GameSpy has posted a second designer diary for Ultima Online: Samurai Empire, this time with art director Walter Ianneo discussing dungeons, dragons, monsters, and more. Check it out:
I think one of my favorite parts about working on the Japanese expansion pack was researching their folklore. Many monsters are introduced to teach a moral of the specific society. One creature we put in the game was a well-known Japanese creature called the "Kappa" (pronounced kind of like "cop-ah"). A Kappa can either be a kind water god, or a cruel monster. It protects fresh water from mistreatment, but should you pollute a well or a river, the Kappa will drown unsuspecting passersbys. Think of a humanoid-type turtle, but with a circle of hair on the top of its head like a monk and a face that resembles a monkey. The top of its head has a concave bowl-like cavity containing water. If that water spills, the Kappa becomes defenseless. The important thing to learn from the Kappa's story is to respect the nature of the river or a creature like the Kappa just might drown you.