Monday, 29 October 2012

The Betwixt

It's Monstrous Monday so here's my contribution. With so many new creatures already created throughout the month and more due today, I've decided not to add another one to the list, but suggest a way two existing creatures can be combined in a single form.
                                                                                                                              

The Betwixt is an outlandish fusion of two living beings, perhaps the work of a vengeful bolt or a mishandled magic, or capricious spirits stitching together the sleeping with ethereal threads, or a strange attraction in nature, even an outer power.

Tolerances being what they are, a fresh Betwixt may be cast out or hunted down by one or both of its former kin, forced to seek out a remote seclusion or lair. Less often these beings will find some degree of acceptance, perhaps be admired for the gifts gained or revealed, or even worshipped as proof of some formerly abstract ideal. More rarely still, they may bring together two alien peoples as one, shaping the world in their own image.

A Betwixt has a profile on which each stat is an average of the two on the profiles of its constituent beings, rounding down. If one has a stat the other does not, this is its usual level. In addition, a Betwixt retains any original abilities not prevented by the new nature.

If the constituent beings survive long enough, they will grow into their new form, and may become potent indeed: each appropriate period of time following their fusion - perhaps a week, perhaps a year - each stat improves by one point to the best of the two originals.
                                                                                                                               

Monstrous Monday is the beautiful promethean brainchild of Tim Brannan at The Other Side blog, brought to life back in September and animated by imagination over the course of the last month.

For lists of links to the range of creatures already posted - most if not all of which could be used as constituents for a Betwixt - Tim put together 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 summaries from the four Mondays so far.

Here's the Linky for blogs spawning new today...

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16 comments:

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm having a blast. Who knew this would be this much fun.

Jolie du Pre said...

Thanks for the info!

Jolie du Pre
Precious Monsters

S. L. Hennessy said...

Makes me think of some of the hybrid monsters like Chimeras...

Porky said...

@ Joylene Nowell Butler - It's definitely good fun. There's some weird and inspiring spawning going on out there.

@ Jolie du Pre - 'Info' could be too strong a word. Then again, who can say for sure how real some of these things might be, and in late October too..?

@ S. L. Hennessy - 'Late onset chimerism' could be another vector, or a good label, and a useful approach for a less fantastical context.

Timothy Brannan said...

This is really cool. Reminds me of something you would see in Dragon Magazine in the early to mid 80s.

With Jim Holloway art of monsters that were one thing on one half and something else on the other.

Thanks so much for participating!

garrisonjames said...

Just the sort of thing you'd expect to find lurking around some wizard's tower or mad geniuses' lab...

It would be horrible, no doubt, if one of these creatures was to reject it's sorcerous amalgamation, and instead of progressing to the maximum scores of their stronger components, they devolved to the lower scores of the weaker creature. There are a lot of options for how to handle such a creature...

Depending on how this process takes place, there could be more of these sickly, deformed types left after the process than the more robust ones...

Intersting doorway into monstrous speculation that you've opened here...

M Pax said...

Very interesting, and I like the name. Betwixt.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Combining two monsters to make something new is how I came up with some of the demons in my fantasy series. Great post.

Porky said...

@ Tim Brannan - Well, that'll do me. I'm glad you like it. Thank you too for going to the trouble of organising it, and organising it so well. I think I've said before how good it is that it brings together different blogging spheres that don't always interact but do have a huge amount in common. The mixing we're doing today is intriguing and inspiring, and an opportunity for everyone.

@ garrisonjames - I was really only picturing blasted heaths and lonely crags, but you're very right - more arcane and mad sciency settings are ideal, and you've got me thinking now about mythic depths and mutagenic materials. There's a lot to explore just in terms of origins.

With the development post-fusion, I'm keeping it simple and working on the assumption that if the two fail to hit it off, they're not going to make it, or be as likely come into play, but that if they do overcome the initial difficulties they'll adapt and feed past strengths into the crucible.

Having said that, exploring the less successful fusions, maybe as they decline, or those fusions that find an alternative or unusual equilibrium could be very interesting, and make for deeper dynamics and interactions. Featuring them as more than just direct protagonists seems to have plenty of scope. How it works out would depend a lot on the natures of the two specific beings and the situation. It really does deserve more speculation.

@ M Pax - Thanks. I want it to suggest not only that the single new form is suspended between worlds and natures, but also the space between or within the two beings themselves. The word has an old world feel too of course, and maybe hints at caprice.

@ Susan Gourley/Kelley - Thanks to you too. That does sound intriguing, and at least looking at what already exists is a reasonable starting point for a new work.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Depending on the creatures combined, it could result in something very powerful.

Arlee Bird said...

This made me think of the 60's film The Thing With Two Heads where the head of the white bigot was transplanted to the body of the black prisoner.

Lee
Tossing It Out

John Till said...

Porky, this was a really creative and fun idea. Recombinant mayhem.

Justin Isaac said...

I like your approach to Monstrous Monday, plus I love the word betwixt.

garrisonjames said...

Yep. The uber-beasts produced by such 'recombinant mayhem' (Thanks John--that's a wonderful name for a spell...), are all well and good--and are probably the very point of the whole effort--but it is in the failed test-subjects, cast-off and broken and terribly changed wrecks of what once were functional creatures that one might discover all manner of completely unexpected new abilities, new mutations, delicate and fragile and requiring a protected, nurturing environment in order to preserve, cultivate and study them...exactly the sort of thing that you will find on many college campuses, bioscience labs, and the like and almost never in RPGs.

These so-called 'failures' might prove to be the source of all manner of fresh fevers, transplantable organs, graftable limbs, new serums, unique toxins or curatives...all precisely because they are 'weaker,' less robust and more vulnerable to various forms of secondary manipulation, cross-breeding and the like.

think of what a diligent monk like Mendel might do with some of these poor, tragic victims of unbridled recombinant mayhem...and then what would a powerful local Lord who has a penchant for competitive dog breeding or horse breeding do with such things, were they suddenly taken with the radical notion that these things could also be bred, directed, molded and shaped by some of the oldest technologies known to humanity--domestication and animal husbandry...

Porky said...

@ Alex J. Cavanaugh - Very true, and more generally a given fusion could prove well-suited to a particular role or situation. There could be a lot of unexpected pairings too, many of which could be even more interesting, and allow more of the processes and results garrisonjames is suggesting.

@ Arlee Bird - Another one to see. I need to make up a to-watch list. The series Tim has been running this month, Justin's at A Field Guide To Doomsday and a stray recommendation from Trey here have all driven home anew just how much there is waiting.

@ John Till - That's very good to hear, especially from you - your blogs are a big inspiration. To everyone reading this who hasn't found them yet, check out The Everwayan and Fate SF.

@ Justin Isaac - It has very good associations for me now too. Thanks to you and everyone else for the feedback.

@ garrisonjames - There's something here all but asking to be developed. Maybe a community project? Or a back and forth working through the fusion of two particular beings in a given context and the consequences over time, with all kinds of links in and plot seeds spinning out? Short and simple instalments, but weird, even mind-expanding ideas. At the very least I'll keep the possibility in mind and see how it evolves. Feel free to run with it too - the Betwixt is out there now.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I like the name "betwixt." Combining various creatures is definitely a good way to create something new and fresh, and something that can be quite terrifying. Strengths of two creatures combined into one, possibly destroying some of their weaknesses.


Shannon at The Warrior Muse