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  1. After a long day on that dusty trail, a man has needs. And while sometimes a man might just go round behind a cactus or a rocky outcrop, other times a man's in mixed company where that just won't do. Now, ain't nothin' to be ashamed of, just a part of livin', that's all. But sometimes--and praise the Lord, it ain't often--it's the last part of livin'. "whut in tarnation...?!" But when it's your time to go, you gotta go. *** A little sidenote on D&D monsters and their origins: We all know that pulp and sci-fi influenced the creators of Dungeons and Dragons as much as fantasy does (displacer beasts came from a van Vogt space opera, and I'd bet money that orcs--pig-faced brutes in early RPG art--got their green-skinned tusky look because D&D precursors included Tharks from Barsoom until the Burroughs estate sued.) But where did the Mimic come from? It's hard to tell, but there are a few strong possibilities. First, Wollheim's short story "Mimic" from 1942. If you haven't read it, do so--it's a great little pulp yarn. The titular mimics aren't the amorphous sticky oozes we know today, but they conceal themselves almost perfectly as mundane people--and, more importantly here, objects. Secondly, and perhaps most convincingly, Philip K. Dick's 1953 story "Colony." A tale of paranoia on an alien world, and probably also where we get the Rug of Smothering. The alien threat here is pretty much exactly like our D&D mimics, formless organisms that can take on any shape (and do). Thirdly, John Bellairs' "The Face in the Frost," published 1969. This is the first gelatinous amorph masquerading as a building that I've seen in a fantasy context--though it isn't clear whether the entity in question is an organism or a magical construct, or if there's a meaningful difference. Anyway, all those 'what if the WHOLE TAVERN was a mimic?!' suggestions? Been done before the moon landing. Lastly and returning to this post's genre of Weird America, Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer stories. Our hero Silver John rambles about the Appalachian hills encountering strange doings and stranger critters and haints. Among these is the false house or 'gardinel.' (John doesn't know why they're called that.) \ This last isn't a certain influence because it's mentioned only briefly in a 1963 short and brought up again in more detail in a novella written after the Monster Manual came out in 1977. But you never know. I for sure don't. I think this will work just fine for a little Western gardinel.
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