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The Mukad: aberrant insect harbingers from Grim Hollow by Ghostfire Games
Episode 1125th July 2022 • Making a Monster • Lucas Zellers
00:00:00 00:26:41

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The mukad are insect-like aberrations following the orders of a slumbering god of destruction as they lurk in the walls.

Read the transcript and get more from the show:

https://scintilla.studio/monster-mukad-grim-hollow-ghostfire-games/

Get stat blocks, bonus content, and other monstrous perks: www.patreon.com/scintillastudio

Join the conversation: www.twitter.com/SparkOtter

Meet my guests:

Joe Raso: https://twitter.com/_joe_raso

Grim Hollow by Ghostfire Games: https://ghostfiregaming.com/grim-hollow/

Music by Jason Shaw at Audionautix.com

Transcripts

Joe Raso:

As the adventurers walk

Joe Raso:

down the dark stairwell they notice

Joe Raso:

scrabbling sounds coming from perhaps

Joe Raso:

within the walls themselves and

Joe Raso:

in the darkness, there's movement

Joe Raso:

stirring in the bottom of the steps.

Joe Raso:

You see forms slowly coming into focus,

Joe Raso:

which are small worm like creatures and,

Joe Raso:

for many in, your group, there's probably

Joe Raso:

a bit of a revulsion cuz it reminds you

Joe Raso:

of centipedes that writhe together and

Joe Raso:

start flowing up the steps towards you.

Lucas:

Welcome to Making a Monster,

Lucas:

the bite-sized podcast where game

Lucas:

designers show us their favorite

Lucas:

monster and we discover how it works,

Lucas:

why it works, and what it means.

Lucas:

I'm Lucas Zellers.

Lucas:

Monsters are often

Lucas:

simply a matter of scale.

Lucas:

Many of nature's most perfect

Lucas:

predators are simply too small to

Lucas:

be any threat to humans, and some of

Lucas:

history's most famous monsters are

Lucas:

those too big for what we perceive

Lucas:

as their place in the natural order.

Lucas:

Designer Joe Raso showed his keen eye for

Lucas:

how this works in the context of D&D with

Lucas:

his aberrant insect harbinger, the mukad.

Lucas:

So Joe, your title has changed a

Lucas:

couple of times since I've known you.

Joe Raso:

My official title right now is

Joe Raso:

writing coordinator for Ghostfire Games.

Joe Raso:

That was effective as of.

Joe Raso:

Wow end of March this year.

Joe Raso:

Prior to that, I started doing freelance

Joe Raso:

writing for a bunch of RPG folks.

Joe Raso:

I guess I went full time

Joe Raso:

in July of that last year.

Joe Raso:

Before that I was just doing my

Joe Raso:

own work on DMS Guild, in addition

Joe Raso:

to my day job, so to speak.

Joe Raso:

But I'm, I'm fully vested in the

Joe Raso:

whole RPG space at this point.

Lucas:

I think you and I we're sort

Lucas:

of in each other's orbit circa 2019.

Lucas:

And I, I think back in December, we

Lucas:

had talked about getting you on the

Lucas:

podcast for the Dunwood project.

Lucas:

Dunwood is a forest in D&D's Forgotten

Lucas:

Realms setting that feels a lot like

Lucas:

Tolkien's Mirkwood or the balanced

Lucas:

growth and decay of the green-black

Lucas:

Witherbloom College of magic in Magic

Lucas:

the Gathering's Strixhaven University.

Lucas:

In real-world terms, this would be

Lucas:

an old-growth forest, a term coined

Lucas:

in the 1940s to describe the later

Lucas:

stages of stand development with truly

Lucas:

massive trees, multiple canopy layers

Lucas:

blocking the sun, and a forest floor

Lucas:

covered in large dead woody material.

Lucas:

These are forests that feel more like

Lucas:

oceans, and the oldest of them sheltered

Lucas:

the last vestiges of Ice Age megafauna

Lucas:

like bush-antlered deer and dire wolves.

Lucas:

In lore, Dunwood is a part of

Lucas:

a region called the Great Dale.

Joe Raso:

The first big effort that I did

Joe Raso:

was, um, The Great Dale Campaign Guide.

Joe Raso:

It's a, a Forgotten Realms source book.

