Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weird Wonder Wednesday: Opabinia

This week's 'weird wonder' is one of the strangest creatures ever to inhabit the earth, and one of my favourites: Opabinia.

Fossils of Opabinia regalis were first discovered from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada and were described by Charles D. Walcott in 1912.

Opabinia is distinguished by its five eyes at the front of its head and a long, flexible proboscis that bears an array of grasping spines at the end.

                          Fossilized specimen of Opabinia regalis

Opabinia is believed to have lived in soft sediment on the sea floor.  It was an active predator that swam by using its lateral lobes for propulsion.  The long proboscis is assumed to have been used to capture prey and transport it to the mouth located beneath the head.  The proboscis might also have been plunged into the sediment to pull worms from their burrows.

The relationship of Opabinia to the rest of the animal kingdom is still unknown.


cyclopeatron said...

You should stat up some of these fossil marvels for some Cambrian roleplaying action in your game!

Sean Robson said...

Riffing off of nature for gaming inspiration was my intent for this feature. I didn't want to include any stats in the blog post, though, lest I unduly influence anyone else who wanted to turn these weird wonders of nature into monsters of their own. There are so many different ways you spin these things into D&D monsters or Lovecraftian horrors.

Chris said...

IIRC Dragon #204 had an article with AD&D stats for giant-sized versions of the Burgess Shale creatures. It was ok, but not as interesting as the Stephen Baxter story where a time-travel probe converts them all to Catholicism.

Sean Robson said...

Okay, wow. Any book with Catholic Burgess Shale creatures has got to be worth reading. I'm going to have to check this one out.