Monday, 7 December 2020

The Sinister Pig


A sinister pig might be able to lift small things with its gaze, make have hands hidden beneath its hooves, may be able to speak, in fact it is a ventriloquist, but won't tell you that.

A core element of a Sinister Pig is its apparent simplicity and decency, just a simple pig, trying to get along, maybe looking for a friend.

A pig you see alone. Alone in a field, at a quiet time, no-one else around. Just you and the Pig. You think it far away, singular, in the middle of nothing. Turning its head slightly to look at you. 

You turn away and BAM. There it is. Right by the fence.

Did you make a mistake? Are there two pigs? did you turn away for longer than you thought?

You wake up, maybe groggy from the night before. Maybe you only half-remember, you are uncertain, uncertain about the pig.

Then you walk downstairs to eat breakfast and BAM.

There is the pig, sitting at the breakfast table, buttering some toast. Talking to the family.

"Why.. you invited me? Don't you remember?"

"No, no no. I'm sorry, it's my fault. I know better than to stay where I am not wanted."

"Oh, what a mortification."

The pig laboriously puts on its boots.

(It has boots now?)

And seems like it might weep.

Of course, everyone asks it to stay. "Stay for breakfast", they say. You feel terrible of course.

"Well... if you insist"

You walk through the village. People seem to stare at you. They seem angry with you.

"shameful..." you hear mutters.

The Pig explains; "Oh isn't it terrible? Someone has been spreading rumours.."

"Oh you know, about what happened at breakfast."

"They all have simply the wrong idea. Don't worry, I'll put it right."

And the Pig does put it right, with an uproarious performance in the market. Has everyone simply wheezing with laughter.

"Ahhh, that Pig, they're all right you know. Lord what a card." They say.

The Pig thinks you are "Wonderful! Utterly wonderful. So talented, really, and.. (glances around).. I might even say, a little underappreciated."

Its strange though because sometimes the Pig seems bored with you. Distracted even. Its almost as if they don't like you at all. Sometimes they look at you and for a moment their eyes seem blank. 

Things go missing.

People get hurt.


Big semi-intelligent Platypus with big strong tongues who just lick away metal. Their saliva dissolves it and their abrasive file-like tongue wears it away.

They are super-excited to do it too, making little grunting and squeaking noises, and a soft grinding with each lick.

If its something light, not fixed down, they will trap it between their paws and lick it that way, even rolling around on their back with whatever it is clenched on their tummy, stopping between licks to shivver and chirp.

The bad thing is; they can get everywhere. They will sneak into places, they swim up rivers and hide in wells, hide under beds, hide in cupboards, sneak around the place. They can flatten themselves like cats, able to get under anything. Only the snuffling sound as they sniff out the ore gives them away. Snuffling and whuffling.

Its true they are very rarely encountered. Its much easier for them to live in rivers or in secret places deep underground and eat ores from inside the rocks, climbing around caves and following veins of metal, they don't end up above ground very much and are rarely encountered in 'normal wilderness'.

But the bad thing is that they can kind of fly. Well, not really. They can whirl those big platypus tails around like propellers, even that doesn't get them off the ground but but the lift does make them light enough to climb up walls, even across ceilings, though they are somewhat plump creatures to be doing that. And they are not exactly stealthy at this point, you can hear their tails going "WHIRRRRRR WUB WUB WUB"

You can possibly keep one as a pet. They can be persuaded to curl up in boxes or barrels, like cats, but sometimes dangerous strangers can use them as guards, (making sure no-one can bring tools or metal tricks into their lairs) and big cities have carefully controlled pet versions for detecting metal, (the license is very expensive and you are legally responsible for all the metal they eat).

But the only really bad thing is that they like water and often insist on being bathed, but if you let them into the bath they eat the taps and then the room floods.


You must not dance with men of bones,
Do not go with them to their homes.
At night they rise to leap and play,
And will not dance in light of day.
Of bones they are and bones they keep,
They'll dance with yours to make them leap!
Of bones they are and bones they want,
Don't ask to stop, because they won't!
Of bones they are and yours will move,
They wriggle out and start to groove!
Of bones they are, so pale and thin,
They leave you as a bag of skin!
You must not dance with boney men,
So grab your bones and keep them in!

Where do the Skeletons come from?

From within. The ultimate conspiracy.

