Tuesday 9 April 2019

Community Project - The Harry Clarke Bestiary

So a while back, Eric Nieudan used the art of Henry Justice Ford as inspiration for a community project. People wrote up a monster description based on one of his illustrations, and they all went into a PDF (and later a print book). You can get it here, and I highly recomend it, as there's some great stuff in there.
It was a cool idea. So I'm gonna do it again, this time with a different illustrator, and see what various people in the post g+ blogosphere come up with.

So, the artist. If you hadn't realised yet, I fucking love the work of Harry Clarke. His art is a sort of dark, surreal Art Nouveau, with intricately detailed linework contrasting against solid black and white blocks. His specific designs feature lots of grotesque monsters, body horror, boobs, weird androgynous people, bizarre imagery. It's amazingly evocative.

(Clarke's life has an air of tragedy to it. He's widely recognised as one of the greatest modern artists in the field of stained glass, as well as being ahead of his time with his book illustrations. On the other hand, his life was plagued by ill-health, and he died of tuberculosis at the age of 41. Not long before his death, it seems he converted to Catholicism and denounced much of his earlier work (due to its frequently dark or erotic nature), going so far as to request his publisher to burn his drawings.)

So, how will this work?
Simple. If you're interested, you can produce as many entries as you want. Pick one of his illustrations and write up a monster for it. Obviously, include the picture you're writing for in the blog post. Say it's for the Harry Clarke project and make it https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ (for IP reasons), and it'll go in the book.
I'll be putting up a reddit post here. If you've made something for the project, link it on there, or on this blogpost. (Or, I guess, throw it at me over discord). Once we've got a big pile of entries written in a few month's time, I'll put them in a PDF, and put it up for free on DTRPG. As with Ford's Fairies, a print version might happen, and if it does I'll put it up for sale at printing-cost.
Since the intention is to put all of this in a book, some restrictions are in place for consistency:
-Entries will get a 2-page spread each, image on the left, text on the right. To fit it all on the page, entries should be 400 words or less.
-The project is intended for OSR games, so should be written with those systems in mind. Assume B/X as standard, but keep things in 'compatibility mode'; IE, express AC as 'like Plate armour' rather than 'AC 4'.
-You can produce as many entries as you want.
In addition, my own guidelines here:
-It's fine to write a description of the same illustration somebody else has done, but discouraged.
-Referring to other entries (yours or other people's) so that the entries link together into the bones of a setting is highly encouraged.
-Given the nature of the art, entries with dark, bizarre or sexy themes are 100% OK. Knock yourself out. 
-Entries don't need to be monsters. Spells, magic items, terrain features etc are all fine.
-Monster stats should be expressed as: 

Armour class: compared to armour types, IE 'as chainmail'.Hit dice: a number of hitdice.Move: compared to a human, IE 'double human' etcAttacks: Attack type, #of attacks, and damage, IE 2 claws (d6)No. Appearing: A number, or dice roll.Morale: a number between 2-12Treasure: Whatever fits.Alignment: Law-neutrality-chaos. And then the actual description and special abilities.

Other than that, knock yourselves out. Once there's plenty together, I'll contact people, stick the entries in a PDF etc. 


  1. And already, in from the osr thread on 4chan we have this entry, based on this art: https://i.imgur.com/v1Vf3W4.png

    By anon !SoraONDOZE I present:

    Pate King
    Armor Class: As Unarmored
    Hit Dice: 3
    Move: One quarter human
    Attacks: 2 bites, 1 strangle
    Damage: 1-4/1-4/2-8
    No. Appearing: 1
    Save As: Fighter 3
    Morale: 8
    Treasure Type: Nil
    Alignment: Chaotic

    The strangle attack restrains the target on a hit, preventing all movement. Additionally, the damage is dealt automatically on the hit and every round after without further attack rolls until either the target dies or the Pate King stops fighting. The Pate King can only have one target strangled at a time.
    The Pate King is a nest of animated heads akin to a Rat King. The hair of the heads is woven together to form a large mat or tapestry, which the Pate King generally masquerades as until unsuspecting prey wanders nearby.
    Each of the Pate King's heads is an individual entity capable of independent speech and thought. However, they agree to work together in nearly all situations due to their situation, and generally elect a single head as their leader. If in significant danger, they will offer knowledge of the dungeon and it's denizens in return for their life. Pate Kings are created as a form of eternal punishment for treacherous members of a noble court.

  2. Another entry: https://beneaththeancientslopes.blogspot.com/2019/04/harry-clarke-project-lady-candlemaker.html

  3. https://totmv2.blogspot.com/2019/04/a-key-to-ones-heart-weird-spell.html?showComment=1554889775531#c3165392415068803196

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  5. Done :)

    My submission is blogged here.

  6. Oh yeah man, I'm into it!

  7. Here's my contribution: https://perilandplunder.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/new-monster-scorpion-woman-harry-clarke-project/

  8. there is more: https://drive.google.com/file/d/147ZEZKu5ozyRn25S9z8C8rSFQmRUKauU/view

  9. Oooooooooo!

    This interests me ! For obvious reasons, but also because Clarke is one of my favourite artists. I wonder could I go get a good pic of the stained glass cabinet in the National Gallery...

