Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 109: Designing Non-Human Monsters
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Main Topic

Human monsters are pretty easy for people to make. Sort of. It is just take the things you find disturbing or deplorable and make the person do them. But creating a monster that is not human is a special kind of thought process. Creatures are a common feature and provide the chance to round out a world as well as indulge in the animal kingdom’s most inventive combinations. For this episode, we will save the automatons and non-living, or unliving, options for a different episode and focus on a bestiary enhancement. 

A few ideas of ways to look at it are as follows:

  • Mash up: take to animals and smash them together and there you go
  • Mythical: Look to myth for the creations of different cultures 
  • Cryptids: We talked about these guys in their own episode back on Episode 87
  • Dreams and nightmares: These are things right out of your psyche
  • Creations: these are things created from ideas you have and they can come from all of the above. 

Mash ups- There is a great example of this in Dungeons and Dragons and that is the Owlbear. This guy is literally a mash up of an owl and a bear just like the name says. 

Mythical- There are monsters in every culture of the world. A fun example is the Raijū. The creature can hide in people’s belly buttons. Now what could you do with a creature that hides in small spaces? 

Cryptids- These are monsters that are part of the new mythology that is the world today. But what if the Mokele- Mbembe is real and wandering around in your swamps or sewers?

Dreams and Nightmares- There are a few examples that work so well as the Night-Gaunts created by H.P. Lovecraft. There are many others as well.

Creations- These are things that you come up with on your own. You might find a few examples of these in a few of the statblocks we have done. 

Can you think of other categories that are broad like these? If so come find us on our social media platforms and let us know. 

Stat Blocks

Zendead

Shadow Folk

The shadows in the old abandoned house seemed to flicker and move. Just like the shadows from a fire. There was only one small problem, there was no fire. They clung to the ceiling and the holes in the plaster walls. The forms were not animal, oh no they seemed humanoid. 

The folk of this place make no sounds that regular people can not hear. If you have touched the darkness in the world then you might be able to hear them. Their voices are like hollow reeds crying in the wind. What makes them want to be in this world? 

Once you stopped looking at them they started to drop from the places they had been hiding. Yes the shadows, that is where they hide from prying human eyes. As they touch down on the old worn floorboards there is only the slightest creak. And you spin back to see what made the noise. But too late the hand that grabs you is far too strong to be human. The form is almost visible but the feel of claws digging into your arms force you to drop the light you have. The rolling flashlight illuminates them as they close in to bite. How can the face be…

How to Use Shadow Folk in Game:

Shadow folk dwell in the in between places of light and dark. If you have a realm of shadow they could be rulers there. Maybe they are the shadows of men killed in the dark. Is it a demon or group of demons, possibly. There are lots of ways to use them in a game. 

Guard-a-Manger

The Beast of Trolie Fen

Rarely have creatures like this ever stalked humanity as their prey.  It is hard to hide when your very electromagnetic field gives you away – tingling the hunter’s special glands and warning them of your attempt to flee.  It is harder even to make an escape when your predator glows faintly showing you how close it is … causing you to run faster and your electrical field to give you away even more.  The poison you know awaits you if caught will leave you writhing in agony and swollen from its effects. 

You try to escape, knowing the carnivorous beast is not far behind you.  Legends and stories call the beast of this fen a true monstrosity, stitched together of the nightmares of all humankind.  You know the scent of your own fear will give you away and try to make it to stream that feeds the lake around this fen.  You slide into it quietly and shiver as you try to disguise your scent . . but lose hope as you realize it is splashing into the water not far from you.  Even as it swims to you, outpacing your feeble attempts, you realize all is lost.  Even as you feel the sharp pain of it’s poison spur you cannot believe your eyes.  

Only as your scream falls into the garbled sound of your drowning in excruciating pain can you begin to believe you have been a victim of the legendary Dire Platypus of Trolie Fen. 

How to Use The Beast of Trolie Fen in Game:

A Dire Platypus has many uses, chief among them terrifying your players,  Keep the reveal back as long as you can for this monstrosity as a legendary creatures, escaped science experiment, or alien planet apex predator. 

Lexicon

Necrosis noun ne·​cro·​sis | \ nə-ˈkrō-səs  , ne- \

plural necroses\ nə-​ˈkrō-​ˌsēz  , ne-​ \

Definition of necrosis

: usually localized death of living tissue

History and Etymology for necrosis

Late Latin, from Greek nekrōsis, from nekroun to make dead, from nekros dead body

First Known Use of necrosis

1583

Look-up Popularity

Bottom 50% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Pyewacket If you like horror and not the blood and gore kind check this out it is a really cool movie in the vein of The Craft. 

Guard-a-Manger – Jabberwocky.  The greatest nonsense poem in the English language; inspiration for your creature catalog and vocabulary comes in spades

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

Find us

 

Author Pages with all of our contact info

Zendead 

Joules 

Guard-a-manger

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

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