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Mike M

Monster Creation

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Hi all

I'm currently working on a new version of Call of Cthulhu's big book o' monsters. So it'll be packed with all manner of monstrous devilry.

One of the topics I'm considering to include is a 'how to make a monster' guide - enabling Keepers to design their own monsters with some advice. 

Now, with this in mind - what would you prefer to see:

1. some tables to pick and/or roll randomly for monster attributes (forms of attack, appearance, goals, special powers, etc.)

2. more general advice and notes (what's good, what to avoid), how to take an existing monster and reskin it, etc.

3. both 1 & 2

4. something else or "we don't need help making monsters"

Let me know your thoughts.

Mike

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I'm a "more options and we reach more gamers" style of person, so I say both 1 and 2! Personally, I find #2 to be most useful. But I wouldn't begrudge someone wanting a good table.

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I'm partial to #1, but I'd be concerned about balance. Maybe generic templates (including stats, damage, armor etc.) for each monster category (minor/medium/major?), with random tables for flavor items (like form of attack, appearance, goals, special abilities, etc.).

The point being: static crunch would allow me to run a monster quickly/easily, while random fluff would make me feel freer with selections and flavor (without worrying about balance).Ideally, the table should be quick to use (if I had plenty of time to make up a monster, I probably wouldn't even need the table).

Edited by mvincent

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I would say a discussion of how to derive monsters' motives and methods would be helpful.  Slapping together a critter that can slap around the PCs isn't hard, but making it interesting, unique and memorable can be.

For instance, a grizzly bear, a werewolf, Bigfoot, and a gorilla are all strong, hairy mannish things that can mess up your day.  So how do you take that basic monster template and make it special and scary for your players?

Edited by seneschal

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10 hours ago, seneschal said:

I would say a discussion of how to derive monsters' motives and methods would be helpful.  Slapping together a critter that can slap around the PCs isn't hard, but making it interesting, unique and memorable can be.

For instance, a grizzly bear, a werewolf, Bigfoot, and a gorilla are all strong, hairy mannish things that can mess up your day.  So how do you take that basic monster template and make it special and scary for your players?

Along these lines, you know what would be great? A table that gives options for how it is DETECTED by Spot Hidden and Listen. Given that description is key to evoking a good table feel on this, the table becomes a resource for Keepers to help them describe...

Edited by klecser
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The scariest monsters are monsters which parody humans - deep ones, werwolves, vampires, zombies, the fungi of Yuggoth wearing human disguises, gloves and mask made from your former friend, that identity stealing horror out of The Thing. 

Even Cthulhu had almost human attributes, for all his grotesque splendour.

Humans experience an “uncanny valley”. Scientists trying to build convincing Androids struggle with the fact the most violent feelings of revulsion are directed against their best efforts. People reject things which seem almost human far more vigorously than we reject something truly alien.

So fill your beastiery with warped and broken humans...

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Agree.  I found Gollum from Lord of the Rings much scarier than Sauron.  The latter might be more powerful but the schizoid  little cannibal who might crawl through your kitchen or nursery window really creeped me out.  Same with many B-movie monsters.  The big rubber carnivore might be scary but The Stepford Wives coming after you ... (shudder).  The Wolf Man seems cuddly by comparison.

Edited by seneschal

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Random tables hold less appeal for me.  CoC has always taken a deliberate approach to the creation of its horrific creatures rather than an aleatory one (and Silent Legions and Nyarlathotep’s Printing Press already have that gaming style covered).

I’d prefer more general advice and notes, with more lore à la Malleus Monstrorum, and especially reskinning/variant suggestions for the old standby creatures, such as ghouls and Deep Ones.

Edited by Travern

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I also like the combo of #1 and #2, and I think you should include helpful advice on how Keepers shouldn't feel confined by the tables. Hopefully the tables will help fuel the Keeper's imagination to expand it even more. 

 

Also, the Keeper's should feel comfortable in using literary sources as the seeds to create new creatures, but then use that literary creature as a template to expand and make something new and monstrous in new and different ways. Especially if the Keeper considers using that monster in a Miskatonic Repository publication. 

