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Monster Party Book 1 Commentary 
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:30 am
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Post Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
I'm shifting all my author comments over here rather than having them in the story proper.

Also if any of my readers have feedback on the story feel free to post it here.

Chapter One Author Comments: Well hopefully that should give you some idea of what the writing style of this story is going to be like and hopefully it wasn't terrible. If nothing else, I challenge you to find a story that makes rat catching read like something out of a slasher film right down to one poor fool thinking they're safe right before the monster hunting reveals it possesses at least one power that just can't be natural.

Don't worry exactly what is going on will become more and more clear as the story goes on. Also if you didn't know it already, the Great Cat is of course declaring "Thus Always to Rats" though of course Quidquid Latine Dictum Sit, altum Videtur, applies, or "Anything said in Latin seems profound".

As a side note concerning Florence, there is a rule in D&D about how Dryads need to remain within a couple hundred feet of a tree that is sacred to them or else they sicken and die. This rule can quite frankly go die in a fire as far as this story is concerned. I'm not opposed to the principle of our heroes having weaknesses be they physical or mental (Florence will be more vulnerable to fire than any human, and her wounds heal more slowly) but they should be interesting weaknesses that facilitate telling interesting stories. Also I will be using D&D/Ravenloft rules as inspiration and a baseline but by no means the be all and end all. I'll cop to it when I'm changing how they work here in the author comments but yeah, a system meant for people play an RPG in is not a perfect system to use to tell stories, who would have guessed?

Another side note, the first song James sings is "The Captain's Wife Lament by Paul and Storm its a nautical themed ditty which is exactly as "clean" or as "bawdy" as the singer/audience wants it to be.

The second however is a slightly modified (made the main character's hometown a location in Ravenloft) version of Monahan the Mutineer by either Ceann or The Town Pants, I can't tell which group played it first so I'll just mention both of them. It's the story of a guy who gets drunk, is forced onto a ship, gets whipped by the Captain and decides to lead a mutiny, which succeeds and then the ship is sunk by a storm.

In theory someone could swing that as a grisly tail of how mutiny never works out for the mutineers if they try hard enough, except that the song evidently sort of expects you to because it includes the lyrics

"And as we went into the sea
Monahan screamed this advice to me
"If we must die while we are young,
It's better to drown than to be hung!"

So yeah, not at all the kind of song Captain Stewart or his first mate would look kindly upon being sung on his ship, especially by passengers.

Cal's firearm is going to be a custom job that will be more powerful/advanced then most firearms in ravenloft, but are you really surprised that a fantasy hero has weapon which is unique to them?

So yeah I think that covers everything I want to address when it comes to this particular chapter, let me know what you thought of it okay?


Last edited by jamesfirecat on Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:01 am
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

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Posts: 632
Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Chapter Two Author's Comments: So yeah that happened. My goal in this chapter was to create the written equivalent of hearing the Silent Hill Air Raid Sirens playing Turkey In the Straw (its the tune ice cream trucks play). Something wrong was going on, but it just couldn't be what it looked like... could it?

If this was a more serious story I'd have done a lot more to delay the reveal of James' nature (maybe reveal he was a werecreature this early but certainly not that he's a werehousecat) so early on. That said, I also knew that I'd never get another chance to do a scene quite like this and have the reader go into it properly “blind” to James' true nature.

James' eating habits are a perfect example of how I don't mind my characters having weaknesses/restrictions placed upon them so long are they are interesting/open up story ideas. In this case, what James says about his diet is a pretty damn accurate representation of the nature of True (as in he was born with it rather than was cursed or bitten by another werecreature) Lycanthropes as revealed in Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts the definitive work for werecreatures in the setting of Ravenloft, or at least quite close to it.

James has to eat raw fresh meat (as a housecat is not a scavenger but a hunter), but on the other hand he also only needs to eat the same amount of it that the animal he can transform into would desire. He also possibly has to only eat one half of that given that non-evil werebear (the only kind of possibly non-evil werecreature he talks about but I'd assume the same situation would apply to any kind of non-evil werecreature).

