Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Top Ten Favorite RPG Monsters

The list below represents my favorite monsters to use in RPG games, not including ones I've made up. I'm really thinking about this list in terms of the way I'd run the monsters in a game of adult players, rather than with kids in a homeschool setting. But since gaming with the kids has slowed down the past two months, I'll just run with the list from the perspective of my grown-up games, since that's where my head has been at lately. Perhaps I'll revisit this topic later from the homeschool angle.

Most of the following is Open Game Content according to the Open Game License. The Mind Flayer is listed by Wizards of the Coast as "Product Identity," which means I can't go into too much detail here. I paid $30 for the 3.5e Monster Manual just to get this one monster, so I hope they don't mind the mention.

These are in no particular order:

Froghemoth - I love aberrations in general, probably my favorite monster type. This example is a doozy, lying in ambush in dank swamps, and able to swallow prey whole. Nom nom nom!

Doppelganger - Tough to use these effectively, but if you can pull it off, it's well worth the effort. Wait until the players trust an NPC. Then a doppleganger comes along, offs the NPC when no one else is around, and takes his place. Before you know it there's a predator in the characters' midst, "questing" with them, biding its time.

Demons - There's something about the unpredictability of these guys, coupled with their irresistible might, that I find frightening. That, and the chaotic realm from which they come is so fascinating and endlessly malleable.

Favorite "demon lord": Demogorgon (pictured).

Goblins - Not just vile and distasteful like orcs, but wicked and mischievous too. I really like Pathfinder's take on them.

Lich - What's not to like about a lich? If you're going to go undead, you may as well go all the way. I like these because you can really sink your teeth into their back stories.

Basidirond - Just a friendly little carnivorous plant that sprays you with hallucinogenic spores when you come into proximity with it. While you squirm on the ground trying to escape the quicksand that's all in your head, they move in for the kill. Better yet, someone else does (maybe some undead, used in conjunction with the basidirond as part of a trap).

Mimic - Up until a few days ago I hated these. I let the stupid illustration of the treasure chest with the teeth (in 1e it was a chest with a fist) color my thinking. I have recently read some good ideas for how to use these on message boards I frequent. Now I'm troubled that I was so short-sighted about how useful these monsters can be in a campaign setting, and how many ways there are to play them.

Drider - Evil elves crossed with spiders. 'Nuff said.

Shoggoth - Appeals to the H. P. Lovecraft fan in me. This monstrosity has it all: resists all sorts of special attacks, can emit a maddening cacophony, and simply has to occupy the space where you are to completely engulf you.

Mind flayer - Humanoids with octopi heads, these guys are brainiacs who won't hesitate to enslave you and blast you with psychic energy if you fall out of line. Best of all: they work across RPG genres, fantasy and sci-fi.

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