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The Fantasy Races Thread

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I absolutely love the concepts Chaos and Order, and I absolutely hate DnD alignments. I have never used them, and will never use them. But I don't eliminate ethics from my games. I don't need DnD alignments to have Orcs that are only evil. Evil orcs aren't about cosmic alignment, it's about nature, and empirical observations. All orcs are evil not because they're forced by the cosmos to be that way, but because they *just are.* In the same way that all mountains are tall, and all oceans are deep, all orcs are evil. It's just part of the nature of reality (in a setting with evil orcs that are done well). I'm not even saying orcs *should* be evil. All I'm saying is that there's nothing to be ashamed of in using evil orcs for slaughter in your games. If your orcs are evil and only for slaughter, that's cool to me. If you orcs are the misunderstood savage trope, that's fine by me as well. It's a worldbuilding choice that I appreciate, I don't think it's vapid or shallow or for low-brow pulp fantasy reading plebeians who don't have sophisticated tastes or whatever. I don't think it's for *racists* either. I think it's just for people who have enough imagination to appreciate something as simple as imminent material danger. I also don't think it's any more of an "illogical" worldbuilding choice than any of the other thousands of ultimately arbitrary changes that we make to our worlds so that they differ from Reality Prime. 

In fact, the less I know about why orcs are evil, the eviler and scarier they become for me. Because that would actually make them eviler and scarier to the denizens of the world. I hope I never have to play with somebody who's gonna roll their eyes when they hear a village has been completely razed and nobody knows why.

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

I much preferred the alignment categories in the Rules Cyclopedia (white hardcover rule book) of D&D, confined to Law, Chaos, and Neutrality, eliminating the ethical axis. Only I still wasn't happy with Neutrality defined as balance between the other two. Why would we need a separate Alignment for something that exists only as a product of something else? So I declared that Neutrality is "enlightened self-interest." Rather than actively trying to promote Order or Chaos among others, Neutrality avoids that conflict and promotes only its own benefit.

 

My current thinking on it is that those aligned with Law or Chaos are on "team Law" and "team Chaos" so to speak; anyone who is Neutral isn't on either team, regardless of their moral or ethical outlook.  

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2 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

My current thinking on it is that those aligned with Law or Chaos are on "team Law" and "team Chaos" so to speak; anyone who is Neutral isn't on either team, regardless of their moral or ethical outlook.  

I think of neutrality between these things as being the most optimal, "divine" state. In fact, I have toyed with a "Big Three" racial system where each race is biased towards a different aspect of chaos and order. Dwarves are cursed with an affinity for order, and so stay holed up in their halls, hold on to even their most ancient of traditions, and hoard treasure. Elves are cursed with an affinity for chaos, and so live by hunting and gathering in the woods, can never settle physically nor spiritually (these elves are obviously not like tolkein elves - instead they are modeled more like Wood Elves from TES). Humans are the most successful and prevalent race, because of their ability to find balance in chaos and order. They can settle down, but also reach out and explore. They hold onto old ideas, but can let them go when they get in the way of progress.

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3 minutes ago, Shoug said:

I think of neutrality between these things as being the most optimal, "divine" state. In fact, I have toyed with a "Big Three" racial system where each race is biased towards a different aspect of chaos and order. Dwarves are cursed with an affinity for order, and so stay holed up in their halls, hold on to even their most ancient of traditions, and hoard treasure. Elves are cursed with an affinity for chaos, and so live by hunting and gathering in the woods, can never settle physically nor spiritually (these elves are obviously not like tolkein elves - instead they are modeled more like Wood Elves from TES). Humans are the most successful and prevalent race, because of their ability to find balance in chaos and order. They can settle down, but also reach out and explore. They hold onto old ideas, but can let them go when they get in the way of progress.

 

 

Now this, I could probably get behind.  It's just so much more sustainable than either "all evil" or "all good."  Hell, I can't be good long enough to carry a conversation beyond the first straight line I get handed.  I don't think that makes me evil, though.  (there are other things that do that.)