With the above said, I will admit that book doesn't talk at all about something as on the face of it as ridiculous as werehousecats but it does mention that Van Richten personally believes that werecats exists and since he mentions weretigers flat out I can only assume he does mean werehousecats are a cannon (if not common) occurrence in Ravenloft. Also it's cannon that you are allowed to have “good” werecreatures in Ravenloft so long as they make sure not to eat sentient creatures for food, which as you can see James doubtlessly making a good faith effort and then some to avoid.

Which brings us to our next point, the size differential, James' feline form is that of the Ravenloft equivalent of a Maine Coon Cat, which is the biggest breed of housecat out there. Here's some pictures for reference.

http://www.the-crazy-cat.com/2014/02/32 ... up-in-bed/

http://mymainecoons.files.wordpress.com ... necoon.jpg

And just to really drive the point home...

http://pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL23/187 ... 004964.jpg

Maine Coons, because I wanted to have the "dire" and "domesticated" template on the same animal.

I think we can all agree that a cat that big qualifies for the “small” rather than “tiny” size so one of them can serve as James' animal aspect. It also helps that Maine Coon's are known are terrific mousers, so that makes perfect sense also!

Also forgive me if these notes are sometimes just reiterating information you already know, but I write them for other places I post the story were common knowledge of Ravenloft is not a given.


Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:02 am
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Chapter Three Author Comments:

FN: So yeah the vampire is out of the coffin to put a Ravenloft twist on an old expression, now lets talk about the werewolf in the room.

To start with apologies to any people of any faith I offended with Mirri's comments on matters divine. I am simply being true to the Ravenloft setting as written where Kali is a chaotic evil deity whose domains are death, destruction, trickery... and healing. (Once again don't ask me I didn't write it.) In my personal opinion D&D should have stuck to importing deities from religions that next to nobody takes all that seriously anymore (Egyptian and Norse pantheon are certainly less frequently worshiped today than... whatever the correct terminology is for what Kali is considered in Hinduism) but Kali seemed the most fitting chaotic evil god for Mirri to reference given that she's not a werewolf.

Anyway, with the theological matters hopefully dealt with, also forgive the extended build up for what you had probably all guessed was coming (ghee a large ornate coffin being carried on a ship in a setting which is supposed to just ooze Gothic Horror... do you think there might be a vampire in it?) when it came to Mirri finally revealing herself.

I realize that I was also laying it on a little thick and then some with her introduction. Before you go around throwing terms like Mary Sue however, please keep in mind the Krusty Comedy Koan: a pie in the face is will be exactly as funny as how dignified the person getting hit with said pie was before hand (Fawlty Towers corollary, a pie to the crotch is always hilarious).

Mirri getting nailed by that wave and her subsequent freakout wouldn't have been half as funny to me (and hopefully to you as well) if I hadn't took some time to build a nice pedestal for her to get knocked off of.

Also if you couldn't guess, Mirri is not going to be challenging Jaden Sunstar for the title of nicest vampire in Ravenloft (good people tend not to swear by a chaotic evil deities after all) she's very much, evil by way of seeing herself as an apex predator and will feel no remorse about eating her fill or taking just about anything else she wants either by force or by trickery. Luckily, for the moment she's able to get her fill drinking from James whose lycanthropic abilities lets him regain hit points fast enough for the process to be fatal for him. Mirri is evil, but she is not stupid evil who puts doing evil above doing things that will insure her continued existence.

She's in these stories for two reasons:

1: She's an interesting study in what happens when a bad person falls in with the “right crowd”. Mirri joined the group because do goodery adventurers doing good are the number two cause of unundeath for vampires (number one is other vampires due to how frequently masters will slay their spawn or bride and grooms fall out) so she decided to find an open minded group and join up. She gets to wrap herself up in a nice safe sheep fleece whenever the torches, pitchforks and wooden stakes start getting handed out, and to any vampire who thinks she'll be as easy prey as some other adventurer she'll give them a nasty surprise, so it's win win as far as she's concerned.

