Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Five or So Questions with Glynn Seal on The Midderlands

Hi all! I found this cool setting and bestiary while scrolling through G+, and the word "bestiary" drew me in (I'm a sucker for them!). MonkeyBlood Design has some sweet looking stuff on their website and The Midderlands, which is currently on Kickstarter, looks pretty nifty! See what Glynn had to say below!

(Note: While The Midderlands contains a setting as well, most of the pictures are of the beastiary. I like monsters. Deal.)


Groat. I love it.

Tell me a little about The Midderlands. What excites you about it?

The Midderlands is an OSR mini setting and bestiary for Swords & Wizardy although as with all retro clones, it'll work interchangeably with minimal effort.

The setting itself is based on the area in England where I live, the Midlands. The idea of taking this area and turning it into a more twisted, darker fantasy-land excited me. I could take landmarks and towns and run riot.

All that said, the idea of the book started as I was drawing weird creatures. I thought it would be good if they lived in and around where I lived, kind of like the Spiderwick Chronicles by Terlizzi. The idea evolved from there.

Tell me about weird creatures! Bestiaries and monster manuals are a favorite of mine. What will we see spilling forth from the pages?

The book contains a bestiary section which contains 25 new monsters. These include the Muckulus, Oorgthrax, Mud Cow, Thorned Briarling, Six-headed Sewer Gripe, Mawling and Nobblin to name a few. Each of the 25, also have a pre-generated NPC. Of these 25, 18 have defined race-classes that you can play. Now don’t get me wrong, some of these are bonkers but they have a lot of fun gaming potential. Some favourite monsters are the Conus Ogre that feeds on electricity, and the Six-headed Sewer Gripe with its decapitation attacks. Edwin Nagy has done a great job of adding flesh to the bones of the monsters. I would give him the art, tell him some things I wanted it to do/be like – and he would create these monsters of wonder.

Slitherling by Jim Magnusson.
What sort of elements are you bringing to your home of the Midlands to make it darker, to find a deeper root?

I wanted an undercurrent of something chthonic, dark and unknown going on beneath the earth. The spinning core deep below the land is made of Gloomium – a green substance which leaks to the top and taints things. The sky is green-hued and fires burn with green flames and such. There are black-clad folk about and their intent is shadowy. I don’t elaborate too much on stuff, allowing the gamemaster to take it where he wants to go with it – to fit their own agenda, or campaign ideas. I just wanted to create enough “game-juice” to give the feeling that there is untoward stuff going on.

fishy fishy fishy oh
How do you find inspiration for different monsters and game elements?

I’m never quite sure where the inspiration was coming from. I spend lots of time going through G+ and some people post some great art. In terms of the monsters whatever appeared on the page as I drew it. The drawing of the head happened first. Once I had all the heads, I created a set of headless bodies. I then printed them all out and matched up heads and bodies till I got something cool. Then I would come up with a concept and send it to Edwin for stats.

The setting just kind of fell out. A good example is that there is a ruined windmill on my way into RL work. I decided to add that the location section as Bognock Windmill. Many RL landmarks were harmed in the making of this book.

What are you doing to make The Midderlands accessible for multiple systems (OSR to Pathfinder, even) - freedom from mechanical trappings is one thing, so what in the setting makes it work for more than one system?

As it’s written for Swords & Wizardry Complete, it is easily moved to other retroclones. S&WC is generally single saving throw and doesn’t use Morale so there is a tweak needed to use in LotFP. Most OSR folk can pick this stuff up and go on the fly.

Pathfinder, D&D5E and DCC would be a little more tricky in terms of stats, but The Midderlands is not intended to be overly complicated. The setting contains no real stat stuff at all – so that can be taken and used anywhere. Other than the bestiary stats, there are magic items and oddities that can easily be used in other non-OSR systems. As an example, a Wodensblade is a +1 longsword, +3 vs green-skinned creatures. That kind of thing can be used pretty much anywhere 😊. Spells are referred to such as Charm Person, so that will be understood in most systems. Monster stats will need a little more work for non-OSR systems.

So far, the support for the Kickstarter has been fantastic, given the ambitious funding total. I want the book content and production quality to be something people get in their hands and go “whoa, this is so cool!!”, so I’d rather fund something memorable than a PoD offering if I can. That does have a cost though. We are almost half-funded at this stage and still over 20 days to go, so it’s very-promising and myself and the team are massively lucky to have such great support.

Thank you for your hosting hospitality, great questions and for your interest in the project!

#themidderlands 😊


Thanks so much to Glynn for the interview! I hope you all enjoyed reading and that you'll check out The Midderlands on Kickstarter, and remember to share the post around!

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