I have been away for the past two weeks touring Iceland. Iceland is a country with a rich mythology of trolls, elves (the hidden people), viking sagas including berserkers, sorcery and witchcraft. It is a great place for getting inspiration as a GM.
I have also spent my holiday reading the complete works of H P Lovecraft. The Icelandic summer is the best time to read these if you are a wuss like me as it never gets dark.
Over the past two weeks I have written five adventures but for every one of them I have created new monsters. That is a really odd thing to do as nearly every well established game has volume after volume of monsters. Why do I need yet more or feel that none of the five thousand monsters I have at my disposal are quite right?
The adventures I have written are, first and foremost, for my long standing group and will probably slot into the campaign after they complete their current adventure. I say probably as I am not a railroading GM and if they don’t take the bait then they could easily miss all of these adventures.
These adventures are also the ones I intend to submit to ICE for The Adventurers Guild. I would like to have played through them at least once before submitting them to the editor.
So why make new monsters?
I think the combination of the Lovecraftian influences and the Icelandic mythology have created a set of adventures that need the perfect monster but also it needs a monster, or a better word would be foe, that the players do not know down to the last statistic, how tough it to kill, how dangerous it is in a fight and how to defeat it. Familiarity breeds contempt as the cliche says.
I left the monster building until I came home, I didn’t take a computer on holiday with me or rule books. I could check the odd rule here or there using the PDF rules on my phone but it was very liberating to just write the description of the creatures I wanted as I wanted them to be rather than be constrained by what was in the books.
The common factor is of course that rules play no part in the whole creation process. I can always ‘fix’ the rules afterwards. In this case it is just monsters. In this context rules equates to constraints and creativity and constraints are never easy bedfellows.