Monstrous Archetypes

Posted: April 1, 2010 in Dead of Night, design
Tags: , ,

I’m working on the second edition of Dead of Night at the moment, my game of b-movie horror. Amongst the many refinements, one of the things I want to do is to streamline the way monsters are handled. Rather than have a vague system of creating a monster and a grab-bag of samples, some more handy than others, I’ve worked up a list of monstrous archetypes that each encompass a different type of monster.

I”ve managed to narrow the list to nine archetypes, and I’m fairly sure that you can fit most monsters into one of the archetypes. So, with that in mind, can you think of any monsters that I haven’t accounted for? Any archetypes that seem redundant or superfluous?


The Unstoppable Killer – a relentless foe that can neither be reasoned with nor killed. Eg. Friday 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws.

The Ghost – an entity that returned from the grave to haunt the living. Eg. Poltergeist, the Haunting.

The Hunter – a monster that might pass as normal, but feeds upon humans. Eg. Dracula, the Faculty.

The Beast Within – a creature with two faces that cannot help the monster it becomes. Eg. Dog Solders, Ginger Snaps.

The Witch – the seemingly harmless person who wields malevolent power. Eg. The Omen, the Blair Witch Project.

The Impostor – a monster that masquerades as somebody else. Eg. Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, the Exorcist.

The Horde – an implacable, endless tide of monsters. Eg. Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later.

The Formless Horror – the environment itself is the monstrous horror. Eg. the Mist.

The Thing from Beyond – an unknowable alien entity with an unfathomable motive. Eg. Alien, the Thing.

Actually I’m wondering whether the Horde and the Formless Horror overlap, after all zombies aren’t so much individually faced monsters as facets of a larger, formless threat.

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