Saturday, February 21, 2009

Monstrous Discussions: My Top 10 Favorite Monsters

James over at Grognardia has an excellent post on his top ten monsters. Since it is Saturday night here in China and I am feeling rather lazy at the moment, I thought I would follow suit for today’s blog, and I will write my product review post tomorrow.

One of the first D&D books I bought was the 1st ed Monster Manual. Even though the front cover is a bit of a mess, the interior of the book is pure genius. It is a walk through literature, the pulps, and mythology, and most of the names are instantly recognizable. I first saw it in the hands of my buddy, and I just could not put the book down when he showed it to me. I still have my original book, complete with a signature from Gary himself!

Without further ramblings, let’s get on with the list.

1. Wolves/Worgs/Winterwolves. I love these guys. I know I am grouping a bunch of these canine critters together, but I will use them interchangeably based on character level and the environment. When I am designing and running games, expect a heavy dose of these baddies. In my mind, they are very versatile and can be used to augment an encounter with other monsters, then can stand by themselves, and they can give a bit of ambience with their sinister howl. In addition, I love the concept of talking worgs that serve as messengers for the BBEG. As a final point, worg riders are the best! While the scene in The Two Towers movie was a Peter Jackson add on scene, it was really cool to watch.

2. Dragons. I love dragons. The good ones (silver), the bad ones (red), and the ugly ones (blue - the third edition ones are just really ugly, but I like them anyways). And there are plenty in between to like as well. I like the idea of drakes as lesser dragons that can challenge lower level parties. I like the idea of dragon men. While I am not a big fan of DragonLance, the concept behind the Draconians was a really interesting idea – good dragon eggs that had been corrupted using vile magic and abishai.

3. Werewolves. Of all the lycanthropes, these are my favorites. I also like the idea of wolfweres, which are the reverse of werewolves. In the Ravenloft campaign setting, both of these beasties received a lot of attention, and were one of my favorite parts of that setting. For me, there is a strong link between werewolves and gothic horror, which is always fun for a GM.

4. Ratmen. I have always like the way Games Workshop has treated the concept of ratmen. They are servants of chaos and have access to bizarre chaos weapons, which adds to the mystique of these creatures. When Monte published Ptolus, he included ratmen in the monster write ups, along with plenty of ideas on how to treat chaos. For me, this was perfect. In my Ptolus campaign that I ran, ratmen received generous attention and were a primary villain for the characters to battle. Going forward I expect them to infest my future campaigns. ON a side note, I do like wererats, however I am hooked on the GW feel of ratmen, which gives them the nod over the wererats.

5. Lich. Whoa…what’s not to like. Perhaps the most memorable lich I ever faced was the second lich , which was a 37th level lich. I can still remember that encounter fairly vividly. The GM for that particular monstrosity was my buddy Mike who was one of my favorite GM’s, although his stuff was always super powered, but the concepts were awesome. He took D&D to a whole different level, that that is another story. Needless to say when he announced that the lich was just going to cast a little 'ole fireball, my other buddy freaked. “That’s a 37 dice fireball! There is nothing small about a 37 dice fireball.” It was just a precious moment. I cannot remember how much damage it did, but it was significant. This was also the occasion that I was introduced to the spell meteor swarm. Ouch!

6. Gnolls. Hairy, smell, hyena humanoids that worship demons. Perfect! Paizo is going to be featuring them in their upcoming Legacy of Fire Adventure Path, and I am curious to see what sort of flavor Paizo is going to given them. Eric Mona is writing up the first book, and it is due out in another month.

7. Wraiths. As a big Tolkien fan, wraiths are one of my favorites. The 1st ed one is by far the best. With their level drain, they are just pain scary. I really like the idea of the Ring Wraiths, which are powerful servants of a BBEG. They also remind me of the Shadowlords from Ultima V, which is perhaps my favorite of the Ultima series. This is another blog post that I want to write up in the near future.

8. Shadows. Shadows are great. They are sneaky, and you can put them anywhere. They are one of the ultimate dungeon critters, and a definite favorite in my book.

9. Gargoyle. Gargoyles smack of gothic horror. Stone creatures that have been animated by evil magic, and serve are guardians. With the possibility of multiple arms, wings, horns, and tails, these guys have it all, and they just ooze flavor.

10. Kobolds. I love ‘em for a number of reasons. They are going to be the topic of an upcoming Monstrous Discussion, so I will hold off on further comments.


trollsmyth said...

They also remind me of the Shadowlords from Ultima V, which is perhaps my favorite of the Ultima series. This is another blog post that I want to write up in the near future.

That was also my favorite of the Ultima series. I look forward to reading what you have to say on that topic.

(Word Verification name: Ouslyn.)

Mr Baron said...

I was hoping to write the ultima blog this week, but between work and my computer acting up, I hope to write it up this weekend.