Joe Raso:

It was sort of paying homage to

Joe Raso:

a third edition production, um,

Joe Raso:

that I really loved called, um,

Joe Raso:

Why the heck, I can't remember the

Joe Raso:

name of the production right now.

Joe Raso:

Oh, the, the Unapproachable East.

Joe Raso:

I got a suggestion to reach out to

Joe Raso:

some other folks and me building a

Joe Raso:

little source guide, um, expansion to

Joe Raso:

bring things up to fifth edition, over

Joe Raso:

period of two or three weeks exploded.

Joe Raso:

12 authors or 10 authors.

Joe Raso:

I can't remember the number I had,

Joe Raso:

um, and a a hundred plus source book

Joe Raso:

that, that I ended up producing.

Joe Raso:

Um, my first real effort

Joe Raso:

that big, it was it.

Joe Raso:

I really shouldn't have done it,

Joe Raso:

cuz it was, it was way too way

Joe Raso:

too large, but it was a fantastic.

Joe Raso:

Learning experience for me.

Joe Raso:

So that was, that was the first big one.

Lucas:

Joe's work on Dunwood and

Lucas:

other projects over the past few years

Lucas:

led him to become a contributor for

Lucas:

the 5th edition setting Grim Hollow.

Joe Raso:

Grim Hollow is a grimdark

Joe Raso:

sort of horror based campaign

Joe Raso:

that Ghostfire games has produced.

Joe Raso:

And I felt astoundingly,

Joe Raso:

astoundingly, astoundingly, lucky.

Joe Raso:

Um, when Sean me Merwin asked if I'd

Joe Raso:

like to contribute a bunch of monsters

Joe Raso:

to the to this monster book that

Joe Raso:

they're creating for that setting,

Lucas:

Oh, so this is

Lucas:

in progress right now.

Joe Raso:

It it's in delivery actually.

Joe Raso:

Yeah, I, I did the actual

Joe Raso:

writing for this last.

Joe Raso:

Oh, what was it?

Joe Raso:

in the June, June, July timeframe

Joe Raso:

is when I, when I was working on,

Joe Raso:

on these Grim Hollow creatures.

Joe Raso:

And I think the, the products are

Joe Raso:

actually showing up in people's

Joe Raso:

doorsteps in the last month or so.

Joe Raso:

So I haven't got my hard copy yet, but

Joe Raso:

I've, I've, I've seen the seen the,

Joe Raso:

the PDF, which is pretty fantastic.

Lucas:

You've dropped a buzzword and

Lucas:

I'm all about breaking those apart

Lucas:

and figuring out what that means.

Lucas:

What does grimdark mean to you,

Lucas:

especially in the context of what

Lucas:

Grim Hollow is trying to do and be?

Joe Raso:

For me, grimdark means stories

Joe Raso:

that fear and dread are a key component

Joe Raso:

and the survival of the heroes is not

Joe Raso:

necessarily guaranteed as opposed to

Joe Raso:

uh, heroic fantasy where, um, you're,

Joe Raso:

you're dealing with giant threats and

Joe Raso:

ultimately you expect the heroes to,

Joe Raso:

to survive in the end victoriously.

Joe Raso:

Um, in, in a grimdark setting.

Joe Raso:

I, I don't think that's the assumption.

Joe Raso:

I, I think it's, we hope that

Joe Raso:

they'll get through whatever terrible

Joe Raso:

onslaught that they're going through.

Joe Raso:

Um, but it's, it's perilous might be the

Joe Raso:

good, the correct word to use for that.

Joe Raso:

Um, overwhelming.

Joe Raso:

Bad stuff is, is maybe

Joe Raso:

the, the simpler way.

Lucas:

Yeah, What I've heard from people

Lucas:

who have played older editions is that

Lucas:

they have somewhat of a more adversarial

Lucas:

relationship between player and DM and

Lucas:

mechanics and character than fifth edition

Lucas:

does such that fifth edition is kind

Lucas:

of, kinder to, to player characters.

Lucas:

It leans more into the heroic

Lucas:

fantasy element of this.

Lucas:

Does that jive with your experience?

Lucas:

And do you think Grim Hollow

Lucas:

might be a return to that sort

Lucas:

of attitude from older editions?