2: Despite the fact that its hard to think of two monsters that are more frequently associated with one another, I honestly can't think of any Ravenloft adventures that involve vampires and lycanthropes of any type working together. Possibly it's because as soon as you include both you move away from proper Gothic horror and into Hollywood exaggerations of it (I'll admit the first two examples of both working together I can think of are Abbot And Costello meet Frankenstein and Van Helsing) but I'm surprised there hasn't been at least one adventure based around that particular monster mash. (If there has been and I missed it please let me know)


As a side note Mirri's freak out was also completely psychosomatic, given that it expressly says in Van Richten's guide to vampires (once again, if there is a more definitive source book on vampires in the Ravenloft setting I have yet to find it) that an ocean does not qualify as “fast flowing” for the purposes of having a vampire be destroyed by being submerged in fast flowing waters, the more you know!

Also before people get up in arms about Mirri having no reaction at all to sunlight, I'd like to point out a few things. In Van Richten's guide to Vampires it is put right down in black and white text (page 46) that not only are vampires who are old enough able to spend time in sunlight with no danger of being destroyed or loss of power, but that there exist rare vampires who exhibit the same ability from a much younger age.

Likewise on page 62 of the same book it says that there exist vampires who don't need to fall into a deep sleep as soon as the sun comes up, or risk destruction if they are not in a coffin by some appointed hour. He even explicitly says that there exists vampires with both of these abilities, they're just rare.

Mirri being the protagonist of a fantasy novel is going to be a rare example of her species the same way that Legolas being the protagonist of a fantasy novel is far more dangerous in a fight than your average elf.

I will however cop to the fact that as you might guess from Mirri's titles she is completely and utterly free of a Ravenloft/D&D vampire's normal inability to enter a standard domicile without an invitation, because as weaknesses go that is one which closes off more stories than it opens up.

If I was using it, it would exists solely to stop the entire story dead in its track until the rest of the group went in, convinced someone living there to come out with them, Mirri uses one of the many options in her swiss army knife of coercion, and they invited her in. Once again, I don't object to my characters having weaknesses, but they should be interesting weaknesses that the characters grapple with in interesting ways.

All that said, I am not writing Mirri a blank check for immunity to all vampire weaknesses within her setting, as we already saw, she and running water don't get along, she can can be instantly “slain” by a stake to the heart, holy symbols and devoutly sanctified locations will be an issue (she'll react to them the same way most vampires do to people's homes she can't come in without an invitation). Holy water she'll hate even more than regular running water. Mirrors will not show her reflection but she will not be repulsed by them, ditto unaffected by garlic (Mirri is going to be treated as a “Very Old” vampire so its in the Ravenloft books that she should be immune to those things).

Also somehow this escaped me at first (not sure why maybe because I just sort of glossed over it/don't recall it directly being mentioned in the Van Richten's Guide, or maybe it changes in between editions) but if vampires aren't supposed to cast shadows, Mirri still casts a one. She has blood red eyes and very pale skin, and if double checked in a mirror has no reflection if people look past their preconceptions that should be more than enough to tell them she is a vampire, it's no fun to have the game be given away by something as obvious as lacking a shadow.

To make up for the advantages above she'll also have two unique salient weaknesses /failures as a vampire, she has no innate ability to command undead (see that's a good weakness, it makes her much less effective than she might be otherwise and it lets me tell a lot more stories that wouldn't happen if every time zombies, skeletons, or similar mindless undead showed up Mirri just forced them to dance Thriller with her), and if reduced to zero hit points rather than turning to mist and retreating to her coffin her essence will start to unravel (think standard death's door or whatever it is called rules for a character between -1 and -9 hit points) at which point to survive she'll need either demi-human blood poured down her throat or an injection of negative energy (inflict /harm spells).

Hopefully you're still with me after all that and with the next chapter we'll start to have some real fun now that we've got all the characters set up!


Last edited by jamesfirecat on Thu Dec 04, 2014 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:04 am
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Chapter 4 Author's Notes:By the way, just for reference that cat that beat James at rat catching is totally a thing that exists in Ravenloft, look up Water Cats.

Also some quick restrictions on Devi's bag of holding that the characters in story all know so well I could not come up with a convincing reason for them to discuss.

1: It can't hold anything alive.

2: It can't hold anything sentient.

The above are why Mirri stashes her coffin in the bag but didn't just climb into it herself during the boat trip, and equally why James can't store rats inside it.

