Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Book: Darwin's Guide to Creatures, Mythical and Mundane

My current big project is "Darwin's Guide to Creatures, Mythical and Mundane" a creature book for the Gaslight RPG (OGL and Savage Worlds)

I got on this since it covers many of my interests well.  I love old bestiaries, the Victorian age and my interest in Darwin himself.

I thought that since today was Darwin Day, Id spend some time talking about this book.

For starters it is a monster manual.  Creatures mythical and mundane to pit against your Gaslight characters.
It is circa 1888 and we are at the height of the Late Victorian Empire.

The book is written as a naturalist guide, similar in some respects to Darwin's work on the Galapagos Islands in his study of finches.  I tried to put myself into Darwin's shoes and write about orcs and trolls as if he had seen them himself.  Not an easy task.  I also tried whenever possible to avoid any supernatural agencies.  That was particularly difficult.   I rather like what I did about elementals, but less so about undead and will have to edit them a bit.

To prep for this book I reread Darwin's greatest work, "On the Origin of Species".  If you have never read this, then please do.  It is a masterwork and so ahead of it's time.  This man, through careful and painstaking observation put together this theory of common descent and change of species over time.  I know from reading his autobiography that this was not an idea he took lightly.  He knew that this would not sit well with the clergy and especially his religious wife.  But he also knew it had to be done.

Reading his autobiography got me to one of the key conceits of the book.  The book is "published" in 1885 or thereabouts.  Darwin was of course dead by that time.  It is edited from years worth of notes by his son William Erasmus and his daughter Etty.

I wanted to stay true to the spirit of Darwin, if not the letter, but I also wanted to stay true to the game system and world.  Gaslight is a world where Dracula preys on maidens in their bedchambers while Sherlock Holmes peruses Jack the Ripper and Mr. Hyde in the streets of White Chapel.

This is also giving me a chance to stat up some monsters that I have not had the chance to try out yet.  In particular some dinosaurs.

Looking forward to getting this one out there too!

Cross posting this to The Freedom of Nonbelief.

1 comment:

Bradley "The Sage" Russo said...

Sounds good! I can't wait to read the finished result.

I've also long had a fascination with Darwin -- both of his work and his personal life. If there's even a "Gaslight"-inspired tweak on this in your book... then I'll be happy.

Consequently, I've often thought about working on a similarly themed take based around the anatomical works of Leonardo da Vinci. It would work almost like the Monster Manual-themed tome you're proposing here... only it would focus on the strange and mythical creatures of the Great Master's period.

Ah, well. One day.


-- Bradley "The Sage" Russo

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