Wednesday, 12 July 2017

When Thoughts Collide (and Have Sex and Make Baby Thoughts)

It's funny how two streams of ideas can come together gradually in your mind without conscious effort - just time. A bit like your brain being a primordial ocean in which molecules of carbon and oxygen and whatever float around and gradually make stromatolites after being zapped by lightning at random (or something - I was never the best at science).

For a long time I've been ruminating over at some stage creating an animal fantasy-based RPG. I have written dozens of posts about this over the years, probably, but still feel compelled to insist that this is nothing to do with a love of either furries or manga. (The more I think about it the more I come to the realization that it's just being English. As in many other obscure fields, we are world leaders at making up talking animal stories - I suspect because, as Roger Scruton would put it, the English countryside is a home. Other countries have wildernesses full of danger. We have hedges and wild flower meadows. Nature is friendly and safe. But I digress.)

I have also been thinking of different iterations of an idea which seems to have burrowed its way into my psyche and won't let go: the megadungeon inside a giant tree.

Well, at some stage the animal-fantasy molecules and the megadungeon-inside-a-tree molecules seem to have coalesced together to produce life of sorts. What if there was a giant tree the size of a mountain and it was populated in its roots by dwarves who look like badgers, trolls who look like hedgehogs, elves that look like spiders, goblins that look like foxes? What if the heartwood was burrowed through by kobolds that look like ants? What if orcs who look like woodpeckers infested the bark all the way up, burrowing tunnel-cities into its walls? What if a dragon who looked like a tawny owl had a nest somewhere in a hollow? What if a society of bugbears who look like robins inhabited its branches?


  1. Great post!

    There's a half-way (tree) house, perhaps, between having the fox-goblins, etc., as simply anthropomorphic animals and having them as slightly more intermediate hybrids - as in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market:

    "One had a cat’s face,
    One whisk’d a tail,
    One tramp’d at a rat’s pace,
    One crawl’d like a snail,
    One like a wombat prowl’d obtuse and furry,
    One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry. "

    But perhaps that's what you're conjuring already. To me, "goblins who look like foxes" is much more interesting than anthropomorphic foxes with the stats of goblins.

    A small point, too: I think it's more accurate to identify the genius for making up talking-animal stories as a *British* thing. One wouldn't want to leave out Kenneth Grahame, after all!

    1. I never knew Kenneth Grahame was Scottish. The Wind in the Willows seems quintessentially English and it looks from Wikipedia as though he lived in England most of his life, so we're claiming it!

    2. Them's fightin' words!

      I always thought that Otter suggested memories of Scotland. I know otters were more common in England in Grahame's time than latterly, but I'd imagine they were fairly rare even then - whereas they were and are common around Loch Fyne, where Grahame spent some of his formative years. That said, Otter himself is cheerfully English ...

    3. Yeah - and Toad, Ratty and Mole all seem very English, although I suppose there's not a great deal of difference between English and Scottish aristocrats and how much they like "messing around in boats". Maybe at the end of the day, let's face it, English and Scottish culture and countryside aren't really all that different.

  2. Don't forget about ratatoskrs !