DovahQueen: Bend the Knee
Since 2015, the DovahQueen has been taking your questions and giving advice to improve your games. Now the tables are turned in this DovahQueen series; Loren is asking the questions and a panel of three guests—an RPG-industry veteran, a Know Direction network staff member, and a fan—answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet today’s guests.
RPG Industry Veteran: Jason Keeley (@herzwesten)
I’ve been playing tabletop RPGs since the early 2000s, though with my avid interest in theater and improv since high school, I feel like these games have always been a part of me. While I started at the company as an editor, I am currently a developer at Paizo, working mainly on the Starfinder Adventure Path line. I have written quite a number of words for Paizo, plus adventures for the likes of Green Ronin and Cubicle 7. I also enjoy the heck out of board games and video games. I have a cute but reactive dog named Bigby who reviews teas on Twitter.
Know Direction Network Staff Member: James
Hi, my name is James and welc… Wait, this isn’t Code/Switch, I’ve been bamboozled! I’ll get you Loren! My name is James, as I said before, and I write Code/Switch, co-host Know Direction Beyond with Alex Augunas and Perram, and I play Klyf in the Know Direction Stellar series. I’m the KD crew you ask if you want to find out how many elephants fit in a Bag of Holding or figure out the power capacity of batteries in Starfinder. Outside of RPGs I like to play Overwatch and I’m a pretty dang good cook.
Fan: Nathan K. (aka decaffeinate)
I’ve only been playing TTRPG’s for the past two years, primarily standing on Pathfinder and recently dabbling in Shadowrun. The more structure a game has the happier I am since I come from a tech support background. Otherwise, I’m a huge lover of rpg games and collector of tattoos for the more obscure game’s references from games like the Suikoden franchise.
“Just the other day, you were commenting to a friend about how you were thinking about getting another pet. Later that day while checking your mail, you found a small advertisement for a new pet shop near where the mall used to be. ‘Lucky Friends Little Shoppe’ is the name and there’s a coupon for ‘One Free New Friend.’ Today, you decided that you think you’re ready for another animal and with your coupon in hand, ‘Lucky Friends’ seems as good a place to start as any. You arrive about an hour after the store opens. Gerbils, rabbits, fish, and shelter-cats greet you as you walk in the door. The adorable faces of the would-be pets is a stark contrast to the visage of the woman behind the counter. She’s only tall enough to meet your chest and wide as a barrel. Her face is worn and leathery from untold years of the sun, and she wears a simple and dirty apron that says ‘Lucky Friends’ on it. Despite her gruff-ish appearance, she smiles warmly and welcome you with a hint of…is that…Scottish in her inflection? ‘Welcome, welcome to me shop! Please have a look around an’ let me know if you’ll be needin’ any help! The name’s Geerda.’ You say thanks and that you will. While you were excited to see a new member of your family come home with you today, the love birds and lizards just aren’t making your heart sing. Geerda calls to you, ‘Ya don’t seem to be findin’ anything ya like; would ya’ like to see my more exotic friends in the back?’ She takes you into a back room that’s pitch black. With a flip of a light switch, she brings the lights on—the black-lights. All manner of wild and fantastic beasts glow in fluorescent colors. ‘Do any of these strike yer fancy? Yer coupin is good on these too, but I’ll be politely asking that ya be getting your feed and bedding from me.”
Geerda’s backroom contains all animals and magical beasts from any published tabletop roleplaying game. Which one do you pick as your new pet and why? Most importantly of all though, what do you name it?
Jason: A fascinating question! I do love animals, but I feel like the ones we have here on Earth, especially the domesticated ones (cats, dogs, and so on), make for the best pets. At least for me. Griffins, owlbears, pegasi are interesting creatures and would probably be excellent companions if trained correctly, but my mind immediately jumps to the care and feeding of such magical beasts. You’d need at least a stable of some kind, plus plenty of yard space—a farm really—for them to run around. No way you’re cooping up a dire bear in an apartment.
But that’s not very imaginative is it? If I actually put my mind to it, one creature—one stupid, stupid creature—comes to mind: the carbuncle. Several years ago as I was running the Kingmaker AP for my home group, my wife Paula saw a picture of this derptastic cat-sized lizard thing and immediately wanted it as a familiar for her half-orc wizard, Gramps. Before you ask, Gramps was a young man. That was just a family name.
A carbuncle is the perfect size for our apartment life, and it seems to favor fresh fruit, which is easy to procure. I imagine it would get along with our dog thanks to its empathy. We’d have to make sure not to spook it, otherwise it would fake its death and disappear into the closet. But I think it would feel safe with us, perhaps falling asleep on one of our shoulders as we watched TV.
And what would we name it? Well, we’d name it the same as Gramps’s familiar: Eglantine
James: This is almost a trick question, like, this is how you get a Gremlins (the movie, not the fey) situation. So many of the coolest creatures in RPGs would not make good pets. A Hunter with an Owlbear companion might be fine, but I’m a 5’6 nerd who currently lives in suburbia, my neighbors would not appreciate a 6 foot tall bird that mauls everything smaller than it.
