Sunday, June 28, 2009

Constraints, or: One Sentence Monsters

Constraints help in generating, because it forces your brain to go places you never intended, because dealing with the constraint engages your brain at a slant. The One Page Dungeon and One Page City are evidence of this. But I just had a thought, one page isn't much of a constraint for an encounter, religion, or monster. Why not One Paragraph Gods, or One Paragraph encounters. Okay, it could work, in fact a lot of blog posts are this already, so it might not be much of a constraint. Let's push the constraints up a notch, One Sentence Monsters. I figure if you can't get the concept across in a sentence it's probably too fiddly or complex. Here are a few classic monsters rendered in one sentence:

Humanoids with squid-like heads and great mental powers that hunger for your brain.

A floating sphere with many eyes on stalks, each shooting different dangerous effects.

That captures them fairly well doesn't it? Okay, how about some of my own deadly distractions:

It appears to be a child when encountered, but will wail loudly if unfed and age decades if fed.

It appears to be a small treasure but if you put it in your pack it will digest your real treasures.

I like this, because now that I think about it, it leaves the nitty gritty up to the DM to determine. I mean, do you really need to have the beholder's eye powers spelled out completely? Would it be less a monster if it had 3 stalks or 18? The incarnations different DMs come up with could be like different species of the original conception.

One sentence is too abstract for a dungeon or city, but I think it might be better for monsters and magic items. So here is my

One Sentence Challenge: Monster!
In one sentence, relay a monster that will be intriguing enough that we'd want to use it in our campaigns. Post in the comments.

13 comments:

  1. Bloated lascivious man-worm with paralysing spittle

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I certainly wouldn't want to run into that in a dark catacomb.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Accursed waif-like beauty who wounds others to heal herself

    Melancholy bat-winged cherub with sharpened teeth

    Giant rusted robot who carries a city in its palm

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice, I especially like the wounded waif, because it complicates things for players. I think I would make it evident that it was hurt, so players would be sympathetic at first . . .

    ReplyDelete
  6. Eight heads on serpentine necks, creeping up behind you from between dimensions to pick your pockets.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ Matt: I hate when that happens! :)

    Keep 'em coming people.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Spider monkeys wit the feathered wings of large birds, winged monkeys can be cowed into servitude by powerful wizards or witches.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm a fan of winged creatures, lions, monkeys, and BEARS, I want my winged bears :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This species of mimic hunts in families; it prefers adopting the physical forms of a set of stone statues of the adventuring party prey, along with a creature whose gaze turns prey to stone.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A telepathic mimic that takes the form of the last enemy the party killed; if there is more than one of them they personalize the form to a specific party member.

    ReplyDelete
  12. A squid-scarab cross that creeps in dank places, and latches onto the back of the neck to take control of its victim.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This desert-dwelling sandworm drains the blood from its victims and then filters the water away to create a pool in which to lay its hideous spawn - and woe to the thirsty adventurer who sips from that awful oasis...

    ReplyDelete