Also speaking about magical effects, if you can't tell by now, James' outfit has something like a wild armor spell cast on it (probably by Florence) or whatever the lycanthrope equivalent of it is (there's no real rules for what kind of magic to use to let a werebeast's clothing meld with their body, but there's really no reason that some kind of spell along those lines shouldn't exist and we can leave aside the “keep the armor” bonus aspect of it because James is probably some weird splatbook class like Brawler or Battle Dancer that doesn't use armor at all) long story short, his clothing/stuff is just sort of absorbed into him when he changes shape rather than falling into a pile at his feet/being ripped to shreds.

If you were interested the method Alex is using for distilling water should be perfect accurate /repeatable in real life (the more you know!) Also if you haven't guessed yet, yes Florence has a veritable pile of plant based abilities, in this case she's showing off a mangrove like ability to cast off salt while leaving water behind, though of course she can do it far better than any normal plant. Expect to see more of her tricks as this and other stories go on.

As a warning this and chapter five were sadly too long (had some scenes that needed some space /time between them) to be one chapter, but are too short for two real chapters on their own. So chapter 5 is going to be a lot shorter. On the other hand that also means it should be up sooner!

As always don't be afraid to comment, love to hear what people think of how this story is going!


Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:43 pm
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
FN: See what I mean by this and chapter four being too long for one regular chapter, and too short for two regular ones? On the other hand that meant this one got posted sooner so there's that.

Anyway lets take a break from that cliffhanger to discuss something much more interesting the biology (necrology?) of vampires and werecreatures in Ravenloft!

As previously mentioned James needs to eat fresh meat, and he wants to eat about a pound or so of it every day. That said, werecreatures in Ravenloft are able to go for four days straight without eating and don't suffer any “in game” side effects (in character they should be notably dour/worried about it of course), and they'll be fine so long as when they do eat they eat enough to make up for the meals they missed. (IE when James finally does find something to eat he'll want to eat his daily ration of meat once for that day, and once for every day he missed, so four times as much if he missed three days of eating) beyond that fourth day their hit points start to take a nose dive to starvation and their mood tends to shift from dour over lack of food to cartoony seeing your friends as walking drumsticks style crazy.

Vampires on the other hand will start suffering those sorts of side effects if they go a single day without feeding (and proper feeding for Mirri is 9 hit points a day which in real life would be equivalent to.... f**k if I know. Hit points are and always have been an abstract system no matter what version of D&D you're playing.

Anyway, while Mirri is entirely correct to be worried about James not eating (he can't loose those hit points to starvation they belong to me!) James in turn is entirely right that having Mirri continue to feed from him is for the moment the right course of action.

Also, you can assume that James is built along Book of Souls rules for Ravenloft Lycanthropic PCs his strengths and weaknesses are something like this:

Phenotype: Werecat (domestic).

Bloodline: Firecat/XXXXX (whatever James' real last name is).

James “Bloodline” (in regards to anyone he infects) starts with him as he's a true lycanthrope.

Trigger: (James doesn't transform based on this, but if he infected anyone they would) The presence of a tiny sized rodent or venomous invertebrate (scorpions, spiders) capable of harming humans with said venom.

Weaknesses:
Allergen: The substances that James is vulnerable to (one weapon one chemical) don't just bypass his normal defenses/ability to regenerate, they also cause him pain if he's forced to simply make skin to skin contact with them. His weapon vulnerability I'm keeping under my hat, but his chemical vulnerability is Mistletoe.

Mark of the Beast: This is normally only worth one slot, but I'd argue James' ears would be worth a two slot version of it, because while he can still hide it (hat, hooded cloak) if it is revealed, there's no way he can possibly pass for any branch of traditional demi-humanity. At BEST he might be able to convince people he's a Paka, which is a lot like telling the angry mob who wants to burn you for being diseased “Don't worry guys, I don't have leprosy, it's just ebola!” A theoretical three slot version would be something that couldn't be hid at all, like if James had a long feline tail that poked out from any pair of pants he wore.


Proficiencies:

Communication: James speaks fluent cat as we've already seen.

