Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CHILDHOOD MONSTERS - Guest Post by Rafael Chandler

For me, it started in the mid-eighties.

My friend Brian had something he called "the red box." It was a new game, something we'd heard about -- Dungeons & Dragons.

We agreed not to tell our parents. They wouldn't get it. Brian's dad wouldn't let him listen to Megadeth because they were a self-described speed metal, and obviously "speed" was a drug reference. "You kids think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday," he said. We had no idea what the fuck he was talking about, so we didn't listen to Megadeth or play Dungeons & Dragons when Brian's dad was home.

Top left to bottom right: Jump in the Fire by Metallica, Dungeon Master's Guide, Calibos from Clash of the Titans, The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, Mephisto, Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden, Mon*Star from SilverHawks, Show No Mercy by Slayer, Freddy Krueger.

That first summer, Brian hit level 20 or 30. He conquered an entire kingdom, cleared out all 7 layers of Hell, and killed Satan with a sword made out of an ancient red dragon's skull.

I considered myself an excellent DM. I was eleven.

The tales we studied in school mirrored D&D and its otherworldly entities: Theseus decapitating the Minotaur, Beowulf wrenching off Grendel's arm, Sigurd cutting down the dragon Fafnir. I devoured every tale of myth and legend I could find, eager for additional material.

My appreciation for the game was magnified on the day that I first held the Monster Manual. Sure, I'd already figured out that D&D was a horror game -- after all, the adventures had titles like Tomb of Horrors and The Temple of Elemental Evil -- but when I opened the Monster Manual, I found confirmation: demons, devils, ghouls, zombies, vampires, and hell hounds. The stuff of horror novels and movies.

For the next ten years, I ran blood-drenched games full of scenes lifted from Stephen King and Clive Barker novels, or whatever slasher movies I watched on HBO at a friend's house. In my D&D games, an NPC had the lifespan of a mayfly, and usually wound up getting torn to pieces by displacer beasts or trolls. Every dungeon wall dripped with blood. If you swung and you hit, then limbs went flying and guts splattered all over the treasure chest full of gold. Obviously.

At some point, I decided to write my own monster manual. It only took me the better part of three decades.

Teratic Tome was released in 2013, and people said nice things about it. A gentleman named Shane wrote, "I can only presume that Chandler dreamed up these monsters while smoking weed mixed with the ashes of Ed Gein." That was damned kind of him.

Now, a year later, I'm looking to create a new kind of evil. But unlike last year's tribute to the orange-spined books of my youth, this new tome features none of the traditional monsters -- you'll find no dragons, orcs, or demons in the pages of this compendium.

Lusus Naturae includes 100 new creatures, each more nightmarish than the last. Most are from my own warped imagination, but I've also included a few monsters inspired by mythology. The legends in question are all from Inca and Mochica tales, because as I approach 40, I've become quite curious about my Peruvian ancestors.

This enchiridion of entities, Lusus Naturae, is currently Kickstarting. The project is funded, and we're pretty close to the stretch goal of full-color illustrations throughout.

Do you love monsters the way I do? Does your dungeon crawl (or city adventure, or random hexcrawl encounter) sometimes resemble a horror movie?

Do you ever read monster manuals just for fun?

Do you like it grimdark and twisted?

If so, then this might interest you.


Stay brutal.


-- Rafael Chandler


  1. As I've gotten older, I appreciate how the truly monstrous creatures should be saved for those times when the anticipation can build, when the players think they know what they're up against, but are missing key information that sends them into the clutches of a nightmarish creation.

    Sure, my games have orcs and giant lizards and the occasional chimaera, but the real evil, residing behind the facade of civilization or hidden deep in forgotten tombs, those are the things that I want players to have never encountered before.

    Rafael, thanks for letting me borrow your imagination!

    1. Doug, that's a fantastic approach! And I agree 100%, the anticipation adds so much to the experience. A lot of the time, my D&D/OSR games feel a lot like Call of Cthulhu for that reason.

      And other times, the players decide it's going to be a "fun" night, so the seriousness goes right out the window and it's just a cheerful bloodbath in the tavern with groanworthy one-liners and smashed furniture...

  2. I just checked out Teratic Tome, thought it was great, and added to your kickstarter. This is fantastic ... I've always have a little Lovecraft and Barker in games. :D

    1. Thank you, Reverend Doctor! I truly appreciate the support.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Great post Rafael. I'm extremely excited about this project.

  5. Cool article.

    Backed this on KS as soon as it started.

    Honestly, LotFP products are about all I choose to back anymore.

    That and anyone who publish their own vision of RPGs as a print zine. I support the hell out of that!!

    1. Thanks very much! Yeah, I love some zines. Picked up Crawljammer and Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad not too long ago; love 'em both.


Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition