Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

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Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby dulsi » Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:06 pm

I finally purchased Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy. It had been mentioned in a Spelljammer thread as a source for alternatives to the creatures missing from the SRD. I'd been thinking of creating OGL creatures to replace the missing creatures so I was really curious about it. Especially since I too was going to do a mirror image cat for a displacer beast replacement.

The creatures are really well done. I don't know why the other publishers haven't jumped on using them since they are completely OGL. Only book I know of using them is High Psionics: Phrenic Scourges and that is only the mind flayer replacement. The phrenic scourge would work as a mind flayer replacement in Spelljammer. The Evil Eye wouldn't be quite the same as the beholder in Spelljammer. They are at war with each other but they are competing to allow Augrah-Ma to enter the world with the winner rising above the other evil eyes. So instead of directly fighting I could see them thwarting plans of each other. (Not to say they couldn't directly fight but its not quite the same as the beholders do.)

The only creature that doesn't really appeal to me from first glance is the Ei'risai (Slaad replacement). Maybe I'll like them more when I read it but they just don't seem that interesting.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Havard » Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:22 pm

What do you mean by missing from the SRD? Are they all duplicates of older D&D creatures?
I must say I like the idea of a mirror image cat!

What other creatures may be found there? Is there a preview with an index of the creatures available anywhere?

I see the author is Ari Marmell, I like that guy! :)

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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby dulsi » Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:56 pm

Here is a review that give a good description of the creatures and notes some problems with them. A small preview is available from the drivethrurpg link.

Ei'risai = Slaad
Evil Eye = Beholder
Greymalkin = Displacer Beast
Ophidaun = Yuan-ti
Phrenic Scourge = Mind Flayer
Scavenger Worm = Carrion Crawler
Tunnel Brute = Umber Hulk
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Big Mac » Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:26 am

Havard wrote:What do you mean by missing from the SRD?


Considering that the SRD (System Resource Document) is the only part of D&D that has been released as Open Game Content, I would say that dulsi is talking about the D&D monsters that have not been declared as OGC.

So this is something tied in with how the OGL allows people to use D&D stuff. And the basic thing is that the OGL doesn't allow you to use any D&D stuff - it only allows you to use the SRD. But its a bit more complex that that, so I'll say how I see the situation. (Obviously, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice and all that.)

Inclusing in the SRD, is largely unimportant for gamers (or even webmasters most of the time). And the ESD Conversion Agreement gives 3rd edition fans non-profit access to a large number of old school monsters, so in some ways, old school fans actually have more freedom than fans of the settings that were in print during 3rd edition.

But this is something that is important to commercial publishers. They can't use creatures that are not in the SRD. And that means that while someone can sell a "Big Book of Dwarves", under the OGL, they can't sell a "Big Book of Mind Flayers".

In fact it isn't even quite that simple, because while you could publish a "Big Book of Dwarves" you couldn't include a page about dwarves like Gold Dwarves (from FRCS) or the Gully Dwarves (from DLCS) because they are not in the SRD.

(Now to complicate things further, you might have seen a book called The Complete Guide to Beholders and be wondering why WotC didn't take these guys to court for using a D&D monster that isn't in the SRD. The answer to that one is that while the OGL doesn't allow this book to exist, there is nothing stopping WotC from making other legal deals that allow people to use one or more of their non-OGL creatures.)

Havard wrote:Are they all duplicates of older D&D creatures?
I must say I like the idea of a mirror image cat!


"Duplicates" isn't quite the right word. These are "replacements" for creatures that commercial publishers are legally unable to use. They might fill the same ecological niche and because they can be released as OGC, they can be used by multiple OGL using publishers (alongside the SRD).

But, while they might do the same sort of things as the original, they do have a different name. That kind of makes it hard to tell people that monster A is actually nudge-nudge supposed to be monster B. Maybe that is why people haven't all jumped on the bandwagon.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Gawain_VIII » Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:07 pm

I've always had a problem with the "proprietary monsters"... in many cases, it's fine--if WotC wants to say "go ahead and use our rules, but X, Y, and Z are mine--they're off limits. If you don't agree, then no dice." And this is a fair comprimise, I think, so that WotC gets to keep a few special items to itself. And alot of the "proprietary monsters" WotC has full claim to because they were purely invented by TSR.

My problem is when they make a claim to real-world historically mythological creatures--like the Terrasque. "Terrasque" is a French name for an Indochinan myth. The mind flayer is another questionable one. I don't know if TSR invented it or not--it has an immense odor of Lovecraft--but I don't know for certain.

