Remaking A Classic – Chimera
The Chimera is perhaps the best known of all the Greek mythological creatures, the familiar fusion of creatures that heralded storms and natural disasters who was ultimately slain by yet another demi-god. In its original description, The Chimera had the head of a lion at the front, the head of a goat in the middle, and either a dragon or snake head at the back, probably dragon as she could also breathe fire. Later renditions have brought all three heads to the front, and some even include a snake in place of the tail and dragon wings.
She’s a nice little metaphor for the worst traits of humanity:
The lion is our pride and arrogance
The goat is stubborn obstinance.
The dragon could be our greed, and the serpent our cunning, depending on which of her descriptions you follow.
These days the term chimera refers to a genetic hybrid, where any two distinct sets of genetics exist in the same animal (or plant, let’s not be orderist), and has been used to describe any fusion of different animals (at least those without their own names… bloody centaurs) created in fiction like Nina Tucker or Dren. In the Magic: The Gathering setting of Theros the chimeras are formed of strange mixtures of animals, either by the whims of the gods, or by the fevered works of mages.
I started the series of Remaking a Classic as a thought exercize and a piece of mild entertainment, and so far it’s been rather formulaic, but when it comes to chimeras there’s not a lot of formula to be found. Take animals, mix and match, so I give to you something of my own design. Roll three twelve sided dice and use the results to pick an animal from each column:
|Llama||Humming bird||Moray eel|
And so rather than going into origins, defining characteristics, or any of the usual redesign steps I’d usually go through, we’re going to have a little fun…
Squirrel, Owl, and Narwhal
9,8 and 7, and suddenly I wish I could draw.
We have a pair of tree-dwelling forest creatures and an arctic sea mammal, but all of these creatures could come from frozen climes, so no matter what the shape this chimera will be white. It also needs all three heads with the narwhal’s being central, and most prominent, the notion of that horn descending at high speed on silent wings makes for a rather horrifying predator, although for the most part I imagine it hovering above large waterways like a kingfisher to impale large fish.
I think the squirrel may have the ideal body for a creature that perches on branches and clings to tree trunks, with owl talons at the fore, owl wings, and a big bushy squirrel tail. Top that vision with the three snowy white heads and we have a rather complete looking monster.
Llama, Shark, and Spider
6, 9 and 11, I am suddenly quite glad I can’t draw.
Here’s three bodies that just will not fit together, but the head I can envision rather clearly, a llama head with row upon row of triangular teeth and four pairs of eyes, I’m almost entirely certain it can spit venom with alarming accuracy. I should imagine that a long neck like a llama’s would flow rather well through water with a shark’s thunniform locomotion, but how does a spider work its way into this?
Arachnid legs may look a little crab-like on a sea creature, but what we have is something a bit more amphibious. A spider’s legs could fold up underneath for swimming, and unfold on shore, or up cliffs, or in flooded valleys where it spins massive webs, lying in wait below the surface for what prey becomes entangled. All of a sudden we have an ambush predator with a ranged weapon, but the webs are more woolly than silken. I am quite sickened by what I have created.
Grizzly Bear, Humming Bird, and Rhinoceros
5, 6, and 8, I’m getting better with photoshop, but not that good.
It’s easy enough to mash together bear and rhino, they’re big, bulky, and muscular creatures, but how on earth do you work the delicate wings and slender beak of a humming bird? We also have an omnivore, herbivore, and nectarivore, so I think our new beasty eats flowering plants whole and mauls bees to death.
Considering the way the original Chimera was put together there’s no reason to lump all the heads together, so I’m imagining a push-me-pull-you set up with a bears head and forepaws at one end, a rhino head at the other, that ends in the hummingbirds beak. Thick armour plating is covered in tropically coloured feathers that make the furiously beating wings blend seamlessly. So long as no one questions the digestive system at work we should be ok.
While I feel like I could make a hundred of these (1728 to be exact) I will leave you to play with the table. Please feel free to share your monstrous jigsaws, either of your own creation, or favourites from elsewhere, drop us a line either in the comments or via Facebook. Or sit and entertain yourselves with this entertaining google search.