Joe Raso:

Possibly that that

Joe Raso:

might be a nice way to look at it.

Joe Raso:

I, I, I think the earlier editions, it

Joe Raso:

was the, the game was still being figured

Joe Raso:

out by everybody, in my opinion, um, where

Joe Raso:

you, it was the first time you, you had

Joe Raso:

these role playing games available to the

Joe Raso:

public, to purchase and, and play with.

Joe Raso:

And it was such a different or

Joe Raso:

change to what, um, everybody

Joe Raso:

had experienced up to that point.

Joe Raso:

I mean, I I'd played risk.

Joe Raso:

I'd played all the typical board games.

Joe Raso:

So to actually play a game that

Joe Raso:

didn't have a board on it, um, was

Joe Raso:

a bit of a leap for, for most folks.

Joe Raso:

And I think whenever you go into

Joe Raso:

something new, you, you hold onto

Joe Raso:

pieces of things that you understand.

Joe Raso:

And in all those board games, it's

Joe Raso:

usually a person versus a person.

Joe Raso:

So I could see the default assumption

Joe Raso:

being the, the dungeon master against

Joe Raso:

the players as here's your challenge.

Joe Raso:

I'm trying to defeat you

Joe Raso:

and the, the players.

Joe Raso:

Okay.

Joe Raso:

We're gonna try to, to overcome that.

Joe Raso:

So I, I can see how a grimdark theme

Joe Raso:

might echo some of that same setup.

Joe Raso:

Um, and yeah, I agree in, in the.

Joe Raso:

The more modern game of fifth edition,

Joe Raso:

the storytelling bit is much, um,

Joe Raso:

greater piece of it where, you're

Joe Raso:

looking to see how can I get my group

Joe Raso:

to play a fun and exciting story and

Joe Raso:

get them through it and engaged There's

Joe Raso:

almost always combat involved depending

Joe Raso:

on your group, obviously, but, um,

Joe Raso:

it's, that shared group experience.

Joe Raso:

Whereas in the earlier

Joe Raso:

days, I, I saw it as, yeah.

Joe Raso:

We're gonna try to get through this

Joe Raso:

thing and hopefully the DM won't kill us.

Joe Raso:

Um,

Lucas:

When we're talking

Lucas:

about Grim Hollow is there kind

Lucas:

of a hook for this setting?

Lucas:

Is there a thing that is peculiar

Lucas:

to the way that this works?

Lucas:

A thing that makes Grim Hollow what it is?

Joe Raso:

It's very much a dark setting

Joe Raso:

the gods have somewhat disappeared

Joe Raso:

because of a terrible that's gone on.

Joe Raso:

So there's, their surrogates have kind

Joe Raso:

of tried to pick up the mantle, but, um,

Joe Raso:

overall the, the world itself is in a, a

Joe Raso:

terrible state where I think fear and just

Joe Raso:

survival are a key aspect of this setting.

Joe Raso:

They've got a lot of different uh,

Joe Raso:

regions that explore certain areas.

Joe Raso:

Like there's a, a vampire controlled

Joe Raso:

area and sort of, rougher savage northern

Joe Raso:

Viking ish type region along with others.

Joe Raso:

But in general, the, the world itself

Joe Raso:

is, is a, a dreadful, scary place.

Lucas:

Let's talk about one of

Lucas:

the monsters that you've made.

Lucas:

Okay.

Lucas:

Pronounce this for me.

Lucas:

If you can, the mukad?

Joe Raso:

Yeah, in my head I pronounced

Joe Raso:

it mukad, but, um, mukad sounds fantastic.

Joe Raso:

Um,

Lucas:

Well, we're going with authorial

Lucas:

intent because you happen to be here.

Lucas:

So.

Joe Raso:

Well, clearly mukad, if

Joe Raso:

you don't get it, you're you're uh,

Joe Raso:

no I've, accepted that, um, all the

Joe Raso:

fantasy names and words that I've

Joe Raso:

read for the last 20 or 30 years.

Joe Raso:

The, the way it sounds in my

Joe Raso:

head is not the way most other

Joe Raso:

people would pronounce it.

Joe Raso:

Um, and so I'm quite happy for people to

Joe Raso:

come up with their own interpretations.

