An Author’s Monster Manual Featuring Dorian Hart

Dorian Hart is an excellent addition to a hypothetical Author’s Monster Manual. His series, The Heroes of Spira (which is phenomenal, by the way) features many unique creatures. All of them would be great additions to any TTRPG.

First, a thank you to Jodie for including me in this most excellent feature!

I make no secret that my Heroes of Spira series uses  a long-running RPG campaign as its source material. I’ve written at length about the perils and pitfalls of that approach, and about the fundamental differences between novels and  campaigns. That said, like many a good RPG,  my epic quest fantasy books sure do feature a wide variety of nonhuman creatures!

In no particular order, the Heroes of Spira includes, among other things:

  • One-eyed gopher bugs
  • A misanthropic living storm
  • A dangerous turtle
  • A cadre of evil, mathematically-inclined cultists 
  • A dragon
  • Intelligent giant ants AND intelligent giant spiders
  • A tentacled blob-monster
  • A bat-winged marble statue that’s deadly when animated
  • Joyously violent goblins
  • A powerful demon lord whose fortress hangs above a lake of boiling pus
  • A 9’ tall oracular toad
  • A snarky telepathic cat
  • A multi-legged but otherwise featureless ball of insect chitin.
  • Massively powerful talking gemstones
  • A giant acidic slug that, let’s be honest, is more-or-less a reskinned Gelatinous Cube, because those things are great
  • Avatars of multiple gods
  • Some good old-fashioned mummies

There’s more, but that should be enough to let you know what kind of series I’m writing.

For a stat block, I’ve chosen from that list the marble statue, whose informal name is a Blood Gargoyle, and whose official name is a [SPOILER REDACTED].  At the risk of some minor spoilers:

In The Ventifact Colossus, the first book in the series, one of the protagonists (named Dranko) meets a Blood Gargoyle in its inanimate form. Even as an inert statue, it scares the living daylights out of Dranko, instilling an unreasoning fear in the man despite not even twitching a wingtip. Here’s the passage where he first beholds the thing:

* * *

Dranko wasn’t sure what he was looking at. 

No, that wasn’t entirely true. He knew it was a statue, half again as tall as he was. He knew that while it was humanoid, it wasn’t human; no man or woman or goblin-touched had fangs that long, or claws that sharp, or eyes that far apart, or a chin that long and pointed, or wings neatly folded behind its back. And he knew that it was made of rock, some kind of striated marble as orange and luminous as a harvest moon.

But he also knew that this thing was more, and that it was worse, and that he wanted as little to do with it as possible. Its deep-socketed eyes, two blood-colored marbles with cat-slit pupils, were like windows into the Hells, and something looked out of them, eager, hungry. Though it was just an inert stone sculpture, inanimate, incapable of causing him harm unless it fell on him, Dranko had to fight down his flight reflex from the moment he laid his eyes upon it.

* * *

Later in book 1, we learn that (off camera) the Blood Gargoyle attacked  and nearly killed the heroes’ ancient and powerful wizardly patron, Abernathy. But while the reader still has not seen one in action by the end of The Ventifact Colossus, if you think I’m going to let a perfectly good Chekov’s Gargoyle sit around on the mantelpiece for a full five books without it going off, I can assure you that [MORE SPOILERS REDACTED].

It’s one of the more fearsome members of my novels’ bestiary, so I don’t recommend throwing it against low-level adventurers unless you’re itching for a TPK.  If you want to use it in a campaign, I suggest first letting your characters encounter it in its inanimate form, and then springing the “live” version on them many sessions later, once they’re powerful enough to (maybe) handle it. Ideally, your PCs will burst into the villain’s sanctum just as they’re finishing up the animating ritual, and the blood gargoyle will fight your heroes  while the villain escapes via secret tunnel, teleportation circle, enchanted flying contraption, or a similar contrivance.

Here’s a stat block for it:

C:\Users\Dorian\Desktop\blood gargoyle 2.jpg

Regretfully, I cannot supply you with art for the Blood Gargoyle, as my abilities in the visual arts can only be measured using an electron microscope. I hope the above description is sufficient for you to imagine one.

About the author:

Dorian Hart is the author of the Heroes of Spira epic fantasy series, which currently includes The Ventifact Colossus, The Crosser’s Maze, and The Greatwood Portal. He also wrote the interactive science fiction novella Choice of the Star Captain for Choice of Games.

In a bygone century, Dorian graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in creative writing. This led circuitously to a 20-year career as a video game designer, where he contributed to many award-winning titles including Thief, System Shock, System Shock 2, and BioShock.

Now he writes books in his Boston-area study, serves as the stay-at-home dad for his two teenage daughters, and happily allows his wife to drag him off on various wilderness adventures.

Amazon links:
The Ventifact Colossus
The Crosser’s Maze
The Greatwood Portal
The Infinite Tower

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