  10. more from the chans! Again by anon !SoraONDOZE based on this art https://i.imgur.com/8UViM67.jpg
    Sword Puck
    Armor Class: As Plate Mail
    Hit Dice: 2*
    Move: As Human
    Attacks: 1 weapon, 1 sting
    Damage: As weapon, 1+special
    No. Appearing: 1
    Save As: Fighter 2
    Morale: 7
    Treasure Type: 1 Magical Sword
    Alignment: Neutral
    The magical sword should be generated beforehand and wielded by the Sword Puck. The sting does only one damage but any stung by it must save vs. Poison or die.
    The Sword Puck is a small fairy that appears like a large lizard or gecko with smooth and pale skin. Its tail is adorned with bright flower petals that aid to hide its wicked stinger. With absurd strength for their size, Sword Pucks are able to easily wield full size swords.
    Sword Pucks loathe to fight, although will if unable to scamper away. They are curious and mischievous beings though, and will often follow adventurers and attempt to swap their sword for other enchanted swords. Sword Pucks are also deeply envious of companionship, and will seek to isolate adventurers to be as lonely as they are.

  11. Here's mine: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16FeEMmF2I_YPazPSFCPYuAfzP-LRoemU6HGM6jsqYyI/edit?usp=sharing

  12. Very cool. I hadn't run across Clarke's art before. His linework reminds me a bit of Edward Gorey, but his subject matter heads off in a somewhat different direction. Looking them up, any inspiration there might have been was clearly in the other direction, of course.

    Looking at his Poe illustrations, I kind of wish he'd done some illustration for some of the creepier Conan stories, tho the timeline made that impossible.

  13. An here's another:

  14. Got an adulterer-skewered smallsword right here: https://goodberrymonthly.blogspot.com/2019/04/harry-clarke-project-cuckquean-fence.html

  15. here's mine:


  16. Here's a monster: https://diyanddragons.blogspot.com/2019/04/harry-clark-project-vainglorious.html

  17. Here's one: https://surprisingly-capacious.blogspot.com/2019/04/reflected-glories-harry-clarke-project.html

  18. Awesome idea! I made a creature, using this illustration: https://i.imgur.com/p2Z4oh3.jpg


    Fletcher / Gambi / Radish
    No. Appearing: Unique trio of entities
    Armor Class: as Leather / as Unarmored / as Leather
    HD: 4 / 6 / 4
    Move: half human / one quarter of human / human
    Attacks: 1 blades of grass (d6) / 1 primal scream (d8) / 1 soft whisper (d4)
    Save as: Specialist 4 / Cleric 6 / Elf 4
    Morale: 12
    Treasure Type: None
    Alignment: Lawful

    Here they are, the Bulbous Ones: Fletcher, Gambi and Radish. Leeches born from the primordial soup, three minutes after Creation, everyone’s younger siblings and servants. They speak the Ur-Language, consume the darkest secrets, and spew forth even darker ones.

    Go out at night to the swamp, inhale the stench, dig a hole, and whisper a dark secret into it. Then the Bulbous Ones appear, and serve their summoner for 3 nights in a row. At the end of each night, the summoner must dismiss one of the three by giving it its coveted object. At the end of the last night, the summoner must appease the last one with the blood of an ox before dismissing it with the final gift.

    Fletcher was three, then two, then one. Sinuous bodies coiled together. Can see through walls and into other dimensions. Fletcher’s coveted object is twelve twigs, eleven plums, ten ice shards, nine grains of rice, eight breaths of fresh air, seven kisses; all crushed in a mortar and fed to a pig.

    Gambi smiles and bubbles. The smile is the smile of knowledge, as Gambi remembers all the secrets that were ever whispered to summon the Bulbous Ones. Gambi’s coveted object is an ivory chair with five legs.

    Radish moves through the air with peculiar grace, in a dance akin to the flow of water. Traces magical resonance. Once traced, the resonance can be manipulated, replicated, consumed. Radish’s coveted object is a crystal that grows under your molars.

    Art by Harry Clarke, text by Tamás Kisbali, CC 4.0

  19. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! https://calvariamdomus.com/2019/04/12/harry-clarke-project-the-ideal-sword/

  20. Two magic items: https://diyanddragons.blogspot.com/2019/04/harry-clarke-project-pit-pendulum-cloak.html

    Thanks so much for starting this up and organizing it, Cavegirl. I had no idea how much I wanted to participate in one of these community projects. I'm really happy this is going on, and it's because of you.

  21. https://worldbuildingandwoolgathering.blogspot.com/2019/04/harry-clarke-project-hawk-dandy.html

    One more for your consideration.

  22. Another foppish fellow, the Hellrake (on the illustration of Bluebeard, https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/29414203793089294/)


  23. Fun idea! Here's one:


  24. Using https://i.imgur.com/0LHIaV9.png


  25. Looks like a fun project. I'm in. https://latenightzen.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-harry-clark-project.html

  26. Replies
    1. https://throneofsalt.blogspot.com/2019/04/harry-clarke-bestiary-project-jon.html

  27. Very cool idea for a project Cavegirl! Lots of awesome submissions so far. I linked some folks over here on my blog/podcast this week. I would love to see a completed pdf/book.

  28. Made another one!


  29. I figured this looked like a cool location.


  30. this also exists, and is very cool :D

  31. Here's my contribution: https://rogues-repast.blogspot.com/2019/05/harry-clarke-bestiary-project-bull-witch.html

  32. Here you go: https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.com/2019/05/osr-wrothful-lemure-harry-clarke.html

  33. I'm doing MY part! https://vaultsandvangoghs.blogspot.com/2019/05/harry-clarke-bestiary-monstruous-vermin.html

  34. I've made one, I hope this project is running