Lucas:

Do you know why that is?

Lucas:

Is that just a quirk of the genre or?

Joe Raso:

I, I, I don't know.

Joe Raso:

I, I don't know if it's the genre.

Joe Raso:

I don't know if it's my own background.

Joe Raso:

Um, I, I suspect it's probably

Joe Raso:

a combination of both.

Joe Raso:

Both my parents are Hungarian, actually.

Joe Raso:

You'd think that with the name

Joe Raso:

Raso is, is Italian, but, um,

Joe Raso:

my both folks are from there.

Joe Raso:

And so I, when I write often I,

Joe Raso:

I'm trying to come up with a, a, a

Joe Raso:

strange fantasy name and I'll, I'll

Joe Raso:

think of a, sort of a Hungarian term.

Joe Raso:

And I realize I can't actually translate

Joe Raso:

the sound properly because there's

Joe Raso:

certain vowels or consonants that don't

Joe Raso:

translate into English terribly well.

Joe Raso:

Um, so that's probably the same thing

Joe Raso:

what happened with, with this name?

Lucas:

That's fantastic.

Joe Raso:

Well, yeah, I mean, I've

Joe Raso:

seen many times people suggest

Joe Raso:

using Google translate to take

Joe Raso:

a, a word from one language and

Joe Raso:

shove it into the, to another.

Joe Raso:

I kind of use my vague understanding of

Joe Raso:

Hungarian to, oh, well, how Hungarian

Joe Raso:

language speakers that might read my work

Joe Raso:

and go, oh, that's, that's almost like,

Joe Raso:

would dad say, that thing and then I'll

Joe Raso:

sort of twist the, the letters around.

Joe Raso:

It's the cheat that I do when I'm writing.

Joe Raso:

When Sean originally asked me to

Joe Raso:

contribute monsters, one of the things

Joe Raso:

he was hoping for was more urban based

Joe Raso:

creatures that would threaten players.

Joe Raso:

So I was trying to think of creatures

Joe Raso:

that could sort of scrabble away in

Joe Raso:

the darkness of some large building,

Joe Raso:

like somehow how hidden in the walls.

Joe Raso:

There's a, there's these unnatural

Joe Raso:

beasts that are, are scheming in the

Joe Raso:

darkness and you better not go down

Joe Raso:

that dark place, cuz uh, they'll decide

Joe Raso:

to use you to, to some nefarious end.

Lucas:

I had in the house that I

Lucas:

grew up with an unfinished basement,

Lucas:

so like cold rock walls and.

Lucas:

I think you've nailed it.

Lucas:

Like that is the feeling that I get

Lucas:

here of there are grubs in the walls.

Lucas:

I mean like this is D and D

Lucas:

so these aren't just grubs.

Joe Raso:

Of course not.

Lucas:

Uh, what makes this different,

Lucas:

what is, what makes a mukad what it is?

Joe Raso:

One of the, I guess the concepts

Joe Raso:

for the, setting is the Ather kindred.

Joe Raso:

It's this very esque villain

Joe Raso:

godlike creature in the

Joe Raso:

background that slumbers away.

Joe Raso:

Um, and people dread the time

Joe Raso:

that it'll awaken and come back

Joe Raso:

and devastate the land again.

Joe Raso:

Um, so I figured, well just because

Joe Raso:

the master god or whatever, this

Joe Raso:

giant beast entity is, is slumbering

Joe Raso:

doesn't mean his foot soldiers

Joe Raso:

aren't doing something currently.

Joe Raso:

So I wanted to create a tier one challenge

Joe Raso:

that would start to pull in some of that.

Joe Raso:

Um, I guess C'thulhu-esque feel of

Joe Raso:

a strange unknown entity that could

Joe Raso:

potentially overwhelm or, or hurt

Joe Raso:

the, the populace at large is kind

Joe Raso:

of where I was coming from with it.

Lucas:

What makes them

Lucas:

good at filling that role?

Joe Raso:

I think a tunneling aspect

Joe Raso:

where they, they could hide through,

Joe Raso:

um, the walls and, and, um, be hidden in

Joe Raso:

sort of public, um, structures per se.

