With the release of the Handimonsters Annual this week, we asked Jacob about some of the design inspirations behind the monsters, especially the connections between monsters. This week, he talks about some of the more subtle, earlier connections. Next week he’ll dive into the bigget categories like Dungeon Constructs and the Wildfolk.
I came up at the tail end of 1st Edition (D&D) and most of my later high school and college gaming was squarely in the days of 2nd Edition. This was the high days of Settings and, though we more often played in our homebrew world, it seemed like each of us collected at least one setting (one friend collected Dark Sun, another loved Planescape, etc.) and we all shared the ideas around. My setting of choice was Ravenloft. I loved the Gothic horror stuff, especially when it was time for the Halloween one-shot each year, the limits of the demi-dimension and the ‘easy to enter, hard to leave’ aspect.
When we started putting together ideas for Handimonsters, some ideas inspired by those old 2nd Edition days crept in. The first was the Dreamlands (which probably had some other 90s influences as well), and the second was the Heartwood, a dimension that represented an ur-forest. We’ve also mentioned the Caverndeeps, playing with the idea that if you go far enough into the Underdark you end up in another world, and reaching the surface again might be tricky and the Swamproot, another ur-dimension.
You’re free to steal, twist or ignore any of these ideas in order to integrate Handimonsters into your setting. They’ll remain occasional hints of setting elements but we don’t want to lock things down too tightly. After all, Handimonsters is meant to be a resource for every 5th Edition gamer and we don’t want to restrict your games.