Friday Lart – Bearly Owls
Fridays, we open the Larchives, Lar’s extensive archive of art work oddities, and share a few pieces.
Crossing the streams this week, when Lar arted the cover for one of the books inside the Looking For Group Adventure RPG Boxed Set, one of my favourite details was the panda owlbear.
For those who don’t know, Dungeons & Dragons loves animal hybrids. Heck, fantasy and myth love them too (sup manticore?), but D&D’s need to sell more Monster Manuals meant the designers needed a constant churn of monsters. Mooshing two animals together takes less effort than creating a new monster whole cloth. Somehow, a hybrid of bear and owl that’s maximum 5% owl and called owlbear stood out from the pack. It’s appeared in every edition of Dungeons & Dragons since 1975.
Every incarnation of the owlbear mirrors the first. None of them can fly. Its parts are as generically bear and owl as you can imagine. Luckily, Lar saw the design potential that most owlbear designers seem to overlook, creating a dynamic new look by choosing a panda instead of a grizzly.
Five years later, Lar got bit by the owlbear bug again and started designing new bear/owl hybrids, and other bear/bird hybrids.
First, we revisit the original neo owlbear. I like the red eyes, but I think I prefer the owl shaped head of the original.
Meet the koala owlbear. Not technically a bear (as Wikipedia pretentiously puts it, “The koala or, inaccurately, koala bear”), but I actually see the purpose of this. Like, say I’m a wizard geneticist. If I take a bear, replace its already viscous claws with equally viscous talons, and it’s ravaging fangs with a slightly less ravaging beak, that’s a net loss, right? Cuteness aside?
But, take the meatiness of a koala and give it wings, talons, and a beak. I think it’s an improvement over both koala and owl. Speaking as a Game Master, I appreciate the option of a lower level threat of an iconic creature.
I love this. Combining the snowy owl and the polar bear to create an arctic owlbear makes sense, and gives us a pretty variation.
First of all, Les Nessman, as we’ve discussed, the owlbear’s lack of flight baffles me, so we’re on the same page.
Flight aside, am I the only one more afraid of a turkeybear than an owlbear? Despite owls being predators, turkeys scare me. The craggy skin, aggressive demeaner, and suddenness of their head movements. Replacing the grace of an owl with the terror of a turkey takes the owlbear and makes it demonic.
Not an owl or a bear, but I’d raise my shield if I saw a chicken wombat. Replace the short tempered wombat’s adorable face with the bird that inspired the expression “pecking order’ and you get a fighty coqrat that I want no part of.
I do love that Lar made its egg cube, though.