Monday, June 5, 2017

Monster Monday: MONSTER!!!

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to travel to NTRPG Con. I was even more fortunate to have the ability to hang out with the Frog God games crew. Bill Webb was the one who originally inspired this regular feature on this blog, and he reminded me of it this past weekend.

A paraphrase from Bill: "When I use the word monster, that's what I mean. It is something dangerous, and not easy to defeat or destroy. They are a threat that common people cannot handle."

And that's the topic today: "Monster." Here's the first definition from "a legendary animal combining features of animal and human form or having the forms of various animals in combination, as a centaur, griffin, or sphinx."

This definition only scratches the surface of what we, as gamers, mean for "monster." For example, a living statue would be a monster, but not meet that definition. We need a better definition than the standard one.

I would also humbly add to the definition of monster. A monster is something that instills a fear within people that face it.

So what is a "monster?" We'll start with Bill's definition and work forward:
  1. dangerous, difficult to destroy, threatening to most
  2. legendary animal (or person), with combinations of features
  3. instills a fear into people that see or face it.
One of my earliest Monster Monday posts had to do with goblins. Does a goblin meet the new definition of monster? Let's look:

  1. individually, no, goblins do not meet this criteria. However, as a society of chaos, they absolutely could threaten a village, be difficult to destroy and have enough weapons to be dangerous.
  2. subjectively speaking, goblins could meet this criteria, based on description (elfish ears, a smashed, pug-like face) 
  3. adventurers nearly never fear goblins, but they could be crushed by the weight of a tribe and see true fear.
Although there are arguments for goblins being a monster, the definition or creature has to be stretched to accommodate it. Now, I will give an example of a monster from Bill's game Friday night. We found a treasure horde at the bottom of a pool of water. Investigating, we found the horde was midships on a broken galleon (or some other largish ship). We removed a seal, and were attacked by a creature that stayed in the water, and turned things it touched to ice. We knew it was undead, but our 8th level (!) cleric was unable to turn it. Working as a team, we found a way to destroy it.

The rest of the story: after it was not turned, panic set in. Those of us with high level characters refused to get in the water with it. And we never destroyed it. We found a way to immobilize it, but I'm not saying how in case you ever play in one of Bill's games.

Does this monster meet the requirements? It was definitely dangerous, difficult to destroy, and threatening. It was undead (combining features of people and the dead.) And it instilled a fear into the highest level party members: a 9th level thief, an 8th level cleric, 5th level fighters and thief, and even a 4th level paladin (or at least his player.)

Although I know the name of this monster (thanks to being friends with the DM), it's not important. We defeated (but not destroyed) a MONSTER in Mythrus Tower's wilderness environs!

No comments:

Post a Comment