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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Havard » Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:11 pm

Thanks for the clarifications Dave! :)

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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Hugin » Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:33 pm

If I'm not mistaken, It is really just the names that are trademarked. Although, as life usually makes things, it's probably more complicated than that.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jan 11, 2009 9:14 pm

Gawain_VIII wrote:I've always had a problem with the "proprietary monsters"... in many cases, it's fine--if WotC wants to say "go ahead and use our rules, but X, Y, and Z are mine--they're off limits. If you don't agree, then no dice." And this is a fair comprimise, I think, so that WotC gets to keep a few special items to itself. And alot of the "proprietary monsters" WotC has full claim to because they were purely invented by TSR.

My problem is when they make a claim to real-world historically mythological creatures--like the Terrasque. "Terrasque" is a French name for an Indochinan myth. The mind flayer is another questionable one. I don't know if TSR invented it or not--it has an immense odor of Lovecraft--but I don't know for certain.


Well the weird thing is that (apart from the legally dodgy PI declaration in the SRD) Wizards of the Coast are not actually claiming a lot of these monsters (and other D&D elements as Product Identity). What they are instead doing is creating an SRD that just doesn't mention them.

And then they give you an OGL that lets you use the SRD and make no reference to using non-OGL material.

So technically, the real reason that you can't use a Monster Manual III monster is that they didn't bother to add it to the SRD. You haven't been "banned" from using the monster. You just haven't been "given permission" to use the monster.

Now other publishers are bound (by the OGL) to provide a PI/OGC definition in the front of any d20 System product (that is published under the OGL*) And the PI part of that definition is a list of words and terms that other people are not allowed to use. But Wizards of the Coast do not need to use the OGL for their own products, so are not bound to publish a PI/OGC definition of their own. It is a weird situation when the people who are most associated with the OGL are the only company that do not need to use it themselves.

* = Note that publishers like Margaret Weis Productions had a separate licence to publish their d20 System material and were never bound by the conditions of the OGL. However, because they did not use the OGL, they were effectively banned from using OGC belonging to other publishers.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Cebrion » Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:15 am

Do these monsters have completely different stats, and different descriptions and mechanics for how their attacks work? If not, I don't see how merely changing the name of the creature gets around any Copyright infringement. The Mind Flayer and Beholder are certainly iconic D&D monsters. If WotC is not enforicing this, nor ever enforced it, I'd expect we'd have seen a lot more non-SRD monsters appearing in the slew of material that was produced for 3.X products by thired party publishers. If this really is the case, then perhaps more will be done with 3e critters. Paizo for instance could put a bunch of them in their world of Golarion, though I don't think they would unless they were 100% certain that it was allowable to do so.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby dulsi » Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:31 am

Cebrion wrote:Do these monsters have completely different stats, and different descriptions and mechanics for how their attacks work?

They fill a similar role and have similar abilities but different. The Displacer Beast replacement uses mirror images instead of displacement. The Beholder replacement has a single eye with multiple powers. One power is usable as a gaze attack each round. So instead of one person being hit by disintegrate, one by flesh to stone, etc. Everyone is hit by a single power. (Unfortunately the Evil Eye has a flaw in that it's non gaze attack is fairly weak which means you could probably just close your eyes and fight blind.) The Carrion Crawler replacement has a sleep breath weapon instead of paralysis tentacles. The monsters are certainly distinct from the original. I think WotC would have a hard time attacking them if they tried.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jan 25, 2009 11:56 pm

Cebrion wrote:If not, I don't see how merely changing the name of the creature gets around any Copyright infringement. The Mind Flayer and Beholder are certainly iconic D&D monsters.


*cough!* Star-spawn of Cthulhu *cough!*

I think that given that the Mind Flayers are so similar to other tenticled brain eating creatures, WotC doesn't have a leg to stand on if a third company creates a similar monster.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Idabrius » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:25 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Cebrion wrote:If not, I don't see how merely changing the name of the creature gets around any Copyright infringement. The Mind Flayer and Beholder are certainly iconic D&D monsters.


*cough!* Star-spawn of Cthulhu *cough!*

I think that given that the Mind Flayers are so similar to other tenticled brain eating creatures, WotC doesn't have a leg to stand on if a third company creates a similar monster.


