Friday, 21 November 2008

Inspirational Pictures (III)

I was never a big fan of the goody-goody AD&D Lammasu. This picture is something fierce, noble and terrifying; why does 'Good' so rarely encompass those things?

The surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Rivers of blood? Fire?

Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare. I've always felt that there's something sinister about horses that has never properly been explored. And what a great goblin-link incubus that is; a candidate for my series of goblin entries perhaps.


  1. There are two main kinds of Sphinxes in literature:

    1- Oedipus and related Greek legends, man-eaters, riddles and riddlers. In Oedipus Rex, the Sphinx of Thebes is referred to as a "Dark Singer" whose song drove the people out of their senses. I have no idea what that means, but it's pretty swiff.

    2- The much older legends of the Babylonians (and the Hebrews who stole them), where the Sphinx serves to guard the earthly residences of gods (temples, the ark of the covenant, etc) from anyone entering them without permission. The idea was that if anyone uninvited touched the deity's domain, the "statues" of sphinxes flanking the entrance would come to life and instantly kill them.

    The distinctive trait of deities that demand monotheism (or, in the Hebrew case, monolatrism), is that they claim supreme power, not supreme goodness. Trespass against them is worthy of death because they're biggger than you and they're offended by presumption.

    (I guess that path could lead towards re-naming and -defining the axes of the alignment system.)

    Anyway, since D&D Sphinxes seem to conform to the first type, why not have Lammasus be the other kind? Enforcers that are terrifying for not being skeletons or golems, but living thinking beings of unshakable and terrible purpose. Justice beyond any concept of mercy or proportional punishment. Reduction of mortals to a medium for expressing a philosophy of subjection to an absolute principle. Like they're Born Again, only with the real Old Testament. Or maybe like they're Modrons, except that they have enough of an ego to be satisfied with their own nature.

  2. Nicely stated. That was what I was hinting at: enforcers of a jealous God, rather than a loving one.