 

 

:D

 

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15 minutes ago, Spence said:

 

Dandelion eaters.  They make good fertilizer....

 

Found the Shadowrun player. :)

 

(At least I think so.  That's the only place I've heard the slang for elves)

 

(PS: Not really sure why elves are getting hated on so much but to each their own.)

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15 minutes ago, Spence said:

 

Dandelion eaters.  They make good fertilizer....

This is why, when I needed an arrogant, condescending, master race for my campaign, I swapped out elves and swapped in large, intelligent therapods with martial arts skills. 

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12 hours ago, Vanguard said:

 

(PS: Not really sure why elves are getting hated on so much but to each their own.)

 

Duke posted an extended rant on this a few pages back. To summarize: Players who think elves are so cool they only want to play elves. Even in games and genres that don't have elves. A few years of this can teach a man to hate. And he is apparently not the only gamer here who has endured this.

 

They have my sympathies.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

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13 hours ago, Vanguard said:

 

Found the Shadowrun player. :)

 

(At least I think so.  That's the only place I've heard the slang for elves)

 

(PS: Not really sure why elves are getting hated on so much but to each their own.)

 

Used to really enjoy SR. 

But the game moved on and left me behind.  There is a thing of too much world development and too much change. 

I don't really remember which version that left me behind, but I did pick up one of the version where they went wireless.  It was brutal and completely redefined how things work and basically nerf'd  years of built adventures and campaign frames. 

 

There are a lot of people that really like the new game and many these days that never saw the older versions.  And that is great for them.  But the game changes plus the way they established the world history made it too difficult use for me. 

 

My milestone for the end of my interest in the game was when it went wireless and completely redefined the game.  

 

 

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Thanks, Dean.

 

Moving away from elves, and trying to work back to fantasy races...  though I am still stuck with "evil races" with this one, as ridiculously impossible as I find that to be....

 

Beholders.   There were so many reasons I could never get my heart into them, not the least of which was "racial evil."  (Though, to be fair, they were actually portrayed as at least more consistently evil than orcs: they would eat and kill each other just because the opportunity was there, etc).  On the plus side, they just sort of quietly went away for a decade or so, but something in recent years has brought them back in a big way.  I don't see the appeal.

 

Biology was the killer for me.  I mean "evil" and "just sort of floats in the air without propulsion" were difficult-- Yes; I get that the floating is magic.  So, while every other living thing in this universe as to learn magic, beholders were just sort of born abusing it.  Whatever.

 

I couldn't justify the tentacle eyes _and_ the great big eye.  Not only did it make no sense, but the rest of the "body" was sized such that there could be nothing in there but a cranium tightly wrapped around the big eyeball and some skin.  _Barely_ enough room for a mouth, and no room for a brain or even a digestive system.  Thanks to the size and shape of them and that complete lack of anything other than an eye-holder / skull, I was always pretty well convinced that you only saw them pictured head-on because their anuses were on the back of their heads.  If they yawned and farted at the same time,  for just a moment, you could look straight through them.

 

Really, _really_ hard to take that seriously.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, DShomshak said:

To summarize: Players who think elves are so cool they only want to play elves. Even in games and genres that don't have elves. A few years of this can teach a man to hate. And he is apparently not the only gamer here who has endured this.

 

Replace "elves" with munchkin "class", "archetype" or "race" of choice and you pretty much sum up a widespread issue in current RPG gaming. 

 

Add in the garbage that unless the GM/DM is a floor-mat and lets the players just walk all over them they are evil and you get the current issue of the near extinction of GM's.

 

Most of the local gaming cons are always desperate for GM's to run games and the list of games has gotten shorter and shorter every year (excluding the mega-cons like GenCon). 

 

I sometimes fear that unless the relentless drum of "anything goes" for the PC's and "suck it up" for the GM/DM's will do more to kill the hobby that Coron-19 will. 

