Mix-and-Mismatch Creature – Chapter 2, Strip 250

Tsk, tsk…so close, and yet so far…it seems it’s always those little oversights that bring a villain’s masterful plans crashing down around him. If our aspiring space tyrant would just have made sure his mercenary scientists knew exactly which parts they were supposed to take from the owl and which from the bear, to fashion a properly terrifying owlbear

The creators of RPG monsters are often accused of a lack of immagination, or of laziness, for inventing ‘new’ creatures by simply combining elements of two (or more) real life animals – but at least they are in good company, since writers have been doing precisely the same thing since shortly after the invention of writing. During the Renaissance, one Italian author deliberately spoofed the old Greco-Roman habit of mix-and-match creatures by inventing a particularly absurd combo-creature: the hipogryph, a cross between a horse and a bird of prey. It was to no avail, however, since his creation has since become accepted without reservation into the ranks of ‘authentic’ legendary creatures, and I’m not sure whether Harry Potter ever knew he was riding around on a piece of parody…

One can’t deny, however, that RPG creature designers really took the concept and ran as far as several pairs of mismatched animal legs could carry them – take, for example, the Squark – a combination of squid and shark… At least they generally tend to obey one fundamental rule, one which our Imperial friend would have done well heeding – take the head from the smaller animal, and the body from the larger one, not the other way round.

That’s it for today, and on Monday we’ll get back to the ninja/pirate conflict. A new voting incentive is also up.

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