Denizens of Darkness
John W Mangrum
Officially, I wrote up the marikith and the vampire strains. This is the one time my "shadow developer" work came to the fore and I received a developer's credit. This book was a near disaster in its initial draft, and I raced through it, rewriting just about every monster to some degree. A few just needed a few typos fixed; others had no combat sections, or used 2nd edition rules, or had little or absolutely no resemblance to the 2E creatures they were supposed to represent. I had to rewrite numerous monsters essentially from the ground up; the Kargatane used to this with the BoS netbooks as well, when it was necessary to save an author's good ideas from his lack of grammar (often arising from valiant but limited efforts to write in English as a second language; Ravenloft had a lot of Brazilian fans, as it happened).
By the end, my "redlines" left the DoDark soaked in gore, so to speak. I reckon my credit here is due to the stink I raised at the time. Heck, my changes would have been even more extensive if at the time I'd known they were actually going to be used. Oh, and I also laid out the basics talking points of the Introduction.
I did the Carrionette and the Zombie Lord. Incidentally, I ended up doing these specific monsters because I also did the write-ups for Maligno and Anton Misroi for SDR, two of many lords we wrote up for that book that ended up on the cutting room floor.
As far as Denizens of Darkness goes, that was my introduction to writing for the Ravenloft line. I had written before, but primarily as a module writer for the RPGA. I was already familiar with the White Wolf company, having met many of their wonderful staff through the years.
All of the writers of the Denizens of Darkness book were given about five to six monsters to write-up. Most of these monsters were conversions. I was fortunate enough to be able to given an opportunity to create my own monster, so I did: the Backwards Man. As I recall, Joel was not a big fan of the Backwards Man at the time. ;) C’est la vie.
Creating monsters at that time was an interesting process. 3rd edition had just came out, so no one was 100 percent together with the rules. The guidelines for how to create a monster were still a little fuzzy in places. The constant question of, “how do you calculate the CR” plagued us. Fortunately, the 3.5 Monster Manual has made significant improvements towards monster creation. For example, in the back of your new 3.5 Monster Manual, it actually discusses how to arrive at a CR.
Nevertheless, we managed through the process and came out with a lot of neat monsters, in my opinion. Some of the most fun I had on the book was with the write up of the monster description for the artists involved. I think that my vision of the Bastellus was captured exactly in the book.
On Denizens of Darkness, I was responsible for conversions of some of the 2nd Edition monsters to 3rd Edition, namely the Carrion Stalker, Changeling, Death's Head Tree, Figurine, Geist, Impersonator, and Reaver. I have to say working on the conversions was a bit of a challenge given how new D&D 3.0 was and how drastically different the monster rules were from the generally author-created rules for 2nd Edition. It was fun work, though.
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