Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ten Monsters of a Dubious Fascination

Jumping on the monster band wagon here; I'm probably missing a few, since I don't actually have my Monster Manuals around to flip through.

1. Yak Folk. Shapes-shifting sorcerers who can summon genies and like to capture slaves? Sign me up. Motive, modus operandi, and a sense of style. Pity I never got to actually use one in a game -- I had plans, but the campaign ended.

2. Yuan-ti. Used them once, in the same campaign that was going to host Yak Folk. I'd dropped hints that there was this psionic Yuan-ti empire off in the distance, scheming schemes and causing trouble, but then the campaign ended, as previously mentioned. At any rate, I've got this thing for the darkest reaches of the jungle, and ancient temples built by degenerate civilizations, and Yuan-ti fit that bill nicely.

3. Ochre Jelly. I almost used these, once, in the session that became Gnome Town. That was originally going to be sort of a horror scenario, and I thought it'd be great if they started dropping from the ceiling and dissolving people. Someday.

4. Gelatinous Cube. Never used this one in a game, either. Noticing a pattern, yet? My D&D games in high school were never long on monsters, I guess. But gelatinous cubes are just cool. I don't know how you can't like a gelatinous cube. If I ever run 3rd edition again, I'm going to be sorely tempted to engage in some template foolishness -- you can give one an Int score high enough to take a class with the Fiendish Creature template, and then you're only a few levels of Monk away from a cube with a speed of +35 ft. and the ability to deflect arrows.

5. Naga. Mostly because of Nagathas, from the Monster Manual IV -- humanoids that spirit nagas have kidnapped, to twist into dark servants. (I always thought it'd be neat for that to happen to some NPCs the party knew.) But the whole guardians-of-ancient-magic thing rocks pretty hard, just on its own.

6. Werewolf. Mostly for the classic monster mojo; who doesn't like to play "guess the werewolf?" as peasants get slaughtered? I've also had some fun with them in campaigns past, using tribes of them as the "semi-hostile humanoids living uncomfortably close to town." They're a good mix of civilized and crazy monster, which makes them very versatile.

7. Golems. I've always loved robots and created beings in general, and I like the particular aesthetics that golems have. Unfortunately, I've never had a group get high enough level to really deal with a golem -- but next time I run D&D, I'm not going to let that stop me.

8. Blue Dragon. Why I didn't use these in the desert game I ran (the one that was going to have Yuan-ti and Yak Folk) I'll never know. Never got around to it, I guess. These are my dragon of choice, because I like the idea of dragons who think of themselves as lords of their domain, but are still more interested in dragon-y things -- eating sheep, collecting treasure -- than actual politics.

9. Storm Giant. Giants in general are a big list of creatures I never used because I never ran a high enough level game. At some point, I'm going to run a very giant-centered game, where most of the known world is ruled by different clans of giants. The players would be the members of the oppressed tiny folk small enough to fit into those weird catacombs that the giants don't know about.

10. Constrictor Snake, Giant. Um. Yes. Every campaign I've run for the past, oh, five years, all except the first two, have featured, at some point, a giant snake that tried to crush and eat the party. I don't quite know why, except that it's fun. Who doesn't like it when a giant snake tries to crush and eat the party?


  1. Wow! There's a lot more love for Yak Folk than I'd realized!

  2. "you're only a few levels of Monk away from a cube with a speed of +35 ft. and the ability to deflect arrows"

    Sounds like a Zen Koan in the making. Master said to Student, "My son, why do you need to move so quickly and deflect arrows? You are a gelatinous cube?"
    And so the Student absorbed the Master.

  3. @Dave: If you meet the Buddha in a dungeon corridor, kill him.

  4. Yeah, I really need to get on this yak folk thing. The more I hear about them (They summon genies? Really?!?), the more they seem like my kind of monsters.

    And now that I've fully embraced the "anything that works and to heck with edition purity" theme, I may have to look into yuan-ti for the Thursday game.

    Very cool list. I'm thinking you've got this thing for reptiles, huh? ;)

    - Brian

  5. Oh, and this one wins one (1) intarnetz for best title in this Top Ten Carnival. :)

  6. It's not official sword & sorcery until a giant snake shows up. I think that's written in the bylaws somewhere right next to the requirement that a giant jewel must always be placed atop a pedestal.

  7. Well, Oddyesy, the members of the party may not particularly enjoy being crushed to death by the embrace of a giant snake or having been thus stunned, then devoured whole and slowly disintegrated by the acids of its stomach...

    but Rae shooting her way out of it was pretty cool.

    If I'm remembering this correctly. I may not be. The sentiment still stands.

  8. Zachary The First: It's weird, right? Noisms mentioned his great love of Yak Folk in a post a while back, and I was floored because I'd assumed it was this strange little niche monster that I just had this bizarre love for.

    Dave The Game: The next random book I stick in a dungeon or something is definitely going to be "The Zen of Oozes."

    trollsmyth: Apparently. Mostly I like degenerate jungles and lost deserts; reptile-beasts tend to hang out in both locations.

    (And thanks. My very own intarnetz!)

    Amityville Mike: The jewel/pedestal thing is another one that's been sneaking into my games lately. Sword & Sorcery is awesome.

    maggienotmegan: I think your car got crushed in it, but you guys all jumped out? It's been a while.