Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Scorpion-tailed Manticore FTW

In a previous post about The Arduin Grimoires, I mentioned my affection for scorpion-tailed Manticores.

I was pleased to see a scorpion-tailed Manticore featured on the front cover of one of my recently-acquired Appendix N books, A Spell For Chameleon, by Piers Anthony.

The idea of a poisonous sting is far more interesting than mere iron spikes flung from the Manticore's tail.

The illustration on the front cover of A Spell For Chameleon almost suggests a sphinx-like role for the Manticore, acting as the gate-keeper into another area of the megadungeon.

The important role of riddle-master has been largely discarded from recent versions of DnD. Players of modern versions of DnD want atmosphere and menace, and monsters that are meant to be vanquished and robbed.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about the Displacer Beast, i'd love to see monster placements that were intended to elicit role-playing, rather than experience point and treasure acquisition.


ze bulette said...

Though his books especially appealed in my adolescence, the Xanth books will always be just damn great. Yes, even the puns Mr. PierXanthony.

A Paladin In Citadel said...



Having not been familiar with Anthony, I was not aware of his punny reputation, thanks for connecting the dots for me!

ze bulette said...

An anecdote you might find humorous.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Isle of View. I Love You. That's good and punny! Thanks for sharing!

2eDM said...

My reading of Piers Anthony when I was in middle school is what gave me the idea to use real world maps, just altered for campaign areas. (Xanth is florida for those who haven't read it or seen a map)

Alan said...

I read a lot of Piers Anthony when I was young - he may have been one of the first fantasy authors after J.R.R. Tolkien that I really enjoyed.

I would recommend you also check out some of his other series: The Apprentice Adept blends Sci-Fi and fantasy, and the Incarnations of Immortality series was good as well (the first book on Death especially so).

I haven't read them since my youth, but now I'm thinking that I should get them for my kids and maybe give them a second read again.

John Harper Brinegar said...

I also think scorpion-tailed manticores are cooler than spike-throwers. Runequest manticores have scorpion tails, which is one of th many reasons I fell in love with the game in 1980.

Martin R. Thomas said...

I totally remember reading the Xanth books when I was in Middle School. I thought the puns back then were the height of humor and creativity. :)

Regarding monsters being just something to be vanquished and robbed, sometimes your players can surprise you.

In my recent game, I had statted up an ancient dragon who had been corrupted by vile arcane magic over time and turned evil. I was all set for a big climactic battle, but my players realized that this guy was SO ancient that he might have information they could learn to unravel some secrets in my campaign, so they tried diplomacy with him instead. They were so clever about it that I just rolled with it and gave them the answers to a bunch of things that have been stumping them for years (of play time).

It was an interesting turn of events. And then I had the dragon, in a moment of clarity, beg the characters to kill him because he realized that he'd been turned evil and he didn't want to continue on that course with his life.

phf said...

That cover has always been the archetypal illustration of the Manticore, as far as I am concerned.

Scallop Skulled Skald said...

I wonder when the manticores first acquired their wings? The bestiary manticores are earthbound.

Now, about that tail- how about scorpion-tailed manticores that also fling spikes... WITH FRICKIN' LASERS ON THEIR FOREHEADS!!!

Uh, now that I've calmed down, my favorite description of "the beast mantichora" comes from The Worm Ouroborous.