Damage Immunity: James probably has something like a two slot home-brew version of this that basically amounts to something like DR 10 or DR 15 (or a number between the two you get the idea)/Chemical or Weapon Bane. Magical spells hurt like normal, magical weapons bypass for weapon bonus only (sorry I hate the idea that +1 or better magical weapons are as good as a weapon made of the right material against lycanthropes, it just basically means “right so I'll keep using my best weapon anyway” and is thus too easy to fully bypass).

The point being that James is incredibly hardy to traditional attacks, but I also feel it is silly/makes no sense to believe that he could ignore something like being decapitated or stabbed in the heart (Coupe De Grace style attacks doing truly massive amounts of damage) just because they aren't done with the right kind of metal. Because he is a true lycanthrope he has this defense in any shape, but in human it will look like he doesn't at first. (The wounds will show up like they would on a normal human but in reality they'll be mostly superficial no matter how bad they look)

Power of Blood: Two slots worth here (immune to any non magical disease, and age at 2/3rds normal human rate past adulthood) , James is the youngest of the group, but he tends to look even younger than he really is.

Regeneration: Two slots here also. This is what makes James and Mirri's unique relationship possible. Most people who get drained by Mirri would need a cure light wounds potion IV line or several days of rest to recover the lost hit points. James gets back one hit point back every six seconds. So yeah, it works out something like this.

James: Hey that was fun, give me five minutes and I'll be ready to go again if you want.

Mirri: WOOF! Or in this case, MEOW!

That said while it does not directly say it in the rules, I think it's clearly within the intent to argue that starvation damage can not be healed by regeneration.

Transformation: Three slots, James is in such control of his shape that he can do neat things like turn just his hands (and only his hands) into claws.

Yes I know that's seven slots net spent on lycanthropic abilities alone (he probably also has another two in knives and detect/disarm traps) so James is at least 13th level.

Keep in mind all of the above once again is more guidelines than hard and fast rules, but hey maybe you found it interesting.

Hope you guys enjoyed this chapter the next one will be of more normal length, and thus take a bit longer than this one did, savor the suspense!


Last edited by jamesfirecat on Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sat Sep 20, 2014 8:08 am
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
FN: Really not much to say about this one.

Well I did originally plan for it to be a bit longer, but then I realized that honestly I was never going to find a better line to go out on than the one that went with James introducing himself so I decided to just quit while I was ahead.

When the next chapter goes up, expect it to also be accompanied by the first of hopefully many Monster Party Side Stories, one chapter long "stories" that will give us some insight into our protagonists histories...


Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:58 pm
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
AN: For this chapter guess I'll be addressing concerns in reverse chronological order so as to talk about what is doubtlessly freshest in your mind first.

To start with, once again I am not dropping down some kind of Deus Ex Machina for James to easily grant his desire for non sentient flesh (and non sentient rodent flesh at that!), the content of Doctor Fran's menagerie are taken exactly from the adventure book that this story is based upon. The last cage in it is said to contain not just three rats, but “three giant rats”. It's not my fault if those rodents have a much greater significance to this adventuring party than they would to most. (I did alter the contents of the Book of Insufferable Darkness, but only in changing from an empty flask to one that was half full, because that makes it vastly funnier in my version)

Secondly: feel free to make a horror check at a -1, no make that a -2 penalty if you actually understood the implications of what James told Delphi about his past on your first read through.

Thirdly: Zhakata the Devourer is a “real” (long story, later books/stories will make it much more clear, let's just move along for now) deity in the Ravenloft setting, who does demand frequent (and frequently lethal) fasting sessions from his servants.


Last edited by jamesfirecat on Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:58 am, edited 2 times in total.



Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:09 pm
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Evil Genius
Evil Genius

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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Chapter Eight Notes: I am sorry if I'm off on how Cal's copying process works, unlike with the distilation my google fu was weak on this mater and I didn't feel confident when it came to trying to simply do a straight up search for something like “how to forge documents”.

By the way those who are interested, the painting that Doctor Fran makes of Mirri is more or less in tune with what he should be capable of as described the base adventure book, though I sped up how quickly he made it significantly to keep the story moving along.