No joke. In 4th edition it has been intimated that the Mind Flayers come from beyond the boundaries of the multiverse (what the D&D folks are calling the Far Plane or somesuch, a lovecraftian realm of horror) and got themselves stranded within. While anyone with a brain can see that the Illithids (har har, brain) are clearly Cthuloid, in some 4e article or another one of the devs actually confirmed that they are pretty much just weak D&D star-spawn (weak because like, you can't kill em in Lovecraft as you are only a pitiful human being!) and that they "finally got to make them lovecraftian the way they wanted."

Also, 4e has an inclusion of all sorts of semi-lovecraftian gods that dwell in the Far Plane and are trying to be summoned by various evil cults. Kind of a strange combination if you ask me, though I suppose Rob E. Howard did it before by mixing Lovecraftian horror w/ fantasy in his Conan stuff.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Big Mac » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:08 pm

Idabrius wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Cebrion wrote:If not, I don't see how merely changing the name of the creature gets around any Copyright infringement. The Mind Flayer and Beholder are certainly iconic D&D monsters.


*cough!* Star-spawn of Cthulhu *cough!*

I think that given that the Mind Flayers are so similar to other tenticled brain eating creatures, WotC doesn't have a leg to stand on if a third company creates a similar monster.


No joke. In 4th edition it has been intimated that the Mind Flayers come from beyond the boundaries of the multiverse (what the D&D folks are calling the Far Plane or somesuch, a lovecraftian realm of horror) and got themselves stranded within.


Makes a change from the time travelling thing they tried before.

Idabrius wrote:While anyone with a brain can see that the Illithids (har har, brain) are clearly Cthuloid, in some 4e article or another one of the devs actually confirmed that they are pretty much just weak D&D star-spawn (weak because like, you can't kill em in Lovecraft as you are only a pitiful human being!) and that they "finally got to make them lovecraftian the way they wanted."

Also, 4e has an inclusion of all sorts of semi-lovecraftian gods that dwell in the Far Plane and are trying to be summoned by various evil cults. Kind of a strange combination if you ask me, though I suppose Rob E. Howard did it before by mixing Lovecraftian horror w/ fantasy in his Conan stuff.


Well, I wasn't saying that Wizards of the Coast, can't continue to do what TSR did (and take inspiration from Lovecraft). What I was actually saying was that they can't really nick other people's stuff and then complain when someone nicks that stolen stuff from them.

Things might be a bit different with the Beholder. I don't recall seeing a creature like the Beholder anywhere else.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby dulsi » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:07 pm

Found another mind flayer replacement race Possessors: Children of the Outer Gods. Haven't purchased it but the reviews I read sound interesting.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fantasy

Postby Big Mac » Mon May 04, 2009 3:35 pm

dulsi wrote:Found another mind flayer replacement race Possessors: Children of the Outer Gods. Haven't purchased it but the reviews I read sound interesting.


Possessors are actually a fairly different (and as you say interesting) concept. They have the "octopus" thing going on, but from what I can see, they are just a head shaped creature and they "lock on" to a humanoid and "hijack their body". That is a bit different to the Illithids (who invade and trandform the body).

I've not bought this either, but possessors could be fun to use, because you could keep the original humanoid body, so that the PCs can see what got "captured" by an individual possessor.

I can see a plot hook where the Prince of some minor kingdom gets captured by the possessors and the King hires the PCs to kill the possessor controlling his son's body and bring it back to him.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fan

Postby dulsi » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:45 am

Just thought I'd post about some other mind flayer replacements I've heard about.

Into the Black has the Pallemon (CR 8 3/day charm person, 1/day charm monster, dominate person, suggestion).
Complete Minions has the Paretiophage (CR 6 3/day hypnotic pattern, at will disguise self, and lots of illusions).

The reviews I've found don't seem as impressed with these mind flayer replacements.

Also heard that Hyperconscious: Explorations in Psionics has a mind flayer and beholder replacement. (They were originally in Mindscapes: Beasts of the Id but Hyperconscious updates the material to 3.5.)
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fan

Postby Big Mac » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:38 pm

I'd love to see pictures of some of these monsters. Do any of these books have online galleries on the publisher's websites.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fan

Postby dulsi » Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:15 pm

Stumbled across the Eye King template today. Interesting replacement for a beholder.
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Re: Lion's Den Press: The Iconic Bestiary -- Classics of Fan

Postby Angelika Tatsu » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:41 am

Big Mac wrote:Things might be a bit different with the Beholder. I don't recall seeing a creature like the Beholder anywhere else.
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