Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Monster Themes

In this recent post I tried to find a way to flesh out and differentiate monsters that have similar mechanical undercarriages.  It didn't work that well.  Now I'm thinking the simplest approach might be to just pick a theme and apply that to the different monster behaviors.

Here are some simple themes:

Monster Themes
  1. Ancient
  2. Cave
  3. Chaos
  4. Disease
  5. Faerie
  6. Insect
  7. Magic
  8. Prehistoric
  9. Reptile
  10. Evil of __________
"Ancient" I see as dry, mummified, or maybe your typical skeletal creatures- things that have been hidden away in this place for ages.  "Cave" is like albino, blind cave things.  "Evil" is basically full of possibilities.  If you have a cult of worship for gluttony, the monsters can all be variations of fat, huge-mouthed things.  Fear, pain, lust, etc. will provide lots of unique monster opportunities.

Let's try a few.

What about "Faerie"?  What would vermin be in that context?  How about little faeries themselves, flitting just out of reach until there is a large enough gathering of them that they are bold enough to attack.  That's pretty predictable, how about little bluebirds that fly in and peck you, or butterflies that swarm you and start putting you to sleep with their touch.

What about "Magic"?  Magic vermin might be blink rats that teleport to your shoulder and start chewing your ear off.  Or maybe even more magic, little, floating orbs that sizzle with energy and sting when they touch.  Or maybe a snake that cycles into a rat into spider and back again.  Or maybe that would be more suited to Chaos.

In the end, this isn't giving us the specific monster-making help I would like, but it may be the best possible.   Why am I posting this now?  Because we'll need this table for the next step in making our dungeon together.


  1. I was reminded of the list of words venger satanis started here:
    With the more ambigous meaning and strange undertone of most of the words this could work quite well, even though it would be probably a little more work.

  2. Thanks for that link. That's exactly the kind of list of evocative words I was thinking of when replying to a comment by Jensan recently on here. The problem is it is still asking for the DM to work their associative muscles and that might be hard for a tired or just learning DM to do. Maybe I will try again to make a chart with more specific characteristics. It is a tough problem.