Friday, January 8, 2021

Phantasmagoricon Volume 1

Everyone loves a monster book! More monsters! More ideas! But you know what no one likes? The same fucking monsters over and over and over. How many monster books have zombies and ghouls and whatever is in the SRD of whatever game is popular right now? Oh - and let's not forget about the wolf, the dire wolf, the ice wolf, the fire wolf, the undead wolf, the water wolf, and myriad variations on the same thing that are only exciting once or twice (think reskinning monsters in video games).

I'm in the writing details of the first Phantasmagorican - the monster books for Sorrow in Haven. This is the general layout (please ignore typos I'm not into editing right now). The blank space is for yet-to-be-determine stuff. Some artwork definitely, but perhaps also random tables to spice things up. For example everyone knows what the cherub looks like and the sticks to that general image, so perhaps a table of "what are they guarding" or "variations of weapons and look". Some might just get some additonal text describing tactics or variants or something. I'm focused on getting the main guts all done before going down the rabbit hole that is details.

Once I've got everything written up, I'm going to go back through and clean up the langue. Get rid of "seems to be" or "may be" and things like that. Make the words definite. Replace dumb words (big) with interesting words (towering) - generally make the short blurb evocative. If a GM reads a description and doesn't immediately imagine the thing and where they could use it, it isn't a good description.

Timeline Notes

  • Descriptions (about 25% done right now) - finish by end of Jan 
  • Description review/editing - end of Feb
  • make some choices on art and extra tables - mid March
  • get art - May
  • write tables - start mid-March, done by May
  • add the introduction - June
  • add an appendix or two as needed - June/July
  • cover artwork! - august
  • final proof - September

The Sorrow in Haven rules are all done - we are just doing some playtesting at the moment. At this point rules tweaks are very minor, a few wording choices get updated from time to time. Ultimately I'd like to make the whole thing less wordy (I do tend to go on) but I'd rather have a product in hand than backpedal that much. 

The rules are 8.5 x 7 , but the monster books layout is 8.5 x 5.5. I think I'm going to stick with that for the moment. perhaps the next rules iteration will get the 8.5 x x5.5 treatment and be less wordy. we'll see...


  1. "For example everyone knows what the cherub looks like"

    Like this?

    "In the Book of Ezekiel and (at least some) Christian icons, the cherub is depicted as having two pairs of wings, and four faces: that of a lion (representative of all wild animals), an ox (domestic animals), a human (humanity), and an eagle (birds).[4] Their legs were straight, the soles of their feet like the hooves of a bull, gleaming like polished brass. Later tradition ascribes to them a variety of physical appearances.[4] Some early midrashic literature conceives of them as non-corporeal. In Western Christian tradition, cherubim have become associated with the putto (derived from classical Cupid/Eros), resulting in depictions of cherubim as small, plump, winged boys.[5]"

    1. Yep - pretty much like that. I probably should have picked something that didn't have such a history, but in western part of the world, most everyone is going with that last definition. At some point there has to be some level of commonality that is assumed. I could entirely redefine "zombie" r say that humans are 11' tall on average, but that doesn't add anyhting. Of course, if you want to go with the multi-faced 4-winged variety of cherub as your visual, it doesn't hurt and, frankly, it hella cooler.

  2. Looking forward to seeing the final result!