Sunday, February 24, 2019

Basic boring monsters as building blocks

I am playing on my computer Heroes of a Broken Land, a procedural grid based dungeon crawler and I noted that the monsters were all variations of basic boring creatures like bats, snakes, rats, slimes, zombies, etc… I wondered if it could be interesting to create a monster manual using a limited palettes of creatures as building blocks.

Why? I like low-fi basic stuff and I am intrigued by the thematic settings that may emerge out of these limited palettes. This is just a “lonely fun” experiment but it could be useful to generate local biomes. Well, I guess this link to my love of biomes too.

So for our basic palette I thought of six basic boring monsters types:
  1. Flying harrowers: bats, birds, flying bugs 
  2. Slow and slimy ambushers: frogs, slugs, snails, leeches 
  3. Poisonous predators: snakes, centipedes, spiders, scorpions 
  4. Smart scavengers: rats, crows, monkeys (ants?) 
  5. Stubborn turtlers: crabs, beetles, turtles 
  6. Formless dissolver: slime, ooze, jelly, moss (plants could be fun too)  
We could start with something very generic like:
  1. Bats 
  2. Frogs 
  3. Snakes 
  4. Rats 
  5. Crabs 
  6. Slimes 
Or we could go with something more whimsical like:
  1. Fireflies 
  2. Anemone 
  3. Centipede 
  4. Hyena (a bit too big for a basic monster but let's try it) 
  5. Trilobites 
  6. Jellies 
So then I created 10 types of flavors or types of creatures we find in the monster manual.
(I put exemples in broad order of HD in parenthesis)
  1. Humanoids (goblins, orcs, burbears, ogres, giants, titan) 
  2. Domesticated beasts (pets, messenger, hunting, burden, war, mount, cattle) 
  3. Ferocious packs, lone predators or territorial grazers (wild beasts, from small to gigantic) 
  4. Strange chimera (satyrs, harpies, centaurs, pegasus, griffons, manticores) 
  5. Artificial construx (animated statues, clockwork beings, golems) 
  6. Nature spirits (sprites, faes, blinking, nymph, unicorn, elemental, swampthing) 
  7. Watchful guardians (skeletons, gargoyles, medusa, minotaur, sphynx, naga, mummies, beholder) 
  8. Creatures of the night (zombies, ghouls, shadows, werebeasts, ghosts, vampires, demons) 
  9. Monstrous hoarders (hydra, abomination, dragon) 
  10. Mimics (doppelgangers, carnivorous traps, parasites, shapeshifters) 

Now the idea is to mix our palettes of monsters with these special flavors. I think that I would generate 6 creatures for each step of HD.

Generic palette

  1. Hunting Bats (trained to hunt giant bugs) 
  2. Tiny Faes riding on Frogs 
  3. Cameleon Snakes 
  4. Ratfolk Carpenters 
  5. Collector Crabs 
  6. Slimes Hounds 
  1. Clockwork Bats 
  2. Clawed Frogs 
  3. War Snakes (warbeasts) 
  4. Wolf-Rats 
  5. Mule-Crabs (beasts of burden) 
  6. Coins slimes 
  1. Bat maidens 
  2. Work Toads (beasts of burden) 
  3. Snakemen shapeshifters 
  4. Ghoul Rats 
  5. Mace Crabs 
  6. Ectoplasmic Slimes 
  1. Blind giants with batlikes features, live deep underground. 
  2. Titan Toads (grumpy but gentle giants) 
  3. The Watcher of the Ivory Tower (100 eyes giant snake) 
  4. The Eater of the Deads (gigantic many headed humanoid rat queen) 
  5. Old Molten (gigantic steam breathing Crab) 
  6. War shamblers (gigantic slimes mind controlled for war) 

Whimsical palette

  1. Blood Fireflies (drain blood with their light) 
  2. Shoulder Anemone (pets) 
  3. Temple’s Centipede (ivory carapaces) 
  4. Laughing sticks (hyena made of tied sticks by witches) 
  5. Trilobites Tribe (humanoids) 
  6. Jellies Gloves (jellies that wrap around hands) 

  1. Fireflies-Mentis (dog sized nasty hybrid) 
  2. Guarding Anemone (dog sized crawling anemone) 
  3. Rollers (centipede who roll on itselves and hunt in packs) 
  4. Thirsty Watchers (hyena with eyes on their fur, must be summoned) 
  5. Mermaid’s Masks (trilobite that sing like mermaids, their shell look like a woman face) 
  6. Butterflies-Jellies (shimmering flying faery jellies, dissolve hopes) 
  1. Ghost Fireflies (their ghostly light lure people like will-o-the-wisps) 
  2. Shadow-Anemone 
  3. Centipede-Gargoyles (take a lot of patience to sculpts the legs) 
  4. Trap Jaws (clockwork big jawed hyena who eat metal bits) 
  5. Crawling Masons (big land trilobites colonies who form stone structures) 
  6. Jellies Ruffs (graft around neck to control host) 
  1. Balefirefly (demonic firefly that eat souls with it light) 
  2. Anemone-Naga (guardian giant anemone-headed snake with multiple women heads hidden inside the anemone) 
  3. The Horde (fire breathing giant centipede, named for it thousand legs) 
  4. The Laughing Mother (giant centaur hyena woman) 
  5. The Elder (Gigantic fossilized undead Trilobite) 
  6. Carmina Jellies (vampire jelly that can take a humanoid form) 

Maybe I could use this to generate the biome of the Potoo Island.


Anne said...

This reminds me a bit of your island encounter list idea.

I think 6 is a good number to make sure each creature has a specific role, and to make sure the players notice that the creature types repeat at higher levels.

I also enjoyed your choice of whimsical starting animals.

Evlyn said...

Yes I prefer this to my previous island biome generator, it is simpler and I had more fun when I generated the lists.

Jonathan Davis said...

Popping in to say your art is so awesome. I want to eat it. Nom nom nom.

David Schirduan said...

This is awesome! I've been really getting into random generators, and have made a few for my website.

But going along with the lo-fi aesthetic you mentioned earlier, I wonder how well an RPG setting based on ASCII art would be received?

Jeremy "frothsof" Smith said...

Oh...sweet Potoo! How I long to venture there!

Evlyn said...

I know! It is my dream too! :D

Evlyn said...

I think it could be interesting but then I am able to enjoy Dwarf Fortress too. :P