 

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18 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Thanks, Dean.

 

Moving away from elves, and trying to work back to fantasy races...  though I am still stuck with "evil races" with this one, as ridiculously impossible as I find that to be....

 

Beholders.   There were so many reasons I could never get my heart into them, not the least of which was "racial evil."  (Though, to be fair, they were actually portrayed as at least more consistently evil than orcs: they would eat and kill each other just because the opportunity was there, etc).  On the plus side, they just sort of quietly went away for a decade or so, but something in recent years has brought them back in a big way.  I don't see the appeal.

 

Biology was the killer for me.  I mean "evil" and "just sort of floats in the air without propulsion" were difficult-- Yes; I get that the floating is magic.  So, while every other living thing in this universe as to learn magic, beholders were just sort of born abusing it.  Whatever.

 

I couldn't justify the tentacle eyes _and_ the great big eye.  Not only did it make know sense, but the rest of the "body" was sized such that there could be nothing in there but a cranium tightly wrapped around the big eyeball and some skin.  _Barely_ enough room for a mouth, and no room for a brain or even a digestive system.  Thanks to the size and shape of them and that complete lack of anything other than an eye-holder / skull, I was always pretty well convinced that you only saw them pictured head-on because their anuses were on the back of their heads.  If they yawned and farted at the same time,  for just a moment, you could look straight through them.

 

Really, _really_ hard to take that seriously.

 

 

 

 

@ evil:  

I think that part of it is many people are hung up on the concept of "evil" itself.  That definition varies depending on who is using it.  Imagine an intelligent version of Dragons.  But their intelligence is completely alien to ours.  The Dragons don't even realize that the sounds humans make are language and never looked close enough to realize that clothes were not skins.  These Dragons routinely eat humans as a generally easy form of food.    To the Dragons, humans are just an occasionally dangerous food source.  To humans the Dragons are the personification of evil.

 

 

@Beholders

I had always thought of them as a magical drone.  Of course I didn't use the word drone back in the day.  They are a construct, not a life form.  I guess that changed in RPG's sometime.  I actually didn't even realize it until a beholder was presented as a powerful and influential NPC in an adventure I read.  I don;t even remember exactly which one.  But for me they are still magical constructs and not actual beings.

 

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I, for one, like elves, and I make no bones about it. However, I don't need ten different types of them in my world. Some settings like Middle-earth have an explanation for them, but I mainly see them as cultural differences in most rpg systems.

 

Rolemaster is the notable exception to only one type of humans. Rolemaster Companion includes different types of humans with different stat adjustments. Same goes for orcs and other races.

 

Note that I am talking about Rolemaster 2; I never got into RMSS.

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53 minutes ago, Spence said:

Most of the local gaming cons are always desperate for GM's to run games and the list of games has gotten shorter and shorter every year (excluding the mega-cons like GenCon). 

 

 

I have always wanted to give that a shot, but there is no such thing as a "local" con from where I live.  The absolute closest con to me is a half-day's ride, and it's the one con that I will never attend, as it's the one that _that guy_ profits from.

 

(Hint: it's in Atlanta)

 

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13 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

I have always wanted to give that a shot, but there is no such thing as a "local" con from where I live.  The absolute closest con to me is a half-day's ride, and it's the one con that I will never attend, as it's the one that _that guy_ profits from.

 

(Hint: it's in Atlanta)

 

 

It has been a while for me.  I decided to go to Dragonflight this year.  I had just registered and booked a room when C19 hit.  

I haven't run a Con Game in years, but I was going to run something.  Probably a GUMSHOE session or maybe one of the CoC settings.

 

But you have a number of Cons in Atlanta. 

Here is a list of what was scheduled for 2020.   Some are past or have been Corono'd.  But there is later in the year and next year.