Joe Raso:

The attacks of these monsters are

Joe Raso:

sort of psychically charged where

Joe Raso:

they're they unleash bursts of energy

Joe Raso:

that, um, will stun or paralyze the

Joe Raso:

victims that they're going to use.

Joe Raso:

I think I had the larger one, be somewhat

Joe Raso:

more intelligent than you would expect for

Joe Raso:

a, from a sort of centipede-like creature.

Lucas:

yeah.

Lucas:

Intelligence 10,

Joe Raso:

So just an average.

Lucas:

yeah.

Lucas:

but still like, this is a

Lucas:

full on sapient being.

Joe Raso:

Yes.

Joe Raso:

Yeah.

Joe Raso:

And so that was the, the idea to have this

Joe Raso:

animalistic thing but smart enough that

Joe Raso:

it would be able to stare you in the eyes.

Lucas:

So let's talk about why we

Lucas:

had to make a suite of these things

Lucas:

because one of the fundamental truths

Lucas:

of Dungeons and Dragons and most role

Lucas:

playing games is that characters, i.e.

Lucas:

heroes, level up and monsters do not.

Lucas:

You just fight bigger and bigger monsters.

Lucas:

So this is, it reads as though

Lucas:

you have laid these out in

Lucas:

the order of their life cycle.

Lucas:

Is that fair to say?

Joe Raso:

Yeah, I think so.

Joe Raso:

For me the life cycle, wasn't,

Joe Raso:

they're either larva or they

Joe Raso:

transform into the whatever creature.

Joe Raso:

I, I was thinking of insects in

Joe Raso:

terms of, you know, how an ant colony

Joe Raso:

might be managing their brood.

Joe Raso:

They have eggs and then they become grubs.

Joe Raso:

And then the grubs eventually

Joe Raso:

transform into the more adult form.

Joe Raso:

When I was thinking about this,

Joe Raso:

I thought, okay, I'll have these,

Joe Raso:

these larval grubs then the

Joe Raso:

transformed versions of them with.

Joe Raso:

Depending on their specialization,

Joe Raso:

they would have different capabilities.

Joe Raso:

One might be stronger than another.

Joe Raso:

And, and then the big master progenitor

Joe Raso:

that's actually creating all the little,

Joe Raso:

little bugs, um, would be the, the,

Joe Raso:

the one that's toughest to take on.

Joe Raso:

I, I want to make sure that all of

Joe Raso:

the more sort of a, a tier one threat.

Joe Raso:

I almost feel like there's not enough

Joe Raso:

tier one threats that really can

Joe Raso:

scare, um, creatures or parties.

Joe Raso:

I wanted a whole suite.

Joe Raso:

So if a, a DM created a, a set of

Joe Raso:

adventures that they'd have enough

Joe Raso:

of a toolbox that they could create,

Joe Raso:

you know, a first encounter where, oh,

Joe Raso:

what the heck are these little things?

Joe Raso:

And then, then slowly the, the

Joe Raso:

adventures would follow the, the clues

Joe Raso:

and discover where the, the source

Joe Raso:

of the infestation actually was.

Lucas:

Yeah, this is a really classic

Lucas:

storytelling structure that you have

Lucas:

coded into this series of stat blocks

Lucas:

I mean, my favorite example is Bruce

Lucas:

Lee's I think it was Game of Death where

Lucas:

he started at the bottom of this tower

Lucas:

and he fought his way up to the top.

Lucas:

Only you've done it in reverse that

Lucas:

you start in the basement and then

Lucas:

you work your way lower and lower

Lucas:

to the terrible truth at the bottom.

Joe Raso:

It's such a common trope that

Joe Raso:

it's, if you can set the pieces up for DMS

Joe Raso:

to use, then it makes their job easier.

Joe Raso:

As a game designer, that's.

Joe Raso:

That's what I'm trying to do is give

Joe Raso:

all the tools to let someone at their

Joe Raso:

own table, make the game that they want.

Joe Raso:

Um, and so if you have a lot of

Joe Raso:

options, then you, there's a bunch

Joe Raso:

of different ways that you can, can

Joe Raso:

approach the game for your own table.

Joe Raso:

Cause every table's different,

Joe Raso:

somebody just wants to.

Joe Raso:

Go head first at the big bad guy.

