Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monsters Monsters Monsters

Every fantasy world -- especially a game world -- needs some monsters. For this post, "monster" will be defined as "creatures of animal intelligence, who through hunger, natural antagonism, or manipulation by others, may end up trying to kill and eat the PCs." And starting with that definition, let's do some brainstorming with some basic monster ideas I've come up with:

Arterial Marauders: Another evocative name coming before the creature design. Arterial refers to both blood and streets -- so the Marauder must drink blood. It will therefore be some kind of variant on the vampire archetype. However, sexy tormented vamps are overdone these days, so I don't really want them in the City of Lives. So back to the roots -- a feral, tear-your-throat-out kind of vamp, ugly as sin and immune to sunlight (seriously, look it up! Vampires didn't start disintegrating in the sun until the silent film Nosferatu). Then, let's twist it. The only undead in the City of Lives setting are the Blightbound, and the feral Marauders don't seem to fit that archetype, so the Arterial Marauders must be alive. Not sure as to their origin -- maybe Bloodshifted mutants like the Perchers (see below), but that might feel redundant. Then -- they're urban, right? Evolved or designed to live in the city, so what kind of adaptation should they have? Camouflage? Wall-climbing? Living off sewer water and seeing in the dark? Hm....

Cantor Hound: Another degenerate mutant -- but this one a dog instead of man. "Cantor," a fun word I pulled from a random generator, means "singer" in Latin. So perhaps the dog, instead of barking or growling, sings? An otherworldly, mournful dirge that makes its victims too depressed to run. Sounds like an interesting challenge for PCs, stuffing their ears with wax or doing all they can to lift their spirits.

Cullis Perchers: I liked the word "perch," and looked for a synonym for "eaves" that would be more exotic and evocative. Logically, anything that "perches" can probably fly -- and things that perch on cullises can probably be mistaken for gargoyles -- that is to say, a misshapen manlike form. So -- a race of former humans, mutated by Bloodshifting into a distorted form, complete with batlike wings stretching from hand to foot. Simple, animal creatures, they ambush explorers in the Lost District, swooping in from above with fangs and claws bared.

Mold Trolls: This is a term I've had in my "random ideas" file for a very long time. I think initially it was a vaguely pejorative term for some supernatural beings that lived underneath Seattle's bridges, but I honestly forget, because it went nowhere. For the City of Lives, we'll go more literal -- a giant, semi-sentient fungus. It'll be large, 8-10 feet tall, with the proportions and basic shape of a gorilla -- very "troll"-like. Another central tenet of the troll mythology is living in a bridge or cave -- let's not hold our trolls to that, but it implies territoriality. And since molds and fungus are sort of carnivorous, the mold trolls can be dangerous. So -- basically a territorial, carnivorous fungal gorilla. Not tremendously cool, but kinda neat.

Ropewyrm: This name popped up when I was looking for a cause of destruction in a piece of prose -- this line came to me: "Why was there nothing but a rotted foundation in its place? Had some maverick dragon or ropewyrm rampaged through?" For a long while, the name just sat there, evoking a vaguely dragon-y feel. When I decided to revisit it, I thought -- what kind of creature would be renowned for destruction, with a snake/worm-type vibe? Well, I went into the "worm" aspect, and came up with something inspired by the Sand Worms of Dune and Beetlejuice -- the ropewyrm lives underground, but when it rises to the surface, its massive frame shoves any unfortunate people, vehicles, or buildings out of the way. Not an entirely original idea, I'll grant you, but a fun one, nonetheless. Where does its name come from, then? Perhaps it has a segmented body, but one that is spiraled or slanted, looking like the strands of a rope. That'll do. The Ropewyrm probably lives out in the Julian Plains or Wilderwoods, but when they encroach upon the City, all hells break loose.

Thoughtwolf: In case you hadn't noticed, I have a tendency to start with an evocative name and come up with the details second. Such is the case with the Thoughtwolves, a result of brainstorming on "wolf" with various prefixes. What kind of wolf would a "thought" wolf be? Well, why not a psychic one? A mental predator -- a pack that splits up, some attacking physically while others transform into mental constructs and attack the prey's mind. Sounds neat. Now, does this mean they have to be sapient? Maybe, but I prefer "no." But to hunt in such a complex way, they'll have to be smarter than regular wolves. So -- the brains of a money, or perhaps an ape, capable of communicating through mental images and emotion. They would live mostly in the Wilderwoods.

Well, I've got a few more monsters up my sleeve, so meet me next time for Monsters Monsters Monsters 2: vs. Dracula.