 

Atlanta Game Fest  

1/30/2020-2/2/2020

http://www.atlantagamefest.com/

Board Gaming Convention, open gaming Meetup of 200+, Some Organized Events

 

KekCon 2

4/4/2020-4/5/2020

https://kekcon.com

Gaming Convention

 

AndoCon

TBD

http://www.andocon.org/

Gaming convention, including video gaming

 

MomoCon

5/21/2020-5/24/2020

http://www.momocon.com/

Anime, Comics, Video Games and Tabletop Games

 

CMoN Expo

TBD

http://cmonexpo.com/

Gaming convention

 

Southern-Fried Gaming Expo

7/10/2020-7/13/2020

http://www.GameATL.com

Arcade, pinball, console, and tabletop Gaming convention

 

Dragon Con

9/3/2020-9/7/2020         

http://www.dragoncon.org/

Popular culture convention focusing on science fiction, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Spence said:

 

Replace "elves" with munchkin "class", "archetype" or "race" of choice and you pretty much sum up a widespread issue in current RPG gaming. 

 

Add in the garbage that unless the GM/DM is a floor-mat and lets the players just walk all over them they are evil and you get the current issue of the near extinction of GM's.

 

Most of the local gaming cons are always desperate for GM's to run games and the list of games has gotten shorter and shorter every year (excluding the mega-cons like GenCon). 

 

I sometimes fear that unless the relentless drum of "anything goes" for the PC's and "suck it up" for the GM/DM's will do more to kill the hobby that Coron-19 will. 

 

 Excellent analysis.  Though I also think that a lot of HERO GMs can sidestep this, if they vet the character sheets properly.  Some Gm's have to grow a spine, true, to be able to boot players from the table, but it's difficult, and sort of the definition of awkward (if done inf front of the others).  Online it's a bit easier, but still can be awkward.

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One thing I have learned is how to say no to players, no matter how much they whine or argue. It can be hard to do if you have a small group because you may end up without a group to game with, but sometimes the other players will back you.

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Thanks, Spence, 

 

but I won't do DragonCon.  Did it a couple of times, until the news broke.  I'm not a particularly political person nor much of a social activist, but I ain't spending a single penny that goes into the pockets of a pedophile.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Thanks, Spence, 

 

but I won't do DragonCon.  Did it a couple of times, until the news broke.  I'm not a particularly political person nor much of a social activist, but I ain't spending a single penny that goes into the pockets of a pedophile.

 

 

 

Well, there are the other cons, and I assume there is a story in that. 

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17 minutes ago, Spence said:

 

Well, there are the other cons, and I assume there is a story in that. 

 

 

No; no story.  You can google that.  The guy who founded DragonCon and to this day still profits from it rapes children.  Pretty straight-forward.

 

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49 minutes ago, tkdguy said:

I, for one, like elves, and I make no bones about it. However, I don't need ten different types of them in my world. Some settings like Middle-earth have an explanation for them, but I mainly see them as cultural differences in most rpg systems.

 

This is funny. I get where you're coming from and, depending on the world we'd be talking about, I would tend to agree with you. But as it so happens, I have inadvertently build my own world in such a way that Elves are so varied that they cannot even be considered a race. "Elf" is a loose category of beings, virtually none of which are similar enough that you'd call them the same "denomination" of Elf. In my setting, an "Elf" is a Lensecrafter who has made himself into a Lens (a Lens is a kind metaphysical object related to the magic system (to massively simplify, they let you "see" magic, and therefore use it)). So Elves aren't born, they're made. And they're more like superheroes than mages, capable of powerful magic, but limited by what type of Lens they are (Lens of Fear, Light, Sky, Form, whatever). I could go on, but one must learn to reign it in when it comes to rambling about one's own fantasy setting on internet forums.

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5 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

No; no story.  You can google that.  The guy who founded DragonCon and to this day still profits from it rapes children.  Pretty straight-forward.

 

Unfortunately, it's not easy to across the board boycott evil creeps. I mean, a lot of times their wage is payed with taxpayer dollars. Good on you for putting your foot down somewhere, though.

