OSR Subcreation and the Invention of the Monster Manual

Tyler Do'Urden

Soap Maker
Today I learned...

That Jorge Luis Borges wrote a Monster Manual 15 years before D&D came out.

The Book of Imaginary Beings

Should I be surprised that the mind that wrote Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius created a pre-RPG monster manual? Probably not. And if you haven't read the aforementioned story before, FOLLOW THE LINK AND READ IT RIGHT NOW. Heck, if you have read it before, go read it again.

I find that story more than a bit prophetic. Indeed, is our hobby not one of building our various Tlons and inhabiting them, mentally if not physically? I find it fascinating that despite this, Borges had little grasp of Tolkien - a subcreator whose fictional world has taken on a reality in the minds of so many others (including myself . Of course, Tolkien would have told him that he was not looking to forge a false reality over our own like a kind of twisted little demiurge, but to honor it through enchantment - indeed, this is the difference, in Tolkien's own legendarium, between the fallen Melkor and the noble Aulë - the proud creator of falsehoods vs the humble subcreator of enchantments. Yet Tolkien is ever wary of the dangers inherent in this - Sauron and Saruman both started their careers in Aulë's service, after all.

Are our creations of Aulë or of Melkor? Are they Middle Earth or Tlon? I look at the way computer games, fantasy and paranoid delusions have all conquered our world...

and wonder.
 

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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
A fun book and the peryton entry is particularly notable for being slipped in straightfaced as historical mythology despite being Borges' creation.
"Correction, Doctor!" From the article you linked to:
As at least one depiction of the Peryton - namely on the late medieval battle standard of the Dukes of Bourbon[3] - pre-dates Borges' description, he clearly was not its inventor, though the creature's exact origins remain unclear.​
 

Voadam

Legend
"Correction, Doctor!" From the article you linked to:
As at least one depiction of the Peryton - namely on the late medieval battle standard of the Dukes of Bourbon[3] - pre-dates Borges' description, he clearly was not its inventor, though the creature's exact origins remain unclear.​
Which raises a couple of possibilities.

1) He independently came up with a stag headed bird hybrid concept.

2) He saw a depiction and is only the inventor of the name and lore about their abilities and history.

3) He was not the inventor and actually had access to a medieval manuscript that is lost and there is no other known reference to it.

I would not say he clearly did not invent it on his own.
 

Voadam

Legend
If anyone has more info on the Duke of Bourbon battle standard angle it would be interesting to see. All I could find was the following image:

1615487720875.png
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
da0d4e02d27a8ab3ae23d68711e64b39.jpg


@Voadam , I found this on Pinterest. #2 is labeled as the standard of Jean, Duke of Bourbon, whom I would assume to be John I (1381-1434). It's very similar to your image and looks like a winged stag, rather than what I would think of as a proper peryton, so I'll retract my objection based on spurious information from wikipedia, which I hope was read in the voice of K-9, as it was meant.
 

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