Joe Raso:

And let's, don't worry about the

Joe Raso:

lead up, whereas others love that

Joe Raso:

slow uncovering of the truth and,

Joe Raso:

and figuring out what the mystery is.

Joe Raso:

So I wanted to make sure that you

Joe Raso:

could play it however you wished.

Lucas:

So anytime you say C'thulhu I have

Lucas:

to do another like buzzword thing wherein.

Lucas:

I call it the Lovecraft protocol

Lucas:

that even for his time, Lovecraft

Lucas:

was a problematic person.

Lucas:

And the genre that he created has far

Lucas:

exceeded his personal ideology in order to

Lucas:

create something that I think people are,

Lucas:

are using to find a lot of truth and make

Lucas:

some really interesting statements about

Lucas:

the way the world does and should work.

Lucas:

Was that part of your design

Lucas:

scheme or did that just sort of

Lucas:

happen when you created the mukad?

Lucas:

Does this tell you anything about the way

Lucas:

the world works when you work through it?

Joe Raso:

Um, C'thulhu has a whole

Joe Raso:

bunch of baggage left for, for sure.

Joe Raso:

But it's, it's a shorthand from a

Joe Raso:

design perspective in that, for me,

Joe Raso:

it's, it's this unknowable, evil

Joe Raso:

that can't be understood, even if you

Joe Raso:

try and if you try then it's likely

Joe Raso:

gonna cause you grief in the end.

Joe Raso:

And probably the demise of whoever is

Joe Raso:

trying to understand whatever that is.

Joe Raso:

Um, and I guess I wanted

Joe Raso:

these beasties to be similar.

Joe Raso:

They're this thing that you

Joe Raso:

as humans or humanoids can

Joe Raso:

never really fully understand.

Joe Raso:

You just know that they have

Joe Raso:

intentions that are associated with

Joe Raso:

this evil monstrosity that's caused

Joe Raso:

horror havoc in the world already.

Joe Raso:

So if you come across them, it's not

Joe Raso:

terribly ambiguous in terms of, is

Joe Raso:

this a humanoid with good intentions?

Joe Raso:

This is a big nasty that has no moral

Joe Raso:

compass that's gonna challenge whether

Joe Raso:

or not what you're doing is correct.

Joe Raso:

And I mean, that's the easy

Joe Raso:

way to how do I say this?

Joe Raso:

Um, I think there's a, a challenge, um,

Joe Raso:

particularly , in the modern game where

Joe Raso:

we're realizing that there's so many nasty

Joe Raso:

nasty is the wrong word, but ill-advised

Joe Raso:

approaches to how, um, creatures and

Joe Raso:

threats are presented in the game itself.

Joe Raso:

Um, and.

Joe Raso:

Sometimes you just want to play the game

Joe Raso:

and not have to be in a moral quandary

Joe Raso:

of am I really presenting this correctly?

Joe Raso:

And so I wanted to make sure that the

Joe Raso:

creature, the threat you presented

Joe Raso:

here is unquestionably something

Joe Raso:

that you could go up against.

Joe Raso:

Um, I don't know if the, I

Joe Raso:

answered your question there

Lucas:

No, absolutely.

Lucas:

For me, part of the magic of the

Lucas:

show is grappling with some of

Lucas:

those questions and figuring out,

Lucas:

like, is it a monster really?

Lucas:

And who's the, you know, it's,

Lucas:

it's a very old kind of subversion.

Lucas:

To the point that subverting it is.

Lucas:

You know, it's wrapping

Lucas:

around back on itself.

Lucas:

But I have had a lot of people

Lucas:

talk about, you know, the role

Lucas:

of catharsis in this game.

Lucas:

And just being able to say, very clearly

Lucas:

this is wrong and we're gonna stop it.

Lucas:

And the value that that has

Lucas:

for a player experience.

Lucas:

Assuming that the mukad have their way

Lucas:

and nothing stops them, what happens?

Joe Raso:

What happens?

Joe Raso:

Uh, They will do whatever mystical

Joe Raso:

scribblings in the darkness that these

Joe Raso:

unnatural beings do and help bring about

Joe Raso:

the, the Ather kindred again, which is

Joe Raso:

that slumbering unknowable evil beast that

Joe Raso:

had previously destroyed their gods and

Joe Raso:

created the terrible setting as it was.