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Besides... if you make a monster exactly like one from your favorite book or story, then anyone whose read the story will know all the secrets. Make your monsters unpredictable!  :)

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On 7/3/2019 at 9:26 PM, JonHook said:

I also like the combo of #1 and #2, and I think you should include helpful advice on how Keepers shouldn't feel confined by the tables. Hopefully the tables will help fuel the Keeper's imagination to expand it even more.

I concur with tables serving both as a possible or valid spectrum of a monster’s parameters and inspiration on how to tweak said parameters for interesting (and unpredictable) results. 

Furthermore, I‘d like to see advice on how to determine, or balance, SAN loss caused by a monster. What is the reasoning behind any particular monster causing the loss of x/y SAN points on a successful/failed SAN check upon encountering it?

How much wouldn‘t be enough to do it justice, how much is too much? Can there be other ways SAN loss caused by this new monster is handled, e.g. by an ongoing, if low level drain („the monster is feeding on your sanity“), or delayed onset („now that the innate charm spell wears off, you suddenly realize that the hobo‘s face you were talking to just half an hour ago was entirely made up of maggots“)?

 

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On 7/3/2019 at 5:58 AM, Travern said:

Random tables hold less appeal for me.  

Oddly, I kinda dislike the 'feel" of random tables too. Still, a neatly organized list of ideas, by category, seems useful. I mean, if there were say, ten ideas per category, and they used numbered bulleting, that might give some Keepers ideas too...

Edited by mvincent

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I would like to see something similar to the monster creation section in D&D 3.5 Monster Manual - excellent guidance on every aspect of monster creation process with supporting tables and ideas. I.e. option 3 with more of 1 than 2 :)

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Not a fan of random tables. They tend to focus on physical aspects - appearance, attacks, damage etc. which anyone with half a brain should be able to come up with themselves.

I think guidance on a monster's motivations would be useful. Or lists of weirdo, gonzo, creepy powers.

Finally, I really love the internal appearance of the Malleus Monstrorum with its mixture of fake and real historical illustrations implying the Mythos has influenced art, science and research far back into history. It's probably too late to ask but can this approach be kept with the new volume ? It is very unique.

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Hmmm.... I think the best idea would involve a combination of (from the above) tables for detection (What the hell is that?!) along with lists of ideas (to flesh the thing out) and finally a list of gonzo/weird powers and abilities (rounds it out).

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Another suggestion: what the "crime scene" of a monster appearance might look like. i.e. what physical evidence is left behind after a monster has made an appearance - what a victim might look like or the sights and smells of physical remnants of traces of it having manifested.

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Those would be a great addition to detection tables.  In a nutshell, this monster creator would create unique, atmospheric beings with much flavor.

Edited by Acatiaant

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So supposedly  the  ToC  'bestiary' 'Hideous Creatures',  does include  for each creature,  a lengthy listing of the forensic signs and evidence  that  visits from these  horrors  leave behind.

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On 7/21/2019 at 8:09 PM, groovyclam said:

Another suggestion: what the "crime scene" of a monster appearance might look like. i.e. what physical evidence is left behind after a monster has made an appearance - what a victim might look like or the sights and smells of physical remnants of traces of it having manifested.

Back in the day, Sandy Petersen published a gruesome article in Different Worlds titled "Death Scenes: Aftermaths of Cthulhoid Kills". I can't remember if Chaosium ever reprinted it any of the supplements, but if not, then it would be a nice appendix to a new monster tome.

On 7/22/2019 at 10:33 PM, 1d8+DB said:

So supposedly  the  ToC  'bestiary' 'Hideous Creatures',  does include  for each creature,  a lengthy listing of the forensic signs and evidence  that  visits from these  horrors  leave behind.

It does indeed.  Concocting these extensive lists for all of ToC's investigative skills drove Hite and the other authors half-mad, but the results are terrific.

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In the files at yog-sothoth.com they used to have several “autopsy reports” describing the aftereffects of specific creature attacks.

Edited by seneschal

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