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Jim Felli - Mind Flayers and Mental Anchors
OTOH, I guess it's possible to see that term as the more colorful one, since the average D&D world citizen would probably consider "illithid" to be a technical term instead of what the thing actually did to you. But, then, why would they call it a "catoblepas" instead of "stone breather"? You could go round and round on this.
I confess to not being limited by my own anchor on many things; specifically in terms of mind flayers since Ed Greenwood's description of an alhoon in the Forgotten Realms. I was all: "Whoa! An illithid lich! So... they're like an actual race with different types... that can be undead... just like humans!" At that point, variations seemed appropriate to me.
I like that the style leaves me to fill in the imagery. Was this a conscious show or tell decision?
As a sidenote, the drawings for the items in the game we’re originally intended to be placeholders — they were only included for a play test version and my intention was to commission final art. However, almost everyone who played the test version really like the “throwback feel” of the “basic and unpolished artwork,” and they urged me to keep it. So I did.
That always gets to me because it makes me wonder how much creativity is sapped away from us because of how anchored we are to existing content, and, especially, how the high intensity of communication on the internet has made us even more anchored and wedded to existing IP and approaches.
Gary Sax wrote: That always gets to me because it makes me wonder how much creativity is sapped away from us because of how anchored we are to existing content, and, especially, how the high intensity of communication on the internet has made us even more anchored and wedded to existing IP and approaches.
I think that you’re absolutely correct. And it’s a slow and subtle sapping... the kind where you don’t realize it is happening unless you stop and think about it.
I think your comment about communication intensity and implied constant connection via the Internet allows us to put things like conformity and rules lawyering ahead of enjoyment. It also diminishes our capacity to enjoy new content. For example, I am not wed to the Star Wars canon nearly as much as some of my friends, so I enjoyed the movie Solo where as they felt angered and betrayed. This diminished capacity strikes me particularly hard in gaming when I hear things like: “that’s not how you play a cleric!” Bah! That cleric is a priest of Thor and will damn well rush into combat with a hammer when the spirit moves them!
I guess it all makes me wonder... do the anchors set down by fancy illustrations, detailed text, rigid rules, demanded conformity, etc. serve the role of outsourcing imagination because we haven’t the time or desire to allow our own to work their magic? Or do they serve a more insidious, perhaps unintended, role: to neuter our imaginations and, in so doing, foster our hunger for ever more new and marginally variant products and content?
The example of D+D is actually a good one if you think about the Gygax era. That era was a really fucked up, weird, and super creative one for D+D. Look how bizarre some of those scenario books and monsters were! Very original! All of that stuff has been sanded off D+D for the most part---even late era D+D weirdness is gone like Spelljammer or whatever. I've heard wonderful things about D+D 5th edition mechanically, but it is interesting to think how it went from whimsical and a bit subversive to set in stone canon over the past 30 years and what that means about it.
Gary Sax wrote: ...whimsical and a bit subversive...
OMG! I never realized it until I saw your words: that is exactly what I’m after!
Y’know where it shows that I thanked you in the post box? Can you add “x1,000” as part of my handle?
hotseatgames wrote: It reminds me of the double edged sword of game design. If you don’t play a lot of other games, you might come up with unique concepts that haven’t been done before. But you also might make rookie mistakes that have been solved many times over in prior works.
I agree, Mark. But I do have one question? Are they really “mistakes” or have we just been trained to label them as such? Especially if one believes that real mistakes are rectified in play testing.
I think "whimsical and a bit subversive" may describe Jervis Johnson's entire existence.