alpharaposa: (Default)
Well, once you've figured out what the monster is for, you can pick out some abilities.

For Horror Monsters, there is a strong tradition of things like blood draining, bites that turn you into another monster, and mind control. To go along with the idea that horror monsters make safe things unsafe, powers given to horror monsters tend to be invasive abilities that violate your borders. Draining your blood leaves few marks and removes the vitality from you. Turning you into a monster robs you of your identity. And mind control is, well, just plain invasive no matter how you slice it.

Notice that these also tend to be powers that are reasonably easy to not notice, too. Vampires get mind control, blood draining, can bring you back as another vampire, and are often inhumanly strong and fast. None of this is obvious just by looking at a standard vampire. This allows them, as a monster, to stay an unknown longer.

For Adventure Monsters, we're usually talking about obvious monsters. Dragons don't hide well, unless they're some kind of shapeshifting or shrinking dragon. Giant boars tend to stand out. In fact, being giant is a popular power for an adventure monster. The bigger and more impressive the monster is, the more impressive is your hero's victory when it's beaten.

Unusual but physically threatening effects are common. Dragons breathe fire. Hydras grow more heads when you cut them off. Medusa has poisonous snakes for hair and turns people to stone. Talos was made of bronze and practically invulnerable.

You can let your imagination run wild in designing abilities, but keep in mind what the monster's for. If you want to scare your readers or players, go for subtle or mental effects. If you want something that would be impressive to the by-standers and give a larger than life feel, then go for something big or flashy. You can mix and match, too. Lots of things in stories and myth have more than one power or weapon. On the other hand, things with just one ability can be very effective in the right setting. Scylla is a terror particularly because she is found with Charybdis.


Mar. 5th, 2010 07:43 am
alpharaposa: An Adventuring Bear (bear)
Ever since the disappointment of the "How to create a monster" panel at Marscon, I've been chewing over my thoughts on the matter in the back of my brain.

The panel was a disappointment because the authors (all published) spent more time talking about various weird things they wrote about. It was interesting, but with the title of the panel, I was expecting to show up and get some pointers on how to create a believable, or at least effective, monster to entertain or challenge my audience. The creation aspect was really not addressed.


So, I'm going to offer some of my thoughts, and I welcome you to offer some of yours. If I can't get a satisfying discussion from professionals, I'm sure I can get a decent set of thoughts from my fellow readers on livejournal.

Read more... )Whew... that's a longer post than I thought! I think I'll stop there for now.


alpharaposa: (Default)

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