Posts Tagged ‘monstrous archetype’

One of the things I love about TV series such as Supernatural or Buffy is that they have their own mythology, their own way that monsters “work” within the confines of the setting. Movies do that too, but because they’re so focused on a single monster or a single premise, you rarely get to see it develop. There are exceptions, of course.

A demon in Supernatural works in a certain way, dies in a certain way. Likewise a vampire in Buffy. The audience is taught this, expects this, which – later, once this is established – allows the writer to mess with those expectations and create tension and drama in the process.

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Amongst the subtle tweaks to the rules, one of the things I wanted to change was how monsters worked to reflect how I’ve been using them in my game. In 1st edition, monsters were built like any other character, except you could buy monstrous specialisations – special powers, essentially, that bent the rules slightly – at the cost of a Survival Point each. Some of these monstrous specialisations needed a Survival Point to be spent to use them too. These two rules compounded and tended to mean that monsters with lots of cool powers didn’t last long, as they had either given up their Survival Points at creation or had to burn through Survival Points to use their powers.

In 2nd edition I’ve disconnected a monster’s pool of Survival Points from their powers, meaning that when creating a monster you simply pick some funky abilities, add in a vulnerability if required and then set its Survival Points to whatever number you want – the higher, the longer the game will last. And instead of forcing a monster to spend a Survival Point to trigger its powers, you spend a point of Tension. Simple.

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One of the things I wanted to do with the Monstrous Archetypes was make it easier for the GM to go about creating his own monster, to take an idea and follow some easy steps to make it a potent foe in the game. But one of the things I wanted to keep from Dead of Night first edition was the ability for the GM to just go ahead and grab stuff ready-made out of the book, to really cut down on the prep time if that’s what the GM wanted. To that end, the book is packed with ready-made stuff, from pre-set Tension circumstances to complete scenarios and, of course, ready-to-eat-you monsters.

Each 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 from a vampire and werewolf, to a coven of witches and a haunted house (yes, as a monster, not a location). That’s not including the monsters included in the scenarios, which should be enough variety to keep even the most regular of Dead of Night GMs busy for months.

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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.

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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?

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