Joe Raso:

So it's almost like, if you don't stop

Joe Raso:

these guys, then the already grimdark

Joe Raso:

setting might, might get worse.

Lucas:

Any of these attacks or features

Lucas:

or traits that you were particularly

Lucas:

proud of that resonated with people

Lucas:

who play tested this or, or other

Lucas:

designers that you worked on it with?

Joe Raso:

I like the thematic way that

Joe Raso:

I've woven some of the bits in here,

Joe Raso:

cuz I was trying to replicate, um, real

Joe Raso:

world creatures a little bit where you've

Joe Raso:

got insects that, oh, they've a spider

Joe Raso:

has trapped some insect for it to devour

Joe Raso:

it doesn't do it right away it sort of

Joe Raso:

paralyzes it and webs it in some coating

Joe Raso:

to, to ingest that it's leisure later on.

Joe Raso:

So it, I mean, I wanted that

Joe Raso:

sort of disgusting kinda, um,

Joe Raso:

feel for these creatures as well.

Joe Raso:

Like something where it's using you to,

Joe Raso:

um, propagate itself and it doesn't care

Joe Raso:

what's suffering or whatever is gonna

Joe Raso:

happen to the creature that it's captured.

Joe Raso:

So the progenitor has this etheric

Joe Raso:

incubation, um, ability where it

Joe Raso:

takes a paralyzed creature and wraps

Joe Raso:

it in a cocoon and basically injects

Joe Raso:

it with, little bug worms that

Joe Raso:

erupt somewhat later to, to devour

Joe Raso:

whoever the poor and fortunate, um,

Joe Raso:

beast is inside it kind of thing.

Joe Raso:

So I, I kind of like that, that it,

Joe Raso:

it, it replicates sort of things that

Joe Raso:

actually happen in the small insect

Joe Raso:

world that we have, but kind of blown

Joe Raso:

up to the, the heroic challenges

Joe Raso:

that, that players are gonna face.

Lucas:

It goes from a swarm of

Lucas:

tiny creatures to the mukad

Lucas:

progenitor, a large aberration,

Lucas:

lawful evil, interesting choice.

Lucas:

Alignment has become a tricky

Lucas:

subject since the so-called Tasha

Lucas:

apocalypse back in December of 21.

Lucas:

So, just out of curiosity, did you have

Lucas:

any conversations about alignment here

Lucas:

or, or any sort of deliberate way of what

Lucas:

how to represent these guys that way?

Joe Raso:

Um, no, I, I, I don't, I don't

Joe Raso:

remember having any discussions on the

Joe Raso:

design of related to the alignment bit.

Joe Raso:

For me it was, um, trying to

Joe Raso:

describe the creature, um,

Joe Raso:

in terms of how it functions.

Joe Raso:

And I, I saw it very much as a group

Joe Raso:

entity, it's this, this swarm of beasts.

Joe Raso:

So they're, they're following

Joe Raso:

the directions of the, the

Joe Raso:

big, bad progenitor guy.

Joe Raso:

They're not following individual

Joe Raso:

aims or, or doing some choice

Joe Raso:

that furthers their own direction.

Joe Raso:

It's the, whatever the big beastie

Joe Raso:

says is what the entire swarm

Joe Raso:

infestation is trying to accomplish.

Joe Raso:

So that's kind of the lawful bit for me

Joe Raso:

is that, that ordered decision making

Joe Raso:

the fact that there's someone at the top

Joe Raso:

describing what's going on and the, the

Joe Raso:

followers doing that to their ability.

Joe Raso:

The evil bit is that, Hey, they're,

Joe Raso:

they're not really caring what their

Joe Raso:

actions do to others around them.

Joe Raso:

There is no, um, sort of

Joe Raso:

moral compass for them.

Joe Raso:

They're just following this, this

Joe Raso:

evil plan to bring back their,

Joe Raso:

their a or kindred over overlord

Joe Raso:

or whatever the, the beast is.

Lucas:

Fantastic.

Lucas:

Yeah.

Lucas:

I'm always trying to get to the bottom

Lucas:

of how useful that alignment chart is.

Lucas:

And this is a good example.

