - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).

Tagamaling - see Ghoul (pg. ###).
Tardigrade

Tarrasque - see Beast of Creation (pg. ###)

Tattie-Bogle - see Scarecrow (pg. ###).

Telescopefish - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Telluric Goat
Tempest Hag

Termite, Giant - see Hive Insect (pg. ###).

Terror Bird - see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Thoqqua - see Marine Worm (pg. ###).
Thriae
Thunder Lizard

Tick, Giant - see Monstrous Vermin (pg. ###).

Tigbanua - as Ogre (pg. ###), but one-eye, long neck.
Tiger

Tikbalang - as Will-o'-the-Wisp (pg. ###), but can transform into a horse-headed Minotaur (pg. ###).

Titan - see Noble Giant (pg. ###).

Titanothere - see Rhinoceros (pg. ###).

Toad, Giant - as Kappa (pg. ###), but not intelligent.

Toad, Strong - see Strong Toad (pg. ###).
Toothed Whale

Torosaurus - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###).
Tortoise Tsar
Townsfolk
Treant

Triceratops - see Herd Lizard (pg. ###).

Triffid - see Predatory Plant (pg. ###).

Trilobite - see Ancient Arthropod (pg. ###).

Tripodero - as Firebat (pg. ###), but a long-tailed lizard on extendable legs. Spits clay pellets.

Tripodfish - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Troglodyte
Troll

Tsukumogami - see Animated Item (pg. ###).

Tullimonstrum - as Sea Serpent (pg. ###), but oval body, grasping proboscis, eyestalks. 
Tunnel Hulk

Tupilaq - see Flesh Golem (pg. ###).

Turkey, Giant - see Hateful Goose (pg. ###).

Turtle, Dragon - see Sea Serpent (pg. ###).

Tyrannosaurus - see Tyrant Lizard (pg. ###).
Tyrant Lizard

Umbral - see Sun Dog (pg. ###).

Underdog - see Shivered Beast (pg. ###).

Undine - see Elemental Spirit (pg. ###).
Unicorn

Urchin - see Sea Star (pg. ###).

Urisk - see Brownie (pg. ###).

Ushi-oni - as Giant Spider (pg. ###), but with an ox's head.
Vampire

Vargouille - see Stirge (pg. ###).
Veggie-Mite

Velociraptor - see Swift Lizard (pg. ###).

Vetala - see Vampire (pg. ###).

Viperfish - see Abyssal Fish (pg. ###).
Visionary

Vodyanoi - see Kappa (pg. ###).

Vorompatra- see Flightless Bird (pg. ###).

Vulture, Giant - see Flying Lizard (pg. ###).

Walking Stick - see Animated Item (pg. ###).

Walrus - see Seal (pg. ###).

Wanyūdō - as Dullahan (pg. ###), but a burning wheel with a face at its hub.

Warthog - see Boar (pg. ###).

Wasp, Giant - see Hive Insect (pg. ###).

Water Bear - see Tardigrade (pg. ###).

Water Weird - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).

Wendigo - see Ghoul (pg. ###).
Werewolf
Whale

White Beguiler - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).
Wicker Walker
Wight
Will-o'-the-Wisp

Wind Walker - see Sandwalker (pg. ###).

Wiwaxia - see Predatory Snail (pg. ###).
Wizard
Wolf

Woodwose - see Druid (pg. ###).

Worm, Giant - see Wurm (pg. ###).

Worm, Marine - see Marine Worm (pg. ###).

Wraith - see Ghost (pg. ###).
Wurm
Wyvern

Xiezhi - as Shofar Ram (pg. ###), but blasts liars and protects the truthful.

Yacuruna - see Merfolk (pg. ###).

Yeren - see Ape (pg. ###)

Yeti - see Ape (pg. ###).
Young Dragon

Yowie - see Ape (pg. ###).

Yuki-onna - see Ice Hag (pg. ###).

Ziz - see Beast of Creation (pg. ###).
Zombie
Zombie Dragon