Mirri's interest in collecting pictures/paintings of herself is honestly something that I don't think I've ever seen any other vampire in any setting display, but honestly I think it fits perfectly with the general sense of vanity/superiority that most vampires project, she can't see her reflection in a mirror, so she gathers up other people's depictions of her and uses those instead if she wishes to feed her own ego.


Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:38 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Chapter Nine Notes: Just to clear up maters, when Mirri talks about stigmata she does not mean the human condition where blood leaks spontaneously from the palms. She is instead referring to the vampire condition of the same name (don't blame me that's what it's called in the Van Richten's Guide to Vampires!) where physical contact with a holy symbol leaves marks upon a vampire's flesh in the shape of said holy symbol that can last for months/years despite vampire's normal regenerative abilities and their bodies tendency to revert back to whatever state it was in at the moment of death (IE a vampire who had tattoos while they were alive will keep them but if they try to get new ones after they die they'll fade away pretty quickly). Given that it seems to only require physical contact with a holy symbol not having said symbol be wielded by a priest/priestess she is entirely reasonable to consider it a possible result of James being absentminded with his icon of Bastet.

Once again apologies to any Bastet worshipers out there in the extremely unlikely event that there are any reading this story and took offense to it. For those unfamiliar, with her, Bastet/Bast/a few other different spellings is a real world goddess from the Egyptian Pantheon who also shows up in Ravenloft every so often, though they often do that “no it looks like Godzilla but due to international copyright laws, it isn't!” thing every so often where they'll change the spelling of her name but not what she represents.

To pick an example at random in the Gazetteer V (five) section on Nova Vaasa they they talk about the cat god Bubahkaa, but they're fooling nobody because they also mention another cat goddess named Sehkmaa as well.

For those who aren't aware of such things (which is probably most of you) there are two main cat goddesses in the Egyptian Pantheon, Bastet who is often depicted as a woman with the head of a housecat, and Sekhmet (spelling fluctuates as with Bastet of course) who is often depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness. If you couldn't figure out how their personalities break down from the above, Bastet tends towards representing the more soft and fluffy kittenish side of felinity (though she'll still totally lay the smack-down on any rats, snakes, or other pests which threaten her domain) and Sekhmet is more the “oh god the claws are ripping my face off!” side. (Bastet is Chaotic Good, Sekhmet is Chaotic Neutral)

Another example of this can be found with the Paka (weird shape-shifters that can go between looking like people and looking like people with some decidedly feline traits) who based on some of the information I can find online have a two faced goddess named Syekhmaa-Ubahsty, that's Seykhmaa who has a lioness head and does war power and destruction and Ubahsty who has the head of a housecat and is associated with protection and cunning. In the interest streamlining such maters, I'm rolling all such pairs of feline goddesses/twin aspected single feline goddesses into being Bastet or Sekhmet as appropriate.

For the most part Bastet's preachings in a D&D setting tend to break down to “treat cats with the reverence they deserve, have fun, fight evil, be excellent to each other and don't be that guy who bogarts the catnip, nobody likes that guy.” I am of course exaggerating a bit for effect but honestly not that much.

As mentioned previously Mirri doesn't get along well with holy symbols of good deities even if the owner has no intention of harming her (or quite the opposite intention) which is why James carries his symbol of Bastet in a pocket rather than more prominently displaying it.

So yeah, James being a follower of Bastet, honestly it fits so well that if you knew about her existence in the Ravenloft setting ahead of time you probably could have already pegged James as one of her followers.


Last edited by jamesfirecat on Thu Oct 23, 2014 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:33 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Author Notes Chapter 10: This chapter reveals (at least if I wrote it right) one interesting piece of information about our “heroes”... while Mirri is probably the most evil... Cal is a much bigger d**k.

To put it in TV tropes terms (I won't link don't worry, you only have yourselves to blame if you loose several hours of your life)

Mirri is a Sociopathic Hero who was probably not the nicest person when she was alive and being turning into a vampire (plus a all the time she spent unliving as one) unsurprisingly shrunk her monkey sphere (the group of people she thinks about as people rather than as abstractions) even further. Cal on the other hand is just an unashamed Jerkass (granted one with a Heart of Gold).