The great threat of the Men-Of-Bones is their music and their dance, (also that they can't drown or starve). They all move together, as if they are always dancing, and the music they are moving to is the music of the stars, and of the darkness between the stars, the darkness behind your eyes, so they don't dance, or even move, in daylight.

The way they are dangerous is that they make your bones want to dance. If they can form a circle around you, they can make your bones dance right out of your skin, leaving you alive. but just a bag person, like a floppy leech. To fix that you need to get your bones back, and get a surgeon or a docter to shove them back up inside you.

To get the bones back you have to find them when they are sleeping. You have to find the SKELTON BED, (A big bed they all climb into), and get the bones and either put pins where their ears would be, or put ear muffs on them, or just wrap them in cotton wool.

They move about like slapstick comedians. Their love of music is also their weakness, if you can play them a dancing tune you can often get them dancing your way, (they will dance you right out of your skin otherwise).

They also toot horns.

They can get more men of bones by having big dance parties on graveyards and calling up all the buried skeletons to dance.

They become really dangerous when you have a whole bunch of them, like a big carnival of bones. Then they can parade through the night, open doors and dance people out of their homes, dancing away with their bones.

Luckily there are not that many skeletons about.

Lots of questionable wizardly types have a handful of Men-Of-Bones as servants. The magic music needed to animate them is not too difficult to grasp at a basic level, and even comes intuitively to some. Once you have them up and capering about, they will usually perform any simple task you request, so long as they can dance and caper while doing it.


  1. The Pig, I think, it is a whole different level of evil. Kind of horrifying, really, as if you are the only one who can see/suspect its real face but everybody around is just mesmerized by the fake friendliness. As a villain, it can be played exceptionally diabolically.

    I imagined Ingot Beasts to be more like squirrels (although to my knowledge squirrels don't swim well). The idea is that they don't even need to eat a lot of metal, because (as in case of Silver Bridge Disaster) one missing link can cause untold damage and squirrels can be both numerous and get pretty much everywhere. Everywhere if they are flying kind of squirrels.

    I wonder if Men-of-Bones can dance a skeleton out of entities that aren't skeletal (i.e. a living tree, an earth elemental)? Can they dance away the skeleton of the idea?
    And what is relation of skeleton key to Men-of-Bones?

    1. I have always had it in for Squirrels, they seem like very suspicious creatures to me.

      Think I will keep the Skeleton Dancing as literal as possible. For a game for kids or mixed generational play I want all the effects and descriptions to relate to solid clear diegetic elements of the word.

    2. If there is The Sinister Pig, there should be Conspicuous Squirrels somewhere.

      I kind of like the idea of Skeleton Key being an actual small skeleton, who opens locks as they dance through them (maybe similar how Hudson Hawk "Swinging on the Star" scene played)

  2. ( O v O)
    |||| ===<| toot toot

    1. (•̀ᴗ•́)و ̑̑

      This is the feedback I've been waiting for.

      ᕕ(⌐■_■)ᕗ ♪♬

  3. Thanks so much for the sinister pig and the accompanying video I didn't need sleep this week anyway.

    What's the relationship between the men of bones and the bone stealing goblins?

    1. Gotta be some kind of Bone War dancing contest, or bone casino out in the fields

    2. I feel like you are making two opposing games that could almost be played one against another by different groups- one is Studio Ghibli fantasy for children while the counterpart is the odd adventures of a mostly theft based adventure by magical creatures of the Slime Kingdom.

  4. The concepts are excellent, but I'm not sure about how the pig works mechanically in a game with more than a single player - is the group jointly the ones who can see through it? what are the boundaries? Can your mom and cousin see through the pig's falsehood if you provide solid evidence?

    1. I honestly have no idea. Its likely a bit too insidiously creepy to actually use in a game with children. Will have to do a lot of work on how it might function in play I think

    2. Not sure how I feel about the creep factor being too much for kids.. you are a captain of creep it is true, but imo Lemony Snicket succeeded at doing a great job of insidious villainy in his Series of Unfortunate Events aimed at young readers. It might still work there. I'm thinking the concept has more of a problem with the stability/certainty inside the party that each player grants to the others.

  5. Your writeup of Sinister Pig is soooo good. And the ending, perhaps a bit abrupt, but so ominous 0.o...

    1. sometimes a man runs out of ideas and its art when that happens

  6. The Sinister Pig feels like a family-friendly version of the False Hydra.