Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Favorite Monsters

Well, Nosims had a good idea, and while it seems like a geeky thing to do, I am nothing if not a geek.

So, as if anybody cared, my favorite monsters.

1. Giant Spiders: Like James, I'm absolutely terrified of the real thing, and whenever they appear in my games, I make absolutely sure that the players are too. Something about the spindly, knobbly jointed legs supporting that drooping, glistening body that looks wet and slimy, but is really warm and dry, its touch like so many pin pricks . . .

1b. Crystal Spider: This one is a varient giant spider from one of my favorite boxed sets, Dark Sun. A spider adapted to a desert world positively rife with psionic energies that has the ability to dazzle and blind enemies with a flash of light, or even cook the flesh from your bones with a concentrated blast of heat. Worst of all, its web is made of near invisible crystal strands that victims will happily walk into without hesitation and be shredded by sharp edges.

2. The Ghoul Lord: Right out of the Ravenloft setting, this little nasty is, essentially, a suped up ghast, adding a particularly nasty diseased touch and the ability to walk through circles of protection like smoke rings. Relatively boring in concept, but in execution, and from the players' point of view, truly terrifying.

3. Dragons: No, really. They're (ugh, I can't believe I'm about to type the word) "iconic," especially when they're not being reduced to the role of overgrown kittens by idiot authors. It's not just a matter of the fact that they're half the name of D&D, it's that dragons, or creatures suspiciously like dragons, have been a part of almost every single human mythology across the planet for thousands of years. They're a part of what it is to be human, which is a lot of what fantasy and speculative fiction is about. If you asked Tolkien and the Beowulf poet, they'd tell you that they are, in fact, illustrative of humans themselves.

4. Vampires: By the same token as dragons, really. These things have been with humans for our entire history. They prey upon certain primitive anxieties and do it so well when they're not subjected to vamp glam.

5. Zombies: One might think they notice a trend with the undead here. And they'd be right. The undead are inherently connected to a deep rooted anxiety of the human condition, and that's why I'll always like them. Of course, I'm talking about the Romero/Russo type zombie rather than the voudon zombies.

6. Galeb Duhr: Living boulders. That is all.

7. Goblyns: Another Ravenloft nightmare, these fellows are particularly vicious in melee combat when they wrap their hands around your neck and then proceed to bite your face off, scoop out your brain, and feast. Something about that just hits a deep seated fear with players perhaps even moreso than anything else.

8. Aboleth: After becoming familiar with HP Lovecraft, I suddenly had a new appreciation for the Aboleth. Ancient, evil, and unfathomable, they lurk in the cold, dark, wet places of the world pursuing what goals only they know. Through their racial memory, they remember a time when the universe didn't exist, a simple fact that makes them an aluring target for an attempted information exchange.

9. Dwarves: Ok, not really a monster, but . . . Before the stout fellows fell prey to the same death as elves, these guys were one of my all time favorite bits of the game. Probably had a great deal to do with The Hobbit truth be told.

10. Treants: Another strong influence from Tolkien, the sentient, motile tree. When the PC's feel that the forest around them is watching them, they might not be entirely wrong.

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