Friday, April 29, 2011

Leucrocutanized

Earlier today, I was looking through my Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary -- which, I am sorry to say, I now cannot read without actually using a magnifying glass -- and I came across a most bizarre word: "leucrocutanized," which means, "uttered as by a leucrotta." What a delightful word! Of course, it's also a rather specific word and not one I'm likely to be able to use in almost any normal context.

Afterward, two thoughts occurred to me. First, unless I am mistaken, there are no OGC game stats for the leucrotta anywhere. If correct, I may have to correct that, as I've always been fond of these weirdo beasts. Second, the leucrotta, as you probably know, is based on distorted tales of hyenas. This made me wonder why it is that D&D included stats for both "normal" and "mythical" versions of so many animals. In a world with leucrottas, do you need hyenas too? I suppose it's to provide options and that's fair enough, but, having pondered it now, I realize that, if I do include leucrottas (or any other mythical animal-type monster), I won't also be including the real world animal on which they're based.

21 comments:

  1. The monster manual with everything on it had them.

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  2. If you replace the hyena with the leucrotta, does that make gnolls leucrotta-men?

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  3. For me, the mythical versions of various types of animals are signs that you have really left the safe confines of civilization. Whereas, you might find hyenas on the outskirts of the Empire, if you are up against a leucrotta you are deep into the wilderness — that place where Chaos warps normal beasts into their mythical counterparts.

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  4. Paizo put out OGC stats for it.

    http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/magical-beasts/leucrotta

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  5. Back when Necromancer Games still published d20 adventures, they had an introductory adventure called 'The Wizard's Amulet' for 3e that had a Leucrotta in it (which I think was just the 1e monster translated to 3e I think).
    I would assume that since 'Leucrotta' appears in my reprint of a medieval bestiary that no one could claim to "own" it, but you never know what greedy people will claim.
    So if I emit a 'Leucrocutanized' utterance, does mean that I am imitating a baby crying in order to lure a gullible camper out into the woods?

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  6. I don't see a mythical version of something as a replacement for that same creature. The mythical creatures often have very different characteristics than the real world animal, sometimes even looking vastly different and are for all purposes a totally different creature.

    If anything, they should be trated either as new beasts or as special versions of the non-magical creature. So, you might have a pack of hyenas led by a leucrotta.

    I'd also be careful on this slipepry slope because a lot of mythical creatures have their origins as mundane beasts. One could argue that the presence of unicorns nulifies the presence of rhinos. :)

    -Eli

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  7. This made me wonder why it is that D&D included stats for both "normal" and "mythical" versions of so many animals. In a world with leucrottas, do you need hyenas too?

    I've been wondering about an analogous Gamma World question.. Do normal (pure strain?) bunnies still exist, alongside hoops? I assume so, but it introduces a bunch of other complications and things to consider. Might be easier just to have the new mutated versions be the only ones (horses=Brutorz, badders=badgers, etc.).

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  8. For Gamma World, it was always my impression that Hoops, Badders, etc represented stabilized or true bred mutations. For example, if I am playing a mutant rabbit, he's not a Hoop, he's another sort of one-off mutant.

    I imagine that not only do the regular animals exist in Gamma World but other mutation variants as well.

    I know when we played Gamma World, we even had mutated versions of the mutants. These were variants on the stabilized mutation that were often used to throw a bit of variety in or to represent leaders and such.

    -Eli

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  9. For some reason, out of all the creepy illustrations in the 1st ed AD&D MM, I always found the leucrotta the creepiest, esp. when paired with the description of it as 'universally despised.'

    http://a2.l3-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/40/2cc817f084844e99831b4541c2c118cf/m.jpg

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  10. One could argue that the presence of unicorns nulifies the presence of rhinos. :)

    Indeed one could -- and I'm OK with that. My point was that D&D can be assumed to take place in a magical world, one where many mundane animals might not exist and their ecological niches are occupied instead by magical/legendary replacements, much in the way a medieval European might know nothing of tigers and think India's jungles are teeming with manticores. It's not the only way to approach the subject, of course, let alone the best one, but I think it's a perfectly reasonable one and, for my money anyway, goes some way toward making D&D implied setting a lot more otherworldly than it might otherwise be.

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  11. much in the way a medieval European might know nothing of tigers and think India's jungles are teeming with manticores.

    Of course they're not. Everybody knows they're teeming with Rakshasas.

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  12. Awesome word! If one is thinking of including an encounter with a leucrotta in one's game, one would be well-advised to read Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun.

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  13. The Leucrot[t]a is statted in the S&W Monster Book, so there's that version which is OGC.

    It would be interesting to develop a world in which the only monsters (perhaps with a few exceptions, like undead or dragons) are the mythic versions of real-world animals, and the real-world equivalents do not exist. Manticores instead of tigers, unicorns instead of rhinoceroses, bonnacons instead of buffaloes, and such.

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  14. I agree with Scallop-- Wolfe's alzabo will influence how I would present an encounter with a leucrotta.
    Leucrota was listed in Phil Edgren's Book of Monsters

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  15. I don't feel that fantastical interpretations of animals need to 'bump' the mundane versions out of the ecology. The concept of the leucrota may have originated with the heyena, but dragons may have came to be from early discovery of dinosaur bones. In fact, most magical and supernatural things are nothing more than contrived explainations for things people can't readily explain. Letting all of these creatures co-exist causes no rift from where I sit.

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  16. It's interesting to note how much that particular scene with the alzabo by Gene Wolfe has impacted so many gamers and their imagining of the leucrotta... I as well. That was one of the more creepy bits of fiction I have ever read!

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  17. Is this the scene in "The Sword of the Lictor", or is there another encounter with one that I haven't read yet?

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  18. This doesn't irritate me as much as synonym creep in D&D - the kind that gives us both medusas and gorgons, or both wood nymphs and dryads. That really gets my goa- my catoblepas.

    I have an idea for a monster now called a "Synonym Creep".

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  19. >In a world with leucrottas, do you need hyenas too?

    One could argue that Tolkien went this route with oliphaunts. If you have them, you definitely don't need elephants, and indeed he said that the oliphaunt's "kin that live still in latter days are but memories of his girth and majesty."

    On the other hand, nixing dogs in favor of blink dogs would be a bold move.

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