Once again enjoy the cliff hanger till next week/whenever the next chapter is ready!


Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:48 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Chapter Eleven Author Notes: CLIFFHANGER!

I'll have some things to Father Milhouse and his monks, but I'm going to save that for “reflections on the adventure” notes I'm going to throw up when all is said and done. For now, the good news is I have the next chapter almost completely written so won't be left in suspense for that long.


Sat Oct 18, 2014 11:07 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
Author Notes Chapter Twelve: It took me about a dozen different attempts/tries to finally find a song lyric I liked for this chapter. Just thought you might want to know. Thankfully there's always Sabaton to fall back on for an awesome song lyric that fits the mood (I needed something that sounded horrific and dark yet didn't obviously hint at a sudden reversal of fortune) though of course if you know your Sabaton, the song line is from “Resist and Bite” with the full line being

“But when captured by the Axis
And forced to tell the truth
We'll tell it with a smile,
We will surprise them with a laugh”

Which of course very much fit Alexander's situation and how he responds to it.

Anyway, this chapter also contains my first honest to goodness surprise even to people who are familiar with Neither Man Nor Beast. Okay technically James being a werecat was a surprise, but we'd barely gotten to know James at all so it hardly counts. Now unlike Mirri in her coffin I doubt anyone saw this coming. That said, I did leave a few clues for you to pick up on if you were looking close enough that hinted at what might be going on under Alexander's eyepatch/that he wasn't a normal human.

Lets count them off so you can reflect on how good (or bad) I am at foreshadowing.

Right from the first chapter Captain Stewart remarks on how his own first mate wears an eye patch despite having two perfectly good eyes. This should serve to plant the idea in your head that not everyone who wears an eyepatch has only one eye.

Also consider the naming convention, those three who present themselves as something other than what they really are, are James FIRECAT, Mirri CATWARRIOR and Alexander DIAMDNOCLAW while the three who open about what they are simply Devi Skye, Cal Wright and even the dryad is simply Florence Bastien, which is far more believable than any of the three proceeding names.

From chapter three onward, Mirri has made her disdain for most mortals/everyone other than James pretty clear, and as Chaotic Evil personality raw strength is just one of the few reasons she would agree to follow someone. So why is it that she refers to Alex with a respectful “Sir” and follows his orders? Because he's something other than a normal mortal.

In chapter six, Florence called Alex a beast and Alexander takes pride in the notion that there are none beastlier than him.

In chapter seven Cal says that Alexander is like a “Booze Bloodhound” playing up the fact that he has superior sense of smell than most people.

In chapter nine Alexander tells Doctor Fran/Markov not to consider where the parts of him other than his heart come from, and as we'll eventually find out, oh but is there a story behind where his right eye came from.

Also at the end of the chapter Alexander is mentioned alongside Mirri as suffering a headache from hearing the gong rung, which suggests his hearing is a lot keener than that of a normal person.

In chapter ten we find out Alexander's sword is named Wolf Claw. Which is sort of a strange name for a sword unless.... it's the claw he uses when he doesn't have any others.

In the chapter eleven, we find out that Cal's glasses are reading glasses. The alchemist is far sighted, and shoots better (at least against targets that are a long way away from him) when he takes his glasses off. This touches on the theme on people owning items that in theory impair their capabilities.

Also, yeah as you might guess from his dream Alexander was something of a bastard in his past to say the least. Probably something like three failed power checks before he turned his life around.

Double also before you even ask, no Alexander is not a werewolf. After all the effort that I put into detailing James' efforts to find enough fresh meat to get by on, if Alexander required even more (though he could be slightly less choosey since wolves are scavengers) then it would be the height of bad writing not to touch on his eating habits up to this point in the story.

Triple also before you get cute, Alexander is also not a wolfwere (mystical wolf that can turn into a human being) either. That would be stupid because it would require him to be a good version a creature which is evil by default and have their own society to reinforce said evilness (or at least for 'evil' defined as seeing eating humans as okay) and would over all make him a good version of Harkon Lukas which is a stupid idea from start to finish pretty much the ultimate Gary Stu. If you need proof that he is not either of the above creatures, notice that when Alexander is in his “hybrid form” his voice does not get distorted unlike James'.