Joe Raso:

Yeah, I think it's

Joe Raso:

just, it's, it's a tool.

Joe Raso:

Anything that you use in a D&D

Joe Raso:

game, I would hope DMs feel

Joe Raso:

comfortable on throwing out the

Joe Raso:

window if they don't like it.

Joe Raso:

so for me, it's, shorthand to say,

Joe Raso:

okay, how does this monster work

Joe Raso:

and what are the intentions of it.

Joe Raso:

And I think the recent, um, 5E sort of

Joe Raso:

style design choices that they've made

Joe Raso:

with newer things by saying usually, or

Joe Raso:

I can't remember the actual words that

Joe Raso:

they they have in terms of the, the

Joe Raso:

alignment, um, perspective, um, is, is

Joe Raso:

I think helpful for some people that.

Joe Raso:

May maybe are newer to the game.

Joe Raso:

I think if, if you've played the

Joe Raso:

game for a while you realize,

Joe Raso:

um, all rules are optional.

Joe Raso:

Um,

Lucas:

Yeah, you always

Lucas:

had that permission.

Joe Raso:

Yeah, but I, completely

Joe Raso:

understand why WotC's kind of going

Joe Raso:

down the, the path they are is it's.

Joe Raso:

How do you make the game as accessible

Joe Raso:

as you can to, to new folks coming in?

Joe Raso:

So you do that by giving him guidance

Joe Raso:

if they, they haven't had that before.

Joe Raso:

So I, have no issue with the way that

Joe Raso:

the, the alignment's being presented.

Lucas:

Thanks for listening

Lucas:

to Making a Monster.

Lucas:

If you like what you've heard and you

Lucas:

want to support the show, please share

Lucas:

it with the people you play games with.

Lucas:

I'm approaching 50 episodes covering

Lucas:

monsters from all over the tabletop RPG

Lucas:

map, so there is something for everyone.

Lucas:

Your recommendation goes a long

Lucas:

way to letting people trust me with

Lucas:

their time and attention, and it's

Lucas:

a way to start great conversations

Lucas:

about why we play the games we do

Lucas:

and why they mean so much to us.

Lucas:

You can also join the show's email

Lucas:

subscriber list to get extra bonuses like

Lucas:

the stat blocks for the mukad family tree

Lucas:

and other monsters featured on the show.

Lucas:

It's a great addition to any campaign,

Lucas:

and a fascinating introduction

Lucas:

to the Ether Kindred and the

Lucas:

Grim Hollow campaign setting.

Lucas:

Just go to scintilla dot studio

Lucas:

slash monster or follow the link in

Lucas:

the description to get your copy of

Lucas:

these monsters from the Grim Hollow,

Lucas:

with art by Anastassia Grigorieva.

Joe Raso:

She's done a fantastic job

Joe Raso:

on, on illustrating these creatures.

Joe Raso:

They look appropriately

Joe Raso:

horrendously disgusting.

Joe Raso:

Um,

Lucas:

awful and I hate them.

Lucas:

And that is a high compliment.

Lucas:

how do I find Grim Hollow?

Joe Raso:

That's a great question

Joe Raso:

and you'd think I would've prepared.

Joe Raso:

Um, so, Ghostfires website has a store

Joe Raso:

on it where you're able to they have for

Joe Raso:

sale both the, this monster grimoire and

Joe Raso:

the, the campaign and player guides that

Joe Raso:

sort of flesh out the world as well.

Lucas:

If someone wants to get in touch

Lucas:

with you specifically and what you

Lucas:

do on web and who you are and how you

Lucas:

think about things, how do they do that?

Joe Raso:

Probably the best way to

Joe Raso:

do that is follow me on Twitter.

Joe Raso:

My handles at underscore Joe

Joe Raso:

underscore Raso, R a S O.

Joe Raso:

I have a, a blog that

Joe Raso:

I'm horribly behind on.

Joe Raso:

I think for a while I was, doing

Joe Raso:

it once a month, but it's been a

Joe Raso:

number of months since I've done it.

Joe Raso:

That's scheming DM, wordpress.com

Joe Raso:

is the, the full if you type the

Joe Raso:

scheming DM, you, you probably find it.

Joe Raso:

Um, but yeah, Twitter's probably the best

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