Monster Mash

Posted: April 22, 2010 in Dead of Night, design
Tags: , ,

One of the chapters that has been expanded the most is the Monsters chapter, which tells you all that you need to know to make your own monster. I touched on this back in my first post where I talked about Monstrous Archetypes, and these form the core of this chapter.

Rather than just present a selection of fully formed monsters (although I do that as well, but we’ll talk about that another time), I strip it back a bit so that horror movie archetypes are all represented. Each archetype encompasses a¬† ‘template’ of sorts that helps guide you when making your own monster.

So, for example, you might decide you want to make a monster that tempts mortals to a terrible fate, which would be The Corrupter, or you might want a creature that hunts the living, which would be a Hunter. None of these are definitive, but they do provide guidelines that can help you create a tightly focused monstrosity.

Here’s a look at one of the archetypes, The Corrupter, which is the classic¬† witch, temptress or demon that bargains for people’s souls.

The Corrupter

The Corrupter is an insidious monster that turns us into our own worst enemy. The Corrupter preys on our arrogance, greed, hubris or any other of a hundred material desires, tempting us to our own doom. The Corrupter might seek to destroy us to feast on our souls or our flesh, it might do so out of misery and suffering or for the pleasure of inflicting pain itself. The Corrupter might very well hide in plain sight, but it is hardly defenceless – it has its corrupted victims to protect it, after all.

The Corrupter is typically supernatural in origin, using magical powers or otherworldly charms to lure its prey to a bitter end. It may be a witch, seeking to gain power over their victims in exchange for unearthly promises. It may be some manner of demon or spirit, offering great rewards in exchange for the souls of those it tempts. Its motivations could be esoteric, desiring to sup upon the soul of a pure-hearted individual cast from grace, or it could be more prosaic, desiring to drain the lifeforce of another through the corruption it has wrought. Or the monster might act out of emotion, its desire to corrupt the innocent and the beautiful fuelled by jealousy or envy.

A story involving a Corrupter is likely to start innocuously, the monster remaining hidden whilst it works its corruption from the sidelines. The initial horror often stems from some of the victims’ own descent towards corruption, as they are tempted to engage in ever more horrific activities until they become monsters themselves. The horror is often psychological in nature, although it can swiftly become far more visceral and real. To defeat a Corrupter, first its malignant influence must be identified and then undone, or else it may well turn its corrupted victims upon those who would stop it. Often a Corrupter can be defeated by its own machinations, its own powers turned against it.

The siren of Greek mythology is a corrupter, as is the witch from medieval fable. The Cenobites in the Hellraiser series are Corrupters, tempting men with promises of pleasure and pain. The titular monster in The Blair Witch Project is a Corrupter, leading the filmmakers off the beaten track and to their deaths. The antagonists in Rosemary’s Baby – the coven of witches – are all Corrupters too, tempting Rosemary’s husband, Guy, to give up his baby in exchange for fame and success. In many ways, Mrs Baylock, Damien’s nanny in The Omen, is a Corrupter, for she subverts the household and attempts to corrupt the child to her master’s ends.

Survival points 3-4

Suggested specialisations: Controller, Corruption, Consume, Curse.

  1. […] of the ten Monstrous Archetypes I talked about last week also comes with a sample monster, so you have ten fully statted monsters ready to go; everything […]

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