Alexander Diamondclaw is complicated and we'll learn more of his back story and powers as more books come out. For now, as you might suspect, yes he can only transform out of his human form when he's not wearing an eyepatch and can only turn back into it when he is wearing one.

On a more “clear cut” point, the writing on Mirri's coffin is another of my (Google) translations so I make not promises that it is perfect. It is however pretty definitive proof of which Ravenloft domain she originated from if you haven't guessed yet.


Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:58 pm
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Conspirator
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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
For those unfamiliar, with her, Bastet/Bast/a few other different spellings is a real world goddess from the Egyptian Pantheon who also shows up in Ravenloft every so often, though they often do that “no it looks like Godzilla but due to international copyright laws, it isn't!” thing every so often where they'll change the spelling of her name but not what she represents.

To pick an example at random in the Gazetteer V (five) section on Nova Vaasa they they talk about the cat god Bubahkaa, but they're fooling nobody because they also mention another cat goddess named Sehkmaa as well.

For those who aren't aware of such things (which is probably most of you) there are two main cat goddesses in the Egyptian Pantheon, Bastet who is often depicted as a woman with the head of a housecat, and Sekhmet (spelling fluctuates as with Bastet of course) who is often depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness. If you couldn't figure out how their personalities break down from the above, Bastet tends towards representing the more soft and fluffy kittenish side of felinity (though she'll still totally lay the smack-down on any rats, snakes, or other pests which threaten her domain) and Sekhmet is more the “oh god the claws are ripping my face off!” side. (Bastet is Chaotic Good, Sekhmet is Chaotic Neutral)

Another example of this can be found with the Paka (weird shape-shifters that can go between looking like people and looking like people with some decidedly feline traits) who based on some of the information I can find online have a two faced goddess named Syekhmaa-Ubahsty, that's Seykhmaa who has a lioness head and does war power and destruction and Ubahsty who has the head of a housecat and is associated with protection and cunning. In the interest streamlining such maters, I'm rolling all such pairs of feline goddesses/twin aspected single feline goddesses into being Bastet or Sekhmet as appropriate.

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Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:58 am
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Evil Genius
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:30 am
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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
blackbee wrote:
For those unfamiliar, with her, Bastet/Bast/a few other different spellings is a real world goddess from the Egyptian Pantheon who also shows up in Ravenloft every so often, though they often do that “no it looks like Godzilla but due to international copyright laws, it isn't!” thing every so often where they'll change the spelling of her name but not what she represents.

To pick an example at random in the Gazetteer V (five) section on Nova Vaasa they they talk about the cat god Bubahkaa, but they're fooling nobody because they also mention another cat goddess named Sehkmaa as well.

For those who aren't aware of such things (which is probably most of you) there are two main cat goddesses in the Egyptian Pantheon, Bastet who is often depicted as a woman with the head of a housecat, and Sekhmet (spelling fluctuates as with Bastet of course) who is often depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness. If you couldn't figure out how their personalities break down from the above, Bastet tends towards representing the more soft and fluffy kittenish side of felinity (though she'll still totally lay the smack-down on any rats, snakes, or other pests which threaten her domain) and Sekhmet is more the “oh god the claws are ripping my face off!” side. (Bastet is Chaotic Good, Sekhmet is Chaotic Neutral)

Another example of this can be found with the Paka (weird shape-shifters that can go between looking like people and looking like people with some decidedly feline traits) who based on some of the information I can find online have a two faced goddess named Syekhmaa-Ubahsty, that's Seykhmaa who has a lioness head and does war power and destruction and Ubahsty who has the head of a housecat and is associated with protection and cunning. In the interest streamlining such maters, I'm rolling all such pairs of feline goddesses/twin aspected single feline goddesses into being Bastet or Sekhmet as appropriate.



Huh? It seems like all you are doing is restating part of my post on chapter nine's notes, did your own comment get cut off?


Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:26 am
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Monster Party Book 1 Commentary
You could stand to go through and fix all the typos. There are quite a few.

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Sat Oct 25, 2014 2:44 am
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