Loremaster Azure’s Guide to…
Unique Monster Creation
By: Jesse C Cohoon
As you enter the The Matchless Menagerie, Azure sees you come in. As you wander around, picking up this and that, one old dusty tomb catches your attention. Cleaning the dust off of the volume, you notice the book is all about creating monsters. As you start flipping through the pages Azure comes up to you and says “Instead of reading that old boring thing, let me tell you how things are done. Follow me,” he says motioning you forward to the fireplace area. Sitting down in one of the overstuffed chairs he motions you to sit down across from him while he fills a pipe with tobacco. As you do so, he lights his pipe saying, “So, you’re interested in monster creation? Ah, being in the unique circumstance I am in, I’ve seen kingdoms rise, and kingdoms fall. I’ve also seen one ring to rule them all but alas – that is a different tale…”
Propping up his feet on a nearby trunk, taking a pull of the pipe smoke, and blowing a smoke ring he begins, “There are a good many things to decide when designing unique monsters. Now, mind you what I say should be taken in no particular order of importance, because you are the one who would be making the monster – and it should be one that you want to make.
“To make it easier on yourself, you might want to consider simply capturing existing monsters and altering them to suit your needs. At one level you can train the monsters to be smarter, more skilled, faster, better fighters, and so on. At another level you can increase or decrease their size, give them alternative shapes, and give them different ways of moving. At a third level you can give them more limbs, increase movement, give them the ability to move in different ways, give them abilities that none of their kind has, give them character levels, give them the ability to cast spells and more. Depending on the level of change you want to elicit will depend whether you need the whole creature or just parts such as bone, blood, or fur. Other times you might need two live specimens to allow them to mate. Each of these changes will alter how easy a monster is to defeat.”
Adjusting himself in the chair, taking another puff of smoke, Azure continues with his narrative, “If you don’t decide to do that, you’ve got a fair amount of work ahead of you. First, you should consider why you want to create it. What do you want it to do? Is it a guard for a specific place to prevent people from going in… or out? Does it stalk people because of some wrong done against it or those that created it? Is it to fill a specific niche in the environment that other do not or cannot? Is it something that occurs naturally and up to this point has been undiscovered? Or does it come out of an accident, from a lab, through the use of magic, or some other means? Do you want it to swarm about where weapons are ineffectual against it? Whatever its function is, should be a major consideration in its creation.
“A further consideration why this monster is how it is, is its appearance. Does its form follow its function, and if not, why not? Does it have some skill, use of magic, or ability to compensate for this lack?
“Another consideration you need to take into account when designing monsters is what rules constrain you. How does magic work? How do the monsters move? Does it move along some surface, or does it travel through the air, water, or burrow through the ground? How fast does it move? How does it fight? How skilled is it in what it does? Does it strike with ferocity, or is it more timid in its approach? What are its strengths and weaknesses? By what means does it get them? Are its strengths natural, magical, through many hours of hard training, through equipment, divine, or some combination thereof?
“A further consideration for monster creation is how will it work with others – or will it? If the monsters are a team, do their strengths and weaknesses balance each other out, or are they suited only to sole combat? In the case of monsters working together in a group, you need to ask yourself the following questions” Holding up a single finger, he numbers:
1. “Are they immune to each other’s attacks simply by nature of their abilities?
2. “Are they able work around each other so as not to be involved in “friendly fire?”
3. “Do they have equipment which prevents them from being damaged?
“Likewise, monster creation would be incomplete without considering the monster’s origins. Consider the classic tales of Dracula – who was created out of a deal with the devil; Medusa – who angered the goddess Athena, Frankenstein – who is a self-aware flesh golem, and Hercules – who was the son of both god and man. What would each of these stories look like with a different origin? How would that affect the outcome of the story?
“A final major consideration is where do they hurt? Are they only seen as a monster, but wouldn’t hurt a fly if left alone? Or due to some tragedy do they wish to inflict pain on the world? Are they forced to be a monster due to the fact that they are in constant pain and only in causing pain in others do they get relief? Or are they an escaped monster from a lab that only seeks its freedom and whoever it attacks are simply in its way? Is it something natural, and sees people as potential food sources? Or is it something unnatural that uses people’s life energy to fuel and procreate?
“Other minor, but still important, considerations when dealing with monster creation are its:
· Appearance: what color is it? What color are its eyes? Is the musculature right for its body? Does it have wings, claws?
· Personality: How well does it interact with others? What are its likes/ dislikes?
· Equipment: What type of equipment does it have, and why?
· Treasure: What type of treasure does it have and why does it possess it?
“Along the way, each of these choices will affect the final outcome. Any questions?”