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11 minutes ago, Shoug said:

This is funny. I get where you're coming from and, depending on the world we'd be talking about, I would tend to agree with you. But as it so happens, I have inadvertently build my own world in such a way that Elves are so varied that they cannot even be considered a race. "Elf" is a loose category of beings, virtually none of which are similar enough that you'd call them the same "denomination" of Elf. In my setting, an "Elf" is a Lensecrafter who has made himself into a Lens (a Lens is a kind metaphysical object related to the magic system (to massively simplify, they let you "see" magic, and therefore use it)). So Elves aren't born, they're made. And they're more like superheroes than mages, capable of powerful magic, but limited by what type of Lens they are (Lens of Fear, Light, Sky, Form, whatever). I could go on, but one must learn to reign it in when it comes to rambling about one's own fantasy setting on internet forums.

 

That works too. The Faerie in the Castle Falkenstein game are a varied lot. Elves in that game are a name for sprites. The closest thing you get to the Tolkien/D&D elves are the Daoine Sidhe, who will take offense at being called elves. Faerie Lords/Ladies would be an acceptable term, though.

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9 hours ago, DShomshak said:

 

Duke posted an extended rant on this a few pages back. To summarize: Players who think elves are so cool they only want to play elves. Even in games and genres that don't have elves. A few years of this can teach a man to hate. And he is apparently not the only gamer here who has endured this.

 

They have my sympathies.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

 

Ah. Gotha.  Thanks for the Cliff Notes version.

 

8 hours ago, Spence said:

 

Used to really enjoy SR. 

But the game moved on and left me behind.  There is a thing of too much world development and too much change. 

I don't really remember which version that left me behind, but I did pick up one of the version where they went wireless.  It was brutal and completely redefined how things work and basically nerf'd  years of built adventures and campaign frames. 

 

There are a lot of people that really like the new game and many these days that never saw the older versions.  And that is great for them.  But the game changes plus the way they established the world history made it too difficult use for me. 

 

My milestone for the end of my interest in the game was when it went wireless and completely redefined the game.  

 

 

 

Same thing happened to me.

 

Loved the game and the concept behind it but stopped playing at 2nd Edition.  Did pretty much what you did and picked up 5th Ed and thumbed through it and had a hard time recognizing it.

 

Anyway, I'll go on record as saying that I to like elves and like playing elves but don't have a problem NOT playing one either.  I do think they *are* cool but so are ninjas and cyborgs and lightsa . . er Beam Sabers.

 

Oh and trench coats.  Trench coats are cool to.

 

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On 4/10/2020 at 1:30 PM, DShomshak said:

My issue with "They're just evil" comes from the logical regress. Orcs, or goblins, or whatever, tend to do evil, however you define it -- gratuitous cruelty and destruction, say -- because a god made

them that way. So why is the god evil? You've pushed the question of moral responsibility up a level, but you haven't removed it.

 

I think part of the point off having inherently evil races is in part a world building tool. The idea is to move the emphasis. So the above is intentional. You make it about something other than the advancing foes. In stories like Lord of the Rings I would argue that the true story is a "person vs themselves" conflict, more than versus orcs. Sauron is just a catalyst for the story about Boromir's hubris, Aragorn's insecurity, for Frodo's overcoming of himself, and Wormtongue's treachery. The story is, after all, about a journey taken, not the battles fought.

So i would argue that a story will and "evil" race is boring because your looking in the wrong place for the story. The lack of development is supposed to signal that.

Of course that's if the story/setting is well built. If it's not then the issue isn't the evilness of the race it's that lack of quality in general.

 

On 4/10/2020 at 1:30 PM, DShomshak said:

D&D doesn't have the good sense to leave it there, though, with evil being the fault of ass-hat gods who might be either reformed or punished for their ass-hattery. No, evil is made a part of the cosmic system though aligned planes. I demons are evil because they arise from the Abyss, which is evil, where did the Abyss come from and why is it evil? AFAIK it just is.

