Monday, November 22, 2010

RPG Brainstorming: Some Real-Life Monsters

The world around us is a far more weird and wonderful place than most of us ever realize.  Below are a few peculiar items lifted from YouTube to spark your creativity. I'm already thinking up a scenario that combines all of these critters into a set of linked encounters...

Ouch.  Enough said.

These are shrimp for crying out loud...Shrimp...save versus shrimp?  The thing just snaps its specially-modified claw and the resulting implosion of air bubbles temporily reaches the temperature of the surface of the sun.  You can't manage that with a Zippo lighter at a Lynnerd Skynnerd concert.  (Freebird!)  Anyone making-up this sort of critter would very likely get laughed at and then punched.  Hard.  Repeatedly.  But it's real, and now you have proof of it courtesy of the BBC. 

Drunk Monkeys.  Another denizen lurking in some dimly lit corner of an inn, bar or gin-joint near you--some of them aren't just drunks, though, some of them belong to thief-troupes...and they might have friends amongst the roving bands of Rogue Baboons...

Breakdancing skunks, or could it be olfactory capoeira?  That's some dance of defiance.

Okay, maybe these would work just fine, especially if they were enlarged and perhaps trained by some sort of aquatic being to serve as guards along the shoreline or in the midst of a really big mangove swamp...best not be carrying a lantern near that pool...

Now this is just too good not to use for an encounter.  Wonder who'd train and use such critters as mounts?  A good critter to summon for a quick get-a-way as well, if you can call up a big enough specimen...

Parasitic fungi that infect the victim's body and mind--and it's real--and there are over a thousand vrieties that are out there, possibly one that can convert PCs into weirdly elegant sculptures.  It's not just Yuggothian Mi-Go that you need to worry about...

Let me know if you found any of this useful.


  1. Great stuff. "Olfactory capoeira" particularly gets me.

  2. Am I ever glad you didn't say that it stunk...:) I still get a grin out of that one, the catfish and fungi really give me the creeps. Ought to make for really interesting encounters...

  3. Great post!
    "Peeps" by Scott Westerfeld has some interesting chapters on parasites, apart from being a fun read, nevermind that it's a book for teenagers.

    I'd love a velvet worms as a pet, but as a monster they would make me run. I encountered a knee-high centipede in one memorable Cthulhu adventure and it was a close call. Those things freak me out - I love weird animals and bugs, but centipedes are scary. Even the small ones that live around here are extremely fast and aggressive. Add that they can balance on their last three pairs of legs and you have the perfect monster.

    Assassin bugs are great, too - not only do they look like aliens, they also have an extremely painful sting and can hit your eyes with a defensive liquid from about a foot away (millipedes can do that, too). Or Bombardier Beetles Or a dragon fly larva. Two words: extendable jaws.

    And here's a mussel that gives me nightmares. Forget killer clams (the most innoffensive animals ever, whatever Doctor Who may want us to believe), clampires are the way to go.

    Whip spiders/Tailless whip scorpions are the stuff of nghtmares, too. They have immensely long feelers, powerful pinchers and they are incredibly fast. The ones I kept as pets (Damon variegatus) could run the length of their 20 gallon tank in the blink of an eye, I kid you not. I would hate to meet one that has grown much bigger than they are now.
    Oh and of course there are always Wetas to show your players that you love them and want to kill them in style.

  4. @Jedediah: Thanks for the feedback and those links. I really like using centipedes for monsters, but had to shelve them for a while because the last group I was running regularly had someone deathly afraid of the things. They are freaky-nasty things and there's a lot that can be done with them with minimal effort. They're one of the critters slated for the 101 Varieties treatment coming up soon.

    Shellfish are very good creatures to build monsters from, so are arachnids (there are a lot more than just spiders!), and deepwater species are already weird enough taht you just have to let them rise up to a more shallow depth (without exploding) and you've got yourself really bizarre monsters.

    With your permission, I'd like to incorporate your suggestions into the next installment of RPG Brainstorming--you'd be fully credited as the special guest author. Drop me a line and let's discuss it. I'm at netherwerks (at) gmail (dot) com.

  5. Wow, the drunken monkeys are awesome!
    I also like the shrimps! ;-)


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