It was very exciting for us to see that three (3) Asparagus Jumpsuit releases are in the Top 25 Hottest Titles on RPGNow this morning! Orc Hide: Chaotic Beastmen Reskinned is as #14, Drow Hide: Dark Elves Reskinned is at #15, and Bugbear Hide: Fuzzy Goblins Reskinned is at #24!
And these are only the first three releases in this new line for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game! We’ve got our fingers crossed that future installments do as well. We’re also getting ready to launch another Pathfinder line – stay tuned!
Thanks you everyone who helped a small company like us accomplish this! Special thanks to Tim Riley, who coined our new catchphrase, “No Sleep Til Finland!”.
No Sleep ‘Til Finland™
My wife Katie has been an elementary school art teacher for 10 years. Now she’s been accepted to graduate school and will be working on her Masters in Education at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland! It will be a major juxtaposition, going from the desert Southwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico to frozen Scandinavia, but this is a fantastic opportunity to work within one of the best education systems in the world! To raise the money to get us there we’re doing everything we can, including selling off nearly everything we own!
The Monster Hide series is one of many projects I’m working on with the express purpose of getting us to Finland. Every dollar made on this project goes directly toward helping my wife further her education.
Bugbears have always been my favorite go-to fantasy humanoids. They’re big, they’re goofy, they’re somehow lovable. First edition bugbears, as they were illustrated in core books and modules, were fluffy Muppets that you just want to love. That’s how I’ve always played them. They’re not so much evil as tricksters and confidence artists, who see more sport in swindling the goods away from you than just killing you outright and taking it. They’ll do that, of course. They have no compunction against killing. They just see that as a last resort, requiring no skill and no fun at all.
I know the real-world origins of the the term “bugbear”, and bugaboo, and boogeyman, and I don’t even really see superstitious and cowardly humans calling them that; bugbears are really crazy-scary or supernatural enough to get that kind of nickname. I certainly don’t see them calling themselves that. It makes as much sense as halflings calling themselves halflings. I’m half of nothing, you tall freak. I know it’s because we can’t legally use the other h-word without getting sued by the Tolkien estate, but couldn’t someone have made up another race-name that feel so racist?
In my campaign setting of Desteon, my explanation is that they were first encountered in a swampy area of the New World. Since they’re big and hairy, their “discoverers” called them bog bears, which got distorted to bugbears. The bugbears, who simply called themselves goblins (simply of a different ethnicity than the goblins in the Old World), happen to like and get along with bears, so they don’t take offense at the name and kind of find it amusing. Unless they’re looking to throw you off guard and upset you. Then they’ll flat-out call you a racist and try to make you squirm.
There is a folklore precedent for having a connection with bears. I found one source that stated that Medieval parents would frighten children with tales of a bugbear that was, in fact, an evil bear that would carry off children who misbehaved. Having an affinity for bears myself, I wanted to run with this connection. You’ll find a connection between bugbears and bears in some of these alternate monsters.
Bugbear Hide is available now at all of the fine online RPG stores listed in the sidebar!
If I had my druthers, every fantasy setting would be rooted more deeply in the sword and sorcery tradition, rather than Tolkienesque fairy tail sensibilities. I like the gritty, earthy tones of antiheroes with feet of clay, who fear and oppose magic as an unnatural force rather than fawn over how shiny and pretty it is. I’ve alway been enamored of degenerate beast-men, who survive by brutality and live in superstition, enemies that you simply can’t reason with.
That’s how I’ve always played my orcs. Feral. Savage. Not at all a joke. Sword fodder? To be sure. But while you’re busy over here killing these 20 or 30 of the greasy gray-green buggers, the other hundred or burning your village, sacking your town, killing the livestock, and carrying off anything that’s not nailed down including your women and children. You can kill them all — you just can’t kill them fast enough.
Like Tolkien’s orcs, though, my orc do serve demonic masters (and yes, I know that Sauron wasn’t a demon; take my point and move on). They’re a servitor race, with anything noble, along with any semblance of intelligence or independent thought, bred or beaten out of them. They’ll fight on because no matter what the heroes throw at them, they fear the wrath of their masters more than they fear you. The worst you’ll do is kill them. They might be tragic, if there was ever a chance of saving or rehabilitating them. But the orcs are beyond redemption.
In my own Desteon campaign, I tried to eliminate the “disposable stormtrooper” aspect of the orcs by weaving them into the culture of the world. It isn’t the orcs themselves that are scary, although their overwhelming numbers are behind the appeasement they’re given, but what they represent. They’re Cold War Russians, a foe that’s not immediately in your face as much as an existential threat, a reminder of the existence of dark powers and the delicate thread between civilization and destruction. Back to Howard, they’re scary when you realize they’re what we could become if we lose the light of reason and fall back into brutality and superstition.
Orc Hide is available now at all of the fine online RPG stores listed on the sidebar.
The drow are sick puppies. When used correctly, they’re like Renaissance Italian nobles, a criminal cartel, and a serial killer cult all rolled into one. While I get the spider motif, I always thought that most drow would be too arrogant and egotistical to swear fealty to any deity that wasn’t promising some sort of big payoff. I see them as constantly seeking to expand their personal power bases first, advancing their family second, and doing what’s best for their larger community and species next. I’ll cheerfully mess over any other humanoid over making problems for other drow, but family comes first, unless it could benefit me personally. They don’t want to ever relinquish power, and always have unfulfilled dreams of gaining more, so they’d certainly want to figure out how to extend their lives, even if it means embracing undead. That’s why my drow are death worshippers.
In my Desteon campaign setting the drow are not part of the actual material world. If you’ve encountered them it means that things have gone terribly wrong for you. These drow dwell in their own city-state located on one of the levels of the Abyss, and they never leave there. They were once elves, yes, but chose to reign in Hell rather than serve in Heaven. They practice necromancy, revel in the most brutal forms of torture and gladiator sport, and trade in slaves with beings from the material planes. They’re so brutal that demons and devils fear them. The city can be reached via passages deep underground, yes, but in Desteon those passages are portals to other planes (my nod to Edgar Rice Burroughs).
Drow Hide is available now at all of the fine online RPG stores listed on the sidebar!
The site will be down for a few hours today. Don’t panic. This is a scheduled event, nothing has gone horribly awry.