My first idea for a pet was your standard fantasy trope “good” creatures; pegasuses, unicorns, griffons, and kami. This was a good idea until I realized the criteria that these creatures choose their partners on. I firmly identify as lawful neutral, and I don’t think I shed the necessary “good” aura that these creatures would look for in a partner. Shame too, because Kami have a lot of dope magic I could use in my everyday life.
To pick a pet, I need to change my thinking. I don’t need something that relies on my, I just want a fun companion that can do its own thing. After looking through some comprehensive lists of animals and magical beasts, I would choose an Androsphinx.
Androsphinxes are the chaotic good sphinxes that like deep conversation, oh, and they like themselves too. They’re basically a combination of the French philosopher Voltare and a common housecat. While the Androsphinxes large and frightful form may initially scare my neighbors, I believe they’ll grow to enjoy the gruff company of such a powerful creature. A creature with the ability to cure wounds, calm emotions, and protect you from fire. Also, as a bonus, I think Androsphinxes eat people food, so I hope the food Geerda provides is something I can eat too, it’d make grocery shopping so much easier.
As for a name, I feel uncomfortable naming a creature that’s bigger, stronger, smarter, and more magical than I am. Hopefully it has a name it prefers. If not, and it desires a name, I’d probably name it Leopold. Get it, it’s a lion and its nickname would be Leo. Am I the only one who finds that funny? You know what? Don’t talk to me or my magnificent son ever again.
Nathan: So right off the bat, I’d beeline for a classic go-to choice, the phoenix. Mostly because it’s a majestic fire bird, but also because it can remove curses. And let’s be honest, I’m a pretty average Joe dating a well-known luck abuser who siphons it from others like me. I’d like to negate that negative on a daily because if the thing has a name, and it’s literally called Jinx, then clearly it’s a curse (looking at you, boyfriend…). Minus how BIG that bird is. I’ve only really got the strongest grasp on Pathfinder for tabletop monster knowledge, but that thing is literally gargantuan. Where would I fit it? My one bedroom apartment would surely not do. So no, I’d have to say nevermind and move to a different creature entirely as I longingly gaze back at that fiery plumage knowing fully well it’d be named Fox.
But lo! A kitten unlike the others. It floats around, stares through bright violet eyes, and even turns to a fine mist. Hello, dear silvanshee. Let’s be fair here. It’s a cheshire cat for the sake of good instead of Chaos. And I love it. While not necessarily a cat person, I’d definitely say that there are no negatives with an agathion. It’s what I chose for my first witch character ever when she hit the level to change familiars. Mia rightfully went from a toad named Elk to a silvanshee named Endrance. Anyone who catches that dothack reference is amazing. Shout out to you! But alas, there is one issue with the silvanshee. It likes to lead their mortal allies toward evil that must be “eliminated”. Take that for however you want to spin it, but I will take that to mean that unless I’m openly in an active position of snuffing out the “bad guy”, I’m not gonna be up for that goading. Buh-bye kitteh~
How about a blink dog? Ok, super cool, big fluffy doge, but I couldn’t bring myself to separate one from its would-be pack. But they have the capacity to bond and be loyal to someone and live upward of 75 years you say? Hrm…
Then there’s the one obscure game I’m familiar with from a couple years ago that opens up over 800 options. Pokemon had a tabletop. So oh man, theres Eevee and Vulpix and the whole slew of mons. Do I go straight to that section? Any one of the more adorable quadrupeds would surely bring out the jealously in most of my family members. Especially Eevee… ok, I’d have to check them out. Maybe even get in a pen with them and play for awhile. Gotta do it. Just gotta.
All that said and done though, I think I made my decision. Even if I were to pick an Eevee, I’ve already debated the internal conundrum of what it could evolve into. And anything less than LOVING ME is absolutely unacceptable, even if I’d prefer an Espeon over a Sylveon. So with big ol’ puppy dog eyes and the ability to stand up to my height on its’ hind legs, I’m totally picking the blink dog. 180 lbs of floof, the ability to go ethereal so it’s not always hogging the bed, the ability to dimension door, and that lifespan which is equal to an average human? Yeah, that’s a companion for life, and I couldn’t be happier. Whether I adopt him at months old, a couple years, or even around the same age as me, that is without a doubt my most favorite option. Plus if he’s anything like my current dog Tidus, he would be one heck of a cuddler that literally slams into you when you tell him to lay down. Boy oh boy, that’d be one heck of a body drop. And he’d totally be named Blink were it not for my friend Nick who already has a dog named after the spell. So instead, I think I’d sit down with the blink dog, ask it to come home with me, and I would name him Caius, because the next best choice is always a Final Fantasy reference.
I’ve heard from my guest writers; now I want to hear from you. What classic RPG monster would you pick as a pet? Leave a comment below, on our Discord, or on Know Direction’s Facebook page.
Each Bend the Knee features three guest writers. One is from the RPG industry. Another is from the Know Direction network. The third guest could be you! Leave a comment on Know Direction’s Facebook, Discord, or Twitter, or you can send an email to DearDovahQueen@gmail.com for your chance to be featured on the next Bend the Knee or Dear DovahQueen.