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The House of Ainsley
Keeper of the Dark Mirror

Male Number of posts : 2163
Age : 46
Location : The Dark Heart of Bardosylvania

PostSubject: Owlbears!   Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:23 am

Welcome to the all-owlbear topic!  Yay!  Laughing

The owlbear has a long and distinguished history, having been with us since the dawning years of Dungeons & Dragons.  Gamer legends claim that Gary Gygax, the father of D&D (and, by extension, the grandpappy of all other roleplaying games) came up with the owlbear when he was looking at some weird plastic toy from Hong Kong.  You know those cheap plastic bags full of weird, crudely molded creatures that you could find at Toys 'R' Us, right between the bags of plastic dinosaurs and the bags of green Army men, about twenty or thirty years back?  I bet it was one of those.  One of those critters in the toys that I got looked just like a rust monster.  I'm glad to realize that Gary Gygax and I did our shopping with the same toy store chain.  Smile

In its history, the owlbear has been both feared and ridiculed by gamers.  Some of Gygax's other chimerae missed the mark and were roundly derided, and both this Head Injury Theater article and this one follow the tradition of savaging them.  Alas, the dreaded owlbear is also featured in the latter article, along with a full-color illustration which actually makes the owlbear look rather menacing.  Surely the owlbear deserves better than such a skewering, for while so many of Gygax's chimerical monsters have fallen by the wayside, the oft-mocked owlbear has ascended to become a hallmark creature of D&D and its many universes.

Here, the Dungeon Bastard illustrates the confusion and terror which may have contributed to the owlbear's popularity:

Sorry, Dungeon Bastard, but owls can be scary too, particularly the Great Horned Owl.  That bird will fly off with your baby if you're not careful!  Owls are swift, strong stealth-killers who hunt their prey by wit, they're Mother Nature's Assassins.

But yes, the idea of merging an owl with a bear is a bit silly.  But that's creativity for you.  Wink

The owlbear's origins, while vague, typically lead to the idea that a mad wizard created owlbears for some reason or other, and that unlike many other magical experiments, the owlbear bred true and found a cozy niche in the ecosystem.  Because of their unnatural origins, their unusual aggression and their habits of killing practically every living creature that they come across, druids and rangers often make a point of hunting and killing owlbears in order to preserve the rest of the local wildlife.

Humorously, this blogger challenges Game Masters to defy the owlbear's stereotypical origin.  I myself would make the owlbear's creation an act of divine vengeance for...I dunno, some guy killing a ton of some god's favorite owls or whatnot.  The gods have been known to do some pretty crazy things when they're annoyed with us mere mortals, after all.  Shocked

The owlbear has since appeared in the MMOG Everquest II as well as Pathfinder (D&D's spiritual successor ever since Wizards of the Coast pandered to the MMOG kiddies with D&D's rightly maligned Fourth Edition), where it's described as an apex predator.  And to my delight, a recent episode of the racy Oglaf webcomic touched down on that detail, as seen via this Not-Safe-For-Work link.

(Yes, I know.  You can easily find a half-dozen critical flaws in their "brilliant" plan.  Shut up and laugh at the funny.  Laughing )

So...what owlbear sightings have you seen lately?  Cool
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