 

Now, personally I thrive on what I call "if this, then...?" world building. So my first instinct would be to accept the existence of a good dimension and an evil dimension as true, and then figure out how the rest of the world must exist as a result: either of that thing being true, or in order to make that thing true.

 

My immediate head canon for this sort of thing would be that "good" and "evil" in those contexts are some material thing that is necessary for the universe, but are not equivalent to ethical good and evil. Simply referred to as such as a sort of shorthand. I sort of essence or even physical thing such as the ooze from Ghostbusters 2. In that case this "element" would more accurately be something that encourages specific behavior associated with good or evil, such as irrational selflessness or aggression. Key word being irrational. In D&D angels can be just as bad as villains as demons due to things like zealotry.

That leads to me to interpret most depictions of "good" and "evil" in fiction as shorthand. With enough analysis most works I've read, that have good and evil as forces, have something more tangible behind them.

 

 

On 4/10/2020 at 2:49 PM, Lord Liaden said:

I much preferred the alignment categories in the Rules Cyclopedia (white hardcover rule book) of D&D, confined to Law, Chaos, and Neutrality, eliminating the ethical axis.

 

Really don't like Law vs. Chaos personally. Though I also remove Alignment from my games. It's definitely an improvement to remove the connection to ethics. If I had to implement some kind of alignment system I would rather use some sort of Yin/Yang or Creation/Destruction system. Some people grow the trees, some people burn them down to fertilize the forest and let it grow anew.

 

 

9 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Thanks, Dean.

 

Moving away from elves, and trying to work back to fantasy races...  though I am still stuck with "evil races" with this one, as ridiculously impossible as I find that to be....

 

Beholders.   There were so many reasons I could never get my heart into them, not the least of which was "racial evil."  (Though, to be fair, they were actually portrayed as at least more consistently evil than orcs: they would eat and kill each other just because the opportunity was there, etc).  On the plus side, they just sort of quietly went away for a decade or so, but something in recent years has brought them back in a big way.  I don't see the appeal.

 

Biology was the killer for me.  I mean "evil" and "just sort of floats in the air without propulsion" were difficult-- Yes; I get that the floating is magic.  So, while every other living thing in this universe as to learn magic, beholders were just sort of born abusing it.  Whatever.

 

I always interpreted them as being made of magic. Like there was spare magic in the world and it had to go somewhere so it made this thing.

 

9 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

I couldn't justify the tentacle eyes _and_ the great big eye.  Not only did it make no sense, but the rest of the "body" was sized such that there could be nothing in there but a cranium tightly wrapped around the big eyeball and some skin.  _Barely_ enough room for a mouth, and no room for a brain or even a digestive system.  Thanks to the size and shape of them and that complete lack of anything other than an eye-holder / skull, I was always pretty well convinced that you only saw them pictured head-on because their anuses were on the back of their heads.  If they yawned and farted at the same time,  for just a moment, you could look straight through them.

 

Really, _really_ hard to take that seriously.

 

The players I knew seemed to agree that Beholder waste came out through their drool. Which would suggest that the inside of their mouths were intestinal walls that absorb nutrients and after it's been in there for a while it liquefies and comes out how it came in.  Whether this makes them more monstrous or ridiculous is up to you of course.

 

Beholders are also supposed to be really dangerous which brings me to my favorite Neil Gaimon quote:

Mr. Croup: You find us funny, Monsieur le Marquis, do you not? A source of amusement. Is that not so? With our pretty clothes, and our convoluted circumlocutions-
Mr. Vandemar: (murmuring) I haven't got a circumlo...
Mr. Croup: -and our little silliness of manner and behavior. And perhaps we are funny. [...] But you must never imagine, that just because something is funny, Monsieur le Marquis, it is not dangerous.

          -Neverwhere (Though I haven't read it. I got this from TvTropes)

 

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